26 March 2008
Gleanings from 1894 Sword and Trowel: A Concerned Letter from Spurgeon to his Students
During the late summer of 1865, Spurgeon's heart laboured over some troubling circumstances brought on by the sinful acts of a pastor sent out from the Pastors' College. Duties surrounding that situation demanded his attention and took him away from a routine meeting with his beloved students. In a letter informing them of his necessary absence, Spurgeon called his students to carefulness and watchful prayer, lest they too succumb to temptation.
I found this letter profitable for its balance, tact, and emphasis on holiness, evangelism and pastoral concern for individuals and churches. I pray you will find it equally helpful:
September 11th, 1865.
I am called away from you this afternoon; and I should much regret this if it were not that it has come into my heart to suggest to you to spend our usual time in prayer, instead of in teaching and learning. My heart is often heavy with trials, arising out of the College work, which is so dear to me, that I am perhaps unduly anxious over it. I am bowed to the very dust when I fear that any brother is erring in doctrine, lacking in grace, or loose in behaviour. I have as little to lament as it is possible there should be where we are all such imperfect creatures.
But, my brethren, I would fain have you all the best men living; and when you are not, I am distressed exceedingly. Just now, one brother, by his general self-indulgent habits, has lost the respect of his people, and must move. I do not want to inflict a curse on another congregation, and I do not want to cast him off. Between these two courses I am perplexed. Pray for me, for him, for all the brethren, and for yourselves.
In your society I always feel so much at home, that I must appear to you to be all happiness and mirth. Alas! it is not so; I am happy in the Lord, and blest in Him; but I am often a poor cast-down mortal, groaning under the burden of excessive labour, and sad at heart because of the follies of those whom I hoped to have seen serving the Lord, with zeal and success. Do give me your warmest consideration in your supplications. Believe me when I assure you that you are, for Christ's sake, very dear to me. Do not be led away from the faith which you professed when you entered the College. Cling to the collateral truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Live near to God, and love the souls of men. I make some sacrifices for your sake; but I count them gain, and my work for you is a delight. But do plead for more grace to rest on us all, and upon those settled in the ministry. Levity of conduct in my brethren brings heaviness of heart to me; and, what is inconsistent pleasure to them, is terrible agony to me. Oh, how can the ministers of God be smoking and drinking when souls are dying, and talking lightness and wantoness when sinners are perishing? It must not be so among us. May the Lord prevent it! Seeking ever your soul's best interest, and desiring your fervent prayers,
I am, dearly-beloved brethren,
Your affectionate brother,