The Pastoral Long-Suffering of Spurgeon and Boyce


We see through James P. Boyce’s and Charles Spurgeon’s life that they were entrusted with great gifts but we also see through a survey of their biographies that they also suffered great grief. We have much to glean from them.[1] We will see that we are all called to be faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Though it will be difficult to various degrees we can endure what God has called us to by the grace that He grants us.

Hear Spurgeon’s words:

I know you will tell me that the gold must be thrust into the fire, that believers must pass through much tribulation. I answer, Truly it must be so, but when the gold knows why and wherefore it is in the fire, when it understands who placed it there, who watches it while amid the coals, who is sworn to bring it out unhurt, and in what matchless purity it will soon appear, the gold, if it be gold indeed, will thank the Refiner for putting it into the crucible, and will find a sweet satisfaction even in the flames.[2]

Thus, even as we face difficulties we must entrust ourselves to God, as Spurgeon did. Even in the midst of Spurgeon’s great suffering he “never doubted that his exquisite pain, frequent sicknesses, and even despondency were given him by God for his sanctification in a wise and holy purpose.”[3]

A Great Work At A Great Cost

Spurgeon and Boyce both had great life works but they both suffered great loss in their lives as a result. Boyce, who founded the seminary I went to, said that the seminary may die but that he would die first.[4] He would worked rain or shine for the prosperity of the school. He said that he did not own the seminary but rather it owned him. Boyce kept the seminary alive and fed it with almost his own heart’s blood.[5] Thus we see that Boyce clearly realized that he would have to imitate his Lord’s long-suffering. There was “mammoth energy and sacrifice involved” for Boyce “in setting the seminary securely during the trials of decades.”[6] “Boyce endured the press of ‘anxieties, trials, and labors” during days when the seminary’s future appeared bleak and exerted ‘herculean toils’ to surmount these seemingly invincible difficulties.”[7]

Similarly, Spurgeon was not a martyr, but he chose to die every day.[8] He suffered with gout; he gave his money, his time, and himself completely to the Lord. God used Spurgeon greatly. He wrote over 140 books, penned around 500 letters a week, spoke to thousands of people each week, started an orphanage, started a pastor’s college, and led countless people to Christ, among other things.[9] That was all possible because he gave himself entirely to the Lord. One of Spurgeon’s biographers, Arnold Dallimore, said, “Early in life he had lost all consideration of his own self, and his prayer that he might be hidden behind the cross, that Christ alone might be seen, had expressed his heart’s chief purpose.”[10]

Spurgeon said, “It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus.”[11] Boyce, similarly, had an “entire devotion.”[12] Likewise, Paul was greatly used by God because he gave himself unreservedly to Him; even to the point of much affliction. If we are going to be used by God, for His glory, we must unreservedly sacrifice all and He must get all, Christianity is all-encompassing.[13] May our chief boast be Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (Gal. 6:14).

Jesus held the weight of the world on His shoulders, even the sin of the whole world. Yet, Spurgeon and Boyce surely often felt as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders. However, they also felt that their burden was easy (cf. Matt. 11:30), and they knew that through Jesus Christ their reward would be great (2 Cor. 4:17). Both Spurgeon and Boyce knew that the cross came before the crown, trials before the triumphant Kingdom.[14] So, Spurgeon said, for instance, “Good men are promised tribulation in this world, and ministers may expect a larger share than others.”[15]

I would do well to remember the price that godly men and women have paid throughout the centuries when I become discouraged in my work. The writer to the Hebrews wrote about various faithful men and women to encourage the recipients of the letter to endure in the face of persecution (see Heb. 11). I need to remember “the great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), including Spurgeon and Boyce, and run on with endurance (cf. v. 1).

Physical Suffering

Martin Luther talked about the theology of the cross.[16] I think both Spurgeon and Boyce had a clear understanding of this theology. In fact, I think Spurgeon could have written his own tome on it.[17] Both Spurgeon and Boyce lived a life of strenuous endeavor, to borrow Theodore Roosevelt’s words.[18] Yet, they did not box as one beating the air (1 Cor. 9:26). Rather, they knew for what they labored, they labored for the Lord, and thus knew their labor was not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). Spurgeon, as he loved Bunyan’s great work and read it around one hundred times, certainly would have agreed with Lloyd-Jones’s observation: “The great truth in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is not that Christian endured great hardships on his way to the eternal city, but that Christian thought it to be worth his while to endure those hardships.”[19]

Spurgeon and Boyce ironically suffered with some of the same physical bodily afflictions. They both suffered with bouts of gout, for instance.[20] Gout is typically the worst when body temperature is lower. Gout very often targets the big toe but can also cause joint pain in wrists and fingers as well as fatigue. Symptoms from gout can actually be so intense that the weight of a sheet can be unbearable. However, the physical pain was multiplied for these great men when you consider all that they were incapable of doing when they were laid up because of their pain. Though they sought to make the best of this time, surely they often felt anxiety and perhaps guilt over what they were unable to accomplish during these bouts.

