The name of Spurgeon still rings in the ears of Christians – nearly a century and a half after his death – as "the prince of preachers", and the defender of the faith in a time of declension. This volume might be thought something of a curiosity, focusing as it does on the public lectures which Spurgeon delivered during the middle years of his ministry.
These lectures were universally popular and were charged at twopence per head, the proceeds going to good causes. They were not generally on spiritual topics. Spurgeon defended his practice vigorously: "As a preacher, I have a right to select my subject from either of the great books of creation or revelation...God has made nature not only for our necessities, but for our pleasures. He has not only made fields of corn, but he has created the violet and the cowslip...It is of no use for me to stand up in the pulpit constantly, and to say to men who have no fear of God before their eyes, 'You must not frequent the public house and the theatre', for their reply will be, 'We want something to excite us, some recreation after our hard day's work.' A speech not so unreasonable as the censorious may imagine."
Certainly the selection of lectures offered in this book is wide in scope and eclectic in subject matter. They range from an account of the life of George Whitefield, through Bells and Bellringing, The Gorilla and the Land he Inhabits, to My Run to Naples and Pompeii. They are not the product of serious research, but partake rather of the style of an extended after-dinner speech – delivered, to use Spurgeon's own phrase, with unyielding Saxon boldness. The choice of subjects reveals the man: no respecter of persons, he salutes alike the Quaker George Fox, the rebels Wat Tyler and John Wilkes, the patriots Kosciusko and Garibaldi, and the philanthropist George Muller. The manner is confident, relaxed and warm, spiced with Spurgeon's irrepressible high spirits and good humour – and yet, as he says: "My audience can bear witness that I always give them some weighty gospel matter."
The volume is completed by the inclusion of 15 early (ie delivered before the age of 28) sermons of varying length – some of them mere summaries destined for publication in the Baptist Messenger. They are all of spiritual worth and characteristic of the writer. Dr Crosby has done the Christian public a service by bringing together these "forgotten" items from Spurgeon's pen. The only reservation must be the cost of the book, at £25.
This book is available to purchase from DayOne.
Donald Mackay, Knox Church Perth