Spurgeon, Charles Haddon
SPURGEON, CHARLES HADDON (1834-1892), known as “Prince of Preachers”, came of a family of
Dutch origin which sought refuge in England during the persecution of the Duke of Alva. His grandfather, James Spurgeon (1776-1864), was independent minister at Stambourne; his father, John Spurgeon (1811-1902), was successively minister of the independent congregations of Tollesbury, Essex, of Cranbrook, Kent, of Fetter Lane, and of Upper Street, Islington. Charles Haddon, elder son of John Spurgeon, by his wife, the youngest sister of Charles Parker Jarvis of Colchester, was born at Kelvedon, Essex, England, on June 19, 1834. Spurgeon‟s early childhood was spent with his grandfather, James Spurgeon, but in 1841 he was sent to the Stockwell House School at Colchester. There he had progressed exceptionally well in writing, reading, mathematics, and started his studies in Greek and Latin along with some philosophy. Then he went to Maidstone and then to Newmarket for some years. There he spent his days visiting the poor and sick and talking to his classmates about their relationships to Jesus Christ. He gave many hours to witnessing and helping others to faith in Christ.
In his youth, Spurgeon was very early impressed with things divine, and after several years under the weight of sin, Spurgeon was convicted and converted to Christ at the age of 15 while listening to an uneducated Primitive Methodist layman, speaking to a small group, roughly comment upon Isaiah 45:22—“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (NKJV) Immediately after he was saved, Spurgeon began to work for the Master. On May 3, 1850, he was baptised and formally joined the baptist community at Isleham. Being born into a Congregationalist family, it took him a brief period to see his way clear as to the sacred ordinance. But when he did, he went to a Baptist church and was baptized. Spurgeon said, “According to my reading of Holy Scripture, the believer in Christ should be buried with Him in baptism, and so enter upon his open Christian life…I became a Baptist through reading the New Testament—especially in the Greek—and was strengthened in
my resolve by a perusal of the Church of England Catechism, which declared as necessary to baptism, repentance and the forsaking of sin.”
At the age of only sixteen, Spurgeon preached his first sermon in a cottage at Teversham, near Cambridge. His oratorical gifts were at once recognised and he continued to preach in other churches nearby. In 1852, he became the pastor of the baptist congregation at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire.
Under his effective ministry the church grew and made significant strides in number. His success was pronounced, and he first received from the local people the name “boy preacher.” In 1854, just four years
after his conversion, Spurgeon, received the call to become the pastor of the famous New Park Street Church in London. The church was a praying church, and undoubtedly God had prepared the church and the minister for each other. Immediately the crowds began to flock to hear the young minister, and though some perhaps came out of curiosity, their hearts were captured by the Christ the young man preached. The conversions were quite numerous, though Spurgeon used none of the tactics of our moderns. He plainly preached the Word, pressing the Law and the Gospel upon his hearers—the Law to
convict and break the hardened, and the Gospel to heal the broken. With the great increase in membership and attendance came need for more space. The congregation moved to Exeter Hall, while the new building was in process of erection, but Exeter Hall could not contain Spurgeon‟s hearers. The enlarged chapel, when opened, at once proved too small, and a great tabernacle was projected. In the meantime Spurgeon preached at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, where his congregations numbered more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification.
On October 19, 1856 someone shouting “Fire!” while Spurgeon was preaching at the Surrey Gardens
Music Hall led to a panic which caused the death of seven persons and the injury of many others. For weeks afterwards Spurgeon was in such sorrow and distress that he was quite incapable of preaching and his whole ministry appeared to be finished. However the Lord graciously sustained him, and though scarred by the memory of the tragedy for the rest of his life, he resumed preaching and indeed for several years the services at the Music Hall continued to be richly blessed by God in the salvation of many souls. In 1861 the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington Causeway was opened for service. The Tabernacle quickly became, under Spurgeon‟s impressive personality, an energetic centre of religious life. There
Spurgeon ministered until his death, and, until illness disabled him, fully maintained his popularity and power as a preacher.
Since Spurgeon had begun his outreach ministry in London, it never ceased to prosper. Many organisations grew up under his care and were affiliated to it. The pastors‟ college, in which young men prepared for the ministry under his active guidance, was founded at Camberwell in 1856; it was removed to the Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1861, and is now located in Temple Street, Southwark. Stockwell orphanage was founded in 1867 for the maintenance and education of destitute orphan boys and girls. Other works were the Old Ladies Home helping the homeless elderly women; the Colporteurs Association extending the circulation of the scriptures and religious literature; the Book Fund; the Rock Loan Tract Society; the Ordinance Poor Fund distributing food and goods to the poor members of the church; the Ladies Benevolent Society with a group of ladies dedicated themselves to the making and supplying of clothes for the poor; the Flower Mission sending flowers to people in hospitals; the Baptist Country Mission sending young men to preach and evangelize in country towns with a view to starting new churches; Mr. Hampton‟s Blind Mission providing Sunday School for blind children; Mrs. Thomas‟ Mother‟s Mission reaching out to poor women and so on. All these ministries met real needs.
Spurgeon always appealed to the Scriptures as authoritative, and his sermons were based on Old Testament texts as well as those from the New Testament. His simplicity and his voice were great assets to preaching. Spurgeon excelled in his use of illustrations and anecdotes. He was criticized in his own day for his use of illustration, but like Jesus, Spurgeon believed in appealing to both eye and ear. He looked on the Gospel as a “gift of God to the imagination.” In one particular lecture he said that a sermon without illustration is like a house without windows. Though outstanding as a fluent and gifted preacher, Spurgeon was also blessed with the mind of a theologian, and fathomed deep theology as easily as a Gill or an Owen. Actually, his sermons are as full of theology as anyone‟s Body of Divinity or Systematic Theology. But his theology is in plain, simple language, set forth in a straight-forward, to the point,
Spurgeon, a convinced Calvinist staunchly adhering till the day of his death to every point in the system of theology in which he had been educated, was resolved to sacrifice nothing in the way of doctrine, even in the interests of peace among Christian churches. In 1864 he invited a controversy with the evangelical party in the church of England. In a powerful sermon on baptismal regeneration which he preached in that year he showed that that doctrine, to which he was strenuously hostile, was accepted in the church of England prayer-book, and he reproached evangelical churchmen, who in principle were equally antagonistic to the doctrine, with adhering to an organisation which taught it. The attack occasioned much ferment. Three hundred thousand copies of Spurgeon‟s sermon were sold; and while high churchmen were elated by Spurgeon‟s admission that a doctrine, which they openly avowed, found a
place in the prayer-book, low-churchmen were proportionately irritated. Numberless pamphlets set forth the views of the various parties. The most effective reply to Spurgeon was made by Baptist Wriothesley Noel [q.v.], then a baptist minister. In his „Evangelical Clergy Defended,‟ Noel censured Spurgeon for introducing needless divisions among men of like faith. But Spurgeon remained obdurate, and emphasized his attitude by withdrawing from the Evangelical Alliance, which was largely supported by the low-church party of the church of England.
Spurgeon‟s strenuous and unbending faith in Calvinism loosened in course of time the bonds of sympathy between him and a large section of his own denomination. He long watched with misgivings the growth among baptists of what he regarded as indifference to orthodoxy. He thought they laid too little stress on Christ's divine nature, and that the Arminian views which were spreading among them tended to Arianism. He keenly resented what he called the „down grade‟ developments of modern biblical criticism, and the conviction grew on him that faith was decaying in all Christian churches. Consequently on October 26, 1887 he announced his withdrawal from the Baptist Union, the central association of baptist ministers, which declined to adopt the serious view that he took of the situation. Opposition to the rationlising tendency of modern biblical criticism brought him in his later days into sympathy with many churchmen. It was perhaps on that account that he withdrew from the Liberation Society, of which he had been previously a vigorous supporter.
During the latter part of his life Spurgeon lived in some style at Norwood. He never practiced or affected to practice asceticism, but was generous in the use of the ample means with which his congregation supplied him. His opinions on social questions were always remarkable for sanity and common-sense. A liberal in politics, Spurgeon was, after 1886, a prominent supporter of the liberal-unionist party in its opposition to home rule for Ireland. Towards the end of his life he suffered severely from gout, and was repeatedly forced to take long rests. He died at Mentone on the evening of January 31, 1892, and was buried at Norwood cemetery, London. The Memorial Hall at Stockwell and the Beulah Baptist Chapel at Bexhill (commenced in 1895) were erected in memory of him. The best portrait of Spurgeon is an oil painting in the pastor‟s vestry, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and there is a bust by Acton-Adams at the
It is a sort of tradition of the fathers that it is wrong to laugh on Sundays. However, Spurgeon prefer people to laugh rather than nod or fall asleep in the house of God, “I would rather get the truth into them through the medium of ridicule than I would have it neglected, or leave people to perish through the lack of reception of the message.” His humour was spontaneous; the free play of his humour, and to the
fervour of his unconventional appeals to the conscience lead to success. But he was by nature endowed with much oratorical power. He managed with the utmost skill a clear and sympathetic voice, while his gesture was easy and natural. Throughout life his matter united shrewd comment upon contemporary life with the expository treatment favoured by the old puritan divines. In later life he spoke in the pulpit with somewhat less oratorical effect, but with an intenser earnestness.
Spurgeon was a prolific author, writing with the directness and earnestness that distinguished him as a speaker. From 1855 Spurgeon‟s sermons began to be published weekly. From 1865 he conducted a
monthly magazine, the Sword and Trowel. Hundreds of thousands of his sermons were reprinted, and
many of them have been translated into other languages. People today still read his messages and are blessed by the Christ-centered spiritual food Spurgeon set upon the Gospel-table. The late well-known W. Robertson Nicoll wrote: “Spurgeon‟s sermons are invariably worth buying, and a man who has a set of them possesses a very good theological library.”
It is understandable why Spurgeon attracted so much praise. The sheer mountain of work he produced through his London years was phenomenal. During the nearly four decades of his ministry, 14,692 were baptized and joined the Tabernacle; a pastors‟ college was founded; an orphanage was started; dozens
of mission churches were established; 2241 of Spurgeon‟s sermons were published up to the time of his
death in 1892. After that, a weekly publication of one of his messages was produced until 1917, which finally brought the number to over 3,800 published sermons. For a period of time, Spurgeon‟s Sunday sermon was even wired across the Atlantic to America and printed in the Monday edition of secular newspapers. Through his great sermons, Spurgeon continues his ministry on earth, though he is “absent
in body.” As The Episcopal Recorder (March 17, 1892) said, “Charles Spurgeon‟s ministry on earth had ended, but its results continue. The streams of influence he set in motion move onward in their ceaseless
flow. While time shall last, the echo of his voice will be heard.” (For Spurgeon‟s continuing influence, see
L. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers).
An autobiography compiled by his wife and the Rev. W. J. Harrald, his private secretary, from his dairy, letters,
and records, appeared in four volumes in 1897-8.
[Pike's Life and Work of C.H. Spurgeon; Shindler's From Pulpit to Palm Branch; Stevenson's Sketch of the Life of Spurgeon, 1887;
Needham's Life and Labours of C.H. Spurgeon; Douglas's Prince of Preachers; Drew's Charles H. Spurgeon; Record, 5 Feb. 1892; Times, February 1892; Review of Reviews, 1892, i. 239-55; information from the Rev. Thomas Spurgeon.]
Copied from Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1898. vol. 53.
; Born at Kelvedon, Essex England, June 19, 1834.
; Born again at Colchester, January 6, 1850.
; Baptized in the River Lark, at Isleham, May 3, 1850, by Baptist minister, Reverend Catlow.
; First sermon in Teversham, August 1850.
; Joined the St. Andrew‟s Street Baptist Church, October 3, 1850.
; Became Minister of the Waterbeach Baptist Chapel, 1851.
; First published work, No. 1 of Waterbeach Tracts, issued 1853.
; Preached First Sermon at New Park Street Chapel, London, December 18, 1853.
; Accepts pastorate of New Park Street Chapel, April 28, 1854, 232 members then.
; First Sermon in the "New Park Street Pulpit" published by Passmore and Alabaster, January 10,
; First preached at Exeter Hall on the Strand, a secular setting, February, 1855.
; Married Miss Susannah Thompson, January 8, 1856.
; Metropolitan Tabernacle Building Committee appointed to build the Tabernacle, June 1856.
; Twin sons Thomas and Charles born, September 20, 1856.
; Establishes the Pastor‟s College, 1856, and Expanded in 1857.
; Metropolitan Tabernacle opens with a Great Prayer Meeting, March 18, 1861.
; Metropolitan Tabernacle Colportage Association founded, 1866.
; Stockwell Orphanage (Boy's side) founded, 1867.
; Foundation Stone laid for the Pastor's College, October 14, 1873.
; Mrs. Spurgeon‟s Book Fund commenced, 1875.
; 571 new members added by February 1873, now 4,417 total membership.
; Girls‟ section of the Stockwell Orphanage founded, 1879.
; Jubilee Celebrations and presentation of testimonial, June 18 & 19, 1884.
; First “Down Grade” Paper published in August, 1887. The Sword & the Trowel,
; Last sermon preached at Metropolitan Tabernacle, June 7, 1891.
; Traveled to Mentone, France with his wife for the last time, October 26, 1891.
; Took to his sick bed, January 20, 1892.
; Died for the higher home, January 31, 1892.
; Interred and buried at Norwood Cemetery, February 11, 1892.
