The Weary-Wayfarer

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I am honored to have Vicki Joy Anderson posting a guest blog on this website.  She has written a poetry book, The Weary Wayfarer; A Pilgrim’s Progress Retold in Rhyme.  The poem is 1,678 stanzas (in homage to the year the book was first published) and contains the entire unabridged volume in iambic pentameter stanzas.  As a Christian pilgrim, I find her guest blog post below to be very encouraging.

 

The Weary-Wayfarer
A Guest Blog by Vicki Joy Anderson

I spent the last two years meticulously rewriting The Pilgrim’s Progress into a poem. It was a labor of love. I often asked myself as I was writing, “Why does this archaic tome still have an audience in the modern world?” Indeed, it breaks every current rule of authorship and would likely get a pass from every major publisher today. And yet, here we are, three-hundred and thirty-nine years after its first publication and the book has never once been out of print. Why?

The fight of faith is a lonely venture.

In a world full of mega churches and Facebook friends, this fact is often forgotten; but try as we might to flood ourselves beneath a flurry of fellowship and fun–faith is a feat of solitude. Christian does manage to find two good friends along the way–Hopeful and Faithful. Two friends? This must seem foreign, if not sad, to a modern audience. But Christian’s lonesome journey—though it may fail to connect with the modern mind—finds its mark in every human soul. Because no matter how many friends we have, there is that realization, deep down, that despite the enormity of the Church, Christianity is still, and always will be, a lonesome venture.

I remember as a teenager going to my mom, crying, and confessing that I was lonely because it was difficult to find Christian friends at my large, public high school. She told me something I have never forgotten. She compared following Christ to going to the beach. If you just wanted to get your toes wet with Christ, you could lay out on the hot sand, enjoy the sun on your face, and listen to the laughter of hundreds of other people all around you. But if you truly wanted Him–all of Him–he was the buried treasure on the floor of the ocean. To get to that treasure, you would have to leave all of the comforts of the sun and sand and laughter and venture out alone into the sea. The deeper you swam, the darker and colder it would become. The pressure of the water would become difficult to swim against. And the two or three friends who may have started out on the venture with you are now long gone. “What do you want?” she concluded. “The sunshine or the treasure?”

When life is good and the kids are healthy and the bills are getting paid, there is no end to the friends, fellowship, and fun. But for any of you who have suffered a long season of sorrow, you have come to learn what Christian knew, and that is that the modern-day Church, like the world around it, has a very short attention span. Christ alone has the ability to long-suffer with us through every second of grief and every hour of loss–even when those seconds and hours turn into years and then decades. Christ is not preoccupied with His own pain or bored by our broken-record repetitions. He is not agitated by our anger or reproachful of our raw emotion. Christ knows deep sorrow. When wrapped in flesh, He wrestled against agony, loss, and rejection. His empathy is an endless well of strength for us to draw from in seasons of suffering. His grace is sufficient. He could stop there–with Himself. But oftentimes, He does not. He knows our weaknesses, that we are made of dust. And so, like Christian, He gives us a couple of faithful companions along the way, a House Beautiful for a season of respite, and a scroll in our bosom to remind us of our reward.

How is it that three-and-a-half centuries later, modern believers can read of Christian’s plight and feel akin to this lonely man? Perhaps it is because there, buried beneath the barrage of busyness, we too are that lonely man. Christian found hope and respite along his weary path and so will we. Press on, fellow saints! Our goal is the Wicket-gate! Our goal is the treasure on the ocean floor. Our goal is Christ alone.

 

Poem excerpt taken from Chapter 1 of The Weary Wayfarer; A Pilgrim’s Progress Retold in Rhyme by Vicki Joy Anderson:

I walked through the wilderness of this world,
I lighted on a place where was a den;
I laid me down to sleep; and, as I slept,
I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and dreamed again.

2 And behold, I saw a man clothed with rags
standing in a certain way, with his face
from his own house, and a book in his hand,
and a great burden upon his back, placed.

3 I looked, and saw the man open the book,
read therein; and as he read, he wept too;
he trembled; and not able to contain,
broke out with a cry, “O, what shall I do?”

4 In this plight therefore he went home, refrained
himself from speaking his heart to his wife;
lest his dear children perceive his distress,
but he could not so long silence his strife.

5 Wherefore at length he spake his mind to them;
thus he began, “O my dear wife,” said he,
“and you, the children of my own loins, I’m
undone by burdens that bear upon me.”

