Baptists and the American Civil War: November 14, 1862

Charles SpurgeonThe writings and sermons of Charles Spurgeon, perhaps the best-known Baptist preacher in the world, remain unwelcome in the Confederate States of America. A long-outspoken opponent of African slavery and a minister in a nation (England) that has spurned Confederate offers of a military alliance, Spurgeon this month, in his London Metropolitan Tabernacle, returns to the subject of slavery in a sermon on “Christian Sympathy.” 

I now conclude with an appeal for the special object of the collection this morning. I ASK YOUR AID FOR THESE NEEDY ONES IN LANCASHIRE.

1. Remember, first, that their poverty is no fault of their own. They are not brought to it by excess of meats or drinks. They are not reduced to it by riot or disorder. It is not idleness; it is not a willful strike against the masters. It is utterly unavoidable; and here, therefore, is the right place for benevolence to display itself. The Egyptian hieroglyph for charity is very suggestive. It is a naked child giving honey to a bee which has lost its wings. Notice, it is a child: we should give in meekness. It is a naked child: we should give from pure motives, and not for show. It is a child feeding a bee; not a drone, but one that will work; a bee that has lost its wings; one, therefore, which has lost its power to supply itself: a picture before you of those martyrs and confessors of industry whose cause I plead to-day. A bee that has lost its wings makes its appeal for a little honey to every childlike heart here today, and they who are true to God will not refuse it their aid.

2. Remember, too, that the cause of this suffering is a national sin—the sin of slavery. We have not yet passed the third generation, and upon a nation God visits sin to the third and fourth generation. We have rid ourselves, at last, of this accursed stain so far as our present Government is concerned, we are therefore delivered from any fear in future on that ground; but still, if slavery be now in America, we must remember that it would not have been there if it had not been carried there, and we are partners in guilt. Moreover, there has been too much winking at slavery amongst the merchants of Manchester and Liverpool. There has not been that abhorrence of the evil which should have been, and therefore it is just in the Providence of God that when America is cut with the sword we should be made to smart with the rod. If the Lord is pleased to smite our nation in one particular place, yet we must remember that it is meant for us all. Let us all bear the infliction as our tribulation, and let us cheerfully take up the burden, for it is but a little one compared with what our sins might have brought upon us. Better far for us to have famine than war. From all civil war and all the desperate wickedness which it involves, good Lord deliver us; and if thou smitest us as thou hast done, it is better to fall into the hand of God than into the hand of man.

Source: Charles Spurgeon, “Christian Sympathy: A Sermon for the Lancashire Distress,” November 9, 1862 (link)