by Christian George
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born into an age of upgrade and downgrade. Over the course of his life, lightbulbs replaced gas lamps, engines replaced animals, and with the publications of Essays and Reviews, The Life of Jesus, and On the Origin of Species, nineteenth-century evangelicalism sparked as much controversy as electricity. A crisis of faith—or better yet, a crisis of doubt—walked the aisles of England’s newly lit chapels. Was Jesus God? Did miracles happen? Can faith and science coexist?
By the time Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838, the world of Wesley and Whitefield was vanishing. Gear-driven gadgets and inventions of all types alleviated the discomforts previous generations had tolerated. It was the age of rubber bands and safety pins. Sewing machines could stitch an astonishing 1,000 yards of fabric each day. Lawn mowers and “clod crushers” revolutionized agriculture. Photography, still an industry in infancy, captured history as it happened.