Through the Eyes of Spurgeon – Official Documentary

Through the Eyes of Spurgeon – Official Documentary


My life seems to me like a fairy dream. I’m often both amazed and dazed
with His mercies and His love. Oh how good God has been to me God truly was good to Charles Spurgeon. One of the greatest
preachers who ever lived. During his lifetime, Spurgeon
preached to vast crowds. He faithfully made known
the great truths of the gospel to millions of men and
women in his ministry, and he continues to do so today, more than a century after his death. I’m one of them. My name is Jeremy
Walker and I’m a pastor and preacher at Maiden
Bower Baptist Church. Growing up, I heard the name
of Spurgeon fairly regularly, but my first real personal exposure
to him came when I was reading in my room at university. It was this particular volume that I had. A modern reprint of the New Park Street pulpit by Charles Spurgeon. The first sermon in this volume
is on the Immutability of God, and as I began to read I was gripped. Spurgeon begins by talking about
the unchangeable essence of God, his unchangeable attributes, his unchange-
able plans and his unchangeable promises. But the first words
that really gripped my mind had to do with God’s
unchanging threatenings. Spurgeon writes, “You must believe
or be damned saith the Bible, and mark that threat of God is
as unchangeable as God Himself. And when a thousand years of hell’s
torments shall have passed away, you shall look on high and
see written in burning letters of fire, he that believeth not shall be damned. But Lord, I am damned.
Nevertheless it says, shall be still. And when a million ages
have rolled away and you are exhausted by your pains and agonies, you shall turn up your eye and still read, shall be damned, unchanged, unaltered.” He goes on to explain
that God is unchanging in the objects of his love. But what gripped me was Spurgeon sense of spiritual reality, and I thought this is a man who is speaking
to my experience and my heart. I moved on from this to other
volumes like, “The Saint and his Savior”, a book full of sweetness
concerning the relationship of a saved sinner with
the Lord Jesus Christ, and from these onto his autobiography, wanting to know more about the
man who preached in that way. And that’s really where
we are, because Spurgeon sermons live on in the minds and hearts of countless
people throughout the world. But how many of us
who esteemed this man so highly, really know
very much about him. And that’s the purpose of this film. To introduce us to this man who
became known as the Prince of Preachers, and to trace some of the influences
on his life down through the years. We’re going on a journey, to see
where and how Spurgeon lived, to follow in his footsteps, and
to learn from, and to embrace, the legacy that he has left us. Won’t you join us as we look at the
world through the eyes of Spurgeon. In his biography of Charles
Spurgeon, W Y Fullerton wrote; “With his great hemisphere of sky, Essex like Nazareth of the olden days, lies near the stream
of the world’s traffic, but is shut off from it. And Spurgeon in his touch with
the life of his time, his aloofness from it, and his open
vision of the wide heavens resembles his native country.” Essex is where the story
of Charles Spurgeon begins, here in the small village of Kelvedon. In the house behind me John and Eliza Spurgeon welcomed
their first born son Charles into the world on the 19th of June 1834. He was the first of 17 children, although
only eight of them survived infancy. Spurgeon’s early life
in Kelvedon was brief. Within ten months of his birth,
his family moved to Colchester, and four months later 16 month old Charles came to live with his grandparents
James and Sarah in Stambourne Why would John and Eliza send their
little boy to live with his grandparents? The truth is we just don’t know, but one thing we can say with certainty, is that while it might seem strange to us, it was exactly what
God planned for Spurgeon. For it was here that God would
begin to draw Charles to himself. The elder Spurgeon, James, ministered
to Stambourne’s meeting house which was home to a surprisingly
large congregation since 1810. The meeting house was one of the
last burning embers of Puritianism, a form of Christianity known
for its Christ exalting doctrine, and intense commitment
to personal holiness. The elder Spurgeon held a
strong grasp of the Scriptures, and of the Puritans’ writings. In fact one of James hearers once said; “I could mount on Wings as Eagles
after being fed such heavenly food.” There can be no doubt the Lord knew exactly what he was
doing sending young Charles here. James and Sarah’s youngest
daughter, 17 year old Ann, was delighted to have
Charles in their home. He quickly became the
beneficiary of her love and care. In many ways she was
a second mother to him, caring for him as she
would her own child, and teaching him how
to crawl, walk and talk. She was also a passionate Christian and sought to promote his spiritual welfare
through her life and daily example. “In Stambourne stood
the child’s rocking horse. This was the only horse
I ever enjoyed riding Living animals are too
eccentric in their movements, and the law of gravity usually draws me
from my seat upon them, to a lower level. Therefore I am not an
inveterate lover of horseback. I can however testify
of my Stambourne steed, that it was a horse on which even a member
of parliament might have retained his seat.” In 1696, the government had imposed
a tax for each window on a house, and this led to many
windows being bricked up. For young Charles this added
to the thrill of going upstairs. He had no idea the adventures awaiting him as he opened a door into a dark room. Here was a treasure trove, a vast
pastoral library stood before him, and almost immediately
he stumbled upon a book that would remain close to his
heart until the end of his days. A book he would read
more than 100 times: John Bunyan’s, the Pilgrims Progress. “Out of that darkened room
I faced those old authors when I was yet a youth, and never was I happier than
when in their company.” Charles would spend hours in this room devouring the works
of saints from days past. Many of whom were the great Puritans. Reading was a source
of great joy to Charles, but he didn’t spend all
his time with his books. Aunt Anne remembers a family conversation about a church member who was causing
his grandfather a great deal of distress. “OK, So when I was 16
in school we had to write, I’m not sure what it was called,
a study about somebody in history. So I decide to write about
my great great grandfather. So that’s when I started looking up
the stories in the books about him. So this is a story, one of the
stories I read about Rhodes. This guy would be doing a lot of drinking
was causing terrible grief to the pastor. So he says, ‘I’m going
to kill that guy Rhodes,’ and I thought that’s a bit strong. So he went off down to the pub, and came back and said ‘I killed him. ’ What has he done?
What’s he done to this Rhodes.? This guy Rhodes arrives back
and he apologizes for his drinking; that he wasn’t really
following the Lord properly Apparently he had been sitting in the pub, smoking his pipe and
drinking a pint of beer, when the boy CH stepped
in, and pointing and said; “What doest thou here
Elijah sitting with the ungodly, and you a member of the church and breaking your pastor’s heart. I’m ashamed of you. I would
not break my pastor’s heart.” Furious at Charles’ behavior, Rhodes marched over to the manse. On the way though, his anger subsiding, he started thinking seriously
about his own actions. When he arrived at the Spurgeon
home, it was with a repentant heart, the difficulties were resolved,
and a good relationship restored. Spurgeon loved his time at Stambourne
and especially his grandfather. “I recollect when first
I left my grandfather with whom I had been
brought up as a little child; how grieved I was to part from him. It
was the great sorrow of my little life. Grandfather seemed very sorry
too, and we had a cry together. He did not quite know what to say to me, but he said, ‘Now child, tonight when
the moon shines and you look at it, don’t forget that it is the same moon
your grandfather will be looking at.’ And for years as a child
I used to love the moon because I thought my
grandfather’s eyes and my own somehow met there on the moon.” We’re standing at the bottom
of Hyde Hill in Colchester where Charles came to live with
his parents when he returned to them. It was the first time that he’d been
among his brothers and sisters, and as the oldest he
was their natural leader, whether it was playing in their games or
preaching to them from a haystack pulpit. But little did Charles
know that it wouldn’t be long before he would be preaching
the gospel from a real pulpit to tens of thousands of people. Charles was ten years old when he was
reunited with his parents and siblings. But Stambourne would continue to play a very important part
in the young child’s life. It was here on a visit to his grandparents, that he met Richard Knill, who’d been a missionary in India and
Russia with a London Missionary Society. At that time Knill was ministering to a
number of congregations across England. While travelling from town to
town as an itinerant minister, Knill arrived in Stambourne in 1844. Visiting with the elder Spurgeons,
Knill met young Charles. He was impressed with the
boys command over his speech and unparalleled eloquence.
Something, call it intuition, or an internal prompting from the Holy
Spirit, told him that this boy was special. And over several days
Knill spent many hours, praying with, and
ministering to, the young boy. “We went into the right-hand arbour,
and there in the sweetest way, he told me of the love of Jesus, and of the blessedness of trusting
in Him and loving Him in our childhood. With many a story, he
preached Christ to me, and told me how good
God had been to him, and then he prayed that I might
know the Lord and serve Him. He knelt down in that arbour, and prayed
for me with his arms about my neck. He did not seem content unless I kept with
him in the interval between the services. He heard my childish
talk with patient love, and repaid it with gracious instruction. On three succesive days he
taught me and prayed with me.” Before Knill had to leave the
family gathered to morning prayer, and during this time of prayer
something unexpected occurred. “Mr. Knilll took me on his knee and said, ‘ This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes. I am persuaded that he will
preach in the chapel of Rowland Hill, where I am now the minister. He spoke very solemnly and called upon
all present to witness what he said.” What prompted Richard Knill to
speak in this way we’re not entirely sure, but his words did come to pass. Spurgeon would go on
to preach to multitudes, and he would preach
in Rowland Hill’s Chapel. And when he did preach there he remembered
the promise he had made to Richard Knill. A promise to to sing that hymn, “God moves in a mysterious
way His wonders to perform.” It was clear from Charles earliest days
that he was an exceptionally bright boy. He preferred academic pursuits to sports, primarily because as he himself admitted he could handle a book
better than a ball or bat. At the age of 14, Charles was sent
to St. Augustine’s College, Maidstone. Although he would only spend one
year at this Church of England school before moving on to Newmarket Academy, Spurgeon would consider his time there
one of the most important years of his life. Among the people he would come to
know at the college was a clergyman, a good man, as Spurgeon called him, who would convince him of the
necessity of believer’s baptism. ‘Spurgeon,’ he said, ‘you were
never properly baptized.’ ‘Oh yes sir I was. My grandfather
baptized me in the little parlor, and he is a minister so
I know he did it right.’ ‘Ah but you had neither
faith nor repentance and therefore ought not
to have received baptism.’ ‘Why sir that has nothing to do with
it. All infants ought to be baptized.’ ‘How do you know that.
Does not the prayer book say that faith and repentance
are necessary before baptism. And this is so scriptural a doctrine
that no one ought to deny it. Now Charles I shall give you till next week to find out whether the Bible does
not declare faith and repentance to be necessary
qualifications before baptism.’ Spurgeon felt sure of
his victory at that point, but as he searched his
memory and his Bible, he found that he was beaten.
His mind was made up. “I resolved from that moment that if ever Divine Grace
should work a change in me, I would be baptized since as I
afterwards told my friend the clergyman, I never ought to be blamed for improper
baptism, as I had nothing to do with it. The error, if any, rested with
my parents and grandparents.” Years later, Spurgeon
would return to the college. While there he said he
could not help praising God for “not long after I left that school, he led me to faith in Christ and
to rest in Him and find eternal life. And I could not but thank God that
I went to that school for 12 months.” After a year at St. Augustine’s, Spurgeon
arrived at Newmarket Academy. He was a very gifted student and at the age of 15 became
what is called an Article pupil or Usha. But it wasn’t his intellectual
and academic achievements or even his employment that’s
most significant about this period. It was during this time that
the Lord used a number of people to have a profound spiritual
