Charles H. Spurgeon and Eschatology:
Did He Have a Discernible Millennial Position?
Erroll Hulse. The Restoration of Israel. (London: Henry E. Walter LTD., 1968), 154. Some in the "Christian Reconstructionist" or "Theonomist" movement, which holds postmillennialism as a virtual cornerstone of their system; in their writings have attempted to identify, or at least strongly imply that Spurgeon was postmillennial. See Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity (Tyler, Texas: Dominion Press, 1988), 41. DeMar and Leithart also quote Spurgeon (p. 59) in support of their position, but that will dealt with in later sections of this work. In fact, given Spurgeon's notable affection for the Puritans, the common opinion is that Spurgeon was also postmillennial. Hulse states, "Spurgeon is included here [in a listing of postmillennialists] on the grounds of his Puritanism and because of that magnificent sermon preached in 1864." (Hulse, 154).
Ibid., Carson goes on to say, "Doubtless we should be open to learning from all "authorities" in biblical and theological studies; but we should judge what they say, not on the basis of who said it, but on the basis of the wise reasons they advance."
The three best biographical sources for Spurgeon, in our opinion, are as follows: Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1993) 895 pages. G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (London: Cassell & Company, 1894, Six Volumes; reprint Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1993 Six Volumes in Two). Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography: Compiled from his Diary, Letters and Records by his Wife and Private Secretary. (London: Passmore and Alabaster Publishers, 1897; reprint Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1992, Two Volumes). The Autobiography is also available in a Banner of Truth Edition (Two Volumes, 1962 & 1973), but this edition has been edited and a large portion of material, mostly records of personal correspondence, were not included. It remains in print and is a fine edition, however, the Pilgrim Publications edition is a complete reprint of the original Passmore and Alabaster works. For an evaluation of Drummond's biography see the author's review in The Master's Seminary Journal 4:2 (Fall 1993), 229-31.
This would be Pilgrim Publications of Pasadena, Texas under the leadership of Bob L. Ross. Pilgrim's catalogue is almost exclusively dedicated the titles by or about Spurgeon. They are dedicated to reprinting the original works of Spurgeon without editing.
Russell Conwell. Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The World's Greatest Preacher. (New York: Edgewood Publishing Company, 1892), 17-18. Conwell was the able biographer and Baptist pastor, also wrote works on President James Garfield and John Wanamaker. He interviewed Spurgeon personally shortly before his last trip to Mentone, France. Regarding some of the controversies in Spurgeon's life also see Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972).
John and Eliza Spurgeon, after the manner of the time, had 17 children, but nine died in infancy. Charles was the oldest son, and he and his younger brother James Archer Spurgeon were the only boys born to the Spurgeon's. Interestingly enough, John Spurgeon outlived his son by 10 years. The rheumatic gout which ultimately led to Charles Spurgeon's death appeared in his family in every other generation. It afflicted his grandfather James Spurgeon, but his father was never affected. It was such a well-known feature of the family that James Spurgeon once remarked to Charles; "Charles, I have nothing to leave you but rheumatic gout; and I have left you a good deal of that." Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publishing Company, 1992), 80.
An ancestor of Spurgeon, Job Spurgeon, was jailed and had his property confiscated because he attended a "non-conformist" place of worship in 1677. This was a favorite story of Charles Spurgeon, who relished having descended from one who had suffered for the faith. He stated, "I had rather be descended from one who suffered for the faith, than bear the blood of all the emperors within my veins." Eric W. Hayden, The Spurgeon Family (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1993), 2.
Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography: Compiled from his Diary, Letters and Records by his Wife and Private Secretary. (London: Passmore and Alabaster Publishers, 1897; reprint Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publishing, 1992).
Spurgeon was gifted with an almost "photographic" memory. He would amaze his friends with his ability to remember people and their names even if years had passed since their last meeting. It was said that he could also remember anything that he ever read and where in the book any particular passage was located!
Bacon, Spurgeon. 16. The university system, particularly Cambridge and Oxford were not open to non-conformists until 1870. Although there were several substantial colleges and universities available, providence did not allow Spurgeon to enter any of them. His father had been rather forceful in encouraging Charles to complete a proper theological education. Arrangements had actually been made for Spurgeon to meet with Dr. Joseph Angus, then Principal of the Baptist College at Stephney (now Regent's Park College, Oxford), for an interview with a purpose of Spurgeon entering the college. Pike records, "The place of the meeting was to be at the house of a well-known publisher in the University town, and both the Doctor and the proposed student duly kept their appointment; but although both were in the same house together, it seemed destined that they were not to meet. Mr. Macmillan's servant-maid was apparently not the shrewdest of her sex; at all events, she quite failed to understand that the staid professor and the round-faced lad, who arrived at the house at nearly the same time, had any business with one another. She showed the Doctor into one parlous and closed the door; in his turn, she showed young Mr. Spurgeon into a second parlour and closed the door; and then, probably forgetting all about such a trivial circumstance, she left both of the morning callers to their peaceful cogitations. Having an appointment to keep in London, Dr. Angus had at last to hasten away to the railway station; and when Mr. Spurgeon felt that he could hold out no longer, he rang the bell, to learn when the servant came that the Doctor had gone away." Pike, Spurgeon, 1:72.
An excellent description of the core of Puritan theology is made by Duncan S. Ferguson. "The Puritan movement was steeped in Reformed theology and produced the historic Westminster Confession of Faith and innumerable volumes of dogmatics. The foundation of their confession and theological system was the assertion that the Bible was the very voice and message of God to humankind. It was the infallibly inspired work of the Holy Spirit and authoritative in all matters, including not only doctrine, worship, and church government but also civil and political problems, daily work, home life, dress, recreation and duty. The Puritans surveyed the whole gamut of life in light of the Bible and attempted to live accordingly. The literal word of Scripture was a direct message from God, spoken as much in the present as in the past." (Duncan S. Ferguson. "The Bible and Protestant Orthodoxy: The Hermeneutics of Charles Spurgeon." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25:4 [Dec 1982], 456). Ferguson goes on to offer a rather unfavorable conclusion to his article by stating, "In the final analysis, Spurgeon's understanding of the nature and interpretation of the Bible does not adequately serve this generation of evangelical Christians who have come to accept the best of current Biblical scholarship while holding concurrently to the inspiration and authority of Scripture" (466).
The New Park Street Chapel in London, would move and become the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle. Spurgeon followed Benjamin Keach (1668-1704), John Gill (1720-1771), John Rippon (1773-1836), and Joseph Angus (1838-1840). There were also two others who followed Angus for a brief time before the young Spurgeon was called in 1856. Interestingly, Angus was the principal of Stephney Baptist College to whom Spurgeon had failed to be introduced. Angus later said of Spurgeon's decision not to pursue theological education, "I should regret for your friend [Spurgeon] to settle without thorough preparation. He may be useful in either case, but his usefulness will be much greater, he will fill at all events a wider sphere, with preparation, than without it." (Drummond, Spurgeon, 173). In the providence of God, Spurgeon brought revival to a ministry where Angus did not enjoy significant blessing.
James F. Stitzinger, "The History of Expository Preaching," in Rediscovering Expository Preaching, by John F. MacArthur and the Faculty of The Master's Seminary. ed.'s Richard Mayhue and Robert L. Thomas (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing Company, 1993), 55. Spurgeon was an expositor after the manner of George Whitefield (1714-70), his homiletical hero. For a thorough evaluation of Spurgeon's exegesis and preaching see Horton Davies, "Expository Preaching: Charles Haddon Spurgeon," Foundations 6 (1963): 15.; Craig Skinner, The Preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon," Baptist History and Heritage, 19:4 (Oct. 1984), 16-26.; R. Albert Mohler Jr. "A Bee-Line to the Cross: The Preaching of Charles H. Spurgeon," Preaching 8:3 (Nov.-Dec 1992), 25-30.; and Frederick Roth Webber, A History of Preaching in Britain and America, 3 vols. (Milwaukee: Northwestern, 1957)1:602.
