We now come to one of the most painful episodes in the life of the great preacher. It was no light trial that he passed through; it was no puny conflict that he engaged in when fighting the great battle for right and truth, in that which is now so well known as the “Down Grade Controversy” He could do no other than what he did. For the firm unflinching stand he took he has earned the eternal gratitude of Evangelical Christendom. No watchman, according to the best of his ability, ever sounded an alarm in Zion, concerning the growing evils of the time when it was more needed. No uncertain sound concerning departures from the faith came from his voice. And was there not a cause for this? Verily there was.
When we find the Atonement scouted; the Inspiration of the Bible denied; the Holy Spirit degraded into an influence; the punishment of sin turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth; surely it was time that someone should show himself jealous for the honor of the Lord of Hosts!
Nobly did he champion the orthodox faith; righteously did he contend for that faith once delivered to the saints!
Writing only a few months since, Mr. Spurgeon said: — “We live in perilous times; we are passing through a most eventful period; the Christian world is convulsed; there is a mighty upheaval of the old foundations of faith; a great over-hauling of old teaching. The Bible is made to speak today in an unknown tongue. Gospel teachings, the proclamation of which made men fear to sin and dread the thought of eternity, are being shelved Calvary is being robbed of its glory, sin of its horror, and the power of the Gospel weakened. There is no use in mincing matters; there are thousands of us in all denominations who believe that many ministers have seriously departed from the truths of the Gospel, and a sad decline of spiritual life is manifest in our churches.... The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. A plain man told us the other day that two ministers had derided him, because he thought we should pray for rain.... Have these advanced thinkers filled their own chapels? Have they, after all, prospered through discarding the old methods? The places which the old Gospel filled, the new nonsense has emptied and will keep empty.”
Mr. Spurgeon never appeared more truly grand than when he was willing to fling up and sacrifice all for the truth; willing to forfeit a thousand friendships and suffer the loss of the help of thousands in his work. Mr.
Archibald Brown says, “That Mr. Spurgeon did speak strongly none could deny. But he lived in his utterances, he lived in the truths he proclaimed, he lived in the witness he had born, and the battle must go on. The champion had fallen, he had gone to his rest, but the fight continued. The truth was not less precious because dear Spurgeon was dead. He never had a shadow of a doubt of the step he took. Most distinctly let it be understood, that he never for a moment regretted the step that he was led of God to take for the Honor of Gods Truth. The last time I saw him he said, ‘If I had not come out when I did, I should have come out half-a-dozen times since.’ If he had not come out when he did, he would have come out today. He maintained the perfectly verbal inspiration of the Bible from beginning to end, and that the Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but that it is the Word of God.”
He was scarred and wounded in this terrible conflict, but nobly did he fight.
He has gone to his well- earned rest and reward. The sword he so well wielded has fallen from that hand for ever. Now he wears the victor’s crown, now he sings the conqueror’s song. He was a martyr for Truth’s sake. He has now received the martyr’s prize.
Speaking at the memorial service in the Tabernacle, his private secretary, Mr. Harrald, said, “Within that olive casket lies all the remains of a martyr for Truth’s sake. That great controversy killed him. ‘Even though an almost fatal illness was part of the cost,’ he said himself in the Sword and Trowel, and now we may leave out the almost.”