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A Spurgeon Christmas Sermon: Mary’s Song

December 23, 2014 1 comment

It’s that time of year again, to highlight one of Charles Spurgeon’s Christmas sermons. Click here to see all of the previous Spurgeon Christmas sermon specials.  For this year, one delivered 150 years ago this Christmas day: December 25, 1864 – Mary’s Song.

Mary had much to give thanks for and to praise God for, and Spurgeon notes several aspects of Mary’s faith, for us to follow as an example. In Mary’s Magnificat we find true joy, a personal Savior, great faith, humility, confidence and familiarity – as well as the great Covenant of Grace.

True Joy

Mary’s heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of her joy—it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was not such merriment as worldlings will revel in today and tomorrow, but such merriment as the angels have around the Throne of God, where they sing, “Glory to God in the highest,” while we sing, “On earth peace, goodwill towards men.” Such merry hearts have a continual feast.

A Personal Savior

Her peculiar delight was not that there was a Savior to be born, but that He was to be born of her! Blessed among women was she, and highly favored of the Lord; but we can enjoy the same favor; no, we must enjoy it, or the coming of a Savior will be of no benefit to us. … The Savior was peculiarly, and in a special sense, hers. She sung no “Christ for all,” but “Christ for me,” as her glad subject!

Great Faith

As yet there was no Savior born, nor, as far as we can judge had the Virgin any evidence such as carnal sense required to make her believe that a Savior would be born of her. How can this thing be, was a question which might very naturally have suspended her song until it received an answer convincing to flesh and blood; but no such answer had been given. She knew that with God all things are possible, she had His promise delivered by an angel, and this was enough for her; on the strength of the Word which came forth from God, her heart leaped with pleasure and her tongue glorified His name.

When I consider what it is which she believed, and how unhesitatingly she received the Word, I am ready to give her, as a woman, a place almost as high as that which Abraham occupied as a man! And if I dare not call her the mother of the faithful, at least let her have due honor as one of the most excellent of the mothers in Israel. The benediction of Elizabeth, Mary right well deserved, “Blessed is she who believes.”

Humility

Her lowliness does not make her stay her song. No, it imports a sweeter note into it—“For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.” Beloved Friend, you are feeling more intensely than ever the depth of your natural depravity; you are humbled under a sense of your many failings; you are so dead and earth-bound even in this House of Prayer, that you cannot rise to God. You are heavy and sad, even while our Christmas carols have been ringing in your ears; you feel yourself to be today so useless to the Church of God, so insignificant, so utterly unworthy, that your unbelief whispers, “Surely, surely, you have nothing for which to sing.” Come, my Brother, come my Sister, imitate this blessed Virgin of Nazareth, and turn that very lowliness and meanness which you so painfully feel, into another reason for unceasing praise!

Confidence

She sings confidently . She does not pause while she questions herself, “Have I any right to sing?” but no, “My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.” “IF” is a sad enemy to all Christian happiness; “but,” “perhaps,” “doubt,” “surmise,” “suspicion,” these are a race of highwaymen who waylay poor timid pilgrims, and steal their spending money. Harps soon get out of tune, and when the wind blows from the doubting quarter, the strings snap by the wholesale. If the angels of Heaven could have a doubt, it would turn Heaven into Hell. “If you are the Son of God,” was the dastardly weapon wielded by the old enemy against our Lord in the wilderness. Our great foe knows well what weapon is the most dangerous. . . . You think that it is a sign of Divine Grace to have doubts, whereas it is a sign of infirmity. It does not prove that you have no Grace when you doubt God’s promise, but it does prove that you need more—for if you had more Grace, you would take God’s Word as He gives it, and it would be said of you as of Abraham, that, “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform.” God help you to shake off your doubts.

Familiarity

She sings with great familiarity, “My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He who is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is His name.” It is the song of one who draws very near to her God in loving intimacy. . . . For my own part I want a form of worship in which I may draw near to my God, and come even to His feet, spreading my case before Him, and ordering my cause with arguments—talking with Him as a friend talks with his friend, or a child with its father—otherwise the worship is of little worth to me. Our Episcopalian friends, when they come here, are naturally struck with our service as being irreverent because it is so much more familiar and bold than theirs. Let us carefully guard against really deserving such a criticism, and then we need not fear it; for a renewed soul yearns after that very communion which the formalist calls irreverent. To talk with God as my Father—to deal with Him as with one whose promises are true to me, and to whom I, a sinner washed in blood, and clothed in the perfect Righteousness of Christ, may come with boldness, not standing afar off—I say this is a thing which the outer-court worshipper cannot understand.

