Only A Prayer Meeting by C. H. Spurgeon
Somebody wrote in the newspaper, immediately after one of our great passenger steamers had gone down, that it was a very advisable thing that everybody who went on board a ship should wear a life-belt. He suggested that we should have the apparatus affixed to us, so that, just as we felt the ship sinking, all we should have to do would be to float away from the vessel until we were picked up. It did seem to me to be about the last thing that mortal man would ever attempt to do; but the proposal was a very natural one, and in a spiritual sense, and for the highest purposes, it may suggest an equipment which would be exceedingly wise.
If we always went about with life-belts around us, we should look very awkward, and they would be often in our way in following the ordinary business of life if we walked or rode on dry land prepared for swimming or floating; but suppose there could be a life-belt invented, which would make our ordinary garments more comfortable, which would be of use to us while on the land as well as in the water, which would give ease to us while we were sitting in the pew, and which would positively put strength into us while walking, as well as help us to float instead of sinking, which would be useful to the housewife in the kitchen, to the merchant at his desk, to the ploughman in the field, and to the workman in the shop, – suppose there were such a life-belt as that, everyone of us would want to have it on, and would never want to put it off.
Now it so happens that, if we would be prepared to die, that preparation will not in the least degree interfere with the duties of this life; but our best preparation for the life that now is will be that which prepares us for the life that is to come. If we were to be immortal on earth, and never see death, the very best thing that we could do in order to live a happy, useful, successful life would be, first of all, to be reconciled to God, and to
receive from Him a new heart, and a right spirit, by which we should be enabled to live in a way which would be acceptable with Him. Now, dear friends, you know how needful it is to be prepared to die; but ought it not to commend that solemn consideration to your soul that the very thing which fits us to die is that without which we are not fit to live?
“Are you prepared to die?” is thought to be a very solemn enquiry, and so it is; but, “Are you prepared to live?” is quite as solemn a question, if a man would weigh it by the light of eternity. If my believing in Jesus unto eternal salvation would make me miserable in this life, it would be worth while believing and being miserable through this little mortal span in order to inherit eternal life, would it not? When we once pass into the eternal state, how the ages of time will dwindle into nothing! But, beloved, believing in Jesus will not make you miserable, it is the path of happiness and bliss. To believe in Christ is to be unloaded of a terrible burden, and to have your heart filled with a sweet serenity. So there is a double advantage in believing; the result would be worth the having if it brought us a lifetime of misery; but it will not have that effect, for it will bring us present as well as perpetual joy. As we often sing,-
“’Tis religion that can give
Sweetest pleasures while we live;
‘Tis religion must supply
Solid comfort when we die.
“After death its joys will be
Lasting as eternity:
Be the living God my Friend,
Then my bliss shall never end.”
Suppose that, from this time forth, if you became a Christian, you had to be always poor, always sick, always baffled, always afflicted, it would be worth all that, it would be worth while suffering anything of which a human being is capable, to be eternally saved, and to have the joy of dwelling at the right hand of God for ever; but if you believe in Jesus Christ, it will not necessarily deprive you of anything that is really worth having; indeed, there are many who have proved that, although the great gain of godliness is in the world to come, yet even here it has brought them untold blessedness. I remember the story of an old man and his wife, who were once called upon for a subscription to the Bible Society, or some other good work. The old lady said they had lost so much by their religion that they had no money to spare. The old gentleman said, “Yes, we have lost a great deal. I used to have a suit of clothes all ragged and greasy and filthy, and I never could get another suit because I was a drunkard; and you know, Mary, that by my religion I lost my old ragged clothes. I used to be out till late at night, and then came home drunk, and very often through fighting I brought with me a pair of black eyes; I lost all that by my religion. I also had a nose that began to show the effect of drinking; and I lost that fine rosy tint, you know, Mary. That is only a small part of what we have lost by religion; and I think we can well afford to give a good subscription.”
Lost by religion! Why, where would some of you have been but for the grace of God? Where does a course of drunkenness and vice lead men? Where does even morality lead many? They have the chilly moonlight of self-satisfaction; but, in the hour of trouble, they have not the warm sunshine of the Lord’s love and grace to cheer them. Yes, although our brightest joys are yet to be revealed, God has been pleased to attach many temporal blessings to the yielding up of ourselves by faith in His dear Son. Who, then, would not be a Christian?
