This little sketch of the great preacher’s life and work would not be complete without a glimpse of the home circle and its surroundings. Mr.
Spurgeon was married in 1856 to Miss Susannah Thompson, daughter of Mr. Robert Thompson, of Falcon Square, London. Twin boys, Charles and Thomas Spurgeon are the only additions to their family. They were born in Nightingale Lane, Balham, near London, on 20th September, 1857. They were both educated at Camden House School, Brighton. There they acquitted themselves honorably in the scholastic department, and succeeded in obtaining some handsome prizes.
The conversion of Charles took place under the following circumstances: — He was out riding, accompanied by a Christian friend, when their conversation turned into a religious channel. Rain came on, and they sought shelter under a tree. Dismounting, they both knelt down upon the grass, while his friend offered up a prayer. It was during this short season of communion that the sunshine of truth broke in upon his young heart. In 1879 he received a call from the congregation at South Street, Greenwich.
The call was after prayerful deliberation accepted, and he entered upon his first pastorate there at the age of twenty-three. The building, which was almost empty, is now filled with nearly a thousand hearers, and the church rejoices in many tokens of spiritual prosperity.
Mr. Thomas Spurgeon, after being for some years pastor of the Auckland Tabernacle, New Zealand, is now following the work of an evangelist, his labors being abundantly blessed.
A bond of filial love and affection bound the hearts of these two sons to their revered and sainted father. In him they ever found a ready counselor, a willing helper, a trusted friend, one to whom they could ever turn for advice or consolation. What really was the hallowed relationship that existed between this spiritual Goliath and his offspring is best told in the words of Charles Spurgeon himself. He writes, “There is only one other who can write the words, ‘My father,’ after the illustrious name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. And such a father! Blessed be his dear memory! Never had any son a kinder, wiser, happier, holier, or more generous sire, than it pleased God to grant me; and now that he has gone there are no words powerful enough in my vocabulary to describe the irreparable loss. Most gratefully do I endorse the many true and kind things that have been said in reference to him; but all has not been uttered of his worth, and never can be for many a day to come. I feel that even the fullest poetic license may be granted to those who would fain do him honor, either by tongue or pen, and none would be charged with exaggeration. Do I seem to over-estimate this beloved one? Well, forgive me. I am his son; and as I have ever loved him with a deep affection, now that he is ‘waiting on the other side,’ I feel to love him more. He was what he was ‘by the grace of God,’ and I do but magnify the Master in speaking well of the servant. All glory be to God for such a life! and we take the crown of our esteem and lay it at Jesus’ feet.”
What a noble testimony from such a loving heart to departed worth and goodness! Well may such a one exclaim in this hour of sadness and of grief, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” May the spirit of the departed Elijah rest in a mighty measure upon his Elishas.
One word, and one word only, in reference to her who had been the close companion of his life, the choice “helpmate” in his toils, and the sharer of his sufferings Precious and beloved as a mother, too intensely dear and affectionate as a wife, for words to adequately express, she is left for a little while — the loving and the loved wife — until the summons comes, when she shall meet her beloved in that land “where congregations ne’er break up, and Sabbaths have no end.” For several years Mrs. Spurgeon, although herself a great invalid, has in the kindness of her generous heart distributed 130,000 volumes among poor ministers of all denominations.
How it has cheered our hearts to know that in this hour of her widowhood, she has been remembered by all classes, from the Heir-Apparent and his Consort to the peasant in his cot.
Mr. Spurgeon’s home life was ideal. No one could be an hour under his roof without perceiving the fragrance of domestic affection that pervaded the home. ‘To his invalid wife he always spoke with a mingled gaiety and affection that was very touching. Her life was given up by an eminent physician many years since, but God has spared her to be her husband’s chief aid in graceful, incessant, and increasing work at his side for the poor servants of Christ.
None enjoyed an outing at Westwood more than the hardly-worked students. It was indeed a cheerful break in the monotony of their lives.
Westwood and its master, ay, and mistress too, had a charm for them that words cannot very well express. How they enjoyed walking round that exquisite garden, or gathering a lesson from the feathered songsters or the busy bees, or making the acquaintance of “Snowdrop” and “Daphne” and Mrs. Spurgeon’s other orphanage cows. Oh, what a delight and freedom there was in it all to be sure! And then how champed they were with the simple, unpretending talk of the beloved host of “Beulah.” How he sowed at will pearls of wit and wisdom, proverb and epigram in handful, yet always ready to listen to others, and prompt to acknowledge with hearty appreciation any good thing they might utter. None enjoyed more than he his beautiful garden and grounds, and he manifested an equal pleasure in exhibiting these beauties of nature to others. Mr. Spurgeon once said, in answer to an overdrawn description in the public press of his house and gardens, “My Master, I am sure, does not grudge me the enjoyment of my garden. I owe it to Him. It is about the only luxury in which I indulge. I am very hard worked. I have no social intercourse on account of the limited time at my disposal. I have neither tithe nor strength to move about and find refreshment in variety and change as others do; but I have my garden, with its flowers and its fine prospects, and I praise Him for it.”
And now, the earthly “Beulah” is exchanged for the heavenly one where “Everlasting spring abides And never withering flowers.” Mr. Spurgeon has died comparatively a poor man though he enjoyed ample opportunities of making money. Indeed, the sums which he has given away at different times would have been a fortune to most men. “I never expected,” he once remarked, “anything but food and raiment; and when my income was forty-five pounds a-year, I was heartily content. It is much the same with me now. When I have a spare five pounds, the college or orphanage or something else requires it, and away it goes.” This is not a matter of surprise when we know that the six thousand pounds which he received as a “silver wedding” testimonial, and the jubilee testimonial, on his completing his fiftieth year, of nearly five thousand pounds, was every penny of it given to the various institutions connected with the Tabernacle.
And now we come to the close of this great man’s life, not because we could not say more, but simply for want of space to contain records of his greatness. Surely we may say, he who is united with Christ rises into an immortality of greatness. The majesty of the enthroned Mediator overshadows the Church, which is His bride He hath made us kings with God. He distributes crowns. He will reward every man, according as his work shall be.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been described, and rightly so, as the Elijah of the nineteenth century. He was a mighty leader in evangelical Israel. He had but one sermon, yet it was always new. Truly in his highest, noblest, and truest sense he was great. His special gifts are possessed by none, his unwearied devotion all may emulate. By his death we have been deprived of a courageous, faithful disciple,’ a man of striking power and strong personality. He was Christ’s gift, a precious gift to the Church of the nineteenth century. He has gone to his well earned rest, but he has left behind him a precious legacy of hope, trust, faith, and courage. “To thousands of aching hearts, now his is still for ever; To thousands of throbbing brains, now his is no longer busy; To thousands of toiling hands, now his have ceased their labor; To thousands of weary feet, now his have finished their journey.” “And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”
This honor have all His saints. Wherever the Spirit of God subdues the will of the flesh, and arms the heart to self-denying tenderness, there is greatness that awaits its coronation by the Lord of Life and Glory; a greatness which will last when the things of time and sense are passed away for ever.