by Dr. Jonathan Stricklin | Grace Bible Church of Cedar Ridge
“The Prince of Preachers” is the title bestowed upon the great English expositor, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. As Spurgeon’s weekly sermons were being transcribed and published throughout the world, the American novelist, Mark Twain, published The Prince and the Pauper in 1862. Twain’s historical fiction, set in 1537 England, is about two boys that look identical, but one is the prince and the other a pauper. The two boys switch places and experience firsthand the realities of the other’s environment. While the pauper learned his way around the palace, the prince is thrust into the anguish of poverty, abuse, and a host of sufferings. In the end, the boys resumed their rightful stations, but the prince was favorably changed by the suffering he endured. While most would assume that suffering would be the last thing a successful prince would endure, the reality of his trials proved to be the key ingredient to guide his perspective as a newly crowned king.
When preachers today hear of the successful ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, they may assume the lot of the “Prince of Preachers” is to be envied. Yet when one looks at his life a bit closer it becomes obvious that he was a man who experienced great suffering. He bore scars that were etched deeper than merely the surface of his skin, down into his psyche, permeating his emotions. However, rather than his effectiveness being destroyed by the bitter burdens he bore, his preaching exuded greater grace and higher hope than imaginable, leading others to bestow on him the honorable title of “Prince.”
Some may ask how a man who suffered like Spurgeon could complete a life of ministry under all the suffering he endured; others, who are presently under the weight of some painful episode, ask how he could complete just the next task without succumbing to despair. As Paul called to Timothy—”Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 2:3)— people in agony may question how that is accomplished.
To finish a course filled with difficult, dangerous, and even destructive pitfalls requires the pilgrim to maintain a hopeful perspective. The hopeful perspective understands that the present suffering fits within the plan of a successful end. Spurgeon’s preaching gives evidence that his understanding of God included a healthy theodicy.
But how does one develop a theodicy that keeps at bay the dark oppression of grief paralyzing one from moving toward the successful completion of God’s call upon his life? Spurgeon found the Scripture’s revelation of Christ’s exaltation to be a significant piece in that puzzle. Jesus Christ’s successful ministry gave him hope that any person’s ministry might fit within that success. It was after the great tragedy of the Surrey Gardens Music Hall stampede, (which will be discussed in greater detail below), that Spurgeon found the courage to reenter the pulpit from the truth of Philippians 2:9-11. That Scripture says, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Zack Eswine says, “From this Scripture, Charles set the larger story of his hope before us. The same Heavenly Father who picked up His Son out of the muck, misery and mistreatment can do the same for us.”1
While Spurgeon’s preaching ministry certainly centered upon the redemptive work of Christ at the cross, it also included the exalted work of Christ in His glorious return. An understanding of the eschatological work of the Lord provides a necessary element in the theodicy for the suffering servant of Christ. Her hope is fixed downrange, beyond the painful present reality, upon the future promises of Christ’s coming. Spurgeon was a man who preached a future hope in the midst of present hardships.
The purpose of this work will be to provide a biographical account of a variety of hardships suffered by Spurgeon, evidence of his eschatological perspective, and observations of how that perspective helped supply hope in his difficult preaching ministry. The intent is that the reader will find the same hope to trust the Scriptures, preach the gospel, and pursue holiness in the midst of his own trials.
Biographical Descriptions of the Hardship Endured by Spurgeon
It is important that admirers do not forget the reality of suffering in the lives of those they seek to emulate; for when they find similar suffering on the same path, they will be reminded they have not taken a wrong turn. Iain Murray has reminded Spurgeon fans of the forgotten difficulties the popular preacher endured. The positive highlights of his ministry are readily recalled as Murray says, “One could write the history of Spurgeon as a great success story. As the settled pastor of a congregation he preached to more people on successive Sundays than the Christian church had yet witnessed in any other quarter. When a general census of church attendance was taken on an ordinary Sunday in London in 1886 the total congregations at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, morning and evening, exceeded 10,000 people!”2 However, these encouraging statistics were not achieved in quiet circumstances. Murray counterbalances the view of Spurgeon by providing not so much a biography of Spurgeon’s life, but rather a context of the environment of Spurgeon’s life that was shaped by theological controversies.3 These controversies contributed no small amount of pain to the man so popular.
The danger of focusing primarily on the man’s suffering could lead one to conclude he was a miserable man. But that conclusion would be just as inaccurate as assuming he was a charmed man. Michael Reeves provides a description that guards against a myopic view of Spurgeon: “Spurgeon was an unmistakably and earnest man. With a deep concern for the glory of Christ and the fate of the lost … Yet earnestness and zeal, for Spurgeon, were never to be confused with gloominess and melancholy. It is telling and entirely appropriate that a whole chapter of his ‘autobiography’ … is titled ‘Pure Fun.’ … Charles Spurgeon was fun.”4 We will see that while Spurgeon did not let the trials ruin his fun, trials could neither be avoided.
The context of suffering that surrounds the successful life is too often forgotten. This section will lay out the variety of difficult experiences that shaped Spurgeon’s life as he followed God’s call with hope.
A Heritage of Suffering
Charles Spurgeon was born into this fallen world on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex, England. He followed his persecuted Protestant ancestors who had fled their countries seeking refuge in England.5 Later, Spurgeon would cherish this heritage, often retelling the story of his ancestor, the aptly named, Job Spurgeon, who had been “jailed and had his property confiscated because he attended a ‘non-conformist’ place of worship in 1677.”6 In jail, Job suffered the extreme cold with nothing more than straw upon the ground. However, the conditions made him “so weak he would not lie down and remained all the time in an upright position. … The background from which Charles Spurgeon came was therefore one in which standing for principle, whatever the cost, was prominent.”7 He took pride in this heritage, stating he preferred it to bearing “the blood of all the emperors in my veins.”8
A Childhood of Preparation
Charles was born into a minister’s home to John and Eliza Spurgeon. He was the oldest son of eight living children (nine others died in infancy).9 His mother was only nineteen years of age when Spurgeon was born and soon another baby was coming. Likely, for this reason, young Charles, at only fourteen months, was sent to live with his father’s parents.10 His grandfather, James Spurgeon, was also a minister. Though James was nearly sixty years old, he and Charles got along well. Charles was often by his side as James carried out his pastoral care of his congregants. “Even when parishioners called to have their pastor advise and pray with them in their problems, he often kept the lad at his side, and when he gathered with a company of ministers to discuss theological questions the boy remained, listening intently and doing his best to understand.”11 One can only imagine how this impressionable boy was being shaped into the mold of a pastor himself.
