- Out of curiosity, why did you get into this?
Our curator, Phil Johnson, was afflicted in early 1995 with a serious inflammation of the lungs and couldn't work for two months. During that time he purchased Internet access and began surfing the 'net. He noticed a scarcity of well-designed Christian sites on the Web (which was still quite new at the time). There were lots of unformatted ASCII files, but very little that was pleasing to look at or easy to use.
Phil had been in and around publishing for 20 years. And he had the idea that an aesthetically-pleasing and content-rich web site might reach more people than ASCII files on gopher servers. So he began posting material from his favorite Christian authors. The Spurgeon site was soon getting hundreds of hits per day, so Phil began to focus most of his energies there. (He says that is fitting, because Spurgeon is his own all-time favorite.)
Phil tries to add a thing or two every week he's not traveling, and the site has grown rapidly.
- How can I help?
We're not actively soliciting financial support, and we maintain no mailing list. operates without any paid staff or full-time workers. This is a part-time effortessentially a hobby of Phil Johnson's.
- Why can't I download all the sermons in the indexes?
Because we don't have them all on line yet. In fact, the six-hundred-plus sermons you'll find at are only a fraction of the whole. In all, Spurgeon published more than 3500 sermons. Most of the ones we have in our on-line collection are linked to the indexes, so if you find a sermon listed as a live link, you can click on that link and go straight to the sermon. If a listing isn't highlighted with a link, it means we don't have it in our collection yet.
- I need a specific sermon that you don't have on-line yet. Can you post it for me?
Perhaps. When Phil's schedule permits, he tries to fulfill such requests immediately. E-mail him with your requests and he will do his best to provide an e-text copy of the sermon you are looking for, even if he cannot post the sermon immediately. When he is traveling or otherwise occupied, however, he may not be able to reply at all. He does try to move all requested sermons to the top of the priority pile.
- Is there any chance of getting the whole of the "Met. Tab." into electronic format? How about the entire works of Owen?
Sorry, only one question is permitted at a time.
As for the complete Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit collection, you may order this in electronic format from Ages Software. Our goal is to have all the sermons on line eventually, proofread and formatted to a high standard. This is, however, a mammoth task. The work of formatting and proofreading sermons is very time-consuming. It will likely be years before our on-line collection is complete. In the meantime, most of the Ages sermons are highly accurate scans, and we think you'll find all their software is well worth the meager cost.
As for John Owen, you may also order his complete works on CD-ROM from Ages. We'll have to leave the work of posting Owen on the Web for others to do. The curator originally had ambitious plans for The Cotton Mather Home Page, devoted to another of his favorite historical characters. But the popularity of has been so great that the time demands for its upkeep means we cannot be involved to this degree in other sites featuring similarly prolific men of God.
- Is there a subject index?
No. There are alphabetical title indexes, Scripture indexes, and
chronological indexes. There is also a link to some fine search engines for key-word searches.
- Why don't you have your own on-site search engine?
Very simply, because our curator lacks the technical expertise to set one up. (See above.) We have eschewed the "free" search engines available on-line because they all seem to include some form of built-in advertising or commercialism that is distasteful to the curator.
- Can I buy ad space or get a prominent link on for my bookstore, church, or business?
No. We have deliberately kept the site as commercial-free as possible. We rarely link to sites that are predominantly commercial. The few exceptions include Pilgrim Publications and Ages Software, because of their generosity in allowing us unrestricted use of their Spurgeon material. (We occasionally make exceptions for other commercial Web sites that feature other important Spurgeon resources, but this is done solely at Phil Johnson's discretion, and not by request.) See below for more information about Web sites we link to.
- Where can I obtain hardcopy editions or my own CD-ROM copy of the sermons?
Printed, well-bound reprints of the complete New Park Street Pulpit and the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit are available from Pilgrim Publications63 volumes in all. We highly recommend these books.
Also, Ages Digital Library now offers a superb CD-ROM with the complete text of all Spurgeon's published sermons. It is well worth the modest price. Highly recommended by .
- Do your sermons work with the Online Bible for Windows or any other Bible software?
Unfortunately, no. The Online Bible is the source of our Treasury of David, however. And Larry Pierce, creator of The Online Bible, graciously contributed the invaluable indexes to Spurgeon's sermons. Ages Digital Library has a version of the sermon collection that works with Logos and the Libronix System.
- What are the copyright restrictions on ?
Our copyright notice covers only our page design, our graphics, and whatever copyrighted articles we have that are written by modern authors about Spurgeon. All Spurgeon's original printed works (not modified or updated-language versions) are now in the public domain, so they can be reproduced without permission from us or anyone else, for any purpose.
