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C. H.

SPURGEON 1835 1892


Charles Spurgeon has been called the "Prince of Preachers". Many times it has been said that He was the greatest preacher this side of the Apostle Paul. As a young teenager, and despite the fact that his father and grandfather were both preachers, Charles had not found the truth of the Gospel for himself. He vowed to visit every church in town to find out how to become a Christian. Parent, would your teenager have to do this in order to find out how to be saved? How sad, especially since his dad and grandfather were preachers. Evidently these men were not versed in personal evangelism. After 6 months of visiting every chapel he could find, he was almost in despair. The cold, snowy morning of January 6, 1850 found him setting out to attend yet another church some distance away. As he trudged along, his heart felt as cold as the falling snow. The fierce storm prevented him from reaching his destination and he turned aside into an obscure chapel he didn't know existed. It was the Artillery Street Primitive Methodist Church. He entered hesitantly because he had heard that the Methodists sang so loudly that they made one's head ache! I went inside and there were only 12 people there that cold night. A tall, thin man shuffled to the front and explained that the minister must have been held up by the bad weather, so he would substitute. Aren't you glad they didn't cancel the service that night. He quickly selected a text, Isaiah 45:22, "Look unto me, and by ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Young Spurgeon noticed that the stand-in preacher could not even pronounce the words right as he stammered and stuttered. The substitute said repeatedly, "Look, it is just look!" Spurgeon wondered why he had not thought of that before. The preacher continued, "Look unto Me....LOOK is not a hard word. A food can do that. It does not need a wise man to look. A child can do that. How simple. Then he went on. "Look unto ME. Do not look to yourselves." Then he went on in his own simple way to put it thus: "Look unto me. I'm sweating great drops of blood! I'm hanging on the cross!" With this 10 minute sermon, stooping down, he spotted Charles under the gallery and said, "Young man, you look miserable, young man, and you will always be miserable, in life and in death, unless you look to Christ." "So I was," young Charles later testified, "but I hadn't been accustomed to being addressed in that way! The speaker continued his address to the young teenager in front of everyone present, "Young man, look to Jesus Christ! Look! Look!" Spurgeon was fifteen and later testified, "I saw at once the way of salvation. I looked until I could have almost looked my eyes away! The darkness rolled away and I saw the sun. I

felt I could spring from my seat and sing with the wildest of these Methodist brethren, "I am forgiven!" The identity of that substitute is still shrouded in mystery, but someone faithfully doing his duty the best he could is certainly shining as a bright star somewhere in God's Heaven. Who would have guessed that God would use this seemingly insignificant occasion to make history! Oh, the lesson is this, Let us do what we can for Jesus, even if it seems so insignificant, and if our class is small or even if we feel we will not accomplish anything for the Lord! Charles wrote to his mother at once and said, "Oh, I wish I could do something for Christ! Within a week, he had found something. First it was giving out tracts, then when his supply was exhausted, he wrote on slips of paper and dropped them on the streets, hoping someone would pick them up and be helped. Charles, now 16, immediately began preaching in the evenings, after his school duties were over. He would preach in chapels, cottages, on the street, and his reputation as the 'Boy Preacher' quickly spread. He began preaching at the age of 16. At 25 he build Londons famous Metropolitan Tabernacle, seating around 5,000. It was never large enough. Even in 1851, he was invited to preach at a small Baptist Church in Waterbeach, not far away. There were less than a dozen in attendance. In 1852, that small church called him to be their pastor. He was only 17 and probably the youngest minister in England. The church soon grew to 100. Despite his youth, his giftedness was quite evident, and his pastoring showed signs of maturity well beyond his years, and his extraordinary preaching ability was apparent. During this time he lived a different house nearly every day as some 52 families took him in. He was there for about 2 years, and his reputation at barely age 20, preceded him, and someone invited him to candidate for the historic New Park Street Church in South London. 20 years old, he began his work there in mid 1854 with only 100 people in a 1200 seat auditorium. Throngs of people were attracted to join the small congregation and before the end of the year, the auditorium was too small. In 1856, January 8, Charles married a young lady in the Church, Susannah Thomson, who became a very effective helpmeet for him. The crowds continued to come and come, and one Sunday, he announced that the church was going to have to be enlarged. Over the doubts of many parishioners, remodeling began and the funds came in. Services were held in a nearby large hall while renovation, and the swelling crowds kept coming, and it was obvious a entirely new building must be built to handle the crowds. In October 1856, they had ran out of room before the new building was completed, so the congregation was meeting at the large Surrey Gardens Music Hall. At the first service, trouble makers came with the purpose of opposing the Gospel, and yelled, "Fire! Fire!" The great crowd began to panic.

Seven people were killed in the rush to vacate the premises and 30 seriously injured. It was estimated that 12,000 people were in attendance. The tragedy just about destroyed Charles. He was heartbroken with grief and spent several days in dark solitude, to the extent that his dear wife wondered if he would recover. She urged him to come with her and go to the home of one of their deacons in desperation to find peace. As they were walking in the garden, Spurgeon suddenly turned to his wife and said, "Dearest, how foolish I have been! Why, what does it matter what becomes of me, if the Lord shall be but glorified! If Christ be exalted, let Him do what He pleases with me....oh, wifey (as he affectionately called her), I see it all now! Praise the Lord with me!" The burden had been lifted. With the Lord's help, he returned to the pulpit. Often through Spurgeon's ministry, the devil tried to defeat him with discouragement, as he does with every saint of God. He was attacked and slandered as books and articles were printed about him. Some questioned whether he was really born-again or not, or whether his ministry was honoring to God. He was called an actor, a comet that would appear and be gone. His enemies criticized his preaching, his pulpit manner, and even his character. His critics labeled him as vulgar and profane. One critic said, "He has gone up like a rocket, and ere long will come down like a stick." Susanna, his wife, saw how the unjust attacks were affecting her husband, so she had Matthew 5:11,12 printed and framed so he could see it first thing every morning. It read, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." The promise did its work, and Spurgeon was able to sail through the storms successfully. Now at age 22, he was the most popular preacher of his day. He acclaimed the 'boy wonder'. The growing congregation built the great Metropolitan Tabernacle at the cost of $155,000, a great sum of money in that day. The seating capacity was 5,500 with standing room for 1000 more. It had two galleries or balconies. The auditorium was 146 feet long, 81 feet wide, and 62 feet high. The building itself was 174 feet by 85 feet. For the next 38 years Spurgeon filled the church and the standing area twice every Sunday! As one biographer noted, "He never found but one place that could hold his congregation the open fields roofed by the skies!" Measured by every human standard, Spurgeon was the Prince of Preachers. As B.H. Carroll asked in his memorial address in February 1892 after his death, "With whom among men can you compare him?" No other preacher ever commencing with such a large congregation, commanded such increasing crowds until his death. No other preacher has ever had more messages published in the English language. The earth's greatest daily and weekly newspapers all over the world published his weekly sermons for over 100 years starting in 1850!

Crowds thronged to hear him as they came to hear John the Baptist by the River Jordan. The fire of God was on him as on the Prophet Elijah facing assembled Israel at Mount Carmel. Royalty sat in his Tabernacle, as did washerwomen. Mr. Gladstone had him to dinner; and cabbies refused his fare, considering it an honor to drive for this Prince of Preachers. To a housewife kneading bread, he would say, Have you ever tried the Bread of life? Many a carpenter was asked, Have you ever tried to build a house on sand? His great use of illustrations and humor to illustrate Spiritual truth were common place. Once while speaking to a backslider about church attendance, he was unable to get the response he wanted. Then without speaking, he took a pair of tongs and lifted a live coal out of the fireplace. Both men watched as the flame died and the coal became a dead black cinder. "You don't need to say anything more," the man protested, "I'll be back in my place in church next Sunday." Spurgeon had a sense of humor and wit, and used it often in his preaching and daily life. One listener objected to something humorous Spurgeon had said, and Spurgeon replied: "If you had known how many others I kept back, you would not have found fault with that one, but you would have commended me for the restraint I had exercised." Spurgeon compared humor in his sermons to "the bait that conceals the hook that catches the fish." Other Preachers even admired him. One clergyman of the State Church of England even penned this poem, "There was an old preacher named Spurgey, He had no use for the lit - turgy But his sermons were fine, I take them for mine and so does the rest of the clergy!" Charles Spurgeon preached in all the principal cities of England, Scotland and Ireland. And although invited to the United States on several occasions, he was never able to visit this country. HOW GREAT WAS HIS HEART: It was said of his 5000 membership in his church that he knew them all by name; His heart was great for preachers, so the Pastors College was founded and 900 students were trained for the ministry there under him; he once told his students,

