Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship—Part 1 of 3

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, in Essex, England, just ten days after the death of William Carey in India, the father of the modern mission movement. He was the oldest of seventeen children. Supposedly a study of Spurgeon’s ancestry will show that he followed a direct line of preachers dating back twelve generations.[1]

Spurgeon’s father and grandfather were Congregationalist ministers. Each one had a lasting impact on the young Spurgeon. Within a year after Charles was born, he was sent to live with his grandfather, James Spurgeon, the minister of Stambourne. While under his grandfather’s care, Spurgeon began to gain a lasting understanding of Scripture.[2]

Before returning to his parents care at age 6, it is said that Spurgeon “had learned to love John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress,” a popular resource for family worship even today.[3] He would claim that he read and reread Pilgrim’s Progress over one hundred times in his lifetime.[4] “Back with his parents, he grew up in a home with strong Puritan teachings and faithful, restrained lives to match.”[5]

Family worship is a term Spurgeon used often describing the practice of home-discipleship and worship he experienced under the care of his grandparents and parents. Spurgeon’s family took responsibility on his spiritual formation. This was not thought of as the responsibility of the church. Neither, at least for him, was his education forfeited to the care of someone outside the home.

It is easy to see, in retrospect, that those early Stambourne years gave colour and bent to his whole life. It was well that he had no formal schooling (save only such elementary instruction as he could glean from old Mrs. Burleigh of the village) until he had looked out on life from the comparative solitude of Stambourne. The simplicity of his early surroundings remained with him to the end.[6]

This means that his education, like his spiritual formation, was first the priority of the home, with a view that any outside assistance only assisted what is done in the home.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was much the product of a home that took the responsibility of home-discipleship and worship seriously. The Spurgeon home contained 8 children, 9 others did not live through infancy.[7] His mother’s prayers and devotions, while Charles’s father was away during the week, made a great impact on the boy. “Her prayers, no less than her exhortations, aroused him to concern of soul.”[8] This is a testimony to the many mothers who are home with children with an absence of a Christian husband.

Sunday evenings, especially, Mrs. Spurgeon would sit with her children around their table and read Scripture, explaining it verse by verse. She would then pray prayers, that would be etched in the mind of young Charles for the rest of his life “Once she said, ‘Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance they perish, and my soul must bear swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” That was not at all in the modern vein, but it was the arrow that reached the boy’s soul.”[9]

The training received at home from his grandfather, and then his mother and father helped the young Spurgeon mature rapidly as a young man. The impact of his mother’s faithfulness to family worship was very noticeable as Spurgeon grew up. He would often reflect while preaching on the diligence and concern of his parents for his salvation.

In the first sermon he published in London, he said, “There was a boy once—a very sinful child—who hearkened not to the counsel of his parents. But his mother prayed for him, and now he stands to preach to this congregation every Sabbath. And when his mother thinks of her firstborn preaching the Gospel, she reaps a glorious harvest that makes her a glad woman”.[10]

It is noted that his father’s training made quite an impact on him too. His father and grandfathers use of the Ten Commandments in his childhood raising was productive. Spurgeon acknowledges that he most likely was kept from many sins, “But all of a sudden I met Moses,” referring to the moral Law contained in the Ten Commandments.[11]

Then there came to my startled conscience the remembrance of the universality of law. I thought of what was said of the old Roman Empire, under the rule of Caesar: if a man once broke the law of Rome, the whole world was one vast prison to him, for he could never get out of the reach of the imperial power. So did it come to be in my aroused conscience.[12]

Spurgeon once said in a sermon on Romans 5:20 called “Law and Grace” on August 26, 1855, “The law causes the offence to abound by discovering sin to the soul. When once God the Holy Ghost applies the Law to the conscience, secret sins are dragged to light, little sins are magnified to their true size, and things apparently harmless become exceedingly sinful.”[13]

For part two of Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship click here.


[1] Fullerton, W. Y. Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography. 2001. http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/bio1.htm (accessed January 14, 2009).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Spurgeon Gold: Pure. Refined. Edited by Ray Comfort. Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2005, 179.

[4] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[5] Spurgeon, Spurgeon Gold: Pure. Refined.

[6] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[7] Ibid..

[8] Ibid.

[9] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit: Law and Grace. August 26, 1855. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0037.htm (accessed January 18, 2009).

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