Why Spurgeon Did Not Go To College
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THERE are two wonders connected with Mr. Spurgeon; first that he did not have a college education ; and second, that he did not desire one. Almost all of the religious leaders of modern times have been college-bred men. When the Barbarians conquered Rome, they buried the handle of a sword, leaving the blade pointing to the stars, and said force must rule the race; the Man of Nazareth came down from the Tree and said love must rule the race; and while they struggled, the world went down into the night of the Dark Ages. The universities of Europe had an important part in driving away the night. For centuries they prepared men of God for heroic leadership. Wycliffe in England, Huss in Bohemia, Luther in Germany, were not only the graduates, but professors and presidents of universities. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was an honor man at Oxford. Most of the great preachers of the world have been college graduates. Spurgeon is an exception. The young pastor at Waterbeach was thought by many to be insufficiently educated for that or any other charges that might await him. And many of his friends, and especially his father and mother, begged him to go to college. He did not feel inclined to do so, but acceded to the desire of others. Dr. Angus, of Regent's Park College, London, was visiting Cambridge, and friends arranged for a meeting between him and Spurgeon at the house of Macmillan, the publisher. Spurgeon went at the hour named and a girl ushered him into a room, and there he waited two hours. He was timid, and was afraid to ring the bell to find out what was the trouble. At last he rang the bell, and found that Dr. Angus had waited nearly two hours for him and had taken the train for London. The girl had put one in one room and the other in another, and had said nothing to either about the other. He thought he would make an attempt to enter college, but he had an appointment to preach that very afternoon, and as he crossed Mid-summer Common, and set his foot on a little bridge that leads to Chesterton, a voice seemed to speak from heaven, saying, " Seek not things for yourself—seek them not." This he took to be the voice of God directing him to remain in the pastorate, and he there and then gave up the idea of going to college. By. careful reading and by constant mental exercise and severe mental discipline, he educated himself.
With the help of the university and the theological school, he would have been a great preacher, but he would not have been the Spurgeon of London. The university which he attended—his pulpit, the great city, and the school of Christ—splendidly equipped him for the great mission to which he felt divinely called.
It is considered the best, almost the necessary thing now-a-days for a young man, having the ministry in view to attend the academy, university, and theological school before he shall begin his public work, but there have been those, especially in the earlier history of our country, who, not having these high educational advantages, have had sermons and a ministry hard to equal. To their sterling native ability and character there was added the special endowment of spiritual power, by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And hundreds and thousands charmed with the divine magnetism of the messages, were brought into the Church of God.