Blog Entries

Flowers from Spurgeon’s Garden

Quinn Mosier March 3, 2021

One calm and scenic Saturday afternoon in May of 1857, a young Charles Spurgeon found himself standing underneath a mulberry tree with a fellow minister. The weather was calm, not a leaf stirred. During their conversation a gentle breeze passed through, rustling the leaves above their heads. Spurgeon suddenly interrupted the minister and said with an excited hush, “Stop! keep quiet! don’t speak!—there! My sermon for to-morrow; ‘The sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees.’” The next evening, he preached from 2 Samuel 5:24 at the New Park Street Chapel.[1] Under that sermon a man was saved, who would go on to serve as a deacon at the Tabernacle for many years.

Spurgeon was utterly fascinated by nature and often found his most potent illustrations from its bounty. He warned against neglecting God’s revelation in nature, saying, “It appears to me that those who would forbear the study of nature, or shun the observation of its beauties are conscious of the weakness of their own spirituality.”[2] And study Spurgeon did. One friend remarks that it was Spurgeon’s custom to spend countless hours in his personal garden at Westwood, lingering over each plant and flower “as over verses in a chapter of the Bible when commenting thereon.”[3] He would marvel, “is not that exquisite? Look at the veins and colours in these leaves; don’t you think God has put His own thoughts into them?….His autograph is on every leaf and in every flower.”[4]

Spurgeon’s sermons are adorned with illustrations from nature. He often would build whole sermons upon a single observation of a bird, star, flower, or season. To be clear, though Spurgeon was zealous for a robust recovery of natural revelation, he clearly affirmed that only by Scripture can the salvation of God be understood and received. He said, “We do not discover the secrets of Creation by mere reason, or the teachings of science; it is only by revelation that the marvellous story can reach us.”[5] At the same time, he saw no disconnect between God’s revelation in nature and his revelation in Scripture. Rather, the truths of Scripture permeated every centimeter of creation. Spurgeon said, “Moreover, rest assured brethren, that he who wrote the Bible, the second and clearest revelation of his divine mind, wrote also the first book, the book of nature; and who are we that we should derogate from the worth of the first because we esteem the second?”[6] He said, “as I am dwelling in my Father’s house, I ought to take delight in my Father’s works, and I must be a strange sort of child if I think it is a token of my affection for my Father not to care to look at the garden which He has laid out or the house which He has built.”[7]

In 1883, Spurgeon published a book entitled, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, where he listed his favorite figures and illustrations from the works of Thomas Manton. In similar fashion, I now wish to pull twelve figures and illustrations from Spurgeon’s Garden that might edify any believer who reads them:

  • “Surveying the midnight skies, I remember him who, while he calls the stars by their names, also bindeth up the broken in heart” (MTP 17:446–47).
  • “The works of creation are pictures to the children of God of the secret mysteries of grace. God’s truths are the apples of gold, and the visible creatures are the baskets of silver” (MTP 8:109).
  • “Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter are God’s four Evangelists, bringing each one a different version of the self-same gospel of divine love” (MTP 19:181).
  • “Storms make oaks take deeper root” (SC 2:173).
  • “A bird is known by his note, and a man by his talk” (SC 1:3).
  • “The daffodils are blooming in the meadows where no man planted them, and the bluebells in the dells where gardener’s spade has nearer come. Yea, and I know right well, that the dew of divine grace and the showers of regenerating love tarry not for man, nor wait for the sons of men” (MTP 19:186–87).
  • “Each blade of grass has its own drop of dew” (SC 1:145).
  • “Providence, like the sea, cannot be directed by man; it can only be controlled by God” (MTP 54:500).
  • “Look forward to your death, ye that are believers in Christ, with great joy. Expect it as your spring tide of life, the time when your real summer shall come, and your winter shall be over for ever” (MTP 8:120).
  • “What fruit would there be upon the trees, what pasture in the meadows, what harvest in the field, if it were not for the rain?” (MTP 13:510).
  • “if you will go like the swallows and the sparrows, and build your nests under the eaves of Christ, who is the temple of God, you shall never have your nest pulled down” (MTP 28:408).
  • “This Bible is the oldest of instructors, and yet it wears the dew of its youth: like the sea, it is ancient as the ages, but time has written no furrow on its brow” (MTP 29:98).

[1] See NPSP 3:317.

[2] MTP 17:446.

[3] W. Williams, Personal Reminiscences of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1895), 68

[4] Ibid.

[5] MTP 45:381.

[6] MTP 17:446.

[7] MTP 58:373–74.