In 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, The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon will add approximately 10 percent more material to Spurgeon's body of literature. Wrapped in custom marbled paper and leather like Spurgeon's original notebook, the collector’s edition has gilded edges and contains photographs not found in the hardcover edition.
About the Author
Christian T. George (Ph.D., University of St. Andrews, Scotland) serves as curator of The Spurgeon Library and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
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"GRACIOUS GOD, HELP ME WRITE AND PREACH THESE SERMONS JUST AS IF IT WERE MY LAST; IF INDEED IT NOT BE."
(Notebook 2, Sermon 134, 1852)
In 1851, Charles Spurgeon transitioned from preaching itinerantly in the villages surrounding Cambridge to accepting the full-time pastorate of a chapel in Waterbeach. In a letter to his father on October 16 of that year, he wrote, "Last Sunday I went to a place called Waterbeach where there is an old established place, but not able to support a minister. I have engaged to supply to the end of the month."
Charles remained pastor in Waterbeach until April 28, 1854. Every Sunday he walked "five or six honest miles" to the village unless relieved by the passing of "a certain little pony and cart." His congregation supplemented his annual salary, a meager forty-five pounds, by hosting him on Sundays and providing for his material needs. "They do all they can," Charles wrote in a letter to his mother. "I do not think there was a pig killed by any one of the congregation without my having some portion of it."
Dating Notebook 2 is unproblematic given Charles's inscription on the inside back cover: "In health, contentment, and peace. June 19/52. Only feeling the thorns of sin and sin's effects."
Yet Charles did not preach exclusively at Waterbeach Chapel in 1852. At the conclusion of his sermon "The Corner Stone" (Sermon 128), he recorded he had preached in Cottenham, Hythe, and Teversham — possibly in some of the same chapels he had visited while participating in the Lay Preachers' Association connected with St. Andrew's Street Baptist Church.
Three years after Notebook 2, Charles's first biographer, E. L. Magoon, claimed the young preacher preached almost one dozen times each week: "On the week-dates, eleven villages shared the advantage of his sermons, which, in one year, amounted to as many as there are days in the year." Charles's reputation as the "boy preacher of the fens" soon spread throughout Cambridgeshire.
Yet the trajectory of his ministry was challenged by a pivotal decision: should Charles remain as the pastor of Waterbeach Chapel or instead enroll as a student in London's Stepney College? John Spurgeon "strongly advised" both his sons to matriculate. In February 1852, a meeting was arranged between Charles and Joseph Angus, the tutor of the College. Charles recounted:
I entered the house exactly at the time appointed, and was shown into a room where I waited patiently a couple of hours, feeling too much impressed with my own insignificance, and the greatness of the tutor from London, to venture to ring the bell, and make enquiries as to the unreasonably long delay. At last, patience having had her perfect work, and my school-engagements requiring me to attend to my duties as an usher, the bell was set in motion, and on the arrival of the servant, the waiting young man was informed that the Doctor had tarried in another room until he could stay no longer, and had gone off to London by train. The stupid girl had given no information to the family that anyone had called, and had been shown into the drawing-room; and, consequently, the meeting never came about, although designed by both parties.
After departing from the mistimed appointment, Charles walked through Midsummer Common and "was startled by what seemed a loud voice, but which may have been a singular illusion. ... 'Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not! [Jer 45:5].'" This experience solidified Charles's decision not to pursue formal education, and unlike his brother James Archer, he did not move to London for a degree.
Charles wrote in a letter to his father, "I think then (with all deference to you) that I had better not go to college yet, at least not just now." In November, Charles wrote to his mother: "I am more and more glad that I never went to College. God sends such sunshine on my path, such smiles of grace, that I cannot regret if I have forfeited all my prospects for it. ... I had rather be poor in His service than rich in my own."
