C. H. Spurgeon’s Pulpit Ministry in the Eyes of His Contemporaries

Isaiah 58:1

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS (1895): On May 30, 1857, a brother minister was standing with Mr. Spurgeon under a tree. The atmosphere was so calm and still that scarcely a leaf trembled; suddenly a gentle zephyr stirred the leaves above their heads, then there was a rustling sound. Mr. Spurgeon suddenly interrupted [their] conversation with, “Stop! Keep quiet! Don’t speak!—There! My sermon for tomorrow; ‘The sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees,’ 2 Samuel 5:24.” The friend looked up and saw they were standing under a mulberry tree. The sermon was preached on the following evening…A gentleman who served as deacon at the Tabernacle for many years, but now has been dead some time, told me that this sermon won him to the Saviour.

DINSDALE YOUNG (1861-1938): To my mind, Spurgeon is the greatest of all preachers the world has known during the [19th] century, if not during any century. None can measure the good those matchless discourses have accomplished and will accomplish.

THOMAS COLLINS (1810-1864): I heard Spurgeon preach at the Surrey Gardens [in 1857]. He did three capital things: he spoke vital truth, he spoke out, and he spoke home.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR (1872-1962): The Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall―a letter to the Times described the scene: “Fancy a congregation of 10,000 persons, streaming into the hall, mounting the galleries, humming, buzzing, and swarming like bees, eager to secure, at first, the best places, and at last, any place at all.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): In that edifice [at age 23] I had such a congregation, and so diversified, as few men ever had regularly to minister to. God only knows what anxiety I have experienced in selecting my subjects and arranging my appeals for such a vast fluctuating assembly. There was a time when my brain whirled at the very thought of ascending that pulpit.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR: “After waiting more than half an hour―for if you wish a seat you must be there at least that space of time in advance―Mr. Spurgeon ascended his [pulpit]. To the hum, and rush, and trampling of feet, succeeded a low, concentrated thrill and murmur of devotion, which seemed to turn at once, like an electric current, through the breast of everyone present; and by this magnetic chain the preacher held us fast bound for about two hours…It is enough to say of his voice, that its power and volume are sufficient to reach everyone in that vast assembly; of his language, that it is neither high-flown nor homely; of his style, that it is at times familiar, at times declamatory, but always happy and sometimes eloquent―it is enough to say of the man himself that he impresses you with a perfect conviction of his sincerity.”

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): All must acknowledge that he is a wonderful preacher―and what is his great secret? It is simply and solely that he preaches from the heart ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): I have often thought that one great secret of the marvellous honour which God has put on [him] is the extraordinary boldness and confidence with which he stands up in the pulpit to speak to people about their sins and their souls. It cannot be said he does it from fear of any, or to please any. He seems to give every class of hearers its portion—to the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the king and the peasant, the learned and the illiterate. He gives to every one the plain message, according to God’s Word. I believe that very boldness has much to do with the success which God is pleased to give to his ministry. Let us not be ashamed to learn a lesson from him in this respect. Let us go and do likewise.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS: The world knows how strongly he opposed Roman Catholicism, as subverting some of the first and most vital principles of the Gospel. One Sunday morning a deacon said to him, “Last Sunday, sir, I was in France and I went to the Roman Catholic mass, and I never felt the presence of God more than I did there.”  “It only proves Scripture true,” said Spurgeon, “Psalm 139:8―‘If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.’”―What a bubbling fountain of humour Mr. Spurgeon had! I have laughed more, I verily believe, when in his company than during all the rest of my life besides.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Yes, but better still, I heard him pray.

DINSDALE YOUNG: It was memorable to hear him when he preached.  It was often even more memorable to hear him pray…His congregational prayers—and I heard many—are always echoing in my grateful heart.  They are sweet and luminous in the memory as angel presences.  Never did I hear him pray without adoringly saying, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”  The quivering sympathy of Mr. Spurgeon’s prayers thrilled all who heard them. You felt the throbbing of that mighty heart. He was royal in his tenderness―how ardent where those incomparable prayers! No hint was there of the dull, slumberous, tedious quality which too often has vitiated pulpit prayer―the prayers at the Tabernacle kindled countless cold hearts.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR: In March, 1861, Metropolitan Tabernacle was opened, free of debt, at a cost of ₤31,000. It seated six thousand people, and for over thirty years it never ceased to be filled…[In 1882], when about ten years of age, I shook hands with the great preacher, and the mingled goodness and kindness of his face left an indelible impression…His greatest natural asset was his incomparable voice.

W. Y. FULLERTON (1857-1932): The adjective most frequently employed to describe his vocal tones was “silvery,” though some spoke of them as “flute-like.”

CHARLES RAY (1903): At the Tabernacle a shorthand writer was always in attendance to take down the sermon as delivered, and the reporter found C. H. Spurgeon an ideal speaker for this purpose.

THOMAS ALLEN REED (1826-1899): When a speaker has a distinct articulation, combined with a clear, strong voice, the reporter who has to follow him is in Elysium; that is, if the utterance is not too rapid, or the style of composition too difficult.  The combination, however, is rare.  It has a very striking example in Mr. Spurgeon―to a clear, ringing, musical voice he adds an almost perfect articulation. The average rate of public speaking is about 120 words a minute. Some speakers vary greatly in their speech. I have, for example, a memorandum of a sermon by Mr. Spurgeon, showing that during the first ten minutes he spoke at the rate of 123 words a minute; the second ten minutes, 132; the third ten minutes, 128; the fourth ten minutes, 155; and the remaining nine minutes, 162; giving an average of about 140 words a minute.

JOHN BROADUS (1827–1895): I was greatly delighted with Spurgeon, especially with his conduct of public worship. The congregational singing has often been described, and is as good as can well be conceived. Spurgeon is an excellent reader of Scripture…The whole thing―house, congregation, order, worship, preaching, was as nearly up to my ideal as I ever expect to see in this life.


This entry was posted in Church History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.