His grandfather’s home introduced Charles to what would become some of his best friends in life—books!12 Three books in particular would make an initial impression that would leave a lasting mark on Charles’s life—the Bible, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. In his grandfather’s home, “The Bible was not only read, but it was also believed with unquestioning assurance of its inerrancy.”13 Foxe’s book was illustrated, and young Charles, “sat gazing at its pictures of the burning of the several Protestants during the reign of Bloody Queen Mary, and the suffering those men endured made a lasting impression on him.”14 John Bunyan became a friend to Spurgeon through his books. He referred to the Puritan as an “old friend” and quoted from Pilgrim’s Progress as often as he could having read it over a hundred times.15 As a child looking at the illustrations of the character, Christian, Spurgeon was particularly impressed by the depiction of the burden being released.16
While Charles’s childhood was not morbid or overrun with tragedy, he learned that suffering was a reality that followers of Christ would endure. This knowledge is a truth that must mature in a believer over time. Reeves describes how Spurgeon came to understand not only the reality, but the necessity of suffering in the Christian’s life: “Spurgeon saw that our heavenly Father ordains suffering for believers. Though our trials may come from the world, the flesh, and the Devil, they are overruled and ordained by God, who treats them as an important part of our new life in Christ. For a start, we simply could not be like Christ if we are not treated like him, if we have a life of ease when he had so much pain.”17
A Calling to the Hard Work of Pastoral Responsibility
Being raised in a home where the gospel is believed is a tremendous grace for a child. Spurgeon had not only a Christian father and grandfather, but he even recognized his great-grandfather’s faith. He expressed his gratitude for that man as he said of him that he “used to supplicate with God that his children might live before Him to the last generation; and God … has been pleased to bring first one and then another to love and fear His name.”18 As a teenager Spurgeon experienced a period of great inner turmoil, finding himself tempted to blaspheme, curse, and even deny God’s existence. While outwardly, he appeared to be a model student, inwardly he was tormented.19 Over a Christmas break from school in 1849, Spurgeon wandered into a church service where the regular preacher was absent, and a substitute stood in the pulpit. While the stand-in preacher lacked any real oratory skill, the power of God’s Word did its work. The man was reading Isaiah 45:22 which says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved …” (KJV). The preacher singled out Charles and called that young man to follow Christ. And by the work of the Spirit, Charles Spurgeon was born again!20
His life was transformed that day. The recognition of the depth of his sin and the relief found in the gospel “caused him throughout his whole ministry to tell sinners in every sermon and in the most forthright and understandable way how to be saved.”21
At first Charles had no aspirations of becoming a preacher. But as he became involved in a church, he began to teach a Sunday school class and saw the positive result of spiritual fruit.22 An acquaintance one day invited him on a day trip to hear a young preacher that needed some encouragement. Spurgeon assumed the man referred to himself, but while they walked to the service it became clear that Spurgeon had been set up to be the guest preacher! As he walked, he took this surprise in stride and prepared for his maiden message. He decided on 1 Peter 2:7, “‘Unto you therefore which believe he [Christ] is precious” (KJV) which would eventually characterize the message of his whole preaching ministry.23
He soon accepted his calling to the pastoral ministry and answered an invitation to a small country church in Waterbeach. He was only seventeen years old when he first arrived and stayed until he turned nineteen. He preached both the morning and evening of each Lord’s day. Such messages require the difficult mental work of study. “Of course, a strong grasp of Scripture did not come automatically. Spurgeon said: ‘The ministry demand’s brain labor. The preacher must throw his thought into his teaching, and read and study to keep his mind in good trim.’ In other words, power in gospel preaching demands arduous study.”24
Being a pastor requires a man to not only to do the hard work of preaching, but also to engage in the hard work of dealing with people. He matured tremendously during his rookie assignment, having to wisely navigate the hostilities of colorful characters. Once, a woman considered the “town scourge” tried to bait him with insults. His response was to act “as though he had barely heard her and incorrectly understood her words. After two or three outbursts she hurried away, saying, ‘The man is as deaf as a post!’”25 Others were not afraid to despise his youth. One minister invited Spurgeon to preach and then mocked him for being so boyish. “But Spurgeon, in his sermon, replied by quoting a verse from Proverbs that rebuked the man’s uncivil behavior, and then he went on to preach so powerfully that when the service was over the man patted him on the back and said, ‘You’re the sauciest dog that ever barked in a pulpit!’ The occasion marked the beginning of a warm friendship between them.”26 At another preaching event, Spurgeon was publicly mocked by another preacher, who said he had not learned like the men of David’s army who had suffered shame to wait until their beards grew before coming to the city. The baby-faced Spurgeon responded with wisdom beyond his years. Rather than trade insults, he chose to address the man’s improper exegesis of the 2 Samuel 10 text and let the people judge who had acted shamefully in this exchange. One man in attendance, George Gould, was so impressed with his response that he lobbied for Charles to fill the pulpit at his London church—The New Park Street Chapel.27
Spurgeon soon received a permanent call to this prestigious church that had formerly hosted such pastors as Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and John Rippon—all revered among Baptists.28 While the city church may hold a certain amount of prestige, the London streets housed an endless line of suffering people to be cared for. “[P]overty was the daily lot, sickness was frequent, and drunkenness, immorality and thievery abounded. Life was hard, suicides were not uncommon, and most had long been forced to say, ‘No man careth for our souls.’ Hundreds from this poor class came to hear Spurgeon.”29 When Spurgeon first arrived, the city was facing a cholera outbreak. Many with means were advised to escape the disease, but Spurgeon stayed and entered the homes of the infected. “He had shown kindness, prayed for the suffering, comforted the mourners, and buried the dead. News of his action had spread around the entire area, and people recognized that here was a preacher who truly cared about them.”30
Eventually, Spurgeon’s ministry grew beyond the local church duties. He founded and funded the Pastor’s College to train men for the ministry. His sermons were transcribed and published to be sold around the world. The funds were used to support many of these extracurricular ministries. Among his growing ministries were “the Stockwell Orphanage, seventeen almshouses for poor and elderly women, the Colportage Association, and a day school for children. He was involved in the planting of 187 churches (94 in London or nearby, 43 in the southeast, 19 in the north of England). … None of that is yet to have mentioned his books.”31 His hard work emanated from the Christian character produced by his biblical theology. Spurgeon said, “A Christian sluggard! Is there such a being? … A Christian man working not all for his Lord; how shall I speak of him? … Satan is not lazy, all the powers of darkness are busy: how is it that you and I can be sluggish, if the Master has put us into his vineyard? …”32
While work is a blessing given to Adam at the beginning of creation (Gen 2:15), the fall of mankind brought a toil that brings sweat to the brow and thistles to the hands (Gen 3:17-19). Spurgeon loved his work, but also felt the weight of such great responsibility. He said once, “‘I feel’… ‘as though I had created a great machine and it is ever grinding, grinding, and that I may yet be its victim.’”33 Spurgeon knew the hardship of work, even work done joyfully for the Master.
