Charles Spurgeon took the gospel more seriously than he took himself.
His family and friends witnessed his wit and said:
Spurgeon “never went out of his way to make a joke, — or to avoid one” (Autobiography 3:361).
“His fun was so natural, so spontaneous, and so hearty” (Autobiography 3:361).
His face was “brightened by eyes overflowing with humour and softened by a most gracious and sympathetic smile” (Fullerton, C.H. Spurgeon: A Biography, p. 188).
“His greeting was as warm as sunshine” (Fullerton, C.H. Spurgeon: A Biography, p. 189).
“I have laughed more, I verily believe, when in his company than during all the rest of my life” (Williams, Personal Reminiscences, p. 17).
In Spurgeon’s day, ministry and merriment didn’t often mix. He once said the twelfth commandment must have been, “Thou shalt [wear] a long face on Sunday” (Autobiography 3:339).
Yet laughter was medicine for Spurgeon’s soul. Humor lessened his physical and mental agonies.
“A light heart can bear heavy burdens” (The Salt Cellars 1:22).
Spurgeon’s playful personality surfaced in his sermons. Once, when accused of making a joke in the pulpit, Spurgeon said, “If you had known how many others I kept back, you would not have found fault with that one” (Autobiography 3:346). Helmut Thielicke said Spurgeon’s preaching made God’s kingdom suddenly “[pop] up not only in men’s hearts but also in their diaphragms” (Thielicke, Encounter with Spurgeon, p. 25).
Spurgeon believed “a smile was no sin” (Autobiography 3:56) and it was “less a crime to cause a momentary laughter than a half-hour’s profound slumber” (Autobiography 2:155).
“I would rather hear people laugh than I would see them asleep in the house of God” (Lectures to My Students 3:43).
“I like an honest laugh; true humour can be sanctified” (An All-Round Ministry, p. 272).
“I do believe in my heart that there may be as much holiness in a laugh as in a cry” (The Art of Illustration, p. 43).
“Sometimes, laughter may become the holiest possible expression” (MTP 44:119).
“Cheerfulness is the sunshine of the heart” (The Salt Cellars 1:100).
Spurgeon believed Christians should be the most cheerful creatures in the world. “If anybody’s mouth ought to be full of laughter . . . it should certainly be ours” (MTP 45:174). The very thought of grace caused Spurgeon to oscillate between tears and laughter.
“There are times when, if I sit alone and think of the grace of God to me, the most undeserving of all his creatures, I am ready to laugh and cry at the same time for joy that ever the Lord should have looked in love and favor upon me” (According to Promise, p. 10).
Here are a few Spurgeon quotes to make you laugh:
1. “Call me what you like, but don’t call me too late for dinner.”
The Salt Cellars 1:95
2. “There are difficulties in everything except in eating pancakes.”
John Ploughman’s Pictures, p. 193
3. “A hundred years hence we shall all be bald.”
The Salt Cellars 1:19
4. “According to the teaching of the apostle, ‘The husband is the head of the wife.’ Don’t you try to be the head; but you be the neck, then you can turn the head whichever way you like.”
5. “The preacher who measures himself by his [mirror] may please a few silly girls, but neither God nor man will long put up with him.”
John Ploughman’s Talk and Pictures, p. 25-26
6. “The only suit that lasts too long is a lawsuit, and that would not suit me at all.”
John Ploughman’s Talk, p. 208
7. “We cannot help the birds flying over our heads; but we may keep them from building their nests in our hair.”
John Ploughman’s Talk, p. 83
In addition to Spurgeon’s quotes, here are a few humorous episodes from his life:
8. Too much flesh . . .
A young man wished to join Spurgeon’s church but the young man said he had “too much flesh.” Spurgeon sent a tailor to measure him. Then the preacher measured himself.
Spurgeon said, “I had much more ‘flesh’ than he had” and immediately proposed the young man should be admitted for membership (Autobiography 3:360).
9. Sassing his mother . . .
After Spurgeon’s baptism, his mother wrote him a letter: “Ah, Charles! I often prayed the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist.”
