Charles H. Spurgeon's Sermon Notes
This one page of handwritten notes is all Spurgeon took with him into the pulpit when he preached Sermon 2890. A full transcription of the notes is at the bottom of the page. The sermon itself, titled "Unbelievers Upbraided," is also part of the on-line collection of .
You will see by comparing these notes with the actual sermon that in the course of his preaching, Spurgeon recast or paraphrased all the wording he had jotted in his notes, and he never even reached the third main point of his outline. He seemed to know by the time he had completed his introduction that he would not preach all three points, because he announced only two of them. Comparing the notes with the actual sermon will give you some sense of how skilled Spurgeon was in speaking extemporaneously. He had an amazing facility with words, a phenomenal memory, and an uncanny ability to think on his feet.
When we remember that Spurgeon usually waited until Saturday night to prepare his outline for the Sunday morning sermon, we cannot help but be amazed at the richness and depth of his preaching. The key to this was Spurgeon's voracious reading habit. He filled his mind with the truth of God's Word from the beginning to the end of the week, every week of his life. He therefore could preach from the overflow of his heart, and his unique mind and abilities enabled him to give a sermon extemporaneously that most of us would be hard-pressed to write in a whole weeks' time. Preachers who don't have a memory like Spurgeon's or verbal abilities like his would be well advised not to try to follow Spurgeon's method, but to prepare an outline or manuscript with more meat on the bones.