Again, this paper is not designed to present an interpretation, but rather examine Spurgeon's views on the subject. For an excellent and detailed survey of interpretational options of this passage see The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), 282- 90.
That distinction or discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments (i.e.: Israel and the Church) is being challenged today by proponents of the "Progressive Dispensational" position. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock state, "But this new dispensationalism see a greater continuity between the millennium and the eternal kingdom than was the case in some forms of essentialist dispensationalism." Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, Dispensationalism Israel and the Church: A Search for Definition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1992), 383. By "essentialist dispensationalism" the authors mean dispensationalism as defined by the sina qua non points of Charles Ryrie in his Dispensationalism Today (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1965), and what others have called "classic dispensationalism." It is beyond the scope of this thesis to interact with these dispensational differences. The dispensationalism that Spurgeon would have been familiar with in his day was, what could be called, "classic" as will be shown later in this thesis.
Nathaniel West, "History of the Pre-Millennial Doctrine" in Premillennial Essays of the Prophetic Conference held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, New York City, Nathaniel West (ed.), (Chicago, Illinois: Fleming H. Revell Publishers, 1879; reprint Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bryant Baptist Publications, 1981), 315. While it is admitted that this conference was held in the United States, one presenter (Dr. W. P. Mackay) and several of the participants were from England. It would be naïve to believe that Spurgeon was unaware of either these positions or perhaps even this conference.
Philip Schaff. The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1931; reprint Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1990), 3:673. To this end Charles Hodge and the Princeton Theologians could promote Postmillennialism and be within the confines of The Westminster Confession; Currently at Westminister Theological Seminary, most hold to an amillennial position while holding to the Confession; however, some of the faculty are premillennial. As already demonstrated, Nathaniel West, a Presbyterian professor of the last century could be premillennial and within the bounds of the same creed; Lewis Sperry Chafer argued that Dispensational Premillennialism was not viewed as inconsistent with the Westminster Confession in several articles in Bibliotheca Sacra 100:337-45 (1943) and 101:257-60 (1944). See also Walter A. Elwell (ed.), Dictionary of Evangelical Theologians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1993), s.v. "Lewis Sperry Chafer" by Craig A. Blaising.
George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ as covenanted in the Old Testament and Presented in the New Testament, 3 vols. (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1884; reprint, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregal Publications, 1972), 1:527. According to Peters, what is today called "amillennialism" was known as the "Anti-Millenarian" or "Past-Millenarian" view during the 19th century (see 1:459).
John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Edited by John T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles. (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press, 1960), 3:25.5. In Calvin's day the "Chiliasts" would have been synonymous with premillennialists. The word Chiliasm is derived from the phrase in Revelation 20:1-10 civlia e[th or 1,000 years, and is synonymous with the Latin millennia or 1,000.
Spurgeon, Lectures, 4:4. Spurgeon stated, "He was no trimmer and pruner of texts. He gave their meaning as far as he knew it. His honest intention was to translate the Hebrew and Greek originals as accurately as he possibly could and then to give the meaning which would naturally be conveyed by such Greek and Hebrew words." (4:4). Interestingly enough Calvin never wrote a commentary on the Book of Revelation.
Earl William Kennedy. From Pessimism to Optimism: Francis Turretin and Charles Hodge on "The Last Things," in Servant Gladly: Essays in Honor of John W. Beardslee III, edited by Jack D. Klunder (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1988), 109.
Kenneth A. Kantzer. "Our Future Hope: Eschatology and the Role of the Church." Christianity Today 31:2 (February 1987), 5. An interview article with Gleason Archer, Jack Davis, Anthony Hoekema, Alan Johnson, and John Walvoord.
Iain H. Murray. The Puritan Hope: Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971. In this book Murray presents an excellent historical theology of postmillennialism, centering on the Puritans, particularly the English Puritans.
Spurgeon had warm and pleasant relations with the Princeton Theologians. Of Charles Hodge he remarked, "With no writer do we more fully agree." Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1893; reprint, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1969), 178.
