Only A Prayer Meeting by C. H. Spurgeon
I have often found the theme for a brief address while meeting with you here on these happy Monday evenings, and my experience to-night has suggested a subject on which I think we may profitably meditate for a few moments, and then return to the holy exercise of prayer, in which we always like to spend most of the time. Perhaps some of you are wondering whether I ever before felt that I had “nothing to say.” Yes, more than once in my life has this been true; and, first, it was very specially the case with me when I was under conviction of sin. Through the Lord’s restraining grace, and the holy influence of my early home-life, both at my father’s and my grandfather’s, I was kept from certain outward forms of sin in which others indulged; and, sometimes, when I began to take stock of myself, I really thought I was quite a respectable lad, and might have been half inclined to boast that I was not like other boys,- untruthful, dishonest, disobedient, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, and so on.
But, all of a sudden, I met Moses, carrying in his hand the law of God; and as he looked at me, he seemed to search me through and through with his eyes of fire. He bade me read “God’s Ten Words,” – the ten commandments; – and as I read them, and remembered what I had been taught about their spiritual meaning as interpreted by the Lord Jesus Christ, they all seemed to join in accusing and condemning me in the sight of the thrice-holy Jehovah. Then, like Daniel, “my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength;” and I understood what Paul meant when he wrote, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
When I saw myself as guilty before God, I could say nothing in self-defence, or by way of excuse or extenuation. I confessed my transgression in solemn silence unto the Lord; but I could speak no word of self-justification, or apology, for I felt that I was verily guilty of grievous sins against the Holy One of Israel. I remember that it was a dreadful silence that reigned within my spirit at that time; even if I had tried to say a word in my own favour, I should have been self-condemned as a liar. I felt that Job’s words might be applied to me, “If I wash myself in snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt Thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him.” So I said nothing, when I was under conviction of sin, because I had “nothing to say.”
I will tell you another time when I had “nothing to say,” and that was, when I first saw the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour, and realized the meaning of John Newton’s hymn,-
“I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.
“Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look;
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
“My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail him there.
“A second look He gave, which said,
‘I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I die that thou mayest live.’”
I remember well how He told me that He had loved me with an everlasting love, and that He had given Himself up to die for me. I can never forget His wondrous words, nor the effect they produced upon me; I wanted to shout, “Hallelujah!” I wanted to borrow all the angels’ harps, and to set all Heaven ringing with my Saviour’s praise; I wanted all the stars to speak in His honour, and every voice in Heaven and earth to be jubilant with thanks giving unto Him who had done such great things for me; and failing all that, I could only sit down, and weep to the praise of the mercy I had found. It was not long, however, before I began to tell others of my Lord’s great love to me ; and now I can truly say to Him,-
“E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”
Ay, that it shall as long as I have a tongue to speak; but tell it all out, I never shall; and, sometimes, under a sense of His great goodness to me, I can sing, with good John Berridge,-
“Then my tongue would fain express
All His love and loveliness;
But I lisp, and falter forth
Broken words, not half His worth.
“Vex’d, I try and try again,
Still my efforts all are vain:
Living tongues are dumb at best,
We must die to speak of Christ.
It must be so, my brethren; to speak of Christ as He deserves, is quite impossible while we are in this imperfect state.
I hope that none of you will ever be in the condition of having “nothing to say” in the presence of God the Judge of all. Recollect the man who came in to the marriage of the King’s Son without putting on a wedding garment; and when the King came in to see the guests, He said to him, “friend, how earnest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” O you who hear the Gospel, but do not receive it; you who join us in the outward act of devotion, yet do not yield yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ; especially you who prefer the rags of your own righteousness to the perfect robe of the righteousness of Christ, you will not be able to say a word in self-defence! Shame will tie your tongues, conscience will prevent your utterance of a single syllable; and the King will say unto His servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth;” and you will be driven from His presence for ever. O my hearers, do not let it be so with any of you! May the Holy Spirit work in you, even now, repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! God grant it, for Christ’s sake! Amen.