A Happy Yet Hurting Home Life
Though Charles began his pulpit ministry as a single man, that liberty and liability was soon remedied. A short time after his move to London he would be blessed with a wife and family.
His first sermon at New Park Street Chapel was December 18, 1853. Not many were in attendance for that early sermon, so many in the congregation spent the afternoon rounding up as many as could be persuaded to come to the later service. Susannah Thompson reluctantly went.34 Over time, Charles and Susannah (Susie) became better acquainted. Susannah had been religious, but somewhat insincere in her faith when she first met Charles. He showed genuine concern for her spiritual well-being by giving her an illustrated copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress. His desire was to shepherd her heart toward Christ. She said of this gift, “I do not think my beloved had, at that time, any other thought concerning me than to help a struggling soul Heavenward, but I was greatly impressed by his concern for me, and the book became very precious as well as helpful.”35 She grew spiritually under Charles’s tutelage and he soon baptized her.
Charles proposed marriage to Susie on August 2, 1854, and after an eighteen-month engagement, they were married January 8, 1856. Having enjoyed a honeymoon to Paris, Susie described her life of engagement to Charles as a “dreamland,” but upgraded her assessment of their marriage home as “Love-land.”36 Only ten months later, this couple doubled the size of their family with the birth of twin sons—Charles and Thomas. The courtship and first months of marriage resemble a storybook fairytale. One might assume suffering did not significantly interfere with them living “happily ever after.” But that was not the case.
Charles and Susie were blessed with a wonderful marriage, but their life together was filled with painful trials of both the physical and mental sort. After childbirth, Susie suffered some physical ailment that plagued her the rest of her life. It is thought that after her boys’ birth she was no longer able to have children.37 She later underwent a surgery that some have surmised treated problems “similar to endometriosis, in part, the inflammation of the uterus. Severe pain, one of the main symptoms of the condition, is not limited to the abdominal area but is often felt throughout the entire body. … Spurgeon’s library included a book titled A Practical Treatise of Inflammation of the Uterus, Its Cervix and Appendages, and Its Connection with other Uterine Diseases.”38 Being semi-invalid after the birth of her twins, Susie was often confined to home and not able to be present to sit under Charles’s preaching.39 She was also prohibited from travelling with Charles, which proved to be a great difficulty for these two who depended upon one another. The ailments of her life earned her the title, “The Great Sufferer.”40
Charles also suffered physically with the gout. His grandfather, James Spurgeon, who cared for Charles as a child, suffered the rheumatic gout as well. “It was such a well-known feature of the family that James Spurgeon once remarked to Charles; ‘Charles, I have nothing to leave you but rheumatic gout; and I have left you a good deal of that.’”41 The physical difficulty brought on by the gout led to the emotional and mental prison of depression. In 1879 he experienced such difficulties that he took leave of his responsibilities at the Metropolitan Tabernacle for five months.42 The severe depression was likely brought on as well from the vast amount of counseling he provided. Dallimore describes this burden:
All manner of persons came to him to pour into his ear the tale of their trials and to seek his advice. This was true of hundreds of the Tabernacle people but was especially true of the men of the College who had gone out into the ministry. … What he suffered in these times of darkness we may not know. They usually accompanied his days and nights of physical agony under the strength of a gout attack, and even his desperate calling upon God often brought him no relief. ‘There are dungeons’, he said, ‘beneath the Castle of Despair’, and he had often been in them.43
While all these troubles would affect his home life, it was his wife that helped him look with hope to the Lord. Spurgeon was often publicly criticized in the papers. Susie even clipped the harsh articles and pasted them into a scrapbook until it was overflowing.44 But even when it seemed the world was against him his wife was by his side. “In the bedroom of their home at 217 New Kent Road, Mrs. Spurgeon hung the text, ‘Blessed are ye, when men revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.’”45 His wife regularly reminded him with this Scripture that he must have a perspective looking beyond the present hardship with hope in the future reward from the Lord. “Had Charles not had the ear, the heart, and the prayers of a godly wife, he may have lost hope. … Firmly trusting in the Bible, the couple found that their suffering increased their confidence in God and their reliance on each other.”46
A Public Tragedy with Lifelong Effects
A contemporary of Charles Spurgeon, Charles Dickens, published the historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, in 1859. The story is set in London and Paris in the days leading up to the French Revolution. Dickens opens the masterpiece with the memorable lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” That sentiment could have aptly described the life of Charles Spurgeon only three years earlier.
The first month of 1856, Charles and Susie were married and enjoyed a month-long honeymoon in Paris. Susie was soon blessed to carry twin sons to full-term and their new home was filling up quickly. But filling up even more quickly than their home was the church building. Spurgeon said of the growth, “In one year it was my happiness personally to see no less than a thousand who had been converted.”47 The building on New Park street was no longer able to house the growing crowds. At first, the congregation secured Exeter Hall, but even the 4,000 seats there proved too limited. Plans were drafted to construct “the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle, the largest Protestant house of worship in the world.”48 Until this project could be completed, it was decided meetings would be held at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall that provided a seating capacity of 10,000. Such difficulties are what many characterize as good problems to have! Yet, these blessed problems would turn to tragedy in no time.