- You mean I can download as much of as I want, and save it to my hard drive, for free?
Yes. You can save it either as an HTML file, retaining all the formatting codes, or as a .txt file. First, go to the page you want to save, then Select File, Save As, and name the file.
- Who does your graphics, and what graphics programs do you use?
Our curator (who is an admitted hack when it comes to page design and artwork) does all the graphics and HTML formatting on all our pages.
We use an HP Scanjet flatbed scanner for photos. All our original graphics, including colorized photos, text with drop shadows, and all the trademark features of are done by Phil using Paint Shop Pro.
Most of our graphics are 17K or less, and page design is simple, with the only goal to make readable, interesting pages. You won't find Flash animations, frames, pop-up windows, or other bells and whistles here. The content, not the technology, is our chief concern. (Plus, our curator is a total imbecile when it comes to Java, frames, cascading style sheets, and other advanced HTML features.)
If you have serious problems with the way any of our pages display in your browser, please e-mail Phil with a description of the problem and the full URL of the page in question. If you have picayune complaints about Phil's artistic tastes (or lack thereof), save it. Isn't it perfectly clear that he doesn't have enough aesthetic sense to grasp what you are talking about?
- I've heard Spurgeon was never ordained. Is that correct?
- Did he perform marriages?
Yes, he did, but not very often. He said this in sermon no. 2243:
I have had infinitely more pleasure at death-beds than I have had at weddings. I have been to many marriage-feasts, I have gone there at duty's call; but I can confirm what Solomon said, "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for it is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart." I am not aware that I have gained anything at a wedding, but I have gained much at the dying bed, as I have seen the joy and peace and rapture of girls and youths, and men and women, passing away joyfully to be "forever with the Lord."
In the Autobiography, (vol. 4, p. 89) Spurgeon's secretary says,
He could not often conduct funeral services, yet there were some cases in which he felt bound to make an exception to his usual rule, as he did also in the matter of weddings. The Sword and the Trowel has recorded typical instances of how thoroughly, on such occasion, he sorrowed with those who wept, and rejoiced with those who were full of happiness. Add to all this, the constant interruptions from callers, and the many minor worries to which every public man is subject, and readers may well wonder when Mr. Spurgeon could find time for reading, and study, and all the work he constantly accomplished! If they had known how much he was continually doing, they might have marveled even more, than they did. Surely, there never was a busier life than his; not an atom more of sacred service could have been crowded into it.
Volume 4 of the Autobiography (p. 127) also includes this letter from Spurgeon regarding pending legislation that would give ministers certain civil responsibilities in registering marriages they performed. This fairly summarizes Spurgeon's view of marriage: It's primarily a spiritual covenant, and if the state wants to make it a civil contract as well, that's fine, but the lines of distinction between church and state need to be maintained:
April 9, 1881.
I regard marriage as a civil contract, which ought to be made before a magistrate or a registrar. I should be glad to be rid of marrying and burying altogether as religious matters, save only where there is a sincere desire for the Divine blessing or consolation. In these cases, let the minister hold a service at the house or the meeting-house; but do not make him a State official to register marriages, and to be held responsible for all the intricacies of marriage law.
I hope Mr. Briggs' proposal will never pass, or anything like it. If it did, I could only refuse to marry anybody, for I will not become a registrar. I altogether agree with the reported action of the Liberation Society, and wish for the time when all marriages shall ‘be at the registrar's office, and then the godly can have such religious service afterwards as; they wish.
Yours ever heartily,
C. H. SPURGEON."
- Did Spurgeon preach from a manuscript?
Incredibly, most of his preaching was extemporaneous. He used little more than an outline for notes. (One of Spurgeon's handwritten outlines is reproduced in his autobiography. We hope to post a few more of them on-line eventually.) Spurgeon usually prepared his sermons late Saturday night (sometimes jotting only the barest of outlines on a little scrap of paper). This is not a recommended method of sermon preparation, unless you are a highly gifted preacher with a photographic memory, very sharp wits, a lifetime of in-depth reading, an encyclopedic knowledge of theology, a superb command of the English language, and a deep personal spiritual life.
- Your on-line Spurgeon biography lists his lifespan as 1834-1892. But the sermon indexes show sermons all the way to 1917. Is
there some mistake, or am I missing something?
No mistake. Spurgeon preached at least twice a week, but only one sermon per week was published during his lifetime as a part of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit collection. The last sermon he preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle was "The Statute of David for the Sharing of the Spoil," (#2208), on June 17, 1891. When Spurgeon died in January 1892, there were nearly 25 years' worth of sermons yet unpublished. The publishers continued releasing a sermon each week until the supply was nearly exhausted, and the beginning of World War I resulted in a critical paper shortage.
