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lLES haddon
»URGEON




THE ^LITTLE LIBRARY
OF BIOGRAPHY



CHARLES HADDON
SPURGEON

By A. CUNNINGHAM BURLEY



LONDON:

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY

65 St. Paul's Churchyard and

4 Bouverie Street, E.C.4



MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN

Printed by Wm. Clowes and Sons, Ltd.

London and Beccles.



CHARLES HADDON
SPURGEON

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was one
of the outstanding personalities of the
Vi£lorian era. He was one of the few
ministers who had a world-wide
audience — a preacher who had only to
whisper to be heard of all men. His
life and work are one of the cherished
possessions of the scattered English-
speaking peoples and is a living link
which binds many of them together
throughout the length and breadth of
the earth. It is safe to say that when
the hiftory of the w^onderful nineteenth
century comes to be written, Spurgeon
3

107700'*



4 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

will ^and out as one of the moft force-
ful individuals that England has ever
seen.

Although he passed away as long ago
as the year 1892, yet he Still lives in the
admiring remembrances of multitudes
who heard him. Many of his con-
temporaries are dead, and although the
number of those who came under his
spell is daily diminishing, there is no
need to fear that Spurgeon is becoming
a back number or a fading memory.
He will live as long as England lives,
because he so laboured and wrought
during his all too brief lifetime, as
to keep the soul of England alive.

In the kind Providence of God,
Spurgeoji was born of wise and tender
Christian parents. His birthplace was
the ancient and obscure village of



BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD 5

Kelvedon in Essbx. His birthday was
June 19, 1834. His parents, John and
Eliza Spurgeon, brought up a large
family in true Puritan fashion, and it is
no wonder that their two sons, Charles
and James, should have become dis-
tinguished minivers of the Gospel.
C. H. Spurgeon (like R. L. Stevenson)
was specially favoured in coming under
the bracing influence of a venerable
mini^erial grandfather. At the old
Stambourne manse there were many
things to appeal to the impressionable
mind of a growing child. Those who
looked after him were persons of
singular simplicity and lovers of inno-
cent habits, and allowed him to have
the run of the miniver's library and
the privilege of meeting the payor's
friends.



6 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

One of the mo^ notable visitors to
the place was the Rev. Richard Knill,
missionary at St. Petersburg. Being a
soul- winner, he spied out the small boy
and took the opportunity of speaking
winsomely to him about the love of the
Lord Jesus and the joy of loving the
Saviour in the enchanted days of child-
hood. Then followed a mo§t remark-
able thing. Mr. Knill took the child
on his knee in the presence of all the
family and said, solemnly and pro-
phetically, " This child will one day
preach the Gospel to great multitudes."
He then extracted a promise from the
boy (supported by the gift of a sixpence)
that when, in years to come, he should
preach in Rowland Hill's Chapel, he
would give out the hymn :

" God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."



SCHOOLDAYS 7

This promise was fulfilled because
the prophecy came true. Spurgeon,
without seeking to preach in Surrey
Chapel, was incidentally asked to do so,
and he addressed a gathering of chil-
dren on the condition that they should
sing William Cowper's great hymn. It
was done, to the indescribable emotion
of the preacher.

Spurgeon's schooldays were spent
happily and profitably at Colchester,
Maid^one, and Newmarket. Being
an indu^rious boy, he never felt the
bite of a schoolma^er's cane, but
qualified in Latin, Greek, and French.
Above all, he became an expert penman
and laid the foundation for that beauti-
ful, educated handwriting that became
in after-life the envy and despair of his
friends. Several of his copybooks are



8 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

^till in existence and their careful entries
give a more vivid sense of his person-
ality than almost anything else that can
be mentioned.