“There are drawbacks,” says one. “If we are Christians, we shall get ridiculed and laughed at.” I think I have had a tolerable share of that sort of thing; but it has not hurt me, I have not had a bone in my body broken through it, and I have not been robbed of an hour’s sleep by it. Dr. Watts said, – “Let dogs delight to bark and bite,” – and I think we have come to that pass, and can say the same with regard to ridicule for Christ’s sake; that is a very small matter. “Oh! but it is at home that we are so cruelly persecuted,” says somebody. Yes, I know that is a very severe trial, and yet it produces most blessed results. If your persecution were to cease, it might be the worst thing that could happen to you. I knew right well a young man, in a good station in life, a believer, apparently a very earnest believer, and the most indefatigable worker I ever met. He was constantly opposed at home on account of his religion, yet he never yielded an inch, but kept on earnestly working for Christ. The opposition is all gone, and he has a house of his own; but I do not see any earnestness in him now, it disappeared as soon as the persecution ceased. Some of us are very much like those gas bags that we have when we are exhibiting dissolving views; we put heavy weights on them to press out the gas so that we may have a more brilliant light. I do believe that most of our troubles at home and abroad are just like the weights on the oxygen bags. I am not disposed to wish that every young Christian should have a smooth path, for I notice that the bravest believers are often those who have had the severest struggles to maintain their integrity. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” If you have too much fine weather, you will be like some gardeners’ plants that grow too fast; they never get much heart, they had too much sun at the first, they would have been all the better for a little early nipping. You know that celery is not really good till it has had a sharp frost on it, and there are some Christians who seem all the better for a little persecution or trial; it seems to pinch them back; and, at the same time, it sends a sweetness into the very heart of their religion. If you ask me, “Do you like to hear of our being opposed?” I answer, “No, I do not; but I would not take this burden off you if I could, for it is best that you should have at least a little of it to bear.”
To be truly saved, to be a Christian, to be on Christ’s side, to know that you have an everlasting Saviour, is worth a great many fools’ laughs, is it not? You can bear to let all the asses bray at once, and yet not be troubled, if you know that you have Christ, and eternal life in Him. My dear young friends, I do pray that you may be led to weigh and estimate these things, and that you may be drawn by the Divine Spirit to say, “Jesus shall be mine, I will trust myself to Him whatever the consequences may be.” You will never come to Christ unless you feel your need of Him, unless you are convinced that you are really sinners, and confess it in penitence before God; but if the Lord has made you realize your true condition, come and welcome to the Saviour who died for the guilty; stand not back through shame or fear, the great gates of Divine mercy are set wide open that all sinners who believe in Jesus may come through them, and enter the Kingdom of Heaven, “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Then, dear friends, having trusted Christ for yourselves, remember that all whom you meet with need to hear about the Saviour who has delivered you. I have known some good earnest Christian people who have hardly known when to stop talking about religion, and some of them have at times spoken very indiscreetly. Well, well, I had rather hear of a hundred such indiscretions than that you should be indifferent to the welfare of the souls around you. Never you mind about being called “imprudent” now and then; there is nobody worth a button with the shank off who has not been imprudent sometimes, there is no one who has ever done anything for Christ who has not been lacking in discretion in the judgments of other people. They have been so prudent that they never spoke to anybody about Christ, they have been so prudent that they never lived as Christians should live; they have been so prudent with their saving faith that they have saved all their money, and not given any to the cause of Christ; they have been so prudent that, when they came to die, they had seriously to raise the question whether they were Christians at all; and they have been so prudent that, when they were dead, their friends did not know what to say of them, but they hoped that the Lord would see some sign of grace in them, although nobody had ever seen it while they were alive.
For my own part, I do not wish to be the chip in the porridge; and I hope you will be something that has a flavour in it, and show it by speaking to others of what you yourselves have experienced. There are some things that have flavour in them, but it is never known until they are boiled or bruised; and there are some Christians whose excellence is not revealed till they are persecuted. Therefore, do not shrink from the fiery trial that may await you; but look up to your Lord for grace sufficient in the trying hour, and go joyfully forward singing,-
“If on my face for Thy dear Name,
Shame and reproaches be,
All hail reproach, and welcome shame,
If Thou remember me.”