Spurgeon on a nation unknowingly restrained

The Daily Spurgeon is a great blog I’ve recently discovered. It does exactly what it says on the tin: provides a quote from Charles Spurgeon’s writings or preaching every day. Spurgeon is one of my heroes, a man whose preaching gift blessed this nation, and generations subsequent to his own. Here’s part of today’s post:

“Little do we know how much of the apparent morality of this country is due to the real religion which we have in our land. There are thousands of men in London who would open their shops tonight, if it were not for the influence of those who fear the Lord; their shops are closed, not because they take any interest in the Christian’s day of rest, but out of respect to custom. Sins, which now hide their heads under the veil of night, would stalk through our streets with barefaced impudence, if once Christianity were withdrawn. Bad as the customs of trade are, without the purifying power of the godly they would be infinitely worse. The whole fabric of our commerce, politics and war, is manifestly affected for the better by our religion Let those, then, who do not feel its power, yet at least think well of it, from this fact — that it is a blessing to our country; and while other nations have been rent with civil war, while revolution has followed revolution, and class has been set against class, the religion of Jesus Christ has made our land a happy land, and a land, after all, in which there is more generous benevolence towards the needy, and more mutual sympathy, than in any other kingdom or even in any republic beneath the sky. Thank God for true religion! Even if it does not convert a man, yet its presence in his neighbourhood tends to sober him, and to keep him from running into so great an excess of riot.”

Two responses to these words. First, how prophetic! Spurgeon preached this in October 1863 and reading it in 2008 we see how right he was, for we have witnessed the decline of Christian influence in this nation, and thus the decline of this nation. I'm not talking about geopolitical influence or economic prosperity but the spiritual health of the UK - the lives of its people. Through the course of the Twentieth Century, the Church in the United Kingdom lost its grip: movements became museums, Scripture was replaced with speculation. Result? To alter one of Spurgeon’s lines, “Sins, which did hide their heads under the veil of night, now stalk through our streets with barefaced impudence.” Look in our shops, watch our TV programmes, browse our websites – has this not come to pass?

Secondly, and here comes the good news: there is a hopeful challenge for today. Do not underestimate your impact. Spurgeon’s insightful connection shows us that people and nations are changed not by public barracking (street protests and the like beloved by some) but by personal influence. The mindlessness of the Crusades illustrate how Christians can been fooled into thinking that the world is blessed through the aggressive corporate expansion of Christianity and the forced subjugation of everything else. In fact Jesus sent out His followers in pairs to meet with people, bless them, and share the gospel with them that they might put their trust in Him. This is still our model: individual conversion through personal faith in Jesus. The result of this is what Spurgeon presents us with: a nation restrained from greater evils by the grace of God.

This means that we need to be led by and filled with the Holy Spirit: growing more like Christ in our character and receiving His power to witness. Your workplace, your home, where you hang out: if we all give ourselves to living truly godly lives in those places then I believe we will see our nation changed for the good. I once heard a man preach on changing a nation. “How do you do it?” he asked. “One person at a time.” Who is that person for you today?