“Ah, mother!” Spurgeon replied. “The Lord has answered your prayer with His usual bounty, and given you exceeding abundantly above what you asked or thought” (Autobiography 1:69).
10. An ignoramus agnostic . . .
An agnostic once said, “Ah! Mr. Spurgeon, I don’t agree with you about religion; I am an agnostic.”
Spurgeon replied, “Yes! [Agnostic] is a Greek word, and the exact equivalent is ignoramus; if you like to claim that title, you are quite welcome to” (Autobiography 3:360).
11. Mesopotamian Mr. Moody . . .
Spurgeon once poked fun at D. L. Moody’s American accent and said he was able to pronounce the word “Mesopotamia” in two syllables (A Marvellous Ministry, p. 62).
12. Hunting a stag . . .
Spurgeon once told a friend to shoot a deer in the distance with his rifle. His friend recounted the hunt: “I . . . crept quietly behind the trees in front of him until I got within forty yards of the animal, when, dusk as it was, I began to be suspicious, and soon discovered that the stag was bronze.”
He added, “I turned round to find Mr. Spurgeon laughing with all his might” (Autobiography 3:357).
13. Saturday-worshipping horses . . .
Every week, Spurgeon rose to his church in a carriage pulled by two horses, “Browny” and “Brandy.” On one occasion, a man came to Spurgeon’s house and accused his horses of breaking the Sabbath.
Spurgeon said his horses were Jewish and worshipped on Saturday, not Sunday (Fulton, Charles H. Spurgeon: Our Ally, p. 237).
14. A painless dentistry . . .
When Spurgeon was 54, he fell down a flight of marble stairs at his hotel in France. The preacher did a “double somersault” in the air before landing hard on the floor.
After knocking out his teeth, Spurgeon rose to his feet and said the whole ordeal had been “a painless dentistry” (Autobiography 4:222).
15. Dummy books . . .
After moving to London in 1854, Spurgeon could not afford to stock his many shelves with books. He had his book binder create blank dummy books (which he later replaced with real books). He titled some of them:
“Aches and Pains, by Feltham (felt ‘em)”
“Cricket on the Green, by Balls”
“Over the Stream, by Bridge”
“Do it Again, by Dunnett (done it)”
“Rags and Ruin, by a Brewer”
“Pilgrim’s Progress hindered by a Bunyan (bunion)”
“Lectures to My Servants, by a Shrew” (Autobiography 4:292).
16. Pity the children . . .
In his personal copy of William Day’s commentary on Isaiah, Spurgeon wrote:
“It was written for children according to the preface and we pity the children who have to read it” (William Day, Expositions on Isaiah, The Spurgeon Library).
17. Calling the cops on his congregants . . .
Spurgeon once preached to a large crowd in Islington. During his sermon he paused and said, “There are two persons near the door, if they do not behave better, I must desire the police to remove them” (Stevenson, Sketch of the Life and Ministry of Rev. Charles Spurgeon, p. 29).
18. A pint in the pocket . . .
Spurgeon once saw a man carrying a pint of gin into his church. During his sermon, he singled out the man by pointing to him and saying:
“Even that man standing in the gallery with a pint of gin in his pocket may be saved” (Ellis, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, pp. 71-72).
19. The color of marriage . . .
“In what colored ink should a promise of marriage be written?” someone asked Spurgeon.
The preacher thought for a moment and replied, “In violet” [inviolate: “untouched”] (Autobiography 3:351).
20. Red vs. gold . . .
Spurgeon won a humor contest for this joke:
A red-headed man once told Spurgeon that his hair was “not red, but golden.”
Spurgeon replied, “Ah! Yes, golden . . . eighteen carat” (Williams, Personal Reminiscences, p. 161).
21. Spurgeon on a horse . . .
Spurgeon was once encouraged to ride a horse to remedy his “excessive corpulency” and to attract a crowd. As the preacher came trotting toward the gate, his horsemanship was described as “not particularly flattering.” Someone in the crowd said he should “get inside” before the chorus erupted with “Here he comes,” “here he comes.”
After the embarrassing incident, Spurgeon “relinquished equestrianism for his accustomed mode of progression” (Northrop, Life and Works of Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon, p. 617).