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The Solar Eclipse

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/07/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                                        The Solar Eclipse

                                                        A Sermon (No. 183)

                            Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 14th, 1858 by the                                               REV. C.H. SPURGEON                                     at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

          "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 universethe 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.               I shall note this morning, in addressing you, that since the Lord creates darkness as well as light; first of all,           eclipses of every kind are part of God's way of governing the world; in the second place, we shall notice that           since God creates the darkness as well as the light, we may conclude beyond a doubt that he has a design in the           eclipsein the darkness as well as the light; and then, thirdly, we shall notice that as all things that God has           created, whether they be light or whether they be dark, have a sermon for us, no doubt there are some sermons           to be found in this.               I. First of all, ECLIPSES ARE A PART OF GOD'S PLAN. In the olden times the ignorant people in England           were frightened at an eclipse, they could not understand what it meant. They were quite sure that there was about           to be a war, or a famine, or a terrible fire. They were absolutely certain that something fearful would happen; for           they regarded it as being a prophecy of coming ills. They were totally at a loss to account for it, and knew nothing           about the theory which now so satisfactorily sets our minds at rest. And you are aware, that till this day, in the           East and in other parts of the world still in the ignorance of barbarism, an eclipse is looked upon as a very horrible           and a very unaccountable thing. The Hindoos still believe that a great dragon swallows the sun, and they may be           seen by thousands plunging into their sacred river, the Ganges, praying to the gods that they may set the sun at           liberty, that the dragon may be compelled to disgorge him. Hundreds of other most stupid and absurd theories are           still prominently believed and held in different parts of the world, and I believe that here amongst a very great           number of us, an eclipse is looked upon as something contrary to the general law of nature. Now, beloved, all that           understand anything of God's works, know very well that eclipses are as much a part of nature's laws as the           regular sunshine, that an eclipse is no deviation from God's plan, but that it is a necessary consequence of the           natural motion of the moon and the earth around the sun and each other, that there should at some stated periods           be eclipses, and when we see the eclipse to-morrow, we shall not look upon it as a miracle or anything out of the           ordinary course of God's providence, but we shall say it was a necessity involved in the very plan whereby God           governs the earth.               And now, beloved, I have only said these things to draw your attention to other eclipses. There are certain           eclipses which happen in God's providence as well as in God's grace. As in nature an eclipse is part of God's plan,           and is in fact involved in it, so we believe that in providence the eclipse shall sometimes overshadow the earth. I           mean, the adversities, the wars, the famines, which sometimes fall on the human race, are but a part of God's           divine plan of governing the earth, and have some beneficial object in their falling upon us.               First, let me invite your attention to providence at large. How many times have we seen providence itself           eclipsed with regard to the whole race. Behold, the Lord creates the world, and placed man upon it. "Increase and           multiply," is his law. Man multiplies, fills the earth, and replenishes it. The whole earth is populated, and its valleys           and hills rejoice with the voice of song. On a sudden comes an eclipse. God sends a flood of rain; he draws the           plugs of the great fountains of the mighty deep, and lets the water burst up upon the earth. He bids his rain           descend, not in showers, but in whole cataracts at once, and the earth becomes a void waste covered with water,           and afterwards a dreary swamp covered with mud, the whole human race, with the solitary exception of eight           persons, having been swept away. This is what I mean by a providential eclipse. After that God again suffers man           to multiply, and the earth to be replenished. Year after year the earth laughs with harvest, and the fields are made           glad with God's bounties. For seven years following each other there is such an abundance of plenty on the earth           that men know not how to gather up by handfuls the stores which God has east. These seven years are           overpassed, and lo! there comes an eclipse of God's bounty. There is no calf in the stall, the olive fails, and the           fields yield no meat, all the land goes to Egypt to buy corn, for only in Egypt is there corn to be found. There is a           great eclipse of God's bounty which happens to the world. But I need not stop to particularize the thousand           instances that have happened in history. Nations have grown strong and mighty; anon there has come an eclipse of           their glories, and all that has been builded has crumbled to the earth. Vast empires have been builded, and they           have become great, and beneath their sway some of their people have become happy. Some savage conqueror           from the north has descended with his barbarous hordes, and swept away every vestige of