The opening service at the Music Hall was scheduled for the evening of October 19, 1856. Susie stayed home with their infant twins who were not yet a month old. However, it seemed as if everyone else came to the meeting, exceeding all expectations. “They filled every seat, packed the aisles, and crowded the stairways, while thousands of others stood outside, refusing to go away and hoping to hear something of the sermon through the windows.”49 As Spurgeon began to pray at the beginning of the service, someone yelled, “Fire!” from one section. In another place, someone else cried, “The galleries are giving way!” Still others screamed, “The place is falling!” The crowd began to panic, rushing for the exits. In the midst of the mayhem, people were trampled, resulting in seven deaths and twenty-eight people needing to be hospitalized. Spurgeon was unable to quell the panicked crowd at first, but eventually dismissed the people, requesting they “leave in an orderly manner.”50 “He was taken to his home and had the comfort and consolation of his wife. But the trouble had come at a time she was not as able to help as she normally would have been, for less than a month had passed since she had given birth, and she was still weak and unwell.”51
Spurgeon was devastated immediately following this tragedy. The instigators were never found, but some of the newspapers blamed Spurgeon for what happened.52 Spurgeon and those close to him were not sure whether he would ever be able to preach again.53 Eventually he did preach again, after the encouragement of Scripture, but he was never the same man as before.
Though Charles experienced God’s enabling strength to minister again, remembrance of the tragedy haunted him. Time and again both Susie and a number of Charles’s friends witnessed his nervous reactions in troubling circumstances. No one felt the depth of his suffering more than his beloved Susie … Charles was a changed man, physically and emotionally, from the day of the tragedy forward. And though he was only twenty-two years old, he suddenly seemed much older. No doubt the struggles with depression he faced prior to the Music Hall disaster were exacerbated as well.54
A Standing Against the Tide
Though Spurgeon was a popular man, he was not a man who followed the crowd. He often took unpopular positions, being unwilling to compromise what he believed to be right. It might surprise modern-day church growth experts to know that Spurgeon, the original megachurch pastor, opposed pragmatism when it catered to worldliness. After the initial disaster at the Surrey Music Hall, the church continued to meet there while the Metropolitan Tabernacle was being constructed. However, the owners of the venue decided to rent the facilities for amusement purposes on Sundays, forcing the church to share the space. Spurgeon was unwilling to bring a crowd of people to a place he believed was dishonoring God’s holy Sabbath. After unsuccessfully attempting to persuade the owners to reconsider, he “moved his flock back to the smaller Exeter Hall, showing himself a man of principle, not pragmatism.”55
Spurgeon was also willing to take unpopular stands on social issues, even when he and his endeavors suffered financially. He publicly opposed the slavery still being practiced in pre-Civil War America. He gave opportunity for a young black man who had escaped his slavery in South Carolina to speak during a church service. The man was a Christian and shared of his terrible ordeal with the congregants. Spurgeon spoke plainly about his detesting of slavery. He claimed he would rather receive into his church a murderer than a slave owner. In response, publishers from America refused for a time to print and sell his sermons. “Spurgeon had recognized that his statements would provoke severe opposition, so their reaction was no surprise. But being so strongly moved against slavery he could do nothing else, and he willingly suffered this financial loss.”56
To draw such large crowds, one might assume Spurgeon would avoid theological controversy and address only matters of general agreement. But of course, that strategy would have been incoherent for this man of principle. There were at least three major doctrinal controversies that defined his relationship with other church ministers. The first theological controversy was related to Calvinism. The theological issues championed in the shorthand nomenclature of “Calvinism” is recognized as a watershed. Steve Lawson has called this issue the “Continental Divide of Theology.”57 The opposing arguments are typically represented by just two factions—Calvinism and Arminianism; Augustinianism and Pelagianism; Reformed and Catholic.58 Therefore, some might assume you are either in one camp or another. However, Spurgeon took a position that seemed to invite criticism from all camps. He contradicted both the Hyper-Calvinists and the Arminians. “He was neither narrow enough nor discriminating enough for his critics, who complained: ‘Spurgeon preaches all doctrine and no doctrine; all experience, and therefore no experience.’”59 His desire was not to preach one party or another, but to preach the Bible. He “sought to maintain the important balance the Scriptures give to divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Perhaps no preacher ever held these two truths more carefully in balance. … Emphasizing one of these truths to the exclusion of the other, he believed, would result in an unbalanced ministry.”60
The second theological controversy is known as The Baptismal Regeneration Controversy. In this matter, Spurgeon was taking issue with the ministers in the Church of England who began to adopt practices and beliefs of Rome. In 1864, he preached a sermon called “Baptismal Regeneration,” in which he directly called out the clergy, rebuking them for their “inconsistency in asserting that the babe was regenerate and then telling such a one when it grew up that it was unregenerate and must be converted.”61 Spurgeon sacrificed several friends in this dispute, some of which agreed with his disapproval of this trend, but felt he had betrayed their trust. “There was strong feeling against him, yet almost all who entertained it recognized he spoke only from deep conviction, entirely without malice, and as the future actions of many showed, they admired him still.”62
The third theological controversy came towards the end of his life and it has been surmised that the stress brought on from it even hastened his death.63 This dispute is referred to as The Downgrade Controversy. The name described the comparison Spurgeon made of the Baptist Union to an out-of-control train picking up speed as it careens down a grade heading toward destruction. The toleration of the newly popular higher criticism, which called into question the veracity of the Scriptures, was not to be ignored in Spurgeon’s estimation. When he concluded that the Baptist Union was unwilling to define itself in no uncertain confession of orthodoxy, he resigned his membership.
The officers of the Union were outraged by Spurgeon’s criticisms and withdrawal; they accused him of acting rashly without prior warning. The reality of the matter was that Spurgeon had discussed in great detail his concerns with the General Secretary, S. H. Booth, in personal conversations and multiple letters. But Booth insisted to Spurgeon that those conversations were private and could not be used to publicly substantiate Spurgeon’s claim that his actions were not carried out without due consideration.
