22 September 2005

An excellent jeremiad from Mr. Spurgeon

The following excerpts are from an editorial Charles Spurgeon published in The Sword and the Trowel in 1871, more than a decade before the famous Downgrade Controversy.

Spurgeon makes no effort to disguise his passion for the truth, hide his contempt for the skepticism of the day, or otherwise tone down his rhetoric in order to mollify people who were demanding that he be more "charitable" in his treatment of unorthodox opinions.

He also had nothing but disdain for the notion that uncertainty is a mark of holy humility or a sign of intellectual sophistication that ought to be cultivated.

The arguments Spurgeon employs make it clear that the movement he opposed (nineteenth-century modernism) had a lot in common with the postmodern cynicism that infects the wider evangelical movement today. He leaves little doubt about how he would respond to the writings of Brian McLaren, Steve Chalke, Tony Campolo, the Open Theists, and their fellow post-evangelicals.

Here are some especially poignant excerpts:

That these gentlemen . . . are not liberal, but intolerant to the last degree, is evident, from their superciliousness towards those poor simpletons who abide by the old faith.

Why, it's almost as if he had been reading the latest issue of Christianity Today or surfing through some of the blogs I monitor:

Let half a word of protest be uttered by a man who believes firmly in something, and holds by a defined doctrine, and the thunders of liberality bellow forth against the bigot. Steeped up to their very throats in that bigotry for liberality, which, of all others, is the most ferocious form of intolerance, they sneer with the contempt of affected learning at the idiots who contend for "a narrow Puritanism," and express a patronizing hope that the benighted adherents of "a half-enlightened creed" may learn more of "that charity which thinketh no evil."

Sounds suspiciously like some fellows I know who regularly use "TR" or "RB" (acronyms for "truly Reformed" and "Reformed Baptist") against their adversaries as if those were the grossest of obscenities.

To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints is to them an offense against the enlightenment of the nineteenth century; but, to vamp old, worn-out heresies, and pass them off for deep thinking, is to secure a high position among minds "emancipated from the fetters of traditional beliefs."

Spurgeon was quoting the precise expressions broad churchmen had published. He was clearly the unnamed target of their disdain. The hypocrisy of their subsequent pleas for "charity" was obvious.

Great is their indignation at the creeds which render their position morally dubious. Churches have no right to believe anything; comprehensiveness is the only virtue of a denomination; precise definitions are a sin, and fundamental doctrines are a myth: this is the notion of "our foremost men." For earnest people to band themselves together to propagate what they hold to be the very truth of God, is in their eyes the miserable endeavor of bigots to stem the torrent of modern thought. . . .

The proper course, according to their "broad views," would be to leave doctrines for the dunces who care for them. Truths there are none, but only opinions; and, therefore, cultivated ministers should be left free to trample on the most cherished beliefs, to insult convictions, no matter how long experience may have matured them, and to teach anything, everything, or nothing, as their own culture, or the current of enlightened thought may direct them. . . .

Notice that the modernists of Spurgeon's era apparently had the same distaste for strong convictions that infects their twenty-first-century postmodern cousins:

It appears to be, now-a-days, a doubtful question whether Christian men have a right to be quite sure of anything. . . . He who teaches an extravagant error is a fine, generous spirit: and, therefore, to condemn his teaching is perilous, and will certainly produce an outcry against your bigotry. Where the atonement is virtually denied, it is said that a preacher is a very clever man, and exceedingly good; and, therefore, even to whisper that he is unsound is libelous: we are assured that it would be far better to honor him for his courage in scorning to be hampered by conventional expressions. Besides, it is only his way of putting it, and the radical idea is discoverable by cultured minds. As to other doctrines, they are regarded as too trivial to be worthy of controversy. . . .

The right to doubt is claimed clamorously, but the right to believe is not conceded. The modern gospel runs thus: "He that believes nothing and doubts everything shall be saved." Room must be provided for every form of skepticism; but, for old-fashioned faith, a manger in a stable is too commodious. Magnified greatly is the so-called "honest doubter," but the man who holds tenaciously by ancient forms of faith is among "men of culture" voted by acclamation a fool.

