LAST Sunday evening, Mr. Spurgeon, before beginning his sermon, announced that he should not preach long that night, because he wished his friend Mr. Pentecost, who was on the platform, to say a few words to the congregation.
Mr. Spurgeon then gave a very earnest address on the words, “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord; I will keep Thy statutes. I cried unto Thee; save me, and I shall keep Thy testimonies.” (Ps. cxix. 145-6.)
He spoke strongly and plainly upon the necessity of giving up sin, in order to success in prayer for “quickening,” and as an evidence of sincerity. Mr. Spurgeon, in concluding his discourse, said, “Now then, perhaps Brother Pentecost will give you the application of that sermon.”
“Brother Pentecost” is an “open communion” Baptist minister, of the American city of Boston. He responded at once to Mr. Spurgeon’s call, and, stepping to the front of the platform, gave some excellent remarks on the latter portion of the text, with much simplicity and force of manner.
Referring to one part of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermon, he gave us an interesting bit of personal experience. He said that some years ago, he had had the cry awakened in his heart, “Quicken Thou me.” He desired to be more completely delivered from sin, and he prayed that God would show him anything which prevented his more complete devotion to Him. He was willing, he thought, to give up anything or everything if only he might realise the desire of his heart.
“Well,” said he, amidst the profound silence and attention of the immense congregation, “what do you think it was that the Lord required of me? He did not touch me in my church, my family, my property, or my passions. But one thing I liked exceedingly—the best cigar which could be bought.”
He then told us that the thought came into his mind, could he relinquish this indulgence, if its relinquishment would advance his piety? He tried to dismiss the idea as a mere fancy or scruple, but it came again and again to him, and he was satisfied that it was the still small voice which was speaking.
He remembered having given up smoking by the wish of his ministerial brethren, when he was twenty-one years of age, for four years. But then, he had resumed the habit, for he declared during that four years he never saw or smelt a cigar which he did not want to smoke. How, however, he felt it to be his duty to give it up again, and so unequal did he feel to the self-denial, that he “took his cigar-box before the Lord,” and cried to Him for help. This help he intimated had been given, and the habit renounced.
Mr. Spurgeon, whose smoking propensities are pretty well known, instantly rose at the conclusion of Mr. Pentecost’s address, and, with a somewhat playful smile, said,
“Well, dear friends, you know that some men can do to the glory of God what to other men would be sin. And notwithstanding what brother Pentecost has said, I intend to smoke a good cigar to the glory of God before I go to bed to-night.
“If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, ’Thou shalt not smoke,’ I am ready to keep it; but I haven’t found it yet. I find ten commandments, and it’s as much as I can do to keep them; and I’ve no desire to make them into eleven or twelve.
“The fact is, I have been speaking to you about real sins, not about listening to mere quibbles and scruples. At the same time, I know that what a man believes to be sin becomes a sin to him, and he must give it up. ’Whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ [Rom. 14:23], and that is the real point of what my brother Pentecost has been saying.
“Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I’m not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don’t feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God.”
Christian World, 09/25/1874
There are lots of potential vices. Smoking, drinking, acquisition of money, etc. There are lots of people who have never touched tobacco, or alcohol in their lives but are consumed with the love of money. The potential for vice is not the same as the vice itself. On the day when I can’t put down my pipe of my own will, I’ll need a brother to step in and pry it from my hand. Considering that I recently didn’t smoke for a couple of weeks because of a cold, I don’t think I’m in that situation. I missed it, but it didn’t really bother me that bad. Enjoying a pipe, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, a good book; these are the slower delicacies that we inherited from our British bretheren. The list of great Christians in history that loved tobacco is long. I, for one, think it’s safe to love their occupations as well as their theology.