"When you speak of heaven, let your face light up and radiate with a heavenly gleam. Let your eyes shine with reflected glory....and when you speak of hell, well, then your everyday face will do!" The officers of a small country church wrote to Spurgeon requesting that he suggest a minister for their empty pulpit. When Spurgeon learned of the meager salary they paid their pastor, he wrote: "The only individual I know, who could exist on such a stipend, is the angel Gabriel. He would need neither cash nor clothes; and he could come down from heaven every Sunday morning, and go back at night, so I advise you to invite him." It is said that P.T. Barnum, the Circus Tycoon, invited Spurgeon to come on tour with him and preach at the circus and he would pay him a huge sum of money for each time he preached. Spurgeon wrote back and politely declined and signed Acts 13:10 next to his name. Acts 13:10 reads, " .......thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" One day Charles Spurgeon rebuked one of his deacons rather sharply. "Well, that may be so," the man replied, "but I tell you what, sir, I would die for you any day." "Bless your heart," Spurgeon said, "I am sorry I was so sharp, but, still, you did deserve it, did you not?" The man smiled and admitted that he had deserved the rebuke, "and there the matter ended," said Spurgeon.

Spurgeon was criticized because he smoked cigars. When another preacher asked him if he didn't think his smoking would hurt his testimony. Spurgeon replied, "If I ever smoke to excess." "And what would that be?" The preacher asked. "If I smoked two cigars at the same time," Spurgeon replied. Spurgeon was used to criticism and he knew how to handle it. Once he was walking down the street and a belligerent lady yelled obscenities at him from her porch. Spurgeon tipped his hat at the lady and said, "Yes, it is a beautiful day indeed!" The lady mumbled to herself, "The man is stone deaf!"

His love for orphans was evident, so the Stockwell Orphans houses came to be, and these 12 orphanages accommodated over 500 children; His burden for people around the world was apparent, so his literature poured forth in an almost immeasurable volume. He was a national voice; so every national issue affecting morals, religion or the poor had his interpretation, his counsel. Here is a man who had no college or theological training himself, yet had no peer in his day! Oh, but his passion for souls! You can see it in every sermon. Once he requested his listeners to spend a time of quiet at home thinking about their spiritual condition. If they were not saved, they should take a piece of paper and write 'CONDEMNED' on it. If they wee saved, they were to write 'FORGIVEN' on the paper. One man went home and told his wife what Spurgeon had said. he took a piece of paper and said he was going to write CONDEMNED, but his wife pleaded with him to trust Christ.. Just as he was about to write the letter 'C', his little daughter caught hold of his hand and said, "No, Father, you shall no write it." The man knelt down and trusted Christ right then and there and the family became faithful members at the tabernacle. Prince of Preachers - beyond any denial or dispute. Although Charles Spurgeon looked robust, he was not a healthy man. From the age of 35, he was hindered by one kind of illness or another almost every year until his death at age 57. Because of illness, approximately 1/3 of the time, Spurgeon was out of his pulpit often during the last 22 years of his ministry. His constant experience with pain and with God's grace made him especially sympathetic with those who suffered, and his tender heart is seen often in his sermons. On top of this, his wife Susanna's health began to deteriorate as she neared 40 years of age, and for 16 years she was an invalid, rarely leaving her sickroom. She was not even able to attend the Tabernacle for the special occasion of Charles' 50th birthday. My friend, when we feel discouraged because we are suffering, let's not forget great men and women of God before us have had to suffer too, like Jesus did. Does this not teach us to thank God for our health, if we do have it? Spurgeon was grievously afflicted with a serious disease for several years and became an invalid for a number of months before his death at age 57. He suffered from gout, which was not understood by medical authorities in that day, and it took him steadily downward. He was absent from the pulpit for most of the year preceding his death. Many a time he limped into the pulpit, leaning heavily upon his stick, unable to stand, yet preached, kneeling with one knee upon a chair. Charles went to France for a vacation to try to regain his health, and on January 31, 1892, he passed over to the other side. Memorial and funeral services at the Tabernacle from February 7 to 11 were probably attended by no less than 100,000 people. Charles

