Susannah Spurgeon

Susannah Spurgeon

Throughout much of her married life Charles Spurgeon’s wife, Susannah, was a semi-invalid.  For long periods at a time she was confined to her home and was not well enough to attend services at the Metropolitan Tabernacle where her husband preached.  But she longed to be useful to the Lord and of service to others.

In 1875 Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students was published.  After reading the book, Susannah said to her husband, “I wish I could send a copy to every minister in England!” “Then why not do it?” he replied.  “How much will you give?”

For quite some time she had been in the habit of saving every five-shilling piece that had come to her.  (Each five-shilling coin was worth one-quarter of a pound.)  Using these savings, she had just enough to purchase 100 copies of the Lectures and to send them out to needy pastors.

Susannah assumed that was the end of the matter but God had much bigger plans in mind for her charitable ministry.  Though Susannah did not permit Spurgeon to mention what she had done, news of her donations quickly spread, and friends started contributing money so she could send out more books.  She ordered a number of sets of Spurgeon’s multi-volume commentary on the Psalms, The Treasury of David, and sent those out to disadvantaged ministers.

Charles and Susannah Spurgeon in older years

Charles and Susannah Spurgeon in older years

Donations for her Book Fund and requests for books from straitened pastors began to pour in.  These gifts and requests came from individuals in a variety of denominations and independent church settings.  In less than half a year she had sent out over 3,000 books.

The letters received from ministers were filled with expressions of hearty thanksgiving to God and Mrs. Spurgeon for supplying them with cherished study resources they could not afford to buy for themselves.  Some of these pastors were paid as little as 40 or 60 pounds (equaling 200 or 300 American dollars) per year.  Some had large families.  Not a few spoke of sick family members and heavy doctor bills.  While seeking to provide basic necessities for their families, these ministers had no extra funds with which to purchase books.

Some indicated they and their family members were in need of better and warmer clothing, more bedding or personal items.  In response, Susannah also launched the Pastors’ Aid Fund.  Her appeal for gifts of money, clothing, and blankets met with a tremendous response.  Donations of clothing and bedding were sent to the Tabernacle where a group of volunteers forwarded them to needy ministerial families.

Susannah Spurgeon

Susannah Spurgeon

Susannah continued to package the books in her own home.  Every two weeks a full cartload of volumes left for the railroad station en route to many different destinations.  Susannah sometimes carried out this ministry in weakness and pain. But she felt more than compensated by the rich blessings the ministry brought both to her and to others.

Of this ministry and its blessings to his wife, Spurgeon wrote: “Our gracious Lord ministered to His suffering child in the most effectual manner, when He graciously led her to minister to the necessities of His service.  By this means He called her away from her personal grief, gave tone and concentration to her life, led her to continual dealings with Himself, and raised her nearer the center of that region where other than earthly joys and sorrows reigned supreme.”

Susannah herself testified of these blessings: “I am personally indebted to the dear friends who have furnished me with the means of making others happy.  For me there has been a double blessing. I have been both recipient and donor.  My days have been made indescribably bright and happy by the delightful duties connected with the work and its little arrangements … that I seem to be living in an atmosphere of blessing and love, and can truly say with the Psalmist, “My cup runneth over” [Psalm 23:5].

As the years passed, Susannah increased the different books she made available.  She often sent sets of her husband’s sermons, as many as six volumes at a time, as well as several of his other writings.  She frequently added the works of other men, which volumes she described as “solid, old-fashioned, Scriptural, Puritanic theology.”

Year by year thousands of volumes went out to hundreds of pastors ministering on nearly every continent around the globe.  Susannah carried out this ministry the final twenty-eight years of her life.  By the time of her death, she had sent out over 200,000 books plus countless copies of her husband’s individual sermons.


#          #          #

You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.

Copyright 2018 by Vance E. Christie



Charles Spurgeon's Orphanage, Stockwell, London

Charles Spurgeon’s Orphanage, Stockwell, London

Charles Spurgeon is remembered primarily for his powerful, Spirit-anointed preaching ministry that pointed thousands of individuals to Jesus Christ as their Savior and built up tens of thousands of believers in their Christian faith. For three decades Spurgeon regularly preached to 5,000 or more people at his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

But Spurgeon was well aware of other ministry needs in the metropolis as well, and he led his congregation to seek and follow God’s direction in identifying and responding to such needs. Spurgeon serves as a great reminder to us to remain sensitive to needs that go beyond our regular, primary ministries. He shows that as we do, God may lead us into some special new ministries that will prove to be of great benefit.