impact upon the young Charles and one of the most significant
was a very unlikely mentor, a cook by the name of Mary King. “She was a good old soul and
used to read the Gospel Standard. She liked something very sweet indeed,
good strong Calvinistic doctrine. But she lived strongly,
as well as fed strongly. Many a time we have gone
over the covenant of grace together and talked of the personal
election of the saints, their union to Christ,
their final perserverance, and what vital godliness meant, and I do believe that
I learnt more from her than I should have learned
from any six doctors of divinity of the sort we have nowadays. There are some Christian
people who taste and see, and enjoy religion in their own souls and who get a deeper knowledge of it than books can ever give them,
though they should search all their days. The cook at Newmarket was
a godly experienced woman, from whom I learned far more than I did from the minister
of the chapel we attended.” Mary King’s instruction had a profound
impact upon the young Spurgeon, not just immediately but on his whole
theology as it matured over the years. He wasn’t actually converted at this time, even though he’d begun to be
involved in the life of a local church. But as he was instructed, the conviction of sin began
to press down upon him, with that grief and
that sorrow on his soul, Spurgeon realized that sin was
something that had to be paid for. Spurgeon was the son of a preacher
and the grandson of a preacher. What many would call a pastor’s kid. He grew up with the
good news all around him surrounded by the theology of the Puritans. And yet in his heart
the Gospel still eluded him. “I had heard of the plan of salvation by
the sacrifice of Jesus from my youth up. But I did not know any more
about it in my innermost soul than I had been born
and bred a Hottentot. The light was there but I was blind. It was of necessity that the Lord himself
should make the matter plain to me.” The Lord in His mercy did make
the matter plain to Spurgeon. Not through some grand event,
but through a simple sermon. Charles walked into this
building a troubled boy, but he walked out a new man
in Christ, and it was all of grace. “A very thin looking
man came into the pulpit and opened his Bible
and read these words, ‘Look unto Me and be ye
saved all the ends of the earth.’ “Just setting his eyes upon me as
if he knew me all by heart, he said, ‘Young man you are in trouble.’
Well I was sure enough. Then he said ‘you will never get
out of it unless you look to Christ.’ Then lifting up his hands he cried out, as only I think a primitive
Methodist could do, ‘Look, Look , Look.’ It is only look said he. I at
once saw the way of salvation. Oh how I did leap for joy at that moment.” That day, Spurgeon returned home and his parents immediately
saw the difference in him. His face had changed, he had a smile a cheerful
happy and contented look. No longer was he the melancholy
boy but bright and cheerful. That same night the
newly born again Charles attended Eld Lane Baptist
Church with his mother, worshipping together as mother and son, but also brother and sister
in Christ for the first time. Later he would be baptized at
Isleham Ferry on the River Lark. “When I look back upon it, I can see one reason why
the word was blessed to me as I heard it preached in that Primitive
Methodist Chapel at Colchester. I had been up betimes
crying to God for the blessing. As a lad, when I was seeking the Saviour, I used to rise with the sun, as I
might get time to read gracious books, and to seek the Lord. I can recall the kind of pleas I used, when I took my arguments and
came before the throne of grace. ‘Lord save me. It will glorify thy grace
to save such a sinner as I am. Lord save me, else I
am lost to all eternity, do not let me perish. Lord save me. O Lord for Jesus died by his
agony and bloody sweat by his cross and passion save me. I often proved that the early
morning was the best part of the day. I like those prayers of
which the Psalmist said in the morning shall
my prayer prevent thee.” It could be a difficult thing to
enter into pastoral ministry especially if you’ve never really
had good examples and mentors. The first time you make a hospital visit, the first time you sit by
the bed of a dying person, The first funeral, perhaps
the sermons that you preach and the people that you have to deal with. Spurgeon himself
didn’t begin in this place. His ministry didn’t begin
with a great public fanfare. He didn’t start out in a megachurch and he didn’t begin with
having his sermons read by thousands of people across the world. Spurgeon began in much the
same way as most of us begin, by learning from other people. Spurgeon really cut his teeth on
ministry through distributing tracks. There was a desire for the
gospel that welled up within him, and he distributed tracts
on the streets, and to children, and to adults in the community,
seeking to spread the gospel. Charles moved to Cambridge in the
summer to work as Mr. Leeding’s assistant. And while there he was really
tricked into preaching his first sermon. Leeding told Charles to
accompany another young man who was going to preach
and was uncomfortable preaching and that Charles might
be of encouragement to him. He had actually told the other
young man the very same thing. They show up there together. Someone has to preach. Charles under-
takes the task of preaching the sermon. It’s a tiny little church, a
couple of dozen people there, primarily older and doubtlessly they
had heard many young preachers before, but they were struck by this
sermon that Spurgeon had preached. “My text should be, ‘unto you therefore
which believe He is precious’, and I would trust the Lord to open
my mouth in honor of His dear Son. It seemed a great risk and serious trial, but depending upon the
power of the Holy Ghost, I would at least tell
out the story of the cross, and not allow the people
to go home without a word. We entered the low pitched
room of the thatched cottage. We sang and prayed
and read the scriptures. And then came my first sermon.
How long or how short it was, I cannot now remember. It was not half such a task
as I had feared it would be, but I was glad to see my
way to a fair conclusion, until the giving out of the last hymn. To my own delight, I had not broken
down, nor stopped short in the middle, nor been destitute of ideas,
and the desired haven was in view. I made a finish and took up the hymn book but to by astonishment
an aged voice cried out. Bless your dear heart, how old are you? My very solemn reply was, ‘You must wait till the service is
over before making any such inquiries. Let us now sing.’ We did sing. The young preacher
pronounced the benediction. And then there began a dialogue which enlarged into
a warm friendly talk in which everybody
appeared to take part. ‘How old are you?’,
was the leading question. I am under sixty was the reply. Yes and under sixteen
was the old lady’s rejoinder. Never mind my age. Think of the
Lord Jesus, and His preciousness, was all that I could say.” As a 17 year old boy, he became
pastor of a village church at Waterbeach. He resigned his work at the school
and undertook preaching at the age of 17. He came to be known as
the “boy-preacher of the Fens.” And, immediately this tiny, little,
struggling congregation sprung to life and word began to
spread of this young phenom who was exhibiting a
gifting well beyond his years and a capacity to deliver the word of God with with power and with creativity, that combined, awakened this church. Waterbeach was a
watershed season for Spurgeon. This small church went
from about 40 to about 450, and in many ways it was a
season of self discovery for him, where his calling became confirmed, and he began to realize
in a personal way perhaps the magnitude of what
God was positioning him to do. It also was a time for decision as it relates to whether he
would pursue formal education. As a non-conformist he
could not enter Cambridge, and he had a botched
interview with Joseph Angus the principal of Stepney College, where Spurgeon is in one
room, Angus is in the other. The the receptionist there
did not connect the two. They both think the other is running
late. They both leave frustrated, and it detours Spurgeon
from pursuing formal education. He then is reflecting upon this,
whether or not he should study, and he believes the Lord speaks to him
through the verse of Jeremiah 45:5; “seekest thou great things
for thyself? seekest them not:” And for Spurgeon coming to grips
with not pursuing formal education, in many ways was a step of humility,
not to seek the approbation of man, that would play into
not pursuing formal ordination, not submitting himself to formal ordination
because not seeing that in the scriptures. That would play into a lifetime
of declining honorary doctorates and formal degrees
and formal accolades of man. It’s amazing how something as
simple as a letter can change your life. Maybe a letter from that man or that woman, maybe a letter offering
you your first real job. In late 1851 Charles
received just such a letter. He was invited to come and preach at the New Park Street
Chapel in this part of London. The chapel had been
founded 200 years earlier by Puritan era Baptists, and
had seen stalwarts of the faith such as Benjamin Keach, John Gill,
and John Rippon in its pulpit. Despite its past glory, by 1853 the
New Park Street Chapel was in decline. In November of 1853, Spurgeon spoke
at a Cambridge Sunday School Union. There’s a man in attendance
named George Gould and Mr. Gould perceived
Spurgeon’s unique gifting. He was impressed by
his power in the pulpit and he reached out to a
gentleman named William Olney, a deacon at the New Park Street Chapel. He knew they were need of a preacher and it was a church of great reputation. They had had men like Benjamin
Keach and John Gill as their pastor, John Rippon for 63 years
before the current vacancy. It was a church of a great history
but though it would seat about 1200, the congregation then
numbered only about 200. They extend an invitation
for Spurgeon to come and preach. Spurgeon being so young, he literally
thought there was some confusion, that the invitation was intended for
another man by the name of Spurgeon. Nonetheless after clarifying that
he went to to the church to preach, to the Chapel to preach. New Park Street Chapel was situated
on the south side of the River Thames, an industrial part of town. Nonetheless the church
perceived they had potential, perhaps every church in want of a pastor
has told a candidate they have potential. But they perceived their potential,
and invited Spurgeon fill the pulpit. He preached one Sunday. They’d invite him back
for several other occasions throughout the month
of January of 1854. And by the time he had finished
his final formal preaching obligation, New Park Street were already
devising plans to formalize Spurgeon, and an offer, and commitment from him. They preceive I suppose that
before them was a ‘Michael Jordan’, a once in a generation preacher. A man of unique giftedness, that
regardless of his age of being only 19, they should seize upon him and that
through Him God would do great things. And indeed through him, God did
do great things at that church. As Clive Anderson describes it, many were
double squeezed into the varnished pews. Others were peering in at
the doors or through the windows. Without a thought for health and
safety, the aisles were crowded. Some sat on the pulpit stairs and others were perched like
starlings on the window sills. The Crystal Palace was really
the brainchild of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. And sort of like a rich
man’s folly in some ways, a massive cathedral that
could seat over 20,000. On October 7th, 1857 Spurgeon preached to twenty three thousand
six hundred and fifty four people, the largest crowd he would ever speak to, without modern
amplification or P.A. systems. And that sermon there and, what became a part of the
mystique and the legend of Spurgeon, given the size of the crowd, and the ability for those
assembled to hear this man preach. “In 1857, a day or two before
preaching at the Crystal Palace, I went to decide where the platform
should be fixed, and in order and in order to test the
acoustic properties of the building, cried out in a loud voice, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which
taketh away the sin of the world.’ In one of the galleries a workman, who
knew nothing of what was being done, heard the words, and they came like
a message from heaven to his soul. He was smitten with conviction on account
of sin, put down his tools, went home, and there after a season
of spiritual struggling, found peace and life by
beholding the Lamb of God.” As the Lord worked
through Spurgeon’s ministry, the congregation at the New Park
Street Chapel began to feel the pinch. Packed Sunday services, meant
that they needed to look elsewhere for rented facilities, including
at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall. But there too, thousands thronged to hear Spurgeon bold and clear
proclamation of the truth as it is in Jesus. But something had to change
and so in March of 1861, the congregation moved
into the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Seating 5000 with standing
room for 1000 more, it was the largest
church building of its day. Spurgeon’s swelling crowds
necessitated a building committee, and a building campaign. And the construction of
the Metropolitan Tabernacle was one of his signature achievments, and became in and of itself
