Friday, March 6, 2015

More Spurgeon on Politics — Including "This Bible is the Magna Carta" of Liberty

The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon understood the importance of politics. In our previous post, we noted that he denied the myth of neutrality in politics, and affirmed the need for nations to acknowledge God and rule by His law—including by enforcing the Christian Sabbath.

Here we cover Spurgeon on the importance of political engagement, the need for Christian rulers, civil liberties as a result of Christianity, and the relevance of Christianity for all of life (politics included).

The importance of political engagement

The idea of civil government comes from God, and therefore it is important to God. Spurgeon realized this, and thus refused to denigrate it as being unworthy of involvement:
As true in most ages, the Victorian age being no exception, some clergymen and church members believed that politics were just too dirty a business in which to be involved. Spurgeon proved to be the antithesis of that attitude. He full committed himself to the principle that the governance of England should be conducted along moral, godly guidelines, thus he should speak out on issues. He had become convinced that the ascendancy of the British Empire in economic and political matters resulted from the providential blessings of God upon the nation due to its commitment to Christian principles, so he must help maintain those principles.[1]
Spurgeon encouraged Christians to vote. He argued:
God has made us our own governors in these British Isles, for, loyal as we are to our Queen, we practically are Caesars to ourselves. We are now called upon to exercise one of the privileges and duties which go with liberty, let no man be neglectful in it. Every God fearing man should give his vote with as much devotion as he prays.[2] 

The need for Christian rulers

Charles Spurgeon favored Christian civil rulers, and spoke out against rulers living ungodly lives:
Charles argued strongly that Britain as a Christian commonwealth had attained its leadership, and would retain that leadership in the world scene, because of its Christian stand. Therefore, he believed politicians should be Christians. He stood as the antagonist of Bradlaugh, a politician who confessed to being an outright unbeliever. Spurgeon said there ought to be a "theistic" test for public servants. When a certain Lord Justice Williams died in a brothel, Spurgeon spoke out loud and clear against politicians and leaders living immoral lives and flaunting non-Christian principles of morality.[3]

"I long for the day when the precepts of the
Christian religion shall be the rule among
all classes of men, in all transactions!"

Civil liberties as a result of Christianity; the Bible is the Magna Carta of liberty

Spurgeon recognized that civil liberties are the natural outworking of Christianity:
Liberty is the heirloom of all the sons and daughters of Adam. But where do you find liberty unaccompanied by religion? True it is that all men have a right to liberty, but it is equally true that you do not meet it in any country save where you find the Spirit of the Lord. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 
Thank God, this is a free country. ... But why is it so? I take it, it is not so much because of our institutions as because the Spirit of the Lord is here —the spirit of true and hearty religion. There was a time, remember, when England was no more free than any other country, when men could not speak their sentiments freely, when kings were despots, when Parliaments were but a name. Who won our liberties for us? Who have loosed our chains? 
Under the hand of God, I say, the men of religion—men like the great and glorious Cromwell, who would have liberty of conscience, or die—men who, if they could not reach kings' hearts, because they were unsearchable in cunning, would strike kings low, rather than they would be slaves. 
We owe our liberty to men of religion, to men of the stern Puritanical school—men who scorned to play the craven and yield their principles at the command of man. And if we ever are to maintain our liberty (as God grant we may) it shall be kept in England by religious liberty—by religion. This Bible is the Magna Charta of old Britain: its truths, its doctrines have snapped our fetters, and they never can be riveted on again, whilst men, with God's Spirit in their hearts, go forth to speak its truths. 
In no other land, save where the Bible is unclasped—in no other realm, save where the gospel is preached, can you find liberty. Roam through other countries, and you speak with bated breath; you are afraid; you feel you are under an iron hand; the sword is above you; you are not free. Why? Because you are under the tyranny engendered by a false religion: you have not free Protestantism there; and it is not till Protestantism comes that there can be freedom. It is where the Spirit of the Lord is that there is liberty, and nowhere else. Men talk about being free: they describe model governments, Platonic republics, or Owenite paradises; but they are dreamy theorists; for there can be no freedom in the world, save, "where the spirit of the Lord is."
I have commenced with this idea, because I think worldly men ought to be told that if religion does not save them, yet it has done much for them—that the influence of religion has won them their liberties.[4]

The Relevance of Christianity for all of life—politics included

For Spurgeon, Christianity was relevant for all of life, politics included. Thus rulers are to rule for God's glory, according to His rules:
I long for the day when the precepts of the Christian religion shall be the rule among all classes of men, in all transactions!
I often hear it said, "Do not bring religion into politics." This is precisely where it ought to be brought and set there in the face of all men as on a candlestick! I would have the Cabinet and the Members of Parliament do the work of the nation as before the Lord and I would have the nation, either in making war or peace, consider the matter by the light of righteousness. ... We have had enough of clever men without consciences—let us now see what honest, God-fearing men will do!
But we are told that we must study, "British interests," as if it were not always to a nation's truest interest to do right! "But we must follow out our policy." I say, No! Let the policies which are founded on wrong be cast, like idols, to the moles and to the bats! Stand to that most admirable of policies—"As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise." Whether we are kings, or queens, or prime ministers, or members of Parliament, or crossing sweepers, this is our rule if we are Christians! Yes, and bring religion into your business and let the Light of God shine in the factory and in the counting-house! Then we shall not have quite so much China clay in the calicoes with which to cheat the foreigner—nor shall we see cheap and nasty articles described as of best quality, nor any other of the dodges in trade that everybody seems to practice nowadays. ...
Do not put your candle under a bushel, but let it shine, for it was intended that it should be seen. Religion ought to be as much seen at our own table as at the Lord's Table. Godliness should as much influence the House of Commons as the Assembly of Divines. God grant that the day may come when the mischievous division between secular and religious things shall no more be heard of, for in all things Christians are to glorify God, according to the precept, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the Glory of God."[5]


[1] Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1992), 514.
[2] Burley,
Spurgeon and His Friendships, 128. Cited in Ibid., 521.
[3] Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, 515, 516.
[4] C. H. Spurgeon, "Spiritual Liberty" (No. 9, Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 18, 1855, at Exeter Hall, Strand.), (The Spurgeon Archive). Retrieved March 6, 2015 from
C. H. Spurgeon, "The Candle" (No. 1594, Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, April 24, 1881, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington), Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 27: 1881 (Christian Classics Ethereal Library). Retrieved March 6, 2015 from

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