Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lectures to my Students by C. H. Spurgeon

Lectures to my Students, by C. H. Spurgeon,
Banner of Truth Trust, 2008, 911pp.
All three volumes of Spurgeon’s famous lectures plus Commenting and Commentaries have been included in this book. The preacher originally gave these talks to his students on Friday afternoons at the end of a full week of studies. He deliberately adopted a lively and humorous style to maintain their attention. The lectures are shot through with the ready wit and wisdom of the C. H. Spurgeon. One can imagine his students chuckling as he ridiculed the preacher who proclaimed of the love of God with clenched fists or poked fun at men who spoke in an unnatural “parsonic” voice. But there is also a high seriousness in these addresses. Spurgeon’s aim was to train men to be earnest, soul-winning preachers of the Gospel. He is deeply searching in his treatment of subjects like the minister’s self watch, the call to the ministry, the life of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in connection with our ministry.

The lectures are packed with good advice on gaining the attention of a congregation, extemporary speech and open air preaching. Spurgeon also devotes a talk to need for ministers to have a ‘blind eye and deaf ear’ so they don’t succumb to pastoral paranoia. His insistence that pastors must strive to become pastor-theologians and that sermons should be packed with sound doctrine is most welcome.
The best material is found in the first two series of lectures, prepared for the press by the man himself. The posthumously published third series is entirely devoted to ‘The Art of Illustration’. The preacher makes some telling points on the need for good sermon illustrations. But on the whole, this series does not match the vitality and vigour of the earlier talks. Several lectures consist of Spurgeon providing example after example of illustrative matter. He quotes older writers, lengthy pieces of doggerel, Aesop’s Fables, and chunks from various ‘Cyclopedias of Illustrations and Anecdotes’. Some of these illustrations may be of use to the contemporary preacher, but many are slightly quaint and old fashioned.

Men thinking about entering the ministry and theological students should read this book. Lay preachers would also benefit from Spurgeon’s counsels. More experienced ministers will find help here too. The chapter on The Minister’s Fainting Fits will be a tonic to many a weary pastor. Those feeling a little stagnant and jaded will be roused to fresh growth and development by The Necessity of Ministerial Progress.

In reviewing what Spurgeon had to say on preaching and the ministry, I feel a bit like a painter and decorator being asked to pass comment on a Rembrandt masterpiece. It has been a tough job, but someone had to do it. The Banner of Truth Trust is to be congratulated on the publication of this handsome reprint. [Reviewed for Protestant Truth magazine].

1 comment:

Jonathan Hunt said...

I have the Pilgrim Publications hardback. I love this book, you are right about the first two volumes being superior. It is timeless and should be required reading at any seminary or ministry training course.