The following are my comments on things written by Dan Phillips and Charles Spurgeon.
PyroManiacs: Setting the World on fire. `Is not My word like a fire?` says the LORD (Jeremiah 23:29).
01 September 2011
Spurgeon’s pastoral wisdom in dealing with a woman lacking assurance
by Dan Phillips
I am re-listening to an audio version of Spurgeon’s autobiography, and just (re-)heard an anecdote that delighted me. Being one who, as I’ve shared, has struggled mightily with assurance, it touched me to hear how Spurgeon dealt pastorally with a woman of whose salvation he had no doubt, yet of which she had no assurance. See how CHS tries first one angle, then another, in persisting to reach out to help this poor soul connect her clearly-evident faith with the blessing and assurance that its Object was offering her, relentless pursuing her doubt in loving attempts to drive it out and bring her to the joy that should have been hers. You could say Spurgeon takes her seriously, but does not take her doubt seriously; or he does in the sense that he says in effect, “Well then, if A is troubling you, shouldn’t B, C and D follow?” — attempting to loosen her hold on A.
We can learn from him; and from her. [End Dan Phillips –CD]
Dan Phillips says that this woman’s faith was “clearly-evident.” Passages such as Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 8:14-16 contradict Dan Phillips by saying that NOT faith but _unbelieving doubt_ was clearly evident. Spurgeon definitely did NOT take her doubt seriously in the Biblically pastoral sense. To be truly “pastoral” one must exhibit genuine love and concern for the souls of mankind — to speak “peace, peace” when there is no peace is NOT a shining instance of Biblically and “pastorally sensitive” counseling.
Spurgeon is like the false prophets of old who with lime daubed ** the tenderly rebellious (cf. Romans 8:7) and pseudo-pious consciences of those wavering back-and-forth, refusing to submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ as the sole grounds of acceptance before God (cf. Romans 4:20-21, 10:3).
Mr. Phillip’s admission to having “struggled mightily” with assurance clearly reveals that since he has daubed himself with lime (cf. Ezekiel 22:28) he heartily encourages daubing others with the same.
** Ezekiel the 13th chapter fits Spurgeon’s pernicious “pastoral” sensitivities like a form-fitted glove.
[Beginning of Spurgeon anecdote consoling this woman in her self-righteous condition (cf. Romans 10:1-4). Spurgeon would kill this woman’s soul with his “cruel kindness”–CD]:
Among my early hearers at Waterbeach was one good old woman whom I called “Mrs. Much-afraid.” I feel quite sure she has been many years in Heaven, but she was always fearing that she should never enter the gates of glory. She was very regular in her attendance at the house of God, and was a wonderfully good listener. She used to drink in the gospel; but, nevertheless, she was always doubting, and fearing, and trembling about her own spiritual condition.
She had been a believer in Christ, I should think, for fifty years, yet she had always remained in that timid, fearful, anxious state. She was a kind old soul, ever ready to help her neighbours, or to speak a word to the unconverted; she seemed to me to have enough grace for two people, yet, in her own opinion, she had not half enough grace for one.
Romans 8:15-16 says that “Mrs. Much-afraid” (Spurgeon’s victim) has yet to receive the Spirit of adoption and thus she is presently an unregenerate person who has a spirit of bondage.
One day, when I was talking with her, she told me that she had not any hope at all, she had no faith; she believed that she was a hypocrite.
I said, “Then don’t come to the chapel any more; we don’t want hypocrites there. Why do you come?”
She answered, “I come because I can’t stop away. I love the people of God; I love the house of God; and I love to worship God.”
“Well,” I said, “you are an odd sort of hypocrite; you are a queer kind of unconverted woman.”
She has “not any hope at all” because she is ignorant of God’s righteousness manifested in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ as the sole ground of acceptance before God (cf. Romans 10:1-4). She is not submitted to the righteousness of God and is thus seeking to establish her own righteousness by such means as going to Spurgeon’s chapel.
“Ah!” she sighed, “you may say what you please, but I have not any hope of being saved.”
Her exclamation emits the putrid stench of false humility. Evidently, to her twisted mind, her sinfulness is more powerful than the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. In her blinded estimate the blood of Christ is NOT sufficient to cleanse her conscience from dead works (cf. Hebrews 9:13-14). Thus, it’s clear she is still in the flesh bearing the deadly fruit of self-righteousness (cf. Romans 7:5).
So I said to her, “Well, next Sunday, I will let you go into the pulpit, that you may tell the people that Jesus Christ is a liar, and that you cannot trust Him.”
“Oh!” she cried, “I would be torn in pieces before I would say such a thing as that. Why, He cannot lie! Every word He says is true.”
“Then,” I asked, “why do you not believe it?”
