CH Spurgeon, Victorian England's 'Prince of Preachers', was born today in 1834. He was perhaps the most influential Christian minister of his generation, not only preaching regularly to congregations – his collected sermons run to around 25 million words – but founding an orphanage and a theological college whose ministries continue today. Though he never trained for ministry, he read an average of six weighty books a week and remembered what he read years later. He would preach for around 40 minutes from only a page of notes, at a rate of 140 words a minute.
Countless stories gathered around his ministry. For instance, a woman was converted through reading a single page of a sermon used to wrap a pat of butter she had bought. Testing the acoustics of the Agricultural Hall where he was to deliver a sermon later, Spurgeon said in his powerful, resonant voice, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world"; a worker high up in the rafters heard him and was saved. He was such a passionate opponent of slavery that his American publishers deleted references to it in his books.
Spurgeon's great strength as a communicator was his ability to use plain and simple language in a remarkably vivid and striking way. His sermons are still read today.
1. "The Christian should work as if all depended upon him, and pray as if it all depended upon God."
2. "A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble."
3. "You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled."
4. "A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't."
5. "A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears."
6. "Men will allow God to be everywhere but on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow his bounties. they will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth."
7. "Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading."
8. "We are not responsible to God for the soul that are saved, but we are responsible for the Gospel that is preached, and for the way in which we preach it."
9. "Free will I have often heard of, but I have never seen it. I have always met with will, and plenty of it, but it has either been led captive by sin or held in the blessed bonds of grace."
10. "The more objects you set your heart upon, the more thorns there are to tear your peace of mind to shreds."