a great subtext to his ministry. He wrote broadly soliciting funds
for it and received funds broadly even well beyond his own congregation, because folks perceived the
importance of what was taking place. He chose the name Tabernacle in the
design of the building very intentionally. The word Tabernacle, choosing that
to speak to all of life and ministry, ought to have a sense
of the temporary. Meaning that our
ultimate dwelling place, for his church of himself
would be in heaven, and so picking up on the notion of
this being a temporary place for them. But also choosing very
clearly a Grecian design, Spurgeon would would say that there were
two languages that were ultimately blessed, the Hebrew and
the Greek language. He denounced the
mongrel Roman tongue. He did not want a gothic building
but he wanted a Grecian building, and so he designed the
Tabernacle both in the name, and the design itself to come
with heavy spiritual religious meaning. In 1887 John D Rockefeller and
Augustus Strong went to the Tabernacle to hear Spurgeon preach. And one of the things that
both men came away with is this idea that Spurgeon
success depended on his piety, his faith, and his prayer
life, those three things. Spurgeon never sought the spotlight.
He never sought fame or popularity. In fact the opposite was true. When you read some of the prayers in
the early sermons that Spurgeon preached, you get the sense that he is
utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit, and completely unworthy of the
call that the Lord is calling him to. He resisted this denomination that almost
started around him, called Spurgeonism. It’s amazing that you and I
don’t walk down the street and see First Spurgeon Baptist Church,
Second Spurgeon Baptist Church, like we do Wesleyan churches. Spurgeon was asked once
what is the secret to your success. And he said my people pray for me. And so here you have an ordinary man committed to extra ordinary prayer
that God used to change the world. Throughout the remainder of Spurgeon
public life and pastoral ministry the Metropolitan Tabernacle
would be his home. Here under his care, the church
became a thriving gospel organism, humming with Christian
life and vigour, and activity. And it was here, as his health permitted, that he would preach the
gospel from week to week until his final address
on the 7th of June 1891. “There never was his like
amongst the choicest of princes. He’s always to be found in
the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold, He always
takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the Cross
lies ever on His shoulders. If He bids us carry a
burden, He carries it also. If there is anything that is
gracious, generous, kind and tender, yeah lavish, and super abundant
in love, you always find it in Him. These forty years or
more have I served Him. Blessed be His name and I
have had nothing but love from Him. I would be glad to
continue yet another 40 years in the same dear service
here below. If so it pleased Him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh
that you would enter on it at once. God help you to enlist under
the banner of Jesus. Even this day.” Some say that for better or for worse, technology has made every local
ministry into a global ministry. Right now I could listen to sermons from
a man like John MacArthur on my phone, while following the
tweets of Kevin DeYoung, or reading a book by R. C. Sproul. I
could do those all at once, if I chose to. But imagine a man
having that kind of influence. A man who had that spread of the
Gospel in his heart and in his hands. That was Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon was primarily
committed to the local church. His attachment to the Metropolitan
Tabernacle was exemplary, but his influence from that
place through his preaching, through the men that he trained,
through the books that he wrote, spread far beyond. It went through the whole city.
It went through the whole country, it went through the continent of Europe, and it reached as far as
places like America and Australia. One of Spurgeon’s earliest books was
‘Smooth Stones, Taken From Ancient Brooks’, and Ancient Brooks, this is actually
a play on the name of the Puritan, Thomas Brooks, and
it’s a collection of stories. Spurgeon was married in
1856 to Susannah Thompson. And while he was still engaged to her, he actually asked Susie to help him
edit this. So this is one of the earliest. There was another early one by
the name of ‘A Saint and His Saviour’ This was conceived in 1854, so that actually predates ‘Smooth
Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks’. But it wasn’t actually published until
1857, when he met Joseph Passmore, who was a deacon at the New
Park Street Chapel in London. The two men became great friends, who would be as
publisher for the rest of his life, and also his partner James Alabaster. The first sermon Spurgeon published
with these two new partners was ‘The Immutability of God’
on January the 7th 1855. And Spurgeon’s sermons were
published by Passmore & Alabaster all the way up until 1917, when a shortage of paper in World War I,
prevented them from doing so anymore. And so someone might ask why
was Spurgeon is ministry so important? And one answer to that is that in the
19th century you didn’t have the Internet. What you had was publishing. And Spurgeon was
not a systematic theologian in the sense that John
Calvin or Karl Barth was, he never sat down to write
out his theology systematically. But there was an implicit
systematic in his theology. And this was delivered organically, this
was found organically, in his sermons. And so publishing allowed Spurgeon’s the-
ology to disseminate throughout the world. Perhaps my favorite book
is the last one he ever wrote. At the end of his life,
the last two years of his life, he started a commentary on Matthew
called ‘The Gospel of the Kingdom.’ He never finished it. In fact Susannah in 1893
had to finish it for him and published it one
year after his death. But he wrote this book
mainly in Menton (France). And it’s interesting because
during this time in his life, Spurgeon is assaulted not only
with the downgrade controversy and the effects of that, but also
personally, he was suffering from gout. He was suffering from Bright’s disease
which basically is kidney inflammation. And so here is Spurgeon
at the very end of his life surrounded by controversy
and disease and illness and loss. And if you read the
Gospel of the Kingdom, you get a sense that
Spurgeon has an optimism, and a joy that permeates even
the most difficult circumstances. So even at the end, Spurgeon’s
joy can be seen in his commentary. That’s that’s one that I’ve always loved. When we think about Spurgeon’s legacy that goes beyond the Metropolitan
Tabernacle and his pulpit ministry. The first and most important
ministry Spurgeon had beyond his church
and pulpit ministry was the pastors’ college. The apostrophe went after the “s”.
It was a college for pastors. And it was not so much a college
for theologians or for academicians, but for those who would give
themselves to serving the local church. And that really reflects on
Spurgeon’s heart for the ministry, and heart for
the local church, and what he understood a preacher
is to be. It is to be a pastor as well. Spurgeon was clear, Charles
Spurgeon cannot make a minister. The pastors’ college cannot make a
minister. Only God can make a minister. At the same time though
he understood that a minister is something of a raw tool to be
shaped and moulded and refined. And so Spurgeon was eminently
qualified to take those called to ministry, to invest himself in them
to give them a rigorous study, to polish them and have them come out
the backside of their time with his college more equipped, more refined, more able to preach and teach the Word
of God, and minister to the flock of God. Of the college, Spurgeon would say, our
main business is to study the Scriptures. Three primary requirements first that
a person must be truly born again, secondly that they must demonstrate
the call of God in their lives and believe they have
truly experienced it. And thirdly that they have been
preaching for at least two years so that they already
had some experience, but also that their call was being,
and had been verified to some degree. He would ask applicants. How often
have you won souls to Christ, have you won souls today,
he would phrase it. Tuition, room and
board were covered. Just a common study, and have their
lives affected by Spurgeon himself. Spurgeon took great interest
in he men studying there. He not only taught them but he also permitted them
to be in proximity to him to where they in essence caught
what ministry was to be about as well. “Of all I would wish
to say this is the sum. My brethren, preach Christ
always and ever more. He is the whole Gospel. His person, offices, and work must be
our one great all comprehending theme. The world needs to be told of its
Saviour, and of the way to reach Him. Justification by Faith
should be far more, than it is, the daily testimony
of Protestant pulpits. And if with this master truth, there should be more generally associated
the other great doctrines of grace, the better for our church and our age. If with the zeal of Methodists we
can preach the doctrine of Puritans a great future is before us. The fire of Wesley and the fuel
of Whitfield will cause a burning. We shall set the forest of error on fire,
and warm the very soul of this cold earth. We are not called to proclaim philosophy,
and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through an atonement,
and salvation as a result of faith. These are our battle
axe and weapons of war. We have enough to do to learn
and teach these great truths, and are cursed without learning
shall divert us from our mission, or that willful ignorance, which
shall cripple us in its pursuit. By the time of his death in 1892, the
college had trained some 863 men, 627 of them were serving in
Baptist denominations as pastors. Over half of the new churches founded
in his denomination from 1865 to 1877, were pastored by men trained
by Spurgeon at the college. When we look towards the legacy the
college coming into the twentieth century, continued to have its effect. Owen
Owen was trained at the college. He was an influential figure
in the Welsh revivals. Graham Scroggie was
trained at the college who was a famous leader
in the Keswick movement. He was also the mentor to the
great British preacher Stephen Olford. When you come into the second
half of the twentieth century perhaps the leading figure
associated with the college was George Beasley-Murray. He led the college for fifteen years
before moving back across the pond to serve as Professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Louisville Kentucky. Throughout the 20th century
though as time passed, and the school in someways
moved on from Spurgeon, we still see the effects of Spurgeon’s
legacy through the school, including those trained and serving at the
college throughout the twentieth century. James tells us that faith
without works is dead, and Spurgeon was above
all a man of faith. He was faithful in his preaching
of the Gospel from the pulpit, faithful in publishing the
truth in books and tracts, faithful to in training
up future pastors, and preachers, and
leaders for the church. But Spurgeon was faithful, not
just in word, but also in deed, and he took seriously the
Bible’s call to care for widows, orphans and those in distress. One of the ways that worked
itself out was when in 1866, the Lord birthed plans for
the Stockwell orphanage. And apparently when he was
trying to start the orphanage, he was looking for money
and they prayed about it and they got this donation
of £20,000,of this lady. And he thought it was a mistake that she hadn’t really meant
to give you know £20,000 pounds, so they organized to
have an interview with her. He went to talk to talk to her and
said, ‘Now I’m here to talk to you about.. Thankyou very much for
the kind donation of £200. And she said £200 pounds!
I thought I put £20,000 so no, no, you did, but I
didn’t want to make a mistake and assume that you
actually meant £20,000, so I thought you might have put
too many zeroes there by accident. But she really had
meant to give £20,000, and that was the money they
used to found the orphanage. “It is laid very heavily on
our heart to stir up our friends to rescue some of
the scholastic influence of our adversaries out of their hands. We have too much given
up our children to the enemy. And if the clergy had
possessed the skill to hold them, the mischief might have been terrible. As it is our Sabbath schools have
neutralized the evil to a large extent, but it ought not to be
suffered to exist any longer. A greater effort should be
made to multiply our day schools and to render them distinctly religious by teaching the Gospel in them and by laboring to bring the
children as children to the Lord Jesus. The silly cry of non-sectarian is duping
many into the establishment of schools in which the most important part of wisdom, namely the fear of the Lord,
is altogether ignored. We trust this folly will soon be given up, and that we shall see schools
in which all that we believe and hold dear shall be taught to
the children of our poor adherents.” When Mrs. Hillyard read these words, along with the plea to establish
religious schools of a higher order, she realized she may have found
the way to fulfill a deeply held desire. She had felt a special
