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Midwestern Seminary Acquires the Charles Spurgeon Heritage Collection from Spurgeon’s College UK

Posted October 31, 2023 by Brett Fredenberg

KANSAS CITY, Mo—The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary has announced its recent acquisition of the Heritage Collection from Spurgeon’s College UK. The collection consists of thousands of books, manuscripts, letters, artifacts, newspaper cuttings, and more from Charles Spurgeon.

Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen said of the acquisition, “The Heritage Collection is truly a one-of-a-kind collection and an invaluable stewardship. This is a stewardship we feel well beyond Midwestern Seminary. It’s a stewardship for Southern Baptist pastors and churches. It’s a stewardship for the broader Baptist and evangelical world. And that’s a stewardship I could not be more delighted for Midwestern Seminary to exercise.”

Allen went on to say, “Under God, the Spurgeon Library as we know it would not exist without one couple, Bill and Connie Jenkins. Ten years ago, they singlehandedly funded the beautiful Spurgeon Library which presently houses so much of Spurgeon’s personal library and collection. Now, a decade later, they’ve led the effort to make this new acquisition possible. Rare is the couple who have such resources and generosity, coupled with an awareness of church history and an appreciation for sound doctrine, all moving them to so generously support this acquisition. All who love Spurgeon’s ministry owe a debt of gratitude to this dear couple. That’s certainly a gratitude I feel, and no doubt many, many others will too feel it.”

“In addition to the Jenkins, several other seminary supporters and ministry partners have joined and are joining the effort. We look forward to celebrating with them next year when we formally dedicate this major addition to the Spurgeon Library.”

The Heritage Collection offers an unparalleled glimpse into the life and ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) and the Pastor’s College that he founded.

Beginning in 1856, the Pastor’s College has a rich history closely intertwined with the legacy of Spurgeon. The collection’s origin can be traced back to Spurgeon’s presidency of the college, which concluded with his passing in 1892. J.A. Spurgeon, his brother, presided over the College from 1892-1896, and then Thomas Spurgeon, his son, took over from 1896-1917.

Over the years, many documents, papers, and personal items from the Spurgeon family were deposited with the college, now named Spurgeon’s College UK, turning it into a de facto repository for all things related to the Spurgeons. Additional items have been added to the collection as generous individuals have donated Spurgeon-related memorabilia passed down through the generations.

The recent acquisition of the Heritage Collection by the Spurgeon Library marks a historic moment in the preservation of Spurgeon’s legacy.

As a part of the acquisition process, the Spurgeon Library had the opportunity to explore this treasure trove of historic artifacts, manuscripts, and personal items. As the Spurgeon Library relayed, the collection brings with it the promise of tremendous value for scholars and enthusiasts of Spurgeon’s life and ministry. The collection includes:

  1. Spurgeon’s Earliest Preaching Notebooks: These 10 original notebooks contain nearly 400 sermons that Spurgeon preached in Waterbeach and surrounding areas as a teenager. While these sermons have been published, the original notebooks themselves have not yet been analyzed by Spurgeon scholars, making them a valuable resource for future research.
  2. Anti-Christ and Her Brood; Or, Popery Unmasked: This is the original essay penned by Spurgeon as a 15-year-old on the Roman Catholic Church. It has never been published or extensively studied.
  3. Letters: The collection includes over 500 original, handwritten letters, mostly from Spurgeon, but also from and to other individuals connected to Spurgeon, including his wife, Susie. These letters touch on a wide range of subjects, offering insights into pastoral ministry, church planting, personal life, and more. Many letters are from the latter part of Spurgeon’s life and are expected to provide fresh insights into the Downgrade Controversy.
  4. Pulpit Notes: Approximately 700 original, handwritten pulpit notes used by Spurgeon for his sermons and lectures. These notes, often small in size, reveal the meticulous preparation that went into Spurgeon’s preaching and teaching.
  5. Transcripts and Galley Proofs: More than 10,000 pages of transcripts of Spurgeon’s sermons and approximately 900 pages of galley proofs are included in the collection. These manuscripts offer valuable insights into Spurgeon’s preaching style, homiletics, and editorial approach.
  6. Newspaper Cuttings: The collection includes around 100 binders and large scrapbooks filled with chronologically arranged newspaper and magazine cuttings related to Spurgeon. These cuttings represent a monumental amount of historical research into Spurgeon’s life and ministry.
  7. Artifacts: The Heritage Collection boasts numerous artifacts, including Spurgeon’s personal belongings like his shirt collar, handkerchiefs, canes, reading glasses, pocket watch, and numerous Bibles with inscriptions and notations. Of particular interest is a sermon pamphlet carried throughout Africa by David Livingstone, which contains Livingstone’s inscription.
  8. Pastor’s College Minute Books: Three sets of minute books provide new insights into Spurgeon’s ministry with the Pastor’s College, including detailed records of theological discussions, the reconstitution of the Pastor’s College Conference after the Downgrade Controversy, and missionary activities among Pastors’ College graduates.
  9. Other Significant Items: The collection features several additional items of historical and research value, such as Spurgeon’s personal Bibles, his last letter from Mentone, an essay he wrote at age 11, original manuscripts of his famous works, first edition volumes of his works, and even the original pulpit from Colchester Chapel where Spurgeon was converted in 1850.

The above listed materials are but a fraction of the Heritage Collection recently acquired by the Spurgeon Library. The fruit of such a collection will become evident in the coming years and decades as Spurgeon scholarship continues to advance with the help of the Spurgeon Library.

Commenting on the recent acquisition, Curator of the Spurgeon Library Geoff Chang said, “Midwestern Seminary’s acquisition of the Heritage Collection makes the Spurgeon Library not only the largest collection of Spurgeon materials in the world but also the premier institution for Spurgeon scholarship in the world.”

“The value of this collection is priceless,” he continued. “To preserve this collection and make it available and useful to pastors and scholars will prove to have historical significance in the decades to come.”

The acquisition of this collection from Spurgeon’s College UK unites Spurgeon’s personal library with the contents of the Heritage Collection for the first time since the library was sold in 1905.

Midwestern Seminary’s Provost, Jason Duesing, reflected on the partnership with Spurgeon’s College UK for this acquisition, saying, “Spurgeon’s College UK has been such a wonderful partner through this process. It was their vision to keep this collection together and to find an evangelical institution that will work to preserve Spurgeon’s legacy.”

“While Midwestern Seminary is acquiring the Collection from them, we see it as a transfer of stewardship and pledge to care for it with the dedication they have shown since 1892. It is a marvel and a testimony to the legacy of Spurgeon’s College in London that the Collection remains intact, well cared for, and accessible for researchers. Our aim is to build upon that archival legacy and thereby honor Spurgeon’s College for their faithfulness.”

The Spurgeon family, including Hilary, Richard, and Susie, also expressed their hopes for this acquisition, “We are encouraged to think that the students at Midwestern Seminary will pour over the numerous sermons, sermon notes, and other writings and not only will they be blessed, but their studies will bless others too. We hope and pray that pastors will be inspired by Spurgeon to preach Jesus to their congregation not just in the United States but across the world.”

“We are also confident that Midwestern Seminary will preserve and display the collection at the highest level as they have done with the Spurgeon Library. It is wonderful to think that much of the writings were probably done in his actual library.”

Spurgeon’s College Vice-Chancellor Philip McCormack said of the acquisition, “The transfer of stewardship to Midwestern Seminary, and their pledge to care for it, was a critical component in our decision. Spurgeon’s College has achieved the awarding and validating powers of a UK university and in September 2023 was placed in the top 26 universities and colleges in the UK in September 2023. The College is on the cusp of an exciting whole site development and establishing its position as an evangelical university in the UK. The transfer of stewardship of the Heritage Collection to Midwestern Seminary has occurred, by the providential grace of our sovereign Lord, at the right time for both institutions.”

Additionally, several noteworthy comments from leaders within the Southern Baptist Convention and evangelicalism more broadly came as the result of Midwestern Seminary’s acquisition of the Heritage Collection.

