It’s Pentecost Sunday, so it feels fitting to write about a remarkable man and his undying firey love towards the triune God. Charles Spurgeon is known to be one of the most influential God-fearing men in the 1800s. He is also known as the “Prince of Preachers.” He was a Baptist Preacher for almost 40 years and an author of a magazine. His sermons were published every week for whoever couldn’t attend church in The Sword and The Trowel magazine which he founded.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born June 19th, 1834. His mother had 17 children, nine of whom died in infancy. He had no formal education but was well-read in Puritan Theology, National History, and Latin and Victorian Literature. At the age of 15, he was going to a function and got lost in a snowstorm which caused him to read a salvation message outside from a chapel. The message was ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no one else.’ This message impacted him significantly and later that same year he got baptized in 1850 and a few months after moving to Cambridge Spurgeon became a Sunday school teacher. That same year he preached his first sermon because his friend at the time had an emergency.
His sermon impacted the church so much that he was appointed as a pastor for a small Baptist church at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. At the age of 19, he was called to the pastorate onto the largest Baptist Congregation in London. Everyone loved him including many pastors, but still, others criticised him. He also opposed slavery which caused him to lose support from the Southern Baptists and receive insults and death threats.
In 1856 someone created a panic by yelling ‘Fire’ in the middle of his preaching which created a great stampede that left several injured and dead. Charles was haunted for years by this tragedy but continued to seek God’s face in the midst of it all. He wanted to spread God’s word like the disciple Paul.
Spurgeon preached to 23,654 people in 1857 at The Crystal Palace, London. He would never pass up the opportunity to speak the Word of God. For this reason he often preached 10 times a week. His sermons were gripping and could hold the audience’s attention from the very beginning until the end. What’s even more astounding, he only carried an outline sketch of what he would speak about to the pulpit. Stenographers took down the sermons and Spurgeon would edit them before the publication. He also founded the Stockwell Orphanage in London for boys and girls.
Charles created many foes because of his written sermons and widespread popularity. He didn’t mind it but instead turned the other cheek to receive more criticism for sharing the “true” theology. His main objective was to spread God’s word. His most controversial sermons which ultimately lead to his demise was ‘Baptismal Regeneration’ and ‘Downgrade’. His sermon on baptismal infuriated religious sectors when he mentioned water baptismal for a child as not important as being baptized as an adult. His other sermon ‘Downgrade’ mentioned how religious leaders aren’t equipping themselves with biblical education but rather indulge in satisfying people. Over 350,000 copies were sold of this edition of the Sword and Trowel magazine. This obviously didn’t sit well with his “friends” who benefited from tithes and their valued reputation. They spread rumors about him saying he was critical, unfit to preach, and due to his decreasing health, they questioned his sanity.
Though Charles had a positive outlook on life, he and and also his wife had a history of falling ill. He was diagnosed with diseases such as rheumatism, gout, and Bright’s disease. He continued to preach through it all until his death. During Charles Spurgeon’s ministry, tens of thousands were seeking a relationship with God through his preaching of the Word. He is estimated to have preached 3,500 sermons to about 10 million people. He published 49 volumes of commentaries, anecdotes, and devotionals during his lifetime. Spurgeon’s published collection gives Charles, the most extensive compilation of written work by a single author in the history of Christianity. His written works still impacts many people’s lives to this day leading them to know more about who Christ is.