Tricked into Preaching

Within a matter of months, Spurgeon would preach his first sermon, tricked into doing so by an older friend who encouraged him to go to a meeting at a Teversham cottage, where a promising young man was to preach his first sermon. As he was later to relate, "It seemed a great risk and a serious trial; but depending upon the power of the Holy Ghost, I would at least tell out the story of the cross, and not allow the people to go home without a word."

That would be Spurgeon's practice and pledge for the remainder of his remarkable ministry. By the next year, Spurgeon had been called as pastor of a small chapel at Waterbeach, where his reputation soon expanded throughout the Cambridgeshire area. By 1853, his reputation took him to the pulpit of the famed New Park Street Baptist Church in London.

The New Park Baptist Church had once been numbered among London's most famous and well-attended churches. Previous pastors had included Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and John Rippon. But the 1200-seat sanctuary held only about one hundred when Spurgeon arrived to preach a guest sermon. Within eighteen months, the congregation would be forced into the cavernous Exeter Hall in order to accommodate the thousands who came to hear their preacher.

The scene would shift in 1861 to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle in south London, where Spurgeon would draw a congregation of no less than 6,000 persons for thirty years.

His unprecedented ministry defies summarization, but one homiletical resource states it in stark terms: "Before he was twenty a significant church in London called him as pastor. Within two years he was preaching to audiences of 10,000 people; at twenty-two he was the most popular preacher of his day. By the time he was twenty-seven, a church seating 6,000 people had been built to accommodate the crowds which flocked to hear him preach. For over thirty years he pastored the same church without decrease in power or appeal."

Indeed, Spurgeon dominated the pulpit of his age like a Colossus, with his services drawing thousands and his printed sermons hitting the streets within hours of their pulpit delivery.  The defining characteristic of Spurgeon's ministry is precisely what is missing from so many pulpits today - an undiluted passion for the exposition and proclamation of God's Word. Can such passion be recovered?

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R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to mail@albertmohler.com.