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Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON
1834 - 1892

English Nonconformist CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON, was born at Kelvedon, Essex, on the i9th of June 1834. He was the grandson of an Essex pastor, and son of John Spurgeon, Independent minister at Upper Street, Islington. He went to school at Colchester and Maidstone, and in 1849 he became usher at a school in Newmarket. He joined the Baptist communion in 1851, and his work at once attested his conversion. He began distributing tracts and visiting the poor, joined the lay preachers association, and gave his first sermon at Teversham, near Cambridge. In 1852 he became pastor of \Vaterbeach. He was strongly urged to enter Stepney (now Regents Park) College to prepare more fully for the ministry, but an appointment with Dr Joseph Angus, the tutor, having accidently fallen through, Spurgeon interpreted the contretemps as a divine warning against a college career. The lack of early systematic theological training certainly had a momentous effect upon his development. Broad in every other respect, he retained to the last the narrow Calvinism of the early Igth century. His powers as a boy preacher became widely known, and at the close of 1853 he was called to New Park Street Chapel, Southwark. In a very few months time the chapel was full to overflowing. Exeter Hall was used while a new chapel was being erected, but Exeter Hall could not contain Spurgeons hearers. The enlarged chapel at once proved too small for the crowds, and a huge tabernacle was projected in Newington Causeway. The preacher had recourse to the Surrey Gardens music hall, where his congregation numbered from seven to ten thousand. At twenty-two he was the most popular preacher of his day. In 1857, on the day of national humiliation for the Indiafi Mutiny, he preached at the Crystal Palace to 24,000 people. The Metropolitan Tabernacle, with a platform for the preacher and accommodation for 6000 persons, was opened for service on the 25th of March 186I. The cost was over ~3o,ooo, and the debt was entirely paid off at the close of the opening services, which lasted over a Inonth. Spurgeon preached habitually at the Tabernacle on Sundays and Thursdays. He frequently spoke for nearly an, hour, and invariably from heads and subheads jotted down upon half a sheet of letter paper. His Sunday sermons were taken down in shorthand, corrected by him on Monday, and sold by his publishers, Messrs Passmore & Alabaster, literally by tons. They have been extensively translated. Clear and forcible in style and arrangement, they are models of Puritan exposition and of appeal through the emotions to the individual conscience, illuminated by frequent flashes of spontaneous and often highly unconventional humour. In his method of employing illustration he is suggestive of Thomas Adams, Thomas Fuller, Richard Baxter, Thomas Manton. and John Bunyan. Like them, too, he excelled in his vigorous command of the vernacular. Among more recent preachers he had most affinity with George Whitefield, Richard Cecil and Joseph Irons. Collected as TI-fe Tabernacle Pulpit, the sermons form some fifty volumes. Spurgeons lectures, aphorisms, talks, and Saplings for Sermons were similarly stenographed, corrected and circulated. He also edited a monthly magazine, The Sword and Trowel; an elaborate exposition of the Psalms, in seven volumes, called The Treasury of David (1870-1885); and a book of sayings called John Ploughmans Talks; or~ Plain Advice for Plain People (1869), a kind of religious Poor Richard. In the summer of 1864 a sermon which he preached and printed on Baptismal Regeneration (a doctrine which he strenuously repudiated, maintaining that immersion was only an outward and visible sign of the inward conversion) led to a difference with the bulk of the Evangelical party, both Nonconformist and Anglican. Spurgeon maintained his ground, but in 1865 he withdrew from the Evangelical Alliance. Subsequently in 1887 his distrust of modern biblical criticism led to his withdrawing from the Baptist Union. His powers of organization were strongly exhibited in the Pastors College, the Orphanage (at Stockweil), the Tabernacle Almshouses, the Colportage Association for selling religious books, and the gratuitous book fund which grew up under his care. He received large money testimonials

 

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