sympathy towards fatherless boys, so she wrote to Spurgeon
telling him of her desire, and asking his assistance
in carrying it into effect. What she didn’t know was that the Lord
had prepared Spurgeon for such a proposal, through a remarkable experience at the previous Monday evening
prayer meeting at the Tabernacle, where Spurgeon said, “Dear
friends, we’re a huge church and should be doing more
for the Lord in this great city. I want us tonight to ask him
to send us some new work. And if we need money to carry it on, let us pray that the
means may also be sent.” The Lord was indeed about
to send them that new work. As they prayed, William
Olney, a member of the church and a mighty man of prayer,
went up to Pastor C Welton, who was then a student at the college, And he said to him.
‘It’s all right Welton, you pray for the conversion
of sinners will you?’ A few days later a widow
by the name of Mrs. Hillyard, wrote to the dear pastor
offering him the sum of £20,000 for the purpose of establishing
an orphanage for fatherless boys. Their new work had been given,
together with the money to begin it, and so the Stockwell
orphange was born. And as Welton was persuaded,
it was born of prayer. In 1866 Spurgeon opened
the orphanage at Stockwell. Really two factors
moved him to do that. The first was the the obvious and
apparent need in the 1860s in London. There were homeless children on
the street. Poverty was rampant. There obviously was no child labor laws, and so there was a pressing,
almost inescapable need. Secondly, it was a trip
he took two years prior to visit George Mueller’s
orphanage in Bristol in 1854. Spurgeon said of Mueller,
‘He was a heavenly man.’ He said I have never heard such
a sermon in my life as I saw there. And inspired Spurgeon to do something
for the orphans in his neighborhood. But he didn’t want just a warehouse or
what would amount to as a prison complex, to keep children. He devised a much more paternalistic, and
we might even say a maternalistic setting. He had House mothers to oversee
them. It was more a family setting, a home structure, to not only
seeking to meet their physical needs but their spiritual needs as well. The Stockwell orphanage
remained open until London was bombed
during the Second World War. Afterward it was renamed
Spurgeon’s childcare. And today it’s known simply as Spurgeon’s, offering protection care
and support to thousands of vulnerable children across the UK. But the orphanage was
not the only charitable work in which Spurgeon was involved. Indeed it’s been said that few other men have been involved in so many
such causes during their own lifetime. By the time of Spurgeon’s death, he had been personally involved in
66 separate charitable organizations. Not just the orphanages we’ve said, but even such things as
the Surrey Street Mission, the Sunday schools,
the Colporteurs’ society, distributing tracts and
gospels across the country. But Spurgeon’s work could
not be confined to one city or even to one country. It rippled out across the United
Kingdom, and onto the continent, wherever there were sinners who
needed to hear about the one Saviour. So Spurgeon had a large impact,
not only on the city of London, but also around the world. His ministry
permeated to every corner of the world. But in London you have
to understand the context that was happening in London
before Spurgeon got there. In London there was a huge
cultural shift of population from the country into the city. This had a remarkable
impression on Spurgeon, and it also influenced the
contours of his ministry there. For instance in 1859 one
half of the population, who was above 20 years old,
had not been born in London. one half of
the population The 1845 famine in Ireland produced an enormous surge of Irish
immigrants who came to London. And so this enormous surge in
population towards the city, mixed with this
industrial revolution, that in Spurgeon’s
day was in full steam. It produced a London that
was primed for Spurgeon. Spurgeon threw himself into
ministerial opportunities and there were many to be found. The 1845 cholera outbreak produced
enormous sickness in the area of London, where Spurgeon was a minister. Spurgeon would go from
door to door, house to house, ministering to the
sick and dying. It’s amazing he himself did not
contract cholera during that outbreak. This was a time when the living
conditions in London were deplorable. Mothers would throw their
babies into the Thames River because they were
unable to feed them. This was a time when London could
not take care of the living or the dead. At Eenan Street Baptist
Church for instance, you could go in the front door
and actually see the dead bodies piling up beneath the floor of the
sanctuary, in between the planks. And so in a lot of ways, London
was primed for a Spurgeon, who himself came in from the country
into the city when he was 19 years old, and spoke in a language that the
common person could understand. If you wanted to go hear a
philosophical, educated sermon, that the preacher would just read
from a manuscript very stoically, you could go to Liden’s church. If you wanted to hear oratory that
was embellished and sophisticated, you could go here Pushman. But if you wanted
to go hear Spurgeon, if you wanted to go where the
people were, where the masses were, you would have to go as they
said, across the river to Charlie’s. And it was there that
Spurgeon ministry unfolded. Vincent Van Gogh, before he
became an impressionistic artist, was so mesmerized by
Spurgeon’s preaching, that he himself tried
to be a preacher, long before he ever
became an artist, and if you read the letters
he wrote to his brother, you get the impact that
Spurgeon had on this young artist. And so because Victorian
London became a hub, and a hotspot, and a global destination, not only did Spurgeon’s mission field
come to London to hear him preach, but they also took Spurgeon’s
ministry around the world. Spurgeon sermons were sold in his lifetime
to about 56 million copies before 1892. They were found in the hands
of preachers in Tennessee, coffee farmers in Sri Lanka, Christians in
China, fishermen on the Mediterranean. A prisoner awaiting
execution in South America was last seen reading one of Spurgeon
sermons before he was lynched to death. And so Spurgeon was not
just a London phenomenon, Spurgeon was a global phenomenon. And his ministry went viral
in only a short number of years. At Spurgeon’s Jubilee
celebration in June of 1884, American evangelist D.L. Moody addressed those in attendance
at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. He said, “25 years ago,
soon after I was converted, I began to read of a young man,
preaching in London with great power, and a desire ceased me to hear him. Everything I could get hold
of in print that referred to him, I read with deepest interest. In 1867, I made my way across the sea. When I arrived in London the first place
to which I made my way was this building. When I returned to America, I was aked
if I had seen the different cathedrals here. I told the people I had not, for my
time was spent in hearing Spurgeon.” So Mr. Moody and Charles Spurgeon
had a wonderful relationship. Of course Moody was reading Spurgeon
before he ever met Spurgeon. Moody was invited to come to actually
preach in Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, later in his ministry but he visited London
on several occasions, 1867, 1872, 1884. All of these were opportunities for Spurgeon
and Moody to get to know one another. Spurgeon said that Moody
was the only man he’s ever met who could pronounce the word
Mesopotamia in two syllables – “MespTamia” and about Spurgeon, Moody said, you
know Mr. Spurgeon, I know you love me, but I assure you I love
you a thousand times more. And so they had a playful relationship,
they had a healthy relationship. In 1884 at the Jubilee
testimonial service, Spurgeon invited Moody
to give some comments and remarks at the
Tabernacle, which he did. And Moody quoted a
Native American poem. And he said, the first
line goes like this. Go on. The second line goes like this “go on.” The third line goes like this
“go on” and then Moody said, ‘Go on Mr. Spurgeon go on Dear brother,
God bless you, You shall live forever.’ And so he’s basically saying Go on
brother, God bless, you will never die. And it’s interesting that Moody
saw Spurgeon in this way, and you might even
say rather prophetically, because of course, he was
speaking eschatalogically in the sense that Spurgeon
would never die, but he is also speaking
perhaps to the idea that Spurgeon’s words have
taken on a life of their own. Carl F H Henry once said that “Spurgeon
is Evangelical Christianity’s immortal.” The Lord used His servant Spurgeon
to call thousands across the world out of darkness into
his marvelous light. Spurgeon was used to train
up pastors and preachers for the Church of Jesus Christ in his own
generation, and for generations to follow. And through his obedience
to the Lord’s command, hundreds of thousands
of children and young people found hope and help that
they could find nowhere else. It’s the kind of impact and influence
that most people can only dream of. And yet it’s an impact, and influence,
that God gave to one man his servant, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
What amazing grace. I’m not sure I want to know what
was going through my wife’s mind when she first saw me standing in the
stairwell of a church building in America. But when Susannah Thompson
first saw Charles Spurgeon, Clive Anderson says she
couldn’t believe her eyes. The rumors about this uncouth country
bumpkin seemed to tell only half the truth. There he stood, stood
large as life, bold as brass, and as arrogant as could be,
as far as she was concerned. His clothes looked like they had been
made by some second rate village tailor. Certainly not up to the standard of the
other smart gentleman of her acquaintance. Around his neck was a piece of
black satin that had seen better days. And worst of all as he spoke, he pulled
from his pocket a ghastly blue handkerchief, covered with white spots, that he
would wave in the air as he was speaking. If it hadn’t been so serious, Susannah
would have burst out laughing. Indeed if anybody had told her then that this was the man
that she was going to marry, she would have thought that they
were mad, and yet marry him she did. Susannah was born on
the 15th of January 1832. Her father and mother attended New
Park Street chapel from time to time, while James Smith served as its pastor,
and Susannah would accompany them. As a girl, she became aware
of her need for a Saviour, but whether she was truly regenerate,
or not, at that point only the Lord knows. Regardless, when she found herself
once more at New Park Street chapel, it was more to please
her friends than herself. And she did not expect that she would find
her heart warmed once again to the gospel. But it was not long before Spurgeon’s
earnest pleadings aroused her, and she realized that her life
of indifference and non-service was far from being
what it should have been. “Gradually I became alarmed
at my backsliding state, and then by a great
effort I sought spiritual help and guidance from Mr. William
Olney who was an active worker in the Sunday School
at New Park Street and a true Mr. Greatheart
and comforter of young pilgrims. He may have told the
new pastor about me, I cannot say, but one day I was greatly
surprised to receive from Mr. Spurgeon, an illustrated copy
of the Pilgrims Progress, in which he had written the inscription, ‘Miss Thompson, with
desires for her progress in the blessed pilgrimage’ from
C H Spurgeon, April 20th 1854.” Whether Spurgeon had any
thoughts, at that stage, of Susannah, as anything more than a struggling soul on her way to the Celestial
City, we’re not sure. But before very long,
that casual acquaintance deepened into genuine friendship, and then moved further
into deep love one for another, and so on the 2nd of August 1854,
in Susannah’s grandfather’s garden, they became engaged, pledging
their hearts to one another. Fullerton described Susannah,
‘with her adoring heart, and sweet face framed in the
curls that fell each side of it. And he with his clear eye, swift brain, high
collar, white tie, and protruding tooth.’ Their courtship lasted
more than a year, with Susannah being
baptized by Charles at New Park Street on
the 1st of February 1855. The couple then married
on the 8th of January 1856, with two thousand people
crowded into the chapel, and the adjoining streets thronged. Dr. Alexander Fletcher of Finsbury
Chapel performed the ceremony, and then bride and bridegroom
left for a brief visit to Paris. Twelve days later, the
preacher was back in his pulpit, and subsequently Mr. and Mrs. Spurgeon
were publicly welcomed by the congregation. Nine months later on the 20th of September,
they welcomed home thir twin sons, Charles, the elder,
named after his father, and Thomas named for
the apostle known as the twin. Spurgeon was an
exceptionally busy man, but his ministry never
became his mistress. His heart always belonged
entirely to Susannah. She was his steadfast
companion in life and service, to the end of their days together. They were a team in marriage, and
they were a team in ministry also. Susannah suffered
from a botched surgery that left her an invalid
for something up to 15 years. And during that time Charles
did his best to take care of her, and vice versa. Susannah
took care of Charles when he became sick with
