Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) was an influential Baptist preacher in England. He was the most popular preacher of his time and is still known as “the Prince of Preachers.”
Spurgeon was the son and grandson of Congregational ministers. He came to faith in 1850 while listening to a Primitive Methodist preacher. Rejecting Congregational teaching, Spurgeon was baptized as a believer and began to serve in a Baptist church. In 1854, before he was 20 years old, he became the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel, a Baptist church in London.
Within a few weeks, many conversions resulted from Spurgeon’s preaching, and the church building could not accommodate the crowds. The congregation also outgrew several other venues until finally the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which seated 6,000, was built specifically for this purpose. Spurgeon preached there from 1861 to 1891, shortly before his death. His sermons were printed in the London papers weekly. In addition to pastoring the church, Spurgeon started a pastor’s college and an orphanage, which are both still in operation today. Spurgeon also wrote prolifically (his collected sermons fill 63 volumes, the largest set of books by one author in the history of Christianity). His books Lectures to My Students and Commenting and Commentaries were the result of his work with students and both are still on the reading lists in modern seminaries. Spurgeon also published the Sword and Trowel magazine.
Spurgeon’s sermons were powerful and direct, but also contain elements of humor. Spurgeon was a pastor, evangelist, and careful expositor of Scripture. His sermons are still popular today and are noted for their combination of eloquence and down-to-earth applications. His Treasury of David (an exposition of Psalms) is one of his most popular works, as is his devotional Morning and Evening. Most of Spurgeon’s material is still in print and highly recommended.
Charles Spurgeon was unashamedly a Calvinist and a Baptist. He did not shrink from controversy and was outspoken against false teaching and hypocrisy. He attacked both hyper-Calvinism and Arminian theology. He accused evangelical Anglicans of hypocrisy for continuing to use the Anglican baptismal service found in the Book of Prayer, even though they did not believe in baptismal regeneration. During the “Downgrade Controversy,” Spurgeon accused fellow Baptists of teaching modernist theology, and he eventually withdrew from the Baptist Union over this issue.
Spurgeon died in 1892. In his nearly 40 years of pastoring, it’s estimated that he had preached 3,500 sermons to about 10 million people. Through his written works, Spurgeon has left a continuing legacy of love for Christ and His Word that still influences pastors and laymen today.
“Christ in us the hope of glory. Christ for us our full redemption. Christ with us our guide, and our solace; and Christ above us pleading and preparing our place in heaven. Jesus Christ Himself is our Captain, our armor, our strength and our victory! We inscribe His name upon our banner, for it is hell’s terror, heaven’s delight, and earth’s hope. We bear this upon our hearts in the heat of the conflict, for this is our breastplate and coat of mail” (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #1388, preached December 9, 1877).