Commenting and Commentaries, the fourth volume of Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, has become one of the most widely accessed and cited reference works on Bible commentaries. Spurgeon judged too many sermons as “flashy, rather than fleshy; clever, rather than solid; entertaining, rather than impressive.” He pleaded for more expository preaching, and for more preachers equipped to expound the Word. Spurgeon compiled this volume of commentaries to help preachers select and employ commentaries for the study of Scripture and the preaching of the World.
Spurgeon was a voracious reader. During his lifetime, he read thousands of books and acquired familiarity with astounding number of commentators. This volume contains notes and background information for thousands of volumes of commentary on Scripture, along with detailed introductions to many of the most important commentators, including Matthew Henry, John Calvin, Matthew Poole, John Trapp, John Gill, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, John Kitto, John Albert Bengel, Henry Alford, and others. He also urges pastors to read diligently, and use concordances wisely. This practical volume is a must-have for pastors, teachers, and anyone seeking a guide to the countless volumes written on Scripture. The Logos Bible Software edition of Lectures to my Students, Vol. 4: Commenting and Commentaries was originally published in New York by Sheldon & Co. in 1876.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born in Kelvedon, Essex, England on June 19, 1834. He converted to Christianity in 1850 at a small Methodist chapel, to which he detoured during a snowstorm. While there, he heard a sermon on Isaiah 45:22 and was saved—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” He began his own ministry of preaching and teaching immediately, and preached more than 500 sermons by the age of twenty.
In 1854, at nineteen years of age, Spurgeon began preaching at the New Park Street Chapel in London. He was appointed to a six month trial position, which he requested be cut to three months should the congregation dislike his preaching. He gained instant fame, however, and the church grew from 232 members to more than five thousand at the end of his pastorate. Many of his sermons were published each week and regularly sold more than 25,000 copies in twenty languages. Throughout his ministry, Spurgeon estimated that he preached to more than 10,000,000 people. Dwight L. Moody was deeply influenced by Spurgeon’s preaching, and founded the Moody Bible Institute after seeing Spurgeon’s work at the Pastor’s College in London.
Spurgeon read six books per week during his adult life, and read Pilgrim’s Progress more than 100 times. In addition to his studying and preaching, Spurgeon also founded the Pastor’s College (now Spurgeon’s College), various orphanages and schools, mission chapels, and numerous other social institutions.
Charles Spurgeon suffered from poor health throughout his life. He died on January 31, 1892, and was buried in London.
“A man to comment well should be able to read the Bible in the original. Every minister should aim at a tolerable proficiency both in the Hebrew and the Greek.” (Page 47)
“The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences. Usually, we have found the despisers of commentaries to be men who have no sort of acquaintance with them; in their case, it is the opposite of familiarity which has bred contempt.” (Pages 11–12)
“Once start a sermon with a great idea, and from that moment the discourse forms itself without much labor to the preacher, for truth naturally consolidates and crystallizes itself around the main subject like sweet crystals around a string hung up in syrup; but as for the exposition, you must keep to the text, you must face the difficult points, and must search into the mind of the Spirit rather than your own. You will soon reveal your ignorance as an expositor if you do not study; therefore diligent reading will be forced upon you.” (Pages 46–47)
“No, my dear friends, you may take it as a rule that the Spirit of God does not usually do for us what we can do for ourselves, and that if religious knowledge is printed in a book, and we can read it, there is no necessity for the Holy Ghost to make a fresh revelation of it to us in order to screen our laziness. Read, then the admirable commentaries which I have already introduced to you.” (Pages 50–51)