Charles Haddon Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 – January 31, 1892) was England's best-known and most-loved preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. Born in Kelvedon , Essex, his conversion to Christianity came in January 1850 at the age of fifteen. On his way to a scheduled appointment, a snow storm forced him to cut short his intended journey and turn in to a Primitive Methodist chapel in Colchester where, in his own words: “God opened his heart to the salvation message.”
He preached his first sermon in 1851 and, from the beginning of his ministry, his style and ability were noted far above average.
In 1852 he became pastor of the small Baptist church at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, and in 1854, after preaching three months on probation and just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, was called to the pastorate of London's famed New Park Street Chapel , Southwark (formerly pastored by the famous Reformed Baptist theologian John Gill). Within a few months of his call his powers as a preacher made him famous.
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. At twenty-two Spurgeon was the most popular preacher of the day.
In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed purpose-built Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle, seating five thousand people with standing room for another thousand.
Spurgeon was a Baptist, but is still known to non-conformists of many denominations as the “Prince of Preachers”, in the tradition of the Puritans and especially highly regarded amongst Presbyterians and Congregationalists, although he differed with them over the issue of baptism.
Spurgeon’s sermons were published in printed form every week, and enjoyed a high circulation. By the time of his death in 1892, he had published more than twenty-five hundred sermons and forty-nine volumes of commentaries, sayings, anecdotes, illustrations, and devotions.
It is said that on the death of missionary Dr David Livingstone, a discolored and much used copy of one of Spurgeon’s printed sermons was found amongst his few possessions, along with the handwritten comment at the top of the first page “Very good, D.L.” - he had carried it with him throughout his travels in Africa.
Spurgeon married, in 1856, Susannah, daughter of Robert Thompson of Falcon Square, London, by whom he had twin sons, Charles and Thomas. His widow and sons survived him. He suffered ill health towards the end of his life, suffering from a combination of rheumatism, gout and Bright's disease, often recuperating at Mentone, near Nice, France, where he died in 1892.
Spurgeon's College is a small Bible college named after him.
Some of Spurgeon's written works
- The Treasury of David – a multi-volume commentary on the Psalms
- Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening – a book of daily devotional readings
- The Sword and The Trowel – a monthly magazine edited by Spurgeon
- John Ploughman’s Talks – the Gospel in the language of ‘plain people’
- Around the Wicket Gate
- All of Grace
- Commenting and Commentaries
- Sermons In Candles
- Lectures to My Students - Four volumes of lectures to students of college Spurgeon established