- How were these sermons recorded for publication?
Spurgeon had several loyal transcriptionists, who took down in shorthand everything he said. Those stenographic records were then transcribed and typeset. Spurgeon personally edited the typeset copy for publication. (In later years his secretary, Mr. Harrald, did this.) One of these typeset transcripts is also reproduced in the autobiography, with Spurgeon's editorial revisions inked in his own hand. It is interesting to see what a gifted editor Spurgeon was. And it may also be some comfort to the preacher of lesser gifts, to see that some of Spurgeon's profound eloquence was actually edited into the sermons that were published.
- How long did it take Spurgeon to preach a typical sermon?
He always stayed within 40-45 minutes. This was necessitated partly by the length required for the printed sermons. For the first six years of Spurgeon's ministry, paper was heavily taxed, so individual printed sermons were formatted to use as little paper as possible. That is why the type is so small in the New Park Street Pulpit series, but it becomes more readable in the Metropolitan Tapernacle Pulpit.
Spurgeon delivered the messages with ringing vocal tones and perfect articulation of each word. All observers testified that he had no difficulty whatsoever in making himself heard clearly in the furthest parts of the largest auditoriums. Thomas Allen Reed was for many years Spurgeon's chief transcriptionist. He analyzed Spurgeon's rate of speaking and recorded this:
The average rate of public speaking is about 120 words a minute. Some speakers vary greatly in their speech. I have, for example, a memorandum of a sermon by Mr. Spurgeon, showing that during the first ten minutes he spoke at the rate of 123 words a minute; the second ten minutes, 132; the third ten minutes, 128; the fourth ten minutes, 155; and the remaining nine minutes, 162; giving an average of about 140 words a minute. Another sermon shows an average of 125 words a minute: namely, the first ten minutes, 119; the second ten minutes, 118; the third ten minutes, 139; and the remaining sixteen minutes, 126. Taking the average of a number of sermons, his rate may be reckoned to be nearly 140 words a minute.
Complete details of how Spurgeon's sermons were recorded and published are found in Charles Ray's book A Marvellous Ministry.
- A friend told me Charles Spurgeon smoked like a chimney. Is this true?
Spurgeon was well-known for his love of fine cigars. He characterized his own smoking as moderate, however, and would no doubt have objected to the expression "smoked like a chimney." Based on actual eyewitness accounts of his smoking, it seems he probably smoked fewer than one cigar a day, on average. Most of the older (pre-1940s) Spurgeon biographies include information about his smoking. It certainly was not something he did secretly; it was not anything he was ashamed of; and it was not an activity he regarded as sinful. Remember, Spurgeon lived long before the harmful effects of smoking were fully understood. And his own smoking pattern did not indicate addictive behavior.
- Do you know where Spurgeon's middle name, "Haddon," Comes from?
It was his paternal uncle's name. According to G. Holden Pike, in The Life & Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
After the birth of a son and heir, whom they named after his uncle Haddon, Mr. and Mrs. John Spurgeon did not remain long at Kelvedon. . . .
(Haddon Hall is a massive 12th-century castle in Derbyshire. During Spurgeon's ministry at the Tabernacle, he helped plant a daughter church in a slum district nearby; it was named "Haddon Hall" in Spurgeon's honor and still houses an active Baptist congregation today.)
The way in which the name of Haddon came into the family is thus explained. The father of the pastor of Stambourne was a cheese factor [CHS's great-grandfather], whose working capital was inadequate, but he was always able to procure a loan from his friend Mr. Haddon, a fellow deacon. While he was a model of liberality, Mr. Haddon was eccentric, and none of his odd ways could be disregarded by those who desired to retain his favour. He would lend his friend 500 pounds at once; but although he would accept of no interest, no excuse availed if the money was not returned on the day agreed upon. The great-grandfather of the late pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle took care that nothing happened to vex his generous co-deacon; and he showed his regard by naming one of his children Haddon. In due time the mother of the future great preacher called her son Charles Haddon. Mr. Spurgeon was really named after a brother of each parentsCharles Parker Jarvis, and Haddon Rudkin Spurgeon. The present pastor of the Metropoiitan Tabernacle, the Rev. J.A. Spurgeon, informs me in a private letter: "The family of Haddon are now in America, and keep up correspondence with my dear father. They still consider 'Haddon Hall' to be rightfully theirs, though lost to the family."
