A look behind Spurgeon’s pulpit

Phil Johnson has reminded us of a rare glimpse into the life of Spurgeon from a pastoral perspective. It comes from the pen of a 19th Century American Presbyterian pastor, Theodore Ledyard Cuyler. The New York pastor was also well known on these shores as his preaching played a large role in the 1858 “prayer revival” that started in New York City and spread throughout the U.S. It is unusal that Iain Murray doesn’t make mention of Cuyler in his otherwise excellent treatment of the 1858 revival in chapter 13 of Revival and Revivalism (nevertheless it’s a great chapter and worth your reading). The excerpt that Phil provides is from Cuyler’s rare autobiography which is one of the few places that offer anything about this pastor’s life (I’m glad to know the entire text is available on-line). Probably of interest to preachers is this little note from Cuyler about Spurgeon’s use of preaching notes:

The most interesting object in the library was a small file of his sermon notes, each one on a half sheet of note paper, or on the back of an ordinary letter envelope. When I asked him if he “wrote his sermons out,” his answer was: “I would rather be hung.” His usual method was to select the text of his Sunday morning sermon on Saturday about six or seven o’clock, and spend half an hour in arranging a skeleton and put it on paper; he left all the phraseology until he reached the pulpit.

See the full article here.

One response to this post.

  1. In addition to his preaching and revivalist skills, Theodore Ledyard Cuyler was somewhat of a social progressive (not unusual for 19th century American evangelists). As pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY for 30 years (1860-1890), he was outspokenly supportive of the role of women in preaching. When he invited the Quaker preacher Sarah Smiley to his church in 1872, Cuyler was hauled before the Presbytery of Brooklyn for allowing a woman to address a “promiscuous assemblage” (i.e., an audience of godly women in the same room as men). He generally supported the abolitionist cause during the American Civil War, though he felt the newly freed slaves were not ready for full citizenship. A staunch advocate of missionary activity (his congregation sent Horace Grant Underwood to Korea, opening a modern Protestant presence in that country), Cuyler shared with his contemporaries Victorian-era notions of “christianizing the heathen.” He was rather quiet on the capital-vs-labor struggles of his era, though after his retirement, he was active in the Anti-Imperialist League with other prominent Americans. For more information, see http://www.lapcbrooklyn.org

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