At the 2007 Sovereign Grace Ministries Leadership Conference, Mark Dever suggested Charles Spurgeon’s autobiography as the funnest book he has read. And since the long and hot poolside days of Summer are approaching I’ll take Dever up on on his suggestion for some edifying fun-in-the-sun.
Today I embark on the 1,000+ page journey of the life of Spurgeon as narrated by the man himself (Banner of Truth, 2 vol. edition). If you are looking for some great Summer reading I would encourage to embark on the journey as well. Or you may be interested to read the best biography I’ve ever read (George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore) or my favorite biography of Spurgeon (also by Dallimore). Now is a good time to plan out your Summer reading schedule.
4 thoughts on “Fun in the sun”
I plan on reading this set this summer as well. Is it true that the edition put out by Pilgrim Publications is the only unabridged set available?
When it comes to the books of Spurgeon, I take the term “unabridged” with a grain of salt. The reason is simple: Spurgeon’s books were a good place to dump other essays and related things by editors. So for example, Lectures to My Students, in volume 3 of the Pilgrim edition is comprised of several lectures Spurgeon did not live to edit and numerous compilations and additions of editors. It was worthy to print, but not purely Spurgeon. To say that some Spurgeon is “unabridged” simply means all the extras printed in the earlier editions are intact. This is precisely the case with Spurgeon’s autobiography (Banner of Truth edition). The editors make clear that the autobiography was written over the course of time piece-by-piece and then added significantly by his wife and editors after his death. They found they could shorten the autobiography down significantly if they edited out the editors’ later additions.
The editors in the preface of the BoT edition of his autopbiography write:
“The work was not published in Spurgeon’s lifetime, indeed it was far from complete by the time of the preacher’s death in 1892. In the rare moments of his leisure — mainly, says his wife, ‘in the bright sunshine at Mentone’ — he would write down some portions off his life and conclude with the exclamation, ‘There’s another chapter for my Autobiography!’ But this work of pleasure was never given priority over the constant literary burden that was expressed in his weekly printed sermons, his monthly magazine and his various other writings. For him the Word of God was always supreme and is was characteristic of the man that when he died at Mentone at the age of fifty-seven he was occupied with a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. The completion of the Autobiography therefore fell to his wife and private secretary. In bringing the work to its final shape they made a number of additions to Spurgeon’s own chapters and added further chapters. It is this which has enabled us to shorten the work by omitting some of the editors’ material while retaining, practically in full, what Spurgeon wrote” (Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Banner of Truth edition, p. 1:xiv).
So be weary of “unabridged” Spurgeon books, because this normally means they have preserved the writings, edits and additions of someone other than Spurgeon himself. The Banner of Truth edition is a very noble work.
Excellent question! Tony
I will take you up on this one as I have just moved to Temecula CA where they say the summers are extremely hot. Although I have not read Whitfields biography, I must say that George Marsden’s “Jonathan Edwards” is my favorite so far.
Keep up the good work,
Hello Bill! Marsden is an excellent biography, just talking about it with a friend today! You would love Warfield, too. Thanks for the kinds words my friend! Tony