And finally, a wonderful theological reference point, The Covenant:

She does not finish her song till she has reached the Covenant. When you mount as high as Election, tarry on its sister mount, the Covenant of Grace. In the last verse of her song, she sings, “As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.” To her, that was the Covenant; to us who have clearer light, the ancient Covenant made in the council chamber of Eternity is the subject of the greatest delight. The Covenant with Abraham was in its best sense only a minor copy of that gracious Covenant made with Jesus, the Everlasting Father of the Faithful, before the blue heavens were stretched abroad. Covenant engagements are the softest pillows for an aching head; Covenant engagements with the Surety, Christ Jesus, are the best props for a trembling spirit!—

“His oath, His Covenant, His blood, Support me in the raging flood.

When every earthly prop gives way, This still is all my strength and stay.”

If Christ did swear to bring me to Glory, and if the Father swore that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward for the travail of His soul, then, my Soul, till God Himself shall be unfaithful, till Christ shall cease to be the Truth, till God’s Eternal Council shall become a lie, and the red roll of His Election shall be consumed with fire, you are safe!

A very Merry Christmas to all of this blog’s readers!

A Spurgeon Christmas Message

December 23, 2013 5 comments

I like to highlight Spurgeon Christmas sermons during the holiday, as with this “Spurgeon Merry Christmas” from last year, and also this post from Christmas 2010.  For this Christmas, the summary and excerpts from Spurgeon’s Christmas 1862 message, delivered December 21, 1862, “No Room for Christ in the Inn.” In Spurgeon’s textual sermon style, he went far beyond the text and account itself, to consider the other reasons (beyond the narrative account) why Christ “should be laid in the manger.”  He also considered other places in our world and daily life that have no room for Christ, as well as the modern-day equivalents of the “inn itself” that “had no room for Him,” in a message that shows the timelessness of human nature and describes a world so similar to the 21st century.

Christ Laid in the Manger brings out the following truths:

  1. To show forth His humiliation.  Would it have been fitting that the Man who was to die naked on the Cross should be robed in purple at His birth? Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb, should be born anywhere but in the most humble shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner?
  2. He was declared to be the king of the poor.  He will be the poor man’s Friend, the people’s Monarch; according to the words of our shepherd-king, He shall judge the poor of the people; He shall save the children of the needy.
  3. By this event (being laid in a manger), He gave an invitation to the most humble to come to Him.  We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger!
  4. Showing that Christ is free to all who will come.  The inn of ancient times was not like our modern day hotels, but was free to all.  What was provided was a huge square block, arranged in rooms for the travelers, with lower stages for the beasts. The traveler was given a certain provision of water, and perhaps chopped straw for the cattle, and must make himself as comfortable as possible.  Christ was born in the stable of the inn.
  5. In the manger beasts were fed; to show that beast-like men may come to Him and live.
  6. Only His presence could glorify the manger; beasts fed there again after He left.

Other Places Besides the Inn That Have No Room For Christ

  •  The palaces of emperors, the halls of kings
  • The place of senators and forums of political discussion
  • What is called “good society”
  • On the Stock Exchange
  • The Schools of the Philosophers
  • The Jewish Temple and Synagogue

The Inn Itself Had No Room For Him: places that Spurgeon considered similar to the Inn — Public sentiment, general conversation, and the workplace.

I would give not a farthing for your religion, no, not even the turn of a rusty nail, unless you will sometimes win that title! If God’s Word is true, every atom of it, then we should act upon it! And whatever the Lord commands, we should diligently keep and obey, remembering that our Master tells us if we break one of the least of His Commandments, and teach men so, we shall be least in His Kingdom. We ought to be very jealous, very precise, very anxious, that even in the least significant of our Savior’s Laws, we may obey, having our eyes up to Him as the eyes of servants are to their mistresses.

But if you do this, you will find you are not tolerated, and you will get the cold shoulder in society. A zealous Christian will find as truly a cross to carry now-a-days, as in the days of Simon the Cyrenian! If you will hold your tongue; if you will leave sinners to perish; if you will never endeavor to propagate your faith; if you will silence all witnessing for the Truth of God; if, in fact, you will renounce all the attributes of a Christian, if you will cease to be what a Christian must be, then the world will say, “Ah, that is right! This is the religion we like!

But if you will believe, believe firmly, and if you let your belief actuate your life, and if your belief is so precious that you feel compelled to spread it, then at once you will find that there is no room for Christ even in the inn of public sentiment, where everything else is received! Be an infidel, and none will treat you contemptuously; but be a Christian, and many will despise you. “There was no room for Him in the inn.”