HIS CON\rERSION

The Story of Mr. Spurgeon's conver-
sion is almost too well known to bear
repetition. Yet no sketch of his life
would approach completeness if no
reference to this pivotal experience were
made. , The grace of God which had
pursued him with many benediftions
since his childhood and had encom-
passed him as with a shield, now began
to work more powerfully upon him.
For some little time he had been hoping
and groping in the shadows of spiritual
uncertainty. But on the morning of
January 6, 1850, the lad rose early to



HIS CONVERSION 9

pray and to read in the hope of finding
re§t for his troubled soul. Driven
forth into a thick, blinding snow^orm,
with distress and darkness filling his
mind, he entered the Primitive
Methodist Chapel in Artillery Street,
Colchester. There was a meagre con-
gregation in the spacious vacant pews,
and, to use Spurgeon's own words,
" The preacher was a poor uneducated
man who had never received a training
for the ministry and probably will never
be heard of in this Hfe. He was a
shoemaker, a tailor, or something of
that sort." But the unknown, un-
lettered man announced his text,
" Look unto Me and be ye saved, all
the ends of the earth." Of exposition
there was none, but of personal, pointed
application there was a great deal.



lO CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

Fastening his eyes on the dejeded-
looldng lad under the gaJlery, the
preacher exclaimed in loud and boifter-
ous tones, " Young man, look to Jesus
Christ. You have nothing to do but
to look and live." That was the
supreme moment. Spurgeon said that
he could almosT: have looked his eyes
away through sheer rapture and relief.
About four months later he was
baptized in the River Lark at Isleham
Ferry, by Rev. W. W. Cantlow, on
!May 3, 1850.

There is no portion of the hiftory of
men of power more interesting than
that which tells how and when they
first showed signs of their Strength.
This interest is not lacking in the early
life of Mr. Spargeon. On the Satur-
day following his baptism, he was



HIS FIRST SERMON II

found eagerly di^ributing trails. The
day following he was in the Sunday
School, and a few months later we find
him delivering a missionary address to
an admiring and appreciative audience.
Then came his Rtit sermon (an extem-
poraneous effort) in the little cottage
at Teversham. It was an exhilarating
experience, enjoyed by speaker and
cottagers alike, and there were not
wanting those, even in that far-off day,
who saw in Spurgeon's EtSt sermon the
dawn of that popularity which was the
beginning of his long and undisputed
leadership in religious circles. The
country people liked his preaching
because of its originaHty, freshness,
and vigour. Moreover, the youthful
preacher had the bloom and dew of
early manhood upon him, and it was no



12 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

Wonder that his growing fame as an
Evangel i^-pa§tor in the Fen Di§tri£l
should have ultimately reached Lon-
don. He had been labouring with
phenomenal success for several months
as Pastor of the Waterbeach Baptist
Church when an overture reached him
to become the Minister of New Park
Street Chapel, Southwark. But this
young man of twenty was reluftant to
leave his affe6lionate little flock in the
country for a decaying and unknown
cause in London. He came, however,
and the im^mediate effect was tremen-
dous. His preaching captured the
hearts of his hearers. His name spread
far and wide, and all sorts of people
flocked from all kinds of places to
hear him. Within one year the great
empty chapel had to be enlarged and



CALLED TO LONDON 1 3

Exeter Hall had to be requisitioned
to accommodate the multitudes that
crushed in to hear him. Not that
there was anything very bewitching
about his personal appearance. His
face was heavy with eyelids that
drooped as with weight. The nose,
cheeks, and lips had a pecuhar, sallow,
alabaster colour, whilst his broadcloth
clothing seemed to hang loose and
formless from his corpulent figure. It
was when he began to speak that the
assembled ho§ts heard one of the
mightiest voices that has ever sounded
from a Christian pulpit. There was a
clarion sweetness about it that filled
the largest building in which Spurgeon
held forth. In the Cry^al Palace
twenty-four thousand persons listened
to that voice without effort. Twelve



14 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

thousand heard it in a field off King
Edward's Road, Hackney, while Exeter
Hall, Surrey Music Hall, and the va§l
Agricultural Hall at Islington echoed
with its music and its power.

THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE

In the year 1861 the MetropoUtan
Tabernacle was opened for public wor-
ship. It was also designed to accom-
modate about seven thousand hearers,
which was Spurgeon's average con-
gregation for many years. The fires
of his oratory burned brighter in the
early seventies, when he was nearly forty
years of age and had been miniftering
to his people for about twenty years.
But since his settlement in London his
printed sermons had been Steadily pour-
ing from the Press. These printed



THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE I 5

discourses constitute a literary marvel.
Their publication began in the year
1855, and the yearly volumes ran on
long after his death in 1892. They
may be divided into three groups,
corresponding with Isaiah's prophetical
classification. There are those that
represent the youthful period, when
the young preacher mounted up with
wings as an eagle. They contain
wonderful flights of imagination and
impassioned appeal. These are fol-
lowed in the mid-seventies by those
zenith discourses when the great
preacher could run and not be weary,
when nothing seemed to tire his
magnificent vitality. Then came the
later sermons with the sunset touch
upon them, embracing the la§t fifteen
years of his miniftry, when by the help



1 6 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

of the Eternal Spirit he walked and did
not faint. Altogether, a wonderful
achievement. By means of these dis-
courses and a whole Hbrary of other
expository and devotional works,
Spurgeon made an abiding contribution
to the religious thought and knowledge
of his times.

His name, however, is not only
associated with an unequalled pulpit
and literary record ; it is conne£led
with benevolent and educational in-
stitutions of which he was the chief
force and the guiding genius. He did
not divorce his pulpit utterances from
practical efforts. The Tabernacle with
its vast congregations was certainly
one of the great attradlions of London,
but Spurgeon's influence took a much
larger range than that of preaching to



ORPHANAGE AND COLLEGE 1 7

massed thousands week by week. He
knew that sermons (like newspapers)
have a very short life. Like the manna
in the wilderness they lose their savour
and power of nutriment on the second
day. So Spurgeon sought to translate
his burning words into living activities
that would bless the children of m.en
for generations to come. He not only
gathered a Church of over five thousand
members ; he also founded an Orphan-
age for five hundred fatherless children,
e^ablished a College for the training
of young rnini^ers, and endowed a
block of Almshouses for the permanent
benefit of aged members of his con-
gregation.

Herein we see the rare distinctiveness
of the man. There were other great
preachers at home and abroad who



1 8 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

were Spurgeon's contemporaries, but
he differed from them in one vital
particular. He sought to perpetuate
himself and his message by means of
a College, an Orphanage, and a Col-
portage Association. Others might
feel it sufficient to preach, to pass away,
and to let the future take care of itself.
But Spurgeon could not re^ content
until he had founded Institutions which
should enshrine his memory, embody
his ideas, and express his spirit. If little
children could be reared and young
preachers could be trained.in the teach-
ings of grace as Spurgeon understood
them, he w^ould again go forth into
thousands of Hves long after his own
life on earth had ended. To this
fa£l Spurgeon owes the lasting sub-
Stance of his fame. In defence of his



SUSTAINED POPULARITY 1 9

College he wrote : " To help young
preachers to ^udy the Scriptures and
to become more efficient ministers is
one of the noblest works that ever
moved the heart of man." In vindica-
tion of his Orphanage he remarked :
" The objeds of our care are not far
to seek. They are at our gates ;
widows worn down . . . and children
half famished. We cannot look at
them without pity. We will work for
them through our Orphanage, as long
as our brain can think, our pen can
write, and our heart can love." Thus
Spurgeon's name is preserved from
oblivion because his mini^ry is con-
tinued and his benevolence is repro-
duced.

A more indefatigable worker never
hved than C. H. Spurgeon. He never



20 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

preached except to full pews and
crowded congregations. Gaining the
public ear as a boy-preacher he never
lo§t it for a moment. His life-long
grasp of success was tremendous.
There seemed to be a touch of greatness
about everything connected with him.
Greatness of character, greatness of
genius, with such spiritual depth and
wisdom as are rarely found in any
Chri^ian teacher.

