Sermons on Men of the New Testament

 CH Spurgeon, Hendrickson (2016)

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Many readers will no doubt be familiar with the great nineteenth century ‘people’s preacher’ Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Born into a family of Congregationalists and preachers in 1834 he became a Christian at a Primitive Methodist meeting at the age of sixteen. Soon after that he became a Baptist and almost immediately began to preach.

This volume is just one of a whole series of sermons on a variety of aspects of Christianity which, taken together, amount to a very considerable body of work. He here considers 14 men from the New Testament: John the Baptist, Matthew, Simeon, John, Andrew, Nathanael, Thomas, Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathaea, Simon of Cyrene, Dismas, Stephen, Paul, and Onesimus. It will be immediately apparent that here is a mixture of the familiar and perhaps less well-known. There is also one very obvious omission for reasons of space and Spurgeon has elsewhere devoted whole volumes of sermons to Christ alone.

Each of the sermons here offers much of interest , for example Spurgeon makes great play out of the Baptist’s claim that he is not worthy even to unloose the latchet of Christ’s sandals and shows great insight in expanding on this well-known verse. The call of Matthew to ‘Follow me’ is similarly explored in constantly enlightening detail. Spurgeon takes well-known verses or episodes and pulls them apart for all they’re worth, extracting every nuance of meaning and insight to give us a fresh perspective. I particularly enjoyed the sermon on Simon of Cyrene and its eye-catching title: ‘Up from the Country and Pressed into the Service.’ I have myself written a short story based on Simon’s experience of taking up the cross of Christ on the way to Calvary so found this especially of interest. Spurgeon turns the whole episode into a homily about how each of us has to take up Christ’s cross and the responsibilities that imposes. Finally, Spurgeon tackles no less a figure than Paul himself and sees his dramatic conversion in terms of a pattern that is open to us all. Spurgeon concludes that just as Paul was, ‘may all of us be the subjects of divine grace’.

Ministers and preachers will find this volume of constant interest and inspiration and may be encouraged to look anew at familiar verses from Scripture to see what can be gleaned in preparation for delivering that all-important, never-to-be-forgotten sermon.

Reviewed by Ray Taylor