In the summer of 1866, five years after worship and preaching services commenced at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon challenged his congregation at its Monday evening prayer meeting: “Dear friends, we are 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 also be sent.”

A few days later Spurgeon received a letter from Mrs. Anne Hillyard, the widow of a Church of England clergyman.  She stated that she had 20,000 pounds (equaling 100,000 American dollars) which she desired to use in establishing an orphanage for the training and educating of orphan boys, and asked for Spurgeon’s assistance.

Earlier Mrs. Hillyard had asked a friend to recommend some totally reliable public figure to whom she could entrust her considerable fortune to be used for orphans.  The man, though not a particular admirer of the prominent Baptist preacher, nonetheless immediately replied, “Spurgeon.”

Charles Spurgeon and William Higgs meeting with Anne Hillyard

Charles Spurgeon and William Higgs meeting with Anne Hillyard

At her request, Spurgeon and one of his deacons, William Higgs, paid the would-be benefactress a visit at her home.  The modest home and neighborhood in which she lived hardly indicated an individual who possessed a large sum of money.  So Spurgeon opened the discussion by stating, “We have called, Madam, about the 200 pounds that you mentioned in your letter.”

“200?” she responded.  “I meant to write 20,000.”

“Oh yes, you did put 20,000,” replied the pastor, “but I was not sure whether a nought [zero] or two may have slipped in by mistake, and I thought I would be on the safe side.”

He then queried whether there was some relative to whom the money should be given, to which she responded there was not.  He next suggested the funds might be sent to George Muller to assist him in his orphan work in Bristol.  But she insisted she wanted Spurgeon to have it to use in assisting fatherless boys right there in London.  She also expressed the certainty that many other Christians would want to help in the establishment and ongoing support of such a ministry, which did indeed turn out to be the case.

Young orphans at Spurgeon's orphanage

Young orphans at Spurgeon’s orphanage

As Spurgeon and Higgs left her home they remarked to each other how God was evidently answering the specific requests that had been made at the congregational prayer meeting just days earlier.  He was sending them a new work and the means to carry it out.

Within a month arrangements were made to purchase two and a half acres of land situated not far from the Metropolitan Tabernacle.  Eventually a row of several individual homes, all connected as one continuous building, were erected.  Each two-story home housed fourteen orphans and was sponsored by various donors.  A dining hall, infirmary, large gymnasium and even a swimming pool were constructed as part of the expansive complex.  Eventually a corresponding row of homes were built for orphan girls.  The area between the two sets of orphan houses was a grass-covered playing field, edged with flowers and shrubs. 250 boys and 250 girls at a time were housed and received a well-rounded education at the orphan complex.

#          #          #

You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.


Charles Spurgeon preaching at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

Charles Spurgeon preaching at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

Sharing the Christian Gospel (Good News!) of salvation from sin and God’s gift of eternal life is both a tremendous privilege and a sobering responsibility.  Charles Spurgeon kept the faithful proclamation of the Gospel front and center throughout his fruitful ministry career. His outlook on sharing the Gospel is worthy of our consideration and emulation.

One evening in the late autumn Spurgeon was returning from a speaking engagement.  The hansom cab in which he was riding made its way along the level ground at the base of London’s steep Herne Hill ridge which he needed to ascend.

LamplighterPresently he saw a light before him, and as he came near the hill he watched that light gradually go up the ascent, leaving a train of stars behind it.  Eventually the line of newborn lights reached from the foot of the hill to its summit. Spurgeon was witnessing the work of a lamplighter whom he could not see in the darkness.  In those days London’s streetlights burned gas but still had to be lit individually.

Spurgeon afterward reflected on what he had seen: “I did not see the lamplighter.  I do not know his name, nor his age, nor his residence. But I saw the lights which he had kindled, and these remained when he himself had gone his way.

“As I rode along I thought to myself, ‘How earnestly do I wish that my life may be spent in lighting one soul after another with the sacred flame of eternal life! I would myself be as much as possible unseen while at my work, and would vanish into eternal brilliance above when my work is done.’ ”

Charles Spurgeon lived with a weighty sense of the eternal peril of the unconverted and of his responsibility to point them to Christ.  He was also deeply concerned for those who might wrongly suppose themselves to be Christians.

During a period of sore illness he traveled to Marseilles, France, to rest.  He was suffering from gout of which he once wrote: “Lucian says, ‘I thought a cobra had bitten me and filled my veins with poison. But it was worse, it was gout.’ That was written from experience, I know.”