6 “Moreover, I am for certain informed
that this our city will be burned by fire,
in which fearful overthrow, both myself,
with thee, my wife, and the sweet babes we’ve sired

7 shall miserably come to ruin except
we find a fortress for which to flee to.”
At this his relations were sore amazed—
not that they believed what he said was true,

8 but because they thought that some distemper
had drilled deep down into his frenzied head;
therefore, it drawing towards the night they, with
haste, escorted the man off to his bed.

9 But the night was as troublesome to him
as the day; wherefore instead of sleeping,
he spent it in sighs and tears. So, when morn
was come, Christian was worn thin from weeping.

10 So, he set to talk to them once again;
but they all turned away—hardened their hearts;
they thought to drive his distemper away
by harsh and surly verbal swords and darts.

11 Sometimes, they’d deride, other times, they’d chide,
while other times, they would quite neglect him;
wherefore, he began to retire himself
away to pray they would not reject him.

12 Also, to console his own misery,
he would walk alone in the fields, reading
and sometimes praying: and thus for some days
he spent time in pastures, interceding.

13 I saw, upon a time, he was walking
in fields, as he was wont, reading a book,
greatly distressed in his mind; as he read,
he burst out—crying with a voice that shook,

14 “What shall I do to be saved?” he cried as
he looked to and fro searching for a guide;
yet he stood frozen, for as I perceived,
the way which to go, he could not decide.

15 I looked, and saw a man, Evangelist
coming to him, asked, “Wherefore dost thou cry?”
He answered, “Sir, I perceive by the book
in my hand that I am condemned to die,

16 and after that, I’m to come to judgment;
and so, Sir, here is what is the matter;
I am not willing to perform the first,
nor am I able to do the latter.”

17 Then said Evangelist, “Since this brief life
is attended with so many scandals,
why not willing to die, to breathe thy last—
escape Tophet’s many woes and vandals?

18 The man answered, “I fear that this burden
that is on my back will sink me deeper—
will sink me lower than the lowest grave
into the foul hands of my soul’s Reaper.

19 And Sir, if I be not fit for prison,
I am not fit for judgment, I am sure,
and from thence to execution; these thoughts
have caused my soul to cry out for its cure.”

20 Evangelist said, “If this be thy plight,
why be paralyzed—why standest thou still?”
Christian said, “I know not wither to go—
what fate awaits me beyond yonder hill.”

21 Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there
was written within, these words dark and glum;
a most foreboding prophecy of doom,
warning mankind, “Fly from the wrath to come!”

22 Christian, he read it, and said carefully
to Evangelist, “Whither must I fly?”
He said, “Do you see yonder Wicket-gate,
where embrace of this wide field mates with sky?”

23 Christian replied, “No;” then said the other,
“Tell me, do you see yonder shining light?”
He said, “I do,” then said Evangelist,
“Keep it and the Wicket-gate within sight,

24 and go up directly thereto: so shalt
thou see the gate which, when thou knockest there,
it shall then be told thee what thou shalt do,
when you reach Wicket-gate—a land most fair.”

25 So, I saw in my dream, the man began
to run, and when not far from his own door,
but his wife and children, perceiving it,
began to cry out in grief and horror.

26 But the man put his fingers in his ears,
and ran on, crying, “Life! Eternal Life!”
So he looked not behind him, but he fled
towards the plain in the middle of the night.

27 The neighbors came out to see him run, and
as he ran, some threatened, some mocked his course;
while some others cried for him to return,
while two resolved to fetch him back by force.

28 The name of the first one was Obstinate,
his friend Pliable was the second man;
Christian was got a good distance from them;
but in hot pursuit, with vigor they ran,

29 and in a little while, they over-took,
then said Christian, “Wherefore are you both come?”
They said, “To persuade you to go with us.”
He said, “Nay! That can by no means be done!

30 You dwell,” said he, “in city Destruction,
the same city also where I was born:
I see it is so; and, dying there, you
shall sink to depths where souls may only mourn,

31 into a place where fiery brimstone burns;
be content, good neighbors, and come with me.”
Obstinate wailed “What? And leave friends behind?”
“Yes. That which you forsake makes you worthy,”

32 said Christian, “and if you will come with me
and hold it, you shall fare as well as I,
for there where I go, is enough to spare,
come away; prove my words are not a lie.”

33 Said Obstinate, “What is the thing you seek,
since you leave behind the world to find it?”
Christian said, “I seek an inheritance,
though no man has properly defined it.

