Second Series of Lectures to My Students Almost every student of preaching is more than passingly familiar with C. H. Spurgeon’s famous discourses on preaching entitled Lectures to My Students. What many do not realize is that the modern edition was originally presented as a series of lectures given over a period of years to his students as the Pastor’s College housed at the Metropolitan Tabernacle three years after his first and better known series of lectures were printed. His introductory comments are worth noting by preachers of all ages and experience.
Therefore with clear conscience I place my work at the service of my brethren, especially hoping to have a careful reading from young preachers, whose profiting has been my principal aim. I have made my addresses entirely for students and beginners in preaching, and I beg that they may always be regarded from that point of view, for many remarks which are proper enough to be made to raw recruits it would be gross impertinence to place before masters in Israel (p. iii).
The second series of lectures was entitled Second Series of Lectures to My Students and was published in 1902 by Alabaster and Passmore & Sons of London. Though no longer in print, this delightful work can be found on the used-book market through a number of sources and will prove to be a rich prize for those who pursue the hunt to its successful end. For those who are not thrilled by the hunt of an old book, the second series has been included in the complete edition of Lectures to My Students reprinted by Zondervan.
It is certainly my opinion that even the most veteran of preachers will stand to benefit from Spurgeon’s observations. He begins his series with a lecture stressing the importance and place of the Holy Spirit in relationship to our preaching. After listing out seven or eight ways in which our preaching is dependent on the Holy Spirit, he closes the lecture with a passionate appeal to avoid the things that grieve the Spirit and rob us of His assistance in preaching. For instance, feel the power of this statement:
Another grieving fault is a want of truthfulness. When a great musician takes a guitar, or touches a harp, and finds that the notes are false, he stays his hand. Some men’s souls are not honest; they are sophistical and double-minded. Christ’s Spirit will not be an accomplice with men in the wretched business of shuffling and deceiving. Does it really come to this—that you preach certain doctrines, not because you believe them, but because your congregation expects you to do so? Are you biding your time till you can, without risk, renounce your present creed and tell you what your dastardly mind really holds to be true? Then are you truly fallen indeed, and are baser than the meanest of slaves. God deliver us from treacherous men, and if they enter our ranks, may they be speedily drummed out to the tune of the Rogue’s March (p. 18).
His second lecture, “The Necessity of Ministerial Progress,” is equally stirring! After reading the opening paragraph you will want to find the book to read the rest.
Dear Fellow Soldiers! We are few, and we have a desperate fight before us, therefore it is needful that every man should be made the most of, and nerved to his highest point of strength. It is desirable that the Lord’s ministers should be the picked men of the church, yea, of the entire universe, for such the age demands; therefore, in reference to yourselves and your personal qualifications, I give you the motto, “Go forward.” Go forward in personal attainments, forward in gifts and grace, forward in fitness for the work, and forward in conformity to the image of Jesus (p. 23).
His fourth and fifth lectures comprise a wonderful brief history of open-air preaching beginning with the preaching of the ancient prophets of Israel and moving forward to the “Gospel Oaks” of his own day, which were well-known locations or trees where famous preachers and evangelists gathered crowds of thousands to hear the preaching of the gospel.
Lecture six, “Posture, Action, Gesture, etc.,” is a humorous and at times pointed critique of a side of preaching often neglected in homiletics books and courses. “A man of more than average abilities may, by ridiculous action, be thrown into the rear rank and kept there” (p. 96). His descriptions and comments on the nature of contemporary pulpits will certainly bring a smile to the face of any preacher who has had an itinerant ministry. The illustrations and sketches found in this section are worth the price of the book.
Perhaps one of the most helpful lectures in the series is the ninth, “The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear.” Admittedly, the title drew me to the chapter to see what Spurgeon meant by this. And, I was not disappointed. He begins by quoting Tacitus’ response to one who railed against him, “You are lord of your tongue, but I am also master of my ears – you may say what you please, but I will only hear what I choose” (p. 164). He applied this by warning those commencing on a new ministry that, “As soon as you enter your pastorate you may be waited upon by persons who are anxious to secure your adhesion to their side in a family quarrel or church dispute; be deaf and blind to these people, and assure them that bygones must be bygones with you, and that as you have not inherited your predecessors cupboard, you do not mean to eat his cold meat” (p. 164). He goes on to advise, “The blind eye and the deaf ear will come in exceedingly well in connection with the gossips of the place” (p. 166). “Never hear what was not meant for you” (p. 172). “To opinions and remarks about yourself, turn also as a general rule, the blind eye and the deaf ear” (p. 173). “In the case of false reports against yourself, for the most part, use the deaf ear” (p. 175). His advice was clearly given from personal experience drawn from years of pastoral ministry and those of us who follow in his steps would agree with his conclusion, “I have one blind eye and one deaf ear, and they are the best eye and ear that I have.”
This delightful volume contains much that will bless and profit the reader. Those who are fans of Spurgeon’s first series of lectures will undoubtedly find the second series to be as engaging as the first!