This chapter continues Spurgeon’s discussion of the “the good thing” found in Abijah which started in the previous chapter.
Where was the good thing?
The “good thing” found in Abijah was not found in outward adornment, but the Bible tells us that it was found “in him.” This causes Spurgeon to draw the following conclusion on the difference between outward religion and an inward relationship with Christ:
“The grand point is not to wear the garb, nor use the brogue of religion, but to possess the life of God within, and feel and think as Jesus would have done because of that inner life. Small is the value of external religion unless it be the outcome of a life within.”
The “good thing” was found in Abijah. This implies that it did not require much searching. In other words, the “good thing” was easily discernable in Abijah. Spurgeon notes that piety in children is generally easily discernable:
“Zealous, child-like piety soon shows itself; a child is usually far less reticent than a man; the little lip is not frozen by cold prudence, but reveals the heart. Godliness in a child appears even upon the surface, so that persons who come into the house as visitors are surprised by the artless statements which betray the young Christian.”
Indeed, children often become some of the most unreserved evangelists for Christ. They do not find themselves hindered by the reservations that older believers often face.
How should the “good thing” be received?
Spurgeon moves next to a discussion of how this “good thing” in Abijah, and in children in general, should be received. He writes:
“We are not told of the grace in his heart what it was, nor whence it came, nor what special actions it produced, but there it was, found where none expected it. I believe that this case is typical of many of the elect children whom God calls by His grace in the courts and alleys of London. You must not expect that you shall jot down their experience, and their feelings, and their lives, and total them all up; you must not reckon to know dates and means specifically, but you must take the child as we have to take Abijah, rejoicing to find in him a little wonder of grace with God’s own seal upon him…and in like manner the Lord sets His attesting mark of grace on regenerated children, and we must be content to see it, even if some other things be wanting. Let us welcome with delight those works of the Holy Spirit which we cannot precisely describe.”
When children put their faith in Christ, and choose to follow him, we should focus on the grace given to them by God and not on their shortcomings. Afterall, we are all short of what God would have us be.
A Discussion on the Suffering of Children
In the final part of this chapter, Spurgeon tackles the issue of suffering in Children. After all, Abijah despite having some “good thing” in him was appointed by God to die as the rest of Jeroboam’s family was. While he was spared from the brutal death and lack of burial the rest of his family would experince, he was still appointed to die which leads many to ponder the following:
“We cannot understand that God’s dear little children who love Him should often be called to suffer.”
Spurgeon deals first with the fact that Abijah was appointed to suffer and die while his evil parents remained well. Spurgeon notes that it is through his sickness that God “ripened” him for glory faster than he may have been otherwise. In other words, through his sickness, God ready him for his eventual entry into the kingdom of God. As Spurgeon notes, while we not always know the reason for the suffering, we can trust in his eternal goodness. God is good, and though we may not understand why something is happening, we can rest assured in the knowledge that God has our best interest at heart in everything he does. Spurgeon also notes that oftentimes, God will work through the suffering of a child to bring his parents to Christ. In this case, King Jeroboam and the queen could easily have found God in their child’s suffering, but they did not.
Finally, Spurgeon moves on to a question that trips up many people when it comes to their relationship with God – they question:
“…that some of God’s dearest children should die while they are yet young.”
How could a good God allow, let alone cause, a child to suffer and die? It is a question that many non-Christians often pose as a smokescreen for their objections to God, and the story of Abijah allows us to tackle that question. The long and short of it is that in taking Abijah early rather than allowing him to grow and suffer the fate of the remainder of Jeroboam’s family, God actually demonstrates his grace. In essence, he spared him from the evil yet to come and opened to him the Kingdom of heaven. In regards to Abijah, Spurgeon notes, “In this child’s case his early death was a proof of grace.” Spurgeon summarizes:
“The Lord, in infinite mercy, often takes children home to Himself, and saves them from the trials of long life and temptation; because not only is there grace in them, but there is so much more grace than usual that there is no need for delay, they are ripe already for the harvest. It is wonderful what great grace may dwell in a boy’s heart: child piety is by no means of an inferior kind, it is sometimes ripe for heaven.”
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Twenty-One can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc21.htm
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