Blog Entry

12 Spurgeon Quotes on Preaching

By Drew Tillman May 2, 2019

“Preach you Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and nothing else but Christ.”

 

When Charles Spurgeon surveyed the preaching of his own day he lamented that, “There is very much rubbish about, brethren.” Now, after a century and a half his observation appears equally penetrating and applicable. Spurgeon advised pastors to, “Preach you Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and nothing else but Christ.” When opposition arose his response was simple, “Let the dogs bark, it is their nature to. Go on preaching Christ crucified.” But as a preacher what made Spurgeon unique? While his immense knowledge of the bible, personality, and quick wit, all contributed to his popularity it was his calling from God and love of Christ and his people which formed the “Prince of Preachers” remembered today.

 

In Spurgeon's view, for a sermon to be “true preaching” it must include “adoration of God by the manifestation of his gracious attributes.” Preaching was the proclamation of God's gospel “which pre-eminently glorifies him.” Spurgeon also believed that to hear true preaching was “an acceptable form of worship to the most high,” and was perhaps “one of the most spiritual in which the human mind can be engaged.” For Spurgeon, to preach Christ was to preach “the glory of heaven conjoined with the beauty of earth,” and to extol “the perfection of humanity united with the glory and dignity of Deity.” In his view, the job of the preacher was simple and direct because, “We are mirrors reflecting the transactions of Calvary, telescopes manifesting the distant glories of an exalted Redeemer.” As a result, he declared that “The nearer we keep to the cross, the nearer I think, we keep to our true vocation.”

 

Furthermore, Spurgeon believed the best preachers were men who knew “the ins and outs of a sinner's heart,” men who could “talk from experience instead of from theory.” Preachers were meant to imitate Christ whose preaching was “meant for the worst of men.” Preaching was to be clear, cut to the heart, and not be encumbered by human speculation. Spurgeon believed that, “A true servant of Christ must never try to let the people see how well he can preach.” Rather, preachers must preach Christ so simply that the hearers “cannot misunderstand him even if they try to do so.” Indeed the sermon had to be clear and Christ centered because “it must not be tolerated that Christ should be unknown through our silence, and sinners unwarned through our negligence.” After all, It would be a tragedy for, “the sheep [to look] up to the shepherd, and not [be] fed.”

 

Spurgeon loved to preach the gospel. Indeed, He always believed “The world need still be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach him” and so he never tired of telling the Old, old story. In honor of Spurgeon's legacy as the “Prince of Preachers” here are twelve quotes on preaching.

 

1. “Let the sun stop shining, and we will preach in darkness. Let the waves stop their ebb and flow, and still our voice shall preach the gospel.”

 

“Put thine ear at hell's gate, and for a little while list to the commingled screams and shrieks of agony and fell despair that shall rend thine ear; and as thou wilt hear the voice, ‘Minister! Minister! woe is unto thee if thou preachest not the gospel.’ Only let us have these things before our eyes, and we must preach. Stop preaching! Stop Preaching! Let the sun stop shining, and we will preach in darkness. Let the waves stop their ebb and flow, and still our voice shall preach the gospel. Let the world stop its revolutions, let the planets stay their motion; we will still preach the gospel.”

 

2. “My Master always went where he was most wanted-among the chief of sinners and you know his preaching. It was a preaching that was meant for the worst of men.”

 

“Ah, souls, my Master always went where he was most wanted-among the chief of sinners and you know his preaching. It was a preaching that was meant for the worst of men. Look at that parable of the feast, ‘Go ye into the highways and hedges.’ Go and catch the hedge birds; the men that are looking after the linen drying on the hedges. Go after those who have not where to lay their heads- those that are filthy, ragged, and something worse- go and tell them to come in; not the princes' sons, nor the great nor the good, but bring hither the blind, the halt, and the lame, and whomsoever ye shall meet, and bid them to the wedding.”

 

3. “Keep the word of God, and the word of God will keep you.” 

 

“I believe that result is sure to follow holy conversation and sound preaching. Keep to the truth, and the modern school will give you a wide berth. But if any of you try the double-shuffle in religion- the plan of trying to believe a little of everything and not much of anything- if you try to hold with the hare and run with the hounds, you will be tempted to deadly error, and it will serve you right. In the temptation you will fall, for indeed you are fallen already. Keep the word of God, and the word of God will keep you. You will be shielded from half the temptations that fret and worry professors if you take your place and keep it against all comers.”

 

4. “No reason exists why the preaching of the gospel should be a miserable operation either to the speaker or to the hearer.”

 

“We dare say they often wish that the sermon were all illustrations, even as the boy desired to have a cake made all of plums; but that must not be: there is a happy medium, and we must keep to it by making our discourse pleasant hearing, but not a mere pastime. No reason exists why the preaching of the gospel should be a miserable operation either to the speaker or to the hearer. Pleasantly profitable let all our sermons be. A house must not have thick walls without openings, neither must a discourse be all made up of solid slabs of doctrine without a window of comparison or a lattice of poetry; if so, our hearers will gradually forsake us, and prefer to stay at home and read their favourite authors whose lively tropes and vivid images afford more pleasure to their minds.”