preaching bible was placed on top of his casket, opened to Isaiah 45:22. D.L. Moody later received this Bible and consulted it often. Charles' two sons, Charles and Thomas, were excellent preachers themselves, carried on the work during their father's illness. At 57 years of age, after forty of the fullest, far-reaching ministries, Charles died in France, as he had went there to seek treatment for gout, which doctors knew very little about in that day. Rightly did the speaker state from the Scriptures at the funeral: "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" (2 Samuel 3:38) We can be inspired by Charles Spurgeon and learn many lessons even today..... Start early to live for Christ. It is beyond anyone's imagination what God can do with any number of these teenagers sitting in this room tonight. Don't despair if your class is small or your influence seems to be little.... If you can just touch one life for Jesus or influence one teenager to live for Christ and become born-again....it just could be another Charles Spurgeon! Faithfulness in seemingly small ministries is preparation for ministry in large places. Charles Spurgeon preached to thousands each Lord's Day, yet he started his ministry by passing out tracts and teaching a Sunday school class as a teenager. He was invited to preach at obscure places in the country-side, and he used every opportunity to honor the Lord. If we are faithful in small things, God will trust us with larger things.

La Angustia y Agonas de Charles Spurgeon.


Por Darrel W. Amundsen.

La debilitante enfermedad de la gota, la calumnia ponzoosa, la depresin recurrente: Spurgeon sufri todo eso. Qu le ocurri a su fe, como resultado de estas agonas? Los amigos de Spurgeon e inclusive sus conocidos casuales, hacan comentarios acerca de su risa contagiosa. Su humor encontr tambin expresin en sus sermones y escritos, por lo que a veces fue duramente criticado. Spurgeon responda que si sus crticos solamente supieran cunto suprima de su humor, guardaran silencio. Al mismo tiempo, la vida de Spurgeon estuvo saturada de sufrimientos. Conocemos ntimamente sus aflicciones gracias a sus frecuentes y francas descripciones de ellas. Qu tormentos afligieron a Spurgeon? Cmo reconcili sus dolorosas experiencias con su visin de un Dios lleno de gracia? Agonas Espirituales Arriesgndonos a una tajante simplificacin, podemos agrupar los sufrimientos de Spurgeon en sufrimientos espirituales, emocionales y fsicos, aunque hay que reconocer la influencia recproca entre las distintas categoras. Los sufrimientos espirituales de Spurgeon comenzaron de manera ms marcada, cinco aos antes de su conversin. A lo largo de su ministerio, l se refiri a los horrores que haba sentido durante cinco aos, cuando se encontraba bajo una profunda conviccin de pecado, intelectualmente consciente del Evangelio, pero ciego a su aplicacin personal. "La justicia de Dios, como un arado, desgarr mi espritu," recordaba. "Yo estaba condenado, arruinado, destruido, perdido, desvalido, desesperado. Yo pensaba que el infierno estaba ante m. . . yo oraba, sin encontrar ninguna respuesta de paz. Eso me ocurri durante mucho tiempo." Para Spurgeon, ningn sufrimiento soportado ms tarde, podra igualar esta devastadora amargura del alma. Esos sufrimientos espirituales le ensearon a aborrecer la inmundicia del pecado y apreciar la santidad de Dios. Y engendraron en l un gozo serfico en su salvacin. Calumnia y Escarnio Durante sus aos iniciales en Londres, Spurgeon fue el blanco de intensas calumnias y escarnios. En 1881, pudo mirar en retrospectiva esos aos y comentar: "puedo decir en verdad, 'yo fui enterrado con Cristo hace treinta aos,' ciertamente debo estar muerto.

