On January 31, 1982, Charles Haddon Spurgeon passed away plunging the city of London, England into mourning. As his body laid in repose in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, over the course of three days more than 60,000 people trooped in to pay their final respects. Eleven days after his death, the streets of London were lined with 100,000 people with their heads bowed in solemn respect as his two-mile-long funeral procession took place. Believers and unbelievers alike were part of this procession and even the pubs were closed down that day.
The scenes that marked the departure of Spurgeon are a testament to the life of impact he had on countless individuals and on the city as a whole. From the humble beginnings of his ministry to the soaring heights of what will be regarded as ministry success, Spurgeon has become a guiding light for generations of Christians. As we delve into the legacy of this extraordinary preacher, we will uncover the depth of his impact and the enduring legacy he left behind, a legacy that continues to resonate and inspire in the hearts of believers to this day.
Charles H. Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834, in Kelvedon, Essex, England, into a family deeply rooted in Christian values. He was the eldest son of John and Eliza Spurgeon, who were devout Christians and deeply committed to their faith. His was a family of clerics, both his father and grandfather were Nonconformist ministers. From an early age, young Charles was exposed to the teachings of the Bible and the values of Christianity within the nurturing environment of his home.
Despite his early years of being rooted in Christian teachings and traditions, it wasn’t till he was 15 years that Spurgeon actually became a believer. While seeking shelter from a snowstorm on his way to his usual church he ended up in a chapel where the minister preaching was preaching in the most unconventional manner he had encountered. Preaching from Isaiah 45:22, the preacher looked at Spurgeon and said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” This was the day Spurgeon believed and never turned back.
Just shortly after that, Spurgeon started preaching as a minister close to his hometown. Before he turned 20 in 1854 he was invited to become pastor of New Park Street which will later become the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the largest Baptist church in London at the time.
Despite his young age, his reputation as a gifted preacher had already begun to spread, and he quickly garnered a following of devoted listeners. The church, which had been struggling with low attendance, witnessed a remarkable transformation under Spurgeon’s leadership. His dynamic preaching drew large crowds, and the church experienced a period of unprecedented growth.
Spurgeon’s sermons were characterized by their unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture, their clarity of expression, and their passionate delivery. He possessed a remarkable ability to connect with his audience, regardless of their background or social status. His preaching style attracted a lot of critics from both secular and religious institutions but through it all, his sermons were marked by a combination of profound theological insight, practical wisdom, and heartfelt sincerity, which resonated deeply with both believers and unbelievers alike.
As his influence and reputation continued to grow, Spurgeon’s impact extended far beyond the pulpit. His sermons were published in newspapers and periodicals, reaching a wide audience across the globe. His writings, including books, pamphlets, and articles, became highly sought after and continue to be treasured resources for believers today.
Charles Spurgeon usually preached an average of 13 sermons per week and all his services attracted a large crowd of people. He would usually preach without any amplification, but his stirring voice reached out to all his listeners. Over the course of his ministry, it is estimated that he preached to over 10 million people. Spurgeon was also a prolific author, producing more than 140 books, in addition to his numerous articles and pamphlets. Some of his most influential works include his commentary on the Psalms, titled The Treasury of David, and his two-volume book Lectures to My Students which has become a standard text for aspiring preachers.
In addition to his preaching and writing, Spurgeon founded a number of institutions and organizations to further the cause of Christ. He started a Pastors’ College, the Stockwell Orphanage, seventeen almshouses for poor and elderly women, and a day school for children. He was involved in the planting of 187 churches. Despite his heavy schedule, Charles Spurgeon always made out time for his wife and two boys. He set out a day every week where he did no work but rested as the Lord rested.
Charles Spurgeon was also a man given to prayer, he famously said “Sometimes we think that we are too busy to pray. That also is a big mistake, because praying is a saving of time”. This saving of time is evident in the life of Charles Spurgeon who read 6 books every week and left behind a rich library of over 12,000 books. On reading, he said:
“Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read…
We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books” — join in the cry.”
Throughout his life, Spurgeon faced numerous challenges and controversies, including theological debates and battles over doctrinal integrity. However, his unwavering faith, unyielding commitment to the truth, and deep love for Christ sustained him through these trials. Through his seasons of depression and struggles with gout, Spurgeon’s cry still remained “Look to Christ” never forgetting the message of the cross that saved him.
Charles H. Spurgeon died at the tender of 57 but his impact and legacy have continued to influence countless generations. Known as the “Prince of Preachers,” his sermons and writings remain relevant and powerfully effective, inspiring leaders and believers throughout the world.
In memory of Spurgeon and his mission, many institutions and ministries carry on his name, including the Spurgeon’s College and Charles Spurgeon Memorial Library. Also, many of his sermons have been translated into various languages and published, allowing his message to reach people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Here are a few of his memorable quotes that continue to inspire us today:
“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.”
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”
“Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”
“If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.”
“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”