If they were great at all, they were great because of how little there was of them and how much of God was in them.
This comes to mind because of a quote I just read in Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students. It’s an oft cited quote and it’s used to emphasize the greatness of Spurgeon the man.
I once counted eight sets of thoughts which were going on in my brain simultaneously, or at least within the space of the same second. I was preaching the gospel with all my might, but could not help feeling for a lady who was evidently about to faint, and also looking out for our brother who opens the windows that he might give us more air. I was thinking of that illustration which I had omitted under the first head, casting the form of the second division, wondering if A felt my rebuke, and praying that B might get comfort from the consoling observation, and at the same time praising God for my own personal enjoyment of the truth I was proclaiming.
Lectures (series #2, 232).
The abominable thing about this is that Spurgeon would’ve run out like Paul and Barnabas into the Lystrian crowd. Rather than hearing that and saying the “gods have come down” we should note Spurgeon is writing this in a chapter titled The Holy Spirit in Connection with Our Ministry. See the explanation Spurgeon gives for this phenomena: “the sacred Spirit can multiply our mental states, and make us many times the men we are by nature.” (233).
May the Lord humble those who skew this aspect of Spurgeon and all our holy heroes. This section comes under a section on the anointing oil.
The reason we don’t have more Spurgeons is not because we don’t have more geniuses, or great orators, or gifted men with this thing or that thing. It’s because the memory has been lost from Reformed consciousness.
It’s like the line from the Lord of the Rings film, “some things which should not have been forgotten were lost.”
If we are to mythologize our heroes, let us not do so for their gifts, formidable as they were, let us rather do so for their godwardness. Elijah was a man like us brothers. He prayed. God answered. Rain fell.