How the Lord, in all His providence, placed this book in my care is sadly a sacred moment that I can’t recall clearly, but one thing I know with certainty is this … this one book introduced me to a man I had never heard of my entire life. The Gospel-hearted man of Charles Hadden Spurgeon. But more than that, it has been used by the Holy Spirit to teach me the true doctrines of grace. To know and love God with all my heart while finding that His “ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:17.
I was young wife and mother when this book, “Morning & Evening” came into my devotional life and the things I read in the pages were such new and wonderful things to me. I would get up in the morning and read that day’s entry over and over again – not only because of the truths I was discovering, but because of all the Scripture woven among the text that he was bringing into light its wisdom and understanding. One verse compounded the next with deepened theology – opening my spiritual eyes to see God for who He is and not for who I so poorly and wrongfully thought Him to be. And it was through this one book that the teachings and life of Charles Spurgeon, known as the “Prince of Preachers,” became an intriguing outreach for me. He was clearly a preacher who was honest, resolute, sincere, even lively and entertaining as he expounded on God’s holy Scripture.
But who is Charles Hadden Spurgeon? As many of you know, Banner of Truth is where I often go for literature and they write:
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. After a childhood in Essex, when he owed much to Christian parents and grandparents, he was converted in 1850 at the age of ﬁfteen. He was then assisting at a school in Cambridge and it was in these Cambridge years that he came to Baptist principles and was called to the Baptist pastorate in the near-by village of Waterbeach. From there he moved to New Park Street, London in 1854 at the age of nineteen.
Roughly speaking, Spurgeon’s public work can be divided up into four decades. Through the 1850s he was ‘The Youthful Prodigy’ who seemed to have stepped full-grown into the pulpit. At the age of twenty the largest halls in London were ﬁlled to hear him; at twenty-one the newspapers spoke of him as ‘incomparably the most popular preacher of the day’; when he was twenty-three, 23,654 people heard him at a service in the Crystal Palace.
In the next decade, the 1860s, his work might best be described in terms of ‘The Advancement of Gospel Agencies’. The institutions which he founded, and for which he remained responsible, included a College to train pastors; a publications enterprise (with a weekly published sermon and a monthly magazine The Sword and the Trowel); an Orphanage; a Colportage Association to spread Christian literature; and above all the Metropolitan Tabernacle itself, opened for the church he served in 1861 and capable of holding about 6,000. The congregation which he pastored grew from 314 in 1854 to 5,311 in 1892.
Onlookers often supposed that so many enterprises could never be maintained at the high level of usefulness with which they began, but they were, and the 1870s might well be described in terms of ‘Holding the Ground’. On every front the work was being blessed.
Then came the 1880s and by far the most difﬁcult period in Spurgeon’s life. In this last decade he was faced with increasing controversy and a title for his last years could well be his own words, ‘In Opposition to So Many’.
By the time Spurgeon was ﬁfty-seven in 1891 his health was utterly broken. When he left Herne Hill station, London, on 26 October 1891, for the south of France, he said to the friends who came to say good-bye, ‘The ﬁght is killing me’. He died at Menton three months later.
[Iain H. Murray in Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, Banner of Truth, 1995. See also Spurgeon’s 2-volume Autobiography, Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore, and The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by G. Holden Pike, all published by the Trust.]
Immediately following his fame was criticism. The first attack in the press appeared in the Earthen Vessel in January 1855. His preaching was a plain-spoken and direct appeal to the people, using the Bible to provoke them to consider the teachings of Jesus Christ. Critical attacks persisted throughout his life. The congregation quickly outgrew their building, and moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. At 22, Spurgeon was the most popular preacher of the day.
At the end of that year, tragedy struck on 19 October 1856, as Spurgeon was preaching at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall for the first time. Someone in the crowd yelled, “FIRE.” At the news of a fire, people panicked and rushed to escape the building. Seven people were trampled to death, and twenty-eight people were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. All because one person said something out of their mouth (their heart) that was not true, and so many lives were destroyed by their decision to deceive. This moment in Spurgeon’s life caused him great depression—for obvious reasons. After this disaster, Spurgeon canceled many speaking opportunities and missed a Sunday in his pulpit. After days of suffering, he returned to the church to worship on the Lord’s Day. On November 2nd of 1856, Spurgeon ascended the pulpit to lead his congregation in prayer. He prayed the following words:
We are assembled here, O Lord, this day, with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow,—joy that we meet each other again, and sorrow for those who have suffered bereavements. Thanks to Thy Name! Thanks to Thy Name! Thy servant feared that he should never be able to meet this congregation again, but Thou hast brought him up out of the burning fiery furnace, and not even the smell of fire has passed upon him. Thou hast, moreover, given Thy servant special renewal of strength, and he desires now to confirm those great promises of free grace which the gospel affords. Thou knowest, O Lord, our feelings of sorrow! We must not open the sluices of our woe; but, O God, comfort those who are lingering in pain and suffering, and cheer those who have been bereaved! Let great blessings rest upon them,—the blessings of the covenant of grace, and of this world, too. And now, O Lord, bless Thy people! We have loved one another with a pure heart fervently;—we have rejoiced in each other’s joy,—we have wept together in our sorrow. Thou hast welded us together, and made us one in doctrine, one in practice, and one in holy love. Oh, that it may be said of each individual now present with us that he is bound up in the bundle of life!
O Lord, we thank Thee even for all the slander, and calumny, and malice, with which Thou hast allowed the enemy to honor us; and we pray Thee to grant that we may never give them any real cause to blaspheme Thy holy Name! We ask this for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
For over one hundred years, Christians have gotten up and gone to bed with Charles Spurgeon’s devotional Morning and Evening as a companion. With a reading to begin and end each day throughout the year, you will come to appreciate Spurgeon’s emphasis on two areas of a Christians sanctifying walk with God: the importance of abiding in Christ and meditating on God’s Word. His wisdom and counsel found on every page provides a timeless guide through our trials and triumphs.
The most exhaustive website on the writings and preaching of Charles Spurgeon that I have found is Spurgeon Gems.
The Spurgeon Center is another excellent source for all things Spurgeon, as well as The Prince of Preachers website. His poetry and quotes are also available through this site, such as his teachings on the Dangers of Money