We are all perhaps familiar with the preaching, and letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that unique and gifted minister of the nineteenth century. Known by many as the greatest preacher since Paul, and acknowledged by many more of us as gifted; so it is so nice when we find something so rare in its form, and structure for us to delight in together. I have found Spurgeon a comfort when ill, as recently I have been, and even now as I improve, I find him a pure delight. I hope you enjoy this little visit as much as I have. Let us fly together for a bit from the twentyfirst century, to the nineteenth, and be uniquely blest at the same time. Continue to pray for me, a recovering sinner, by God's sovereign grace. In His love, Charles Woodruff.
The Letters of C.H. Spurgeon
Collected and Collated by His Son Charles Spurgeon
Mr. Spurgeon's calligraphy was characteristic of himself. In early days it was like copper-plate, and to the end of his life, unless deformed by pain, was always singularly chaste and clear, and to the very last note he penned, it maintained its uniform neatness. His favorite ink was violet, though he judged "there is no better ink than that to be bought in penny bottles," and his was usually the "pen of a ready writer," and he did not take kindly to stylus and the like, for he says: "I am writing with a patent pen which carries its own ink, but I don't think much of it for it seems to be very indistinct, and more like a pencil than a pen." The variety of the paper that he used well illustrated his versatility, as he filled the sheets with "thoughts that glow, and words that burn." Of the innumerable letters which Mr. Spurgeon wrote, he preserved comparatively a few, and those who are the fortunate possessors of his communications are chary of parting with them, and in a very large number of instances the epistles are of such a private nature that it would be a breach of confidence, as well as of courtesy, to make them public. It will be observed that but few of his letters are fully dated, this being an exceptional idiosyncrasy.
His correspondence was voluminous, necessitating a great amount of time and labor on his part in replying to it. To a friend he once said, "I am immersed to the chin in letters," and although multitudes of grateful acknowledgments for pecuniary help sent on behalf of his various Institutions were lithographed, he never allowed any letter of importance to escape his notice which called for a personal response in his own handwriting. He knew so well the power of letter-writing, and also how glad the recipients would be, and what lifelong friends he would secure.
There are hundreds of brief notes that he addressed to a multitude of inquirers, their very brevity displaying his genius, and conforming to the view he held when he wrote: "We cannot write letters nowadays, but must be content to send mere notes and memoranda. When letters were reasonably few, and cost a shilling each, men had the time to write well, and thought it worth their while to do so. Now that the penny post is a public man's sorest trial, the shorter we can make our epistles the better." At times he felt the burden of such a mass of correspondence, when added to his already too heavy load, and he often said, "I am only a poor clerk, driving the pen hour after hour; here is another whole morning gone, and nothing done but letters! letters! letters! "I am so pressed that I can only give a brief space to one person, and a rigid economy of time can alone allow even of this." It were well that after all the toil involved, these letters should have a wide circulation, and create in this printed form at least a modicum of joy akin to their written originals, which caused the receivers so much pleasure.
Unfortunately, many of the most touching and telling of his epistles were destroyed, and the old friends of the great preacher who received his letters have passed away, so that the task of gathering fresh correspondence has been rendered difficult.
Nor can I omit to testify to the ability of my Private Secretary, Mr. Leslie W. Long, in saving me much time and labor by his excellent shorthand, transcribing, and typewriting, and I gratefully acknowledge the ever-kind and courteous treatment received from the Publishers, together with the gracious service rendered by F. A. Jackson, in reading through the proofs.
Believing that those who knew and loved Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and others who revere the name, will find pleasure in reading his letters, I commend this volume to the blessing of my father's God and my God.
MY DEAR FATHER,—I am most happy and comfortable, I could not be more so whilst sojourning on earth, "like a pilgrim or a stranger, as all my fathers were." There are but four boarders, and about twelve day-boys. I have a nice little mathematical class, and have quite as much time for study as I had before.
I can get good religious conversations with Mr. Swindell, which is what I most need. Oh, how unprofitable has my past life been! Oh, that I should have been so long time blind to those celestial wonders, which now I can in a measure behold! Who can refrain from speaking of the marvellous love of Jesus which, I hope, has opened mine eyeslNow I see Him, I can firmly trust to Him for my eternal salvation. Yet soon I doubt again; then I am sorrowful; again faith appears, and I become confident of my interest in Him. I feel now as if I could do everything, and give up everything for Christ, and then I know it would be nothing in comparison with His love. I am hopeless of ever making anything like a return. How sweet is prayer! I would be always engaged in it. How beautiful is the Bible! I never loved it so before; it seems to me as necessary food. I feel that I have not one particle of spiritual life in me but what the Spirit placed there. I feel that I cannot live if He depart; I tremble and fear lest I should grieve Him. I dread lest sloth or pride should overcome me, and I should dishonor the gospel by neglect of prayer, or the Scriptures, or by sinning against God.
Truly, that will be a happy place where we shall get rid of sin and this depraved corrupt nature. When I look at the horrible pit and the hole from which I have been digged, I tremble lest I should fall into it, and yet rejoice that I am on the King's highway. I hope you will forgive me for taking up so much space about, myself; but at present my thoughts are most about it.
From the Scriptures, is it not apparent that, immediately upon receiving the Lord Jesus, it is a part of duty openly to profess Him? I firmly believe and consider that baptism is the command of Christ, and shall not feel quite comfortable if I do not receive it. I am unworthy of such things, but so am I unworthy of Jesu's love. I hope I have received the blessing of the one, and think I ought to take the other also.
My very best love to you and my dear Mother; I seem to love you more than ever, because you love my Lord Jesus. I hope yourself, dear Mother, Archer, Eliza, Emily, Louisa, and Lottie, are well; love to all...
