I must have sat under the vaulted ceilings of my church in Paducah, KY a thousand of times growing up and never once head the name Chrarles Spurgeon from the pulpit. If I did, it was so infrequent it didn’t merit remembering.
As I flowed though Bible college I began hearing Sprugeon’s name with greater frequency and praise. Compound this a hundred fold when I entered seminary in 2003. As I entered seminary, I had relegated Spurgeon as simply dead preacher from over a century-and-a-half ago, a niche figure some pastors are fans of like certain men are fans of Mike Ditka, Adolph Rupp, or Bear Bryant.
Until I read him.
And read him.
And read him.
My arm was twisted. He was as good as the hype.
So obviously, When B&H put released the first of what will be three volumes on The Lost Sermons of Charles Spurgeon in February 2017 I knew it was going to sell well, especially around the seminary and pastor circuit.
On October 1st, the second volume was released (with the third hitting shelves in June 2018). Being a multi-volume set, the two volumes are thematically similar. Both available volumes sport high quality gloss pages meant for display in the way fine art coffee table books are meant to be displayed. The physical structure of the book leans more toward Spurgeon fans wanting to own a handsome, aesthetically pleasing codex.
The text features introductions by Drs. Jason Allen and Timothy George, which is a fantastic editorial decision for this work. The introduction and preface material provide enough information to inform, but not overwhelm, moving you along nicely to what you bought the book to see. As minor as this may seem (but something I always pay attention to), the book has a very clear table of contents with the sermon name, number, and text, and page number.
Each sermon has a high-quality scan of the original sermon text in Spurgeon’s hand writing on one page and the text version of the same sermon text other.
Let’s talk functionality for a moment.
The practical everyday use of the book doesn’t seem to be the selling point. If a pastor (more than likely) wants to have these volumes and use them everyday, they are obviously welcome to do so, but again, from how the book is put together, it doesn’t seem these volumes are books you want to mark, highlight, or write notes in the margin.
*Good rule of thumb: If the book you’re reading came with a holding box, it’s not designed to be marked up.
The strongest piece of advice I could provide the publisher would be to offer a digital or paperback edition. However, as of the time of writing neither format is available on Amazon or Logos.
While the book’s strongest selling point is the ability to be displayed and, perhaps, occasionally flipped through as a conversation piece, it doesn’t mean it’s weak on content. Quite the opposite. I would be an advocate for an electronic version of this work offered through Amazon or Logos (especially, Logos). The search functionality of Logos of these volumes would prove incredibly useful to pastors seeking quotes and sermon flow ideas.
The design scheme for this book well matches with the individual who would be attracted to a multi-volume set on Spurgeon, having the appearance of an old-school “proper” theological book. The publishers did well in not selling them with a hip design scheme with a Drops Like Stars type of feel. Instead, the book lines up well with the time period when Spurgeon preached, with a layout appealing to any anglophile: classic, regal, noble, non-disposable. This work could’ve easily sat Winston Churchill’s shelves if given the opportunity.
If you’re looking for a functional, everyday sermon help, or a book to read cover-to-cover like a John Piper book, these may not fit your need. However, if you’re looking for excellent Spurgeon fan coffee table books, one that will be a great conversation piece with others who share your affection for the Prince of Preachers, then you’ll be all over this these volumes.