gout, and kidney disease, and a museum of other illnesses. A licensed psychiatrist
by the name of Anil Den actually diagnosed Spurgeon
symptoms as being bipolar. He said if Spurgeon were alive today, he’d be treated with therapy and
that’s that’s probably the case. You know Spurgeon would cry
sometimes without knowing the cause. Sometimes Susannah
walked in on Spurgeon, and he was prostrate
on his face in his study. He had not only external problems
but endogenous problems inside him. He was clinically depressed,
and the two of them, they were a team in
ministry, and in marriage. I loved the episode when
Susannah was sleeping and she heard Spurgeon
saying something in his sleep. And instead of putting
a pillow over her head, or maybe putting a
pillow over his head, she decided to get a pen and a paper
and take notes of what he was saying. This was Saturday night. Spurgeon had not prepared
a sermon for the next day. He usually did late Saturday night. And so the next morning
Spurgeon wakes up, and Suzy hands him a copy of the
notes that she had taken at night. Turns out these were, this was
a sermon he was preaching and he preached that very
message in the pulpit that day. So they so they were
compliments to one another. In 1875, Charles Spurgeon published his
very famous “Lectures to my students.” And it was then that Susannah
took a look at the book and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could offer a
copy of this to every minister in England. What if we could put into the
hand of every minister in England, a theological library
that they couldn’t afford.” And Spurgeon said, “let’s do it.” And so all the sudden you
have this new ministry founded. There were 66 ministries
at the Tabernacle, and this was one of them,
the Book Fund Ministry. And so 27 years after the
Book Fund Ministry started, there were 199,315 theological volumes that Susannah was able to
put into the hands of ministers around England to increase
their theological understanding and also their their biblical scholarship. Susannah and Charles had the kind
of love that we should all aspire to. It was a love that carried them through
times of trial, illness, and tragedy. It was a love that was rooted, not
just in their enjoyment of one another, but fundamentally in their
union with the Lord Jesus Christ. As Susannah herself would say, as it’s
recorded in Charles’ autobiography, ‘theirs’ was a love that would never fade.’ “Ah, my husband, the blessed earthly
ties which we welcomed so rapturously, are dissolved now, and death has
hidden thee from my mortal eyes. But not even death
can divide thee from me, or sever the love which
united our hearts so closely. I feel it living and growing still, and I believe it will find it
full and spiritual development only when we shall
meet in the glory land, and worship together
before the throne.” I wouldn’t be the first preacher to
say that all my rest is a change of labor. On top of responsibilities as a
husband, or father, son, and friend, there are the duties of pastoring and
preaching that never seem to end and often seem to increase when
you under the most pressure. Even finding a day off
each week can be a battle. Spurgeon certainly
knew that battle. He had very little time for hobbies
apart from tending his garden. Susannah did say that he enjoyed
spending long days in the countryside. That was one of
his great delights. But by 1860, Spurgeon
had been involved in several years of particularly intense
ministry, and he was thoroughly worn out. He’d had no real rest for years and so the
time came for him to take a proper break. And in the summer of 1860, June and
July, he left for a tour of the continent, travelling through Belgium,
Germany and Switzerland. The entire tour brought
Spurgeon much joy, but the great delight was Geneva. During its later years, Geneva
was the heart of the Reformation, the home of French
theologian John Calvin. Spurgeon, himself a committed
Calvinist, was delighted. “Among all those who
have been born of women, there has not risen a
greater than John Calvin. No age before him ever
produced his equal, and no age afterwards
has seen his rival. In theology he stands alone,
shining like a bright fixed star, while other leaders and teachers can
only circle around him at a great distance, as comets go streaming
through space, with nothing like his
glory or his permanence. Calvin’s fame is eternal because
of the truth he proclaimed. And even in heaven
although we shall lose the name of the system
of doctrine which he taught, it shall be that truth which will make
us strike our golden harps and sing, ‘unto Him that loved us and
washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us
kings and priests unto God, and His Father, to Him be glory and
dominion forever and ever.’ For the essence of Calvinism
is that we are born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” “I preached in the cathedral in Geneva, and I thought it a great honor to be allowed to stand
in the pulpit of John Calvin. I do not think half
the people understood me, but they were very glad to see
and join in heart with the worship, in which they could not
join with the understanding. After the service in the cathedral, it was
arranged for me to meet the ministers. We spent a very delightful
evening together talking about our common Lord, and of the progress of his work
in England and on the continent. And when they bade me goodbye,
every one of those ministers, 150, or perhaps 200 of them,
kissed me on both cheeks. It was a peculiar pleasure
to me to have the opportunity of visiting the great centre
of earnest Protestantism, and meeting so many of
the godly and faithful men who had helped to keep the
lamp of truth burning brightly. To my dying day, I shall remember
those servants of Jesus Christ who greeted me in my master’s name,
and loved me for my Master’s sake. Hospitality unbounded, love unalloyed,
and communion undisturbed. A precious pen with which the brethren in
Geneva wrote their names upon my heart.” “At last we got away from
Geneva and went off to Chamonix. Then we came at last in what was
to be the great treat of our journey, the Passage of the Simplon. I cannot reproduce to you the thoughts
that then passed through my mind. I cannot describe the storms we saw below
us when we were on the top of the hill. I cannot tell you about the
locusts that came in clouds and devoured
everything before them. Time would utterly
fail me to speak of all the wonders of God which
we saw in nature and in providence. If you cannot travel, remember that our Lord
Jesus Christ is more glorious than all else that
you could ever see. Get a view of Christ
and you have seen more than mountains
and cascades and valleys and seas could ever show you, thunders may bring
their sublimest uproar, and lightning as their awful glory. Earth may give its beauty,
and stars their brightness, but all these put together
could never rival Him of whom Dr. Watts so well sang, Now to the Lord a noble song,
awake my soul, awake my tongue Hosanna to th’eternal name,
And all His boundless love proclaim. See where it shines in Jesus’ face,
The brightest image of His grace; God, in the person of His Son,
Has all His mightiest works outdone. The spacious earth and spreading flood
Proclaim the wise and powerful God; And thy rich glories from afar
Sparkle in every rolling star. But in His looks a glory stands,
The noblest labor of thine hands; The pleasing luster of His eyes
Outshines the wonders of the skies. Grace! tis a sweet, a charming theme;
My thoughts rejoice at Jesus’ name: Ye angels, dwell upon the sound!
Ye heav’ns, reflect it to the ground!” “Controversy is never a very happy
element for the child of God. He would far rather be
in communion with his Lord than be engaged in defending
the faith, or in attacking error. But the soldier of Christ knows
no choice in his Master’s commands. He may feel it to be better for
him to lie upon the bed of rest than to stand covered with
the sweat and dust of battle. But as a soldier he
has learned to obey, and the rule of his obedience
is not his personal comfort but his Lord’s absolute command. The servant of God must
endeavour to maintain all the truth which his master has revealed to
him because as a Christian soldier this is part of his duty but while he does so he’ll accord to
others the liberty which he himself enjoys.” Spurgeon was beloved by the common
man for his provocative preaching but his plain speech, and sharp wit put him at odds with many
others in Victorian London. Sometimes that opposition
had tragic results. For example on the 19th of October 1856 10,000 people were crammed into the Surrey
Gardens Music Hall to hear Spurgeon preach. And there were about
10,000 more waiting outside. Not long after the services began,
someone shouted fire in the packed hall. A panic ensued. People rushed for the exits and 7 people
were trampled to death in the crush. As a result Spurgeon fell
into a deep depression. Other controversies were less
spectacular but no less heartbreaking, as Spurgeon faced for example
opposition within the Baptist Union because of his stand
against theological liberalism. So Charles Spurgeon
never sought controversy, but somehow controversy always
sought out Charles Spurgeon, and he was involved in several
major controversies during his life, and also several minor controversies.
I have a few of them. One of the first controversies
that Spurgeon underwent was the media
controversy of 1854 to 1857. You can imagine here is a young man
from the country not used to city life, not formally educated. He’s not gaining his status through
conventional ordinary avenues and he comes into London
and the Press annihilate him. They crucify him, they
accuse him of being vulgar, they accuse him of
blasphemy they accuse him of; one, one newspaper
reporter accused him of being on the most intimate
terms with Satan himself. And so this took
a toll on Spurgeon. Sometimes Susannah
Spurgeon had to hide her husband’s newspaper in the
morning so he wouldn’t read it. Eventually after 1857, the attacks
in the press started to decrease. They started to attenuate, but early on
it was a smear campaign in full force. Another controversy in 1855 was
the hyper-Calvinism controversy. Now it must be said that
Spurgeon was not a hyper-Calvinist. Hyper-calvinism is
a determinist ideology that basically says because God has
foreordained everything in stone there’s no need for us to participate
in the Great Commission and save souls. Well of course Spurgeon
didn’t believe in this. You would be hard
pressed to find someone who saved more
souls in the 19th century. But he was accused of this accusation.
He had to defend himself of it. Spurgeon believed,
he was once asked, how do you reconcile God’s
freedom with man’s freedom to which he responded, I
never reconcile friends. So Spurgeon did see himself
in the particular Baptist tradition, Those like John Gill, John Rippon. He was a particular Baptist, he
did hold to the doctrines of grace, but he also believed that God was
big enough to work through our freedom, through our desires,
to accomplish His will. And so that was really
the second controversy that defined his
early Ministry in London. The third controversy perhaps one
of the more famous controversies was over the subject
of baptismal regeneration. So on June 5th 1864
Spurgeon preached a sermon from Mark 16:15-16, and
his sermon attacked two points that the established Church
held very close to them. Anglicans believed in baptismal
regeneration for infants. And so Spurgeon attacked
this idea in his sermon that infants could not
be regenerated spiritually because of the practice of baptism. That was really the first issue. The other issue was this idea of the
use of the Book of Common Prayer. Spurgeon combatted very publicly
in his sermon these two issues. After the sermon Spurgeon made a
passing comment to Joseph Passmore, basically saying that this controversy
was equivalent to publishing suicide. Of course Spurgeon could not
have been more inaccurate. He could not have
been more wrong. There were 200,000 copies of
the sermon immediately demanded. By the end of the year there were
350,000 copies of the sermons sold, by the end of the century there were almost
half a million copies of the sermons sold. So really this sermon put
Spurgeon on England’s radar from coast to coast and
made him popular in areas that he may not have been
without the controversy. Of course it cost him dearly. It cost him
his friendship with the Earl of Shaftesbury. It cost him his reputation
among the Anglicans, he pulled out of the
Evangelical Alliance. He later did rejoin that. But controversy always put
Spurgeon in an embattled posture and it took a tremendous toll, not only
on him personally but also professionally. When Spurgeon did face
off against his opponents, it was rarely over trivial matters. For example in the controversy
over baptismal regeneration, the very truth of the
gospel was at stake. And yet believe it or not today, one of the things that is accounted most
controversial about Charles Spurgeon is the fact that he smoked cigars. Spurgeon did love smoking cigars. This was also very
controversial in his own life. Spurgeon once said, I cultivate my
flowers but I burn my weeds. And so the reaction of course to this
habit that Spurgeon had was multifarious. Some people supported Spurgeon,
some people criticized Spurgeon. A man by the name of
James Clark criticized Spurgeon. He was actually a
friend of Spurgeon’s. Also W. Hutchings wrote a