Ibid. Interestingly enough Hodge's close friend and associate at Princeton, J. A. Alexander, disagreed somewhat with Hodge's interpretation of Isaiah 45:23. In his classic Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, Alexander stated, "This text is twice applied by Paul to Christ (Rom. xiv. 11; Phil. ii. 10), in proof of his regal and judicial sovereignty. It does not necessarily predict that all shall be converted to him, since, the terms are such as to include both a voluntary and compulsory submission, and in one of these was all, without exception, shall yet recognize him as their rightful sovereign." J. A. Alexander. Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah. (New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1846; reprint Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1978), 188.
Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology refers to this work by Brown, calling it an "able work" (3:844) and referring his reader to it for further study in the interpretation of Rev. 20:1-6 and the entire postmillennial scheme.
Loraine Boettner, "Postmillennialism" in The Meaning of the Millennium. Robert G. Clouse (ed.), (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1977), 117. Boettner himself is in the "line" of the Princeton tradition on the matter of the millennium, having received his degree from Princeton in 1929, studying under Caspar Wistar Hodge, the last of the Hodge's to hold the chair of Systematic Theology at Princeton, and the youngest son of Charles Hodge and brother of A. A. Hodge.
A type of postmillennialism has also begun to emerge since the 1970's under the guise of The Christian Reconstruction Movement, or Theonomy. For an explanation of the distinction between classic postmillennialism and that of the Theonomists, see the author's "Theonomic Postmillennialism: A Continuation of the Princeton Tradition?" A paper presented to the Far-West Region of the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting, Sun Valley, California, March 1994. (Available on microfiche, through TREN). Also see Theonomy a Reformed Critique, William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey (ed's). (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1990).
J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco, California; Harper & Row, 1959), 464-89. Kelly demonstrates that the premillennial position was the apostolic position and immediate post-apostolic age and "about the middle of the second century Christian eschatology enters upon a new, rather more mature phase. The general pattern, indeed, remains unaltered, all the key ideas which form part of it being accepted without question" (494).
Charles C. Ryrie. The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers Inc., 1953), 17-35. See also Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium, 7; and Erickson, Contemporary Options in Eschatology, 94.
Nathaniel West. The Thousand Year Reign of Christ (New York: Scribner & Sons, 1889; reprint, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregal Publications, 1993, foreword by Wilbur Smith), ix. West was an ordained Presbyterian minister and for many years professor at Danville Theological Seminary. He was a leading prophetic scholar of the age participating in many of the early prophetic conferences. He was orthodox in all of his theology after the manner of the Princetonian's of the era. A close associate of his in the prophetic conferences was Dr. John T. Duffield of Princeton Seminary, whom Dr. Hodge refers to in his Systematic Theology (3:861ff). His son, Andrew West, became one of the great classical scholars of Princeton University and was dean of the graduate school he helped to begin over the objections of Princeton's president Woodrow Wilson.
Nathaniel West (ed.) Premillennial Essays of the Prophetic Conference held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, New York City (Chicago, Illinois: Fleming H. Revell Publishers, 1879; reprint, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Klock and Klock Christian Publishers, 1981), 332.
J. C. Ryle, Coming Events and Present Duties, cited by Nathaniel West (ed.) in Premillennial Essays, 7. Items 3, 4, 8, and 9 were not cited here as they did not pertain directly to the subject in question.
The Tribulation is generally understood to be a seven year period, although some historic premillennialists reject the literalness of the seven years. Douglas J. Moo "The Case for the Posttribulational Rapture Position," in The Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post- Tribulational, Richard R. Reiter (ed.) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Academie Books, a division of Zondervan Publishing Company, 1984): 171-211. Moo presents a well argued case for the posttribulational position, also demonstrating the fact that post-tribulationalism is no longer an exclusive distinction of the "Historic or Covenental" school of premillennialism; but that some dispensationalists are adopting this rapture view as well. Moo states:
What is important, we would suggest, is to distinguish carefully between the prophecies directed to Israel as a nation (and which must be fulfilled in a national Israel) and prophecies directed to Israel as the people of God (which can be fulfilled in the people of God a people that includes the church!). It should be noted that such an approach is not allegorical or nonliteral; it simply calls upon the interpreter to recognize the intended scope of any specific prophecy. It is our contention, then, that the Great Tribulation predicted for Israel by, e.g., Daniel, is directed to Israel as the people of God. It can therefore be fulfilled in the people of God, which includes the church as well as Israel [emphasis his].
