Full text of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon titled “The Secret of Health”. CH Spurgeon preached this message on March 28, 1875, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
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The text is found in Psalm 42:11:
“I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God.”
Another verse in this Psalm so attracts me, that though it is not my text, I cannot pass it by without a moment’s notice. In the 5th verse, the Psalmist says: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance”, and then follows the expression of the text: “who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
God’s countenance is our help, and He Himself is the health of our countenance. The best help a man can have in time of trouble is the countenance of God.
If he feels that he enjoys the divine love and that he is acceptable with the Lord, he becomes at once strong to bear, or dare, or do.
Ask the presence of God with thee, child of God, and thou mayest then descend into a lion’s den, traverse a fiery furnace, or pass through the iron gates of death. A look from the Lord is life and strength to His people.
So far the 5th verse.
Let us now weave our text with it. This help of God’s countenance usually comes to believers by their obtaining health for their countenances. It may not please God to lessen the burden, but it comes to the same thing if He strengthens the back; He may not recall the soldier from the battle but if He gives him a greater stomach for the fight and increased strength for its toils, it may be better still for him.
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity but a wounded spirit, who can bear? Give a man health in his countenance, and he laughs at that which would have crushed him had he been in another mood.
There are times when the grasshopper becomes a burden and there are other seasons when, with undaunted spirit we can say, “Who art Thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, thou shalt become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:7)
Everything depends upon the man’s personal condition. For the diseased eye, beauty does not exist; for the disordered palate sweetness is no longer to be found, and to a deaf ear harmony is silent.
Our happiness depends more upon our own personal condition than upon our surroundings. The great thing to be desired by all of us is that we may in spirit, soul and body be whole, that is to say, holy. For holiness is in very truth the wholeness of our entire manhood.
Sin is disease, righteousness is health. We all need to be healed, that being healed we may be healthy, that receiving the divine restoration, our nature may arrive at perfect soundness.
Through the Fall and our own sins we have become the prey of manifold maladies and need the exercise of divine power to bring us back into that sacred sanity of nature in which God first of all created man, when He made him in His own image and saw concerning him and the world in which He had placed him, that it was very good.
Of our complete manhood’s health, I shall speak this morning, and while I speak of it, may the Lord be pleased to make all of us see that He is the health of our countenance and our God.
Our first remark is one which naturally grows out of the text, though it may seem a very trite one, namely, that PERFECT HEALTH IS A GREAT BLESSING.
Do not misunderstand me by narrowing my words in their application. I am not speaking alone of the health of the body, for to say that bodily health is a blessing were but to assert what no one disputes.
Man, however, is something more than a body. He is a living soul. Yea more, there is in the regenerate man a triple nature consisting of body, soul and spirit. Even in you who are unregenerate, there is a double nature of body and soul. I would you had been born again and had reached the triple nature and possessed that higher principle which is born of God, but even you are not all comprised in mere flesh.
And when I speak of your health, I mean the health of your entire being. Perfect health lies in the right condition of spirit, soul and body. Complete health in heaven will be ours when our bodies, having been raised from the dead, incorruptible, our souls having been cleansed from all defilement, and our newborn spirit having come to its full development, our entire manhood shall be glorified.
This universal health of our manhood is invaluable. For it was that which made our first paradise. Man was not happy in Eden merely because luscious were the fruits and delicious were the odors of the flowers which grew in the garden of Delights.
But because no disease of sin had tainted any part of his nature, his bodily appetites had not gained predominance over his mental faculties. Neither had he suffered any one of his mental powers to override the rest or permitted the pride of knowledge to stay the childlike spirit which adored the great Father.
His being was well balanced, and all its powers were in a perfect condition. Adam was in all respects such as God would have man to be. For he was such as God had actually made him.
As in a perfect machine which comes fresh from the maker’s hand, every wheel acts upon its fellow, and the whole is obedient to the central mainspring, so was Adam’s nature in complete order. Alas for us, that it ever became otherwise.
As perfect health was our first happiness, so it will be our last and eternal happiness. For heaven is not merely streets of gold and harps of melodious music and winged creatures strangely bright, but it is perfection realized. The slough of depravity cast off. The soul shall be herself again, and of manhood, it shall be said: “his flesh is fresher than a child’s, he has returned to the days of his youth.”
Spiritual health, then, was the first paradise, and we can never reach the second except by its recovery. No forgiveness of sin, no imputation of righteousness, no justification by faith, if such could be apart from an inward change, could make a man happy so long as he is sick of soul.
Health must reign within, or a throne in heaven would be a mockery. Today a measure of health is essential to our happiness. If any man here burns with a fever of lust, he cannot be a happy man. In the fierce heat of passion, O, he may think himself blessed, but he dares not deny that in those intervals of chill remorse, which alternate with the heat of passion, woe and anguish are his portion.
Anger, envy, revenge, covetousness, discontent, pride, and self-will are all diseases fatal to happiness. Perhaps some man before me is utterly given up to worthiness, and lethargy has seized upon him, and in the deadness of that lethargy he complains of no pain whatsoever, but finds a happiness in the numbness of spiritual death.
May God deliver you from this hideous peace, this horrible stupefaction, for it is not true happiness, but the herald of eternal death. Absolute happiness, that which will bear the looking at real joy, peace, felicity, can never come to a man while one part of his nature jars with the other. He must be right with himself.
The little universe of our nature cannot sing in harmony till its central sun of faith, its planetary affections, and even those imaginations which are comparable to the comets are each and all in their fit spheres and orbits; then, as they all, like the heavens, declare the glory of God, all will be well.