The Council minutes show that Booth misled the Council as to the nature of his conversation with Spurgeon. … But even when the Baptist Union Council, including Booth himself, accused Spurgeon of misrepresenting the truth, Spurgeon honored Booth’s wishes to keep their correspondence confidential. … Instead, he bore the abuse and false accusations—even when Booth himself became one of the accusers.65
Charles Spurgeon knew he was a man blessed by God, yet he also knew the sufferings of this world. He had inherited a family tree that was marked by the scars of persecution. He identified with every other family who daily suffered both physical and mental pain. He bore criticisms from all camps within the household of God and from the world who rejects his Savior. Controversy met him in the early days of his ministry and ushered him later into eternity. Some might conclude that Spurgeon was successful in spite of his suffering. But he knew that he experienced temporal triumph because of his suffering. Michael Reeves sums up Spurgeon’s perspective of suffering well, saying, “Yet, studying the lives of eminent men, Spurgeon came to the conclusion that those who never have to push through the waves of difficulty never grow in strength and maturity like those who do. Those who live in the lap of luxury and never experience the discipline of trouble tend always to be more frail and feeble in their faith.”66
While Spurgeon saw firsthand the vast spectrum of opportunities of hardship, his focus was not merely on the trial. He looked for Christ and pointed to Christ in all things throughout his days. Commenting on Spurgeon’s testimony that Isaiah 45:22 was used to call him to Christ with “Look unto Me, and be saved …” and was therefore displayed in an open Bible laying upon Spurgeon’s casket, Michael Reeves says,
“For forty-two years, then, from his conversion to his death, looking to Christ crucified for life remained the touchstone of Spurgeon’s own life and ministry. Having found new life in Christ himself, he dedicated his days to entreating others: ‘look to Christ.’”67
Theological Deductions of Spurgeon’s Eschatology
As the purpose of this work is to demonstrate how Spurgeon’s eschatological perspective helped provide a theodicy in the suffering he experienced, it is necessary to identify the general nature of that perspective. There are three primary eschatological perspectives currently held by theologians—amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism. These three positions were present in Spurgeon’s day as well.
It should be noted that the term “amillennial” was unknown in Spurgeon’s day,68 though the concept was present in the official doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, and the Church of England.69 Spurgeon identified that which would today be called “amillennialism” as “preterism.”70
In Spurgeon’s era, postmillennialism was the dominant view in both England and America.71 This was due to influence of Puritan theology72 and would likely have been the initial theological influence in Spurgeon’s education as he was exposed early in life to libraries filled with Puritan writings.73
Premillennialism was growing in popularity in the nineteenth century. There were two forms of premillennialism that were present in Spurgeon’s day as well as in the present debate—futuristic or dispensational premillennialism and historic or covenantal premillennialism.74
Of which camp would Spurgeon have associated with? Modern-day proponents of each position have claimed Spurgeon to be a supporter,75 but the case has been made that while Spurgeon initially held to a position most aligned with postmillennial, he eventually clearly identified himself as holding to a premillennial perspective.76 It seems that his eschatological perspective changed soon after he moved to London.77 Some have surmised that after Spurgeon “had received a few scars in the conflict”78 of pastoral ministry, his present-day optimism was changed to a present-day realism with a future optimistic hope.
While Spurgeon certainly understood all the various eschatological positions of his day, and was confidently fixed in his premillennial view, he was not one to be caught up in the theological hysteria that results from speculation on matters not clearly revealed. He “cautioned against too much detail in treating apocalyptic material.”79 Nettles goes on to say, “Spurgeon believed unequivocally in the return of the Lord in glory to establish his rule in the earth, but the eschatological mania that sought to find current concrete matches for the apocalyptic symbols of Scripture were not only doomed to failure, but were distractions from pure gospel preaching and the demanding call of day-by-day Christian discipleship.”80
Spurgeon preached the gospel of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. He sought to protect himself and others from being distracted from Christ, even by a doctrine about Christ. Reeves explains how he had a “Christ-centered theology, meaning that since Christ is now in heaven, Christians must look there and long for his return. Our faith and very lives are stimulated and shaped by the fact that ‘our position towards our Lord is that of waiting for His coming.’ Christians, in other words, are hopeful, not in the sense that they hope for some event as such; their hope is, above all, to enjoy the undiluted presence of Christ.”81
Spurgeon warned young preachers from being lured away from sound, established theological positions by the tempting bait of discovering a new interpretation. He specifically criticized the followers of John Nelson Darby in his rebukes.
Do not be carried away with new meanings. Plymouth Brethren delight to fish up some hitherto undiscovered tadpole of interpretation, and cry it round the town as a rare dainty; let us be content with more ordinary and more wholesome fishery. No one text is to be exalted above the plain analogy of faith; and no solitary expression is to shape our theology for us. Other men and wiser men have expounded before us, and anything undiscovered by them it were well to put to test and trial before we boast too loudly of the treasure-trove.82
Reeves speaks of Spurgeon’s “refusal to dabble in speculation or spend time on peripheral matters. ‘Speculation,’ he declared, ‘is an index of the spiritual poverty of the man who surrenders himself to it.’ Now certainly he was a man of broad interests, but he lived with such a sense of urgency and such a conviction of the sufficiency of Christ that the need to preach Christ crucified tended to trump worrying over obscure Scriptures or off-center doctrines.83
Spurgeon certainly had come to a personal conviction as to when the Lord’s return would occur in relation to the millennial reign. But he expressed his conclusions in such a matter that he would not divide from a Christian brother who also clings to the gospel truth. An example of his charitable manner is found in a sermon he preached in 1889 titled, “Watching for Christ’s Coming.” In the sermon he describes a conversation he had with a brother in Christ who held to a different understanding of the Lord’s return and the millennium. Spurgeon says,
A brother minister, calling upon me, said, as we sat together, “I should like to ask you a lot of questions about the future.” “Oh, well!” I replied, “I cannot answer you, for I daresay I know no more about it than you do.” “But” he said, “what about the Lord’s second advent? Will there not be the millennium first?” I said, “I cannot tell whether there will be the millennium first, but this I know, the Scripture has left the whole matter, as far as I can see, with an intentional indistinctness, that we may be always expecting Christ to come, and that we may be watching for His coming at any hour and every hour. I think that the millennium will commence after His coming, and not before it. I cannot imagine the kingdom with the King absent. It seems to me to be an essential part of the millennial glory that the King shall then be revealed. At the same time, I am not going to lay down anything definite upon that point. He may not come for a thousand years. He may come tonight. The teaching of Scripture is, first of all, ‘In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’ It is clear that if it were revealed that a thousand years must elapse before He would come, we might very well go to sleep for that time, for we should have no reason to expect that He would come when Scripture told us He would not.”84
Charles Spurgeon believed and preached the glorious hope of Jesus’ return prior to His millennial reign on earth. But that doctrine was never used by him as a distraction from the gospel, or a dividing line between fellow believers, but rather a direction for the eyes of those suffering to look with hope upon their Savior.
Homiletical Designs in Spurgeon’s Hope-Filled Sermons
For Charles Spurgeon, the doctrine of the Lord’s second coming was not a theological fancy to chit chat about like a mere curiosity. Life for him and his flock was hard, and the Lord’s promised return was a source of hope. It was the promise of the exalted Savior in Philippians 2:9-11 that gave Spurgeon courage to enter the pulpit again after the tragic catastrophe at the Surrey Music Hall. Eswine calls suffering Christians to the same pastoral mindset Spurgeon developed in the midst of tragedy. He says, “Charles and those who lost their loved ones that terrible day had to come to terms with suffering in a house of God while the word was preached and a prankster cackled.”85 Eswine consoles hurting Christians today by further saying, “Questions fill our lungs. We mentally wheeze. We go numb. When on vacation or at school or at church, that kind of thing is not supposed to happen there.”86
When examining the sermons preached by Spurgeon that address the Lord’s return, it is obvious that he handled this doctrine with a gospel earnestness. From a selection of such sermons, four observations will be made of how the Prince of Preachers communicated hope to those hurting as he proclaims the doctrine of Jesus’ second coming.
Communicated with Confidence in the Scriptures
First, it should be observed that for Spurgeon, the doctrine of the Lord’s return was a certainty revealed in the Scriptures despite the rising doubting influence of historical criticism. As described earlier, the Downgrade Controversy was over the growing acceptance of the historical critical treatment of the Bible. The theological scholars from Germany were breeding suspicion about the veracity of the Bible. A claim that a resurrected Jesus was going to return in the clouds was fodder for their mocking. But Spurgeon did not cower to their intimidating snobbery. He directly addressed the suspicion of those that would not affirm the Bible’s teaching in this matter. In a sermon titled, “He Comes with Clouds,” Spurgeon said,
Do not destroy the teaching of the Holy Spirit by the idea that there will be a spiritual manifestation of the Christ of God, but that a literal appearing is out of the question. That would be altering the record. The Lord Jesus shall come to earth a second time as literally as He has come a first time. The same Christ who ate a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb after He had risen from the dead, the same who said, “Handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see Me have”—this same Jesus, with a material body, is to come in the clouds of heaven. In the same manner as He went up He shall come down. He shall be literally seen. The words cannot be honestly read in any other way.87
He unashamedly preached whatever was clearly revealed in the Bible and made his argument from the text.
The practice of anchoring his doctrine to the Scriptures would characterize his early ministry, and even beyond his life. Spurgeon preached a sermon from First Thessalonians 4 early in his London ministry, when the church still met at the New Park Street Chapel. After his death in January 1892, Mrs. Spurgeon had the same sermon transcript republished on the day of his funeral, giving it the new title, “His Funeral Sermon.” Spurgeon boldly ties the teaching of Jesus’ return to the text of the Bible, while rebuking those who would dismiss such a claim as unscientific. He preached,
So, when we bury our dead in their graves, we are taught to believe that they are asleep. Our faith, (which is warranted by the Word of God), discerns in the corruption of death a suspension of the powers of the body rather than an annihilation of the matter itself. The earthly house of this tabernacle must be dissolved, but it cannot be destroyed. Though the bones are scattered to the four winds of Heaven, yet at the call of the Lord God, they shall come together again, bone to bone. Though the eyes are first glazed and then devoured from their sockets, they shall be surely restored—that each saint in his own flesh may see God! In this confidence we deposit the body of each departed saint in the grave as in a bed. We doubt not that God will guard the dust of the precious sons and daughters of Zion. We believe that in the Resurrection there shall be a perfect identity of the body. You may call it unphilosophical if you please, but you cannot show me that it is unbiblical! Science cannot demonstrate it, you say. But then science cannot disprove it. Reason stands abashed while Revelation lifts her trumpet-tongue and exclaims, ‘Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible.88
To those hurting, Spurgeon proclaimed a hopeful message with the doctrine of the Lord’s return, because the message was anchored to the revelation of God, rather than mere reason of man.
Communicated with Humility Toward the Scriptures
Second, the doctrine of the Lord’s return was held with an understanding that some specifics are mysterious, and therefore some conclusions may merit adjustment. As noted above, Spurgeon avoided speculation and rebuked those who capitalized on it. It is interesting to notice a mild correction Spurgeon initiated in his own exposition of the doctrine of the characteristics of the days in which Jesus returns.
As was Spurgeon’s custom, besides the time devoted to preaching the sermon, time was also allotted to a separate verse by verse exposition of a section of Scripture. As Spurgeon provided expositional commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2, we see a slight change in his tone over the years. He provided commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2 on the evening of March 8, 1863, where he clearly identified the Roman Catholic Pope as the Antichrist referenced in 2 Thessalonians 2. He said, “If this ‘man of sin’ is not the Pope of Rome, we cannot tell who is the antichrist! Certainly, if this description were put in the hue-and-cry, and we were police officers, we should at once arrest the Pope as the man whose character agreed with the warrant in our hands!”89 However, 25 years later, Spurgeon again provides exposition on the same passage, but tempers the certainty and severity of his judgment saying, “It has been usually thought that this passage alludes to the great apostasy of the Church of Rome, and, certainly, if there were a hue-and-cry raised for the culprit described here, one might well arrest that apostasy on suspicion. It may not, however, be the man of sin, or the son of perdition; it may be that general spirit which springs up again and again, one of the many antichrists that were already in the world even in John’s day.”90
Spurgeon did not want his people’s hope to rest on his observation of the times, but rather upon Scripture’s revelation of the truth. He knew that people suffering needed to see the true Christ, Jesus, not see someone’s guess at who might be the anti-Christ.
Communicated for Holiness in Living
Third, it is important to observe that for Spurgeon, the doctrine of the Lord’s return was a stimulant to holy living. From First Thessalonians 1, Spurgeon preached of how that church “waited for the coming of the Lord.” Such anticipation stirred his own heart to be even more devoted to the Lord’s work, and he called the congregation to the same. He preached,
And he adds that they waited for the coming of the Lord. Oh! this is a high mark of grace, when the Christian expects his Lord to come and lives like one that expects Him every moment. If you and I knew tonight that the Lord would come before this service was over, in what state of heart should we sit in these pews? … We would hold very loosely the things of this world if we knew that Christ was speedily coming—so loose we ought to hold by them. We should care but little for the discomforts of life if we knew that it would all be over and Christ would come very shortly—so little ought we to think of life’s discomforts. Blessed is that man whose soul is always looking for the coming of the Lord!91
Another sermon which addressed how the disciples stood gazing into the sky after Jesus’ ascension chided Christians who wait in spiritual laziness rather than the spiritual alertness expected. Spurgeon rebukes those who would treat the Lord’s return as a mere curiosity unrelated to the gospel work. To him they are like those who pass their time simply “gazing into heaven.” Spurgeon preaches,
“Oh,” you say, “I shall never stand gazing up into heaven.” I am not sure of that. Some Christians are very curious, but not obedient. Plain precepts are neglected, but difficult problems they seek to solve. I remember one who used to always be dwelling upon the vials and seals and trumpets. He was great at apocalyptic symbols, but he had seven children and he had no family prayer. If he had left the vials and trumpets and minded his boys and girls, it would have been a deal better.
