by Charles Spurgeon
Praise should always follow answered prayer. The mist of earth’s gratitude should rise as the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground. Has the Lord been gracious to you and inclined His ear to the voice of your supplication? Then praise Him as long as you live. Deny not a song to Him who has answered your prayer, and given you the desire of your heart. To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of shocking ingratitude, and ingratitude is one of the worst of crimes. I trust, dear friends, you will not act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been healed of their leprosy, returned not to give thanks unto the healing Lord.
To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves, for praise, like prayer, is exceedingly useful to the spiritual man. It is a high and healthful exercise. To dance, like David, before the Lord, is to quicken the blood in the veins and make the pulse beat at a healthier rate. Praise gives to us a great feast, like that of Solomon, who gave to every man a good piece of flesh and a flagon of wine. Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties.
The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night. To bless God for mercies received is to benefit our fellow men, “The humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, “Oh! magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together, this poor man cried, and the LORD heard him.” Tongue-tied Christians are a sad dishonor to the church. We have some such, some whom the devil has gagged, and the loudest music they ever make is when they are champing the bit of their silence. I would, my brethren, that in all such cases the tongue of the dumb may sing.
To go a step further here, as praise is good and pleasant, blessing man and glorifying God, united praise has a very special commendation. United praise is like music in concert. The sound of one instrument is exceedingly sweet, but when hundreds of instruments, both wind and stringed, are all combined, then the orchestra sends forth a noble volume of harmony. The praise of one Christian is accepted before God like a grain of incense, but the praise of many is like a censor full of frankincense smoking up before the Lord. Combined praise is an anticipation of heaven, for in that general assembly they together with one heart and voice, praise the Lord.
“Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,
But all their joys are one.”
Public praise is very agreeable to the Christian himself. How many burdens has it removed? I am sure when I hear the shout of praise in this house, it warms my heart. It is at times a little too slow for my taste, and I must urge you to quicken your pace, that the rolling waves of majestic praise may display their full force. Yet with all drawbacks, to my heart, there is no music like yours.
My Dutch friends praise the Lord so very slowly that one might very well go to sleep, lulled by their lengthened strains. Even there, however, the many voices make a grand harmony of praise. I love to hear God’s people sing when they really do sing, not when it is a drawing out somewhere between harmony and discord. O for a sacred song, a shout of lofty praise in which every man’s soul beats the time, and every man’s tongue sounds the tune, and each singer feels a high ambition to excel his fellow in gratitude and love.
There is something exceedingly delightful in the union of true hearts in the worship of God and when these hearts are expressed in song, how sweet the charming sounds. I think we ought to have a praise meeting once a week. We have a prayer meeting every Monday, and a prayer meeting every Saturday, and a prayer meeting every morning, but why do we not have a praise meeting? Surely seasons should be set apart for services made up of praise from beginning to end. Let us try the plan at once.
As I said about united prayer, that it should be offered especially for ministers, so should united praise often take the same aspect. The whole company should praise and bless God for the mercy rendered to the church through its pastors. Hear how our apostle puts it again, “That for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf.” Brethren, we ought to praise God for good ministers that they live, for when they die, much of their work dies with them.
It is astonishing how a reformation will press on while Luther and Calvin live, and how it will cease as soon as the reformers die. The spirits of good men are immortal only in a sense. The churches of God in this age are like the Israelites in the times of the judges, when the judges died they went after graven images again. And it is so now. While God spares the man, the church prospers, but when the man dies, the zeal which he blew to a flame smolders among the ashes. In nine cases out of ten, if not in ninety-nine out of every hundred, the prosperity of a church rests on the minister’s life. God so ordains it to humble us.
There should be gratitude, then, for spared life, but there should be great gratitude for preserved character, for oh! when a minister falls, what a disgrace it is! Why, when you read in the police reports the sad case of the Rev. Mr._____, who chose to call himself a Baptist minister, everybody says, “What a shocking thing! What a bad set the Baptists must be.” Now, any fool in the world may call himself a Baptist minister. Our liberty is so complete that no law or order exists. Any man who can get a dozen to hear him is a minister, at least to them. Therefore, you cannot suppose but what there will be some hypocrites who will take the name in order to get some sort of reputation.
If the true minister is kept, and made to hold fast his integrity, there should be constant gratitude to God on his behalf. If the minister be kept well supplied with goodly matter, if he is like a springing well, if God give him to bring out of His treasury things both new and old to feed His people, there should be hearty thanks. And if he be kept sound, if he goes not aside to philosophy on the one hand, nor to a narrowness of doctrine on the other, there should be thanksgiving there. If God gives to the masses the will to hear him, and above all, if souls are converted and saints are edified, there should be never-ceasing honor and praise to God.