Yet, their great enemy, to borrow the words of Spurgeon, was also a great teacher. We see in Spurgeon’s biography that his great suffering enabled him to better relate to people (cf. 2 Cor. 1:4).[21] Suffering taught both Spurgeon and Boyce humble reliance on the Lord. This brings to mind Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7). Even as Boyce and Spurgeon were writhing in pain I am sure they thought (1) that God was sufficient to use frail jars of clay (2 Cor. 4:7), (2) that God is sovereign and when they weep He still reigns and cares for His Church, and (3) that though they were indeed experiencing great suffering it was nothing compared to the eternal wrath that the suffering of the Son of God had averted for them. Thus, though these great men knew great suffering, they both grew instead of grumbling. Their gout was a rod that dished out sanctification.

I would do well to look at these men’s example and hear again, “Good men are promised tribulation in this world, and ministers may expect a larger share than others.”[22] I may or may not deal with the physical pain that they dealt with but I can certainly learn from their patience in the midst of it. I must also remember “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matt. 10:24). If Jesus my Master suffered then I can expect nothing less.


During one of Spurgeon’s bouts with depression he said, “I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for.”[23] Not only did Spurgeon have a natural disposition to depression[24] but the weight of his position and responsibilities also was heavy upon him.[25] He said,

Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression. Who can bear the weight of souls without sometimes sinking to the dust? Passionate longings after men’s conversion, if not fully satisfied (and when are they?), consume the soul with anxiety and disappointment… The kingdom comes not as we would, the reverend name is not hallowed as we desire, and for this we must weep… How often, on Lord’s-day evening, do we feel as if life were completely washed out of us![26]

Thus we see that Spurgeon, “the prince of preacher,” was sometimes even depressed about his sermon on Monday or even as he walked down from the pulpit on Sunday. He said these words to a group of ministers, “We come out of the pulpit, at times, feeling that we are less fit than ever for the holy work. Our last sermon we judge to be our worst.”[27] “We experience dreary intervals of fruitless toil, and then it is no wonder that a man’s spirit faints within him.”[28]

Even “Spurgeon was unable to satisfy everyone and that a constant undercurrent, as in most churches, of discontent or disinterest continually brewed and produced a very consistent outflow from the Tabernacle.”[29] So Spurgeon, we can see, had the normal pressures of a pastor besides all his other many concerns. His concern was also tenfold because of his large congregation. In 1882, for instance, the membership of his congregation reached 5,427. In that same year the membership saw sixty-five deaths; two of which were deacons and four of which were elders. So surely Spurgeon could relate to Paul’s words in Second Corinthians 11:28, besides everything else, he also had a concern for all the people in his church.

Nettles points out that “the general leadership required” of Spurgeon “makes up a burden ‘which none can carry unless the Lord gives strength.”[30] “[H]our by hour all sorts of petitions, complaints, bemoanings, and hard questions come to me,”[31] Spurgeon said. “Hearing such sounds is not helpful when he sought to ‘get the food ready for thousands here, there, and everywhere, who look for it to come to them regularly, week by week.’”[32] At times his unrelenting responsibilities made him very distraught. Once he even confessed and said, “Sometimes I become so perplexed that I sink in heart, and dream that it were better for me never to have been born than to have been called to bear all this multitude upon my heart.”

Darrel W. Amundsen says “Spurgeon thought of his own depression as his ‘worst feature’ and once commented that ‘despondency is not a virtue; I believe it is a vice. I am heartily ashamed of myself for falling into it, but I am sure there is no remedy for it like a holy faith in God.’”[33] Thus, we learn from Spurgeon that to minister, to steward, to speak God’s Word to God’s people is a grave thing. It is not to be taken lightly. This weight can even induce depression. However, there is a remedy. And it is a holy faith in God.[34]

Boyce, too, at times felt the weight of the seminary very keenly upon himself. There were even times that he wanted to leave his position so that people would pull together to work for the continuance of the school and not simply rely wholly on him. John A. Broadus, however, encouraged Boyce that God had raised him up for the work and if he did not do it then no one will, no one else was able to.[35] Boyce felt the heavy weight of responsibility upon him but he also knew the weightiness of the issue. He was convicted that theological education was vital for the vitality of Southern Baptists and the Church at large.

Boyce sometimes felt very discouraged in his work. He confided this to his good friend John A. Broadus. Broadus exhorted Boyce with these words:

I do not wonder that you sometimes feel discouraged, painfully. The task is difficult, and the kind of opposition encountered is very dispersing. But life is always a battle. My dear fellow, nobody but you can do this thing. I believe you can do it, and it will be, all things considered, one of the great achievements of our time. To have carried it through will be a comfort and a pleasure to you through life, a matter of joy and pride to many who love and honor you, an occasion of thanksgiving through all eternity. Opposition—every good thing encounters opposition. Think of Paul, of Jesus! Nay, Nay, no such word as fail. Somehow, somehow, you are bound to succeed.[36]

Obviously, “the cup” that Boyce and Spurgeon drank of was nowhere near what their Savior drank, yet they both, like their Savior, did not want to drink but still obeyed the LORD’s will. They were both faithful to do all that the Lord called them to even when it was very hard. Even though Boyce and Spurgeon were faithful in their King’s service they both realized that they were unworthy servants; who only did what was their duty (Luke 17:10).

May I desire, like them, to be faithful. May I desire, not the praise and acclamation of man, but of God. May my chief desire be to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).


“Controversy was a necessary evil in Spurgeon’s view.”[37] Spurgeon saw that the decaying theology of his time was endemic and that apart from him taking up his scalpel it would gravely infect the Church.[38] Spurgeon has an acute insight into the relationship of doctrines. He knew the domino effect that would ensue with the collapse of any one doctrine. Thus, Spurgeon was very heady and scholarly yet eminently practical and wise.

One of the callings of a pastor is to ensure sound or healthy teaching. To say it another way, a shepherd must shepherd and protect the flock that is entrusted to him. This Spurgeon did, though he did get bit by a few fierce wolves.[39] So, for instance, he endured vicious attacks during the baptismal regeneration controversy. People said that he was incapable of understanding logic in the same way that a child is incapable of understanding logic. Spurgeon fought a war on both fronts against the many dangers of modernism. Spurgeon even felt called to break with the Baptist Union.

Spurgeon believed in the truth of Scripture. He believed that orthodoxy, i.e. the healthy teaching of the Scripture, was of vital importance; a matter of more than just life and death, but of spiritual life and death. Therefore, he aggressively sought to expose the “destructiveness of ‘Anythingarianism’ and ‘Pan-indifferentism.’”[40]

He clearly understood that one of the tasks of a shepherd is to defend his flock from fierce wolves that would devoir the flock. Spurgeon was capable of defending the truth (Titus 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:13). Spurgeon, like Paul, was willing to spend and be spent for the evangelization of souls (2 Cor. 12:15; 2 Tim. 2:10)[41] but also the defense of young souls from false teaching. Even though Spurgeon was sometimes ridiculed, he said, “I had sooner be a fool with Christ than a wise man with the philosophers.”[42]

Spurgeon clearly understood “The day shall come when it shall be thought to be the highest honour that ever was to have been denounced as a bigot and cast out as a troubler, for the sake of Christ and his gospel.”[43] He knew and believed the words of Matthew 10:32-33: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Spurgeon would not deny his Savior and Lord and would work towards clearing the landscape of the various shrines to liberal theological Baal.

Boyce said, “Controversy is apt to elicit the truth.”[44] This is seen throughout church history. Yet it is not through the retirement and reserve of would-be-reformers but through their rise in the face of conflict. Thus, Boyce realized the massive importance of confessional integrity. As the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed both rose out of and stood firm in the storm of heresy and heterodoxy. So also Boyce’s Abstract of Principles would weather the storm and allow a firm foundation to build on even for years to come.[45]

Thus, it seems that controversy is a part of ministry. We see this in Spurgeon’s life and we see this in Boyce’s life. Actually, the New Testament is riddled with examples of controversy. Jesus, the most controversial person of all time, was very often in a conflict with the Pharisees for instance. Paul defended the gospel against the Judaizers. So, I can learn an important lesson here, if I am to lead, I must have the conviction to lead.[46] I must have the conviction to lead even in the face of controversy like Spurgeon and Boyce.