scathing personal letter to Spurgeon, claiming that this was a dirty habit and smoking cigars would
lead to other terrible sins. And so people had
different opinions about that. On September the 20th, 1874, Spurgeon
invited one of his friends from Boston, a man by the name
of George F. Pentecost, to say a few words after
his own sermon in his church. And Spurgeon actually
cut his sermon short, for brother Pentecost
to say a few words. Well George Pentecost used that time to
rail against the evils of smoking tobacco, and after he got through with his rant, Spurgeon took to the platform and basically said notwithstanding
brother Pentecost comments, notwithstanding what
Brother Pentecost said, I am going to go home tonight and smoke a cigar for the
glory of God before I go to bed. “Well dear friends you
know that some men can do to the glory of God
what to other men would be sin. And, I intend to smoke a
good cigar to the glory of God before I go to bed tonight.” And then he said, “if anyone
can show me in the Scripture where ‘thou shalt not smoke’ is, I will faithfully keep
that keep that law.” And so for Spurgeon smoking
tobacco was not a sin. He could not find it
prohibited in Scripture. According to First Corinthians 8:13, he did say that it could be
a stumbling block for others, and in that sense it could be a sin. But ‘thou shall not smoke’
was never in Scripture, and so Spurgeon allowed this issue
to be a test of Christian freedom, not a test of fellowship. “The expression ‘smoking to
the glory of God,’ standing alone, has an ill sound, and
I do not justify it. But in the sense in which I
employed it, I still stand to it. No christian should do anything
in which he cannot glorify God, and this may be done
according to Scripture in eating and drinking and
the common actions of life. When I have found
intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm
refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God
and have blessed His name. This is what I meant, and by no
means did I use sacred words trifling. I am most sorry that
prominence has been given to what seems to me so small a matter and the last thing in my thoughts would have been the
mention of it from the pulpit. But I was placed in such a position, that I must either by my
silence, plead guilty to living in sin, or else bring down upon
my unfortunate self the fierce rebukes of the anti-tobacco
advocates by speaking out honestly. I chose the latter and although I am
now the target for these worthy brethern, I would sooner enjoy
their severest censures, than sneakily do what I could not justify, and earn immunity from their criticism by tamely submitting to be charged with sin
in an action which my conscience allows.” So the question is how did
Spurgeon handle controversy. It was very interesting that in World War
2, when the Germans were bombing London, one of those bombs found
its way to Norwood cemetery and actually blew the Bible off of
Spurgeon’s tombstone onto the ground. There’s a picture that shows
the Bible on the ground in front of the tombstone
of Charles Spurgeon. And this is such a good picture
of what the Germans had done, not only in Spurgeon’s
death but in his life, to the sacredness of the scriptures,
and the veritability of the Scriptures. And so it was
issues like these that launched Spurgeon
into these controversies. Spurgeon believed that there were
some issues in the Christian faith that should be a test of fellowship
and should not be a test of fellowship. And some of these issues that
should be a test of fellowship, at least for Spurgeon
was, the Deity of Christ, the hypostatic union, the integrity
of the Trinity, the importance of sin. These kind of things were worth going
into controversy for, for Charles Spurgeon. And on these issues, he
would not budge, even an inch. And so Spurgeon saw himself as
standing in a long line of theologians and defenders of the faith, dating all
the way back to Paul and Athanasius, and Luther and Calvin
and Knox and the Puritans. And so to really understand
Spurgeon’s stance toward controversy, you have to understand that
he’s participating in a tradition that was older than he was,
that was bigger than he was. He would often refer to the
phrase, ‘Athanasius Contra Mundum’. And in many ways it could
be said about Spurgeon, ‘Spurgeon against the world.’ This came to define
many parts of his ministry. Controversy had a polemic effect on
the presentation of Spurgeon’s gospel. It put him in an embattled position. And so he is forced to maintain
his integrity which he did, in my opinion did very well,
in the Downgrade controversy, particularly between his correspondence
with Samuel Booth, and others. But he didn’t want to
abandon his convictions. He was willing to let go of
his friends, and his reputation, and even his sermons sales in order to in
order to maintain his his biblical integrity. So in many ways, Spurgeon was seen
as a man who was behind his times. He was seen as a fossil
from a previous era, who just would not
progress into the future. But it also must be said
that Spurgeon was seen, and should be seen
as a man before his time. You know at the height
of the Downgrade controversy, Spurgeon issues this prophecy. One of the great prophetic
utterances of Spurgeon, he said, ‘for the next 50 years I am
quite willing to be eaten by dogs, but the more distant
future shall vindicate me.’ So Spurgeon could anticipate a time when evangelicals would
return to a more Biblical stance, a more theologically consistent stance. “The time has come for Christians
to stir. The house is being robbed. Its very walls are being digged down, but the good people who are in
the bed, are to fond of the warmth and too much afraid of getting
broken heads to go downstairs, and meet the burglars. Inspiration and speculation
cannot long abide in peace. Compromise, there can be none. We cannot hold the inspiration
of the Word and yet reject it. We cannot believe in the
Atonement and deny it. We cannot talk of the
doctrine of the fall, and yet talk of the evolution of
spiritual life from human nature. One way or another, we must go.
Decision is the virtue of the hour.” In his life, as we
have already seen, Spurgeon was no stranger to
opposition, and even to battle. But there was nothing
really to compare with what we know today as
the downgrade controversy. In the midst of this combat
against theological liberalism, Spurgeon said goodbye
to one of his students, and said he would not see his face
again because this fight was killing him. It was indeed. As one of his biographers would
say, “the fight which cost him his life.” The downgrade controversy
erupted like a volcano in 1887, and it came somewhat out of nowhere, and it moved along and
advanced at a rapid pace. From the time that Spurgeon wrote his
article of indictment in August of 1887 in The Sword and Trowel,
to October of 1887, when he had already resigned, and
withdrew from the Baptist Union. Really two factors primarily
led to it, in Spurgeon’s opinion. First was higher critical
methodology coming out of Germany which undermined the
Scriptures in general, and then Darwinism which
was now on the scene, questioning the creation account. Stemming from those
two primary tributaries, was a whole host of issues,
undermining the atonement, undermining a general conviction about
the belief and inspiration of the Scriptures. And for Spurgeon, first it was more
perceived need, a perceived concern He wrote in the Sword and Trowel
documenting and bringing this to bare, and was met with a furore of outrage. Folks questioning his integrity, saying
he should produce evidence, which led to another sub-
controversy with with Mr. Booth, where Spurgeon sent Booth documentation
of names and specific concerns. Booth never made that available. Led to schism with
his own brother James, created a major fissure the with those
who had studied at Spurgeon’s college, and catapulted Spurgeon
himself into great depression. So much so that Susannah perceived
that that led him to his his early grave. “I trust I may be made stronger
for the stern task which awaits me. But I try not even to think of that, but
just to abandon myself to a bath of rest. This I trust is the wisest course, and yet I keep on longing
to be doing some good or bearing some fruit unto the Lord. Little occasions for this do occur, and I am eager to use them
aright. Now I shall need wisdom. The Lord will prepare me
for all that is to happen.” I don’t think Spurgeon could have
prevented the downgrade controversy. The issues were to pronounced, they thought
the theological concerns were too urgent. I think really the question is,
that that history begs us to ask is, should Spurgeon have
resigned so abruptly. Could he have affected
the union positively if he’d stayed in it and sought
to agitate from the inside. Or was it was the union best served, and the church best served for him to
remove himself and agitate externally. This was not secondary separation. Sometimes folks look back
on the downgrade controversy and use it as a reference point
for other degrees of separation. These were urgent issues,
these were first tier issues, and the union had no doctrinal statement that was agreed upon
by all the constituents. Not because they didn’t care about doctrine but because doctrine
was basically presupposed; they were presupposing
evangelical convictions. And so I see no way that the
controversy could have been avoided, at least not by way
of Spurgeon’s handling it. “I might not have had such an
intense loathing of the new theology if I had not seen so
much of its evil effects. I could tell you of a preacher of unbelief,
whom I have seen in my own vestry utterly broken down
driven almost to despair, and having no rest
for the sole of his foot, until he came back to simple
trust in the atoning sacrifice. If he was speaking to you he would
say, ‘cling to your faith brethren.’ If you once throw away your shield, you will lay yourself open to imminent
dangers and countless wounds, for nothing can protect
you but the shield of faith.” The Bible tells us that as
much as it depends upon us, we ought to live at peace with all men. That’s especially true in
the Church of Jesus Christ, where we are to be known
by our love for one another, and yet unpleasant as it may be, there are times when we do need to divide for the sake of the gospel for the
honour and glory of God in Christ. Spurgeon remains for us a fine
example of courage and clarity. He said himself that he was willing to
be eaten by dogs in his own generation, but that more distant
days would vindicate him. And that’s the kind of
example that we still need, of a man who is prepared to
walk the path of faithfulness even when it was a lonely road. “I have chosen thee
in the furnace of affliction. This has long been the motto, fixed before our eye upon
the wall of our bed chamber. And in many ways it has
also been written on our heart. It is no mean thing
to be chosen of God. God’s choice, makes
chosen men, choice men. We are chosen not in the
palace but in the furnace. In the furnace beauty is
marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed. In here eternal love reveals its
secrets and declares its choice. So has it been in our case. Therefore if today the furnace he heated
seven times hotter, we will not dread it, for the glorious Son of God will
walk with us amid the glowing coals.” Charles Spurgeon was a lion in the pulpit. Of this there can be no doubt. His powerful preaching shook his hearers
to the very foundations of their souls. And yet this man so powerful in the pulpit out of it was beset by
illness and depression. In October 1858 he had his first
episode of incapacitating illness since coming to London. He was absent from his
pulpit for three Sundays. When he returned he
preached on 1 Peter 1:6. “I was lying upon my couch,
and my spirits were sunken so low, that I could weep by the hour like a child. And yet I knew not what I wept for, but a very slight thing will
move me to tears just now. And a kind friend was telling me
of some poor old soul living near, who was suffering very great pain and
yet she was full of joy and rejoicing. I was so distressed by
the hearing of that story. I felt so ashamed of myself
that I did not know what to do. Wondering why I should
be in such a state as this, while this poor woman, who had a terrible
cancer and was in the most frightful agony, could nevertheless rejoice with
joy unspeakable and full of glory And in a moment this text flashed
upon my mind with its real meaning. I’m sure it is, its real meaning. That there is an absolute needs be, that sometimes the Christian
should not enjoy sufferings with a gallant and joyous heart. There is a need be that sometimes
a spirit should sink within him and that he should become
even as a little child smitten, beneath the hand of God. There were times when
his depression was so severe that Spurgeon felt he could
no longer continue to preach. He was dreadfully unsure
of his calling to the ministry, and even of his
relationship to Jesus Christ. But as Martin Lloyd-Jones shared in his
lecture series on preaching and preachers, God would not let go
off the Prince of preachers. [Martin Lloyd-Jones Voiceover] Then there
is another very good story I think. I say this for the comfort
of a man in need, a man in desperation, or
a lay preacher particularly. It’s another story about Spurgeon,
who was given to fits of depression. He suffered from gout and that always is
accompanied by an element of depression. And he was under the clouds
