Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"A Habit Most Natural, Scriptural, Manly, and Beneficial": Spurgeon on Growing a Beard

Apparently men growing beards (or at least some facial hair) is coming back in style. A lot of this might be laid at the feet of feminism. Among my Reformed brethren this has particularly become popular. I have been to a number of events and conferences where beard-growing was actually promoted in some way usually with a quote from Charles Spurgeon. The quote reads: A [beard is] most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. And being that it came from the pen of Spurgeon, it must be right. Right?!

I have always wondered where that quote came from. And after some research I discovered that it is found in Spurgeon's book Lecture to My Students. The context, honestly, sort of ruins the quote for beard growing promoters. There, Spurgeon is encouraging his students to guard their throats. Therefore, he suggests they never wrap their throats tightly. Even in the winter months when it is so cold, Spurgeon warns against men wearing scarfs. One reason is it prevents the body from adapting to the cold. But if one does want something to help with the winter weather, grow a beard - A habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. Here is the full quote:
When you have done preaching take care of your throat by never wrapping it up tightly. From personal experience I venture with some diffidence to give this piece of advice. If any of you possess delightfully warm woollen comforters, with which there may be associated the most tender remembrances of mother or sister, treasure them — treasure them in the bottom of your trunk, but do not expose them to any vulgar use by wrapping them round your necks. If any brother wants to die of influenza let him wear a warm scarf round his neck, and then one of these nights he will forget it, and catch such a cold as will last him the rest of his natural life.

You seldom see a sailor wrap his neck up. No, he always keeps it bare and exposed, and has a turn-down collar, and if he has a tie at all, it is but a small one loosely tied, so that the wind can blow all round his neck. In this philosophy I am a firm believer, having never deviated from it for these fourteen years, and having before that time been frequently troubled with colds, but very seldom since.

If you feel that you want something else, why, then grow your beards! A habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. One of our brethren, now present, has for years found this of great service. He was compelled to leave England on account of the loss of his voice, but he has become as strong as Samson now that his locks are unshorn.

If your throats become affected consult a good physician, or if you cannot do this, give what attention you please to the following hint. Never purchase “Marsh-mallow Rock,” “Cough-no-more Lozenges,” “Pulmonic Wafers,” Horehound, Ipecacuanha, or any of the ten thousand emollient compounds. They may serve your turn for a time by removing present uneasiness, but they ruin the throat by their laxative qualities. If you wish to improve your throat take a good share of pepper — good Cayenne pepper, and other astringent substances, as much as your stomach can bear. (Lecture to My Students, lecture 8 "On the Voice")

Originally published on April 27, 2013.
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