16 June 2007

Broken in Two by the Hammer of Pain

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.

This week's excerpt is a special treat, taken from a new book from The Wakeman Trust, titled
The Suffering Letters of C. H. Spurgeon, edited and annotated by Hannah Wyncoll. It's a remarkable collection of letters from Spurgeon to his congregation featuring thoughts about his own suffering. Some of these letters were written at the height of his struggle with the infirmities that finally claimed his life.

I was privileged last December to see and handle several of the original handwritten letters featured in this book. Duncan and Hannah Wyncoll hosted Darlene and me for an evening while we were in London. Hannah's father, Dr. Peter Masters, graciously made this file of letters available for me to study for the evening.

I took some photographs and scans of the letters, but of course there wasn't time in one evening to read them all carefully. I came away wishing I had photographed more and read less, so that I could take time to study them later. Now I can do that—and I'm especially delighted to see that the book contains a large collection of high-quality scans of several of the key letters.

This book is a real treasure. If you're a subscriber to
The Sword and the Trowel, you'll receive a copy with the new issue of the magazine. If not, you can obtain a copy of the book through the Tabernacle BookShop. Highly recommended. Some of these letters have never been published before.

The following letter was written from Mentone in 1884. Spurgeon would die in that town exactly eight years after writing this:

Menton, 10th January 1884
Dear Friends,

am altogether stranded. I am not at all able to leave my bed, or to find much rest upon it. The pains of rheumatism, lumbago, and sciatica, mingled together, are exceedingly sharp. If I happened to turn a little to the right hand or to the left I am soon aware that I am dwelling in a body capable of the most acute suffering. However, I am as happy and cheerful as a man can be. I feel it such a great relief that I am not yet robbing the Lord of my work, for my holiday is not quite run out. A man has a right to have the rheumatism if he likes when his time is his own. The worst of it is that I am afraid that I shall have to intrude into my Master's domains, and draw again upon your patience. Unless I get better very soon I cannot get home in due time, and I am very much afraid that if I did get home at the right time I should be of no use to you, for I should be sure to be laid aside. The deacons have written me a letter in which they unanimously recommend me to take two more Sundays, so that I may get well, and not return to you an invalid. I wrote to them saying that I thought I must take a week, but as I do not get a bit better, but am rather worse, I am afraid I shall have to make it a fortnight, as they proposed. Most men find that they go right when they obey their wives, and as my wife and my deacons are agreed on this matter, I am afraid I should go doubly wrong if I ran contrary to them. I hope you will all believe that if the soldier could stand he would march, and if your servant were able he would work; but when a man is broken in two by the hammer of pain he must wait till he gets spliced again.

May the best of blessings continue to rest upon you. May those who supply my place be very graciously helped by the Spirit of God.

Yours with all my heart
C. H. Spurgeon
C. H. Spurgeon


donsands said...

Truly, the "prince of preachers", in more ways than one.
He was the best. What an encouraging, and marvelous example for us all.
Thanks for sharing this.

David said...

I really appreciate how he explains his agony without whining and instead focuses on God's plan. Thank you so much for your dedication to showing us as much of Spurgeon as you can, Phil. It's an encouragement to me.

David Robinson

Doug McMasters said...


Been wanting to read those letters ever since you mentioned reading and handling them last December. Very glad they've made their way from the folder, and the private viewing of the privileged few, to public access for all to see.

Looks like I'll have to hop on the Northern line at Tooting BEC and ride up to Elephant & Castle to collect a copy.

Libbie said...

Got my copy in the week, and it's really great. Highly recommended.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Isn't archive material awesome?! I've discovered that digital photography is the way to go when copying material. In about 4 days up at Wheaton, Moody, and AMFI I took about 7500 shots of archives. This could never have been done with a scanner. Additionally, you don't have to worry about cost, or hauling around paper. Plus, you can keep the photos on your Mac wherever you go!

It's great that you were able to view the letters. They give such a glimpse into the heart of Spurgeon. So many saints of God, who were mightily used, suffered so much.

steve said...

Already ordered my copy of the book. First time I've ever bought a Father's Day gift for myself.

jsb said...

I felt the same way visiting the archives of R. A. Torrey at Wheaton, handling his preaching notebook, his letters, etc.

Back then people wrote letters more lucid and engaging that whole books written today.

DJP said...

CHS could not have preached as he preached, had he not suffered as he suffered.

Andrew and Carolyn said...

Majestic! A real encouragement on a difficult day - has meant more to me than I can say or share.

Thanks for this.

M.W. Brewer said...

"Most men find that they go right when they obey their wives, and as my wife and my deacons are agreed on this matter, I am afraid I should go doubly wrong if I ran contrary to them."

His written words reveal his heart, and I hope that one day I would be able to do the same. Not only does the letter seem to reveal the nature of his heart, but also -as in the above quote- reveals the personal man; gifting him with flesh and bone. Beyond just a teacher through whom God taught, but human and real like any of us; which makes the things taught so much more profound.


Robert said...

I'm a little confused...

Why didn't he just "claim his healing"?


Great post; I'm going to get this book.