As an inveterate lover of church history and books, I wholeheartedly recommend a daily dose of reading “stuff” from the past. In what has become a famous essay that C. S. Lewis initially wrote as an introduction for an anonymous translation of Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, Lewis actually argued that for every book we read from the present, we also ought to read at least two from the past [“Introduction” to St. Athanasius: On the Incarnation (1944 ed.; repr. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 1982)]. There may be some, though, who simply cannot meet such a commitment. For them, the next best thing might be to pick up a book of daily readings from a bygone era. Over the last few years, Terence Peter Crosby—one-time Secretary of the Evangelical Library in London, England, and holder of a PhD in Classics—has been making such volumes of extracts from the sermons of the so-called Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892). The third volume in this series of extracts has just appeared. Entitled 365 days with Spurgeon (Leominster, UK: Day One Publications, 2005), the selection is mostly taken from sermons preached from 1867 to 1873—roughly half-way through Spurgeon’s remarkable ministry.
In his day, some likened Spurgeon to a rocket on a stick: the rocket had gone up high and amazed all of the onlookers, but it would soon plummet to earth like a stick [“The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon”, The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, 15 (1866), 191]. But these prophecies were proven false. Spurgeon’s sermons proved indeed to be a long-lasting marvel that still delight readers. This is not at all surprising. After all, embedded within them were the riches that Spurgeon had himself mined from his reading of the past—that rich vein of piety and robust Calvinism from the Evangelicals in the century prior to that of Spurgeon and from the 17th century Puritans and the English Reformers in the 16th century.
And this newest volume from Crosby is vintage Spurgeon. Consider this portion of the reading for September 19, taken from a sermon that Spurgeon preached in 1867 on Psalm 31:19 and that was entitled “David’s holy wonder at the Lord’s great goodness”:
“The phrase ‘the fear of God’ is used, especially in the Old Testament, for the whole of piety. It does not merely signify the one virtue of fear—it does not signify that feeling at all in the sense of slavish fear—but it takes a wide sweep. The man who had the fear of God before his eyes, was one who believed in God, worshipped God, loved God, was kept back from evil by the thought of God, and moved to good by the desire to please God. …The fear of God, I say, was the expression used for the whole of religion.”
For each of the 366 extracts—one is included for February 29—Crosby has added a Scripture reading and a small section entitled “For Meditation.” Occasional, helpful notes for understanding historical allusions and facts mentioned in the sermons are also included. Subject and Scripture indices round out this very attractive reader. Pick it up and read it day by day. It will do wonders for your heart and mind.