"I was years and years upon the brink of hell—I mean in my own feeling. I was unhappy, I was desponding, I was despairing. I dreamed of hell. My life was full of sorrow and wretchedness, believing that I was lost."

Charles Spurgeon, the most widely heard preacher of the nineteenth century and one of the most widely read today, used these strong words to describe his adolescent years. Despite his Christian upbringing (he was christened as an infant, and raised in the Congregational church), and his own efforts (he read the Bible and prayed daily), Spurgeon woke one January Sunday in 1850 with a deep sense of his need for deliverance.

Because of a snowstorm, the 15-year-old's path to church was diverted down a side street. For shelter, he ducked into the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Artillery Street. An unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text—Isaiah 45:22—"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else."

Spurgeon's Autobiography records his reaction:

"He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed—by me, at any rate—except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, 'That young man there looks very miserable' … and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, 'Look! Look, young man! Look now!' … Then I had this vision—not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was. … Now I can never tell you how it was, but I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe, and I did believe in one moment.

"And as the snow ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Tags:
Read These Next
Current IssueEven in Canada, Conservative Churches Are Growing
Even in Canada, Conservative Churches Are Growing Subscriber Access Only
Mainline churches with evangelical leanings outpace their liberal counterparts, study says.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Faculty push back against stricter standards keeping curse words, R-rated movies, and sexual content out of their curricula.
Christianity Today
Spurgeon's Epiphany
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

December 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.