Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hey, Don't Forget the Protestants

You're right that Chesterton, the Catholic, loved his cigars, but let's not forget the greatest of all Baptist preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

While pastoring Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, Spurgeon was allegedly asked about the permissibility of cigar smoking. He replied, "I believe cigar smoking should be done in moderation--one at a time!" Indeed, Spurgeon was known to smoke a stick a day, as one commentator points out:

Furthermore, we fully agree with Mr. Spurgeon that smoking cigars per se is not a sinful activity. Cigars, unlike cigarettes, are properly smoked without inhaling, minimizing the risk of lung damage. Nor does cigar smoking normally involve the kind of addictive behavior associated with cigarette use. By all accounts, Mr. Spurgeon's smoking was occasional, and never much more than a cigar a day or so—which, again, suggests that this was no addiction with him.

There are no doubt health risks associated with cigars, but this is also true of cream cheese, or coffee, or almost anything when consumed without moderation. There is no real evidence that cigars in any way hastened Mr. Spurgeon's death.
Mr. Spurgeon's smoking was a historical fact, and the cause of truth cannot be served by denying it or inventing myths that suggest he finally "repented" of this activity. The fact is that he did not regard smoking cigars as a sinful activity, and he evidently held that opinion until the end of his life.
Never more than "a cigar a day or so?" Gee, I don't smoke that many and I'm no where near the theologian he was.

Here's a classic story about the man and his cigars:

While Mr. Spurgeon was living at Nightingale Lane, Clapham, an excursion was one day organised by one of the young men's classes at the Tabernacle. The brake with the excursionists was to call for the President [Spurgeon] on their way to mid-Surrey.

It was a beautiful early morning, and the men arrived in high spirits, pipes and cigars alight, and looking forward to a day of unrestrained enjoyment. Mr. Spurgeon was ready waiting at the gate. He jumped up to the box-seat reserved for him, and looking round with an expression of astonishment, exclaimed: "What, gentlemen! Are you not ashamed to be smoking so early?"

Here was a damper! Dismay was on every face. Pipes and cigars one by one failed and dropped out of sight.

When all had disappeared, out came the President's cigar-case. He lit up and smoked away serenely. The men looked at him astonished. "I thought you said you objected to smoking, Mr. Spurgeon?" one ventured.

"Oh no, I did not say I objected. I asked if they were not ashamed, and it appears they were, for they have all put their pipes away."

Amid laughter the pipes reappeared, and with puffs of smoke the party went on merrily.
Sons of the Reformation, come out from hiding. It's time to light(en) up!

1 comment:

Gerald said...

I was told growing up "you can't smoke because it drives away your gaurdian angel."

I can still hear my Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist Church saying that.

Gaurdian Angel? Hell, I've smoked so many stogies I must be on the threshhold of the Lake of Fire itself. Doubt he's willing to follow me there.....