"You know what my style is," Charles further wrote. "I fancy it is not very college like." The sermons contained in Notebook 2 reflect the accuracy of Charles's sentiment. With emotive and earnest rhetoric, he confronted the sins of his congregation:
Fighter, God says, turn thy boxing gloves out.
Swearer, wash thy foul mouth with blood divine.
Unclean Fornicator, turn thy lust out.
Sabbath Breaker, how wilt thou restore thy lost Sabbaths?
Drunkard, turn thy glass bottom upwards.
In his sermon on Luke 19:41, "The Redeemer's Tears over Sinners" (Sermon 121), Charles pleaded for Jesus to "stand up and weep over Waterbeach." He concluded by saying:
Weep, oh preacher! Weep. Weep. Weep. Men, women! Now let Jesus stand up and weep over you, one by one:
1. Over the open reprobate, despisers, drunkards.
2. Over the unconverted, many-year hearer.
3. Over the hopeful young who yet will go aside.
4. Over convinced sinners, wiping their tears away.
5. Over many feast-goers who go despite warnings.
6. Over old men on the brink of hell.
7. Over hypocrites, deceiving their own souls.
8. Over those who are given up and let alone.
9. Over careless, laughing, critical, etc., hearers.
"Dagon stands fast here," Charles said in his sermon "By Faith Jericho Fell" (Sermon 133). "But the ark is come." Charles's great question, "Would God save any souls through me?" was sure to find immediate answers. His chapel "was not only full, but crowded with outside listeners at the open windows." He wrote, "Providence has thrown me into a great sphere of usefulness, a congregation of often 450, a loving and praying church, and an awakened audience."
Charles later reflected on the spiritual transformation that occurred under his ministry at Waterbeach:
In a short time, the little thatched chapel was crammed, the biggest vagabonds of the village were weeping floods of tears, and those who had been the curse of the parish became its blessing. Where there had been robberies and villainies of every kind, all round the neighbourhood, there were none, because the men who used to do the mischief were themselves in the house of God, rejoicing to hear of Jesus crucified. I am not telling an exaggerated story, nor a thing that I do not know, for it was my delight to labour for the Lord in that village. It was a pleasant thing to walk through that place, when drunkenness had almost ceased, when debauchery in the case of many was dead, when men and women went forth to labour with joyful hearts, singing the praises of the ever-living God; and when, at sunset, the humble cottager called his children together, read them some portion from the Book of Truth, and then together they bent their knees in prayer to God. I can say, with joy and happiness, that almost from one end of the village to the other, at the hour of eventide, one might have heard the voice of song coming from nearly every roof-tree, and echoing from almost every heart. I do testify, to the praise of God's grace, that it pleased the Lord to work wonders in our midst.
In the fifty-seven sermons contained in Notebook 2, Charles incorporated a variety of literary habits: abbreviations, dittography, lines and stippling, strike-throughs, superscripted text, underscores, marginal inscriptions, inconsistent numbering techniques, and extraneous notations. He tended to refrain from crossing the letter "t" and made common use of the Puritan "long s." His sermons in his second notebook contain numerous exclamations, final exhortations, and concluding prayers.
Charles included extensive and diverse political, economic, cultural, and religious references: Muslims (Mahommetans), Mormons, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Socinianism, Quakers, rationalism, science, morality, philosophy, Gypsies, heathens, British currency, military, policemen, agriculture, homeopathy, tropical environments, suicide, smoking tobacco, and human anatomy. The breadth of his references may best be explained by a statement in his letter to his father on April 6, 1852: "I have bought a great many books lately, for my constant work requires them."
As in Notebook 1, Charles continued the practice of borrowing outlines and sermons from other preachers, including John Bunyan, Charles Simeon, Thomas Manton, and Jean Claude. His use of John Gill's commentaries is extensive.