Verdaderamente el mundo as lo pens, pues no mucho tiempo despus de mi entierro con Jess, comenc a predicar Su nombre, y por esos aos el mundo me consider muy trastornado, y afirm: 'apesta." Comenzaron a decir todo tipo de cosas malas contra el predicador; pero entre ms apestaba yo en sus narices, ms me regocijaba, pues tena entonces la plena certeza que yo estaba realmente muerto para el mundo." Por aquel entonces, sin embargo, Spurgeon se debata entre el gozarse ante tales persecuciones o el ser aplastado por ellas. En 1857, luch con sus sentimientos. "A menudo he cado de rodillas, con un sudor hirviente brotando de mi rostro bajo el peso de una nueva calumnia lanzada contra m; en una agona de dolor mi corazn ha estado a punto de ser quebrantado. . .Esto puedo decir con todo mi corazn: si ser convertido en el lodazal de las calles otra vez, si ser el hazmerrer de los insensatos y ser la cancin del borracho me permitir una vez ms ser de mayor servicio a mi Seor, y ms til a su causa, prefiero eso a toda esta muchedumbre, o a todo el aplauso que el hombre pueda brindarme." El Peso de la Predicacin A menudo, al venir a este plpito, he sentido que mis rodillas chocaban entre s. Desde el principio de su ministerio, Spurgeon atrajo inmensas audiencias en instituciones tales como Exeter Hall y el Royal Surrey Gardens Hall, que posean auditorios de gran capacidad de pblico. Aunque segn las apariencias, Spurgeon desbordaba aplomo, en realidad, internamente, estaba lleno de vacilaciones. En 1861, coment: "mis diconos saben muy bien cmo, cuando prediqu por primera vez en Exeter Hall, escasamente hubo alguna ocasin en la que me dejaron solo diez minutos antes del servicio, sin que me encontraran en un espantoso estado de enfermedad, producido por ese tremendo sentimiento de mi solemne responsabilidad. . ." Spurgeon senta una gran ansiedad que brotaba, no tanto de las multitudes a las que tena que predicar, sino frente a la terrible responsabilidad de tener que rendir cuentas ante Dios por las almas de tantas personas. Esta fue siempre una vigorosa fuente de sufrimiento espiritual a lo largo de toda su carrera. l hizo la observacin en 1883: "he predicado el Evangelio durante estos ltimos treinta aos y ms, y. . . a menudo, he sentido que mis rodillas chocaban entre s, no porque tuviera temor de mis oyentes, sino al pensar en esas cuentas que debo rendir a Dios, si hablo la verdad fielmente o no." Afliccin Emocional por "Fuego"! En la noche del 19 de Octubre de 1856, Spurgeon iba a comenzar un perodo de servicios semanales en el saln Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall. La maana de ese mismo da haba predicado en la Capilla New Park Street, sobre el texto de Malaquas 3: 10: "Probadme ahora en esto." Con escalofriante voz proftica declar: ". . .yo podra ser llamado a estar all donde se fraguan las nubes de tormenta, donde los rayos juegan, y los vientos tempestuosos allan en la cima de la montaa. Bien, entonces, nac para probar el poder y la majestad de nuestro Dios; en medio de los peligros, l me llenar de valor; en medio de los trabajos, l me fortalecer. . . Esta noche nos vamos a reunir en un lugar donde se congregar una muchedumbre sin precedentes, tal vez por pura curiosidad, para or la

