Thursday, August 16, 2007


A Further Thought For Preachers

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Vol 14 Metroplitan Tabernacle Pulpit pg458

I would have you remember
that if you attempt to convert a soul yourself, you had better first answer
the question of our text, “Canst thou loose the bands of Orion?” It were
easier for you to turn winter into summer than to turn a child of wrath into
an heir of grace. You have a task before you, which is utterly impossible to
human strength. Conversion is no more in your power than creation.
Regeneration lies not with you, but men are begotten again by the great
Father of Spirits unto a lively hope. Bow before the power of God, but feel
at this moment your own utter powerlessness in the work to which he has
called you. To turn an understanding from darkness to light, to make the
stubborn will supple, to break the iron sinew of pride, and make the neck
to bow with cheerful obedience-this belongs not unto you, but unto the
eternal Spirit who is omnipotent in the world of mind. Think of this, and go
in his strength, and not in your own.
Brethren, if it be so with individuals, it is, in proportion, equally so with
entire congregations. We have, under God, as his servants, to save a
perishing world; we are sent out as laborers in Christ’s vineyard to be the
means of reclaiming the wild wastes to the husbandry of Christ; but what a
task is ours! How impossible! We had better first attempt to loose the
bands of Orion before we shall be able, unaided of God, to loose the bands
of wickedness, and say to the oppressed, “Go free!” The missionary
enterprise, apart from supernatural influences, is the most insane that ever
crossed the mind of man. Yea, I will venture to say, that the work of
preaching the gospel, even in Christian England, is of all attempts the most
foolish, unless we believe in the celestial power, which alone can make
preaching to be of any avail. Withdraw the Spirit; withdraw our belief in his
power, and our teachings become the subjects of deserved ridicule. It is
even so in our attempts to revive a slumbering church. I discern a sleeping
church pretty readily. When I am preaching in any place, I can soon tell
what kind of people I am preaching to by their looks. There is a fire that
flashes where there is life. Truth draws forth a responsive glance; good
men’s bosoms heave while Christ is preached; but in some places hearers
are stolid, cold, dead; you might almost as well preach to the green hillocks
that surround the church as preach to them; they stir not, they move not,
neither ca n they be moved. Now, at such times it is very dispiriting unless
one can fall back upon the belief that the Holy Ghost can, if he wills, on a
sudden, quicken the most dead of all professing churches, and make his
people again to live, so that like the dry bones of Ezekiel’s vision, they
shall stand upon their feet, an exceeding great army, ready to fight the
battle of their Master. Canst thou loose the bands of Orion? Christian, feel
thy powerlessness. Behold, what must be done, and yet how thou canst do
less than nothing in it!
On the very surface lies the lesson of humility. I trust, brethren, I have no
need to say this, for the doctrine before us must have already had an effect
upon your minds: while you have been thinking of the power of God, and
of your own insignificance, you must have felt bowed down and humbled.
It is always dangerous to be useful. It is to be desired above silver, and
coveted above fine gold, and yet, when obtained, it has its measure of
dangers, for Satan will whisper even if natural pride do not, “What an
excellent man thou must be! What qualifications there must be in thee!
What glory God gets out of thee!” “See,” says the devil, “hundreds saved
under you! Believers comforted under you!” and then the foul thought, the
wicked thought seeks to build its nest right under the eaves of God’s own
temple in the heart, “Thou art something after all.” But, brethren, we need
to be brought back to this, “Thou canst do nothing out of Christ; thou art,
apart from him, a withered bough, to be gathered and cast into the fire.”
Yes, thou preacher, powerful, useful, honored of God, nothing but a
withered bough, apart from Christ! Yes, thou goodly woman, thou godly,
earnest man, engaged in the Sabbath-school or in the Bible-class, all speak
well of thee, and yet thou art a cloud without rain, and a well without
water, unless thou hast a vital union with Christ! As well might a child
uproot an Alp, as thou attempt to win a soul apart from Christ! As well an
infant creep from the cradle, and pluck the sun from its place, and hurl the
moon into the deep, as thou be able to deliver a soul from going down into
the pit. Oh, this thought, brethren! I feel as if I could not speak of it, for it
prostrates me before God, and makes me ask him never to leave me to
myself to think myself something, lest he be angry with me, and use me no
Should not the next thought which comes into the mind be that of gratitude
and adoration to God? If we cannot command the Holy Spirit’s power, yet
he can. What if Orion’s bands cannot be loosed by us, they can be loosed
by him! There is no despairing soul that cannot find comfort when he visits
it. “Yea, he maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful
mother of children;” “he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the
needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the
princes of his people.” “The people that walked in darkness have seen a
great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them
hath the light shined.” He openeth the blind eyes, and bringeth “out the
prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison
house.” Glory be to his name! Where the human arm fails to work results,
the divine arm with ease achieves its purpose. And with us here, within our
hearts, these gardens so frost-bitten, can be visited by him; and if the Well
beloved comes, the summer comes with all its pleasant fruits. If Jesus will
but walk into this garden, and open the doors of our hearts and enter in,
then there will be a paradise where there was aforetime a wilderness.
Blessed be the Lord, we cannot have sunk so low but he can lift us up; we
cannot be so barren and so comfortless but what he can make us fruitful
and give us joy and peace again. There is no church, which he cannot
revive. Are you members of congregations, which are slumbering? Do not
despair. You will go home after the day’s service, and say, “I wish I could
do some good here, but I am only one.” No, dear brother, you cannot
loose the bands of Orion, but God can. The great Head of his church can
suddenly come into his temple, and fill it with his glory. He can rake
together the almost expiring ashes, and kindle the fire anew, and bring the
sacrifice, and make your church yet to be a temple to his praise.

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