How to Meet the Evils of the Age
(Taken from An All Round Ministry by Spurgeon)
So far as I remember, every year has been an exceedingly critical period; and so far as I can see in history, almost every six months some fervid spirit or another has written about "the present solemn crisis." There are persons who always believe in the imminent peril of the universe in general and of the Church of God in particular, and a sort of popularity is sure to be gained by always crying "Woe! Woe!" Prophets who will spiritually imitate Solomon Eagle, who went about the streets of London in the time of the plague, naked, with a pan of coals on his head, crying "Woe! Woe!" are thought to be faithful, though they are probably dyspeptic. We are not of that order: we dare not shut our eyes to the evils that surround us, but we are able to see the Divine power above us, and to feel it with us, working out its purposes of grace. We say to each of you what the Lord said to Joshua in the chapter we have just read, "Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Our trust is in the living God, who will bring ultimate victory to His own cause.
Still, it is a wise thing to admit that these days have their own peculiar perils and trials. The kaleidoscope shifts, the scenes presented to our gaze are changed, whether for good or evil; good has infinite varieties, and so has evil. We are not troubled, as our Puritan forefathers were, by persecution and oppression such as would take from us our civil rights and our liberty to worship God. Evil has assumed quite another form with us, and we must meet it as we find it. The battle-front is altered, but do not imagine that the conflict will be less severe. I look for a sterner struggle than we have ever yet engaged in, and we must be prepared for it. During the progress of a battle, the Duke of Wellington was observed riding along the lines to a certain part of the field, and a soldier said to his fellow, "There goes the Duke, and there's sure to be warm work." Brethren, we have evidence that the Lord Jesus is with us, let us therefore set the battle in array. He is not a general who rides about for mere parade, He means fighting wherever He comes, and we may expect warm work. When He girds His sword upon His thigh, and rides forth on His white horse, you may rest assured that His sword will smite heavily, and His arrows will fly thick and fast, while on the other hand His enemies will furiously rage...
...an equally terrible evil, is abounding unbelief. I am not speaking now of that coarse kind of infidelity which rails at the Scriptures, and blasphemes the Name of the Lord our God. There is not much mischief in such a devil as that; he is too black, too plainly a fiend of hell! There is a more dangerous spirit now abroad, entering into Nonconformist churches, climbing into their pulpits, and notably perverting the testimony of some who count themselves somewhat, and are regarded as leaders by those who reckon themselves to be men of culture and intellect. Macaulay rightly said that theology is immutable; but these men are continually contradicting that opinion in the most practical manner, for their theology is fickle as the winds. Landmarks are laughed at, and fixed teaching is despised. "Progress" is their watchword, and we hear it repeated ad nauseam. Very far are we from denying that men ought to make progress in the knowledge of the truth, for we are aiming at that ourselves; and by daily experience, by study, and by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, we trust that, in some humble measure we are gaining it. But words need interpreting,—what is intended by "progress" in this case? Which way does it go?
It is too often progress from the truth, which, being interpreted, is progressing backwards. They talk of higher thought, but it is an ascending downwards. I must use their terms, and talk of progress; but their progress is a going from, and not a going to, the place of our desires.