Spurgeon, Puritans and Depression

Charles Spurgeon had a distaste for “modern thought”.  He said, “We are satisfied with the theology of the Puritans.”

Nobody wants to pick on the beloved Spurgeon.  But how much better off he would have been to say, “We are satisfied with the theology of the BIble.”

Spurgeon suffered from bouts of depression.

In the reading of many of his sermons and several biographies of his life, I am convinced that the catalyst, if not the cause, of his depression was his immersion in the Puritans.

Whether connected physiologically to his brain chemistry or not, I’m convinced that his depression was brought on by the confusion he was subjected to by the Puritans.

1. His Bible taught him to gaze upon Christ…

…the Puritans taught him to look to himself in introspective examination of his wicked and deceitful heart.

2. His Bible taught him “It is finished”…

…the Puritans taught him that he must “persevere”…or else.

3. His Bible taught him that the New Covenant was unilateral, accomplished entirely by God…

…the Puritans dragged him over the blessing/cursing coals of the Old Covenant, never rightly dividing the Old from the New, a la Hebrews 8.

4. His Bible taught him that he was a Saint who sins…

…the Puritans taught him that he was a Sinner who was also sorta a Saint.

5. His Bible taught him that sin shall no longer be master over us because we are not under law, but under grace…

…the Puritans taught him that he might have been initially saved by grace, but he surely was now under law.

6. His Bible taught him that he had been given a new heart by God, one that loves Christ and hates sin…

…the Puritans taught him that his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked, confusing the regenerate with the unregenerate.

7. His Bible taught him that he could rejoice in the assurance of his salvation…

…the Puritans taught him, “Not so fast, Buster! Do you KNOW you’re saved? 100% sure? C’mon, you know what a wretched creature you are! Will you stay till the end? That’s the question! Are you properly aware of your sin, such that you daily grovel and weep and mourn for it? I didn’t think so! You probably don’t even weep and wail for the lost, do you? Huh?! Huh?! And you call yourself a preacher! You may fancy yourself a worker for God, but do you match US? Do you put in 18 hours a day? Do you visit the poor and needy and lost until you’re exhausted? I didn’t think so. Not so fast, Buster!”

8. His Bible taught him that if he would walk by the Spirit, he would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh…

…the Puritans taught him that if he would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, he MAY be able to walk by the Spirit.

9. His Bible taught him, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage…”

…the Puritans taught him that if he strived hard enough, he might rid himself of his bondage, though they weren’t too sure, since they had not rid themselves of theirs.
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Obviously there were exceptions to the above caricature of the Puritans. They themselves were confused many times, and so it’s no surprise that they would confuse others.

But such mingling of Old Covenant and New Covenant means mingling grace and works, freedom and bondage, joy and condemnation, assurance and doubt.

And it’s not just Spurgeon. Such confusion is the norm when one immerses themselves in Covenant Theology.

We don’t need “modern thought”.

We need ancient New Covenant thought.

7 thoughts on “Spurgeon, Puritans and Depression

  1. Terry,

    I was right there with him,as I struggled with what the Scriptures had to say, and what my Puritan soaked coomentaries and peers were saying.

    Yours article is spot on.

  2. Make that a ditto for Aussie John’s comments; from Andy, also in the Great Southern Land. Good on you, Terry. Very much appreciated.

    Andy

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  4. Just wondering here: are you saying that Spurgeon himself taught the same error/confusion as the Puritans? Or that Spurgeon heard contradictory things, one view from the Puritans and another from the Bible, and then sorted it out and taught the correct biblical view?

    Examples from actual Spurgeon sermons here would help. Though I have not read every single Spurgeon sermon, I have been regularly reading Spurgeon sermons for about five years, starting with volume 1 sermon 1 and now almost through the first 500 sermons, near the end of volume 8, plus several other sermons not in that sequence. I certainly do not find that Spurgeon himself taught such errors in his sermons, and to the contrary clearly taught the biblical view of all the above issues.

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