Written 150 years ago and kept stashed in notebooks - the writings of a famous Cambridgeshire preacher are about to be brought back to life with a new book
- Credit: Archant
The notes of one of the most influential preachers in England, who started his career in Cambridgeshire, have just been published online - 150 years after they were written.
Charles Spurgeon was the best-known preacher in the country for most of the second half of the nineteenth century and at one point regularly gave sermons to more than 10,000 people.
His career began at the age of just 18 at Waterbeach church where he preached one of his most famous texts, The Thief’s Prayer.
The prayer is one of several in notebooks found by Dr Christian George, assistant professor of historical theology at Spurgeon’s College in London, that will be brought back to life when they are published in 2017 as The Lost Sermons of CH Spurgeon.
Dr George said: “To really understand Spurgeon, you have to know where he came from, who he was reading, and how his sermon-craft developed.”
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“It has been so fascinating to watch the seeds that were planted in Cambridge fully blossom in his pastorate in London.”
“Every week, Spurgeon wrote nearly 500 letters, digested six meaty books, preached up to 10 times, and constantly switched hats among pastor, president, editor, author, and evangelist.”
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There were, however, weaknesses. Dr George said: “One psychiatrist has noted that if he lived today, Spurgeon would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with medicine. He was constantly plagued by disease on the one hand and depression on the other, always oscillating between gout and doubt.”
At the age of just 18 he began his career at his first church in Waterbeach and in 1854, then only 20, became pastor of London’s famed New Park Street Church.
The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall and 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.
In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle, a large independent reformed Baptist church in the Elephant and Castle in London.
It was the largest nonconformist church of its day in 1861.
In addition to his regular pastoral duties, he founded Sunday schools, churches, an orphanage, and the Pastor’s College. He edited a monthly church magazine and promoted literature distribution.