Arriving at his hotel in Marseilles, Spurgeon asked for a fire to warm his room and help him bear his pain.  When the porter came, he brought vine branches with which to kindle the fire.  As the branches began to burn, Spurgeon cried out in agony.  His distress at that moment, however, was psychological and spiritual rather than physical.  He was thinking of Christ’s teaching in John 15:6 concerning the destiny of fruitless branches of the Vine, how they are cast out and burned.

Charles Spurgeon's Funeral Procession

Charles Spurgeon’s Funeral Procession

In a sermon preached several years before his death, Spurgeon attempted to picture the scene that he desired to exist at his own funeral.  He spoke of a concourse of people in the streets and of the discussion that would be taking place among them:

“What are all these people waiting for?”

“Do you not know?  He is to be buried today.”

“And who is that?”

“It is Spurgeon.”

“What! The man that preached at the Tabernacle?”

“Yes; he is to be buried today.”

Continued Spurgeon: “That will happen very soon.  And when you see my coffin carried to the silent grave, I should like every one of you, whether converted or not, to be constrained to say, ‘He did earnestly urge us, in plain and simple language, not to put off the consideration of eternal things. He did entreat us to look to Christ. Now he is gone, our blood is not at his door if we perish.’ ”


Charles Spurgeon quotation on Hell

#          #          #

You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.

Susannah Spurgeon as a young woman

Susannah Spurgeon as a young woman

Some might think the courtship stories of yesteryear Christians quaint. But many of them have a lot to teach about courting in a way that is spiritually-focused and God-honoring. Charles Spurgeon’s courting of Susannah Thompson is one such beneficial example.

When Spurgeon preached his first Sunday evening service at London’s New Park Street Church on December 18, 1853, a young lady, Susannah Thompson, was in the audience.  Spurgeon was nineteen and Susannah was twenty-one years old at the time. Despite the young preacher’s eloquence and fervent Gospel appeal, she was more amused than impressed by him because of his rather countrified appearance and manner.

Charles Spurgeon preaching at New Park Street Church

Charles Spurgeon preaching at New Park Street Church

But when Spurgeon became the church’s pastor early the next year Susannah quickly came to appreciate and profit spiritually from his earnest, capable ministry.  He began to be attracted to her and, two and a half months after settling in London, sent her a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress as a gift.  In it he wrote:  “Miss Thompson, with desires for her progress in the blessed pilgrimage, from C. H. Spurgeon – April 20, 1854.”

On June 10 they attended, with a group of friends, the opening of London’s Crystal Palace.  This was a massive exhibition hall that also featured elaborate walkways and an extensive garden.  While they waited for the dedication ceremony to begin, Spurgeon handed Susannah a copy of Martin Tupper’s Proverbial Philosophy, pointed out a passage, and queried, “What do you think of the poet’s suggestion in those verses?”  She read:

Seek a good wife from thy God, for she is the best gift of His providence;

Yet ask not in bold confidence that which He hath not promised;

Thou knowest not His good will: be thy prayer then submissive thereunto,

And leave thy petition to His mercy, assured that He will deal well with thee.

If thou art to have a wife of thy youth, she is now living on the Earth;

Therefore think of her, and pray for her weal.

“Do you pray for him who is to be your husband?” Spurgeon asked in a whisper.  Susannah blushed and said nothing but felt in her heart “that heaven was coming near.”

Charles and Susannah Spurgeon in younger years

Charles and Susannah Spurgeon in younger years 1

“Will you come and walk around the palace with me?” he asked as the dedication ceremony drew to a close.  Leaving their companions, the couple enjoyed each other’s company while wandering for a long time through the building, its garden and down to a nearby lake.

On August 2 he proposed to her as they walked together in the garden at her grandfather’s home.  Years later she testified: “I think of that old garden as a sacred place, a paradise of happiness, since there my beloved sought me for his very own, and told me how much he loved me.  Though I thought I knew this already, it was a very different matter to hear him say it, and I trembled and was silent for very joy and gladness. To me, it was a time as solemn as it was sweet. With a great awe in my heart, I left my beloved and, hastening to the house and to an upper room, I knelt before God, and praised Him with happy tears, for His great mercy in giving me the love of so good a man.”

Charles and Susannah Spurgeon in younger years 2

Early the next year, 1855, Susannah applied to be baptized.  Though the couple had felt it best to keep their relationship a private matter, they were not entirely successful.  When it came time for the list of baptismal candidates to be read to the church, the name immediately before hers was that of an elderly man, Johnny Dear.  Two old maids at the back of the room were overheard conversing, as the first asked, “What was that man’s name?”