civilization, and the           earth seems to have gone back hundreds of years. There has been a dark eclipse. Or it may have happened           differently. A city is prosperous and rich. In one unhappy night a fire seizes upon it, and like the stubble before the           flame, the whole city is consumed, and over the ashes of their houses the inhabitants sit down to weep and die. At           another time a plague is upon the multitudes, and the pits are filled with the dead. Nations die and perish, and           whole hosts of men are carried to their graves. Now, all these great eclipses of God's favour, these darkenings of           the heavens, these sudden glooms that fall upon the human race, are parts of God's plan of providence. Beloved,           believe me, it is God's providence, when his paths drop fatness, and when the valleys rejoice on every side. It is a           part of his plan when the fields are covered with corn, and when there is grass for the cattle; but it is equally as           much a part of the plan of his providence to reduce the earth to famine, and bring the human race to misery at           certain stated seasons, when he sees that an eclipse is absolutely necessary for their good.               It is just the same with you in your own private concerns. There is a God of providence to you. Lo, these           many years has he fed you, and has never denied you the supply of your wants. Bread has been given to you, and           your water has been sure. Your children have been about you. You have washed your feet with butter, you have           rejoiced; you have stood fast in the ways of God, and in the ways of happiness. You have been able to say, "Our           ways are ways of pleasant ness, and all our paths are peace." You have not been, of all men, the most miser able,           but in some respects connected with your life, and blessed by God's providence, you have been the happiest           amongst the human race; and now a dark cloud has fallen upon you. The sunlight of God's providence has set           while it was yet noon. When you were rejoicing in the brightness of your light, on a sudden a midday-midnight has           fallen upon you, to your horror and dismay. You are made to say, "Whence does all this evil come upon me? Is           this also sent of God?" Most assuredly it is. Your penury, your sickness, your bereavement, your contempt, all           these things are as much ordained for you, and settled in the path of providence, as your wealth, your comfort,           and your joy. Think not that God has changed. It involves no change of the sun when an eclipse overshadows it.           The sun has not moved from its predestined spot. There standeth it, fixed and secure; or if it be true that it           moveth, still it moveth with such regularity that to us it seemeth still. Beloved, so it is with God. It may be that his           purposes are moving onward to some great and distant goal, which yet we cannot see, circling around himself in           some greater circle than human knowledge yet can guess; but this is certain, that, so far as we are concerned, God           is the same, and of his years there is no end, and from his fixed and settled path he hath not swerved. His glory is           undimmed, even when eye cannot see it. His love is just as bright, even when the shinings of it are concealed. He           hath not moved to the right hand nor to the left. With the Father of lights there is no variableness, neither the           shadow of turning. He abideth fast and fixed, though all things pass away. Let me confide then in him. Eclipses in           providence, like eclipses in nature, are but a part of his own grand plan, and necessarily involved in it.               I suppose that it is impossible that the earth should revolve around the sun, and that the moon should spin           continually round the earth, in the same plane of their orbit, without there being eclipses. Since God has made the           ellipse, or the circle, the great rule of nature, it is impossible but that eclipses should occur. Now, did you ever           notice that in providence the circle is God's rule still. The earth is here to-day; it will be in the same place this day           next year; it will go round the circle; it gets no further. It is just so in providence. God began the circle of his           providence in Eden. That is where he will end. There was a paradise on earth, when God began his providential           dealings with mankind; there will be a paradise at the end. It is the same with your providence. Naked came ye           forth from your mother's womb, and naked must ye return to the earth. It is a circle. Where God has begun, there           will he end; and as God has taken the rule of the circle in providence, as well as in nature, eclipses must be sure to           occur. Moving in the pre destined orbit of divine wisdom, the eclipse is absolutely and imperatively necessary in           God's plan of government. Troubles must come; afflictions must befall; it must, needs be that for a season ye           should be in heaviness, through manifold temptations.               But I have said, that eclipses must also occur in grace, and it is so. God's rule in grace is still the circle. Man           was originally pure and holy; that is what God's grace will make him at last, He was pure when he was made by           God in the garden. That is what God shall make him, when he comes to fashion him like unto his own glorious           image, and present him complete in heaven. We begin our piety by denying the world, by being full of love to           God; we often decline in grace, and God will bring us back to the state in which we were when we first began, so           that we shall rejoice in none but Christ, and give our hearts to him as we did at first. Hence, there must be an           eclipse in grace, because even there the circle seems to be the rule of God's gracious government.               