and felt that he couldn’t preach and indeed that he wasn’t fit to preach, and he refused to
preach the following Sunday. And went off to the country
to his old home in Essex. And on Sunday morning
he slipped in at the back, in the little chapel where
he’d been brought up. And there was a lay preacher,
preaching that morning, and the poor lay preacher proceeded
to preach one of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons. Once the man had finished,
Spurgeon rushed on to him with tears streaming down his
face, thanking him profusely. And the poor man said,
‘Mr. Spurgeon he said, ‘I don’t know how to face you, I’ve just
been preaching one of your sermons.’ He said, I don’t care
whose sermon it is’, he said, your preaching this morning has
convinced me that I am a child of God, that I am saved by grace,
that I’m called to the ministry, and I’m ready to go
back to preach again.. Spurgeon’s depression was
a result of his many illnesses. Perhaps because of the
psychological toll that they took, but in the case of his gout it may
have been physiological as well. He would go on to describe his depression
or despondency as his worst feature. He asserted that
despondency is not a virtue. “I believe it is a vice. I am heartily
ashamed of myself for falling into it, but I am sure there is no remedy
for it like a holy faith in God.” Nevertheless his depression would
allow him to minister more effectively, as he himself would acknowledge. “I would go into the deeps a hundred
times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a
word in season to one that is weary.” During his final years of ministry, Spurgeon’s gout and bouts of
depression often incapacitated him, resulting in him being
frequently absent from the pulpit. Yet even in these times, Spurgeon, experienced periods
of extraordinary productivity. Finally after 38 years of ministry, Spurgeon stepped down as the
Metropolitan Tabernacle’s pastor on the 7th of June 1891. As his illnesses progressed, he
retired to Menton in France. In earlier years Spurgeon would often
visit here for rest and recuperation, particularly during seasons of depression. Even as he convalesced, he found it to
be a fertile field for fruitful ministry. It was here that he would
spend his final months in the body. Even in those days, his heart
was still with his congregation. On the 9th of August, a letter written by
Spurgeon himself was read to the people. “The Lord’s Name be
praised for first giving, and then hearing the
loving prayers of his people. Through these prayers,
my life is prolonged. I feel greatly humble and very grateful. I have be the subject of so great a love
and so wonderful an outburst of prayer. I have not strength to say more. Let the name of the Lord by glorified,
Yours most heartily C H Spurgeon” Spurgeon entered into the Lord’s
rest on the 31st of January 1892. His wife Susannah sent a simple, but
comforting message to her son Tom, “Father in heaven.
Mother resigned.” In the memorial issue
of the Sword and Trowel, following Spurgeon death, they
described his funeral in this way. “While we gathered
around a grave, a little patch of blue sky
appeared just over our heads as if to remind us of
the glory land above. And while Mr Brown was speaking, a dove flew from the direction of
the Tabernacle towards the tomb, and wheeling in its flight over the
crowd, almost seemed to pause. In ancient days it would
have been an Augury. To us, it spoke only peace. As the service proceeded, a little
robin poured forth its liquid note all the while from a
neighbouring tombstone. The red breast made appropriate music, fabled as it was to have
had its crimson coat ever since it picked a thorn
from the Saviour’s bleeding brow. Well we do not believe that, but we
believe what we sang at the grave, the truth that Mr. Spurgeon lived
to preach, and died to defend, ‘Dear dying Lamb thy precious blood
shall never lose its power, till all the ransomed church of God
be saved to sin no more’ Many remarked that the
whole of the memorial services, unique as they were, were characterized
by a simplicity and heartiness, completely in harmony with
the entire life of the beloved pastor. And it was most significant, that when the
olive casket was lowered into the vault, not even the glorified
preacher’s name was visible. It was just as he would have wished it. There was nothing to be seen but
the text at the foot and the open Bible. Of course the Bible was not buried, It is
not dead. It Liveth and Abideth forever. And who knows whether it
may not prove more than ever, the means of quickening the
dead, now that he who loved it, dearer than his life, can no longer proclaim its blessed
truths with the living voice God grant it .” Though Spurgeon has
finished running his race, and is now standing in the
presence of his great God and Saviour, there is a very real sense in
which his ministry is not over. As has been said by others, from
the tomb he continues to proclaim the very same gospel that he
proclaimed in his life here upon earth. A Gospel of God’s
redeeming love, a gospel of Jesus Christ the Lamb
of God who was slain for sinners. The gospel that he
spoke from the pulpit, is the gospel that still sounds
from the pages of his books, and echoes from the story of his life. How we long that those
who never had the opportunity to hear him preach
that gospel from the pulpit, would as it were, hear those truths from
the grave and from from the glory, and come to know the Christ that Spurgeon
so faithfully and fearlessly proclaimed. As a Christian, as a husband
and father, and as a pastor, it is not wrong to ask what
kind of legacy will I leave. What character will I leave behind. What effect will I have had on
my wife and on my children. What about the saints
to whom I’ve ministered and the other people
to whom I’ve preached. We need to ask those questions
too about Charles Spurgeon. As a man what imprint did
he leave on the world around him. As a husband and a father, what did
he pass on to those who followed and what of the church
where he so faithfully ministered. What is the legacy of Spurgeon. One year after Spurgeon’s
death, Charles son, Thomas, succeeded his father as
pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, where he himself served
faithfully for 15 years, and was succeeded by a number of
godly ministers, even down to this day. The other son, Charles,
was also a preacher, and he was faithful in his turn, ministering the Gospel
wherever the Lord sent him. So when it comes to Spurgeon’s legacy, one thing that has always
impressed me is this tension. This bifurcated tension in Spurgeon. Even from the beginning of his
ministry between doing and being. Most people are familiar with the story
of Spurgeon’s conversion in Colchester. Spurgeon is trying to go to church,
he is involved in a snow storm, he loses his way, he stumbles
into a Primitive Methodist Church, on Artillery Street. And it was there that even the pastor of this Primitive Methodist
Church was snowed in. And so a shoemaker, or a
tailor, or whatever he was, takes to the pulpit, completely
uneducated, and to the best of his ability, He preaches from Isaiah 45:22, “Look on to me and be ye
saved all ye the ends of the earth.” Spurgeon later recounts that he looked as though he could
have looked his eyes away. And so this emphasis in
Spurgeon on doing, looking, followed him all the
way through his ministry, even after his conversion experience. He threw himself
into ministerial activities. He started distributing tracts, he
just had to do something for Christ. He would later say, ‘When our
lives are to be written at last, God grant that they
record not only our sayings, but also our sayings and our doings.’ So Spurgeon did a lot. He was a college president, he was
a pastor, he was an abolitionist, he was a social advocate,
he was an author. And so Spurgeon did a lot in his life. But what is less known, is
where Spurgeon went to church that evening and particularly what he
heard on January the 6 1850 in the night. That evening he went
to Eld Lane Baptist church and heard Robert Langford
preach a sermon on Ephesians 1:6, about how God has made
us accepted in the Beloved. And so it’s this idea of being in God,
not just doing for God but being in God. And this tension is
very interesting to follow, this tension in Spurgeon’s
life between doing and being. Spurgeon’s ministry oscillates
between Isaiah and Ephesians. And in many ways this is one
legacy that he leaves the church. He not only gives us a challenge
to do something for Jesus Christ, but he also gives us an assurance that
Jesus Christ has done something for us. And so this is a great legacy that he left
the church, and a great challenge for us. Another legacy that he left
is the idea of vocation. In the Reformation, the two
popular doctrines were Justification, the idea of being made
right with God through Christ; Sanctification, the concept
in which we are made holy, through the Holy Spirit’s
work of conviction in our lives. Spurgeon recovered the third and
forgotten doctrine of the Reformation. That is the doctrine of Vocatio, Vocation. The idea that God calls each and
every one of us, not just preachers, not just evangelists,
not just missionaries, but factory workers, and those who are
working in business and trade and film. He calls each of us to be ministers, and this is one way that Spurgeon appealed
to the common working class in London, and really equipped them to take the
gospel into their own avenues of ministry. Spurgeon’s legacy unquestionably
is multifaceted, multidimensional, but I think you have to understand
that all of it flows from his pulpit. Before he was a writer,
before he founded an orphanage, before he founded a college, even
while he was an apologist for the faith, all that flowed from his pulpit-ministry, the man in his DNA, in his heart of
hearts, was a gospel preacher. So his legacy first and
foremost is a pulpit legacy. Even the proliferation of
his ministries of publication, the sermons the books and letters, so much of that flowed
directly from his pulpit. So I think Spurgeon’s
legacy is quite simply this. I believe Charles Spurgeon,
and George Whitfield, whom Spurgeon admired greatly, and
referred to as the chief of preachers. I believe those two men
are the greatest preachers of the English language, without question. One answer to the question,
why should we read Spurgeon today, is that Spurgeon still has
something to say to us. Spurgeon still has something to say
about how God can take nobodies and make them into somebodies, who make his glory known
throughout all the ends of the earth. And so we need Spurgeon, because
we need to read Spurgeon, because Spurgeon’s
struggles are our struggles. Spurgeon’s prayers are our prayers. Spurgeon’s Christ is our Christ. He once said that he did not
consider himself to be an “Alp”, like Martin Luther or Calvin or Knox. He considered himself to
be a smooth stone in a valley, so that weary pilgrims can come
and find rest there for their souls. There’s a romance to Spurgeon, and it’s more than his
contacts in Victorian England. It’s more than his brilliance. It’s more than his imagination that made
his sermons and his writing so colorful. I think there’s a passion at the heart of
the man that is absolutely captivating. It’s as though he never
lived a boring day in his life. Every day was marked
by gospel adventure, marked by rigour of ministerial service. There was an intrepidness about
his life that should inspire us all. Why do we look back as ministers
and as laymen on Charles Spurgeon. Because we had better look back because we learn lessons
of defending the gospel, of preaching boldly, of standing
strong for evangelical convictions, and for giving our lives
for the cause of Christ. When I look at the ministry
of a John MacArthur, or a John Piper, or an Adrian
Rogers or a W. A. Criswell; different people throughout
the spectrum of Baptist life. You look at these men who’ve
ministered in the 20th and 21st century, and it’s impossible to really
conceptualize their ministries now, without the Ministry of Charles Spurgeon. You see his fingerprints. His influence on so many of the Titanic
figures of the faith in the 21st century. That’s a legacy worth leaving. It’s one thing to preach
the gospel before thousands, even tens of thousands
of people on a regular basis. It’s one thing to write books
that are read by thousands, even millions in various times and
places, to great delight and profit. Those things are wonderful
testimonies to the grace of God. But Spurgeon is even
more than that. He’s not one thing in public
and another thing in private. He’s the same man in his own home
as he is in the pulpit before the crowds. The same man is preaching
the same gospel, serving the same Christ, and
showing the same Godly character, the same zeal for the
glory of his Lord and Saviour. Is that the legacy that we shall leave? The legacy of a Christ like man or woman doing the work that our Saviour
has given us to do on Earth, until we come into His presence, and worship and serve,
and praise Him forever. Spurgeon once said, ‘I shall not die, but
live, to proclaim the works of the Lord.’ And in that case, Helmut Thielicke
butresses this idea when he said “that old bush from London still burns
and shows no sign of being consumed.” And perhaps God is
raising up another Spurgeon, another Spurgeon who will
proclaim his glory in the 21st century. Maybe it’s you. “I used to think that I should sing
among the saints above as loudly as any. For I owe so much to the grace of God.”