“Johnny Dear.”

“Oh, I suppose the next will be ‘Susie dear,’ then!”

Charles and Susannah were not married for another year, until January 8, 1856.  The ceremony was held at the New Park Street Church, with more than 2,000 people filling the recently-enlarged facility to overflowing.


#          #          #

Timeless Stories by Vance Christie

You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.

Charles Spurgeon preaching as a young man

Charles Spurgeon preaching as a young man

Shortly after Charles Spurgeon became a Christian as a teen, it started becoming apparent that God had specially gifted him as a preacher and called him to be a minister of the Gospel. It is easy to be impressed with the young man who had such extraordinary abilities. But we do well to remember (as young Spurgeon did) that those abilities were given by the Spirit of Christ to effectively point people to Jesus, not to draw attention to the messenger. We’re also reminded that the Lord sometimes uses wholly-consecrated servants of His to carry out remarkable ministry, even from quite an early age.

Several months after Charles Spurgeon’s Christian conversion (see my July 18, 2018, Perspective for that fascinating account) he moved to Cambridge, England. There, at age sixteen, he was again both a student and a part-time teacher at a school. He also joined the membership of St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church. Shortly after doing so, he was asked to address the church’s Sunday School, which he did on more than one occasion.

Another of the ministries of the St. Andrew’s Church was sending out lay preachers to speak in villages in the area. James Vinter was the man who superintended that lay preaching ministry. When Vinter heard Spurgeon address the Sunday School, he was highly impressed with the teen’s exceptional speaking ability and earnest Christian spirit. Vinter sought to enlist Spurgeon as a lay preacher but did so in a rather sneaky fashion. He invited Spurgeon to go to Teversham the following Sunday evening, stating that, “A young man is to preach there who is not much used to leading services and very likely would be glad of the company.”

St. Andrews's Street Baptist Church, Cambridge, England

St. Andrews’s Street Baptist Church, Cambridge, England

Spurgeon agreed to do so and, with the young man whom he assumed was to do the preaching, set out for Teversham late on the appointed Sunday afternoon. When he remarked to his companion that he hoped his preaching would be blessed by God that evening, the startled man exclaimed, ‘I have never done such a thing in my life! You’re the one who is to preach! I’m here to keep you company.” Spurgeon stated that he was equally surprised, inexperienced and unprepared for such a task. But the other responded that Spurgeon was accustomed to addressing the Sunday School and could simply reuse one of the talks he had given there.

So that evening Spurgeon spoke in a thatched-roof cottage to several simple farm laborers and their wives. He preached on the preciousness of Christ Jesus from 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore who believe He is precious.” At the close of the service an elderly woman called out, “Bless your heart, how old are you?”  “I am under sixty,” Spurgeon responded good-naturedly. “Yes, and under sixteen!” she replied. “Never mind my age,” rejoined Spurgeon, “think of the Lord Jesus Christ and His preciousness.”

The lay preachers’ association regularly ministered at thirteen villages. Following Spurgeon’s first visit to any of those places he was invariably urged to return as often as he could. With the encouragement of Vinter and the other men in the association, Spurgeon accepted those repeat invitations and was out evening after evening preaching God’s Word.

Waterbeach Baptist Church building today

Waterbeach Baptist Church building today

In October, 1851, Spurgeon was invited to preach at the Baptist church in the village of Waterbeach, six miles from Cambridge. After preaching there only twice and though he was but seventeen years of age at the time, he was asked to become the church’s regular pastor. Waterbeach was notorious for its drunkenness and related forms of degradation. But believing that God was calling him into the ministry, and knowing the village had a great need of a strong Gospel witness, Spurgeon accepted the pastoral call.

The church at Waterbeach was a small thatch-roofed chapel. When Spurgeon first went there the church numbered about forty. But as word of the capable, fervent young preacher spread, people were soon flocking to church from the village and surrounding countryside. In a relatively short time attendance at the church was regularly 400 and more. Doors and windows of the little building were left open so that those who could not get in could stand outside and listen to the zealous young minister. In addition to his public preaching ministry, Spurgeon also ministered to people in their homes.

In what can only be described as a Holy Spirit-wrought revival, Waterbeach was dramatically transformed. Spurgeon later wrote of that:

Did you ever walk through a village notorious for its drunkenness and profanity? Did you ever see poor wretched beings … leaning against the posts of the ale-house or staggering along the street? Have you ever looked into the houses of the people and beheld them as dens of iniquity, at which your soul stood aghast? Have you ever seen the poverty and degradation and misery of the inhabitants and sighed over it?

Charles Spurgeon as a young man

Charles Spurgeon as a young man

But was it ever your privilege to walk through that village again, in after years, when the Gospel had been preached there? It has been mine. I once knew just such a village as I have pictured … There went into that village a lad who had no great scholarship but was earnest in seeking the souls of men. He began to preach there, and it pleased God to turn the whole place upside down. In a short time the little thatched chapel was crammed, the biggest vagabonds in the village were weeping floods of tears, and those who had been the curse of the parish became its blessing. Where there had been robberies and villainies of every kind, all round the neighborhood, there were none, because the men who used to do the mischief were themselves in the house of God, rejoicing to hear of Jesus crucified.

I am not telling an exaggerated story, nor a thing I do not know, for it was my delight to labor for the Lord in that village. It was a pleasant thing to walk through that place, when drunkenness had almost ceased, when debauchery in the case of many was dead, when men and women went forth to labor with joyful hearts, singing the praises of the ever-living God, and when, at sunset, the humble cottager called his children together, read them some portion of the Book of Truth, and then together they bent their knees in prayer to God. I can say with joy and happiness that almost from one end of the village to the other, at the hour of eventide, one might have heard the voice of song coming from nearly every rooftree

I do testify, to the praise of God’s grace, that it pleased the Lord to work wonders in our midst. He showed the power of Jesu’s name, and made a witness of that Gospel which can win souls, draw reluctant hearts and mold afresh the life and conduct of sinful men and women.

Timeless Stories by Vance Christie#          #          #

You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.

Charles Spurgeon as a young man

Charles Spurgeon as a young man

Charles Spurgeon was one of the most prominent preachers and powerful heralds of the Christian Gospel in the history of the Church. The account of Spurgeon’s own conversion is both fascinating and instructive.

From the time he was just a child Charles Spurgeon was heavily burdened by an awareness of his own sinfulness.  Throughout several boyhood years he was constantly conscious that in both thoughts and actions he was unable to fulfill the requirements of God’s holy laws.  Though he knew Christ had died for the sins of human beings, he saw no application of that truth to himself.  He tried to pray, but the only complete request he could utter was, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Though he had never uttered a blasphemy, all manner of cursing God and man began to fill his mind.  Then followed severe temptations to deny the very existence of God as well as efforts to convince himself he was an atheist.  When all such futile thinking failed, he told himself that he must feel or do something to merit salvation.  He wished he might have his back scourged or that he could undergo some difficult pilgrimage to that end.

In 1849, at age fifteen, he entered a school in the town of Newmarket in Essex County, England, as both a student and a part-time teacher.  In Newmarket he attended services at one church after another, hoping he might hear something that would help remove his spiritual burden.  He later related that, while he heard pastors preach on a variety of themes, they did not address his basic spiritual question and need. “What I wanted to know was, ‘How can I get my sins forgiven?’, and they never told me that.”

That December an outbreak of fever temporarily closed the Newmarket school, and Spurgeon returned home to Colchester for the Christmas season.  One Sunday morning early in January he was making his way to one church when a fierce snow storm led him, instead, to enter the Primitive Methodist Chapel located closer to his home.  Only about a dozen people were there that morning, and he took a seat near the back, under the gallery.

The regular minister had not been able to make it due to the storm.  So when it was time for the sermon a thin man whom Spurgeon supposed to be a shoemaker or a tailor went up to the pulpit.  He announced and read the Scripture text for his impromptu sermon, Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”   The man obviously had little formal education, and he mispronounced some of his words.  But that did not matter to Spurgeon, for upon hearing the Bible verse he thought it contained a glimmer of hope for him.

The lay preacher began to deliver a homespun discourse in his broad Essex dialect: “This is a very simple text indeed.  It says, ‘Look.’  Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain.  It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just ‘Look.’  Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look.  You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look.  A man needn’t be worth a thousand pounds a year to look.  Anyone can look; even a child can look.

“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay! many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there.  You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves.  Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by.  Jesus Christ says, “Look unto Me.”  Some on ye say, “We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.” You have no business with that just now.  Look to Christ.  The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ ”

Charles Spurgeon preaching as a young man

Charles Spurgeon preaching as a young man

Assuming the perspective of Jesus, the preacher continued: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross.  Look unto Me, I am dead and buried.  Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

After he had spoken for about ten minutes, the layman apparently reached the end of his tether.  Then, fixing his eyes on Spurgeon, he startled him by saying, “Young man, you look very miserable.  And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text.  But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”  Then raising his hands, he literally shouted: “Young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothing to do but look and live!”

Far from taking offense at being singled out, Spurgeon at once saw the way of salvation.  He hardly noticed anything the lay exhorter said after that, so taken was he with that one thought: “I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word—‘Look!’—what a charming word it seemed to me. … There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun.  And I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.  Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.’ ”

When Spurgeon arrived back home early that afternoon, his family immediately noticed the dramatic change that had come over him.  His despair was gone, and he was overflowing with joy.  “Something wonderful has happened to you!” they exclaimed.  And he was only too eager to tell them all about it.  “Oh! there was joy in the household that day,” he afterward reported, “when all heard that the eldest son had found the Savior and knew himself to be forgiven.”

If any readers of this simple blog post have not yet looked to Jesus for salvation from sin and God’s gift of spiritual and eternal life, my sincere hope is that they soon will. If I may be of further assistance to anyone in this vital matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

For those of us who have already looked to Jesus for salvation, may the example of the humble lay preacher remind us that we do not need to be highly educated or skilled in order to point people to Christ. We only need to clearly share what we already know about salvation through faith in Jesus. God can use our sincere (though perhaps imperfect) witness to play a part in drawing

Timeless Stories by Vance Christie

people to the Savior.

#          #          #

You’ll find many other enjoyable and beneficial incidents from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon in my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians. Two quality readable Spurgeon biographies are: Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon, A New Biography (Banner of Truth, 1987); W. Y. Fullerton’s Charles H. Spurgeon, London’s Most Popular Preacher (Moody, 1980). The latter work is currently out of print but is well-worth purchasing through used book sources at a reasonable rate.

Young Charles Spurgeon

Young Charles Spurgeon

When Charles Spurgeon skyrocketed to prominence in London as a young preacher in his early twenties, he had many critics. Not a few of his detractors were Christians.  One of those was the Rev. James Wells of Surrey Tabernacle, an eminent minister who was then at the apex of his career.  Wells wrote an editorial in a Christian publication, expressing doubts about Spurgeon’s conversion.  He warned that, though Spurgeon spoke some truth and had a partial moral influence, his hearers were likely to be fatally deluded.

After Spurgeon’s mighty Metropolitan Tabernacle was built several years later, he and Wells were church neighbors.  One day they chanced to meet on the street, and Wells asked Spurgeon if he had ever seen the inside of Surrey Tabernacle.  The younger minister responded that he had not, but would very much like to someday.

Wells, with seeming goodwill, said that if Spurgeon would come some Monday morning he would show him round his church.  But he added insultingly that there would then be time enough to thoroughly ventilate the church premises before the following Lord’s Day!

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon in turn asked Wells if he had ever been inside the Metropolitan Tabernacle.  Wells admitted that he had looked in one Saturday and gave the specific date.  “Ah,” replied Spurgeon, “that accounts for the delightful fragrance of the services the following Sabbath!”

On a later occasion Dr. Newman Hall, another prominent pastor in Spurgeon’s day and author of the immensely popular book Come to Jesus, was sharply ridiculed in a volume that was published anonymously.  Though he knew who the author was, Hall patiently bore the ridicule for a time.  But as the caustic volume began to circulate more widely, Hall wrote a letter of protest which was even more insulting than the book that had attacked him.

Newman Hall

Newman Hall

Hall took the letter to Spurgeon and asked his opinion of it.  Having carefully read the correspondence, Spurgeon handed it back, declared it was excellent, agreed that the book’s author deserved it all, but then added that the letter lacked one thing.  Hall, being quite gratified with Spurgeon’s response, was all ears to his further suggestion.

“Underneath the signature, ‘Newman Hall’,” coached Spurgeon, “you ought to put the words, ‘Author of Come to Jesus’.”

The two godly men gazed in silence at each other for a moment.  Then Hall tore his critical letter in pieces.

*          *          *

My book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians contains an entire chapter of incidents like these, showing how outstanding servants of Christ responded to the trials and even persecution they faced as they sought to live for the Lord. Their examples have much to teach us about handling hardship and opposition in ways that honor Christ and serve as a powerful testimony to others. I’d love to hear from you if you would care to share a valuable lesson the Lord has taught you about properly processing adversity.

Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie