C.H. Spurgeon on the Doctrines of Grace

CH Spurgeon on the Doctrines of Grace

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) has proven to be one of the greatest preachers, if not the greatest preacher, since the days of the apostles. The appeal of Spurgeon’s preaching was almost immediate, and his Metropolitan Tabernacle was regularly filled with 5000-6000 people.[1]

Steven Lawson summarizes the massive scope of Spurgeon’s ministry as seen in the volume of his published sermons and written works:

By 1863, Spurgeon’s sermons had already sold more than eight million copies. At the time of his death in 1892, fifty million copies had been sold. By the end of the nineteenth century, more than a hundred million sermons had been sold in twenty-three languages, a figure unmatched by any preacher before or since.

Today, this number has reached well over three hundred million copies. A century after his death, there were more works in print by Spurgeon than by any other English-speaking author. Spurgeon is history’s most widely read preacher. [2]

The incredible reach of Spurgeon’s preaching was by no means attained by peddling a shallow Gospel. Instead, one is struck by the theological richness of Spurgeon’s sermons. He did not waste time on trifles, and he did not neglect difficult doctrines. In Spurgeon we find an example of the pastor-theologian that has yet to be matched.

Theologically, we find in Spurgeon’s sermons his enthusiastic proclamation of Reformed doctrine. His preaching was saturated with the tenets of Reformed Theology, especially the Doctrines of Grace, which are also known as the Five Points of Calvinism. These doctrines feature largely in C.H. Spurgeon’s sermons and his written works.

Interior View of the Metropolitan Tabernacle

In his very first message at the opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle preached an overview of the Doctrines of Grace and was followed by messages from five other ministers preaching on each of the points: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints.[3]

In his autobiography, Spurgeon elaborated on his firm belief in the Doctrines of Grace:

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer that I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me if I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply that I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. [4]

[For a more detailed look at these doctrines, please see The Five Points of Calvinism – Defining the Doctrines of Grace]

Spurgeon does, however, offer an important clarification in regards to the moniker of “Calvinist.” In reference to the term, Spurgeon commented:

That doctrine which is called “Calvinism” did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth…. We use the term then, not because we impute any extraordinary importance to Calvin’s having taught these doctrines. We would be just as willing to call them by any other name, if we could find one which would be better understood, and which on the whole would be as consistent with fact. [5]

Spurgeon did not label himself a Calvinist out of a reverence for John Calvin, but because he believed that these doctrines spring forth from the very pages of Scripture. To him, the term Calvinism was simply shorthand for the Christian gospel. He saw its doctrines plainly in the Bible and taught them boldly from his pulpit, declaring:

I shall not blush to preach before you the doctrine of God’s Divine Sovereignty; I shall not stagger to preach in the most unreserved and unguarded manner the doctrine of election. I shall not be afraid to propound the great truth of the final perseverance of the saints; I shall not withhold that undoubted truth of Scripture, the effectual calling of God’s elect; I shall endeavor, as God shall help me, to keep back nothing from you who have become my flock. [6]

For Spurgeon, to neglect the preaching of Calvinist doctrine was to hold something back from his congregation. This was something that he was not prepared to do, since these truths are found in Scripture and accurately communicated God’s means of redemption.

Articles exploring Spurgeon’s words regarding each of the Doctrines of Grace:

Article by Clay Kraby

[1] C.H. Spurgeon and David Otis Fuller, C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, (Zondervan Pub. House, 1946), 118.
[2] Steven Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, (Reformation Trust Publishing), 17.
[3] The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, 12.
[4] C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, 54-55.
[5] C.H. Spurgeon, “Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace,” (April 11, 1861), accessed January 28, 2015. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0385.htm.
[6] C.H. Spurgeon, “Particular Redemption,” (February 28, 1858), accessed January 28, 2015. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0181.htm.

Clayton Kraby
Written by Clayton Kraby
I'm a Pastor in North Dakota and created ReasonableTheology.org to help make theology accessible for the everyday Christian. You can find me on Twitter @ClayKraby.