Today’s quote from Spurgeon demonstrates that the man believed two points that many today would disagree with. Firstly, he argues that intellectual assent to the gospel is insufficient for salvation, indeed that it may make you more worthy of damnation. Secondly, he seems to suggest that experience may well need to come first before faith. How many people do in fact say, “if I could just feel God, I would believe?” Finally he seems to believe that it is possible to have full assurance of faith without arrogance, to be soft-hearted and yet secure. Indeed, he is clear elsewhere in this sermon that the man without tenderness of heart is not in his view saved.
Give me, then, a man of tender heart, who, at the same time, mixes full assurance with his tenderness. He is the man who will bring forth fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Once again, our text suggests to us the blending of experience and knowledge. Read the Westminster Assembly’s Confession of Faith; by all manner of means get a clear view of the doctrines of grace, so that you can state them to others, and know why you hold them firmly yourself; but, remember, if you do not experience them in your own heart, if you do not know the power of them in your own life, you know nothing at all about them. Dry doctrine, without the damping of the Spirit of God, may only make fuel for your eternal destruction. When a man accommodates his religion up in the garret of his head, and never takes it down into the parlour of his heart, that man’s religion is vain. We must experience the power of the gospel in our own souls if it is to be of real service to us.
“True religion’s more than notion,
Something must be known and felt.”
It is very nice to talk about Christ; but do you trust him as your Savior? It may be very easy to speak about the new birth; but have you felt it? When you get these two things together, first the rain of gracious experience, and then the clear shining of intellectual knowledge of Scripture, then will you bring forth fruit unto God.
Charles H. Spurgeon, vol. 38, Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 38, NO. 2284, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Spurgeon’s Sermons (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998).