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Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)



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Lesson Series



August 21, 2011

Verse To Memorize

“Order my steps in thy word: let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”
Psalm 119:133

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the 19th century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, became Pastor of London’s famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the famous Baptist Theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle. –C.H.S. Archives

Early Life. Like many young people of his day, Charles struggled over his relationship with God for a number of years. It was common in those days for children to be encouraged to seek after God with their whole heart. “I must confess that I never would have been saved if I could have helped it. As long as ever I could, I rebelled, and revolted, and struggled against God. When He would have me to pray, I would not pray…And when I heard and tear rolled down my cheek, I wiped it away and defied Him to melt my soul. But long before I began with Christ, He began with me.”

Conversion. “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” During that message the preacher looked directly at Charles who was 16 years old at that time and said, “Young man, you look miserable…and you will always be miserable in this life and in death if you don’t obey my text.” Spurgeon later wrote, “Between half past ten when I entered that chapel, and half past twelve, when I returned home, what a change had taken place in me!” Neither he nor the world would be the same as a result. Young Spurgeon wrote his parents about his desire to join a Baptist church and his mother wrote back that she had often prayed for him to be saved but that she never asked that he would become a Baptist. Charles replied to his mother by writing that the “Lord had dealt with her in His usual bounty, and had given her exceeding abundantly above what she had asked.”

Calling. Young Spurgeon was asked to pastor New Park Street Church, a once influential congregation in 1854 and one of the six largest Baptist churches in London, with former pastors Benjamin Keech, Dr. John Gill and Dr. John Rippon. These three great names in Baptist history had served a combined 150 years at New Park Street. But times had changed. What had once been a growing congregation of 1200 had ebbed to a group of around 200 souls. In 1856, the congregation at New Park Street met to discuss the building of a new sanctuary. In keeping with his vision for London, Spurgeon and the congregation voted to change the name of their church to Metropolitan Tabernacle. The years of service at New Park Street and Metropolitan Tabernacle would prove astounding. When Spurgeon came to New Park Street in 1854 it had a membership of 232. By the end of 1891, 14,460 souls had been baptized and added to the church with a standing membership of 5,311.

Challenges. It was Spurgeon’s faith and trust in God that led him to warn the church of its downward slide toward liberalism but it was actually his Christian charity that got him into trouble. Spurgeon had been told in confidence the names of some of the pastors in the Baptist Union who were embracing the “new theology.” Because of this confidence, Spurgeon refused to name the men he was speaking of. So, on January 18, 1888, a vote of censure was cast against the Union’s greatest preacher. The die was cast. Spurgeon would prove true as the Baptist Union turned more and more to Higher Criticism and gradually abandoned its adherence to God’s Word as the sole authority of life and faith.

Compassion and Honor. If there is any one remaining tangible evidence of the influence of Spurgeon had in his day, it can be found in his sermons. His printed sermons have had a monumental impact for over 100 years. There are 63 volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons in print to this day. Over 100 million of those weekly sermons were sold. By the time of his death, Spurgeon held a personal library of 12, 000 volumes. Another great field of influence was The Pastor’s College which exists to this day as Spurgeon’s College. “Wherever the men come from, it was clearly understood that the college did not exist to make ministers but to train them. Unless a man could prove or show some evidence that he was called to preach…there was no welcome for him, however great his gifts in other directions.” Spurgeon was also involved in extensive social endeavors especially in the orphanage work. Hundreds of children who otherwise would have roamed the streets as thieves and vagrants were housed, fed and trained in the Word of God. Spurgeon once said, “We are a large church and we must have a large heart for this city.” Spurgeon had one single prayer that made him what God has designed him to be— [Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me] he fought a good fight of faith, he kept the faith and lived his life All of Grace.

—The Spurgeon Archive/
BMA’s Messages 08.21.11

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