In Memoriam: A Song of Sighs by Susannah Spurgeon

Charles-Susannah-Spurgeon2 2The following was written by Susannah Spurgeon shortly after the death of her husband.  Anyone at all familiar with their story knows how deeply they loved one another.  If ever there were a love story in church history, theirs must be it.  Her grief here is almost palpable.  One can only silently mourn by her side as she calls to mind “treading this highway of life together, hand in hand-heart linked to heart.”  Yet, despite the trauma of her loss, she concludes with “the goodness and mercy” of God who faithfully followed and cared for them all those years.

This world is fleeting.  How soon we will be done with it. Our lives are but a vapor. But for those who are called and kept by the power of God, our hope is yet to come.  Susannah knew that. And even in her deep and abyssal mourning, the fire of her faith would not be extinguished.

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I have traveled far now on life’s journey; and, having climbed one of the few remaining hills between earth and Heaven, I stand awhile on this vantage-ground, and look back across the country through which the Lord has led me.

A well-defined pathway is visible, but it appears devious and wandering; sometimes skirting a mountain-top, whence one could catch glimpses of “the land that is very far off”; and, further on, descending into a valley shadowed by clouds and darkness. At one time, it runs along amidst steep places, and overhanging rocks; at another time, it winds across an open plain, brilliant with the sunshine of goodness and mercy, and fanned by breezes which are wafted from the fields of Heaven.

There are flowers of joy and love growing all along the way, even in the dark places; and “trees which the Lord has planted,” give shade and shelter from too great heat.

I can see two pilgrims treading this highway of life together, hand in hand—heart linked to heart. True, they have had rivers to ford, and mountains to cross, and fierce enemies to fight, and many dangers to go through; but their Guide was watchful, their Deliverer unfailing, and of them it might truly be said, “In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”

Mostly, they went on their way singing; and for one of them, at least, there was no joy greater than to tell others of the grace and glory of the blessed King to whose land He was hastening. And when he thus spoke, the power of the Lord was seen, and the angels rejoiced over repenting sinners.

But, at last, they came to a place on the road where two ways met; and here, amidst the terrors of a storm such as they had never before encountered, they parted company—the one being caught up to the invisible glory—the other, battered and bruised by the awful tempest, henceforth toiling along the road—alone.

But the “goodness and mercy” which, for so many years, had followed the two travelers, did not leave the solitary one; rather did the tenderness of the Lord “lead on softly,” and choose green pastures for the tired feet, and still waters for the solace and refreshment of His trembling child. He gave, moreover, into her hands a solemn charge—to help fellow-pilgrims along the road, filling her life with blessed interest, and healing her own deep sorrow by giving her power to relieve and comfort others.

“With Christ—which is far better!” Philippians 1:23.

Ever since the solemn midnight hour when God took to Himself my most precious treasure, “the desire of my eyes,” my loving and dearly-beloved husband—the above inspired words have been a wellspring of solace and comfort to my desolate heart. In the first anguish of my grief, I wrote them on the “farewell” card, and the palm-branches, which waved over his dead body in token of everlasting victory, bore their grand message of consolation to the thousands of weeping mourners.

Now, as the days go by, and the sense of loss deepens, and is still more acutely realized, the blessed fact set forth by these words comes again with Divine power of healing to my sorrowing soul. It is because it is far better for him to be with Christ—that I can patiently and even cheerfully endure my lonely life. I can sometimes dwell with such joy on the thought of his eternal glory “with Christ,” that I forget to sorrow over my own great and unspeakable loss.

A dear friend wrote thus to me, the other day—”Oh, when I think of him, as able to praise his Savior, and preach without fatigue or pain—no longer limping, or leaning on his staff—with no cough, no faintness—no swollen fingers or ankles—away from the fogs and mists; where no heresies distress his heart; when I think of him thus, my heart fairly leaps for joy!”

Yes, faith can truly exult in our beloved’s glory.

Online Source:  GraceGems

True Revival Preaching

Whitefiled_PreachingRead this testimony from a Connecticut farmer named Nathan Cole (1711-83) during the First Great Awakening in America.

“One morning, all on a sudden, about 8 or 9 o’clock there came a messenger. I was in my field, at work, I dropped my tool that I had in my hand and ran home and ran through my house and bade my wife get ready quick to go. I ran to my pasture for my horse with all my might, fearing I should be too late. I brought my horse home and soon mounted and took my wife up and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse began to be out of breath I would get down and put my wife in the saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could and not stop or slack for me except I bade her, and so I would run until I was almost out of breath and then mount my horse again, and so I did several times to favour my horse … for we had twelve miles to ride double in little more than an hour.

On high ground I saw before me a cloud or fog rising, I first thought off from the great river [the Connecticut River] but as I came nearer the road I heard a noise something like a low rumbling of horses feet coming down the road and this cloud was a cloud of dust made by the running of horses feet. It arose some rods in the air, over the tops of the hills and trees, and when I came within about twenty rods of the road I could see men and horses slipping along in the cloud like shadows and when I came nearer it was like a steady stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another, all of a lather and some with sweat.…

We went down with the stream, I heard no man speak a word all the way, three miles, but everyone pressing forward in great haste, and when we got down to the old meetinghouse there was a great multitude—it was said to be 3000 or 4000 people assembled together. We got off from our horses and shook off the dust, and the ministers were then coming to the meetinghouse. I turned and looked towards the great river and saw ferry boats running swift, forward and backward, bringing over loads of people, the oars rowed nimble and quick. Everything, men, horses and boats, all seemed to be struggling for life.”

Sweeney, D. A. (2005). The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

What caused such hysteria and urgency in the hearts of Nathan Cole and thousands of others?

“One morning, all on a sudden, about 8 or 9 o’clock there came a messenger and said (to me Nathan Cole), “Mr. (George) Whitefield preached at Hartford and Wethersfield yesterday and is to preach at Middletown this morning at 10 o’clock.”

Now that is a Revival! That is a Great Awakening! That people would drop everything and flee to hear the preaching of God’s Word. Lord, send revival again!

Here We Have No Abiding City

The true Christian finds everything around him antagonistic to his thoughts and feelings.
He loves Christ supremely — the world hates Him supremely.
He delights to do God’s will — the world revels in its disobedience.
His heart is set on heavenly and Divine things — “the heart of men is fully set to do evil.”

He is daily pained at the manifestations of sin and unbelief. He mourns at the spiritual destitution of his fellow men, and at the rampant evils which rear themselves unbridled, and devour the vitals of society with rapacity! Sin meets his eye wherever he turns!

In the Church — he sees hypocrisy, formality, self-righteousness, censoriousness, lukewarmness, and backsliding.
In the family — he finds peevishness, ill temper, discord, variance, strifes, evil surmisings, and positive hatred.
In the state — he perceives crimes of every sort and hue, and the decalogue broken in each one of its commandments.
In business — he is made to witness fraud, greed, deceptions, lying!

We are ever made to feel that we are in an enemy’s country; that here, as the Patriarchs confessed, “we have no abiding city — but we seek one to come;” that “we who are in tabernacles of flesh do groan, being burdened” —
burdened with the remaining corruption of our own hearts;
burdened with our daily short-comings and omissions of duty;
burdened with our positive transgressions;
burdened with our frequent infirmities; and
burdened with seeing and hearing the ungodliness which surrounds us, and which is ever crying to Heaven for vengeance!

We long for a release from the place where our soul, like that of righteous Lot, is daily “vexed with the filthy lives of the wicked!” So that, look where we will, we are constrained to say with the Psalmist, “Woe to me that I dwell in Meshech — that I live among the tents of Kedar!” Psalm 120:5

William Bacon Stevens, “The Parables” 1857

“He is not here; he is risen!”

MaryMagdaleneTomb

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered , they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again. Then they remembered his words.” (Luke 24:1-8)

What is the Gospel message?  First, I will tell you what it is not.

It is not a promise that all your problems will go away. It is not a ticket to a peaceful, trouble-free existence. It doesn’t mean exemption from hard times, sickness, or injustice.

Jesus said, in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.” If it were, Jesus would have appeared to Pilate, the Sanhedrin, the Roman political leaders, and a host of others. He would have regrouped and carried on his earthly ministry. Instead he appeared to a small band of followers, instructed them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name, and then ascended into heaven.

So, what exactly is the Gospel message? The Gospel is God’s plan from eternity past to save sinners from His wrath that is to come.  Why is it coming? Because, at our core, we are a rebellious and sinful people.  Even our most noble intentions are mixed with evil motives. God’s testimony of the human heart is that every inclination is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21) and it is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). And a holy God cannot overlook evil. He must judge it. The good news is that God has made a way for guilty sinners to escape His wrath.  For those in Christ, not a drop remains.  God poured it all out on Jesus at Calvary.  And in so doing, He removed the chasm that once existed between a Holy God and sinful man. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).  God cancels the record of charges against guilty sinners and takes it away by nailing it to the cross. And now sinful men and women are clothed with the righteousness of Christ which comes through faith (Philippians 3:9).

One day, you and I will die.  These earthen vessels will waste away. But when the power of God raised Jesus from the dead, it was a promise to all made righteous through faith in Christ.  We will rise and say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O grave, is your sting?”(1 Corinthians 15:55). Those in Christ will be raised in honor, glory, and power. All indwelling sin and corruption will be completely removed, and we will be like Jesus, in a glorified state.  We will spend eternity in His presence where we will worship and know everlasting joy.

This is our hope, and apart from it there is no other.