In volume 1, sermon 2, The Remembrance of Christ, Spurgeon sets up the problem to be solved by the remainder of the sermon:
IT seems, then, that Christians may forget Christ. The text implies the possibility of forgetfulness concerning him whom gratitude and affection should constrain them to remember. There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous, and our remembrance superficial in its character, or changing in its nature. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas, too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact.
He bases his proposition on 1 Cor. 11:24, “This do in remembrance of me.” Having statement the abstract proposition (we can and will forget Christ), he moves to a proof of the point; experience proves what Christ implies, we will forget:
It seems at first sight too gross a crime to lay at the door of converted men. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Ransomer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son; but if startling to the ear, it is alas, too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact. Forget him who ne’er forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for but sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault of all of us, that we can remember anything except Christ. The object which we should make the monarch of our hearts, is the very thing we are most inclined to forget.
Then, lest anyone try to raise an objection, he repeats the charge based upon experience — this time with examples of how that forgetfulness occurs:
Where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, that is the spot which is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness, and that the place where memory too seldom looks. I appeal to the conscience of every Christian here: Can you deny the truth of what I utter? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should have your eye steadily fixed upon the cross. It is the incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth, that takes away the soul from Christ. Oh! my friends, is it not too sadly true that we can recollect anything but Christ, and forget nothing so easy as him whom we ought to remember? While memory will preserve a poisoned weed, it suffereth the Rose of Sharon to wither.
The next section of the introduction then proceeds to unpack the cause and nature of forgetfulness.
There are three observations which I would like to make about this initial movement in the sermon:
First, Spurgeon identifies a problem which must be resolved. Rather than merely post a fragment of the doctrine, which a lesser preacher might simply state as, “We have a duty to remember Christ;” or, “In communion, we are told to remember Christ;” Spurgeon states the doctrine in a context which demonstrates its importance, “We are only too prone to forget Christ, therefore, we must remember him.”
Second, he not only makes a logical appeal; he makes an emphatic, emotional appeal. He creates the emotional appeal by means of rhetorical structure and imagery. He creates a sense of urgency and passion in the text by making means of various forms of repetition. Sometimes he merely repeats a word, “It is the incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth, that takes away the soul from Christ.” In other places, he makes a statement and then rephrases the same statement, “It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Ransomer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son[.]”
He not only uses various figures of repetition, he uses multiple instances of imagery. The listener is confronted with doors, criminals, intruders, stealing, and blood. A murder haunts the text.
Thus, Spurgeon creates the grounds for the listener to be engaged in what will be said. There is danger afoot — a murderer is lose. Remembering Christ becomes not a matter of bare speculation but of urgent concern.