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Tim Challies

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September 02, 2010

Today we come to our final reading on the life of Spurgeon. This book has been a quick read, but an enjoyable one, I think.

This week’s chapters focused on the final days of Spurgeon’s life. Much of the content consisted in tributes to the man penned after his death. This is a good way of learning about his impact on those who were closest to him and those he served the most. Perhaps the best of these tributes comes from Archibald Brown, a pastor who led the graveside service during which Spurgeon was laid to rest. Here is how he memorialized his friend. It is worth reading not just to learn about Spurgeon but to see the hope of all Christians.

Beloved President, faithful Pastor, Prince of Preachers, brother beloved, dear Spurgeon—we bid thee not “Farewell,” but only for a little while “Goodnight.” Thou shalt rise soon at the first dawn of the Resurrection day of the redeemed. Yet is the goodnight not ours to bid, but thine; it is we who linger in the darkness; thou art in God’s holy light. Our night shall soon be passed, and with it all our weeping. Then, with thine, our songs shall greet the morning of a day that knows no cloud nor close; for there is no night there.

Hard worker in the field, thy toil is ended. Straight has been the furrow thou hast ploughed. No looking back has marred thy course. Harvests have followed thy patient sowing, and heaven is already rich with thine ingathered sheaves, and shall still be enriched through the years yet lying in eternity.

Champion of God, thy battle, long and nobly fought, is over; thy sword, which clave to thy hand, has dropped at last: a palm branch takes it place. No longer does the helmet press thy brow, oft weary with its surging thoughts of battle; a victor’s wreath from the great Commander’s hand has already proved thy full reward.

Here, for a little while, shall rest thy precious dust. Then shall thy Well-beloved come; and at His voice thou shalt spring from thy couch of earth, fashioned like unto His body, into glory. Then spirit, soul, and body shall magnify the Lord’s redemption. Until then, beloved, sleep. We praise God for thee, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant, hope and expect to praise God with thee. Amen.

I love the Victorian era! They were able to express things so well and with such interesting language. And there i think Brown gives us a good final word on Charles Spurgeon. He was a champion of God who rested at last from the long battle. “We praise God for thee, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant, hope and expect to praise God with thee.”

As we come to the end of Spurgeon’s life, I’d love to hear your reflections on him. And I’d love to hear whether you’d like to read another biography together, or if you’d prefer to go back to reading classic works of the faith.

Your Turn

The purpose of this program is to read biographies together. So if there are things that stood out to you in this chapter, if there are questions you had, this is the time and place to have your say. Feel free to post a comment below or to link to your blog if you’ve chosen to write about this on your own site.

August 19, 2010

I’m a little bit bleary-eyed this morning. Let me explain. Yesterday I got up early and hit the road before 6 AM. I made my way to Hudson, Ohio, about 5 hours away, where I met up with Bob Bevington and Kevin Meath who, along with me, are co-founders of Cruciform Press. I then spent several hours recording the audio version of Sexual Detox, had dinner and then drove 5 hours back home. It was a really long day!

As I suppose you know, I released Sexual Detox as a free e-book about a year ago. However, since then it has been improved and expanded and edited and will be the first title we release through Cruciform Press. Stay tuned in September for that! We’ve got one book releasing each month after that (some written by authors you know, some by authors you don’t know) and they are looking really, really good.

But I digress. I am going to just jot down a very few thoughts about this week’s reading in Dallimore’s Spurgeon: A New Biography. I think that’s about all my tired brain will be able to handle. I’ll leave those who have read along to fill in the gaps (there are a few of you left, right?).

This week’s chapters looked to the daily life of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, focused on ten especially important years of Spurgeon’s ministry and then sought to introduce the man in a slightly more intimate way by looking to some of his personal characteristics.

One thing I enjoyed reading was the interaction between Spurgeon and Moody. Here was one of history’s greatest evangelists expressing his love and admiration for one of history’s greatest preachers (and vice versa). The two men had great respect for one another and did not feel the least bit of jealousy or competition. Their ministries seemed to complement one another very well.

August 12, 2010

Today we continue our readings through Arnold Dallimore’s biography of Charles Spurgeon. I trust that some of you continue to read along as we make our way through it, a few chapters a week. I know it can be difficult to read at this sort of a pace—many of you have probably already finished it and have long since forgotten about it. But for the sake of reading together we’ll continue to at the current pace of 2 to 3 chapters per week.

This week we read about the almhouses and orphanages begun as a ministry of the church, we read about some of the illnesses that plagued Spurgeon and his wife and we read about Susannah Spurgeon and the work she did to encourage pastors and to support their families. Though she spent much of her life as a semi-invalid, she was active in ministry even from her bed.

The first chapter is one that would have gone well with last weeks’ reading as we looked at the vast number of ministries begun by Spurgeon and maintained through his church. Almhouses and orphanages were just two more of these, two more ministries that served the city (though in this case the almhouses were already in existence before Spurgeon arrived in London—they just grew under his watch). I wonder how many people in London today understand the influence of Spurgeon on their city, directly and indirectly, through his preaching ministry, through the tens of thousands who were saved, and through all of these ministries.

