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Charles Haddon Spurgeon
1834 – 1892
HOW SPURGEON FOUND CHRIST
I HAD been about five years in the most fearful distress of mind, as a boy. If any human being felt more of the terror of God's Law, I can indeed pity and sympathize with him. Bunyan's "Grace Abounding" contains, in the main, my history. Some abysses he went into I never trod; but some into which I plunged he seems to have never known.
I thought the sun was blotted out of my sky - that I had sinned against God that there was no hope for me. I prayed - the Lord knows how I prayed; but I never had a glimpse of an answer that I knew of. I searched the Word of God; the promises were more alarming than the threatenings. I read the privileges of the people of God, but with the fullest persuasion that they were not for me. The scene of my distress was this: I did not know the Gospel. I was in a Christian land. I had Christian parents, but I did not fully understand the freeness and simplicity of the Gospel.
I attended all the places of worship in the town where I lived, but I honestly believe that I did not hear the Gospel fully preached. I do not blame the men, however. One man preached the Divine sovereignty. I could hear him with pleasure, but what was that to a poor sinner who wished to know what he should do to be saved? There was another admirable man who always preached about the law; but what was the use of plowing up ground that wanted to be sown? Another was a great practical teacher. I heard him, but it was very much like a commanding officer teaching the maneuvers of war to a set of men without feet. What could I do? All his exhortations were lost to me. I knew it was said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," but I did not know what I was to believe in Christ.
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to a place of worship. When I could go no farther, I turned down a street and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning; snowed in, I suppose. A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort went up into the pulpit to preach.
Now, it is well that ministers should be instructed, but this man was really unlearned, as you would say. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason he had nothing else to say. The text was, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." He didn't even pronounce the words correctly, but that didn't matter.
There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. He began thus: "My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, 'Look.' Now, that doesn't take a great deal of effort. It isn't lifting your foot or your finger. It is just 'look.' Well, a man need not go to college to learn to look. A man need not be worth a lot of money to look. Any one can look; a child can look. But this is what the text says. Then it says, 'Look unto Me'."
"Aye," said he, in broad Essex, "many of ye are looking to yourselves. No use looking there. You'll never find comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No. Look to Him by and by. Jesus Christ says, 'Look unto Me.' Some of you say, 'I must wait the Spirit's working.' You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. It says, 'Look unto Me'."
Then the good man followed up his text in this way: "Look unto Me: I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hanging on the cross. Look! I am dead and buried. Look unto Me. I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend; I am sitting at the Father's right hand. Oh, look unto Me! Look unto Me!"
When he had got about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the length of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I dare say, with a few present, he knew me to be a stranger. He then said, "Young man, you look very miserable." Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made on my personal appearance from the pulpit before. However, it was a good blow struck. He continued: "And you will always be miserable - miserable in life, and miserable in death - if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment you will be saved."
Then he shouted as only a gospel preacher can. "Young man, look to Jesus Christ!" I did 'look'. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun: I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious Blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me that before: Trust Christ and you will be saved.
It was, no doubt, wisely ordered, and I must ever say:
E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy wounds supplied for me,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall forever be.
— Written by Spurgeon himself
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Some Facts About Charles Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is history's most widely read preacher (apart from the biblical ones). Today, there is available more material written by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author, living or dead.
One woman was converted through reading a single page of one of Spurgeon's sermons wrapped around some butter she had bought.
Spurgeon read The Pilgrim's Progress at age 6 and went on to read it over 100 times.
The New Park Street Pulpit and The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit - the collected sermons of Spurgeon during his ministry with that congregation - fill 63 volumes. The sermons' 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.
Spurgeon's mother had 17 children, nine of whom died in infancy.
When Charles Spurgeon was only 10 years old, a visiting missionary, Richard Knill, said that the young Spurgeon would one day preach the gospel to thousands and would preach in Rowland Hill's chapel, the largest Dissenting church in London. His words were fulfilled.
Spurgeon missed being admitted to college because a servant girl inadvertently showed him into a different room than that of the principal who was waiting to interview him. Later, he determined not to reapply for admission when he believed God spoke to him, "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!"
Spurgeon's personal library contained 12,000 volumes - 1,000 printed before 1700. The library, 5,103 volumes at the time of its auction, is now housed at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.
Before he was 20, Spurgeon had preached over 600 times.
Spurgeon drew to his services Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone, members of the royal family, members of Parliament, as well as author John Ruskin, Florence Nightingale, and General James Garfield, later president of the United States.
The New Park Street Church invited Spurgeon to come for a 6-month trial period, but Spurgeon asked to come for only 3 months because "the congregation might not want me, and I do not wish to be a hindrance." When Spurgeon arrived at The New Park Street Church, in 1854, the congregation had 232 members. By the end of his pastorate, 38 years later, that number had increased to 5,311. Altogether, 14,460 people were added to the church during Spurgeon's tenure. The church was the largest independent congregation in the world.
Spurgeon typically read 6 books per week and could remember what he had read, and where, even years later.
Spurgeon once addressed an audience of 23,654 without a microphone or any mechanical amplification.
Spurgeon began a pastors' college that trained nearly 900 students during his lifetime and it continues today.
In 1865, Spurgeon's sermons sold 25,000 copies every week. They were translated into more than 20 languages.
At least 3 of Spurgeon's works, including the multi-volume Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series, have sold more than 1,000,000 copies. One of these, All of Grace, was the first book ever published by Moody Press (formerly the Bible Institute Colportage Association) and is still its all-time bestseller.
During his lifetime, Spurgeon is estimated to have preached to 10,000,000 people.
Spurgeon once said he counted 8 sets of thoughts that passed through his mind at the same time while he was preaching.
Testing the acoustics in the vast Agricultural Hall, Spurgeon shouted, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." A worker high in the rafters of the building heard this and became converted to Christ as a result.
Susannah Thompson, Spurgeon's wife, became an invalid at age 33 and could seldom attend her husband's services after that.
Spurgeon spent 20 years studying the Book of Psalms and writing his commentary on them, The Treasury of David.
Spurgeon insisted that his congregation's new building, The Metropolitan Tabernacle, employ Greek architecture because the New Testament was written in Greek. This one decision has greatly influenced subsequent church architecture throughout the world.
The theme for Spurgeon's Sunday morning sermon was usually not chosen until Saturday night.
For an average sermon, Spurgeon took no more than one page of notes into the pulpit, yet he spoke at a rate of 140 words per minute for 40 minutes.
The only time that Spurgeon wore clerical garb was when he visited Geneva and preached in Calvin's pulpit.
By accepting some of his many invitations to speak, Spurgeon oft preached 10 times in a week
Spurgeon met often with Hudson Taylor, the well-known missionary to China, and with George Mueller, the orphanage founder.
Spurgeon had two children - twin sons - and both became preachers. Thomas succeeded his father as pastor of the Tabernacle, and Charles, Jr., took charge of the orphanage his father had founded.
Spurgeon's wife, Susannah, called him Tirshatha, a title used of the Judean governor under the Persian Empire, meaning "Your Excellency."
Spurgeon often worked 18 hours a day. Famous explorer and missionary David Livingstone once asked him, "How do you manage to do two men's work in a single day?" Spurgeon replied, "You have forgotten that there are two of us."
Spurgeon spoke out so strongly against slavery that American publishers of his sermons began deleting his remarks on the subject.
Occasionally Spurgeon asked members of his congregation not to attend the next Sunday's service, so that newcomers might find a seat. During one 1879 service, the regular congregation left so that newcomers waiting outside might get in; the building immediately filled again.