Palabra de Dios; y la voz clama en mis odos: 'Probadme ahora en esto.'. . . Mira lo que puede hacer Dios, justo en el momento cuando una nube est cayendo sobre la cabeza de quien Dios ha levantado, para que les predique. . ." Esa noche el saln Surrey Hall, con capacidad de albergar a doce mil personas, estaba desbordante con una muchedumbre adicional de unas diez mil personas que deambulaban en los jardines. El servicio acababa de empezar cuando, durante la oracin de Spurgeon, varios sinvergenzas mal intencionados gritaron: "fuego! Los balcones se estn desplomando!" Como consecuencia del pnico generado, siete personas murieron y veintiocho ms tuvieron que ser hospitalizadas por las severas lesiones que sufrieron. Spurgeon, totalmente destrozado, tuvo que ser llevado, literalmente, del plpito a casa de un amigo, donde permaneci por varios das sumido en profunda depresin. Ms tarde, l coment: "tal vez ningn alma se acerc tanto al horno ardiente de la locura, y se alej de l sin recibir ningn dao." Finalmente encontr consuelo en este versculo: "Por lo cual Dios tambin le exalt hasta lo sumo, y le dio un nombre que es sobre todo nombre." Spurgeon no era sino un soldado; el Seor es el capitn de los ejrcitos, y por ello la victoria estaba asegurada. Sin embargo, hasta su muerte, el espectro de esa calamidad le persigui de tal manera, que un amigo cercano y bigrafo conjetur: "no puedo dejar de pensar que su comparativamente temprana muerte puede atribuirse en alguna medida al horno de sufrimiento mental que soport durante esa terrible noche y en das posteriores. Depresin Si Spurgeon conoca la depresin desde antes, como consecuencia del desastre de Surrey Hall se convirti en una compaera suya ms frecuente y perversa. En Octubre de 1858 sufri, desde su llegada a Londres, el primer episodio de alguna enfermedad que lo incapacitara temporalmente. Habindose tenido que ausentar de su plpito durante tres domingos, a su regreso predic sobre 1 Pedro 1: 6: "En lo cual vosotros os alegris, aunque ahora por un poco de tiempo, si es necesario, tengis que ser afligidos en diversas pruebas." En el sermn, titulado "La Afliccin y el Gozo del Cristiano," Spurgeon coment que durante su enfermedad, cuando "mi espritu estaba tan abatido que poda llorar durante horas como un nio, y sin embargo no saba por qu lloraba. . . un buen amigo me estaba contando acerca de una pobre mujer que viva cerca, que sufra de grandes dolores, pero que estaba llena de gozo y alegra. Al or esa historia me sent muy acongojado y avergonzado de m mismo. . ." Mientras se debata frente al contraste entre su depresin y el gozo hecho patente por esa mujer que sufra de cncer, "este texto brill en mi mente con su verdadero significado. . .que algunas veces el cristiano no soporta sus sufrimientos con un corazn valeroso y gozoso" sino "a veces su espritu se hunde con l, y el cristiano debe volverse como un niito golpeado por la mano de Dios." Spurgeon frecuentemente se encontraba "abatido." A veces su depresin era el resultado directo de sus diversas enfermedades: tal vez de origen psicolgico, y en el caso de la gota, probablemente tambin de origen fisiolgico. A pesar de ello, Spurgeon consideraba su propia depresin como su "peor rasgo" y una vez coment que "el decaimiento no es una virtud; creo que es un vicio. Estoy avergonzado de m mismo de corazn por caer en l, pero estoy seguro que no hay remedio tan bueno para eso como la santa fe en Dios."

Spurgeon se consolaba a s mismo al darse cuenta que tal depresin lo equipaba para ministrar con mayor efectividad: "yo ira a las profundidades cien veces para alentar a los espritus abatidos. Es bueno que yo experimente la afliccin, para saber cmo hablar oportunamente una palabra a alguien que est abrumado." Tareas del Ministerio Los recurrentes ataques de depresin de Spurgeon fueron exacerbados por sus numerosas responsabilidades. l coment una vez: "Nadie conoce el trabajo y el cuidado que tengo que soportar. No pido simpata, sino que pido indulgencia si a veces olvido algo. Tengo que cuidar de un orfanatorio, estoy a cargo de una iglesia que consta de cuatro mil miembros, algunas veces tengo que oficiar en matrimonios y entierros, debo revisar un sermn semanal, tengo que editar La Espada y la Cuchara, y adems de todo eso, tengo que responder un promedio semanal de unas quinientas cartas." En 1872 asever que "el ministerio es un asunto que agota el cerebro y fuerza al corazn, y desangra la vida de un hombre si lo atiende como debe hacerlo." Sin embargo, l rehusaba bajar el ritmo. Durante su primera enfermedad de importancia (Octubre 1858) Spurgeon escribi a su congregacin y a sus lectores: "No atribuyan mi enfermedad al hecho que he trabajado demasiado arduamente para mi Seor. Por Su amada causa miro con piedad a la gente que dice: 'no predique con tanta frecuencia; usted se est matando.' Oh Dios mo! Qu habra dicho Pablo ante un consejo as?" Spurgeon decidi que sus arduos trabajos y su angustia, aunque dainos fsicamente, deban ser asumidos: "estamos demasiado ocupados en cuidarnos a nosotros mismos; rehuimos las dificultades encontradas en una labor excesiva. Y frecuentemente tras el parapeto del cuidado de nuestro cuerpo, no hacemos ni la mitad de lo que deberamos. Un ministro de Dios debe desdear las sugerencias que lo invitan a la comodidad innoble; su llamado es al trabajo arduo; y si destruye su constitucin, al menos yo, nicamente doy gracias a Dios que nos permite el gran privilegio de convertirnos en sacrificios vivos." La Enfermedad de la Gota "Alguna vez estuvieron acostados durante una semana sobre un solo costado? Alguna vez intentaron darse la vuelta, para solo descubrirse desvalidos? La enfermedad que afligi a Spurgeon con mayor severidad fue la de la gota, una condicin que a veces produce un dolor insoportable. Lo que puede ser diagnosticado con claridad como gota, le vino a Spurgeon en 1869, cuando contaba con 35 aos de edad. Por el resto de su vida estuvo incapacitado por semanas o inclusive durante meses casi cada ao, debido a diversas enfermedades. El espacio no nos permite elaborar una crnica ni siquiera abreviada de sus sufrimientos fsicos. Alguna apreciacin de ellos nos llega de un artculo de La Espada y la Cuchara en 1871: "Es una gran misericordia poder cambiarse de lado cuando uno est acostado. . . Alguna vez estuvieron acostados durante una semana sobre un solo costado? Alguna vez intentaron darse vuelta slo para descubrir que no podan hacerlo? Alguna vez los tuvieron que levantar otras personas, que por amabilidad les comunicaron la miserable conclusin que tenan que levantarlos otra vez y regresarlos de inmediato a la posicin anterior, pues aunque hubiera sido muy mala, era preferible a cualquier otra?. . .