Yet, Endurance

The Apostle Paul said that “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). And Paul embraced that stewardship; he embraced it even as a cross on his back. Boyce and Spurgeon did too. Their lives were “a testimony to a stewardship embraced and well executed.”[47]

Actually, Boyce, upon meeting Spurgeon said, “How little I have accomplished compared with that man. If I can only get well and live a few years longer, I’ll make greater efforts.”[48] So, clearly both Boyce and Spurgeon knew that “blotting out the day on the calendar can never blot out its significance as a day of history.” [49]

Spurgeon and Boyce both did and faced much, much more than I will even ever know, yet they endured it all. Surely they could say of their strenuous life, that they endured looking to the joy that was set before them (Heb. 12:2). They endured, what was sometimes quite the affliction, as a “light momentary affliction” compared to “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” to come (see 2 Cor. 4:17). Paul’s words in Galatians to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (6:9) surely rang with a mantra like rapidity as these men strove to labor for the Lord. “Work heartedly unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23) was their constant desire.

I hope to learn from them that though life is sometimes taxing it is well worth it to labor on. For when I sow and invest in the things of the Lord, I reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8). I hope, like them, to be so heavenly minded that I can be of some earthly good. I hope to show godly endurance as they did, as Paul the Apostle did, and as Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith did.

Application to My Own Life

I, clearly, have not been entrusted with the same stewardship as Boyce and Spurgeon. Yet, I also face challenges and things in ministry that tempt me to despair. I certainly often feel dejection after proclaiming God’s truth. Who is sufficient for these things?! Surely not I! Yet, it is an encouragement to me to think about all Spurgeon and Boyce faced and accomplished. They did so much and endured under so many difficulties. Surely I can endure what is before me by the grace of God. I hope to imitate them in as much as they imitated Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1).

It is incredible to think of the impact that these two men have had on Christendom. Who knows what evangelicalism would be without them and their labor? What would the Church landscape look like if Spurgeon had not written on the Downgrade Controversy? America would have never gleaned from his insights like it did and we cannot know the enormous impact that that had. However, we can know that they both did have a mammoth impact. We may never know this side of heaven exactly how much evangelicalism is indebted to them but we surely can thank the Lord for His provision of them.


In looking at Spurgeon and Boyce’s lives, we see that though many would think of their lives as glamorous, they were far from that, they were hard, very hard. They were entrusted with a stewardship, and a difficult one. They both endured physical pain, bouts of discouragement (even deep depression), and controversy over various issues. Yet, they were faithful to be and do what the Lord called them to even when it was painful. Therefore we see that both Boyce and Spurgeon demonstrated profound pastoral long-suffering in their life and work. We have also seen that there is much in their lives to strive to emulate.

Oh for fidelity and constancy, so that neither gain nor loss, exaltation nor depression, may induce us to quit our Saviour![50]


[1]We have clear scriptural warrant for emulation. We see this through Jesus’ earthly ministry; He made disciples and in the Great Commission, He instructed us to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). We see this precedence all throughout the New Testament. We will look at a few examples to establish the usefulness and biblical grounds for Christian biography. The writer of Hebrews instructs us to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). He also encourages us with the thought of all the saints that have gone before us. He says, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race set before us” (12:1). Of course, he wisely reminds us that our supreme example is Jesus (12:2). Again, he says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (13:7). I think here, we can deduce that many times it is a good principle to wait to imitate leaders until we have considered “the outcome of their way of life.” This also shows us that we should not imitate them wholesale but evaluate them. We can emulate good Christian leaders, that is fine, but we must always remember that only “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Paul, in like manner, tells us to “honor such men” (Phil. 2:29) that are faithful in service to the Lord. Paul even urged people to imitate himself (1 Cor. 4:16), but only in as much as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

[2]Tom Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 595.

[3]Ibid., 596.

[4]Boyce and John A. Broadus pledged, “Suppose we quietly agree that the Seminary may die, but we’ll die first” (Thomas J. Nettles, Stray Recollections, Short Articles and Public Orations of James P. Boyce [Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2009], 121).

[5]So Broadus said (Thomas J. Nettles, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009), 255).

[6] Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 537. “The discouragements he confronted of such an intense and extenuated nature ‘would have crushed a weaker man’” (Ibid., 514). After Boyce’s death, one said, “He has done the work of three men and done it well” (Ibid., 513).

[7]Ibid., 504. It is important to note Whitsitt’s words, “Nature made him great and grace made him greater” (Ibid., 502). It was not just colleagues that thought much of Boyce. His own daughter said, “The ideal Father, supreme tenderness, mingled with great firmness, utter self sacrifice and tireless care and love towards his children” (Nettles, Stray Recollections, 9).

