Not Living Specimens

29 Dec

Charles Spurgeon – Class beard

“If by excessive labour, we die before reaching the average age of man, worn out in the Master’s service, then glory be to God, we shall have so much less of earth and so much more of Heaven!”  Charles Spurgeon, An All Round Ministry

“It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed” Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

As quoted by John Piper in Charles Spurgeon: Preaching Through Adversity. Although Spurgeon is primarily talking to ministers or students for the ministry I think it’s fair to apply the quotes to all of us living for Christ. We are called to serve beyond the point where it is comfortable.


4 Responses to “Not Living Specimens”

  1. Emmaline December 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    Sounds a lot like Jim Elliott…! And it is such a challenge to live by.

  2. Daniel Ritchie December 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Sorry to rain on your parade, but those quotes are actually promoting the violation of the sixth commandment, which, according to the Westminster Catechisms, demands that we preserve our own and our neighbour’s life. One way that we do this is by not engaging in excessive labour and by taking regular periods of rest. The early deaths of men like John Calvin, various Puritans, and C. H. Spurgeon himself should serve to warn us about the dangers of doing too much work, it is an area where they are not to be imitated; the Lord has not made the human body to cope with that amount of labour.

    While it is a good thing to work hard, these men sometimes denied themselves even necessary sleep and rest; the long-term effect was to shorten their usefulness in the Lord’s work. Think how much more they could have achieved if they had lived to 70 or 80!

  3. James December 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    You raise a good point Daniel, we are called to preserve life. However, I don’t think Spurgeon is calling upon us to work ourselves to death as he did advise his students to take regular rests.

    “It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less. On, on, on for ever, without recreation may suit spirits emancipated from this ‘heavy clay’, but while we are in this tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt, and serve the Lord by holy inaction and consecrated leisure. Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for a while” Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

    Perhaps it was unfair of me to post the quotations without the other side of Spurgeon’s advice.

    As one who is guilty of the opposite extreme of laziness and time-wasting I am slow to criticise Calvin and Spurgeon or suggest that they were guilty of self-murder. Perhaps they were but I’m not a scholar regarding either and I’m in no position to judge.

    I find the quotes very thought-provoking and challenging, that’s why I posted them. I like Emmaline’s comparison with Elliot. These mens gave their lives over to winning souls with great urgency and, provided we avoid breaking the 6th commandment, ours should be the same. Trying to imitate them would be folly for they were men with gifts far beyond ours but I do think there is much to learn from their willingness to sacrifice their comfort for the advance of the gospel.

  4. Daniel Ritchie January 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm #


    I can see how the 2nd quote in the post and the one in your reply may be reconciled.

    However, Mr Spurgeon’s 1st quote – which says “If by excessive labour, we die before reaching the average age of man” – cannot (imho) be harmonized with preserving one’s own health.

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