However, this is a recent position shift, and no dispensationalist of Spurgeon's day would have held to this. Ryrie points out that a pretribulational position, "has become part of dispensational eschatology" (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 159). Based on the sharp distinction between Israel and the Church, which is perhaps the cornerstone of dispensationalism, a pretribulational position was demanded. In the emerging "Progressive Dispensationalism," that is no longer the case. Robert L. Saucy states, "While most dispensationalists probably would hold to a pretribulational rapture of the church as being in certain respects more harmonious with dispensationalism in general, many would not desire to make this a determining touchstone of dispensationalism today." Robert L. Saucy. The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1993), 9.
A great deal is currently being made of what has become known as "Progressive Dispensationalism" and several books have recently appeared on this subject. The key books include: Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (ed.'s), (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1992.); The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, by Robert L. Saucy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1993); and Progressive Dispensationalism: An Up-to-Date Handbook of Contemporary Dispensational Thought, by Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Wheaton, Illinois: BridgePoint Books, a division of Victor Books, 1993). The entire issue of Progressive Dispensationalism is beyond the scope of this paper, as Spurgeon would have only been familiar with the classic form of Dispensational Premillennialism as presented by Darby, Kelly, et al of the Brethren and some of the early works of "classic Dispensationalists." However, the ongoing discussion is vital in the study of dispensationalism, if what one reviewer stated is correct, "The peril is that so- called "developing dispensationalism" may in reality be none other than "disappearing dispensationalism." (Ken L. Sarles, review of Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (ed.'s). In The Master's Seminary Journal 4:1 (Spring 1993): 99.) The discussions in this area have not always been irenic; however Robert Saucy's Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, has, according to George Zemek, "will hopefully produce as a byproduct another significant toning down of the emotionally charged atmosphere that has historically characterized these debates." (George J. Zemek, review of The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism by Robert L. Saucy, In The Master's Seminary Journal 5:1 (Spring 1994): 111-12.) Those in the "classic" camp of dispensationalism have not been silent, recently advancing the debate with a new book Issues in Dispensationalism, Wesley R. Willis & John R. Master (general editors), Charles C. Ryrie (consulting editor), (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1994). In effect the issues of Spurgeon's day on this subject are returning to prominence.
See The Sword and Trowel, 2:287, 5:196, 224 for a sample of Spurgeon's comments on the Brethren. Spurgeon had little use for Darby personally and always had critical comments on his writings. In December 1872 an unsigned article in The Sword in Trowel called Darby's translation of the Bible, "a faulty and pitiable translation of the sacred book." Spurgeon actually only struggled with the "exclusive" or Darbyite faction of the Brethren. He had warm and happy relations with many in the Brethren camp, such as B. W. Newton and George Mueller, a regular companion of Spurgeon in Mentone, France; and an occasional speaker at The Metropolitan Tabernacle.
For an excellent survey of the development of the Brethren movement, see H. A. Ironside, A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985. One of the best biographies of Darby is Max S. Weremchuk, John Nelson Darby: A Biography (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux, 1992).
Ryrie states: There is no question that the Plymouth Brethren, or which John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) was a leader, had much to do with the systematizing and promoting of dispensationalism. But neither Darby nor the Brethren originated the concepts involved in the system. (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 74.)
For further information see: B. W. Newton, Thoughts on the Apocalypse (London: Houlston & Sons, 1853); and S. P. Tregelles, The Hope of Christ's Second Coming (London, Worthing Publishing, 1866). Again, the common notion is that The Brethren movement is part and parcel with pretribulational, premillennialism and dispensationalism in general. While in the most part this is true, it is not a necessary connection. The Brethren movement was primarily founded on the issue of ecclesiology. Again the reader is directed to H. A. Ironside's Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement for a more detailed discussion. Another excellent work in this field is, The Origins of Dispensationalism: The Darby Factor, by Larry Crutchfield (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1991).