[8]Notice that Moses chose to be mistreated with the people of God (Heb. 11:25). Suffering and mistreatment was certainly not the context in which he grew up. He could have stayed in his comfortable royal environment but “he considered the treasures of Christ greater wealth than the treasure of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (v. 26). Spurgeon, too, was looking to the reward.

[9]Arnold Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1999). “Rheumatism, relentless, sinister, sudden, and severe, made all of his labors a Herculean task and wore away his mind and soul” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 625 cf. 599).

[10]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 239.

[11]Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 156-57. Spurgeon said, “The consecrated flame will, perhaps, consume you, burning up the bodily health with too great ardour of soul, even bodily health with too great ardour of soul, even as a sharp sword wears away the scabbard, but what of that? The zeal of God’s house ate up our Master, and it is but a small matter if it consume his servants. If by excessive labour we die before reaching the average age of man, worn out in our Master’s service, then, glory be to God. We shall have so much less of earth and so much more of heaven” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 600).

[12]Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 538.

[13]Christianity is all-encompassing. See: Deut. 6:5; 1 Kings 8:61; Matt. 8:22; 22:37-38; Mark 12:30 (heart, soul, mind and strength, i.e. total devotion); Luke 10:27; 14:25-33; 16:13; Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 7:35 (Paul wants to secure an “undivided devotion to the Lord”); 10:31; 2 Cor. 5:9; 14-15; Phil. 3:7-8; Col. 3:17, 23, and 1 John 2:3-6 for some examples of the all-inclusive nature of the call of Christ. Also in Romans 12:1, we are told to present our bodies as a living sacrifice because that is our reasonable (logical) worship. Thomas R. Schreiner similarly says, “Paul used the term with the meaning ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable,’ as was common in the Greek language. His purpose in doing so was to emphasize that yielding one’s whole self to God is eminently reasonable. Since God has been so merciful, failure to dedicate one’s life to him is the height of folly and irrationality” (Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998], 645 [italics mine].). In addition, Schreiner points out that “the word ‘bodies’ here refers to the whole person and stresses that consecration to God involves the whole person… Genuine commitment to God embraces every area of life” (Ibid., 644. Italics mine). Entire devotion is true of all genuinely godly men. Here are two brief examples: Hudson Taylor knew that “One cannot obtain a Christlike character for nothing; one cannot do a Christlike work save a great price” (Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009], 27). Lloyd-Jones, too, saw that “our supreme duty is to submit ourselves unreservedly to Him” (Iain H. Murray, The Fight of Faith [Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009], 181). In fact, “Essential Puritanism,” Lloyd-Jones argued, “put its emphasis upon a life of spiritual, personal religion, an intense realization of the presence of God, a devotion of the entire being to Him.” (Ibid., 460n1).

[14]These men both knew the NT expectation of suffering. For Acts see: 5:41; 7:58; 8:3; 9:1, 15-16; 13:50; 14:22; 16:19-24; 20:23-24. In the Pauline corpus see: Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:7; 24:9;13; 2 Cor. 1:3-7; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; 16-18; 2 Tim. 1:8; 3:12; 4:5; 1 Thess. 3:3-4 (“we are destined for this”); Phil. 1:29; 3:7-21 (note esp. v. 17). For the NT see: Matt. 5:10-12; 7:13-14; 10:22; 24-25; 37-39; 16:24-26; Mark 8:34-37; 13:13; Luke 6:22-23; 40; 9:23-24; 14:27; 21:16-19; John 15:18-21; 16:33; 1 Peter 2:18-25 (note esp. v. 21); 3:13-18; 4:12 (“do not be surprised… as though something strange were happening to you”); 5:10-11; Heb. 13:12-14; Rev. 2:10. Paul even speaks of suffering for Christ as a privilege. He says suffering has been graciously granted to us. The word for “granted” in Philippians 1:29 is the Greek word ecarisqh which is from the same root as the noun for grace (cariϛ) and it could be translated as “give graciously.” Paul is saying that God has been gracious in allowing us the privilege to suffer for His sake.

[15]C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students, 156.

[16]Luther said in his Heidelberg Theses, “He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross” (Heino 0. Kadai, “Luther’s Theology of the Cross” 169-204 in Concordia Theological Quarterly Vol. 63:3 July 1999, 178). “Sometimes a Christian may even be called upon to suffer for the sake of the community in which he lives. If this happens, he will do so gladly. But what he will not do is compromise on his confession of the love and mercy of God in Christ. If that entails suffering, he will gladly suffer, but he will remain steadfast” (Ibid., 189-90).

[17]Truly, “It was good that Spurgeon had a theology of suffering long before he had the constant experience of it” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 630). Spurgeon even said, “Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library” ( accessed on November 17th 2013).

[18]See Edmond Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Random House: New York, 2010).

[19]Iain H. Murray, D. M. Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 98.

[20]They actually meant and discussed this (Nettles, Stray Recollections, 21).

[21]See also Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students, 155.

[22]Ibid., 156.

[23]Darrel Amundsen, “The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon,” Christian History, 10 (1991), 64.

[24]“Skoglund accurately noted that ‘the black cloud of depression never permanently left Spurgeon’s life until he went to be with his Saviour’” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 606).

[25]The financial burden alone was a heavy weight for both Spurgeon and Boyce to bear. Boyce could surely relate to what was said of Spurgeon, “No minute of any day was free from an ever-increasing demand on his skills of appeal.” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 614).

[26]Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students, 156. Just before Spurgeon meant the multitudes to preach, “he succumbed to a fearful, almost convulsive, nervous anxiety… he never preached but that he had beforehand a most straining time of vomiting” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 153). However, in his later years, he was able to refrain from this form of anxiety.

[27]C. H. Spurgeon, In All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986), 218-19.

[28]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 176.

[29]Ibid., 255.

[30]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 243.



[33]Darrel W. Amundsen, “The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon” accessed 17 November 2013,

[34]We also see that “Spurgeon was committed to the reality that a merry heart helps both body and soul in their daily travels” (Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 276 cf. Prov. 17:22)

[35]e.g. Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 255.

[36]Ibid., 255.

[37]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 482.

[38]See Ibid.,, 541-78.

[39]Spurgeon often felt heartsick because of the controversies that he was in. He was forsaken by friends. Those he trusted even twisted his words and used them against him (cf. Ibid.,, 560).

[40]Ibid., 571. Spurgeon understood that “Without affirmation of the full inspiration and infallibility of Scripture, preachers are like weather-cocks spinning in a different direction with every wind blows” (Ibid., 567).

[41]See Spurgeon’s helpful book, Soul Winner (New Kingston, PA: Whitaker House, 1995). Nettles points out that “it was precisely in service of evangelism that Spurgeon so insisted on a common doctrinal stance… For Spurgeon, there could be no evangelism without a clear knowledge of the gospel and he would not be tempted by empty rhetoric” (Living By Revealed Truth, 570). Spurgeon himself said, “It is as much our duty under God, to conserve the truth as to convert the sinners” (Ibid., 472).

[42]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 169. Spurgeon said, “If an act of sin would increase my usefulness tenfold, I have no right to do it; and if an act of righteousness would appear likely to destroy all my apparent usefulness, I am yet to do it. It is yours and mine to do the right though the heavens fall, and follow the command of Christ whatever the consequences may be” (Ibid., 578).

[43]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 168.

[44]Nettles, Stray Recollections 41 and Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 68. “When controversies ‘on intricate and delicate subjects arise; when men of genius and learning appear in opposition to the truth, and labour to subvert the faith,’ some need to be prepared to stand in defense of the truth lest the cause of God suffer” (Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 113).

[45]Boyce saw the importance of confessions specifically with C. H. Toy. Boyce’s heart was broken over the controversy with Toy. He even said, Oh Toy, I would gladly give my arm to be cut off if you would be orthodox again. It is quite easy to look at this situation with Toy abstractly. Yet, Boyce did not see it this way at all. For him this situation was tangible. It was also personally painful and distressing. Surely it compounded Boyce’s anxiety over both the need for a theologically sound seminary and the difficulties, even beside financial, that would ensue that pursuit (then and for many decades to come). It is also easy to forget that the seminary was not large. Many seminaries today have many professors. Today, for instance, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has around three-dozen faculty members, however, during the Toy controversy they did not even have a half-dozen. Thus, Boyce would have obviously been very personally acquainted with Toy and so this controversy would have all the more impact on him and the seminary. See Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 355. 

[46]Albert Mohler’s book, The Conviction to Lead (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishes, 2012), has been helpful to me on this subject.

[47]Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 21.

[48]Nettles, Stray Recollections, 21.

[49]Nettles, James Petigru Boyce, 60. See also Nettles, Stray Recollections, 32-33

[50]Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 558.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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