 

5. “It must not be tolerated that Christ should be unknown through our silence, and sinners unwarned through our negligence.”

 

“I know your ambition, young man; you want to preach here, to these thousands; be content, and begin with the ones. Your Master was not ashamed to sit on the well and preach to one, and when he had finished his sermon he had really done good to all the city of Samaria, for that one woman became a missionary to her friends. Timidity often prevents our being useful in this direction, but we must not give way to it; it must not be tolerated that Christ should be unknown through our silence, and sinners unwarned through our negligence.”

 

6. “True Gospel preaching does not decry holy living; nay, it sets up the highest possible standard and declares the way to reach it.”

 

“True Gospel preaching does not decry holy living; nay, it sets up the highest possible standard and declares the way to reach it. Beware of picking and choosing in reference to the commands of Christ. Some professors object to much of the teaching of him whom they call Master and Lord. The forgiving of injuries as we hope to be forgiven, the non-resistance principle of turning the other cheek when one is smitten,- these are very objectionable to ordinary religionists. Such precepts are denounced as impracticable, and it is asserted that they cannot be carried out.”

 

7. “When a man has been in the fire, and has the smell of it still upon him, he is the one to warn others not to meddle with fire.”

 

“The best gamekeepers are those who used to be poachers, and the best preachers to great sinners are those who were once just as they themselves are. They know the ins and outs of a sinner's heart, and they can talk from experience instead of from theory. When a man has been in the fire, and has the smell of it still upon him, he is the one to warn others not to meddle with fire, and by means of such sinners saved by grace, God shakes Satan's kingdom to its very centre, and translates sinners from it into the kingdom of his dear Son. Such conversions as these, like all true conversions, can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit.”

 

8. “I love to preach a gospel of which I feel the sweetness in my own soul.”

 

“I do think that the best preaching of the gospel is when the preacher himself enjoys it, when he himself is heartily in love with it; that is a part of the unction that God gives to go with it. When a cook is preparing a dainty dish, methinks he smiles as he sends it up to his lord's table, and he has some enjoyment of it himself. I love to preach a gospel of which I feel the sweetness in my own soul. So, dear hearer, if you begin to feel the sweetness of hearing the gospel, you shall feel more of it. Those who are tired of preaching are those who do not often hear it. If it is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you have often heard it, you want to hear it again.”

 

9. “If you cannot catechise your own heart, and drill a truth into your own soul, you do not know how to teach other people.”

 

“A man ought always to be good company for himself, and he ought also to be able to catechise himself; he who is not fit to be his own schoolmaster is not fit to be schoolmaster to other people. If you cannot catechise your own heart, and drill a truth into your own soul, you do not know how to teach other people.  I believe the best preaching in the world is that which is done at home. When a sorrowing spirit shall have comforted itself, it will have learned the art of consoling other people. Job is an instance of this kind of personal instruction; he has three or four subjects which he brings before his own mind, and these tend to comfort him.”

 

10. “I am determined, as far as ever I can, to preach the gospel plainly and simply, so that everybody may understand it.”

 

“I fancy that I could preach a very fine sermon, one that would please gentlemen who are fond of oratory, but that highflown style of preaching seems to me to be wicked so long as souls are perishing; and I am determined, as far as ever I can, to preach the gospel plainly and simply, so that everybody may understand it. If occasionally I make you smile, I do not mind, because sometimes I can get the truth into your heart that way when I cannot get it in any other way. If you only get to Christ, it does not matter to me whether you come laughing or crying so long as you are really brought to him. We long to bring our hearers to the Saviour, and therefore we want them so to hear that they shall hunger and thirst after the living God; and when they do that, they will be sure to find him ere long.”

 

11. “If we are to see the church of God really restored to her pristine glory, we must have back this plain, simple, gospel-preaching.”

 

“My brethren, if we are to see the church of God really restored to her pristine glory, we must have back this plain, simple, gospel-preaching. I do believe that the hiding of the cross beneath the veil of fine language and learned dissertation is half the cause of the spiritual destitution of our country. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. I would sooner say these few words and then cease my testimony, than utter the most splendid oration that ever streamed from the lips of Demosthenes or of Cicero, but not have declared the gospel of Christ. We must keep to this. This must be the hammer that we bring down upon the anvil of the human heart again, and again, and again. God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord! God forbid that we should know anything among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified!”

 

12. “Never was man blamed in heaven for preaching Christ too much.”

 

“Never was man blamed in heaven for preaching Christ too much; nay, not even on earth to the sons of God was the cross ever too much spoken of. Outsiders may say, ‘This man harps only upon one string.’ Do you wonder? The carnal mind is enmity against God, and it specially shows its hatred by railing at the cross. Saintly ones find here, in the perpetual monotony of the cross, a greater variety than in all other doctrines put together. Preach you Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and nothing else but Christ.”


Drew Tillman is pursuing his Master of Divinity at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also is a Spurgeon Scholar at the Spurgeon Library.