Tobacconist Theology, Part Three: The Glory of God

The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, was an almost daily cigar smoker. This practice obviously raised the ire of many of Spurgeon's brethren. Phillip Johnson has devoted an interesting page to the Reverend's favorite pasttime in his online Spurgeon Archive: Spurgeon's Love of Fine Cigars.

One of the more famous anecdotes is an exchange that occurred when Spurgeon and Dwight Pentecost shared a tabernacle stage one Sunday evening in 1874. At the end of his address, Pentecost implicitly indicted Spurgeon's love for cigars by testifying to his own surrendering of them to the Lord. Spurgeon's response is classic.

Here's the tale reported by Christian World Magazine in September of 1874:

[Pentecost] said that some years ago, he had had the cry awakened in his heart, "Quicken Thou me." He desired to be more completely delivered from sin, and he prayed that God would show him anything which prevented his more complete devotion to Him. He was willing, he thought, to give up anything or everything if only he might realise the desire of his heart.

"Well," said he, amidst the profound silence and attention of the immense congregation, "what do you think it was that the Lord required of me? He did not touch me in my church, my family, my property, or my passions. But one thing I liked exceedingly—the best cigar which could be bought."

He then told us that the thought came into his mind, could he relinquish this indulgence, if its relinquishment would advance his piety? He tried to dismiss the idea as a mere fancy or scruple, but it came again and again to him, and he was satisfied that it was the still small voice which was speaking. He remembered having given up smoking by the wish of his ministerial brethren, when he was twenty-one years of age, for four years. But then, he had resumed the habit, for he declared during that four years he never saw or smelt a cigar which he did not want to smoke. How, however, he felt it to be his duty to give it up again, and so unequal did he feel to the self-denial, that he "took his cigar-box before the Lord," and cried to Him for help. This help he intimated had been given, and the habit renounced.

Mr. Spurgeon, whose smoking propensities are pretty well known, instantly rose at the conclusion of Mr. Pentecost's address, and, with a somewhat playful smile, said:
"Well, dear friends, you know that some men can do to the glory of God what to other men would be sin. And notwithstanding what brother Pentecost has said, I intend to smoke a good cigar to the glory of God before I go to bed to-night. If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, 'Thou shalt not smoke,' I am ready to keep it; but I haven't found it yet. I find ten commandments, and it's as much as I can do to keep them; and I've no desire to make them into eleven or twelve.

"The fact is, I have been speaking to you about real sins, not about listening to mere quibbles and scruples. At the same time, I know that what a man believes to be sin becomes a sin to him, and he must give it up. 'Whatsoever is not of faith is sin' [Rom. 14:23], and that is the real point of what my brother Pentecost has been saying.
"Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I'm not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don't feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God."

Can a cigar be smoked to the glory of God?
For that matter, can a yard be mowed, can a race be run, can a picture be painted, can a house be built, can a plane be flown, can a post be blogged, etc etc, to the glory of God?

"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." -- G.K. Chesterton

In so far as smoking a cigar is an enjoyment and appreciation of God’s good gift of tobacco – with all the godly rumination that goes along with it – it is an act of worship, and can therefore be exercised to the glory of God.
In fact, there is much about cigars and the smoking of them that inspires thoughts of God and His glory. But that is for tomorrow's installment . . .