It isn’t often that I want to go on record opposing C.H. Spurgeon. It shouldn’t be easy to oppose the Prince of Preachers, who was much smarter than I will ever be. But I have to admit struggling with what Spurgeon says about the liturgy.
Some samples from Lectures to My Students:
Where in the writings of the apostles meet we with the bare idea of a liturgy? Prayer in the assemblies of the early Christians was unrestricted to any form of words. Tertullian writes, “we pray without a prompter because from the heart.” Justin Martyr describes the presiding minister as praying “according to his ability.” It would be difficult to discover when and where liturgies began; their introduction was gradual, and as we believe, co-extensive with the decline of purity in the church; the introduction of them among Nonconformists would mark the era of our decline and fall. (p.56)
Whence shall our help come? Certain weaklings have said, “Let us have a liturgy.” Rather than seek divine aid they will go down to Egypt for help. Rather than be dependent upon the Spirit of God, they will pray by a book! For my part, if I cannot pray, I would rather know it, and groan over my soul’s barrenness till the Lord shall again visit me with fruit-fulness of devotion. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will be glad to throw off all formal fetters, that you may commit yourself to the sacred current, to be borne along till you find waters to swim in. (pp.236-237)
No need to guess what he really thinks.
I’m interested in what you make of this. Tomorrow I’ll tell you where I think Spurgeon is right, and where I think he’s wrong on this topic.