August 11, 2010

Here is episode 15 of The Connected Kingdom Podcast. We have a guest on the show this week, none other than Tony Reinke who blogs at Miscellanies and who serves as assistant to C.J. Mahaney. Tony talks about a book he is currently writing (a book on the subject of reading), about what it’s like to work with C.J. Mahaney (it requires a lot of energy) and about the next book we’ll see from C.J. (something to do with sports, perhaps?).

If you want to give us feedback on the podcast or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or another program. As always, feedback and suggestions for future topics are much appreciated.

August 05, 2010

I’m a wee bit under the weather today and am calling this a sick day. Everyone in the family has had some sort of flu and/or some sort of strep in the past couple of weeks and to this point I’ve managed to avoid it. It may now have caught up with me. The timing is terribly inconvenient with that book deadline looming. Nevertheless, I trust this won’t last long. Because of all of that, there is no A La Carte today and this Reading Classics Together post is going to be somewhat abbreviated. You understand, I’m sure.

This week we read three chapters of Arnold Dallimore’s life of Charles Spurgeon, each of dealt with a single aspect of Spurgeon’s ministry. In the first chapter Dallimore discussed the building of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. This represented a huge building project and one that came at considerable cost (and a cost that grew substantially over time, which always seems to be the way of it). Spurgeon was opposed to borrowing money for the Lord’s work so insisted that the project be carried out debt-free. He did more than his fair share of the work in fundraising and the church opened in March of 1861. Dallimore points out that there was some significance in the building as it established Spurgeon as a permanent presence in London. The building told the whole world that Spurgeon was here to stay.

The second chapter dealt with Spurgeon’s Pastors’ College. Not surprisingly, Spurgeon found himself much in demand as a teacher and mentor and he decided to formalize his role in the lives of young men by establishing this Pastors’ College. Though it added a significant measure of work to his life, it is clear that he loved the college and loved the opportunity it afforded him to train up a whole new generation of pastors. One of the outgrowths of the college was his Lectures To My Students, a book that is still treasured today.

August 04, 2010

This morning I’ve got episode 14 of the Connected Kingdom Podcast for you. This week David and I spend our time discussing a question posed by one of our listeners, a dad who asked how he can get his kids reading and how he can get them to read good books. So we discuss that and also talk about strategies for getting our kids to begin the habit of daily personal devotions. The program is a little bit niche, of course, but we trust parents will benefit from the discussion. Oh, and you’ll learn which one of us wears a tie while doing the podcast.

In the podcast we mention Journibles so here, as promised, is the link. Journibles are quite a unique resource. “Each book is organized so that you can write out your very own copy of Scripture. You will be writing the Bible text only on the right hand page of the book. This should make for easier writing and also allows ample space on the left page to write your own notes and comments. From time to time a question or word will be lightly printed on the left page; these questions are to aid in further study, but should not interfere with your own notes and comments.”

If you want to give us feedback on the podcast or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or another program. As always, feedback and suggestions for future topics are much appreciated.

July 29, 2010

When reading about Charles Spurgeon you will be drawn to the unavoidable conclusion that he was a unique individual. He was uniquely gifted by God and then raised up to a unique ministry. There can never be another Charles Spurgeon.

I spent some time this morning pondering what is unique in Spurgeon’s background that would keep another Spurgeon from arising in our day. And I started to think about our media-saturated world. And i started to think about the character qualities exemplified by the Prince of Preachers. And I started to think about a lot of other things. And then I started writing and rambling.

From his earliest days Spurgeon was drawn to great writing by great authors. Even when he was just barely old enough to read, he was reading some of the greatest theological tomes ever written. Even in the youngest days of his ministry, when most pastors today are finishing up high school, he was able to quote widely and quote deeply from these great writers of days gone by, relying on a photographic memory (or a near-photographic memory) to recall what they had said. But he did not rely on mere recall; he had not just read these authors, but he had applied their words to his own life. From the day of his conversion he was exceptionally godly and almost unbelievably mature.

By the time Spurgeon was in his mid-teens he was already successfully pastoring a church. Already he was becoming known as the boy preacher and his fame was beginning to spread. Yet God had gifted him with an extraordinary humility and a profound sense of his utter dependence upon God. He would pray earnestly before he preached, throwing himself on God’s mercy and begging for God to be present with him and to give power to his words—power to change the hearts of his hearers. Though he was the Prince of Preachers, easily one of the greatest preachers the world has ever known, still he relied entirely upon God rather than upon his own skill. More rightly, his utter reliance was the root and the cause of the power in his words.

June 10, 2010

And just like that we’ve come to the end of another classic. Looking back on The Bruised Reed I feel like I got the most benefit from the beginning and the end, which likely means that I allowed my attention to drift somewhere around the middle of the book. There is value in reading a book in this kind of weekly format, and yet it is also a little artificial. Those week-long gaps draw out the reading experience in such a way that it is easy to lose some of the flow of the book.

Nevertheless, The Bruised Reed has proven in my mind that its status as a classic is well-earned. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.


Sibbes wraps up the book which a chapter titled “Through Conflict to Victory” and in his parting words he wants the Christian to know that all of God’s work and all of his progress in the world will necessarily be opposed. And yet he wants the Christian to know and trust that in the end Christ will have the victory. Here is how he describes the battles necessary to bring Christ into the heart: