Monday, February 22, 2010


F W Boreham: Angels, Palms and Fragrant Flowers (F W Boreham on Spurgeon), John Broadbanks Publishing, 2009.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was probably heard by more people in the second half of the 19th Century than any other English-speaking preacher. (Another Baptist preacher - Billy Graham - is said to have been heard in face-to-face crowds by more people in the second half of the next century than any other human being). And the gifted preacher and essayist F W Boreham - one of 'Spurgeon's men' who may have been the last student Spurgeon interviewed for his Pastors' College - has probably been read by more people than any other Baptist in the 20th century.

So when Boreham writes about Spurgeon, it's interesting.

On a snowy morning, on January 6, 1850, the teenager Charles Spurgeon wandered into a Primitive Methodist chapel in a side street in Colchester, 'hoping that some minister would tell him how he might be saved'... The boy under the gallery... 'was only fifteen, and he died at fifty seven. But in the course of the intervening years, he preached the gospel to millions and led thousands upon thousands into the kingdom and service of Jesus Christ' (xiv, 34).

From the age of 20 Spurgeon's sermons were published each week until his death: they 'went on to sell into the millions of copies and were translated into 25 languages' (xv).

A few teasers in a category we might title 'Can you believe this?':

* There were long queues by the five or six thousand people who packed into Spurgeon's Sunday morning services. 'And this sort of thing went on, summer and winter, year in and year out, for a generation. The service was never advertised. Mr Spurgeon's trouble was to keep people away. He was everlastingly imploring his own members to absent themselves in order to make room for... strangers. He had no organ and no choir. The singing was led by a precentor with a tuning fork' (43).

* The secret behind Spurgeon's appeal? Certainly not his appearance. Boreham tells us that Spurgeon was 'by no means a handsome man... [indeed] physically he was one of the least attractive figures in the public life of England. But when he uttered the name of Jesus, he stood transfigured. His soul caught fire. His face literally shone...' (13).

* Another clue? 'He was moved to the depths of his being by his passion for the souls of men' (15). Sometimes Spurgeon would leave home early in the morning, listen to the stories of some thirty or more persons during a whole day, attend a prayer meeting and another meeting at night, and at ten o'clock wonder why he felt faint! He'd forgotten to eat all that time! (48)

We are indebted to Dr. Geoff Pound, who probably knows more about Boreham than anyone else, for this 'Boreham taster on C. H. Spurgeon'. It's worth getting a few copies to give to young aspiring preachers you may know.

Shalom/Salaam/Pax! Rowland Croucher

February 2010

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