Hence, it becomes a sacred duty of the advanced thinker to sneer at the man of the creed, a duty which is in most cases fully discharged; and, moreover, it is equally imperative upon him to enter the synagogue of bigots, as though he were of their way of thinking, and in their very midst inveigh against their superstition, their ignorant contentedness with worm-eaten dogmas, and generally to disturb and overturn their order of things. What if they have confessions of faith? They have no right to accept them, and, therefore, let them be held up to ridicule.

Men, now-a-days, occupy pulpits with the tacit understanding that they will uphold certain doctrines, and from those very pulpits they assail the faith they are pledged to defend. The plan is not to secede, but to operate from within, to worry, to insinuate, to infect. Within the walls of Troy, one Greek is worth half Agamemnon's host; let, then, the wooden horse of liberality be introduced by force or art, as best may serve the occasion. Talking evermore right boastfully of their candor and hatred of the hollowness of creeds, etc., they will remain members of churches long after they have renounced the basis of union upon which these churches are constituted. Yes, and worse; the moment they are reminded of their inconsistency they whine about being persecuted, and imagine themselves to be martyrs.

Spurgeon was well aware of how his criticism would be viewed by the tolerance-police of his day:

This is most illiberal talk in the judgment of our liberal friends, and they will rail at it in their usual liberal manner; it is, however, plain common sense, as all can see but those who are willfully blind.

His reply was a reminder about the source and the nature of the truth he was defending:

While we are upon the point, it may be well to inquire into the character of the liberality which is, now-a-days, so much vaunted. What is it that these men would have us handle so liberally? Is it something which is our own, and left at our disposal? If so, let generosity be the rule. But no, it is God's truth which we are thus to deal with, the gospel which he has put us in trust with, and for which we shall have to render account. . .

If truth were ours, absolutely; if we created it, and had no responsibilities in reference to it, we might consider broad-church proposals; but, the gospel is the Lord's own, and we are only stewards of the manifold grace of God, and of stewards it is not so much required that they be liberal, but that they be found faithful.

He took a low view of that fashionable brand of "charity" which demanded approval for various new-fangled expressions of infidelity:

Moreover, this form of charity is both useless and dangerous. Useless, evidently, because all the agreements and unions and compromises beneath the moon can never make an error a truth, nor shift the boundary-line of God's gospel a single inch. If we basely merge one part of Scriptural teaching for the sake of charity, it is not, therefore, really merged, it will bide its time, and demand its due with terrible reprisals for our injustice towards it; for half the sorrows of the church arise from smothered truths.

False doctrine is not rendered innocuous by its being winked at. God hates it whatever glosses we may put upon it; no lie is of the truth, and no charity can make it so. Either a dogma is right or wrong, it cannot be indifferent. . . .

The rule of Christians is not the flickering glimmer of opinion, but the fixed law of the statute book; it is rebellion, black as the sin of witchcraft, for a man to know the law, and talk of conceding the point. In the name of the Eternal King, who is this liberal conceder, or, rather, this profane defrauder of the Lord, that he should even imagine such a thing in his heart?

Nor is it less important to remember that trifling with truth is to the last degree dangerous. No error can be imbibed without injury, nor propagated without sin. The utmost charity cannot convert another gospel into the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor deprive it of its deluding and destroying influence. There is no ground for imagining that an untruth, honestly believed, is in the least changed in its character by the sincerity of the receiver; nor may we dream that the highest culture renders a departure from revealed truth less evil in the sight of God.

If you give the sick man a deadly poison instead of a healing medicine, neither your broad views of chemistry, nor his enlightened judgment upon anatomy, will prevent the drug from acting after its own nature.

Spurgeon reminded his detractors of how the apostles responded to false teaching, and of the dangers of flirting with unbelief:

Paul pronounced a curse upon any man or angel who should preach another gospel, and he would not have done so, if other gospels were harmless. It is not so long ago that men need forget it, that the blight of Unitarian and other lax opinions withered the very soul of the Dissenting Churches; and that spirit has only to be again rampant, to repeat its mischief. Instances, grievous to our inmost heart, rise up before our memory at the moment of men seduced from their first love, and drawn aside from their fathers' gospel, who only meant to gather one tempting flower upon the brink of the precipice of error, but fell, never to be restored.

