Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) is considered to be one of the greatest preachers of all time. He was a pastor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and gained fame for his direct and powerful preaching style. His church grew to more than 6,000 members and by 1861 he was being called the "Prince of Preachers".
He was born in 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex of Dutch parents. Spurgeon was converted in a Methodist chapel, but became a member of a Baptist church in 1850. An eloquent speaker and a hard worker, he grew into a young preacher. His first sermon was at the age of sixteen, and he pastored a church in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire by the age of only twenty.
The Spirit of God worked strongly through him; his congregation grew till the building could no longer accommodate them all. His oratorical gifts no doubt helped, but it was the truth of the Gospel that gave his words real power. The church had gone from empty to packed within months. People of every class and type gathered to hear him speak.
On 19 October 1856 a malicious alarm of fire raised while Spurgeon was preaching at the Surrey Gardens music-hall. This led to a panic which caused the death of seven persons and the injury of many others, but Spurgeon's reputation was not endangered. At twenty-two Spurgeon was the most popular preacher of his time.
In 1861, a new church was built for Spurgeon that would hold 6000 people. This was a great blessing to an independent pastor who was not in any denominational organization. He preached there, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle until his death in 1892. Spurgeon affected his area like no one else could. His church was a hub of ministries: a pastor's college was founded, an orphanage founded, and also a colportage association for the propagation of uplifting literature. Ultimately, Charles Spurgeon accomplished the goal of the pastor: to affect the local community in a tangible and positive way, to see souls saved and people following the footsteps of Jesus.
Spurgeon was a staunch Calvinist, and an outspoken opponent of Catholicism. A far cry from the ecumenicals of today, he would not back down from his beliefs even at the expense of losing friends. "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three." (Luke12:52-53)
He keenly resented what he called the 'down grade' developments of modern biblical criticism, and the conviction grew on him that faith was decaying in all Christian churches. Consequently on 26 Oct. 1887 he announced his withdrawal from the Baptist Union, the central association of baptist ministers, which declined to adopt the serious view that he took of the situation.
When asked what he thought should be done when lay people fell asleep in church, he replied, "Someone should wake up the preacher."
"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom."