December 29th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker
- A man hangs a cup near a fountain to benefit thirsty travelers and is told that a “great art critic” denounced his design. Told that many people drink from the fountain, the man smiles and declares that he could care less about the critic’s observation, “only he hoped that on some sultry summer’s day the critic himself might fill the cup, and be refreshed, and praise the name of the Lord.” Spurgeon adds, “Here is my fountain, and here is my cup: find fault if you please; but do drink of the water of life. I only care for this. I had rather bless the soul of the poorest crossing-sweeper, or rag-gatherer, than please a prince of the blood, and fail to convert him to God.”
- “Do not attempt to touch yourself up and make yourself something other than you really are; but come as you are to Him who justifies the ungodly,” Spurgeon writes, amidst an argument that just as a doctor ought to work amongst the sick and not the healthy, Christ has come to save sinners not the innocent. To illustrate this, Spurgeon cites a story of a “great artist” who wanted to capture the city where he lived, so he invited a “crossing-sweeper, unkempt, ragged, filthy,” to pose in his studio for a fee. When the man showed up with a washed face, combed hair, and respectable clothes, he was turned away, for “He was needed as a beggar, and was not invited in any other capacity.”
It’s interesting to me that Spurgeon relies so heavily on art references, and also that both the critic and the artist are “great.” The thing I am having trouble with, and perhaps Spurgeon will explain this later on in the book, is his argument that this plan of saving sinners is so remarkable in design that it proves that it is divine. Spurgeon argues, “none but God would think of justifying the ungodly, and none but God could do it, yet the Lord can do it” and therefore:
The doctrine of the atonement is to my mind one of the surest proofs of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture. Who would or could have thought of the just Ruler dying for the unjust rebel? This is no teaching of human mythology, or dream of poetical imagination. This method of expiation is only known among men because it is a fact; fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it; it is not a matter which could have been imagined.
I welcome any help in explaining this. Either this divine mode of operation of forgiving sinners is wholly divine and something we can’t understand (in which case why does Spurgeon try to explain it in simple language), or it is something we can grasp. If the latter is true, which it seems to be, then surely people who are capable of understanding the notion of saving sinners could have invented the notion of saving sinners, and it does not prove there is a God who so ordained it.