The Birthday Cake I Won't Give to Rizal

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 2:04 PM 2 comments

Today, June 19, is known to Filipinos to be the day when Jose Rizal was born. I also thank the sovereign GOD for using such a genius for me to enjoy His graces as a free man. However, fewer Filipinos know that on this same day, another hero was born: Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

I did a quick comparative study on the lives of Spurgeon and Rizal and here are some interesting facts:
  • When Rizal was born in 1861, Spurgeon was already preaching to the largest indoor crowd with 23,654 at Crystal Palace, London and the Metropolitan Tabernacle (with seating for approximately 5,600) was opened. Spurgeon then was about my age, 27 years old. Wow!
  • When Rizal was 15 years old, he received his Bachelor of Arts with the highest honors from Ateneo de Manila. By the same age, Spurgeon won in a writing contest for his first book, the 295-page Popery Unmasked.
  • By the age when Rizal joined the poetical competition for Indians and Mestizos and wrote the poem To the Philippine Youth, Spurgeon was converted to Christ and joined a Baptist church in Cambridge.
  • Jose Rizal was 31 years old when he organized a mutual aid economic society: La Liga Filipina. Charles Spurgeon was 31 years old when he organized a monthly magazine: The Sword and the Trowel.
  • The two were of the same age (35 years old) when Rizal wrote the poem My Last Farewell and Spurgeon released the first volume of The Treasury of David.
  • When Spurgeon's The Treasury of David was completed in 1885, Rizal received his degree of Licentiate in Medicine with honors from Central University of Madrid.
  • By the time that Rizal's Noli Me Tangere was finished in Berlin, Spurgeon's crash with the Downgrade Controversy has just begun in 1887.
  • Jose Rizal was editing Morga’s 1609 Philippine History as he was studying in the British museum in London when Spurgeon was voted to censure by the Baptist Union in 1888. (I wonder if Rizal somehow heard about Spurgeon.)
  • In 1892, Rizal was deported to Dapitan while Spurgeon's body was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.
Now, let me give at least three points why I am giving a larger birthday cake to Spurgeon over against our national hero.

I) Life's Combat: Perpetual Death Over Temporal Injustice
Rizal has indeed offered his life for a noble cause, for a fight against the injustices of Spain. However, Spurgeon saw beyond temporal injustices: the need of man to flee from God's justice in His wrath against wicked men and flee towards God's justice in His love by offering His Son for men's sins. Quoting Spurgeon,
If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

II) Life's Conclusion: "Come into the Holiest of All" Over "Mi Ultimo Adios"
In his last poem, Rizal bids farewell from the objects of all his labors.
Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed,
Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost,
With gladness I give you my Life, sad and repressed;
And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best,
I would still give it to you for your welfare at most.
While in the closing statements of his Autobiography, Spurgeon states his excitement of falling into the embrace of the Object of all his labors,
The vista of a praiseful life will never close, but continue throughout eternity. From psalm to psalm, from hallelujah to hallelujah, we will ascend the hill of the Lord, until we come into the Holiest of all, where, with veiled faces, we will bow before the Divine Majesty in the bliss of endless adoration. Throughout this year may the Lord be with you! Amen.

III) Life's Cause: Eternity Over Momentary
The main differences between the two, perhaps, was that Spurgeon understood better what the apostle Paul had talked about in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18,
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
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