I have known men marvelously great upon Daniel, and especially instructed in Ezekiel, but singularly forgetful of the twentieth of Exodus, and not very clear upon Romans the eighth. I do not speak with any blame of such folks for studying Daniel and Ezekiel, but quite the reverse, yet I wish they had been more zealous for the conversion of the sinners in their neighborhoods, and more careful to assist the poor saints.92
In that same sermon, Spurgeon moves from rebuke to mockery toward those who would lead people astray by setting dates and identifying signs of the Lord’s return. He excoriates the false prophets, saying,
In America years ago, one came forward who declared that on such a day the Lord would come, and he led a great company to believe his crazy predictions. … All over the States there were people who had made ascension-dresses in which to soar into the air in proper costume.
They waited, and they waited, and I am sure that no text could have been more appropriate for them than this, “You men of America, why stand you here gazing up into heaven?” Nothing came of it, and yet there are thousands in England and America who only need a fanatical leader, and they would run into the like folly. …
Every occurrence is a “sign of the times,” a sign, I may add, which they do not understand. An earthquake is a special favorite with them. “Now,” they cry, “the Lord is coming,” as if there had not been earthquakes of the sort we have heard of lately hundreds of times since our Lord went up into heaven. …
What a number of persons have been infatuated by the number of the beast, and have been ready to leap for joy because they have found the number 666 in some great one’s name. Why, everybody’s name will yield that number if you treat it judiciously, and use the numerals of Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, or Timbuktu. I feel weary with the silly way in which some people make toys out of Scripture, and play with texts as with a pack of cards. Whenever you meet with a man who sets up to be a prophet, keep out of his way in the future, and when you hear of signs and wonders, turn to your Lord, and in patience possess your souls.93
Spurgeon was not in the mood to be entertained by trivial speculations regarding the Lord’s return. Life for him and his flock was too full of hardship. They needed real hope to persevere. In their struggles they persevered in holiness because they knew their greatest gain was yet to come when Jesus returned. Spurgeon reminded his flock that their reward was not in this world, not even from among the other saints. The pastor warned that this life will be hard, but at Jesus’ coming reward will be found. He said,
To be despised and rejected of men is the Christian’s lot. Among his fellow Christians he will not always stand in good repute. It is not unmitigated kindness nor unmingled love that we receive even from the saints. I tell you, if you look for your reward from Christ’s bride, herself, you will miss it; if you expect to receive your crown from the hand even of your brothers in the ministry who know your labors, and who ought to sympathize with your trials, you will be mistaken. “When the Son of man shall come in His glory,” then is your time of recompense—not today, nor tomorrow, nor at any time in this world. Reckon nothing which you acquire, no honor which you gain, to be the reward of your service to your Master; that is reserved for the time “when the Son of man shall come in His glory.”94
Communicated with Gospel Opportunity
Finally, as was every doctrine with Spurgeon, the doctrine of the Lord’s return was an opportunity for a gospel plea. Spurgeon used this truth as a warning to those neglecting the gospel call. In commenting on First Thessalonians 5, as it says, “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (KJV), Spurgeon warns,
Even they who are watching for Christ’s coming may be to some extent surprised at His appearing, as the most watchful person may be when the thief at last comes, but we shall not be taken altogether unawares. We shall be, at least in a measure, prepared for the coming of the Lord, but as for the world at large, it will be an awful and surprising visitation … Let no ungodly man dream that he will escape, apart from vital union to Christ, there will be no escaping for any one of us in that tremendous day of the Lord.95
Because this doctrine, in Spurgeon’s mind, was never loosed from the gospel plea, it literally got him out of his sick bed to call sinners to turn in faith to the coming Savior, Jesus. Spurgeon preached,
I felt unfit to preach to you tonight, but last Lord’s Day I said that I would preach tonight if I could possibly manage it. It seemed barely possible, but I could not do less than keep my word, and I also longed to be with you, for your sakes, for perhaps there may not remain many more occasions on which I shall be permitted to preach the gospel among you. I am often ill; who knows how soon I shall come to my end? I would use all that remains to me of physical strength and providential opportunity. We never know how soon we may be cut off, and then we are gone forever from the opportunity of benefiting our fellow men. It would be a pity to be taken away with one opportunity of doing good unused. So would I earnestly plead with you under the shadow of this great truth; I would urge you to make ready, since we shall both behold the Lord in the day of His appearing.96
Spurgeon refuses to allow the mysterious nature of this doctrine to be treated as a mere side-show circus. He emphasizes to those who have been alarmed by some temporal trial that the coming of Jesus in judgment will be a much greater surprise and therefore they should awake to this doctrine.
As it has been shown in the biographical survey, the hardships suffered by Spurgeon would warn any modern-day preacher that his life is not one to be envied. Yet, Spurgeon’s faith in the doctrines of Christ that drove him to such holiness is what any preacher should hope to emulate. The hope Spurgeon had in the Lord’s return was a confident hope. He calls the church with a battle cry, saying,
[T]hough sin and corruption abound, and the love of many waxes cold, these are but the tokens of His near advent who said that it would be so before His appearing. The right with the might and the might with the right shall be, as surely as God lives, it shall be so. We are not fighting a losing battle. The Lord must triumph. Oh, if His suffering life and cruel death had been the only appearing, we might have feared, but it is not, it is but the first, and the prefatory part of His manifestation. He comes! He comes! None can hinder His coming! Every moment brings Him nearer, nothing can delay His glory. When the hour shall strike He shall appear in the majesty of God to put an end to the dominion of sin, and bring in endless peace. Satan shall be bruised under our feet shortly, therefore comfort one another with these words, and then prepare for further battle. Grind your swords, and be ready for close fighting! Trust in God, and keep your powder dry. Ever this our war cry, “He must reign.” We are looking for the appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ.97
Every servant of the Lord will suffer hardships to varying degrees, but only as one’s hope is fixed on “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2) will that preacher see clearly not merely a prince of preachers, but rather the King of kings.