Es una entraable misericordia poder dormir por lo menos una hora en la noche. . .Cun grande misericordia he recibido cuando slo una rodilla me tortura a la vez. Qu bendicin poder poner otra vez el pie en el suelo, aunque slo sea por un minuto!" Algunos meses ms tarde Spurgeon describi en un sermn, una experiencia durante ese perodo de afliccin: "hace algunos meses, cuando estaba siendo atormentado por el dolor, a tal punto que no poda soportarlo sin gritar, le ped a todos los que me rodeaban que abandonaran la habitacin, y que me dejaran solo; y luego no tena otras palabras que decirle a Dios excepto stas: "T eres mi Padre, y yo soy tu hijo; y T, como un Padre, eres tierno y lleno de misericordia. Yo no podra soportar ver que mi hijo sufriera como T me haces sufrir, y si yo lo viera que est siendo atormentado como yo lo estoy siendo ahora, hara lo que pudiera para ayudarlo y lo abrazara para sostenerlo. Todava se agravar sobre m tu mano, y no tendr una sonrisa de Tu rostro?". . . As supliqu, y luego me atrev a decir, cuando estaba en silencio y los que me cuidaban regresaron a la habitacin: 'a partir de este momento no tendr un dolor tan agudo, pues Dios ha escuchado mi oracin.' Bendigo a Dios porque vino la calma y el dolor que me atormentaba no regres nunca." l se refera frecuentemente a este incidente, aunque es imposible saber si la gota no volvi a ser nunca tan extremadamente dolorosa como lo fue durante ese episodio. A partir de 1871, Spurgeon vivi escasamente libre de dolor. Los intervalos entre los tiempos de obligado descanso se volvieron cada vez ms cortos, y su condicin de salud se volvi ms compleja cuando se comenzaron a presentar los sntomas de la enfermedad de Bright (una inflamacin crnica de los riones). Desde 1870, Spurgeon busc regularmente su recuperacin y restauracin en Mentone, en el sur de Francia. Los ltimos aos de sufrimiento fsico de Spurgeon deben verse a travs del lente de la 'Controversia del Declive.' Cuando dio comienzo esta controversia, Spurgeon coment que l "haba sufrido la prdida de amistades y de reputacin, prdida de apoyo econmico y amargos reproches. . .Pero nadie puede medir el dolor que me ha costado." A un amigo le dijo en 1891: "adis, no me volvers a ver nunca. Esta lucha me est matando." Dnde Est Dios Cuando Se Sufre? Spurgeon sostena que puesto que Dios es soberano, no hay tales cosas como accidentes. Esto, sin embargo, no es fatalismo. "El destino es ciego; la Providencia tiene ojos." Una fe firme en la soberana de Dios era esencial para el bienestar de Spurgeon: "para m sera una experiencia muy dolorosa y difcil de soportar pensar que estoy atravesando una afliccin que Dios no me mand; que la copa amarga nunca fue llenada por Su mano; que mis pruebas no fueron nunca medidas por l; que no me fueron enviadas en la cantidad y en el peso establecidos por Su disposicin." Consecuentemente, l tenda a mirar muy poco a la causalidad prxima. "Si beben del ro de la afliccin cerca de su desembocadura," predic en 1858, "es salobre y ofensivo al gusto, pero si lo siguen hasta su fuente, donde brota al pie del trono de Dios, descubrirn que sus aguas son dulces y restauran la salud." l explic en 1873: "si yo atribuyo mi dolor a un accidente, mi afliccin a un error, mi prdida a la culpa de otro, mi malestar a un enemigo, y as sucesivamente, soy de la tierra, terrenal, y me romper los dientes con