HIS FRIENDS AND HELPERS

Obviously there mu§t have been
underlying reasons for all this. Such
a position, so prolonged and unchal-
lenged, could never have been main-
tained except by the gtridleSt economy
of time and the closest attention to
duty. But Spurgeon was rich in



COLLEAGUES 21

friends and helpers. He had around
him from the very beginning of his
mini^ry some of the mo§t ungrudging
helpers that any minister could wish
to have. His diftinguished brother.
Dr. James A. Spurgeon, was a con-
^ant strength and inspiration to him.
His deacons and elders were men of
good will, giving large margins of
their time and thought in furthering
the manifold v/ork at the Tabernacle.
His colleagues at the Orphanage and
College delighted to spend themselves
in sacrificial service for their President,
whilst his Secretaries and clerical
helpers did an enormous amount of
desk work that greatly relieved the
daily burden of one who was already
overloaded. By many gracious gifts
and tender acknowledgments, Spurgeon



22 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

admitted that he owed much of liis
ascendancy as a leader and author to
the unflagging loyalty of his co-
labourers.

Moreover, he was blessed with a
wife who for many years was able to
give her time and Strength to advance
the welfare and happiness of her
distinguished husband. She was ever
at his side, nursing him in illness,
accompanying him on holidays, and
encircling him with all the tender
affeftion that a wife could be^ow.
They led a sheltered and beautiful life
together in a pleasant house perched
on the Beulah Hill at Norwood.
Surrounded with ample grounds, it
enabled him to enjoy the beauties of
Nature and to spend long hours with
books, flowers, bird-notes, and healing



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS 23

sileaces. The perpetual strain of pro-
duction, week by week, was amazing,
but the retreat afforded by Westwood
and the joy of reaching so many
thousand hearts were a great support.
There ftill remains much about Mr.
Spurgeon's genius and personality that
defies analysis, but it goes a long way
towards revealing the source of his
power if we boldly describe him as an
" overflowing man." Many of the
fineft qualities of mind and heart
repose upon a physical basis. Spur-
geon was able to render immense
service because he was so vitally alive
and so intensely human in everything
that he said and did. He vv^as rich in
those overwhelming sympathies which
are at the root of noble character.
During the Vidorian Era, two men, in



24 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

particular, ^ood out in all the §lronge§t
and be^ elements of English man-
hood — John Bright and Charles H.
Spurgeon. Nobody surpassed them
in downright genuineness of character
and conduft. Spurgeon's personality
seemed to exercise an influence almost
as great as his preaching. Everybody
knew that he was absolutely free from
anything like meanness, selfishness, or
duplicity. He §tood out conspicuously
as a commendable specimen of lofty
behaviour, of unimpeachable redi-
tude, and of benevolent aims ; a kind
of human kaleidoscope, at every turn
falling into new and beautiful shapes.

HIS NATURALNESS

Nor is this to be wondered at.
Spurgeon seemed to have inherited a



HIS NATURALNESS 25

particularly simple and Straightforward
temperament. Indeed, his natural-
ness seemed to be his outstanding
charm. He was not one man in the
pulpit and another out of it. If you
saw him in liis garden one day and in
his Tabernacle the next, you saw the
same man. He insisted on being him-
self in all situations and under all
circumstances. He was not a mosaic
or a weak imitator of others. He
never reminded you of somebody else.
AfFedation was a quality altogether
remote from his transparent nature.
To his Students he said : " Gentlemen,
be yourselves, but in being yourself
don't be a fool."

James Payn once remarked that one
of the secrets of Spurgeon's power and
popularity was eloquence combined



26 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

with what Luther and Latimer posses-
sed, earnest rehgious humour. There
can be no doubt that this power was
enjoyed by him, and like everything
else about him, it was perfedly natural.
Not that he deliberately went out of
his way to shine by saying funny or
smart things, but to him a witty some-
tliing, even in the pulpit, was by no
means so unpardonable as a witless
nothing however solemnly it may have
sounded. He was not ashamed to be
reckoned in the same succession as
Sydney Smith, Rowland Hill, and
John Berridge — men who sometimes
gave loose rein to their wit and
were eminently successful in their
mini^ry.



