If you go to places of worship merely to look about you or to hear music, you are not worshipping God.
Let our first head answer the enquiry—WHAT WERE THESE PEOPLE DOING? They were “sitting by.” There is a good deal in this. First, they were indulging their curiosity. They had come out of every town of Galilee, and Judæa, and Jerusalem to know what this stir was all about. They had heard the great fame of Christ for working miracles, and this drew them into the throng which continually surrounded him. Besides, the crowd itself drew them. Why was there such a large company? What could it be all about? They would like to know for the sake of curiosity. They would for once hear the man, that they might be able to say that they had heard him; but they were not going to be influenced by what they heard; they would hear him as outsiders, “sitting by.” They were curious, but not anxious. As a rule, very little comes of this kind of attendance at places of worship; and yet I had sooner people come from this motive than not at all. Curiosity may be the stepping-stone to something better; yet, in itself, what good is there in it? Persons on the Sunday go to St. Paul’s, to Westminster Abbey, to the Tabernacle, to this place and to that, and they suppose that they are worshipping God, whereas they might just as well have gone to see a show; in fact, it is going to a show and nothing more as far as their motive is concerned. Do not flatter yourselves: if you go to places of worship merely to look about you or to hear music, you are not worshipping God. If you come to this great house to gratify your own fancy, you are no more worshipping God than you would be if you walked in the fields. You are only, in a very poor and grovelling sense, “sitting by.”
Spurgeon, C. H. (1887). “Sitting By.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 33, p. 615). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
- Even the devil himself contributes in some way to the glory of God, though contrary to his wish.
- God is the Creator of the wicked, not of their wickedness; He is the Author of their being, but not the Infuser of their sin.
- Fatalism has no place for a personal God.
- How unworthy is it for dust and ashes, kneaded together in time, to strut against the Father of eternity! Much more unworthy for that which is nothing, worse than nothing, to quarrel with that which is only being, and equal himself with him that inhabits eternity.
- God is the most simple being; for that which is first in nature, having nothing beyond it, cannot by any means be thought to be compounded.