I picked up a few old used books this week including a C. H. Spurgeon biography by Russell H. Conwell. The illustrated 1892 work appears to be a first edition. The Reformed Reader web site has the text of Conwell’s “The World’s Great Preacher,” and I’ll probably post some of the illustrations. I particularly like the cool ones that go along with Spurgeon’s John Ploughman material. I don’t think I’ve seen them anywhere on the web before.
Certainly the Spurgeon families of Essex and Sussex which in these after days have been locally very influential and especially noble in their Christian character, have not taken great interest in the history of their ancestors, and appear to know but little concerning their achievements.
Through the three or four Generations with whom the reading public is now somewhat familiar, the Spurgeon families have been characterized for their plain common sense, sturdy industry, and stubborn adherence to certain Christian doctrines, and to have led a quiet, homely life. Neither his grandfather James Spurgeon at Stambourne, nor his father John Spurgeon of Cold-Chester and London were ever especially distinguished for their educational attainments. They were scholars of the old Congregational school, who read carefully a few standard books, who, thought deeply, but whose reading was not extensive.
While it is true that almost any man with the most ordinary powers may be able to preach a classical sermon and adorn it with quotations from Cicero, Demosthenes, Augustine, and Luther, and while it is also true that it requires both genius and most extensive learning to speak simply and clearly in plain English, yet his father and his grandfather exhibited those qualities as a result of a peculiar inherited character, rather than that of extensive education. They were not copyists, they were distinguished for their odd originality. They were often humorous and witty, presenting truth occasionally in a grotesque dress which could never be forgotten, and which more often accomplished the ends for which they spoke than the most polished essay could have done.