However, a puzzling mystery presented itself in the transcribing process of Notebook 2. At the top of six sermons, Charles inscribed a series of references without providing further attribution:
"V.1.91" "Inventory and Title of Our Treasures" (Sermon 92)
"19V2" and "V.2.19" "The Tranquillity, Security, and Supplies Afforded to the Gospel Church" (Sermon 97)
"2 Vol. II" "The Invitation of Moses to Hobab" (Sermon 98)
"V2.42" "Justification, Conversion, Sanctification, Glory" (Sermon 102)
"V3.52" "Envy Forbidden, Piety Commanded" (Sermon 112)
"S. 97" "God's Visits and the Effects Thereof" (Sermon 113)
An investigation into these sources revealed Charles had consulted a published collection of sermons entitled Sketches of Sermons. The translation of "V.1.91," for instance, is volume 1, sermon outline 91, and so forth. Four of his sermons in this notebook were taken directly from this publication (Sermons 92, 97, 102, and 112). The remaining two sermons bearing similar inscriptions (Sermons 98 and 113) were taken from Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. Spurgeon inaccurately numbered these sources. The inscription "2 Vol. II" should have been "2 Vol. 101" in Sermon 98, and the inscription "V.3.52" should have been "V.3.62." in Sermon 112.
In addition to referencing commentaries and sermon resources, Charles also displayed the unusual practice for him of selecting the entirety of a psalm for the scope of his sermon. Also, for the first time in his early sermons, he deductively listed primary divisions at the beginning of a sermon after his introduction and before the first Roman numeral. He later adopted this sermon structure in full measure. Throughout the pages of this notebook, Charles wrote his words to the edges, wasting little space as he often combined the conclusions of sermons with the beginnings of others.
It is also evident that Charles's mind jumped ahead of his pen. On numerous occasions, he prematurely scribbled letters and words before completing the word he was finishing. Also, unlike the pencil inscriptions in Notebook 1, purple ink markings suggest Charles began revising Notebook 2 after he moved to London when preparing his early sermons for publication in 1857.
In the transcriptions, Charles's original punctuation has occasionally been adjusted to make the transcription more clear. While all efforts have been made to use Charles's actual King James Bible when quoting from Scripture, we have — on a very limited basis — applied more modernized methods of capitalization and punctuation to allow today's readers to easily recognize where a new sentence begins.
In contrast to the sermons contained in his first notebook, Charles included more autobiographical content in Notebook 2. At the conclusion of "Present Your Bodies, Etc." (Sermon 93), he wrote, "May God help me to do it personally." On his 100th sermon, he recorded the milestone in his ministry with the words "For this 100 I bless the Lord, for the good is his. May they be the seed of many a plant of the Lord." In "Set Thine House in Order" (Sermon 134), he penned the prayer "Gracious God, help me to write and preach this sermon just as if it were my last, if indeed it be not." He also inscribed a personal challenge: "Thou art one year older. Search thy heart and see that you are right. Thou hast a large house entrusted to thee. Do all thou cans't and preach with all thy might, for thou shalt soon die and then thy hour is gone."
Charles may have even been speaking autobiographically in "God's Visits and the Effects Thereof" (Sermon 113) when he said, "Even when a Christian is gone, he leaves his scent behind him. In his life he smells as a cask of the fine old wine of Lebanon, and when poured out he leaves his scent in the cask. Yes, and like the wine of Lebanon if only put in a vessel for a little while it can be seen that it was there once."
A curious foreshadowing of the Surrey Garden Music Hall disaster in London is found in "The Curse and the Blessing" (Sermon 99): "In death. Often in its suddenness, in its darkness and sometimes terror." On October 19, 1856, Charles experienced a moment of terror when he preached from the same text (Prov 3:33, "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just"). A balcony collapsed and resulted in a stampede that killed seven people and injured twenty-eight. Charles was "carried by a private garden into the street, and taken home more dead than alive." Even the mention of Proverbs 3:33 solicited anxiety throughout Charles's later life.