Jonathan Stricklin (D.Min) is the Lead Pastor at Grace Bible Church of Cedar Ridge in Grass Valley, CA.
C. H. Spurgeon is the Author of the Month for January 2022 at Logos. Get discounted Spurgeon resources here.
- Zack Eswine, Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression, Geanies House: Christian Focus, 2014) 22, citing Charles Spurgeon, “Honey in the Mouth,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (MTP hereafter), 37:485.
- Iain H. Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, (1966; repr. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2017) 16.
- Murray, Forgotten, 5.
- Michael Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 29.
- Steven J. Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2012) 4.
- Dennis Michael Swanson, “Charles H. Spurgeon and Eschatology: Did He Have A Discernable Millennial Position?” (MDiv thesis, The Master’s Seminary, 1994), 7, note 18.
- Arnold A. Dallimore, Spurgeon: A Biography, (1985; repr. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2018) 3-4.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 3.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 7, note 17.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 4.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 5-6.
- “Spurgeon was an avid and quite omnivorous reader, and would amass a personal library consisting of over twelve thousand volumes, including what was probably in his day the most extensive private library of Puritan literature anywhere.” Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 52-53.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 6.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 6.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 53.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 6.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 165.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 3.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 17.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 17-18.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 21.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 28.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 65.
- Lawson, The Gospel Focus, 462.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 37-38.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 37-38.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 40-43.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 44.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 77.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 77.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 159.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 160, citing C. H. Spurgeon, Farm Sermons (New York: Passmore & Alabaster, 1882), 18.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 143.
- C. H. Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography, rev. ed., comp. Susannah Spurgeon and Joseph Harrald, vol. 1, The Early Years,(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1962), 280.
- Spurgeon, Autobiography, 282.
- Ray Rhodes Jr., Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgeon, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2018) 83.
- Rhoads, Susannah, 124-25. Here Rhoads argues, “It is reasonable to assume, especially since both loved children, that the Spurgeons would have had more children if they could have. Secondly, the choice of Sr James Young Simpson (1811-1879) as a surgeon [for a surgery performed later in her life] offers an important clue: he was primarily known for his work as an obstetrician.”
- Rhoads, Susannah, 129-30.
- Lawson, The Gospel Focus, 7.
- Rhodes, Susannah, 124.
- Swanson, “Charles H. Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 7, note 17, citing Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishing, 1992), 80.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 164.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 186-87.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 69.
- Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, 27-28.
- Rhodes, Susannah, 109-10.
- Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, 27.
- Lawson, The Gospel Focus, 7-8.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 72.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 73.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 72.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 74.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 163.
- Rhodes, Susannah, 106.
- Lawson, The Gospel Focus, 11.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 94-95.
- Steven J. Lawson, Foundations of Grace, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2006), 21.
- Lawson, Foundations, 21.
- Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, 48.
- Lawson, The Gospel Focus, 61-62.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 113-15.
- Dallimore, Spurgeon, 113-15.
- Lawson, The Gospel Focus, 16.
- “‘For Dr. Booth to say I never complained, is amazing,’ Spurgeon wrote to his wife. ‘God knows all about it, and He will see me righted.’”64John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 3rd ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010) 248-49.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 165.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 16.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 23.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 19.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 28-29.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 20.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 30. Though the Puritans would have been unfamiliar with the eschatological categories involving the a-, pre-, or postmillennial designations, they were by and large optimistic in their eschatology which would be consistent with the postmillennial position. See also Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology, (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 773-74.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 52.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 18.
- Dennis Swanson provides a brief sampling of how contemporary writers holding to the various positions all claim Spurgeon would have held to their preferred view. Included is the amillennial, postmillennial, premillennial, and even a Pre-Wrath Rapture advocate. Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 1-2.
- In an August 1891 issue of The Sword and the Trowel was published “Mr. Spurgeon’s Confession of Faith,” which stated clearly, “Our hope is the Personal Pre-Millennial Return of the Lord Jesus in Glory.” Accessed April 29, 2019. https://archive.spurgeon.org/s_and_t//dg15.php.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 178.
- Swanson, “Spurgeon and Eschatology,” 88, citing G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (London: Cassell & Company Ltd. 1894; reprint Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), 5:96.
- Tom Nettles, Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (London: Mentor, 2013) 498.
- Nettles, Spurgeon, 499.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 175, citing C. H. Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students(London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1900), (ARM hereafter), 395.
- C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, first published (1875-94; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2011), 690.
- Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life, 19, citing C. H. Spurgeon, ARM, 140.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “Watching for Christ’s Coming,” No. 2302, Originally delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on April 7, 1889. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols37-39/chs2302.pdf.
- Eswine, Spurgeon’s Sorrows, 21.
- Eswine, Spurgeon’s Sorrows, 21.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “He Comes with Clouds,” No. 1989, Originally delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1887. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols31-33/chs1989.pdf.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “His Funeral Sermon,” No. 2243, Originally delivered at New Park Street Chapel, but republished on in 1892 under this title. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons54.v.html.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “Exposition of 2 Thessalonians 1; 2:1-4,” following sermon No. 2993, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on March 8, 1863. Accessed April 29, 2019. Spurgeon’s Sermons: The Complete Set, Olive Tree Bible App.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “Exposition of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5,” following sermon No. 2363, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on March 15, 1888. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.spurgeongems.org/vols55-57/chs3179.pdf.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “The Gospel Power,” No. 3551, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on April 28, 1872. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.spurgeongems.org/vols61-63u/chs3551.pdf.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “The Ascension and the Second Advent Practically Considered,” No. 1817, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on December 28, 1884. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols31-33/chs1817.pdf.
- Spurgeon, “Ascension.”
- C. H. Spurgeon, “The Reward of the Righteous,” No. 671, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on January 21, 1866. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols10-12/chs671.pdf.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “Exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5,” following sermon No. 2490, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on October 10, 1886. Accessed April 29, 2019. https://www.spurgeongems.org/vols40-42u/chs2490.pdf.
- Spurgeon, “He Comes with Clouds.” Accessed. October 7, 2019.
- C. H. Spurgeon, “The Two Appearings and the Discipline of Grace,” No. 1894, Delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on April, 1886. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols31-33/chs1894.pdf.