piedras de grava; pero cuando me vuelvo a mi Dios y veo Su mano en accin, me calmo y no tengo ni una palabra de queja." La confianza en la soberana y el amor paternal de Dios no impidi que Spurgeon preguntara algunas veces "por qu?", ms especialmente cuando quedaba incapacitado en tiempos que l consideraba cruciales para su trabajo. En La Espada y La Cuchara en 1876, hizo la pregunta en un artculo titulado "Incapacitado. Por qu?" Spurgeon respondi a su propia pregunta concluyendo que tales tiempos son "la manera ms segura de ensearnos que no somos necesarios para la obra de Dios, y que cuando somos ms tiles, l puede fcilmente prescindir de nosotros." En esto y en todo lo dems, Spurgeon se dio cuenta de los beneficios potenciales del dolor. En un sermn publicado en 1881, l afirm: "En s mismo, el dolor no santificar a nadie: tiende inclusive a ensimismar a la persona, y volverla malhumorada, enojadiza, egosta; pero cuando Dios bendice ese dolor, entonces tendr un efecto sumamente saludable: una suavizante influencia de obediencia." Un poco menos de un ao antes de su muerte, Spurgeon discuti ese proceso en un sermn titulado: "El Pueblo de Dios Consumido y Afligido." All, l se pregunta: "alguna vez han sido puestos en el crisol, queridos amigos? Yo he estado all, y mis sermones conmigo, y mi cuerpo, y todas mis buenas obras. Prcticamente llenaron el recipiente hasta que el fuego se consumi, y luego mir para ver qu se consumi all; y si no hubiera sido porque yo tena una fe simple en mi Seor Jesucristo, me temo que no habra encontrado nada El resultado de la purificacin es que nos permite llegar al verdadero valor de las cosas, y somos formados en un molde nuevo y mejor. Y, oh, casi anhelamos el crisol si por medio de l somos liberados de la escoria, para poder ser purificados, para poder ser moldeados ms completamente a semejanza de nuestro Seor!" Aqu vemos una maravillosa paradoja en la teologa aplicada de Spurgeon. l admite francamente que tema al sufrimiento y hara legtimamente lo que fuera para evitarlo. Sin embargo, cuando no sufra agudamente, anhelaba el sufrimiento. "El camino para una fe ms firme usualmente va a lo largo del abrupto sendero del dolor," deca. "Me temo que toda la gracia que he recibido en mis tiempos de comodidad y tranquilidad, pueden caber perfectamente en una moneda de un centavo. Pero el bien que he recibido de mis aflicciones, y dolores y penas, es completamente incalculable. . . La afliccin es el mejor mueble de mi casa. Es el mejor libro de la biblioteca de un ministro." No podemos esperar entender los sufrimientos de Spurgeon a menos que echemos una mirada a la experiencia de intimidad en su relacin con su Salvador. El 7 de Junio, 1891, Spurgeon predic, en medio de un agudo dolor fsico generado por su enfermedad, lo que sera, sin saberlo l, su ltimo sermn. Sus palabras finales en el plpito fueron, como siempre, acerca de su Seor: "l es el ms magnnimo de los capitanes. Entre los prncipes ms escogidos, no ha habido nadie como l. Le encontraremos siempre en lo ms recio de la batalla. Cuando sopla el viento fro, toma el lado ms desolado de la montaa. La parte ms pesada de la cruz siempre descansa entre Sus hombros. Si nos ordena llevar una carga, l tambin la lleva. Si hay algo lleno de gracia, generoso, amable y tierno, esplndido

y con amor en abundancia, lo encontraremos siempre en l. Ms de cuarenta aos Le he servido, bendito sea Su nombre!, y no he encontrado otra cosa sino amor de Su parte. Me encantara poder continuar sirvindole de la misma manera otros cuarenta aos aqu abajo, si l as lo quisiera. Su servicio es vida, paz, gozo. Oh, que ustedes comenzaran a servirle de inmediato! Que Dios les ayude a alistarse bajo el estandarte de Jess en este mismo da! Amn."