When Charles Haddon (C. H.) Spurgeon accepted the pastorate at New Park Street Chapel in London, he was just 19 years old. The young man from Kelvedon, Essex, England, had become a Christian only a few years before. But when he preached his first sermon in 1850 at the tender age of 16, his listeners already recognized that his style and delivery were extraordinary.
New Park Street Chapel was the largest Baptist church in London when Spurgeon started preaching there. Nevertheless, the congregation’s attendance had been in decline for the several years before he arrived. Spurgeon’s leadership soon reversed that trend. Within just a few months of his arrival, Spurgeon had become famous. It wouldn’t be long before New Park Street Chapel had become one of the city’s largest churches.
So popular was Spurgeon’s preaching that he and the New Park congregation had to search for ever-larger venues in which to worship. After outgrowing their original building, New Park held services in Exeter Hall and then Surrey Music Hall, where Spurgeon regularly preached to more than 10,000 people at once. Some days the crowds were even larger. On the Day of National Humiliation in 1858, for example, Spurgeon preached to 23,000 people at the Crystal Palace. He was only 24 years old. To accommodate the growth inspired by their pastor’s popularity, New Park erected a new building in 1861, which they called the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Spurgeon, who was called the “Prince of Preachers,” preached at Metropolitan Tabernacle until his death in 1892.
While Spurgeon was busy rising to stardom, he married Susannah Thompson in January 1856. The couple had twin boys, Charles and Thomas.
Although Spurgeon is best known as a preacher, he also had a powerful ministry through the printed word. Beginning in 1855, all of Spurgeon’s sermons were transcribed and published—3,600 of them in all by the time he died in 1892. He also wrote a few hymns and published 49 volumes of commentaries, anecdotes, sermon illustrations, and spiritual devotionals. Many of these writings have been translated into dozens of languages and adored by Christians all over the world. He also supported international missions, both financially and by encouraging missionary candidates to serve with James Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission.