by David Bebbington
In 1856 Elias Lyman Magoon, pastor of Oliver Street Baptist Church, New York, published a collection of the sermons of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Magoon had visited Britain in the previous decade and continued to be supplied with newspapers from the United Kingdom. He had written two books on oratorical achievements past and present. The New York pastor was therefore fascinated to discover that a youthful preacher of his own denomination had taken London by storm.
Spurgeon, though only a teenager when he accepted the pulpit of New Park Street Baptist Chapel, Southwark, in 1854, was the talk of the British capital. His chapel was thronged every Sunday; his services were sought throughout the land; and his sermons flooded from the press. Magoon decided to publish a sample for consumption in the United States. Spurgeon, according to the American, was “as original in his conceptions as he is untrammeled in their utterance.” Over the years down to his death in 1892, Spurgeon was to prove to be the greatest preacher of the century. What, asked Magoon, was the explanation of his powers?