- Collected materials which reveal the viewpoint of the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon ... on one of the most significant disputes of his ministry
- Compiled from the Sword and the Trowel, Spurgeon's Autobiography, and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit
The "Down Grade" Controversy is a compilation of original materials, including The Sword and the Trowel Magazine, C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography by Mrs. Spurgeon and J. W. Harrald, and the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit sermon volumes.
The "Down Grade" Controversy was one of the most significant disputes in the life of C. H. Spurgeon, occurring near the close of his comparatively short life of almost 58 years. It began in 1887 and continued on until — and even after — his death in 1892. He indicated in an editorial "note" in the very last days of his life that the controversy probably contributed to his early demise. He said: "To be free from all ecclesiastical entanglements is to the Christian minister a blessing worth all it has cost, even though an almost fatal illness might be reckoned as part of the price."
The "Down Grade" controversy took place at a time when there was profound theological unrest, "with sweeping changes in many realms of thought, and with the unusual dangerous tendency for many to accept the latest hypotheses as proven theories". Spurgeon and other ministers were alarmed at the opinions being expressed about the divinity of Christ, the atonement, resurrection and inspiration.
The lasting effects of the controversy may never be known, but one must speculate that it deeply effected Spurgeon as he withdrew from the Baptist Union over the debate. About this his son Thomas said: "The Baptist Union almost killed my father." Archibald Brown replied: "Yes, and your father almost killed the Baptist Union!" Spurgeon was "a voice crying in the wilderness" during this period.
About the Author
Few people in history can be known by one name and have it ring true with their audience, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon is one of them. Over time, Spurgeon has become known and revered as the "Prince of Preachers". In the last 200 years he has been one of the most influential men for not only Preachers of the Gospel but for those who have not had the opportunity to hear and receive the Gospel message. He wrote tirelessly over his life, and Wordsearch Bible Software is committed to bring as many of Spurgeon's works as possible to you in electronic form.
The details of Charles Haddon Spurgeon's life still continue to amaze one and all. He was born in Kelvedon, Essex, England, on June 19, 1834. He accepted Christ in 1850 at the age of 15. By age 16, he preached his first sermon in 1851, and by age 20, Spurgeon had already preached over 600 sermons. In 1854, Spurgeon was asked to become pastor of the New Park Street Chapel, one of the sixth largest Baptist Churches in London.
The 1200 seat Chapel had previously been pastored by Dr. John Gill among others, and it carried a rich heritage with it. Although the Church was located in the midst of a filthy industrial district which was hard to reach, by 1855, it was obvious that the Church must start meeting at the Exter Hall while the Church building was expanded. When the expansion was completed, it still was too small and the congregation was forced to start meeting at the Surey Music Hall. By 1856, over 10,000 people would crowd the hall just to get a chance to hear Spurgeon preach a sermon.
To accommodate the growing number of people, the church voted to build a new sanctuary and to change the name of the Church to the Metropolitan Tabernacle. On March 31, 1861, the first service was held in the sanctuary, with a capacity of 5,600 was the largest non-conformist church in the world.
When Spurgeon came to New Park Street in 1854 it had a membership of just 232 members. By the end of 1891, 14,460 souls had been baptized and added to the church with a standing membership of 5311. Spurgeon ministered there for over 30 years. It is estimated that over his lifetime he preached to over 10,000,000 people.
I've always loved Charles Spurgeon for his plainspokenness, his courage, his enthusiasm for the Word of God, his love for the truth, his command of the English language, and his ability to use simple, vivid language to make difficult truths inescapably clear.
One day I heard a friend say, "I write my sermons, then I read Spurgeon to see how he dealt with the text." The Prince of Preachers is still head of the class.