Now beloved, you are in the eclipse some of you to-day. I hear you crying, "Oh that it were with me as in           months past, when the candle of the Lord shone round about me! I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for           peace, but behold, trouble. I said in my soul, my mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved. Lord, thou didst           hide thy face, and I am troubled. I sink in deep mire where there is no standing. All thy waves and thy billows           have gone over me. It was but yesterday that I could read my title clear; to-day my evidences are bedimmed, and           my hopes clouded. Yesterday I could climb to Pisgah's top and view the landscape o'er, and count the fields that           were flowing with milk and honey, and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance. To-day my spirit sees no           heaven, it has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress;" and you are apt to say, dear friends, "Is this           a part of God's plan with me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven?" Yes, it is even so.           The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your minds, the fainting of your hopes, all these things are but the parts           of God's plan for making you ripe for the great inheritance into which you shall soon enter. These trials are but           waves that wash you on to the rocks; they are but winds that waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired           haven. As David says in the psalm, so might I say to you, "So he bringeth them to their desired haven." By honour           and dishonour, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution           and by comforts, by all these things is the life of your soul, and by each of these are you helped to hold on your           way, and to be brought at last to the great goal and haven of your hopes. Oh! think not, Christian, that your           sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it; and inasmuch as he will bring many heirs of God           unto glory, it is necessary that through much tribulation he should bring them thither.               I have thus tried to bring out the first truth, that the eclipse is a part of God's government, and that our           temporal afflictions, and our own sorrows of heart, are but a part of that grand scheme. Permit me to trespass on           your patience one minute more, when I notice, that in God's great plan of grace to the world, it is just the same.           Sometimes we see a mighty reformation worked in the church. God raises up men who lead the van of the armies           of Jehovah. See! error flies before them like shadows before the sunlight. Behold! the strongest towers of the           enemy are tottering to their fall. The shout of a King is heard in the midst, and the saints of the Lord take courage,           that their great and final victory at last is come. A few more years and those reformers are dead, and their mantle           has not fallen upon any. After great mountains come deep valleys. The sons of great men are often small and           drivelling; so there cometh a poor lukewarm church. After the Philadelphian, state of love, there comes the           Laodicean state of lukewarmness. The church sinks! and in proportion as she sinks the enemy advances. Victory!           victory! victory! shout the hosts of hell; and pushing on their course, they drive back the Lord's host, and the           world trembles as in the balances, for victory seems to be on the side of the enemy. Again there comes another           time of refreshing, another Pentecost; some other leader is raised up of God. Another mighty judge is brought into           Israel, to drive out the Hittites and the Amorites that have invaded God's Canaan.               Once more, the world rejoices and the creature that hath toiled so long, hopeth to be delivered from its           bondagealas! it sinks again. The rising hath its ebb, the summer hath its winter, and the joyous time hath its           season of despondency to follow it; but, beloved, all this is a part of God's plan. Do you see how God governs the           ocean? When he means to produce a flood-tide, he does not make the water come marching straight up upon the           shore, but as you stand there you are absolutely certain that the sand will be covered, and that the flood will dash           against the cliff at the foot of which you are standing. But you see a wave come marching up, and then it returns           again, and then another wave, then it dies and rolls back and another follows it. Now, it is even so in the church of           God. The day must be, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. But this           must be accomplished by different waves, by up-growing and decrease, by multiplying and by division. It must be           by triumph and by victory, by conquest and by defeat, that at last God's great purpose shall ripen, and the world           shall become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. Think not then that eclipses of our holy religion, or the           failure of great men in the midst of us, or the decline of piety, is at all apart from God's plan; it is involved in it,           and as God's great purpose moving in the circle to bring forth another gracious purpose on earth must be           accomplished, so beloved, an eclipse must necessarily follow, being involved in God's very way of governing the           world in his grace.               