Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest Christian
thinkers of all time and undoubtedly the most celebrated preacher
of the 19th century, began his ministry as a country-boy with
only a year of formal education. But even without much training,
his brilliant mind and depth of spiritual insight quickly became
legendary throughout the world. During his lifetime Spurgeon is
estimated to have preached, in person, to over ten million
people. He published over 3,500 sermons, totaling between 20 and
25 million words and more than 38,000 pages. Today, over a
century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts
continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians
alike. It is no wonder that this country-boy became known as the
"Prince of Preachers."
The Young Spurgeon
Born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, England, Spurgeon wouldnít
become a Christian until the age of fifteen. It happened one
Sunday morning when a snowstorm kept him from reaching the church
he usually attended. He ducked down a side street and stumbled
across a small building with a sign that read, "Artillery Street
Primitive Methodist Chapel." Regardless of his own misgivings,
he entered the small church and while listening to a Methodist
layman comment on Isaiah 45:22, he "Saw at once the way of
salvation!" Spurgeon immediately committed his life to Christ
and became a zealous servant of God.
Desiring to share his new faith, Spurgeon began preaching.
He preached his first sermon in 1851, at the age of sixteen, to a
group of farmers and wives gathered in the village of Teversham.
His text was 1 Peter 2:7, "Unto you therefore which believe he is
precious." Audiences were held spellbound by the young
Spurgeonís speaking power, and he was offered his first pastorate
at the Baptist Chapel in Waterbeach when he was only seventeen.
The church, which had about ten members when he arrived, was soon
bursting at its doors with over four hundred in the congregation.
His inspiring style had caught the interest of many, and soon
after his twentieth birthday, the country-preacher was called to
be the new pastor of the prominent New Park Street Baptist Church
in London. New Park Street was a church that had formerly been
pastored by such spiritual giants as Benjamin Keach, John Gill,
and John Rippon.
An International Sensation
In a day when preaching was considered not only a source of
spiritual nourishment, but also of entertainment and political
commentary, Spurgeonís powerful and stimulating sermons drew
enormous crowds. On a single night in London, preaching at the
Crystal Palace, he preached to a congregation of 23, 654 without
the use of a microphone! His sermons were published weekly in
the "Penny Pulpit," from 1855 until 1917, twenty-four years after
his death. He published many religious books, including
Lectures to My Students and Treasury of David, a
seven-volume devotional-commentary on the Psalms. He also
founded and served as president of the Pastorís College in
London, established the Stockwell Orphanages for boys and girls,
and oversaw dozens of evangelistic and charitable enterprises.
Spurgeon preached his final sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle
in June of 1891.
A Father and Husband
Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson in January of 1856 and
late in the following year they had twin sons, Thomas and
Charles. Unlike Spurgeonís mother who had seventeen children,
nine of whom died in childbirth, Charles and Susannah had only
the two boys.
Charles Spurgeon died at the relatively young age of 57, in
January of 1892. His funeral service was held a week later, on
February ninth, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Over 60,000
people waited in line to file past his casket.