About his middle name, Spurgeon himself wrote,
My second Christian nameHaddonhas often reminded me of my godly ancestry. When I have had to endorse a great heap of checks for the College and Orphanage, I have wished that my father had not given me so many initials, and I took care that my own sons should not have the same cause for complaint, for they are simply "Charles" and "Thomas." Yet there is such a pleasing story associated with the name of "Haddon" that I am very glad it was given to me. It appears that, before my grandfather became a minister, he had several years of business life as a country shop-keeper. Amongst other things, he sold cheese, which he used to buy of a wholesale dealer in that useful article of commerce. One day, a friend, named Haddon, said to him, "Mr. Spurgeon, you should go down to the cheese fairs at Derby and Leicester, and buy what you want at first hand; you would get a much larger profit if you did so." "Oh!" replied grandfather, "I could not do that, for I have not sufficient money to spare for such a purpose." "You need not have any difficulty on that score," said the generous man; "if you tell me when the next fair is to be held, I will let you have the money, and you can pay me back when you have sold the cheese. I have such confidence in your Christian integrity, that I shall be glad to aid you in this way."
Accordingly, grandfather bought the cheese, sold them at a good profit, and went to his friend who had lent him the money. This is one of the most remarkable parts of the story. When the amount was repaid, grandfather asked how much interest was due from him; but the lender replied, "Oh, Mr. Spurgeon, that is not my way of transacting business! I had that money lying idle, and you have done me great service in putting it to such good use, so I mean to give you five percent, for your trouble in laying it out for me; and when the season comes round again, I want you to buy another lot of cheese on the same terms." That very singular arrangement was continued until there was no further need of the good man's help; and, afterwards, when grandfather had a son born to him, he gave him the name of "Haddon" in remembrance of his generous friend. That son was my Uncle Haddon, who, in my childhood days, used to give out the hymns at Stambourne Meeting-house; and when my father also had a son, he gave him the name of Charles HADDON Spurgeon; and now, without any wish on my part, Mr. William Olney and his friends in Bermondsey have perpetuated the name by calling their splendid mission premises "Haddon Hall." It always seems to me that this chain of circumstances is a fresh illustration of the inspired promise, "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
- I'm going to London and would like to visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Where is the church?
If you take public transportation, you can ride the Underground from Heathrow into central London (via the Picadilly line), switch at Picadilly Circus to the southbound Bakerloo line, and ride to Elephant & Castle. The church is right there at Elephant & Castle.
A faster and only slightly more expensive option is to take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, then take the Underground via the Bakerloo Line to Elephant & Castle. (This is our preferred means of getting there.)
Of course, if you don't mind a large cab fare from Heathrow (about £35-40, I would think), tell any London cabbie you want to go to the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant & Castle. They'll know exactly how to get you there.
- Is it still an active church?
Yes, very much so. The current pastor is Dr. Peter Masters, known for his strong Calvinistic message and separatist convictions. He's a very gifted preacher, who took the helm of the church in 1970 when its membership had dwindled significantly. Many in those days were prepared to close the doors, disband as a congregation, and sell the property (The Baptist Unionthe same group that censured Spurgeon in the Downgrade Controversywere being considered as potential buyers.) Dr. Masters, who was an experienced church planter, agreed to come as pastor, and under his leadership the church has grown so that the congregation now fills the church for Sunday services. The church has a strong evangelistic ministry, belying the old canard that Calvinism and evangelism do not mix.
- How can I contact the church?
The Metropolitan Tabernacle
Elephant & Castle
London SE1 6SD, England
The Met Tab Bookshop (one of the best sources for Christian books in Europe) has its own Web site. The church also has a Web site.
- Will you link my personal Web site or my church site to ?
Not unless your site pertains to Charles H. Spurgeon.
But don't despair. Our curator maintains an annotated list of bookmarks that are practically legendary on the WWW. If you ask him nicely, he may link your site there. But be forewarnedhe is known for the candid comments he makes about sites that he finds unimpressive. You may risk being listed in a less-than-flattering category if your site features sloppy theology.
- Did you know the www.godhatesfags.com Web site has a link to ?
Yes, and we're very grateful there's a way to leave that shameful eyesore and get to something edifying. To read our curator's uncensored evaluation of Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church, and the godhatesfags.com Web site, visit the "Really, Really Bad Theology" section of Phil's Bookmarks. (The links are alphabetical; look under "godhatesfags.")
- May I link to my site? And may I use one of your graphics for the link?
- How about using your graphics for other purposes? Can I use them on my site, or in a book I'm publishing?
Not without permission. All our graphics have been edited and many of them colorized for use here. They are not in the public domain. But we usually grant permission freely, as long as you give credit or include a link back to on your page. E-mail Phil for permission.
- What does the curator look like?
He is unimpressive. A picture and a short bio of Phil are posted on his personal Web site.