Spurgeon saw himself primarily as a pastor-evangelist. He had a strong foundation in the theology of the Puritans. He was a Calvinist, though not a high or hyper-Calvinist. He once confessed, “I have been charged with being a mere echo of the Puritans, but I had rather be the echo of truth than the voice of falsehood.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834, to Thomas and Eliza Spurgeon. He came into this world as both the son and grandson of preachers. At the age of eighteen months, the toddling Spurgeon went to stay with his grandfather James and his grandmother in Stanbourne, Essex. It was in his grandparents’ home that Spurgeon’s lifelong love affair with books would begin. When just six years old, the young Spurgeon found a treasure in an old room in the manse. It was a collection of leather-bound Puritan works. Among these musty volumes was one Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, a work with Spurgeon would read over one hundred times in his lifetime. Through this encounter, the Puritans of the seventeenth century became this nineteenth-century young man’s friends and allies. As an adult he was called “The Last of the Puritans” by William Gladstone. There is no doubt of the influence of the Puritans upon this young man who began reading major Puritan theological works at such an early age.
At the age of fifteen, Spurgeon fell under deep conviction of sin and after at least a solid year of this conviction he entered a Primitive Methodist chapel on a snowy Sunday morning in January of 1850. The pastor had not arrived when the service began and presently another simple appearing man took charge of the service. He preached on the text: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Years later Spurgeon recalled the preacher’s exact words:
My dear friends this is a simple text indeed. It says, Look. Now lookin’ don’t take a great deal of pains. It ain’t lifting your foot or your finger. It is just “look.” Well, a man needn’t get to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand pounds a year to be able to look.