HI*S HUMOUR



HIS HUMOUR



At Guildford, for in^ance, on one
occasion, Spurgeon preached to an
overflowing congregation. The hall
was packed and many persons were
compelled to ^and. But Spurgeon's
sympathetic humour did not fail him.
He quietly remarked, with his invincible
smile, " I am sorry so many of you will
have to ftand all through the sermon,
but I shall have to do the same myself,
so I know you won't mind."

Again, when addressing a meeting at
a country chapel, one of the benches
gave way with a crash. He promptly
improved the occasion by warning his
hearers not to trust to forms and
ceremonies ! One safeguarding word
needs to be said. Whilst Mr. Spur-



28 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

geon's friends knew him as genial and
jocular, it would be a profound mistake
to regard him as a humorist in the
pulpit. Mark Twain has reminded us
that real humour is only found in the
mo§t serious natures. Spurgeon could
sometimes give vent to his ready wit,
but no preacher was more uniformly
earned, reverent, and solemn in his
appeals to the unconverted. Empty
drolleries and cheap witticisms could
neither have drawn nor held the mighty
congregations that waited upon that
long-su§tained ministry. Even when
a few spontaneous oddities mingled
with his message, it was still the truth
that he was declaring, and as Dr.
Robertson Nicoll justly reminds us,
'' Spurgeon was not afraid to employ a i
je§t or a honiely proverb in his preach- |



DOWN-GRADE CONTROVERSY 29

ing, but he was as far from vulgarity
as the Apo^le Paul himself. He was
so con^antly in the presence of the
auguft themes of the Christian ministry
that it was never possible for him to
descend into mere levity or to court a
grin." So much, therefore, in praise
of Mr. Spurgeon's humour and human-
heartedness.

Spurgeon's health began definitely to
give way when he was fifty-three or
thereabouts. His marvellous vitality
was on the ebb, compelling him to
spend his remaining winters away in
the South of France. The disease
which ultimately proved fatal was
aggravated by worry. The great
preacher in his later years believed that
he saw signs of religious degeneracy
and decaying faith. He felt very



30 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

keenly the flagrant departures from
sound dodlrinal teaching on the part
of some of his pulpit contemporaries.
This led him into a well-intentioned
controversy which exhausted his laft
resources of ^rength. He seemed to
reach a point where pressure of anxiety
increased as rapidly as ftrength failed.
For many years a sufferer, his end was
hastened by the apprehension he felt
for the future of Christ's Kingdom on
earth. The torments of the Down-
Grade Controversy retarded his re-
covery by neutralizing the aftion of
those remedies wliich were meant for
his restoration.

The end came on January 51, 1892.
Spurgeon had been fighting a losing
battle with an insidious disease in the
sleepy littJe sun-drenched town of



CLOSING DAYS AND DEATH 3 1

Mentone. Gradually relapsing into
unconsciousness, he fetched a deep,
deep sigh, and shortly before midnight
passed peacefully away. The news of
his death travelled quickly, and the
arrival of his coffin in England was
marked by overwhelming manifesta-
tions of sorrow. Fifty thousand per-
sons viewed the calm face of their
friend and benefadlor with a grief that
seemed to say :

" Why could not the grave forget thee — and
lay low
Some less majeftic, less beloved head ? "

In thinking back over the subsequent
years we may regard Mr. Spurg^on as
a man whose life enriched the world
and whose death was an unspeakable
loss. We may safely reckon him



32 CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

among the builders of his century, a
watchman of his period ; a man of
philanthropy and a preacher of right-
eousness who deserved the world-wide
popularity that came to him, all
unsought.

Although his work on earth is done,
yet his life has passed into many other
lives and will continue to do so. Thus
we cannot wholly lose him. Of him
we may truthfully and thankfully say
what Richard X^'atson Gilder wrote of
John Wesley :

"In those clear, piercing, piteous eyes behold
The very soul that over England flamed !
Deep, pure, intense ; consuming shame and ill ;
Convicting men of sin ; making faith hve ;
And, — this the mightiest miracle of all, —
Creating God again in human hearts."




B 000 002 577



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