For an extensive discussion of this point see Ralph H. Alexander "Ezekiel" in The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Frank E. Gaebelien (ed.), (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1986), 6:946ff. Alexander presents an extended excursus on Ezekiel 40-48 and the interpretation of the sacrificial system in the millennial kingdom. As to the efficacy of the Old Testament sacrifices themselves, there are diverse views, but the question is beyond the scope of this thesis, but for a thorough discussion see Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology, 2:498-515.
Obviously these are general observations. Within all of these positions, even in Spurgeon's day, there was some room for differences of the finer points. For example some of the Historic Premillennial position hold to a literal 1,000 years while others view this to be symbolic for a long period of time. Today, in some circles, a pretribulational rapture is no longer considered an essential part of Dispensational Premillennialism. Some Postmillennialists see a Tribulation at the end of the Millennium, others do not. Since Dispensationalists see the Resurrection of the righteous in multiple phases, they have been accused by their detractors of believing in three resurrections.
Ibid., 1:83. Even in Spurgeon's day the number of the beast and the identity of the Antichrist were items of intense discussion. Spurgeon was cautious that prophecy, when misused, would be a detriment to the proclamation of the gospel. During his ministry there was a great deal of prophetic speculation that Jesus would return in 1866. When Christ did not return in that year, the very thing Spurgeon feared began to happen; that is unbelievers began to ridicule all Christian preaching. Regarding this Spurgeon stated, "I am afraid of that spirit 'where is the promise of His coming? etc. etc.' And to pronounce 'all prophets as liars' came to me exceedingly harsh; yea, more than that, it was calculated, I feared, to influence thousands of minds, and lead them in a wrong direction" (Pike, Spurgeon, 3:122).
Spurgeon, "To-Morrow," in The New Park Street Pulpit, 2:237. Of course New Park Street Chapel was the name of Spurgeon's church in London before the new building was erected and the church renamed, The Metropolitan Tabernacle.
In his magnum opus, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin refers only once to any verse in Revelation 20 ( Institutes, 3.25.5), where in a passing remark he rejects the notion of a premillennial return of Christ. He cites Daniel 12:1 twice (Institutes, 1.14.7, 8) in his discussion of angels; Daniel 12:2 once (Institutes, 3.25.7) in his discussion of the resurrection; and Daniel 12:3 once (Institutes, 3.25.10) in his discussion of eternal life. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, two volumes (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminister Press, 1960. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles, edited by John T. McNeill)
James E. Rosscup. Commentaries for Biblical Expositors. (Sun Valley, California: Grace Book Shack, 1993), 22. In discussing Albert Barnes works, "Barnes Notes: Explanatory and Practical, " Spurgeon stated: "If a controversial eye had been turned upon Barnes' Notes years ago, and his inaccuracies shown up by some unsparing hand, he would never have had the popularity which at one time set rival publishers advertising him in every direction." (Lectures, Commenting and Commentaries, 4:14.)
Charles H. Spurgeon. The Treasury of David: An Expositional and Devotional Commentary on the Psalms. Seven volumes (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1870-1884; reprint Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977), 1:183. This set is also currently published by Pilgrim Publications.
Charles H. Spurgeon. Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom. (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1893; reprint Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publishing Company, 1974), 217. While this commentary was put into print soon after his death, it cannot be counted as much more than a "rough draft." Most of it was completed while he was recuperating in Mentone, France without the benefit of either revision or consultation in his massive library.
Charles H. Spurgeon, review of Short Arguments about the Millennium; or plain proofs for plain Christians that the coming of Christ will not be pre-millennial; that his reign will not be personal, B. C. Young. In The Sword and Trowel 1:470 (October 1867).