She replied, “I do believe it; but, somehow, I do not believe it for myself; I am afraid whether it is for me.”
“Have you not any hope at all?” I asked.
“No,” she answered; so I pulled out my purse, and I said to her, “Now, I have got £5 here, it is all the money I have; but I will give you that £5 for your hope if you will sell it.”
She looked at me, wondering what I meant. “Why!” she exclaimed, “I would not sell it for a thousand worlds.” She had just told me that she had not any hope of salvation, yet she would not sell it for a thousand worlds!
Spurgeon is too blind to see it, but it is clear that “Mrs. Much-afraid’s” hope is NOT found solely in the work of Jesus Christ. The reason why she will not sell her “hope” is because she has NOT yet despaired of her own righteousness as the sole ground of acceptance before God. She will not sell her self-righteous hope. She will not cast off her filthy rags and cling solely to Jesus Christ.
One might object that she is NOT trusting solely in her own righteousness but in a “mixture” of the righteousness of Jesus Christ AND her own righteousness by some kind of “felicitous inconsistency;” as if it were possible to submit to the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel of Christ while establishing your own righteousness(cf. Romans 10:3).
If she would despair of her own righteousness and hope in the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, she would never doubt, she would never be shaken, for she would have her foundation on the Rock of Jesus Christ:
“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him [cometh] my salvation. He only [is] my rock and my salvation; [he is] my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. … My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him. He only [is] my rock and my salvation: [he is] my defence; I shall not be moved. In God [is] my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, [and] my refuge,[is] in God” (Psalm 62:1-2,5-7). “They that trust in the LORD [shall be] as mount Zion, [which] cannot be removed, [but] abideth for ever. As the mountains [are] round about Jerusalem, so the LORD [is] round about his people from henceforth even for ever” (Psalm 125:1-2).
One’s assurance IS the ground of one’s salvation, and the ground of one’s salvation IS the ground of one’s assurance – Jesus Christ alone! The Spirit does not operate a self-righteous assurance in any allegedly “spirit-wrought fruit,” since the Spirit convicts God’s people of the truth that Jesus Christ and His righteousness is the only ground of salvation and hence their only assurance and hope of salvation.
I fully expect to see that good old soul when I get to Heaven, and I am certain she will say to me, “Oh, dear sir, how foolish I was when I lived down there at Waterbeach! I went groaning all the way to glory when I might just as well have gone there singing. I was always troubled and afraid; but my dear Lord kept me by His grace, and brought me safely here.”
Sadly, Spurgeon is a soul-killer who spoke “peace, peace” when there was no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11; 2 John 9-11).
She died very sweetly; it was with her as John Bunyan said it was with Miss Much-afraid, Mr. Despondency’s daughter. Mr. Great-heart had much trouble with those poor pilgrims on the road to the Celestial City; for, if there, was only a straw in the way, they were fearful that they would stumble over it. Yet Bunyan says, “When the time was come for them to depart, they went to the brink of the river. The last words of Mr. Despondency were, ‘Farewell night, welcome day.’ His daughter went through the river singing.”
John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” has had an incredibly pervasive influence and like many other popular Reformed/Calvinist/Puritan writings is responsible for blanketing much of the theological landscape in the darkness of ignorance. Much of Bunyan’s writing in The Pilgrim’s Progress is based on his own self-righteous experiences recorded in his “Grace Abounding To The Chief Of Sinners.”
Our Lord often makes it calm and peaceful, or even joyous and triumphant, for His departing timid ones. He puts some of His greatest saints to bed in the dark, and they wake up in the eternal light; but He frequently keeps the candle burning for Mr. Little-faith, Mr. Feeble-mind, Mr. Ready-to-halt, Mr. Despondency, and Miss Much-afraid. They go to sleep in the light, and they also wake up in the land where the Lamb is all the glory for ever and ever.
[C. H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary: Volume 1, 1834-1854, 239-40 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009). A bit of editing (shape, not content) to enhance readability.]
To quote again:
“He puts some of His greatest saints to bed in the dark, and they wake up in the eternal light.”
Spurgeon regurgitates the disgustingly pernicious, pseudo-pious, Puritan sentiment that the Spirit of God ceases to witness to His own that they are children of God (Romans 8:15-16); Or that in the hearts of His people, He at times “turns out the lights” that they cannot see His glory in the face of Jesus Christ; Or that the Spirit of God for a long or short duration ceases to glorify Jesus Christ in the hearts of His people (cf. John 16:14).
Spurgeon’s comments regarding Mr. Despondency, Miss Much-afraid, Mr. Little-faith, Mr. Feeble-mind, and Mr. Ready-to-halt reveals that Spurgeon has been enveloped by Bunyan’s literary python. Constriction complete.