II. But, secondly, EVERYTHING THAT GOD DOES HAS A DESIGN. When God creates light he has a           reason for it, and when he creates darkness he has a reason for it too. God does not always tell us his reason; he           always has one, We call him a sovereign God, because sometimes he acts from reasons which are beyond our           knowledge; but he is never an unreasoning God. It is according to the counsel of his will that he works; not           according to his will, but according to the counsel of his will, to show you that there is a reason, a wisdom and           counsel in everything that he does. Now I cannot tell you what is God's design in eclipsing the sun to-morrow; we           can see many gracious purposes answered by it in our minds, but I do not know of what use it is to the world. It           may be that if there never were an eclipse some great change might happen in the atmosphere, something far           beyond the reach of all philosophical knowledge at present, but which may yet be discovered. It may be that the           eclipse, like the tornado and the hurricane, has its virtue in operating upon this lower world in some mysterious           way, but that we know not. However, we are not left in any darkness about other kind of eclipses; we are quite           certain that providential eclipses, and gracious eclipses, have both of them their reasons. When God sends a           providential eclipse he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men for nought. When pestilence stalks           through the land and sweeps away its myriads, think not that God has done an unthought-of act without an           intention in it. When war, with its blood-red sword, sweeps the nations and lays the mother bleeding with her           child, imagine not that this cometh in vain; God hath some design in all these things, and permit me to tell you           what I believe to be God's design, when he sends troubles into the world, and when he sends troubles upon us. It           is this, it is to draw our attention to himself. Well, said an old divine," Nobody ever looks at the sun except when           he is in an eclipse." You never thought about the sun yesterday; you will all of you be staring at him to-morrow.           Pieces of smoked glass, telescopes, and all kinds of inventions down to a pail of water, will be used in order to           look at the sun. Why don't you look at him when he is shining brightly? There is nothing interesting in that,           because it is an ordinary object. Now do you not notice, that when everything goes well with the world they never           think about God? People always get religious when they get into trouble. The churches were fuller in London           when we had the cholera here, than they had been for many a long day. There were more ministers went to see           sick people in those times than had ever been known before. People that never read their Bible, never prayed,           never thought of going to God's house, were hurrying off to a place of worship, or reading their Bibles, or           pretending at least to pray, though, afterwards, when it went away, they forgot all about it; yet they did think a           little of it when they were in trouble. "Surely in trouble they will seek the Lord; in the day of their distress they will           seek me early." Doubtless, we should entirely forget God, if it were not for some of those eclipses which now and           then happen. God would not have his name remembered on earth at all by the race of man if he did not make           them recollect his name, when he scourged it into them with his rod. Famine, pestilence, the sword, the flood, all           these must come upon us to be terrible remembrancers, to make us think of the dread King who holds the           thunders in his hand, and keeps the lightnings in his power. Doubtless, this is God's great design in his afflictive           providences, to make us think of him. But there is another design. Some times troublous times tend to prepare the           world for something better afterwards. War is an awful thing; but I doubt not, it purges the moral atmosphere, just           as a hurricane sweeps away a pestilence. It is a fearful thing to hear of famine, or to hear of plague; but each of           these things has some effect upon the human race. An evil generally goes to make room for a greater good. Men           may bewail the fire of London, but it was the greatest blessing God could have sent to London. It burnt down a           set of old houses that were placed so close together that it was impossible for them to be without the plague; and           when these old things had been burnt down, there was then room for a healthier action; and there has been less           plague, and less disease ever since. Many of the troubles that come to the great wide world, are meant to be like           axes, to cut down some deadly upas tree, and lay it level with the ground. That tree, when it stood, scattered           greater evil, though it scattered it gradually, than the injury which God sent on a sudden, did inflict, though it was           more apparent to the mind, having come all at once. Ah, my hearer, God has sent thee providential trouble. Thou           art not his child; thou dost not fear his name nor love him. Thou art saying, "Why has this trouble happened to           me?" God has a gracious design in it. There are many men that are brought to Christ by trouble. Many a sinner           has sought the Saviour on his sick bed who never would have sought him anywhere else. Many a merchant whose           trade has prospered, has lived without God; he has been glad to find the Saviour when his house has tottered into           bankruptcy. We have known many a person who could afford to despise God while the stream flowed smoothly           on, but that same man has been compelled to bow his knee, and seek peace through the blood of Christ, when he           has come into the whirlpool of distress, and the whirlwind of trouble hath got hold upon him. There is a story told,           that in the olden times, Artaxerxes and another great king were engaged in a furious fight. In the middle of the           battle a sudden eclipse happened, and such was the horror of all the warriors, that they made peace there and           then. Oh, if an eclipse of trouble should induce you to ground arms and seek to be reconciled unto God! Sinner,           you are fighting against God, lifting

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