Charles Spurgeon often worked 18 hours a day.

His collected sermons fill 63 volumes (the largest set by a single author in church history).

He read six books a week and could recall their contents.

He read through The Pilgrim’s Progress more than 100 times.

14,460 people were added to his church’s membership, and he did most of the membership interviews himself.

He trained 900 men to the pastorate.

He founded an orphanage.

He edited a magazine.

He produced more than 140 books.

He received 500 letters a week to respond to.

More than 25,000 copies of his sermons were printed each week.

He often preached 10 times a week in various churches.

He did all this while suffering from gout, rheumatism, and Bright’s disease—living only to the age of 57.

And his wife was ill most of that time.

In a new interview with Tom Nettles, author of the acclaimed new biography, Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Matt Smethurst asks:

How is this really possible, even for a perfectly fit man? Is some of this hagiography? Was Spurgeon a workaholic?

Nettles responds:

This isn’t hagiography; it’s simple fact. One could say, “Do the math.” To overestimate how well he did each thing would be hagiography, but to note he actually did them is true.

His book reviews were pertinent but not, for the most part, extended critical reviews.

Sometimes sermon preparation overwhelmed him, for he was unable to use sermons more than once due to their immediate availability to the public through print.

He had effective, talented, and devoted deacons and elders who aided him in every aspect of his ministry. They took on much of the burden of initially interviewing new converts and prospective members and preparing the way for Spurgeon’s final interview.

His brother did almost all the baptizing, and the discipline of the congregation was largely in the elders’ hands.

In letter writing Spurgeon was the master of short but witty, sensitive, and relevant responses. He also had a personal secretary who aided in his daily literary production, as well as devoted publishers who wanted everything he spoke or wrote.

Read the whole interview here.

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One thought on “Spurgeon, Hagiography, and History”

  1. anaquaduck says:

    Hagio what? I have a paperback daily devotion by Spurgeon. It lost its cover about a year ago & went from 2 sections to 3 last week. I have just passed it on to a new friend who is into writing poetry & playing the guitar. It’s my hope that God will help him as much as He has helped me.

    God can accomplish much with suffering… I also have a “twelve striking sermons” for when I have, or make, more time to read.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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