34 It fadeth not away, ‘tis undefiled,
it is laid up in heaven where ‘tis safe
to be bestowed upon all of mankind
at an appointed time and chosen place

35 on all those that diligently seek it.
Read it so, if you will, please take a look.”
“Tush! Away!” Obstinate growled at the man,
“We have no need to read your holy book!

36 “Will you go back with us, Christian, or no?”
He said, “I have laid my hand to the plough.”
“Come now,” Obstinate said to Pliable,
“We’ve no use for men Holier Than Thou.”

37 “Don’t revile,” spoke Pliable, “if what good
Christian says is true—my heart is inclined
to follow him and the words of his book.”
“What now! More fools still?” Obstinate opined.

38 “Be ruled by me, and go back; for who knows
whither such a brainsick fellow will lead.
Go back! Go back! Pliable, please be wise,
do not force me to grovel, beg, and plead!”

39 “Nay, but do thou come with me, Pliable;”
Christian said, “For there are things to be had;
the things of which I spoke and many more—
pure glories that swell hearts and make man glad.

40 If you believe not me, read in this book,
and for truth of what I expressed therein,
behold, all is confirmed by blood of Him,
crucified so to sanctify our sin.”

41 “Well, Neighbor Obstinate,” said Pliable,
“I begin to come to a point, and so,
I intend to go along with this man;
Sir, do you know the desired way to go?”

42 Christian replied, “Yes, I am directed
by a man whose name is Evangelist
to speed me to a little, yonder gate,
where to receive instructions to assist.”

43 “Ah! Come, then, good neighbor,” said Pliable,
“Let us be gone!” And they both went their way.
“I will be no companion of misled,
foolish men!” was all Obstinate could say.

44 In my dream, when Obstinate was gone back,
Christian and Pliable went forth talking,
thus they began their discourse together,
exchanging sweet pleasantries while walking.

45 “Come, Neighbor Pliable, how do you do?
I am very glad you have come along;
had Obstinate but felt what I have felt—
powers and terrors of the unseen dawn—

46 he would not thus lightly have given us
the back, or turned ‘round to go his own way.”
“Come, Neighbor Christian,” Pliable, he said,
“since there is none but us two here today,

47 please tell me now further, what the things are;
and how it is these things should be enjoyed.”
“I cannot conceive of them with my mind;
neither can my tangled tongue be employed;

48 yet, since you are so desirous to know,
I will read of them, in my book, to you.”
Then, Pliable, he said, “And do you think
the words of your book are certainly true?”

49 “Yes, verily, for it was made by Him
who cannot lie, mislead, or disavow.”
“Well said: What things are they?” Pliable asked.
“Please, good neighbor, Christian, do tell me now.”

50 “There is an eternal kingdom to be
inhabited and everlasting life;
a kingdom paved with gilted streets, where men
and angels dance to sound of harp and fife;

51 garments that will make us shine like the sun;
a place where pain and sorrow disappears;
no more crying, no more weeping, for He,
our High Priest, shall wipe away all our tears.

52 We shall see seraphim and cherubim,
holy creatures that will dazzle your eyes!
There also you shall meet ten thousand saints,
ten thousand more, who’ve risen to the skies.

53 None are hurtful, but loving and holy;
all have crossed over Jordan’s parted stream,
now standing in His presence, bowing down
‘fore the feet of Yahovah Elohim.

54 In a word, there we shall see the elders
wearing crowns, clothed in righteous purity;
holy virgins with golden harps, martyrs
kissed by flame—embraced by waves of the sea.

55 Also, we shall see men that, by the world,
were cut in pieces and devoured by beasts;
for their love of Yahshua, in white robes clothed;
seated down for the bridegroom’s wedding feast.”

56 Pliable gasped, “The hearing of this tale
is enough to ravish one’s broken heart!
But are these things to be enjoyed? How shall
we hope to share in even a small part?”

57 Christian said, “The King, the Governor of
that country hath recorded in this tome;
the substance of which, if we be willing,
he shall bestow upon us this new home.”

58 Pliable said, “My good companion, glad
am I to hear this: let us mend our gait.”
But Christian said, “I cannot go so fast,
for upon my back is a heavy weight.”

59 Now I saw in my dream, that just as they
ended this talk, they very closely drew
near to what was in the midst of the plain;
there they came, to a very miry slough.

60 Being heedless, did both fall suddenly,
into the very thick of that foul pond;
therefore, there, they wallowed, for quite some time
in the sump known as the Slough of Despond.

61 Being grievously bedaubed with the dirt,
Christian began to sink deep in the mire.
“Neighbor, where are you now?” And Christian said,
“I know not, but fear my fortune is dire.”

62 “Is this the happiness,” Pliable scoffed,
“of which thou hast told me of all this while?
If we have such ill speed at our first step,
what must we expect in the coming miles?”

63 And may I get out again with my life,
you shall possess this brave country alone.”
With that he gave a struggle or two and
got out on the bank closest to his home.

64 Wherefore dear Christian was left there to jounce
midst the Slough of Despond’s algae and foam,
but still he endeavored to struggle to
that side of the slough furthest from his home,

65 and next to Wicket-gate; but he could not,
because of the burden upon his back.
But I beheld in my dream a man, Help,
to assist Christian with his heavy pack.

66 Help asked what he did there and Christian said,
“Sir, Evangelist bid me take this path;
directed me also to yonder gate,
to escape the coming judgment and wrath.

67 As I was going thither, I fell here
and sank down into the depths of this slough.”
“Why did not you look for the steps?” Help said,
“laid about this bog to so direct you?”

68 “For fear followed me so hard,” Christian said,
“that I fled the next way, and nearly drowned.”
“Give me thy hand!” So, Help, he drew him out;
and set Christian down upon solid ground.

 

Vicki’s first book, Harps Unhung: Praising God in the Midst of Captivity, is all 150 of the Psalms rewritten using 150 different styles of poetry.

Matthew Henry on the New Year

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On the first day of January 1713, Matthew Henry wrote the following words that is applicable as we recently entered 2017:

Firmly believing that my times are in God’s hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year to the wise and gracious disposal of the divine providence.  Whether God appoint for me health or sickness, peace or trouble, comforts or crosses, life or death, his holy will be done.

All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus; my studies and all my ministerial labors, and even my common actions.  It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor, that Jesus Christ may be magnified in my body.

In everything wherein I have to do with God, my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength and righteousness.  And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in his name, to make him my Alpha and Omega.  I have all by him, and I would use all for him.

If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year upon my account, I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon him, his everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in him through grace.

And if it should be my dying year, my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus.  And with a humble reliance upon his mediation, I would venture into another world looking for the blessed hope.  Dying as well as living, Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.

Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep in me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity, together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.

Matthew Henry’s writing excerpted from J. B. Williams’ Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Writings of the Rev. Matthew Henry.

Be Not Vexed

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This quotation by a 17th-century pastor, Willem Teellinck, is encouraging in light of today’s news and event (from Redeeming the Time, p. 36):

When you begin to consider the things which are happening all over the world, always remember that the Lord is working in them.  He who can bring light out of darkness, will yet from the completed and combined work bring forth something glorious.  Be not therefore too much vexed that there appears somewhere to come an ill stroke in your own affairs, or in the affairs of God’s people in your day, as is now the case; for the Lord would not permit this to take place, did He not mean to use it as a background to give the whole work a more beautiful lustre.

Of Two Moral Evils Choose Neither

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William Symington, Speech of the Rev. Dr. Symington at the great meeting, for protesting against the desecration of the Sabbath by the running of trains on the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway on the Lord’s day, held in the City Hall, Glasgow, February 26, 1842:

. . . Instead of being fixed by their favourite poster, ‘of two evils choose the least,’ I say . . . when you give me the choice of two moral evils, I can choose neither of them.  If I have the choice of two physical evils, I will choose the least.  If I am asked whether I would choose to lose a toe or a leg, I would choose to part with a toe; but if I am asked whether I would desecrate the Sabbath by steam or by horse power, I say I would do neither.  There is a dangerous and deadly fallacy lurking beneath this common maxim, against which I would warn all; for of two moral evils we must choose neither–we are not at liberty to do evil that good may come.

Keep the Heart as Keeping a Garden

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From Thomas Watson’s Sermon, The Spiritual Watch:

Keep your heart as you would keep a garden.  Your heart is a garden (Song of Solomon 4:12); weed all sin out of your heart.  Among the flowers of the heart, weeds will be growing—the weeds of pride, malice, and covetousness: these grow without planting and cultivating.  Therefore be weeding your heart daily by prayer, examination, and repentance.

Weeds hinder the herbs and flowers from growing; the weeds of corruption—hinder the growth of grace.  Where the weed of unbelief grows—it hinders the flower of faith from growing.

Weeds spoil the walkways.  Christ will not walk in a heart overgrown with weeds and briars.  Christ was sometimes among the lilies (Song of Solomon 6:3)—but never among the thistles.

James Durham on Providence

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Reading a troubling news yesterday made this quotation poignant to me:

“And therefore: Let us stay our faith here, that our Lord is still working in all these confusions.  And when matters are turned upside down to human appearance, our blessed Lord is not nonplussed and at a stand when we are; he knows well what he is doing, and will make all things most certainly, infallibly, and infrustrably to work for his own glory, and for the good of his people.” –James Durham, Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53, Sermon 34 (on Isa. 53.9), p. 358

 

A World of Thought

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Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Bishop Joseph Hall, Meditation on the Sight of a Large Library:

What a world of wit is here packed up together! I know not whether this sight doth more dismay or comfort me. It dismays me to think that here is so much that I cannot know; it comforts me to think that this variety affords so much assistance to know what I should. There is no truer word than that of Solomon; There is no end of making many books. This sight verifies it. There is no end: indeed it were a pity there should . . . What a happiness is it that, without the aid of necromancy, I can here call up any of the ancient Worthies of Learning, whether human or divine, and confer with them upon all my doubts; that I can at pleasure summon whole synods of reverend Fathers and acute Doctors from all the coasts of the earth, to give their well-studied judgments in all doubtful points which I propose! Nor can I cast my eye casually upon any of these silent masters but I must learn somewhat. It is a wantonness to complain of choice. No law binds us to read all; but the more we can take in and digest, the greater will be our improvement.

Blessed be God who hath set up so many clear lamps in his church: now, none, but the wilfully blind can plead darkness. And blessed be the memory of those, his faithful servants, who have left their blood, their spirits, their lives, in these precious papers; and have willingly wasted themselves into these enduring monuments to give light to others.

From John Flavel’s Epistle to the Reader in preface to The Righteous Man’s Refuge:

If Heinsius, when he had shut up himself in the library at Leyden, reckoned himself placed in the very lap of eternity, because he conversed there with so many Divine souls, and professed, he took his seat in it with so lofty a spirit and sweet content, that he heartily pitied all the great and rich men of the world, that were ignorant of the happiness he there daily enjoyed: How much more may that soul rejoice in its own happiness, who hath shut himself up in the chambers of the Divine Attributes, and exercise pity for the exposed and miserable multitude that are left as a prey to the temptations and troubles of the world.

One-Year Reading Plan for Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour

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I found a one-year reading plan for William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour.  It could seem a bit intimidating to tackle this unabridged volume of 1,100+ pages.  The grand theme of this book is spiritual warfare and how the Christian can furnish with ‘spiritual arms for the battle’ against the Satanic foe.

Sin never relaxes.  It never takes a vacation.  Our indwelling sin doesn’t lie down and wake up the next moment.  The Puritan John Owen wrote that sin may be most active when it seems to be the most dormant to us, hence we must be vigilant and vigorous against it in our spiritual warfare at all times and in all conditions, even when there is least suspicion.

The reading plan (available here) breaks it down into manageable chunks of reading only a few pages per day.  Because it is a 5-day-a-week reading plan, it allows two days within the week to catch up if needed or to reflect on what has been read throughout the week.

Books

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Came across this super charming picture.  I like the details that went into it.  The thick black-framed glasses adorning the girl’s face, along with two pigtails.  The piles of books.  Her little hands framing an overwhelmed facial expression.  Her dainty, old-fashioned, retro dress.  She could be a mini Librarian.

This picture somehow reminds me of a time, when I was perhaps an eight- or nine-year-old girl, browsing through my Dad’s bookshelves at home.  At that age I didn’t have the capacity to fully comprehend what I was trying to read from those books, but I’ve always loved books for as long as I can remember.  I recall turning the pages, pondering what was being written and thinking along the lines of, “When I grow up someday, maybe I’ll then be able to read many books and understand what I read . . .”

 

 “I’ve traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I’ve been where no-one’s been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.
~Janice James

Charles Spurgeon

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spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon

If I were to pick any Baptist preacher in Church history whom I’d like to meet, the beloved “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon would be amongst the top of my list.  I was often blessed upon reading his sermons, for he has a way with words that can encourage the soul.  He provides concrete examples with which his layman audience could easily understand.  His diction and delivery are inspirational; they enhance the beauty and force of his message.  After reading Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore, I’ve come to appreciate also his character, wit, and humor, for Spurgeon showed with his ready humor how it is possible for the highest spirituality to be exemplified in the cheeriest character.  His wit is as abundant as his wisdom.

Some favorite sayings and writings of Spurgeon which I find rather memorable (some are funny, and others edifying)…

On criticism:

Spurgeon was well-known as a cigar smoker, mostly for medicinal reasons as he faced certain health problems in his life.  He didn’t view cigar smoking as intrinsically wrong, if not in excess, and said he would quit if he finds himself smoking too much.  One time someone, who was particularly critical of Spurgeon, asked him how much is “too much”; to which Spurgeon replied, “Two at a time, of course.” 🙂

On head of family:

One time, in speaking to a couple getting married, he encouraged that they would both be “dearly-beloved” not only at the beginning of their marriage, but all through the end; and that, while their sorrows would be mutually shared, their joys would all be multiplied.  Referring to Ephesians 5:23, he addressed the bride and said:

“According to the teaching of the apostle, ‘The husband is the head of the wife.’  Don’t you try to be the head; but you be the neck, then you can turn the head whichever way you like.”

On his age:

Spurgeon had incredible oratory skills.  On his first effort at preaching in the pulpit, an elderly woman, who was enthusiastic of his preaching, cried out, “Bless your heart, how old are you?”  He replied that there should not be interruption in the service.  After the last hymn was sung she asked the same question again.  He replied, “I am under sixty.”  “Yes, and under sixteen!” the lady replied.  The congregation asked him to come and preach to them again as soon as possible.

On the truly Christian marriage:

From his sermon titled “The Saint One With His Savior” in which he beautifully describes a happy marriage and the true wife, all the while describing his beloved wife Susannah:

Sometimes we have seen a model marriage, founded on pure love, and cemented in mutual esteem.  Therein, the husband acts as a tender head; and the wife, as a true spouse, realizes the model marriage-relation, and sets forth what our oneness with the Lord ought to be.  She delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection; to her, he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes he is all-in-all; her heart’s love belongs to him, and to him only.  She finds sweetest content and solace in his company, his fellowship, his fondness; he is her little world, her Paradise, her choice treasure.  At any time, she would gladly lay aside her own pleasure to find it doubled in gratifying him.  She is glad to sink her individuality in his.  She seeks no renown for herself; his honor is reflected upon her, and she rejoices in it.  She would defend his name with her dying breath; safe enough is he where she can speak for him.  The domestic circle is her kingdom; that she may there create happiness and comfort, is her lifework; and his smiling gratitude is all the reward she seeks.  Even in her dress, she thinks of him; without constraint she consults his taste and considers nothing beautiful which is distasteful to him.

Susannah & Charles Spurgeon

A tear from his eye, because of any unkindness on her part, would grievously torment her.  She asks not how her behavior may please a stranger, or how another’s judgment may approve her conduct; let her beloved be content, and she is glad.  He has many objects in life, some of which she does not quite understand; but she believes in them all, and anything she can do to promote them, she delights to perform.  He lavishes love on her, and, in return, she lavishes love on him.  Their object in life is common.  There are points where their affections so intimately unite that none could tell which is first and which is second.  To watch their children growing up in health and strength, to see them holding posts of usefulness and honor, is their mutual concern; in this and other matters, they are fully one.  Their wishes blend, their hearts are indivisible.  By degrees, they come to think very much the same thoughts. Intimate association creates conformity; I have known this to become so complete that, at the same moment, the same utterance has leaped to both their lips.

Happy woman and happy man!  If heaven be found on earth, they have it!  At last the two are so welded, so engrafted on one stem, that their old age presents a lovely attachment, a common sympathy, by which its infirmities are greatly alleviated, and its burdens are transformed into fresh bonds of love.  So happy a union of will, sentiment, thought, and heart exists between them, that the two streams of their life have washed away the dividing bank, and run on as one broad current of united existence, until their common joy falls into the main ocean of felicity.

On agnosticism:

A gentleman said to Spurgeon, “Ah! Mr. Spurgeon, I don’t agree with you about religion; I am an agnostic.”  Spurgeon replied, “Yes!  That is a Greek word, and the exact equivalent is ignoramus; if you like to claim that title, you are quite welcome to.”

On God’s providence:

From Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening; Or, Readings at Eventide for the Family or the Closet (p. 318):

Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you.  Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition.  A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is sand-bank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel, and deviate so much from a straight line?” his answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbor at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.”  So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction, where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession.  Some plants die if they have too much sunshine.  It may be that you are planted where you get but little; you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection.  Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.  You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.”  Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good.  Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God.  Down, busy self and proud impatience; it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!