This Day In History: The Death of Charles Spurgeon

From his conversion to his death, looking to Christ crucified for life remained the touchstone of Spurgeon’s own life and ministry.

“When you see my coffin carried to the silent grave, I should like every one of you, whether converted or not, to be constrained to say, ‘He did earnestly urge us, in plain and simple language, not to put off the consideration of eternal things. He did entreat us to look to Christ.'”

 

Free from Pain

On this day in history, Charles Haddon Spurgeon passed away. It was January 31, 1892, and after twenty-four years of ill health, the ‘Prince of Preachers’ went to be with the Lord, aged just fifty-seven. Spurgeon spent his last days in Menton near Nice in the southeast of France. He had often retreated there in the winter months and found in the balmy warmth and the light a natural reviver for body and mind. Now in the light and glory of heaven, he was free from pain and face-to-face with his Savior.

Eleven days later, crowds lined the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the olivewood casket as it made its way through the streets to the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Eighteen years before, Spurgeon had imagined the scene from his pulpit:

When you see my coffin carried to the silent grave, I should like every one of you, whether converted or not, to be constrained to say, “He did earnestly urge us, in plain and simple language, not to put off the consideration of eternal things. He did entreat us to look to Christ.”1

One observer wrote, “Nothing was seen for miles but bared heads, closed blinds, and universal signs of grief and sorrow. It was indeed a memorable scene. What a lesson that Bible-decked coffin preached to its tens of thousands as it passed through their midst!”

Look to Christ

The Bible atop Spurgeon’s coffin was opened at Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!” Back in January 1850, those had been the words that had first shown Spurgeon the way of salvation as a fifteen year old, haplessly wandering into a small Primitive Methodist chapel in Colchester, England. He had been caught in a snowstorm, and took refuge in the church building, where he saw a “very thin-looking man” go up into the pulpit to preach. Spurgeon had quickly felt that this preacher was “really stupid” since he apparently could not even rightly pronounce the words of his text. Yet after about ten minutes, with only twelve to fifteen people present, the preacher fixed his eyes on Spurgeon and spoke to him directly: “Young man, you look very miserable.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.”

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