Books by Spurgeon, Charles Haddon
12 Christmas Sermons
12 Sermons for Inquirers
12 Sermons of Comfort and Cheer
12 Sermons on Commitment
12 Sermons on Prayer
12 Sermons on Praise
12 Sermons on Thanksgiving
12 Sermons on the "Cries from the Cross"
12 Sermons on the Holy Spirit
12 Sermons on the Lord's Supper
12 Sermons on the Love of Christ
12 Sermons on the Passion and Death of Christ
12 Sermons on the Resurrection
12 Sermons on the Second Coming of Christ
Able to the Uttermost: 20 Sermons
According to Promise
Advice for Seekers
Advice to Seekers
All Round Ministry
All of Grace
Around the Wicket Gate
Art of Illustration
Authority from God: The Prayers of Charles Spurgeon
Backgrounds to Patterns of Negro Segregation
Baptism (3 Sermons)
Baptismal Regeneration (2 Sermons)
Being God's Friend
Best of C. H. Spurgeon
C. H. Spurgeon's Prayers
C. H. Spurgeon's Sermons Preached on Unusual Occasions
Chequebook of the Bank of Fait
Christ's Words from the Cross
Christian Living Classics
A Classic Bible Study Library for Today: Recommendations
Counsel for Christian Workers
Covenant of Grace (9 Sermons)
Election (5 Sermons)
Evening By Evening
Faith in All Its Splendor
Finding Peace in God
Finding Peace in Life's Storms
Flowers from a Puritan's Garden
Friend, Would You Listen?: Selections from Around the Wicket Gate
The Fullness of Joy
Geese in their Hoods : Selected Writings on Roman Catholicism by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Gleanings Among the Sheaves
Go in Peace
God Loves You
God Promises You
God Will Bless You
God's Gift to You
God's Grace to You
God's Joy in Your Heart
The Golden Alphabet (On Psalm 119)
The Golden Key of Prayer
A Good Start: A Book for Young Men and Women
The Gospel of Matthew
Grace & Power
Grace Abounding in a Believer's Life
Greatest Fight in the World : The Final Manifesto
Holy Spirit Power
How to Have Real Joy
Into His Presence: Daily Devotions for Prayer
Jesus Christ: The History Ceremony and Prophecy As Told in the Old Testament
Jesus Rose for You
John Ploughman's Talks
John Ploughman‟s Pictures
Joy in Christ's Presence
The Joy in Praising God
Joy in Your Life
The Joy of the Lord
The Key to Holiness
King Has Come: Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew (Masters of the Word)
The Kings Highway
Lectures to My Students
Letters of C. H. Spurgeon
Limitless Love of Christ
Men and Women of the New Testament
Men and Women of the Old Testament
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit
Miracles and Parables of Our Lord
Morning & Evening
Morning By Morning
The Most Holy Place (Song of Solomon)
Near the sun : a sourcebook of daily meditations from Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The Negro college graduate
New Park Street Pulpit (6v. Set)
One Minute Devotion: Morning by Morning
Only a Prayer Meeting: Studies on Prayer Meetings and Prayer Meeting Addresses
Our Own Hymnbook
Parables (C.H. Spurgeon Collection)
The Pastor in Prayer
Pictures from Pilgrim's Progress
Power for You
The Power in Praising God
The Power in Prayer
Power in the Blood
Power of Christ's Miracles
The Power of Christ's Prayer Life
The Power of Christ's Second Coming
Power of Christ's Tears
The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life
Power of Prayer of Prayer In Believers
The Power of the Cross of Christ
Power over Satan
The Practice of Praise
Pulpit Legends Christ in the Old Testament
Ready Sermon Outlines
Revival (3 Sermons)
Revival Year Sermons: Preached at the Surrey Music Hall During 1859
The Saint and His Savior
Satan: 5 Sermons
Satan: A Defeated Foe
The Second Coming of Christ
Security (3 Sermons)
Sermons for Special Days and Occasions
Sermons on Sovereignty
The Soul-Winner: How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour
Spiritual Warfare in a Believer's Life
Spurgeon at His Best
Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare
Spurgeon on the Holy Spirit
Spurgeon's Commentary on the Bible
Spurgeon's Daily Treasury from the Psalms
Spurgeon's Devotional Bible: Daily Devotional and Commentary
Spurgeon's Expository Encyclopedia
Spurgeon's Proverbs and Sayings
Spurgeon's Sermon Notes : Over 250 Sermons Including Notes, Commentary and Illustrations
Spurgeon's Sermons on Angels
Spurgeon's Sermons on Christmas and Easter
Spurgeon's Sermons on Family and Home
Spurgeon's Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible
Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men
Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Miracles
Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Women
Spurgeon's Sermons on Old Testament Men
Spurgeon's Sermons on Old Testament Women
Spurgeon's Sermons on Proverbs
Spurgeon's Sermons on Soul-Winning
Spurgeon's Sermons on the Cross of Christ
Spurgeon's Sermons on the Parables of Christ
Spurgeon's Sermons on the Resurrection of Christ
Till He Come: A Collection of Communion Addresses
Till He Come
Treasure Store: The Best of C. H. Spurgeon
Treasure from the Psalms
Treasures from Charles Spurgeon: Selected Writings
Treasury of David
The Treasury of the Bible
When Christ Returns
Wind and Fire
Words of Cheer
Words of Wisdom for Daily Living
Your Available Power