Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man of the Victorian era. As such he often wrote or spoke in a flowery and wordy way that we moderns might find excessive. Topics that are blurted out with reckless abandon in our day were reserved, left unspoken, or sheltered under a few layers of decorum. He bore the manners and style of English clergy, although he was not part of the Anglican establishment.
One can easily imagine having tea with Mr. Spurgeon and engaging in nice, but polite conversation with him. He was respectable and highly regarded. He was well known, well read, and well cultured.
One might conclude from these few details that Spurgeon belongs to the long list of names of folks who were once well known in the circles of London and beyond but have been lost in the wars, intellectual revolutions, and technological innovations of the 20th and 21st centuries.
I found myself wondering, while a college student taking a British literature class, why the massive multi-thousand page anthologies contained not snippets from Spurgeon. It looked as though even the literary scholars, who included more than poets and fiction authors in their selections, either skirted Spurgeon or did not deem him noteworthy.
Years later, I find that I am far, far too unfamiliar and unread in the vast corpus of works left behind by Charles H. Spurgeon. Years later, I find that I would advise the serious, somber, sober, searching, scholarly theologian training to be a preacher to add two parts of Spurgeon to every 3 parts of hermeneutical exegesis and Bavinck quotes.
Professor Henry Wood was prone for off the cuff remarks in the midst of his history lectures. One I wrote down and never forgot was “Sell your shirt, but buy Spurgeon.” Turns out that Mr. Wood was slightly misquoting Helmut Thieleke who said, “Sell your shoes, but buy Spurgeon.”
It was after my father died in 2016 (leaving me some money) that I first availed myself of the decades long overdue task of buying a set of Spurgeon’s sermons from his New Park Street years and his Metropolitan Tabernacle series. Alas, I was only able to buy some 50 plus volumes for about ten of them are now out of print.
It was late in my pastoral career that I took time to read Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students from cover to cover. But it is never too late or too early to start good habits.
Books about and by Spurgeon continue to show up in the publishing world. He is more widely read today than in the years when he was deemed “the Prince of Preachers.”
So let me sound forth the praises of some of my recent acquisitions from various sources.
A few years ago, B&H Publishers