Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Friday, February 15, 2008

Boreham on Spurgeon and His Friendships

F W Boreham wrote the following foreword (pages 15-18), for the book written by his friend, A. Cunningham Burley. This book was published by Epworth in 1933 and was entitled, Spurgeon and His Friendships.

Author Mr. Burley
A cablegram from the author of this volume invites me to add a FOREWORD. I have not seen the book; but Mr. Burley is one of my oldest friends, and I know of the lifelong and patient research which he has applied to his present theme. We are living in an age of specialists; and for many years Mr. Burley has specialized on Spurgeon. A rumour that some trifle had been unearthed that might conceivably throw a fresh speck of light on the monumental personality of C. H. Spurgeon has many a time led Mr. Burley to drop everything that he might speed hotfoot to test the nugget of which intelligence had reached him. His must often have been the disillusionment that comes to children who scamper off in search of the crock of gold at the rainbow's foot; but such disappointments have never quenched his passion; and, in the course of his tireless quest, he must have amassed a prodigious wealth of carefully-sifted and thoroughly reliable information—a hoard such as few biographers are happy enough to possess.

C. H. Spurgeon
The centenary of Mr. Spurgeon's birth calls challengingly for a work in which we shall be able to contemplate his subtle and permeating influence in its true historic perspective. His rugged individuality stands out boldly against a striking, dramatic and picturesque background.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, English history took a surprising turn; the nation was made all over again. Its politics, its literature, its science, its commerce, its art, and, above all, its faith, were recast and refashioned; and the position of Great Britain among the world-powers assumed an entirely new character and importance.

Rise of Evangelism
In this renaissance Mr. Spurgeon played a conspicuous part; and he did it in two ways. He did it by creating a popular atmosphere for evangelism. This was his supreme triumph. In his famous Memoirs, Greville graphically describes Mr. Spurgeon—whose physique struck him as singularly reminiscent of Macaulay's—preaching, at an ordinary service, to nine thousand people. It impressed him, as it impressed all thoughtful observers, as an arresting and epoch-making phenomenon. It forced the evangelical pulpit into the glare of public attention. The world was compelled to take notice. It made thinkable and possible the work of all those ministers and evangelists who have since captured the attention of the populace. And when one attempts to estimate the spiritual, ethical and civic value of the impact of Mr. Spurgeon's flaming intensity upon each individual unit in the surging crowds that flocked every Sunday with wistful hearts to hear him, one realizes how generously and how vitally he contributed to the new order that sprang into being in his time.

Profound Influence
But Mr. Spurgeon had a second string to his bow. A great age produces great men, and, by the very men that it produces, is made greater. The annals of the Victorian era glitter, like a starry sky, with brilliant and illustrious names. There were giants in those days. But among those Homeric figures there was scarcely one upon whom Mr. Spurgeon did not exercise a profound and formative influence. I am thinking, not so much of those who were the direct fruitage of his far-reaching and regenerative ministry, but of men who moved in circles quite remote from that in which he shone and whose names were seldom or never mentioned in association with his. The leaders of all departments of British life and thought recognized that the spirit of Spurgeon represented the life-force of the ages. He magnetized and sometimes electrified them. They went to hear him; they sought his counsel; and they struggled to keep the movements that they directed in harmony with the atmosphere that he generated. The most skilful and penetrating historians will find it beyond their wit to account in so many words for Mr. Spurgeon's authority over the minds of the men who dominated his period. But the most cursory review of the history of the nineteenth century must convince any man that his sway was stupendous. A king-maker occupies a more exalted eminence than a king. And in that age of crisis and of transformation there were many kingly spirits who gratefully confessed that, but for Mr. Spurgeon's ministry—in public or in private—their own contribution to the development would have been negligible.

Massive Theme
This is stating an obvious fact in nebulous and abstract terms. Mr. Burley's pages will, I am certain, abound in vivid and telling narratives that will provide concrete vindication of this general principle. He has a massive theme; his whole heart is in his work; his able contributions to current journalism have proved that his pen is eminently capable of the honourable task to which he now aspires; and I welcome this opportunity of breathing an affectionate benediction on his venture.

F W Boreham
AUSTRALIA, June, 1933.

Thanks: I am grateful to Pastor Jeff Cranston for suggesting this good post so that lovers of Boreham’s writings might enjoy this foreword. Sincere thanks to Jeff’s assistant, Lynn Swanson for scanning and sending this article.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: C. H. Spurgeon.