This blog features the fullest telling I think I've ever read of the Spurgeon-Pentecost encounter. My hero, Charles H. Spurgeon, thanked God for the gift of cigars, and frequently honored Him by their employment. For this he caught some flack from disapproving circles. This entry gives the details of the encounter in which Pentecost relates how much he'd gained in holiness since heeding a "still, small voice" that told him to give up tobacco. Spurgeon's famously replies
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.There is much more, and it is all worth reading.
Full disclosure: I smoke very seldom, but very much enjoy it when I do. I prefer pipe smoke, but often yield to the comparative ease of cigar smoking, since my pipe keeps needing to be re-lit! I'll smoke for a few days, and then not again for weeks, or (more often) months. But I find that if I am distraught, or if I am baffled by some perplexing question, often a cigar or a pipe is Elisha's musician to me, clearing my mind and focusing my thoughts. I've made some of my best and most important decisions, and wrestled through some very difficult turns or twists in a sermon or a paper, with the soothing aid of a pipe or cigar.
As Spurgeon goes on to say, it isn't for everyone, and if it troubles the conscience, one should abstain, for "whatever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).
I can't immediately source this story, so it may be apocryphal. Once a brother is said to have reproached Spurgeon for his cigar smoking. He replied that he would give it up if he ever smoked to excess.
"And what do you regard as excess?" asked the brother.
"More than one at a time," was Spurgeon's reply.