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.
The third chapter turned to the growth of other Spurgeonic enterprises. As if he did not already have enough to do, Spurgeon oversaw many other ministries. Some of these were a natural outgrowth of a big and thriving church, but others were started and maintained by the man himself. Among these was the Colporteurs’ Association through which men distributed Bibles, tracts and other literature and sought to do other evangelistic work. There was little Spurgeon would not commit to if he felt that it would further the Lord’s work.
All of this labor had its effect on Spurgeon. He began to weaken, even early in life. He dealt with ongoing illnesses and generally allowing his health to suffer because of the sheer scope and volume of his labor. It is amazing to pause and consider how young Spurgeon was when carrying on so much of this ministry. And yet this same ministry caused him to age prematurely. Like so many other great theologians, he worked himself to the nub and would live a relatively short life.
For next Thursday, please read chapters 12, 13 and 14. We will do three again since the chapters are quite short (25 pages or so for all three together).
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.