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Review: The Greatest Fight in the World

Category Book Reviews
Date September 7, 2018

This address was delivered by C. H. Spurgeon in 1891 and proved to be the final one he was to give at the Pastors’ College. A footnote to the introduction explains, ‘Having endured many years of poor health, which was not helped by the theological battles that had occupied his attention during the mid to late 1800s, he again became ill in the spring of 1891 and died in Mentone, France, in January 1892.’ What we have in this book very much highlights this struggle.

After a brief introduction, the address contains three points:

  1. Our Armoury. Spurgeon simply describes this as the Bible and, for almost 40 of the 76 pages of the address, he emphasises such facts as: we need nothing more than what God has seen fit to reveal, and if that were not enough for our faith, what could we add to it? Again, we are not to cast away anything from the perfect volume.
  2. Our Army. Here Spurgeon deals with the Church: first of all the question, Is there a Church at all? then, Is it real or statistical? and, Is it increasing or dying? He goes on to speak of such subjects as the importance of being busy and well-taught, and of ministers being an example to the flock.
  3. Our Strength. This he identifies as the Holy Ghost and goes on to speak of, among other things, our need of dependence upon him in our preparation and in the pulpit as well as for our results.

Throughout this address Spurgeon pours scorn on those who denied verbal inspiration and were introducing error into the Church. For example he says,

We have nowadays a class of men who preach Christ, and even preach the Gospel; but then they preach a great deal else which is not true, and thus they destroy all the good of all they deliver, and lure men to error. They would be styled ‘evangelical’ and yet be of the school which is really anti-evangelical. Look well to these gentlemen. I have heard that a fox, when close hunted by the dogs, will pretend to be one of them, and run with the pack. That is what certain are aiming at just now: the foxes would seem to be dogs. But in the case of the fox, his strong scent betrays him, and the dogs soon find him out; and even so, the scent of false doctrine is not easily concealed, and the game does not answer for long. There are extant ministers of whom we scarce can tell whether they are dogs or foxes; but all men shall know our quality as long as we live and they shall be in no doubt as to what we believe and teach (pp. 42, 43).

There are just two points in the address with which the reviewer would take issue. First, endorsing the ‘Gap Theory’ which, to accommodate scientists of the day, posited millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (p. 34). This was a popular view in Spurgeon’s day and Thomas Chalmers taught it. However, the Hebrew does not allow for any such gap. The second point we take issue with is Spurgeon’s criticism of the Paedobaptist position which he calls an ‘addition. . . to the Word of God’ and concludes wrongly ‘Baptismal regeneration rides upon the shoulders of Paedobaptism’ (p. 37).

That apart, we have here an excellent address and, considering the fact that the situation today is even more serious than in Spurgeon’s day, we believe that all, especially preachers of the Word — to whom it was especially given — will profit from reading it.


This review first appeared in the August 2018 edition of the Free Presbyterian Magazine and has been reproduced with permission.

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