I’ll never forget the first time I read Spurgeon. I just happened to come across a sermon hoping to find some encouragement for the state I found myself in at the time. I had heard of Spurgeon and was familiar that he was a Calvinistic Baptist who preached in London some time ago.
I had heard the name Prince of Preachers and thought his material, much like that of Edwards, would be far above my head. It turned out that the opposite would be true. I would open pages in expectation of lofty exegesis, and there is that, but what I found were words saturated with adoration and love for Christ his Savior.
What I read hit me like a ton of bricks. What he said made my heart soar to the loftiest heavens in adoration of the God who stoops to speak with his people. The God who sends his Son to die in our place. The Son who exchanges our filth for his glory. The Spirit who applies this blood-bought salvation to our lives and unites us to our Federal head.
“The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead” (The Immutability of God, 1855)
What I see in Christian George, editor of the twelve-volume series The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons between 1851-1854, (albeit from afar) is that Christ still soaks sinful humanity in his glorious grace. He still communicates to us on the lips of men and women, the immensity of his immutability, the otherness of his Holiness, and the grandeur of the throne upon which he sits.
In this massive undertaking which seeks to bring the lost notebooks of Spurgeon to light, which will add approximately 10% more material to Spurgeon’s works, George has painstakingly poured over notebooks of nearly perfect, handwritten notes. He has read this great body of manuscripts and connected the dots for us, between the scriptures and the mind of Spurgeon.
In doing something very similar to what Yale did with The Jonathan Edwards Center, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has done with The Spurgeon Center. Not only are they making available to the public the entire contents of his complete sermons, they have also given us an invitation into Spurgeon’s personal library. This library and its usefulness are sure to be utilized by students and scholars alike for centuries to come.
Getting specifically to Volume II, following an impressive introductory volume, George is setting the bar high. The keen insight which he provides for the reader into the heart and mind which Spurgeon brought into the pulpit is evident at every turn. This devotion can’t be understood by looking at the sheer number of hours alone, George has spent with Spurgeon. Apart from bringing out the devotion of Spurgeon from these volumes, there’s a higher calling in these pages. A more lofty cause in spending one’s entire vocational life dedicated to these old, dusty notebooks comes through.
“The publication of these sermons will reach full potential when they guide readers not just to Spurgeon but through Spurgeon to Jesus Christ. Insomuch as John the Baptist’s words become our own, ‘[Christ] must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30 ESV), and insomuch as the sermons inform minds, reform hearts, and transform lives, then the energy will be worth the expenditure, and future generations will glimpse not only Spurgeon’s shadow but the Son that caused the shadow.”
If the following volumes are anything near what the first two have brought forth, this set will certainly have reached its potential. George lays out every stroke of Spurgeon’s pen, every line, in essence, every jot and tittle he finds in these lost notebooks. With an image of each page of the notebook opposite of the text, it’s easy to follow along with the big ideas Spurgeon wanted his congregation to understand.
Not only does he take great pains to copy exactly what he finds, he gives us a commentary which helps to fill out the context and intention of each sermon. He helps us to find a connection between the preaching of sermons in the mind of Spurgeon and his other literary works. There is one subject, though, which keeps coming up in these commentaries.
That subject happens to be that we are great sinners, but that we have a great Savior. As Spurgeon stated in his later years, “Too many think lightly of sin and therefore think lightly of the Saviour. He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.”
Many have already found incredible value in these sermons, as with all Spurgeon’s sermons. As George told me in passing on Twitter, there is “Much work to do.” Join me in praying for this set of sermons, lost for generations but now being brought to light because of God’s grace and provision. Through the work of Christian George and MBTS, by the empowering of the Spirit on the minds and hearts of all the scholars involved, I hope my eyes will see the complete printing of these lost notebooks.
A1F4ML8cdlLIn 1857, Charles Spurgeon—the most popular preacher in the Victorian world—promised his readers that he would publish his earliest sermons. For almost 160 years, these sermons have been lost to history. In 2017, B&H Academic began releasing a multi-volume set that includes full-color facsimiles, transcriptions, contextual and biographical introductions, and editorial annotations. Written for scholars, pastors, and students alike, TheLost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon will add approximately 10 percent more material to Spurgeon’s body of literature.
Be sure to check out all the great work happening at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and The Spurgeon Library.