HE TITLE OF THIS CHAPTER has been chosen so that we can wander among books and browse where we will.
On Thy most holy hill;
Oh, shed Thy grace abroad in me,
To mould me to Thy will.
Thy gate of pearl stands wide
Oh, tame my tongue to peace,
The vile, though proudly great,
Faithful, but meekly kind,
But, Lord, these graces all
A number of booklets by Spurgeon have also been issued. Perhaps The Greatest Fight in the World, his last conference address, published in the form made familiar to us by Henry Drummond, has had the largest circulation. Spurgeon's Almanack was also published year by year.
At intervals pictorial albums have been issued describing the tabernacle, the orphanage, and Mr. Spurgeon's home, and the last work that engaged him was a memorial of his early days, Memories of Stambourne.
The annual volumes of The Sword and the Trowel began in 1865 and were continued until the endtwenty-eight years. Buried in these volumes is some of the best work the editor ever did.
The whole Spurgeon Library, therefore, taking no count of tractates, consists of no less than 135 volumes of which he was the author and twenty-eight which he edited163 volumes in all, or, including the reprints, 176! If we add the albums and the pamphlets, we arrive at a total of 200 books!
At the time of his death there were 12,000 volumes in Mr. Spurgeon's library, in addition to those that he had sent to furnish the well-filled shelves of the library in the college. The Westwood collection was scattered, some souvenir volumes going to friends in Britain, and the remainder to America.
The story is interesting. When the Baptist World Congress was being held in London in 1905, a friend of the William Jewell College in Missouri viewed the collection, and after he returned home, the trustees of the college, whom he had interested, determined to purchase the collection, and cabled over an offer of £500, asking Dr. Thirtle to carry through the negotiations. Two days later the evening papers of St. Louis announced that the William Jewell College had become possessors of Spurgeon's library. The books, varying in size from folios to duodecimos, and numbering some 7000, many of them rare volumes, were on their arrival welcomed as the sign of a new era in the college life. It was argued that the college must have a new library building to hold them, and that expansion must proceed everywhere else in the institution. The appeal for enlargement was made, and the "Spurgeon Library" was the chief factor in bringing a response of a million dollars for the college treasury. Americans are disposed to boast that the most eloquent memorial of the great preacher is with them rather than with his British kinsfolk and friends.
If it is asked what Mr. Spurgeon himself read, the answer is that he read everything. His daily newspaper was The Times. The Bible was his constant study, perhaps next came John Bunyan. "Prick him anywhere," he says, "and you will find that his blood is Bibline." Carlyle's French Revolution was read again and again. Boswell's Johnson, Lockhart's Life of Scott, and Mrs. Oliphant's Life of Irving were favourites. Scott and Dickens had their turn, and of course the Puritans. Then he read the books he reviewed in his magazine, and he was always on the lookout for rare volumes that he desired, as they might be catalogued by second-hand booksellers. Dr. Maclaren once had a race with him for an old volume. Dr. Angus on another occasion was also just too late.
In many of Mr. Spurgeon's books the autograph of the author was preserved, and Spurgeon's own comments lent value to some of the volumes. As an example, on the flyleaf of Things New and Old, by John Spenser, MDCLVIII
He delighted in scattering books. Of Mrs. Spurgeon's book fund we have already spoken in the "Intimate" chapter. At every conference she presented a volume to the ministers attending, and those who took special part were sure to have a book, autographed by Mr. Spurgeon, in acknowledgement.
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Colportage Association, founded in 1866, was always Mr. Spurgeon's special care. At the close of 1891 some ninety-six colporteurs were employed, and from the beginning up to that time the total value of the sales was no less than £153,784, while nearly twelve million visits had been paid to the homes of the people. The association amalgamated with the Christian Colportage Association in 1955, and continues its good work in the villages, towns, and markets of Great Britain.
So Mr. Spurgeon, the preacher, was in a very real sense a bookman. He knew books, he wrote books, he read books, he distributed books, he reviewed books; his opinions on current literature were greatly valued, and his own books eagerly bought. By them he still speaks today to many who never heard, and never could have heard, his voice. So the seed is multiplied, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold, and the harvest is at length gathered into the barn.