No fiction do we write, as we bear record of those we have known, who first forsook the good old paths of doctrine, then the ways of evangelic usefulness, and then the enclosures of morality. In all cases, the poison has not so openly developed itself, but we fear the inner ruin has been quite as complete. In the case of public teachers, cases are not hard to find where little by little men have advanced beyond their "honest doubt," into utter blasphemy.

Spurgeon's closing words are a fitting reply to the purveyors of doubt in our era:

We are not believers in stereotyped phraseology, nor do we desire to see the reign of a stagnant uniformity; but, at this present, the perils of the church lie in another direction. The stringency of little Bethel, whatever may have been its faults, has no power to work the mischief which is now engendered by the confusion of the latitudinarian Babel. To us, at any rate, the signs of the times portend no danger greater than that which can arise from landmarks removed, ramparts thrown down, foundations shaken, and doctrinal chaos paramount.

We have written this much, because silence is reckoned as consent, and pride unrebuked lifts up its horn on high, and becomes more insolent still. Let our opponents cease, if they can, to sneer at Puritans whose learning and piety were incomparably superior to their own; and, let them remember that the names, which have adorned the school of orthodoxy, are illustrious enough to render scorn of their opinions, rather a mark of imbecility than of intellect.

To differ is one thing, but to despise is another. If they will not be right, at least, let them be civil, if they prefer to be neither, let them not imagine that the whole world is gone after them. Their forces are not so potent as they dream, the old faith is rooted deep in the minds of tens of thousands, and it will renew its youth, when the present phase of error shall be only a memory, and barely that.

Twenty-first century postmodern "emerging" types in the church love to try to paint themselves as the polar opposite of modernists. The fact that Spurgeon's criticism of early modernism so perfectly refutes the rhetoric of the postmodern innovators shows why that claim is bogus. Far from being the antithesis of modernism, "evangelical postmodernism" is really nothing more than Modernism 2.0.

Phil's signature

28 comments:

SoccerReformer said...

Uncanny how so much of that applies to today's Emergent school.

Andrew and Carolyn said...

Once again, Mr Johnson, a superb post. I find it enormously comforting to realise that there really is 'nothing new under the sun'.

To me, Spurgeon's comments carry precisely the right balance of contemporary concern and absolute confidence in God's sovereignty. Sometimes when I read articles on emerging websites or in emerging journals and books I feel my blood run cold. I feel a sense of outrage that the central truths of the atonement suddenly seem to be up for grabs.

This historical perspective greatly boosts my confidence, but also shows me the increasing need for us to contend for the faith, to take a Spurgeon stand in the face of increasing apostasy.

Brilliant stuff. I have only one question: did Spurgeon do any comic book covers? I would love to see them if he did!!!

rabbi-philosopher said...

I loved it. As "the scribbler" noted there is really nothing new under the sun. Orthodoxy will forever be hated, forever be attacked. But that never stops God. He will have it His way.

Libbie said...

So much of Spurgeon's writing are spookily contemporary. I was reading a little paper-back some months ago that really could have been Spurgeon writing to the letters page of Christianity magazine in reply to Mr Chalke.

Another voice that is just as fresh about our modern woes is JC Ryle.

And, 'Screwtape proposes a toast' could quite easily be a simple descriptive of todays education system, but that's a tad off-topic.

Eddie said...

Just wanted to drop a thank you for your posts on Spurgeon. They have been great, and I have enjoyed the great resource at the Spurgeon Archive.

John Rush said...

"To us, at any rate, the signs of the times portend no danger greater than that which can arise from landmarks removed, ramparts thrown down, foundations shaken, and doctrinal chaos paramount."
-----------------------
It seems that the "no truth" folks want to collapse the Faith into a pile of rubble but keep the steeple sticking up so they can say, "See, we still like church!"

While they place dynamite under the foundations (which they cannot really destroy), they call us "uncharitable" for saying "You can't do that!"

Spurgeon's thoughts are comforting.

And we thought we were into something new...

JRush

SJ Camp said...

If Spurgeon were alive today he would most surely be a part of the blogosphere. Most assuredly, his "blogentations" would be utterly despised by most of evangelicalism today not only for his unwavering dedication to the veracity of Scripture, but that he wouldn't play politics with the truth to keep "the peace" among others within evangelical circles for the sake of a superficial unity. May his tribe increase! Where is the next generation of Spurgeon's for today? The pedestals are eerily empty.

Courtesy of pomos and the "emerging pomos" being "NICE" seems to be the new theology now. Truth be gone--congeniality is everything. How we say what we say is more important than what is actually being said. Tragic. We forget that Satan one time had a very "NICE" conversation of faith with Eve...

Great post brother--any Spurgeon articles are always worth an investment of our time to read. Thank you Phil.

Campi
Col. 1:9-14

Chris P. said...

Ezra 3:
6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

10And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD,

"For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel."
And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

There is much revelation in these verses. Apparently Nebuchudnezzar
had so thoroughly destroyed the temple, that even the foundations had to be repoured. The prophets knew, the apostles knew, Luther knew and Spurgeon also. Time to pour the concrete again, and come out of her my people. Good post!

blestwithsons said...

Reminds me of Chesterton...

"Humility was largely meant as a restraint upon the arrogance and infinity of the appetite of man. …. But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason."

Andrew and Carolyn said...

One thing I meant to say earlier is how good it is to have a forum to talk about these things. Sometimes I develop a bit of an Elijah complex, and wonder if I am on my own in wondering and worrying about the state of contemporary 'evangelicalism'. To read your blog and the comments left here gives me a sense of fellowship and also hope.

Campi's comment about the empty pedestals is so true, but perhaps it takes the likes of what we are witnessing today to genuinely unite those who stand for the doctrines of grace - and move us to train and gird our minds for future battles.
Thanks again.

thedodester said...

Reminds me and confirms to me this thought I read a while ago from a modern discerner...

"Post-modernity is proving to be the unfolding of the final stages in modernity, in which, as it were, the beast, now sickened and deranged, has fallen and begun to consume its own innards." - David. F. Wells - "God in the Wasteland"

Chris P. said...

Great quotes here. I would like to use the Chesterton quote at my blog.

Bryan said...

Excelent post! Gotta love that old saint.

marc said...

Sledgehammer said: Where is the next generation of Spurgeon's for today? The pedestals are eerily empty.

Agreed Steve, Spurgeon is a tough act to follow, ask his son... as for today, how about John Piper?

centuri0n said...

Listen: if laughing at Dave Armstrong gets me demoted from second place on your "Entertaining" blogroll, I'm going to delete all those posts for the sake of maintaing my traffic.

It's inhuman, I tell ya. Pratically anti-centuri0n.

Carla said...

You know... I find this odd. Had I posted this at my anti-emerging site, the pro-EC folks would have been all over the comment section for my not being nice. Campi's comment about being nice was pretty accurate. (I wonder if he knows just how vulgar some of these Nice Theology people can be in email when you speak out against the emerging church?)

Oddly enough, however, I did post this at my anti-EC site, closed the comments and welcomed the pro-EC folks to come here and comment.

Hmmm... I don't see them. I wonder why?

Maybe it's okay to fuss and argue with a girl, but if Phil posts the same thing, there's a different standard?

Curiouser... and curiouser...

SDG,
Carla

Hesinmyheart said...

I think there is no doubt that the "Spurgeon" of our day is John MacArthur.

However, even the real spurgeon couldn't stop the Church on the 'downgrade'. We need MEN, called (to do anything but 'preach the word' is not possible for you)
of God, who will not compromise one word, and will be undaunted in
their zeal to serve Him daily.

This kind of move can only happen when there is reproof, rebuke, & exhortation w/longsuffering and sound doctrine in the sermons. There are some (yes...even reformed preachers of note) who say their style of preaching is more just the 'exhortation' part.
Well...thats 1/3 of Paul's solemn charge to Timothy on how to preach the word.

Thank you Mr. Johnson for some true 'Preaching Posts'. I notice all three ingredients in the dishes you are serving up. This is the very thing that caught my attention when I was first saved, and turned a dial and found Mr. MacArthur. I didn't realize 'til later just how obedient to the word of God his preaching was. I implore all of us to make sure we are preaching as Paul charged Timothy. "The Reformed Pastor" (Richard Baxter), Spurgeons writings, and MacArthurs "Does The Truth Matter Anymore" should be required reading (in my opinion) for anyone in the position of Pastor!...I am...

grateful for grace.

Chris P. said...

Carla,
Perhaps they are finding the similarities between the modernists of Spurgeon's day, and the emergents of today, to be close for comfort. IOW, how can they respond?
Also I believe your blog is perceived as a bigger threat since you deal specifically with the EC.
A check of the emergent blogs has shown me that you, and emergentno are a hot topic.
You should be flattered. :-)

pilgrim said...

If only we could get more people to read this sort of stuff, and see that Church History is important.

Spurgeon is uncannily relevant for today.

Google for "Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats" by Spurgeon--it could be written today.
Many sites have it.

Ligon Duncan said...

Amen, Phil.

Hear! Hear!

art said...

Modernity 2.0

You need to copyright that. That's good stuff.

Andrew said...

dude . . was that steve camp on your blog comments?

i am sooo jealous. I used his "Fire and Ice" album as a backdrop to the dramas and messages at big baptist youth camp some years back. incredible album.

Well I am not completely EC, but many of the missionaries I encourage are starting emerging churches (especially house churches) around the world . . so maybe I could speak up on behalf of them.

Always good to hear Spurgeon. I read and quoted him so much in my Bible College days that my nickname was 'Spurgeon'. I still get his Morning by Morning each day as a MacSword module.

I dont see an immediate connection between the liberalism that Spurgeon encountered and the emerging church, although emergent theory is huge right now in scientific circles which causes me to suspect the effortless adoption of the same terms and concepts by the emerging church without asking how the Scriptures interpret and guide emergent behavior. Always scary when the same language is used by scientists and preachers and the potential for watering down the truth.

I think a more accurate parallel to the liberalism that surrounded Spurgeon at The Met would be the scientific reductionism that minimalizes miracles to a level of natural phenomena, denies the supernatural hand of God in all things (even hurricanes) and refuses to believe that God can raise the dead. Still.
This liberalism that was infatuated with the science of Spurgeon's day, and tried to align the Sciptures with rational thinking was the reason for the fundamentalist response - which was much needed and we still bask in its light.

But as for the modern day parallel to Spurgeon's London, we would have to ask the question,
"Who today is reducing God's truth from the miraculous supernatural story of God's redemption for all creation?

The Charasmatics may accuse the fundamentalists, who are denying miracles and spiritual gifts, of the same kind of liberal modernism that Spurgeon preached against.

Ephraim said...

Andrew said:

"The Charasmatics may accuse the fundamentalists, who are denying miracles and spiritual gifts, of the same kind of liberal modernism that Spurgeon preached against."

May? They have been since I can remember. In fact, in Denver in 1971, one of the groups considered to be heretical to the gospel was the Baptists, for the very reason you stated.
At this point in my life I can look back and think of it as shortsighted behaviour. But at the time, I found it hard to disagree. Part of growing and learning I suppose.

bgamall said...

Phil, I have not communicated in the past with you. I see you are a man gifted with verbal power and creative writing. However, I am so tired of hearing about Spurgeon! Charles Spurgeon is one of the last in a long line of law preachers. In spite of obvious scriptural proofs of gospel only preaching like Paul not wanting to know anything but the gospel to the Gentiles, the Protestants to a man rejected this truth, and instead made up their own gospel. And Phil, this legalism has permeated most of New Covenant Theology as well. It is such darkness that people who claim to be Christian leaders have no clue about how divine revelation really occurs in the hearts of the elect. In the face of Acts 2:36-38 they use law to actually water down the doctrine of sovereign grace and predestination. Check out my website regarding Spurgeon where I expose his own admission that he was caught preaching the law! Of course he denied that he was law preaching, not having the strength of his own convictions I suppose. http://www.newcovenanttheology.com/spurgeon.html Gary D Anderson

Phil Johnson said...

bgamall: my concern about New Covenant theology is that it often tends toward antinomianism. But what you are espousing doesn't even resemble the best of the most credible NCT proponents. What you're peddling is sheer antinomianism, and you ought to just go ahead and call it that; you'd be a lot less frustrated with the fact that most NCT people disagree with you.

bgamall said...

