Spurgeon on Sermon Lengths

One of my favourite quotes from Spurgeon is on the appropriate length of sermons. I was sure it was in Lectures to My Students, but somehow it managed to evade all my attempts to find it. But I eventually located it in Lecture IX “Attention”:

A man with a great deal of well-prepared matter will probably not exceed forty minutes; when he has less to say he will go on for fifty minutes, and when he has absolutely nothing he will need an hour to say it in


Spurgeon has a lot of great stuff to say in the lectures about not being boring as well. Another of my favourite quotes:

‘Watch and pray,’ says the text, ‘Go to sleep,’ says the sermon.”

Book Review – Holy Spirit Power (Charles Spurgeon)

This short book contains six Spurgeon sermons on the Holy Spirit. As usual his sermons are deeply devotional and full of insight. Nevertheless, (dare I say it), I wouldn’t rank these as the best of his that I have read. There are plenty of good collections of his sermons available on Amazon, or simply visit the Spurgeon Archive.

For those wondering whether he will be a charismatic or a cessationist, well he says a few things that will please each side, and a few things that will concern each side. One advantage dead preachers have is that they can be enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people, as they do not nail their colours to the mast on current hot potato issues. The cessationists probably have the better claim to him though:

I have heard many fanatical people say that the Holy Spirit has revealed this and that idea to them. This is revealed nonsense. The Holy Spirit does not reveal anything fresh now. He brings old things to our remembrance.

Rather than reviewing the sermons, I will make three brief observations about Spurgeon’s preaching.

First, he digs deep. Most of the sermons deal with a single verse or phrase. Rather than expositing a whole chapter, he likes to meditate on a small portion of Scripture. As he does this, he brings in to play his thorough working knowledge of the whole of the Bible, which allows him to bring in supporting texts and prevents him from taking things out of context or contradicting other Scriptures.

Second, he is Christ centred. Again and again he gets us back to looking at Christ, and the gospel. You will not find lengthy anecdotes, illustrations or even very large amounts of practical “application”. What you will find is lots about the gospel, lots about how wonderful Jesus is, and what he has done for us. It does not matter that the main “subject” of these sermons is the Holy Spirit. They are also full of Christ. I recently came across a delightful quote of his on the importance of Christ-filled sermons:

A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.

Third, he is evangelistic. He does not make the assumption that all his hearers (even professing Christians) are truly saved. Again and again, he differentiates between the person who has truly been born again and who hasn’t. He calls us to examine ourselves. Clearly, he does not want anyone to have false assurance. This seems to be the opposite approach to that taken by many modern preachers. Clearly he believed, like Tim Keller, that there are “two ways to be lost”, and one of them is a very respectable religious way.