About this time last year I published a review of The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume I. Courtesy of Broadman and Holman Publishers, this year I’m able to bring you review of Volume II.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was one of the most influential preachers of the 19th century. At a time before automobiles, airplanes, and electricity, he regularly preached before crowds of more than 5,000 in his church in London (he once even preached before crowd of over 23,000 people). He founded a college, an orphanage, and was a strong advocate for foreign missions. He was personally acquainted with D. L. Moody and Hudson Taylor. Famous Americans like Mark Twain, John D. Rockefeller, and James Garfield (before he became the 20th president of the United States) visited his church to hear him preach. He left more published words than any other Christian in history, before or since. He has often been called the “Prince of Preachers,” and rightly so.
Despite his popularity, or perhaps because of it, Spurgeon received a lot of criticism during his lifetime. His opposition to the new theory from fellow Englishman Charles Darwin earned him mockery from cartoonists and newspapers. His condemnation of so-called Christian slaveholders in America resulted in threats and book burnings throughout the Southern United States, especially from members of the relatively new Southern Baptist denomination. Yet times have changed, and now Southern Baptists are not only among his greatest admirers, they have begun publishing a planned 12-volume set of his earliest sermons, never before seen in print.
Broadman and Holman graciously provided me a review copy of The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume II. I read it cover to cover. Volume II contains the 57 sermons Spurgeon recorded in the second of nine notebooks that will serve as the bases for the rest of the volumes in this series. I was immediately impressed by the aesthetic beauty of the book in my hands. My copy of Volume I has cloth-over-board covers, sewn binding, thick and glossy pages, and full-color facsimiles of each page of the notebook. My copy of Volume II was a special edition with covers designed to look like the cover of his notebook, additional photographs, gilded pages, and even a slipcover.
The introductory materials are similar to those of Volume I. Excerpts are available online, which I encourage you to check out (from the Foreword, Editor’s Preface, Introduction, pdf sampler from Volume I).
Each sermon includes a color facsimile, transcription, and notes. Even as a teenager (he turned 18 around the time he preached the last sermon in this book), Spurgeon’s sermons were impressive for his insight and ability to connect with his listeners. In Volume I he largely used outlines (he called them “skeletons”) and relied on his memory to preach extemporaneously. By Volume II he frequently wrote more detailed sermon notes. I wish my early sermons were as good as Spurgeon’s. By the time he was 20 he had already preached more than 700 times.
Because this is a critical work, the notes identify sources Spurgeon used, references to events of his day, and quotations from elsewhere in his body of work where he treated the same topics or Scriptures in more detail. The notes also discuss ink marks, corrections, and spelling, but I largely ignored these.
If they had only published the text of his notebook, it would have been worth reading. The addition of introductory materials placing Spurgeon in his historical context and scholarly research of the notes placing his sermons in the context of his sources and later writings make the volume even more valuable.
If you’re interested in snagging a copy for yourself, you can find The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume II online and in LifeWay stores. Volume III is slated for release in June 2018.
Whether you’re interested in Spurgeon’s lost sermons or not, you can get access to a digital library of over 3,500 of his sermons by signing up for the Broadman & Holman Academic eNewsletter here. It’s free and you can cancel your email subscription anytime.