Pure antinomianism upholds the gospel and puts the law in its correct place. You will be surprised to see just how antinomian Paul was for example. The law is weak, it is powerless, it is on stone, it is a wimp. It is Godly in its concepts, but is for a physical community. The need to keep days has gone away with the physical kingdom. The need to have dietary laws have passed away with the physical kingdom. This is not rocket science, Phil, however it is by revelation in the heart. I am proud to be reckoned with the antinomians Phil.

bgamall said...

i forgot one thing phil. I am not in a vacuum. If you check out the 1646 First London confession of faith you will see in section 25 the following statement: The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him.

This and the defense of Christ as not being "eternally begotten" set this confession of 1646 apart from the rest. It is interesting to note that these signers did not fellowship with the Protestants who they called the children of the pope. They separated themselves on account of the truth of the bible versus tradition.

It is also interesting that Psalm 2:7 is fulfilled in Acts 13:33 as being the resurrection of Christ. This is not an eternall begatting, but rather took place at the resurrection. So then, Calvin is so wrong when he states that as to His essence, Christ is eternal, but as to His person, it has a beginning in God. What a demotion for the Savior, to one who eternally depends upon the Father. And totally unscripturally based upon a misread of psalm 2:7!!

So then, I hope you can see here why I do not count myself among the Protestants. And of course this does not count the persecutions made by the Protestants, the murders, the angry words against the Jews by Luther, etc. It is all on my websites Phil.

bgamall said...

Well Phil, you just aren't hearing truth that comes your way are you? You will most likely not have this opportunity to hear the truth again. So here is something from my website http://www.newcovenanttheology.com/spurgeon.html :

Another similar sermon is found in the book "Soul Winner" published by Associated Authors and Publishers of Grand Rapids, Michigan 49315. On page 40 Spurgeon makes the following amazing comments: "There are some men who are guilty of dishonest transactions in business; you will not see them saved all the while they continue to act so. If they will not give up that trickery, they cannot be saved. There are others who are drinking to excess. People who drink, you know, are often very easily affected under our preaching: they have a watery eye, their drinking has made them sore headed...but as long as a man clings to 'the cup of devils' he will not be likely to come to Christ. With others it is some secret sin, or some hidden lust that is the great difficulty."

Of course, the cup of devils spoken of in 1 Corinthians 10:21 refers to demon worship rather than to the sin of drunkenness. Spurgeon, as Protestants have historically done, substituted pettiness for the serious evil which is the worship of demons. Spurgeon's concerns, as first said, were petty indeed compared to the concern of the preachers in the book of Acts. (See Acts 2:22-39, Acts 3:12-19, Acts 5:42, Acts 7:52, Acts 8:5, Acts 9:5, Acts 10:34-43, Acts 17:23-34.)

The power of the gospel does not bog down in a seeking of secret sins on the part of the Apostles. Nor is a repudiation of drunkenness or adultery, or false business practice a prerequisite for the power of the gospel. I am not proud about it, but as a young man of 21 I was saved and the gospel came upon me when I was not looking for it when I was living with a woman who had been divorced 3 times! If this gospel that comes to sinners, not reformed sinners, makes you uncomfortable then may God have mercy on you. If Jesus' hanging around prostitutes and tax collectors makes you uncomfortable, then again, may God have mercy on you.

After the elect are born from above, after repentance and faith had become a reality in their hearts, I have no doubt that virtue was added to their faith. Certainly, adultery, murder, hatred, false business practices, and drunkenness are wicked works, which Christians cannot pursue. But Spurgeon puts the cart before the horse, the outward reformation before the gospel itself, and the law before the gospel in power!

The Protestants including Spurgeon, are the new Pharisees, and they strain out gnats all the while they swallow camels! Scripture teaches that opposition to the truth manifests itself in false doctrine, idol worship, false gods, murder of the Savior and of those who testify in His name. Those who oppose the truth as a result fall into evil passions. But, even homosexuality, which Romans chapter 1 shows as an example of the great corruption of mankind, is a result of a weightier sin, idolatry. The gospel confronts men and women with their religious views which oppose the truth leading to conviction of unbelief. If they have no specific false religious view it confronts them with the ultimate weighty sin of unbelief.Therefore, it is evil teaching to confront sinners with the less weighty sins (drunkenness, adultery, homosexuality, false business practices) in order to get a repentance out of them which does not bring the "convert" into a union with Christ!