I recently finished reading through that great Charles Spurgeon classic, The Saint and his Saviour: The Progress of the Soul the Knowledge of Jesus. It took me a while, but this tome was well-worth the effort of getting through. That’s sometimes how it is with Spurgeon. His wordy prose often takes a lot out of you. But, fortunately, his subject matter is almost always Jesus. These ten quotes come from the last six chapters of the book, the theme of which I’m sure you’ll pick up on soon enough. As before, I’ll add a comment or two as I see fit along the way.
1: Give us the Christ of affliction, for he is Christ indeed.1
I chose this one first since it somewhat colors Spurgeon’s entire premise in the latter half of the book. Much his exposition tends to discuss adversity and how to cling to Jesus even in the midst of it. The fact that the Christian is proffered precisely a “Christ of affliction” is, perhaps, the most endearing fact of the gospel. The Lord our Savior isn’t unfamiliar with our griefs. No, he’s shouldered them all the way to the cross (Isa. 53:4–7; Heb. 4:14-16).
2: We may be weak in grace, but grace is not weak: it is omnipotent, and able to endure the trying day.2
3: We can never so well see the true colour of Christ’s love as in the night of weeping.3
The “trying day” reveals the most accurate hue of Christ’s love precisely because trials often constitute barriers to intimacy, stunting relationships. Yet, in the case of the Christian, trials are where we see Christ best — even when we don’t, necessarily, see him.
4: When the clouds hide the mountains they are as real as in the sunshine; so the promise and the providence of God are unchanged by the obscurity of our faith, or the difficulties of our position.4
This truth really hits home. The certainty of who God is for you isn’t tethered to your condition or your circumstances. His sovereign love and condescending grace are unhindered by “the difficulties of your position.” Though clouds may obscure the sun, they can’t take it entirely away — and so it is with our days of adversity. They may cloud the love of the Father, but they can never take it away.
5: The Lord Jesus is no fair-weather friend, but one who loveth at all times — a brother born for adversity.5
You might say that he’s “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
6: Christ is a flower, but he fadeth not; he is a river, but he is never dry; he is a sin, but he knoweth no eclipse; he is all in all, but he is something more than all.6
7: We will readily trust ourselves in the hands of a physician who has been himself sick of our disease, and has tried the remedies which he prescribes for us; so we confide in the advice of the Christian who knows our trials by having felt them.7
I like this thought of relating our proclivity to listen to someone who’s “been there” when we’re enduring difficulty, too. It off-putting trying to listen to someone’s advice who hasn’t endured the same things you’re enduring. They don’t know the ins and outs of your grief. Such is why when a companion comes along who has “been there and back again,” we’re more apt to heed their wisdom. Which, again, makes the words of Jesus all the more remarkable since he’s that Companion.
8: A confident belief in the fact that Jesus is not an unconcerned spectator of our tribulation, and a confident assurance that he is in the furnace with us, will furnish a downy pillow for our aching head.8
These words are truly some of the best from the “Prince of Preachers.” The gospel’s announcement that we don’t have “an unconcerned spectator” but a brother “in the furnace with us” is all the good news we need. “There is another in the fire!” Amen.
9: Let us remember that we are not saved by our enjoyments of him, but by his efficacy for us.9
This thought is crucial to remember when undergoing a particularly grievous season — precisely because grievous seasons have a tendency of shaking our faith, removing our enjoyment of our Beloved. When our times are anything but joyful, we’re often tempted to believe that that is a sign of divine favor being removed from us. But that’s not true. Our hope of glory doesn’t rest on our enjoyment of Christ but on Christ’s efficacious work on our behalf. And his work is already done, finished, settled. His is a work we can bank on.
10: It is not our eye on him which is our great protection, but his eye on us; let us be assured that although we cannot see him, he can see us, and, therefore, we are safe. Whatever our frame or feeling, the heart of Jesus is full of love — love which was not caused by our good behaviour, and is not diminished by our follies — love which is as sure in the night of darkness, as in the brightness of the day of joy.10
There is, perhaps, no more fitting quote to leave you on than this one. Irregardless our good or bad behavior, or firm or flailing faith, this Jesus is “full of love” — of, specifically, a love that will not let us go and that cannot be dimmed by our failures or “follies.” It is a love that does not and cannot change, emanating from the One who is “the same yesterday, and to day, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). As you might be enduring your own “night of darkness,” may you be given the grace to cling to the certainty of the Savior’s heart for you, causing you to see that he’s never loosening his grip of you. Not now, not ever.
Grace and peace.
Charles Spurgeon, The Saint and His Saviour: The Progress of the Soul the Knowledge of Jesus (Houston: Christian Focus, 1989), 361.