It should be noted again that Spurgeon was not against all members of the Brethren. The Plymouth Brethren early on split between John Nelson Darby and B. W. Newton. Darby and his followers being known as the "Exclusive Brethren" and Newton's group becoming known as the "Open Brethren" or "Bethesda Group." Spurgeon had little use for the "Exclusive" branch of Brethrenism but he maintained warm relations with many in the "Open" school, among those being B. W. Newton and George Mueller. Even within the "Exclusive" group he respected the commentary work of William Kelly and C. H. Macintosh, although he generally disagreed with their conclusions.
Interestingly Spurgeon's view here follows a similar line which a committee for the Presbyterian Church in the United States took in 1943 in evaluating Dispensationalism in light of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Ernest Thompson in his Presbyterians in the South, 3 vols. (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1963-73) stated the following: "This committee, composed of representatives from the theological seminaries, to whom a couple of old-fashioned premillenarians [i.e. historic or covenantal premillennialists] were later added, brought in a lengthy and carefully worded report, adopted practically without debate, which ended with the unanimous opinion of the committee that dispensationalism was 'out of accord with the system of doctrine set forth in the Confession of Faith, not primarily or simply in the field of eschatology, but because it attacks the very heart of the theology of our church,'" (3:488). The General Assembly took no official action on the report
The article is in fact unsigned, and also refers to Spurgeon in the third person, indicating that someone other than Spurgeon wrote the piece. See "Jerusalem Which is Above," in The Sword and Trowel (August 1866): 371. Spurgeon, as the editor for The Sword and Trowel, did approve of all of the copy, but it seems unwise to use this article as a primary source as Murray has done. This author's conclusion that Spurgeon did not author the article in question is also supported by Dr. Bob L. Ross, Director of Pilgrim Publications in Pasadena Texas, a major reprinter of the Spurgeonic literary legacy.
The year of 1866 was signaled as the time for Christ's return by many in England. This was developed mainly from the work of James Hatley Frere and his book A Combined View of the Prophecies of Daniel, Esdras, and St. John (1815). As Bebbington states Frere gained most of his reputation because, "Frere enjoyed the prestige of predicting, shortly before Waterloo, the downfall of Napoleon," (Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Britain, 82.) Spurgeon was also familiar with this work and stated, "This has been esteemed by many in its day, but we do not recommend its purchase," (Spurgeon, Lectures: Commenting and Commentaries, 4:127). In short it was believed that Napoleon III (1808-73) was the Antichrist and timing the seven year tribulation from his campaign in Italy in 1859, it was believed Christ would return in 1866. Spurgeon obviously rejected any such notion.
George Albert Rogers, Lectures on the Book of Revelation (London: John Snow Booksellers, 1844). This particular commentary is now extremely rare, the only copy available in the United States being at the Syracuse University library in New York.
This was a controversy which precipitated Spurgeon's withdrawal from the Baptist Union. It is beyond the scope of this thesis to give space to present a discussion of this controversy. In short this was a controversey which began when Spurgeon issued a series of articles in The Sword and Trowel, chronicling the decline of Biblical Christianity in his time. He cited higher criticism from Germany and its effect on authority of the Scripture and the natural decline in doctrinal purity and evangelical fervor as the chief problems. He and Mr. Robert Shindler commented on this issue in The Sword and Trowel for several months with the culmination coming in his withdrawal from the Baptist Union in October 1887. There are several excellent sources for information on this subject. See: The Down Grade Controversy: Collected Materials which Reveal the Viewpoint of the Late Charles H., Spurgeon (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, n.d.); John F. MacArthur Jr. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World. (Waco, Texas: Word Publishing Company, 1993), particularly appendix one; Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1966); and Lewis A. Drummond. Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1992). Also J. C. Carlile's C. H. Spurgeon: An Interpretive Biography (London: Religious Tract Society, 1933) is an excellent source as he evaluates the history of the controversy and shows that Spurgeon had been vindicated.
Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony, publishers of Watching and Waiting. This group adheres to a "historic premillennial" position as noted by E. L. Bynum (Plains Baptist Challenger, September 1990, 49:9, 1), and their own testimony.
In the introduction to The Puritan Hope, Murray explains that he himself was premillennial in his youth, but upon reflection on the great creedal statements of the Reformed tradition, the Puritan writers and the scriptures, he became convinced that "millenarianism" was an untenable position.
This article, as already mentioned is attributed to Spurgeon by Iain Murray in The Puritan Hope (259). However, it is not entirely clear whether or not this is the case. The article itself is unsigned and refers to Spurgeon in the third person (372). In a personal conversation with Bob L. Ross of Pilgrim Publications (Pasadena, Texas) on February 1, 1994, it was his opinion that the article was not written by Spurgeon. For that reason Pilgrim Publications did not included it in their Sword and Trowel reprint (Vol. 1). While Spurgeon was editing the journal and approved of all the contents; however, since this quote cannot not be attributed to him with 100% confidence it is not used for support in this thesis .
Masters states this: "Spurgeon clearly dismissed all the special features of dispensational premillennialism the postponement teaching; the secret rapture; the dual return of Christ; the presence of unredeemed people during the millennial reign; the rebuilding of the Temple, the re-establishment of the Old Testament theocracy; and the resurgence of evil after 1000 years, with Satan's little season and Armageddon at the close of the millennium." ("Spurgeon's Eschatology," 38). Again Masters is not entirely accurate in his depiction of dispensationalism, but this issue is beyond the scope of this thesis.
It is important to observe the relationship between this eschatological position [pretribulationalism] and the general theological system known as dispensationalism. In practice they are almost invariably wedded to one another, yet logically they are somewhat independent. All dispensationalists are pretribulationalists for pretribulationalism is a part of the full system of dispensationalism but not all pretribulationalists are dispensationalists. (Erickson, Contemporary Options, 125.)
While this author and others agree with Erickson's assessment and would argue that pretribulationalism is an essential and necessary feature of dispensationalism, there are now others who would not. As mentioned earlier there are those in the "Progressive Dispensational" camp would no longer hold pretribulationalism as essential to dispensational premillennialism.
This position was first articulated by Marvin Rosenthal in The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), although most acknowledge that it was Van Kampen who originated the concept. Rosenthal's work has been thoroughly critiqued in several journals, the best of which perhaps being by John McLean in the Michigan Journal of Theology (Vol. 2:1 & 2, 1992). For a discussion of Van Kampen's, The Sign, see John A. Witmer in Bibliotheca Sacra 151:113-16 (Jan.-March 1994)
In critiquing Van Kampen here the references to Spurgeon will show a different pagination than the ones in The Sign as this work utilizes the sermon and exposition from the original Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (Vol. 42, 1896) series and Van Kampen references the sermon from a collection of Spurgeon's sermons, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1965). The sermons themselves are identical in both works.
Interestingly enough the first book presenting the "Pre- Wrath" position, by Marvin Rosenthal has as a sub-title, "A new understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming" [emphasis his]. If it is "new" understanding then it follows that an appeal to an older authority in support of the position has undermined the thesis' claim to originality!
Spurgeon, "The Harvest and the Vintage," 50:554. Interestingly enough this particular sermon was delivered at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on September 17, 1876, only few years before the message which Van Kampen is quoting from. If Spurgeon was now putting the features of eschatology in "chronological order" it was a clear departure from his previous understanding.
Ladd, "Historic Premillennialism," 27. The Westminster Confession, Chapter 25, Section VI, declares the pope to the Antichrist, and with this Spurgeon was in complete agreement. See Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, 103-104.
S. H. Kellog, "Christ's Coming: Will it be Premillennial" in, Premillennial Essays of the Prophetic Conference held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, New York City, Nathaniel West (ed.) (Chicago, Illinois: Fleming H. Revell Publishers, 1879; reprint Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bryant Baptist Publications, 1981), 74. S. H. Kellog (1839-99) was one of the outstanding linguists and theologians in the Presbyterian church. He graduated with high honors from Princeton College and Seminary in 1861 where he studied under Charles Hodge and Addision Alexander.
George Marsden. Fundamentalism and the American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 84. Interestingly enough Gordon and Pierson were frequent preacher at Spurgeon's Tabernacle and A. C. Dixon (a dispensationalist) served as pastor for several years after Thomas Spurgeon retired due to ill health.