Charles H. Spurgeon

[From an address delivered to the Society of Friends by C. H. Spurgeon, in Devonshire House Meeting House, Bishopsgate street, on Tuesday evening, November 6th, 1866.]

[Kimber, Thomas. The True Christian Theology of the Early Friends. An Essay Read Before the Professors and Students of Earlham College, Richmond, Ind., Fifth Month 15th, 1880. Richmond, IN: Nicholson & Bro., Publishers, 1880, Appendix V, pages 51-53.]

The Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

[P51] I desire to say to the Friends assembled here, and to all Friends in this kingdom, Beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus -- for that I trust we are -- does not the present age greatly require you? It wants all Christians, but does it not specially need you? If you are or wish to be at all like George Fox, was there ever a period since his day in which the existence of the Quakers was more necessary than now ? I think not; and this was why I wanted to have told you some time ago that I thought you stood upon a special vantage ground in the fight with Ritualism this covert Popery which is coming back amongst us. When an opponent call say to you, "Physician, heal thyself," it weakens your position. But in the matter of Ritualism an opponent cannot say this to you, unless, indeed, as I have heard some wicked people say, you may become as ritualistic in the utter absence of form as others do with the excess of form. I do not know whether that is true or not, but if so, do not let it be the case any longer.


I find it a very blessed thing at the Tabernacle to say, "Now let us sit still for a few minutes." It is often the very best part of the meeting, when the soul can digest the truth; and if this were done oftener when we meet together for worship, if more frequently solemn silence were proclaimed, I believe the very best results would follow from it. It is as much formality for people to think that they cannot worship God without the voice of the preacher as it is for others to fancy that they cannot worship God without an altar and a priest. It is ceremonialism to imagine that we must sing; or pray or read in a certain order; or must sit still just so many minutes; how much better while all things are done decently and in order to conduct worship as the Divine Spirit may direct! The Spirit of God is free, and sometimes the best worship will be with words, but at other times the best worship will be without words. Fox tells us this very unmistakably.

Would that the spirituality of worship were known throughout England! Would that it were recognized in every place of worship, that we must worship God who is a Spirit, ill spirit and in truth! Let it never be forgotten, my brethren, in your meetings, for it is to be feared that even your peaceful silence may be regarded as if it were necessarily worship, whereas the silence of your meetings, without the Spirit, is no better than silence in your beds, nay, it is no better than talk and babble unless the Spirit of God hold high communion with your souls. We must keep this in mind constantly.

You members of Society by birthright must take special care lest you imagine yourselves to be members of Christ's church because you happen to be members of Society. Do not conclude that you are necessarily children [P52] of God because you wear the garb and use the peculiarities of the Society. Alas! we know that it is one thing to talk about spiritual things, but quite another thing to feel them: one thing to make a profession of them, and even to live in outward correspondence with that profession to a degree, but quite another thing to have the inward and spiritual grace. The world, of course, turns away with a sneer, and says, "What do we care for this spiritual fanaticism?" and we can reply to the world, "Thou knowest nothing about it! How canst thou know it, for it is spiritually discerned." But you and I must see to it that every act of worship which we perform is done in the Spirit. We must pray in the Spirit, sing in the Spirit, and preach in the Spirit.


I do pray you in the name of Him who died upon the cross, by whose blessed Spirit we have been brought to trust in Him, to consecrate yourselves to. His service wholly and unreservedly. If this Society could be fully awakened to a consciousness of the position which it occupies, and of the danger of the present times, its smallness would, perhaps, prove to be its excellence, for sometimes a multitude God will not use, but saith, "The people be too many for me." If you be as Gideon's men that lapped you may be the means of defeating Midian's host.


Fox, after going to one professor and another, inquiring as to this and that, at last found peace where we too found it, if we really have it, namely, from the love of the Lord Jesus. There is one passage in his "Journal" which has been quoted thousands of times, but you will not object to hear it again, it deserves to be printed in letters of gold:

"And when all my hope in all men was gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is One, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.' And when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord did let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition; namely, that I might give him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence."

How like the finding peace in the case of Fox is to the way in which John Bunyan describes it in his "Pilgrim's Progress." There stands the poor burdened wretch who fain would go on the pilgrimage to the Celestial City, but finds it hard work to toil thither while bowed down with a load of sin. He sees before the eye of his mind the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and as he looks to the cross, suddenly the strings which hold his burden to his shoulders begin to crack, and the burden roils into the sepulchre, so that he sees it no more. "Whereupon,". writes Bunyan, "he gave three great leaps for joy, and went on his way singing." We have not forgotten those three great leaps which some of us gave in the day when Jesus took. our sins away, when he became to us all our salvation and all our desire -- Christ in us the hope of glory.


If you were to read. through the lives of all the eminent saints, I believe you would come to the conclusion that of all others George Fox is the most distinct upon the one point, that "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." I delight to hear him talking about the "steeple-houses." Quite right, George Fox! That is what they are, and nothing better! "A church!" said he; "did Christ shed his blood for the steeple house and purchase and sanctify the steeple-house with his [P53] blood ? And seeing the church is Christ's bride and wife, and that he is the head of the church, dost thou think that the steeple-house is Christ's bride, and that he is the head of that old house ?" Some of our dissenting friends are coming to call their buildings for public worship "Churches," because a church meets in them. Why do not they call them "Suns" or "Moons" because the light shines in them? The title would be quite as appropriate. I fear that we shall go back to superstition by slow degrees through the mis-use of terms; for though such misuse may appear to have but little harm in it at the first, yet there very soon comes to be mischief in it, and therefore it is as wise as it is right to be cautious from the very first. Buildings used for ecclesiastical worship were merely buildings and nothing more to this great Elijah. He often testified that the so-called churches were not one whit more consecrated than the moors and commons, and were more like Jeroboam's calves' houses than the true temples of God which are the bodies of his own people.


I am sure, friends, that if God shall multiply you greatly with truly Godly converts, there are thousands of the Lord's people who will be thankful for it, and will only feel that such an increase to your numbers will be an indication of the advance throughout England of true spiritual religion. -- From an address delivered to the Society of Friends by C. H. Spurgeon, in Devonshire House Meeting House, Bishopsgate street, on Tuesday evening, November 6th, 1866.