PyroManiac devotes Monday space to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The extended quotation (below) is from Charles Haddon Spurgeon and is excerpted from his sermon "Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility," originally delivered Sunday morning, August 1, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens, London.
I like how Spurgeon defends the coherence and consistency of truth. He clearly would have abhorred the kind of thinking existentialist philosophers and neo-orthodox theologians have managed to foist on the public consciousness for almost a century nownamely, the absurd notion that all truth is inherently "paradoxical." Make no mistake: many who talk nonstop about the principle of paradox really do seem to imagine that God's revealed truth is full of contradictions, which is tantamount to calling it nonsense.
Spurgeon, by contrast, says we should never imagine that God's truth is at odds with itself. Rather than portraying the twin truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility as an "antinomy" (a self-contradictory principle) or even a "paradox" (an "apparent" contradiction), he wisely describes these truths as apparently parallel.
Spurgeon is certain the truth of God's absolute sovereignty and the reality of human responsibility are not so truly and eternally distinct from one another that they will never come together. While acknowledging that it's not easy to see how they come together, he avoids any suggestion that they are in any way in conflict with one another. "Nearly parallel," he calls them:
The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once.
I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that "it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure.
Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism.
That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.
If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.
These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
By the way, Darlene and I are in New York City for the next few days. We flew here Sunday evening after church, and we'll return home late Thursday, if the Lord permits.
Darlene was born in upstate New York, and I've been there, seen Niagara Falls, and sensed the spiritual deadness of Finney's infamous "Burnt District." But I've never really visited New York City except for a few hours at a timealways on travel layovers and whatnot.
I first came through here several years ago. That was literally underground, by train, arriving in Penn Station (right under Madison Square Garden) just after midnight for a 1-hour layover. Twice I've sailed into the harbor and seen the Statue of Liberty from the deck of a ship at 5:00 AM. And I've flown through JFK dozens of times, twice stopping to spend the night on my way to and from London. One of those two times, Darlene and I splurged and stayed in a hotel right in Times Square.
But I have never seen New York.
I want to visit Ground Zero, take Darlene to the top of the Empire State Building, and walk in Central Park. There's never been time to do any of those things when we've breezed through here in the past.
So when I learned my friend Christopher Parkening (arguably the finest classical guitar player in the world) and my favorite singer, Jubilant Sykes, are giving a Christmas concert together in Manhattan this week, Darlene and I decided that's how we would spend my remaining vacation-days this year. That's what has brought us here. It's pure vacation, and a rare treat for me.
Before leaving, I finished all the work on my desk (except a thousand unanswered e-mails [sorry]), so it's my first fairly pressure-free, genuine vacation in a long time.
Why am I blogging? I wanted to. If time permits, I'll probably try to write something for the blog each evening this week. But unless the weather is really bad and we end up confined to a hotel room, don't look for anything profound or totally serious until I get back home.