May we all, after this fighting life is over, meet in—"That Kingdom of immense delight, Where health, and peace, and joy unite, Where undeclining pleasures rise, And every wish hath full supplies;" and while you are here, may the blessings of the gospel abound towarid you, and may we as a family be all devoted to the LordlMay all blessings be upon us, and may—I ever remain, Your dutiful and affectionate son, CHAS. H. SPURGEON.
NEWMARKET, .Feb. 19, 1850.
MY DEAR MOTHER,—I hope the long space between my letters will be excused, as I assure you I am fully occupied. I read French exercises every night with Mr. Swindeli,—Monsr. Perret comes once every week for an hour. I have 33 houses at present where I leave tracts,wI happened to take a district formerly supplied by Mrs. Andrews, who last lived in this house, and Miss Anna Swindell. Next Wednesday, I mean to-morrow,—I am to go to a meeting of the tract-distributors. They have been at a stand-still, and hope now to start afresh. On Thursday, Mr. Simpson intends coming to talk with me upon the most important of all subjects. Oh, how I wish that I could do something for Christi Tract distribution is so pleasant and easy that it is nothing,—nothing in itself, much less when it is compared with the amazing debt of gratitude I owe.
I have written to grandfather, and have received a very nice letter. I have been in the miry Slough of Despond; he sends me a strong consolation, but is that what I want? Ought I not rather to be reproved for my deadness and coldness? I pray as if I did not pray, hear as if I did not hear, and read as if I did not read—such is my deadness and coldness. I had a glorious revival on Saturday and Sunday. When I can do anything, I am not quite so dead.
Oh, what a horrid statelIt seems as if no real child of God could ever look so coldly on, and think so little of, the love of Jesus, and His glorious atonement. Why is not my heart always warm? Is it not because of my own sins? I fear lest this deadness be but the prelude to death,—spiritual death.
I have still a sense of my own weakness, nothingness, and utter inability to do anything in and of mysdf,—I pray God that I may never lose it,—I am sure I must if left to myself, and then, when I am cut off from Him, in Whom my great strength lieth, I shall be taken by the Philistines in my own wicked heart, and have mine eyes for ever closed to all spiritual good. Pray for me, O .my dear Father and MotherlOh, that Jesus would pray for reel Then I shall be delivered, and everlastingly saved. I should like to be always reading my Bible, and be daily gaining greater insight into it by the help of the Spirit. I can get but very little time, as Mr. S. pushes me on in Greek and French.
I have come to a resolution that, by God's help, I will profess the name of Jesus as soon as possible if I may be admitted into His Church on earth. It is an honor,wno difficulty,mgrandfather encourages me to do so, and I hope to do so both as a duty and privilege. I trust that I shall then feel that the bonds of the Lord are upon me, and have a more powerful sense of my duty to walk circumspectly. Conscience has convinced me that it is a duty to be buried with Christ in baptism, although I am sure it constitutes no part of salvation. I am very glad that you have no objection to my doing so.
Mr. Swindell is a Baptist.
You must have been terribly frightened when the chimney fell down, what a mercy that none were hurtlThere was a great deal of damage here from the wind. My cold is about the same as it was at home, it has been worse. I take all the care I can, I suppose it will go away soon. How are all the little ones? Give my love to them, and to Archer and Eliza. How does Archer get on? Accept my best love for yourself and Father. I hope you are well, And remain, Your affectionate son, CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON.
NEWMARKET, March 12, 1850.
MY DEAR FATHER,—Many thanks to you for your kind instructive, and unexpected letter .... My very best love to dear Mother; I hope she will soon be better.
At our last church-meeting, I was proposed. No one has been to see me yet. I hope that now I may be doubly circumspect, and doubly prayerful.
How could a Christian live happily, or live at all, if he had not the assurance that his life is in Christ, and his support, the Lord's undertaking? I am sure I would not have dared to take this great decisive step were it not that I am assured that Omnipotence will be my support, and the Shepherd of Israel my constant Protector. Prayer is to me now what the sucking of milk was to me in my infancy. Although I do not always feel the same relish for it, yet I am sure I cannot live without it.
"When by sin overwhelm'd, shame covers my face, I look unto Jesus who saves by His grace; I call on His name from the gulf of despair, And He plucks me fro/n hell in answer to prayer.
Prayer, sweet prayer I Be it ever so feeble, there's nothing like prayer." Even the Slough of Despond can be passed by the supports of prayer and faith. Blessed be the name of the Lord, despondency has vanished like a mist, before the Sun of righteousness, who has shone into my heart! "Truly, God is good to Israel." In the blackest darkness I resolved that, if I never had another ray of comfort, and even if I was everlastingly lost, yet I would love Jesus, and endeavor to run in the way of His commandments: from the. time that I was enabled thus to resolve, all these clouds have fled.
If they return, I fear not to meet them in the strength of the Beloved. One trial to me is that I have nothing to give up for Christ, nothing wherein to show my love to Him. What I can do, is little; and what I DO now, is less.
The tempter says, "You don't leave anything for Christ; you only follow Him to be saved by it. Where are your evidences?" Then I tell him that I have given up my self-righteousness, and he says, "Yes, but not till you saw it was filthy rags!" All I have to answer is, that my sufficiency is not of myself.
(Thursday afternoon.) I have just now received a very nice note from my dear Mother. Many thanks to you for the P.O. order. I do not know what money obligations are imposed upon members; I must do as you tell me.
(Here a piece of the letter has been cut out.) I am glad brother and sister are better. Again my best love to you all.
I am, Dear Father, Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
NEWMARKET, April 6, 1850.
There are many more at the site from which I borrowed these writngs, so if you are hungry for more, please go there. I am sure they will be joyful to share with you. The place to clip into is easy to find. It is:
How God Opens the Eyes of the Heart
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