by Charles Haddon SpurgeonSpurgeon on the Prayer of Jabez - part 2 of 5
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was widely acknowledged as "the prince of preachers"-though he himself only wanted to be a "John Ploughman," keeping his hand to the plow and plowing a straight furrow. The son and grandson of preachers, he was converted at age 16 when admonished to "look to Jesus!" He began preaching at a Baptist chapel in Cambridge the next year, and at 20 he was called to the New Park Street Church in London. In 1861, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which seated 6,000 persons, was built to accommodate his congregation. His books of sermons and devotions are still very much in demand.
Let us review some of these mercies, and just say a word or two about them. One of the first cravings of men's hearts is wealth. So universal the desire to gain it, that we might almost say it is a natural instinct. How many have thought that if they only possessed it they should be blessed indeed! But there are ten thousand proofs that happiness does not consist in the abundance which a man possesses. So many instances are well known to you all, that I need not quote any to show that riches are not a blessing indeed. Riches are only seeming blessings. Hence it has been well said, that when we see how much a man has we envy him; but could we see how little he enjoys we should pity him. Those who have acquired wealth always wish to have more. Dainties of the rich man are spread on his table, but his appetite fails; minstrels wait his bidding, but his ears are deaf to the charms of music; recreation has lost its appeal.
If we have wealth, we may well say "My God, put me not off with these husks; let me never make a god of the silver and the gold, the goods and the chattels, the estates and investments, which in Your providence You have given me. I beseech You, bless me indeed." As for these worldly possessions, they will be my bane unless I have thy grace with them."
And if you have not wealth-and perhaps most of you never will-say, "My Father, You have denied me this outward and seeming good. Enrich me with Your love, give me the gold of Your favor, bless me indeed; then allot to others whatever You will. My soul shall wait thy daily will. Bless me indeed, and I shall be content."
Another transient blessing which our poor humanity eagerly pursues is fame. We wish to be more honorable than our brethren and outstrip all our competitors. But it is indisputable that the greatest fame does not bring with it any equal measure of gratification. Men, in seeking after notoriety or honor, have a degree of pleasure in the search, which they so often lose when they have gained their object. Some of the most famous men have also been the most wretched of the human race. If thou have honor and fame, accept it; but let this prayer go up, "My God, bless thou me indeed, for what would it profit me, if my name were in a thousand mouths, but You should spue it out of Your mouth? What matter, though my name were written on marble, if it were not written in the Lamb's Book of Life?"
If you happen to have lived in obscurity, be content to run well your own course and fulfill truly your own vocation. To lack fame is not the most grievous of ills. It is worse to have it like the snow, that whitens the ground in the morning, and disappears in the heat of the day. What does popularity matter to a dead man? Earnestly desire the blessing indeed.
There is another temporal blessing which wise men desire: the blessing of health. He that has a healthy body is infinitely more blessed than he who is sickly. Yet if I have health, oh let me not glory in my strength! In a moment it may fail me. A few short weeks may reduce the strong man to a skeleton; his cheeks may pale with the shadow of death. Let not the strong man glory in his strength. The Lord "delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man."
Rather, if you are in good health, say: "My God, bless me indeed. Give me the healthy soul. Heal me of my spiritual diseases. Jehovah Rophi come, and purge out the leprosy that is in my heart by nature: make me healthy in the heavenly sense, that I may not be put aside among the unclean, but allowed to stand amongst the congregation of Your saints. Bless my bodily health to me that I may use it rightly, spending the strength I have in Your service and to Your glory.
I can heartily sympathize with a sister that said to me the other day, "I had such nearness to God when I was sick, such full assurance, and such joy in the Lord, and I regret to say I have lost it now. I could almost wish to be ill again, if that would renew my communion with God." I myself am certain that I never did grow in grace one half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain. It ought not to be so, but often our griefs are more salutary than our joys. The pruning knife is best for some of us. Well, whatever you have to suffer, may it be so attended with the divine presence that this light affliction may work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and so you may be blessed indeed.
I will only dwell upon one more temporal mercy, which is very precious-I mean the blessing of the home. I do not think any one can ever prize it too highly. What a blessing it is to have the dear relationships that gather round the word "home"-wife, children, mother, father, brother, sister! There are many of us, I hope, blessed with a great many of these relationships. But do not let us be content with ties that must ere long be sundered. Let us ask that over and above them may come the blessing indeed.
I thank You, my God, for my earthly father; but oh, be thou my Father, then am I blessed indeed. I thank You, my God, for a mother's love; but comfort my soul as one whom a mother comforts; then am I blessed indeed. I thank You, Savior, for the marriage bond; but may You be the bridegroom of my soul. The home You have given me I prize, and thank You for it; but I would dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, and be a child that never wanders, wherever my feet may travel, from my Father's house with its many mansions.
But do I speak to any here that are separated from kith and kin? I know some of you have left behind you graves where parts of your heart are buried, and that which remains is bleeding with just so many wounds. Ah, well! The Lord bless you indeed!
Widow, your Maker is your husband. Fatherless one, He hath said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." Oh, to find all your relationships made up in Him, then you will be blessed indeed!
I trust we have had human blessings and temporary blessings, to fill our hearts with gladness, but not to foul our hearts with worldliness, or to distract our attention from the things that belong to our everlasting welfare.
Adapted from Sermon No. 994, Volume 17, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, delivered in 1871
To be continued