Took a bit of staring and processing, but my aging mind seems to have wound its way back to grasping the cadences of nineteenth century English again. I know this because the discordance stopped and the harmonies sounded:
If faith be absent, the essential thing is wanting: sacraments, prayers, Bible reading, hearings of the gospel, you may heap them together, high as the stars, into a mountain, huge as high Olympus, but they are all mere chaff if faith be not there. It is thy believing or not believing which must settle the matter.
From ‘Christ the End of the Law’ in Christ’s Glorious Achievements: What Jesus Has Done for You by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Observation about the blurb of the book: it includes an attempt to persuade the modern reader that Spurgeon isn’t scary (and he’s really not even daunting — aspire to mine his gems!) because ‘countless thousands today find his style sharp, witty and easily readable’. From this I’ve learnt that ‘countless’ not only means ‘too many to be counted’, but also ‘very many’. And that the modern reader needs to be lured, trapped and tamed like a Tyger.