Bart Barber, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “What a monumental acquisition! Sit in our classrooms, listen to our worship service, or browse our websites and social media accounts and you’ll quickly discover how much Southern Baptists treasure the memory of Charles Spurgeon. How wonderful that we can also undertake the stewardship of protecting and treasuring the artifacts he left behind.”

Thomas Kidd, research professor of church history at Midwestern Seminary, said, “The acquisition of this unique trove of Spurgeon materials is a capstone for Midwestern Seminary’s emergence as a major center of evangelical history in the Anglo-American world.”

Tom Nettles, senior professor of historical theology at Southern Seminary and author of Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said, “Midwestern Seminary’s acquisition of the Heritage Room Collection from Spurgeon’s College UK will provide a virtually endless resource for researchers in Spurgeon. Spurgeon material on Spurgeon’s preaching and correspondence, Victorian evangelicalism, doctrinal controversy, valuable handwritten manuscripts, and serendipitous documents and artifacts will provide both delightful entertainment and serious scholarship. A single location for such a varied resource for research is advantageous for everyone interested in further engagement with this unwavering magnetic preacher of the gospel and ardent defender of the faith.”

Michael Haykin, professor of church history at Southern Seminary, said, “Charles Haddon Spurgeon is without doubt one of the most important figures in Baptist history. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is undoubtedly his utterly remarkable sermonic output. And yet major research on him, his thought, and his times is really only just beginning.”

He continued, “The acquisition of the vast bulk of the archival remains of his ministry by the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary is thus of monumental importance. For it locates in one generous locale nearly all that a Spurgeon researcher needs for his or her study. Personally, I am thrilled by this development and look with anticipation for the rich studies that will flow from what is now the premier center to study Spurgeon and the British Baptist world of his day.”

Ligon Duncan, chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, said, “Midwestern Seminary’s acquisition of a massive and important collection of Spurgeonalia, to add to its already superb and significant Spurgeon Library, is good news for all of us. I want heartily to congratulate President Jason Allen and his team on this strategic investment. Evangelicals around the world will benefit from this dramatic expansion and consolidation of Spurgeon resources. May the Lord indeed use this as a catalyst for the study of Spurgeon in our time, and to raise up a new generation of preachers who share Spurgeon’s convictions and passion.”

Steven Lawson, founder and president of OnePassion Ministries and author of The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, said, “Charles Haddon Spurgeon is the undisputed Prince of Preachers, the most widely acclaimed proclaimer of Scripture since the Apostle Paul. The Spurgeon Center at Midwestern Seminary, under the capable leadership of Dr. Jason K. Allen, has made a significant acquisition to acquire the treasures of this luminous preacher, which include much of his literary estate. This will position the Spurgeon Center for years to come to be the major headquarters for the study of the voluminous works of this pulpit giant.”

Ray Rhodes, Jr., president of Nourished in the Word Ministries and author of Yours, Till Heaven: The Untold Love Story of Charles and Susie Spurgeon, said, “My heart raced with excitement when I learned that Midwestern Seminary had acquired the inestimable Heritage Room Archive from Spurgeon’s College in London. This acquisition is the best news in Spurgeon scholarship since Midwestern Seminary opened the Spurgeon Library in 2015. Spurgeon scholars seek to get as close in proximity to ‘The Prince of Preachers’ as possible by ‘turning every page’ in research and by visiting all related sites.”

“Midwestern Seminary gets us very close to the man by housing the greatest collection of Charles Spurgeon resources in the world. Everyone interested in Spurgeon’s life and legacy must visit the stunningly beautiful Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary where they will find his Christ-exalting legacy in good hands and well preserved for both this generation and the generations to come. This is a historic day for Midwestern Seminary, the Southern Baptist Convention, Spurgeon scholarship, and for churches around the globe.”

To learn more about the Spurgeon Library, visit https://www.spurgeon.org/spurgeon-center/. To apply for a full-tuition scholarship for one year of Spurgeon studies, apply for the 2024 Spurgeon Fellows Cohort at https://www.mbts.edu/degrees/masters-studies/ftc-cohorts/spurgeon-fellows/.


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