Spurgeon was a 19th-century preacher in London

By Alex Heigl
November 12, 2015 12:00 PM

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True or false: Your first thought after hearing Jessa (Duggar) Seewald and husband Ben named their newborn son Spurgeon Elliot Seewald was, “Wait, did they just name their child after a breed of flaky, delicious fish?”

Not so. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a highly influential British Baptist preacher in the 19th century. So, if you need talking points about Spurgeon (not to be confused with sturgeon) for around the water cooler today, we’ve got you covered.

1. He Was Something of a Wunderkind
In 1854, Spurgeon, just 20 years and with only four years of post-conversion Christianity under his belt, became pastor of London’s New Park Street Chapel. It’s hard to find out the exact provenance of his nickname, “Prince of Preachers,” but his ascension to such a lofty position so young presumably had something to do with it.

2. He Was Also Kind of a Rock Star
In as much as it’s possible for a 19th-century Baptist preacher to be one, anyway. Spurgeon’s sermons became so popular that his congregation quickly outgrew New Park Street, moving to two other churches before settling at the then-new Metropolitan Tabernacle. At the smaller churches, it’s estimated Spurgeon was preaching to crowds of over 10,000; one source estimates that Spurgeon may have preached to around 10,000,000 people during his lifetime.

Charles Spurgeon
Getty

3. He Was Big Into Beards
As you can probably tell from the above picture, Spurgeon had a fairly magnificent beard. And he was proud of it, too. In fact, there’s a widely circulated quote of Spurgeon’s that advocates for beards, the growing of which he referred to as “a habit most natural, scriptural, manly and beneficial.”

4. His Sermons Are … Dense
Spurgeon’s sermons – and there are many of them – are thorough and wordy and not for the casual fan of Christian sermonizing. Here, for example, is the first part of his sermon based on Numbers 14:24, which references Caleb.

“It is a rough name, that – ‘Caleb.’ Most translators say it signifies ‘a dog.’ But what mattereth a man’s name? Possibly the man himself was somewhat rough: Many of the heartiest of men are so. As the unpolished oyster yet beareth within itself the priceless pearl, so ofttimes ruggedness of exterior covereth worth. A dog, moreover, is not all badness, though ‘without are dogs and sorcerers.’ ” Got all that?

5. He Founded Both an Orphanage and a College
Spurgeon founded the Stockwell Orphanage for boys in 1867; it was opened to girls in 1879 and continued to operate in London until it was destroyed during the bombings of World War II. It eventually turned into Spurgeon’s Child Care, which continues to serve children in the U.K. today.

Originally named the Pastor’s College, Spurgeon’s College in Croydon, London, was re-named after him posthumously in 1923.

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