Charles Spurgeon’s Solar Eclipse Sermon

Charles H. Spurgeon preached a sermon titled "The Solar Eclipse" at the Royal Surrey Gardens, the day before the Great Solar Eclipse of 1858 that passed nearby London, England. Since Karl Barth is somewhat of a Reformed Baptist, and the Great American Eclipse of 2017 will occur this Monday, I found I thought it was appropriate to share some highlights from this sermon—especially since most Americans will be subjected to sermons on the solar eclipse this coming Sunday morning, and because it is fascinating to read how Christians have responded to solar eclipses in the past. 

Charles H. Spurgeon is in the Calvinist tradition, but Spurgeon's sermon is not a model that preachers should emulate, however it typifies many sermons that will be preached this Sunday. It is disturbing that Spurgeon uses the solar eclipse as a symbol for God's wrath, and for hell. It is also disturbing that Spurgeon attributes the London's fire to God's goodness: "Men may bewail the fire of London, but it was the greatest blessing God could have sent to London." [1] If you are scrambling to assemble your Sunday solar eclipse sermon, then Spurgeon's Solar Eclipse Sermon may give you inspiration. However, I share this sermon with reservations, and I recommend using Karl Barth's "Secular Parables of the Truth" as a key to understanding natural phenomena and remember that Karl Barth said no to Natural Revelation. The full-text of Spurgeon's sermon is available online at CCEL.

Quotation 1 from C. H. Spurgeon's The Solar Eclipse: 

'I form the light, and create darkness.’—Isaiah 45:7.

WE ARE ALL expecting to-morrow to witness one of the greatest sights in the universe—the annular eclipse of the sun. It is possible that many of us shall have gone the way of all flesh before such a sight shall again be seen in this country and we are therefore looking for it with some degree of expectation. It is probable that hundreds and thousands of the human race will be attracted by it, to study for a few hours at least, the science of astronomy. Certain it is that our astronomers are making the most capital they possibly can of it by endeavouring to thrust it in every way under our notice, in order to induce us to make the sun, the moon, and the stars a little more the object of’ our attention than they have been hitherto. Surely I need offer no apology whatever if religion comes forward to-day, and asks that attention should be drawn to her, even by the eclipse itself. Without a doubt, if there be sermons in stones, there must be a great sermon in the sun; and if there be books in the running brooks, no doubt there is many a huge volume to be found in a sun suffering eclipse. All things teach us, if we have but a mind to learn. There is nothing which we can see, or hear, or feel, which may not be the channels of great instruction to us. Let us see whether this may not lead us this morning into a train of thought which may, under God’s blessing, be something far better to us than the seeing of an eclipse. [2]

Quotation 2 from C. H. Spurgeon's The Solar Eclipse: 

And now, last of all, a total eclipse is one of the most terrific and grand sights that ever will be seen. We shall not see the eclipse here in all its majestic terror, but when the eclipse of the sun is total it is sublime. Travellers have given us some records of their own experience. When the sun has been setting far away, the mountains seemed to be covered with darkness, except upon their summits, where there was just a streak of light, when all below was swathed in darkness. The heavens grew darker and darker and darker, until at last it became as black as night, and here and there the stars might be seen shining, but beside them there was no light, and nothing could be discerned. I was thinking that if on a sudden the sun should set in ten-fold darkness, and never should rise again, what a horrid world this would be! If to-morrow the sun should actually die out, and never shine any more, what a fearful world this would be to live in! And then the thought strikes me—;Are there not some men, and are there not some here, who will one day have a total eclipse of all their comforts? Thank God, whatever eclipse happens to a Christian, it is never a total eclipse: there is always a ring of comfort left; there is always a crescent of love and mercy to shine upon him. [3]

Sources:

[Header Image]: By Alexander Melville (floruit in 1846, presumed dead by 1923) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[1] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. “Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 04: 1858.” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, <http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons04.xix.html>.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
 

 

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  1. The point made by Spurgeon is very well put from a spiritual perspective. Indeed an event like the solar eclipse could make you think like Spurgeon and I quote “I was thinking that if on a sudden the sun should set in ten-fold darkness, and never should rise again, what a horrid world this would be! If to-morrow the sun should actually die out, and never shine any more, what a fearful world this would be to live in!” but because of the wonderful mercies of God the sun gives us light every day. Thank God for his marvellous works of creation.

  2. Amen, Alvira! Post-barthian has sadly missed the point. 1 Cor. 2:14


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