These were the words of the owner of the antiquarian book shop, where I just picked up a few bargains. Turns out he had trained at London Bible College. I guess there isn’t much interest in these books anymore among young men, which is sad, because it is good stuff.
I picked up, among others, Lectures to my Students (Edition 1 and 3) by Charles Spurgeon. This is a cracking series where Spurgeon in the forward of edition 1 apologises for his use of humour; justifying it by saying that his students have had enough of boring lectures!
‘They have had their fill of classics, mathematics and divinity, and are only in a condition to receive something which will attract their attention and fire their hearts.’
An example is seen in his advice for young preachers: ‘It is an infliction not to be endured twice, to hear a brother who mistakes perspiration for inspiration…’
‘Abhor the practice of some men, who will not bring out the letter ‘r’, such a habit is ‘vewy wuinous and wediculous…’ Ha ha!
Great advice is dispensed on a minster’s prayer life, how to choose a text, ways to avoid being boring in the pulpit (or unintentionally amusing!), how to be watchful over self and others and of course how to use humour and illustrations.
However there are more sombre chapters, which I value tremendously. ‘The ministers fainting fits’ details Spurgeon’s warning about times of depression in the ministry and opens his heart about his own personal struggles:
‘Knowing from most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few and far between, I thought it might be consolatory…that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon which the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light.’ pg 167
Do we talk about this sort of thing enough?
‘let us dwell upon the reasons why these things are permitted; why it is that the children of light sometimes walk in the thick darkness…’
- bodily maladies and neglect of health and fitness
- our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression
- ‘sedentary habits’— i.e. not getting out much! ‘Especially during the dim months of fog.’
- The complexity of being a leader, such as loneliness at the ‘top’.
- To keep us humble, as fallen men cannot cope with too much success. We can be at our most vulnerable to sin after the elation of something going well.
- Sometimes we simply don’t know the cause, says Spurgeon. I think we would do well to remember that.
I would thoroughly recommend this book, which is available on Kindle also very cheaply. I suspect that it passes on some much needed wisdom for us. God is good.