Moreover, remember that in those early days the Church, in her building, had to encounter mountains of “much rubbish” of the various philosophies of mankind.

There was a kind of “feeling after God” in the heathen mind, but this feeling after God was misdirected and proudly self-confident—and therefore it missed its way—and in the process of thought the more spiritual-minded among men (if I may venture to call men spiritual at all who were not renewed byDivine Grace) invented theories and superstitions which they thought to be exceedingly wise, but which, in fact, were folly, itself, dressed out in the robes of vainglory!

These philosophies had a great following and exercised so powerful an influence that they were felt even in the Church itself. In the writings of the Apostles Paul and John you continually meet with allusions to the great Gnostic philosophy which perverted so many Christians.

Ever since that day human wisdom has been a greater curse to the Church than anything else! The ignorance of Christians has never been so evil a thing, bad as it is, as the vain knowledge, the false wisdom with which men have been puffed up in their fleshly minds. It is an ill day when men know too much to know Christ!

It is a great misfortune when men are too manly to be converted and to become as little children, and sit at the feet of the great Teacher! Yet there are many professors of religion who talk as if this was their condition and as if they were proud of it.

Even at this present time the outside philosophies of unchristian men infect the Church, spoil her, injure her, dilute the wine of the kingdom, overturn the children’s milk and, to a great extent, poison the Bread of Life. Sad that it should be so, but the rubbish of philosophy has always been in the way of the building up of the wall of the Church of God.

The story of the Apostolic age may serve as a great comfort to us in these evil times. As they were hindered, so are we, but as they persevered and overcame even so will we, by our great Master’s aid. After that lot of rubbish had been cleared away, the task was only begun, for soon after Apostolic times and the first zeal of Christians had gone, there came the old Roman rubbish, which in the end proved a worse hindrance than all which had preceded it.

This Popish rubbish was found in layers—first one doctrinal error and then another and then another, and then another, and then another—till at this time the errors of the Church of Rome are as countless as the stars, as black as midnight and as foul as Hell! Her abominations reek in the nostrils of all good men.

Her idolatries are the scorn of reason and the abhorrence of faith! The iniquities of her practice and the enormities of her doctrine almost surpass belief! Popery is as much the masterpiece of Satan as the Gospel is the masterpiece of God! There can scarcely be imagined anything of devilish craftiness or Satanic wickedness which could be compared with her—she is unparalleled as the queen of iniquity.

Behold upon her forehead the name, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. The Church of Rome and her teachings are a vast mountain of rubbish covering the Truth of God! For weary years good men could not get at the Foundation because of this very much rubbish.

Here and there a Wycliffe spied out the precious Cornerstone and leaped for joy because he could get his foot upon it, and say, “Jesus Christ Himself, elect and precious, is the Stone on which I build my hope.” Here and there a John Huss, or a Jerome of Prague, or a Savonarola in the thick midnight, yet, nevertheless, found the Foundation and wept their very hearts out because of the much rubbish which threatened to bury even them while they were seeking Him!

A master excavator was Martin Luther—how grandly he laid bare the glorious foundation of Justification by faith Alone! An equally grand worker at this great enterprise was Master John Calvin who laid open long stretches of the ancient foundations of the Covenant of Grace. Well was he supported by his brother of Zurich, Zwingle, and John Knox in Scotland, and others in this land.

They cleared away, for a while, some of the rubbish. But there was such a mass of it that they had to throw it up in heaps on either side—and it is beginning to come crumbling down again onto the foundation and to cover it up once more.

A perfect reformation they could not work, and the remnant of the rubbish is now our plague and hindrance. Everywhere the much rubbish is being diligently cast upon the pile by the emissaries of the Evil One, and we can scarcely get to the foundations to build again the gold and silver and precious stones which God commits to us with which to build up His own house. Alas, there is very, very much rubbish!

I saw in Rome that the waggoner which took away the earth from the Forum were marked, “Regia Scava.” They belonged to the royal excavations and I long to see royal excavators, employed by the King of Kings, get to work to excavate, again, the foundations of the wall of Jerusalem and cart away some of the tremendous heaps of rubbish that still lie upon the walls. God grant we may see good and great work done in this direction before long.

But, beloved Friends, if this rabbinical, pagan, philosophical and Romish rubbish were all gone, still the work would scarcely have begun, for there is yet very much rubbish of other kinds lying hereabout. There is so much rubbish arising from the world, the flesh and the devil, that we are not able to build the wall. Look at human sin. How that impedes us!

Oh, if there were no false systems of religion. If priest and scribe were silent. If false prophets and Antichrist were both out of the way, yet the sins of men are a vast and hideous mass of rotten rubbish—and our labors of love are hindered by them. How hard it is to get at human ears—for the world has the first word—and often the last word, with the most of men.

Eargate is choked with rubbish! How harder, still, it is to get at human hearts—for there Satan reigns as in his own palace—and takes care to erect Huge barricades and earthworks of the rubbish of carnal lust and pride and unbelief![1]

Charles Spurgeon

End notes:

[1] Charles Spurgeon, Rubbish No. 1156, sermon on Nehemiah 4:10.

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