Last night I watched a little Christian television. I don't normally spend much time listening to the preachers on Daystar, TBN, or other television networks, but I watched enough last night to cause Rachelle to implore me to turn it off. After listening to a couple of the messages, I couldn't help but wonder if a lost person in bondage to sin could have listened to those same messages and heard enough gospel to have their lives transformed by the Spirit of God. I realize that the Spirit produces regeneration, but the Bible indicates the means by which He transforms lives is the "foolishness of the message" of the cross (I Corinthians 1:21). My thoughts last night drifted toward the preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Mr. Spurgeon preached in London, England during the mid-1800's at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Every week, the previous Sunday's message was edited, published and sold world-wide for a penny. These "Penny Pulpit Sermons" were bestsellers, and many circuit-riding preachers in the American western frontier read them to their congregations in place of delivering a message of their own. Spurgeon was famous before there was Internet, television or even radio. He used print media to spread the gospel until his death. On Sunday, February 7, 1892, Southern Baptist theologian B.H. Carroll, the pastor of First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas (1871-1899) and later the first president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas (1908-1914), delivered an address in Nashville, Tennessee commemorating Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The "Prince of Preachers" had died in Mentone, France the week before on Sunday, January 31, 1892. The following words of B.H. Carroll, commemorating Spurgeon's preaching, came from Carroll's hour-long address:
"Mr. Spurgeon was pre-eminently a preacher. He preached more sermons, perhaps, than any other man. More people have heard him than have heard any other man. More people have read and do read his sermons than the sermons of any other man. More of them have been translated into foreign tongues than any other sermons. More people have been converted by reading them, in more countries, than by, perhaps, all other published sermons. Livingstone had one of them in his hat when he died, having carried it through Africa. A widow was found half frozen on an Alpine mountain peak, reading one of them through her tears. A bush-ranger in Australia was converted by reading one, blood-stained, which he had taken from the body of a man he had murdered."I consider the above paragraph one of the greatest testimonies to the power and effectiveness of Spurgeon's messages. He, unlike many today, knew what it meant to saturate his sermons with the power of the gospel.