Spurgeon was both widely read, and shaped by the content of his reading. He had a unique ability to assimilate vast amounts of information with accuracy and permanence, and to retrieve that information for concise use in his sermons and writings. Nevertheless, he avoided the appearance of intellectual superiority, despised pretention, and felt that including extended quotations of theological writings worked against his ability to communicate the gospel in plain language.
In order to show that Spurgeon’s pneumatology was shaped by a range of theological writings, first, this section will argue that Spurgeon was capable of reading, comprehending, and assimilating large quantities of information. Recognizing Spurgeon’s ability to read with speed and retention undergirds this chapter’s argument by showing how it was possible for him to interact effectively with theological writings from the early church through the nineteenth-century. Next, this section will demonstrate that, even with his prolific reading, Spurgeon aimed to make his teaching, preaching, and writing accessible for the common person. Hence, he described the Christian gospel in vernacular language, and refrained from including lengthy quotations, which might confuse his audience or give the appearance of intellectual pretension. At the same time, in order to keep the gospel simple yet historically grounded, Spurgeon identified Augustine, Calvin, and the Puritans as key historical witnesses to the gospel. Finally, this section will show that Spurgeon’s knowledge and appreciation for theologians from church history stemmed from his belief that the Holy Spirit had assisted the church through their writing. This final point will be further demonstrated by the succeeding content of the present chapter, which shows the historical influences behind the development of Spurgeon’s pneumatology.
A MIND THAT ABSORBED ALL KNOWLEDGE
Spurgeon was a voracious reader with an eidetic memory. He had the ability to read and synthesize large quantities of content quickly and effectively without sacrificing comprehension. He had a “mind that absorbed all knowledge—whether from books or nature—that came within its range.” When he traveled to Mentone for holiday he took spare luggage full of books, and had others sent to him once he finished the first batch. He could master the content of five or six large volumes in a single sitting, reviewed thousands of books for his editorial work in The Sword and the Trowel, curated and produced a magisterial commentary on the Psalms, and assessed four-thousand biblical commentaries to produce a volume of recommended resources for pastors and students. In order to approximate the quantity of reading that Spurgeon completed during his pastorate in London, his wife explained that “it would be necessary to make a list of nearly all the principal theological and biographical works published during that period, and to add to it a large portion of the other standard literature of the present and previous centuries, and almost the whole of the volumes issued by the great divines of the Puritan period.” By the end of his life, Spurgeon had amassed a personal library of 12,000 volumes, not including the books with such troubling content that he tore them into “little pieces too small to do harm to anyone,” or committed them “bodily to the flames.” Spurgeon had a unique ability to engage vast amounts of content through reading.
At the same time, while engaging copious amounts of material, Spurgeon also possessed the ability to retain and recall the content he read. William Wright, friend of Spurgeon and editorial superintendent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, testified to Spurgeon’s ability to combine speed and accuracy in reading. With rapid glances over a page Spurgeon assimilated content in full measure, so that he read “by sentences as others read by words.” Even so, Spurgeon could quote from memory long passages of books he had previously read. Wright confirmed that Spurgeon’s “power of swift and effective reading was one of the greatest of his many talents.”
Spurgeon possessed an unique ability to read and retain large amounts of content.
THE GOSPEL FOR THE COMMON PERSON
Even with his remarkable ability of recall, Spurgeon was reticent to utilize lengthy theological quotations in his books or sermons. To him, the practice was pretentious and pedantic, and the mark of a lower level of comprehension. As Spurgeon argued, “Those who have no learning usually make a point of displaying the pegs on which learning ought to hang.” He often used quotations, but when he did he presented them in a concise and discernable way. In his 1873 review of James Culross’s book, John, Whom Jesus Loved, Spurgeon explained that even when the most noteworthy parts of a book are quotations, for “they will reveal the man, for the set of an author’s thought may be seen as clearly in his quotations as in his original matter.” Spurgeon did not avoid quotations in his preaching and writing, but he employed them selectively and concisely, knowing they would reveal his inner thoughts.
The reason for Spurgeon’s reluctance in using extended quotations was to avoid any deterrence in the common person’s understanding of the gospel. As Susannah described her husband’s preaching:
Perhaps there is a very learned man sitting over yonder, and the temptation to the preacher to say something that shall make him feel that the minister to whom he is listening is not so ignorant as some people suppose; but if there is an unlearned, simple sinner anywhere in the place, the preacher’s business is just to chop his words down to that poor man’s condition, and let the learned hearer receive the same message if he will.
 Autobiography, 4.274.
 For Spurgeon’s ability to read multiple volumes in a single sitting, see Autobiography, 4.268–274. References to Spurgeon’s monthly magazine are from Charles H. Spurgeon, The Sword and the Trowel, 7 vols. (Albany, OR: Ages Digital Library, 1998), unless otherwise noted. Hereafter references from The Sword and the Trowel work will be noted as ST. References to Spurgeon’s commentary on the Psalms are from Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), unless otherwise noted. Hereafter references from The Treasury of David will be noted as Treasury. Spurgeon’s review of biblical commentaries and study aides are found in “Catalogue of Commentaries and Expositions,” in Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, 4 vols. (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1881–1893), 4.35–200. Hereafter references from Lectures to My Students will be noted as Lectures.
 Autobiography, 4.304.
 Ibid., 4.296. Regarding Spurgeon’s personal library, the largest single collection of his personal library is housed in The Spurgeon Library at The Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 5001 North Oak Trafficway, Kansas City, Missouri 64118. For more on The Spurgeon Library or The Spurgeon Center, see https://www.spurgeon.org and https://www.mbts.edu. For a history of the relocation of Spurgeon’s library from his home to William Jewel College, prior to its acquisition by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, see Adrian Lamkin, “The Spurgeon Library of William Jewel College: A Hidden Treasure among Baptist in America,” Baptist History and Heritage 19, no. 4 (October 1984): 39–44.
 Autobiography, 4.298.
 Lectures, 4.30.
 ST, 3.309. The book that Spurgeon reviewed was James Culross, John, Whom Jesus Loved (London: Morgan and Scott, n.d.).
 Autobiography, 4.268.