Ah! I am talking now about what you all know, and you just nod your heads to it, and think there is not much in it, but if you were made to live in Holland for a little time, you would soon appreciate these remarks. While traveling there, I stayed in houses with godly men, men of God with whom I could hold sweet communion, who cannot attend what was once their place of worship. Why not? “Sir,” they say, “can I go to a place of worship when the most of the ministers deny every Word of Scripture? Not those of the Reformed church only, but of every sect in Holland. How can I listen to the traitors who swear to the Calvinistic or Lutheran articles, and then go into the pulpit and deny the reality of the resurrection or assert that the ascension of Jesus is a mere spiritual parable?”
I find that in the Netherlands they are fifty years in advance of us in infidelity. We shall soon catch up with them if gentlemen of a certain school I know of are allowed to multiply. The Dutch divines have taken great strides in Neologism, till now the people love the truth, and there are multitudes who are willing to hear it, but these are compelled absolutely to refuse to go to church at all, lest by any means they should give countenance to the heretical and false doctrines which are preached to them every Sabbath-day. Ah! if God were once to take away from England the ministers who preach the Gospel boldly and plainly, you would cry to God to give you the candlestick back again. We may indeed say of England,
“With all your faults I love you still.”
We have a colonial bishop who avows his unbelief. We have a few men of all denominations who are quietly sliding from the truth, but thank God they are nothing as of yet. They are but as a drop in a bucket compared to the churches of Christ, and those among us who are not quite as Calvinistic as we might wish, I thank God, never dispute the inspiration of Scripture, nor doubt the great truth of justification by faith. We have still preserved among us men who are faithful to God and preach the whole truth as it is in Jesus.
Be thankful for your ministers, I say again, for if you were placed where some believers are, you would cry out to your God, “Lord, send us back Your prophets. Send us a famine of bread or a famine of water, but send us not a famine of the Word of God!”
I ask for myself this morning, as your minister, your thanksgivings to be mingled with mine in praising God for the help which He has vouchsafed to me in the very arduous work of the last fortnight. Praise be to God for the acceptance which He gave me in that country among all ranks of the people. I speak to His praise and not to mine, for this has been a vow with me, that if God will give me a harvest, I will not have an ear of corn of it, but He shall have it all.
I found, in all the places where I went, great multitudes of people, crowds who could not understand the preacher, but who wanted to see his face, because God had blessed his translated sermons to their souls. Multitudes gave me the grip of brotherly kindness and with tears in their eyes, invoked, in the Dutch language, every blessing upon my head. I hoped to preach to some fifties and hundreds, and instead of that, there were so many that the great cathedrals were not too large. This surprised me, and made me glad and caused me to rejoice in God, and I ask you to rejoice with me. I thank God for the acceptance which He gave me among all ranks of the people.
While the poor crowded to shake hands, till they almost pulled me in pieces, it pleased God to move the heart of the Queen of Holland to send for me, and for an hour and a quarter, I was privileged to talk with her concerning the things which make for our peace. I sought no interview with her, but it was her own wish, and then I lifted up my soul to God that I might talk of nothing but Christ, and might preach to her of nothing but Jesus. And so it pleased the Master to help me, and I left that very amiable lady, not having shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.
Gratified was I indeed to find myself received cordially by all denominations, so that on the Saturday at Amsterdam, I preached in the Mennonite Church in the morning, and at the Old Dutch Reformed Church in the evening. The next Sunday morning in the English Presbyterian Church, and then again, in the evening, in the Dutch Free Church. Sometimes I was allowed to preach in the great cathedrals, as in the Dom Kirk at Utrecht, and in Peter’s Kirk, at Leyden, not having the poor only, but the nobility and the gentry of the land who of course could understand English better than most of the poor, who have had no opportunity of learning it.
I felt, while going from town to town, the Master helping me continually to preach. I never knew such elasticity of spirit, such bounding of heart in my life before, and I come back, not wearied and tired, though preaching twice every day, but fuller of strength and vigor than when I first set out. I give God the glory for the many souls I have heard of who have been converted through the reading of the printed sermons, and for the loving blessings of those who followed us to the water’s edge with many tears, saying to us, “Do your diligence to come again before winter,” and urging us once more to preach the Word in that land.
There may be mingled with this some touch of egotism, the Lord knows whether it is so or not, but I am not conscious of it. I do praise and bless His name, that in a land where there is so much philosophy, He has helped me to preach His truth so simply, that I never uttered a word as a mere doctrinalist, but I preached Christ and nothing but Christ. Rejoice with me, my dear brethren. I must have you rejoice in it, or if you will not, I must rejoice alone, but my loaf of praise is too great for me to eat it all.
Excerpted from the sermon "The Power of Prayer and the Pleasure of Praise." Taken from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software. Only necessary changes have been made, such as correcting spelling errors, some punctuation usage, capitalization of deity pronouns, and minimal updating of a few archaic words.
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