Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,
Aristocrat: a member of elegant nobility. With that definition in mind, consider this quote from Charles Spurgeon.
“We are all aristocrats in our own righteousness; we do not like to bend down and come among common sinners. If we are brought there, it must be the Spirit of God who casts us to the ground.”
True and brilliantly stated. All of mankind shares an unrelentingly self-justifying nature. We are aristocrats in our own righteousness, and we think most everyone else a common sinner. I recently read Charles Spurgeon’s “Spurgeon on the Holy Spirit” with a couple of young men, and I heartily recommend it. Here is the extended section that contains the above quote.
“A person comes into church one morning. He is one of the most reputable men in London. He has never committed any outward vice; he has never been dishonest. He is known as a staunch, upright tradesman. Now, to his astonishment, he is informed that he is a condemned, lost sinner, and just as surely lost as the thief who died for his crimes upon the cross.
Do you think that man will believe it? Suppose, however, that he does believe it, simply because he reads it in the Bible. Do you think he will ever be made to feel it? I know you say, ‘Impossible!’ Some of you, even now, perhaps, are saying, ‘Well, I never would!’ Can you imagine that honorable, upright businessman saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ – while he stands side by side with the harlot and the swearer? Can you imagine him feeling in his own heart as if he was as guilty as they, and using the same prayer and saying, ‘Lord, save, or I perish’?
You cannot conceive it, can you? It is contrary to nature that a man who has been so good as he should put himself down among the chief of sinners. But that will be done before he will be saved; he must feel that guilty before he can enter heaven. Now, I ask, who can bring him to such a leveling experience as that, except for the Spirit of God? You know very well that his proud nature will not stoop to it. We are all aristocrats in our own righteousness; we do not like to bend down and come among common sinners. If we are brought there, it must be the Spirit of God who casts us to the ground.
Why, I know that if anyone had told me that I would ever cry to God for mercy and confess that I had been the vilest of the vile, I would have laughed in his face. I would have said, ‘Why, I have not done anything particularly wrong. I have not hurt anybody.’ And yet I know this very day that I can take my place on the lowest form, and if I can get inside heaven, I will feel happy to sit among the chief of sinners and praise the almighty love that has saved even me from my sins.
Now, what works this humiliation of heart? Grace. It is contrary to nature for an honest and an upright man in the eyes of the world to consider himself to be a lost sinner. It must be the Holy Spirit’s work, or else it never will be done.”
Indeed! Thank you, Mr. Spurgeon!