Charles Haddon Spurgeon was converted on January 6, 1850.
He was 15 years of age, and a snowstorm had prevented him from attending his usual place of worship. So, in his own words … “I turned down a side street and came to a little Primitive Methodist chapel” (C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume 1, page 87).
Before we review that conversion let us note that Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834. As an infant he spent a few years living with his grandparents, and Grandfather James Spurgeon was a Congregationalist minister. The spiritual tradition of those days was to encourage children to seek God, rather than to make an evangelical ‘decision for Christ’ as later became popular. Spurgeon knew of God’s claim on his life but recounts that, “As long as ever I could, I rebelled, and revolted, and struggled against God.”
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It was in this condition that Spurgeon entered the chapel where about fifteen people were present, but the minister had been “snowed in”. “A thin looking man, a shoemaker or tailor or something like that, went up into the pulpit to preach”, Spurgeon continues. And his next comment is somewhat shocking, but is a reminder that God oft-times uses the things that are “foolish” to confound the wise (1Corinthians 1:27). “It is well that preachers be instructed,” he writes, “but this man was really stupid”!
Nevertheless the preacher’s text was Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” And in the course of the sermon that followed … if it could be called a sermon … the preacher espied the young Spurgeon and exhorted him personally, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ!”
“I saw at once the way of salvation,” Spurgeon writes. “I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word ‘Look!’ what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could have looked my eyes away.” From that day forward Spurgeon’s desire was to share the Good News of the gospel with others. And before his death 42 years later (31 January, 1892) he would see thousands of men and women, boys and girls, enter the Kingdom of God as a result of his ministry.
But was it 6 January, when this conversion took place? Such is the date Spurgeon himself gives. But another biography (Spurgeon, Prince of Preachers, by Lewis Drummond, page 129) casts doubts on Spurgeon’s memory concerning this date. Drummond examines the meteorological records of London for that day and discovers that it was “bright and sunny” … No snowstorm!!
But the following Sunday was as Spurgeon describes.
Dr Drummond offers a further fifteen pages of evidence casting doubt on 6 January being the date of Spurgeon’s conversion.
But whatever the date, he has no doubts concerning the reality of the work of grace that took place in the life of that remarkable teenager.
Spurgeon soon attended a Baptist church and was Baptised. Then, without theological training, he began to preach. At the age of only 20, without the normal qualifications to do so, Spurgeon was asked to preach at the once famous New Park Street Baptist Church in London. This once flourishing church had previously been led by such notable names as Benjamin Keech, Dr. John Gill, and Dr. John Rippon. The congregation of 1200 had ebbed to only 200.
Just one year later the crowds drawn by Spurgeon’s preaching made the huge church redundant and larger premises were sought. So began a remarkable preaching ministry.
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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com
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