In the fifty-seven sermons contained in Notebook 2, Charles wrote thirty-two sermons (56 percent) on New Testament texts and twenty-five sermons (44 percent) on Old Testament texts. He preached more sermons from Isaiah and Luke than any other biblical books (six sermons each), followed by Proverbs and John (four sermons each). In total Spurgeon preached from twenty-six of the sixty-six books of the Bible (39 percent).
Of his twenty-five Old Testament sermons, 24 percent were from Isaiah (six sermons); 16 percent from Proverbs (four sermons); 12 percent from Psalms (three sermons); 8 percent (two sermons) each from Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, and Jeremiah; and 4 percent (one sermon) each from Numbers, Job, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and Malachi. Spurgeon preached from twelve of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament (31 percent). Charles did not preach any sermons from twenty-seven books in the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, or Zechariah (69 percent of the Old Testament books).
Of his thirty-two New Testament sermons, 19 percent were from Luke (six sermons); 13 percent from John (four sermons); 9 percent (three sermons) each from 2 Corinthians and Galatians; 6 percent (two sermons) each from Matthew, Mark, Romans, Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter; and 3 percent (one sermon) each from Acts, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Philippians. Charles did not preach from thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament: Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, or Revelation (48 percent of the New Testament books).
A noticeable contrast is found between Charles's first and second notebooks in the expanding word count and page length for each sermon. In Notebook 1, Charles wrote one-page outlines (or "skeletons" as he called them). In this notebook, however, many of the fifty-seven sermons contain full paragraphs, descriptive introductions, and page-length prose.
The sermons in Notebook 2 range in word count from 91 words ("Well with the Righteous" [Sermon 130]) to 1,222 words ("Come Ye Out from Among Them" [Sermon 119]). Below are the word counts for the sermons in Notebook 2:
Sermon 78 = 302 words
Sermon 79 = 248 words
Sermon 80 = 263 words
Sermon 81 = 412 words
Sermon 82 = 430 words
Sermon 83 = 176 words
Sermon 84 = 438 words
Sermon 85 = 281 words
Sermon 86 = 464 words
Sermon 87 = 316 words
Sermon 88 = 199 words
Sermon 89 = 295 words
Sermon 90 = 371 words
Sermon 91 = 277 words
Sermon 92 = 929 words
Sermon 93 = 752 words
Sermon 94 = 178 words
Sermon 95 = 404 words
Sermon 96 = 713 words
Sermon 97 = 227 words
Sermon 98 = 362 words
Sermon 99 = 467 words
Sermon 100 = 393 words
Sermon 101 = 861 words
Sermon 102 = 677 words
Sermon 103 = 589 words
Sermon 104 = 1,112 words
Sermon 105 = 658 words
Sermon 106 = 955 words
Sermon 107 = 1,107 words
Sermon 108 = 766 words
Sermon 109 = 1,090 words
Sermon 110 = 719 words
Sermon 111 = 530 words
Sermon 112 = 400 words
Sermon 113 = 814 words
Sermon 114 = 898 words
Sermon 115 = 798 words
Sermon 116 = 1,142 words
Sermon 117 = 1,189 words
Sermon 118 = 480 words
Sermon 119 = 1,222 words
Sermon 120 = 850 words
Sermon 121 = 490 words
Sermon 122 = 493 words
Sermon 123 = 466 words
Sermon 124 = 902 words
Sermon 125 = 658 words
Sermon 126 = 458 words
Sermon 127 = 443 words
Sermon 128 = 386 words
Sermon 129 = 484 words
Sermon 130 = 91 words
Sermon 131 = 237 words
Sermon 132 = 346 words
Sermon 133 = 666 words
Sermon 134 = 544 words
Excerpted from "The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon Volume II"
Copyright © 2017 Christian George and Spurgeon's College.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART 1: Introduction,
PART 2: The Sermons, Notebook 2 (Sermons 78-134),
Back Cover of Notebook 2,
About the Editor,
fans of Spurgeon's sermons and writings, pastors, scholars, students