100 Replies to “Through the Eyes of Spurgeon – Official Documentary”

  1. Spurgeron was a great, the only thing he had wrong was his soteriolgy (Calvinism) everything else was fine

  2. Great documentary! Check out unique spiritually uplifting Surgeon Daily Quotes with beautiful images – iPhone App: http://bit.ly/SOMa-Spurgeon

  3. Hello there !!
    I'm Moody from Egypt , and I 'd like to translate the movie into Arabic ( more than 300 Millions )
    I think that you will not work on it 🙂
    Thanks

  4. Hello brother, can i have this documentary on my YouTube channel putting greek subtitles for my country?

    In Jesus name our Lord and Saviour, the Son of God. Amen.

  5. In a month I will commit myself to it, but there is a problem there are not English subtitles, it will be easier for me to work from there.
    I send you a message before I start. Blessings.

  6. Very well done documentary. Would have liked one more segment on his many books. To say that John Piper follows in Spurgeon's train is absurd, though.

  7. Great documentary on the life of Charles Spurgeon. Have you ever thought about doing a documentary on Gipsy Rodney Smith, the British Evangelist?

  8. Calvinists don’t know if they are born again. That’s because if they
    depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1), they believe they were never really
    saved. (2 Pet. 2:20-22) So they cant say for sure they are saved. Yet
    Paul, Peter, and John all knew they were saved. Paul talks about the
    names of fellow workers sharing the gospel are written in the Book of
    Life. (Phil 4:3) Tragically, those who take away from the prophecy of
    Revelation God promises to take away their part in the Book of Life and
    the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:9-10)

  9. Comparing Spurgeon to Piper, MacArthur, Adrian Rogers, etc. is a mistake. Their works will be gone before long, Spurgeon's will endure if Jesus tarry. They are all confused on the gospel and do not magnify Jesus but themselves.

  10. I'm dearly listening to Spurgeon's messages and devotional articles as I read.. But I find it difficult to Comprehend Sermon videos which are American Voiced (accent). Most of Spurgeon's messages would have been expressed well if it were voiced in British English.. As what I feel.. if there were links please do help me know.. it is my humble request..thank you very much.

  11. Great work!! Very inspiring. Could you inform me what I can see of Spurgeon's ministry in London? I know the metropolitan tabernacle and the final resting place at west Norwood. Any other suggestions? Thank you

  12. http://religionnews.com/2013/08/12/surprised-by-spurgeon-how-a-politically-liberal-preacher-became-a-paragon-among-conservative-christians/

    I've really changed my mindset from a hard ultra conservative political stance in recent years. Spurgeon warned about being too political in his sermon CITIZENSHIP IN HEAVEN, but he said " You must use your own conscience here."

    I believe the ultra conservative political mentality that many evangelicals have today was started with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Regan and exploded with defending Bob Jones University's tax exemption being taken away because of racial exclusion (I could bring up the numerous quotes by the founders of the religious right & other evangelical pastors).

    The way Booker T. Washington was treated so well by white Christians in the North and South (his autobiography) is so different from how evangelicals today flood Christian talk shows like J. Sekula Live and viciously attack everyone who isn't exactly like them. Jay has to tone a lot of his callers down and he often has to make it VERY CLEAR those hateful over the top comments aren't his. They're still praying for Obama's impeachment or death, lol.

    It’s not difficult to imagine that Spurgeon would have opposed the political positions of many conservative Christians today–for example, the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2003 resolution endorsing the Iraq War.

    So how has this politically liberal preacher become a paragon among so many conservative Christians?

    Nettles believes evangelicals’ fascination is, in part, due to Spurgeon’s commitment to gospel-centered preaching, belief in the inspiration of Scripture, and the sheer success of his ministry. Spurgeon averaged over 300 baptisms a year during his ministry and, in some ways, became Britain’s first mega-church pastor.

    “Evangelicals love success—or what we think is success,” Nettles says. “Perhaps too much sometimes.”

    When asked about Spurgeon’s contemporary appeal, Leonard points to his prolific writing—“Spurgeon didn’t have an unpublished thought and was the most prolifically published thinker of his time”—and the clarity and romanticism of his sermons, which almost always featured a heart-tugging story.

    But both Leonard and Nettles agree that part of modern Christians’ fascination with Spurgeon is his broad appeal. Theologically, he was a staunch Calvinist, which makes him interesting to Reformed Christians. But Spurgeon also placed the conversion of sinners at the center of his ministry, which makes him interesting to Arminian Christians.

    “Spurgeon represents the best in modified Calvinist preaching. He preaches as if everybody could be saved, but he affirms a Calvinist theology that leaves conversion to God,” Leonard says. “He talked like a Calvinist and acted like an Arminian. That’s what draws people back to him.”

    " Regardless of the reason conservative Christians revere Spurgeon, it remains that many have overlooked important aspects of his life and beliefs. Spurgeon was a theologian and evangelist, that’s true, but he was also an anti-war, anti-imperial poverty advocate. And in this, the “Prince of Preachers” offers us more than a sermon. He also reminds us that the relationship between theology and politics is more complex than we often assume. "

  13. How are you getting funding for these movies you're making? It's so good! Super-excited about your movies. I don't know anything about you. Are you just starting out as a filmmaker? May God bless you!

  14. Read the Bible for an accurate understanding of God.  We cannot obtain an accurate understanding of the things of God from books by Spurgeon or other fallible human authors, however, God's infallible word is an unfailing source of truth. To read and know the Bible, is to know God.

  15. He is truly one of the greats!! His teaching makes you search your heart. It makes you ask if you are infact free of sin. If there is anything in you still remaining, that needs to go, to be more like Jesus. "Examine yourself" he says.

  16. When I came upon this titled documentary, and the name of Spurgeon, immediately! his name brought me back to many sermons I've heard my Pastor, John MacArthur say, "In the Words Of Charles Spurgeon", I was compelled to watch it. I receive this as a blessing and add it to my own Spiritual walk. I can't wait to start reading his books. God bless you Stephen McCaskell, and thank you.

  17. Absolutely loved watching this documentary – thanks so much for making it, and for making it available.  Just inspiring.

  18. Pastor Aashish Raichur of All Peoples Church, Bangalore, is mention in the documentary. This is amazing. Pastor Aashish is my friend.

  19. WHAT AND AMAZING AND GIFT OF VERBAGE AND ANOINTED HOLY SPIRIT TONGUE THAT GOD HAD GIVEN TO MR>CHARLES H>SPURGEON> AS EZEKIAL ATE THE SCROLL THE WORDS OF GOD>>OH HOW WE NEED A MAN OF THE WORD OF GOD>SPIRIT OF TRUTH TO SET THOSE THAT ARE CAPTIVE FREE FROM SIN {FROM THEMSELVES} PROVERBS 18-21….

  20. I have watched this several times now and find it to be such a wonderful encouragement! Seeing God use a chief of sinners reminds me of what He has in store for me. If God could use such a wretch, what about a worse one like me? Praise God that Jesus did come to die for us, praise God that He rose again from the dead and our faith in Him has saved us. Praise God for saving Spurgeon, and praise God for saving us!

  21. I once wondered why am I drawn towards Charles H. Spurgeon preaching style. He studied the language of politeness (The Holy Bible). He didn't taxed GOD's words in order to be agreeable, he was polite to secure GOD's words in order to convert the listener & the reader.

    The utmost language of GOD is to be polite & to say; The LORD qualifies us only through Christ's blood, not through this world's rudeness of false peace. Be polite my f r i e n d.

  22. Anyone can do as much as this man did. Give yourself totally to the Lord, and someday they will post also your documentary about your submission to Jesus Christ.

  23. "Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it (Murphy)

    So Charles Spurgeon was able to find relief through the smoking of a good cigar. BIG DEAL!!! So he smoked!!I Pastor Spurgeon suffered in depths of depression that most people will never, ever have to go thru or be able to comprehend for that matter. I remember hearing a preacher speaking on the evils of alcohol and that preacher was obese/morbidly obese by anyone's standards. But when that subject is brought up it is usually marginalized and swept under the carpet. Well, all I know is that I have enough faults and shortcomings to worry about in my own life without worrying about something so trivial.

  24. One of my heroes of Faith!
    Ephesians 2:11-13 KJV
    Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

  25. Qué gran documental. Muy bien realizado. Gracias a aquellos que colocaron los subtítulos en español. Dios les bendinga.

  26. Spurgeon is amazing. Great man and great preacher. But let us focus on a greater than Spurgeon. Jesus Christ.

  27. Fantastic and inspiring documentary on Spurgeon. When he asks that question at the end I felt like God had put a laser pointer on my heart further confirming the calling to preach and stand for Jesus Christ in this generation that is so lost. May Jesus Christ receive the glory in all of it. Thank you for taking the time to do this. May God bless you as you continue your efforts in this ministry for the glory of the name of Jesus Christ. Be blessed! 😊🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  28. Glad to see this, so many don,t even know about chs and God bless you for a good job and blessings from Lord Jesus to you I pray

  29. did spurgeon really say there was no better man from the womb then Calvin?!?! hes quoting the Lord Jesus Chris's Word about John the Baptist

  30. The 'lost' and faithful words of Spurgeon: Christians and War Through Spurgeon's eyes: https://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com/

  31. Listen to a Charles Spurgeon sermon titled "God's Will and Man's Will." https://soundcloud.com/spurgeonpreached/charles-spurgeon-gods-will-and-mans-will

  32. Gracias Mis Hmanos Por Compartirnos Una Vida Tan Dedicado & totalmente consagrada como la de Charles Spurgeon.
    Dios Les Bendiga

  33. About 15 minutes in the video, it is obvious that what, Mr Knill said, was a prophecy. 1 Corinthians 14. 1-2. God bless you.

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