May 30, 2024

Augustus Nicodemus Lopes on Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students

Stephen Nichols & Augustus Nicodemus Lopes
Augustus Nicodemus Lopes on Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students

Many of us know Charles Spurgeon as the Prince of Preachers. But did you know he trained many other pastors to serve their flocks faithfully? Today, Stephen Nichols and Augustus Nicodemus Lopes examine Spurgeon’s lectures to his students.


Dr. Stephen Nichols: Well, it’s time for another episode of Open Book. This is number six in the season with Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Lopes. And we started with Spurgeon—first one was a Spurgeon sermon—and here we are at week six with Spurgeon again. So, this time it Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students.

Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Lopes: That’s right.

Nichols: Now Spurgeon, of course, was a pastor. And we know of him as the pastor, as you mentioned, who started off there at New Park Street pulpit, and then the big Metropolitan Tabernacle, which is still there, not quite the size it was in Spurgeon’s day, bombed during the bombing of Britain. But the pillars of Metropolitan Tabernacle are original to Spurgeon’s day, and they’re still standing.

But in addition to being a pastor, he was also a college professor, and these were lectures that he gave to his students. So, when did you first come into contact with this book?

Lopes: Yes, I was about to finish my time at the seminary when I came across this book. I was trying to remember how it was, where did I find it? But it was already in Portuguese. It was already translated.

Nichols: Oh, interesting.

Lopes: Yeah. And I read this book, and I was impressed with one thing: how down to earth Spurgeon was. He not only dealt with the finding of a theme, the preparation of a sermon, but he also dealt like, for instance, a pastor who has very few chances or very few money to buy books—the pastor that doesn’t have books, where does he find illustrations, inspiration, and everything?

He has a chapter on the voice of the preacher. He says that those pastors that don’t have a large, how to say, chest, will not be able to go to the ministry because at those days, they didn’t have amplifier, didn’t have sound like we do, so a pastor would depend pretty much on the reach of his voice, on the part of his voice—and then he has a whole chapter on that, and things that you never read in those books of homiletics and things like this. But so, he dealt with that, the way you should dress, and so many small things that are related to preaching and to the ministry that usually you don’t find in books.

And so, this was something that impressed me: how thorough the book was and how he had this vision for the students and to help the students not only to prepare good sermons and to be good pastors, but also in those areas which sometimes may become a problem and about which you don’t find books or anybody speaking about. And I was impressed that such a, I mean, a well-known preacher would take time to deal with small things like this, that actually, in the end, was nice.

That chapter about pastors who did not have enough resources—where they should find resources with no money—that was an amazing chapter. I was impressed with that.

Nichols: Yeah, fascinating. One of those practical points.

Lopes: He said to just look, go, and go to nature. Just observe nature and try to find illustrations from—look at yourself and try to see some experiences and read the book of nature and things like this. So, it was impressive.

Nichols: And you can even back this up to just say “the value of illustration,” you know, to take . . .

Lopes: He has a whole chapter on that.

Nichols: Exactly, because you’ve got to take from the known, you know, into the unknown. And so, illustrations are very helpful to help us be able to see biblical, theological truth and apply it.

Lopes: Yeah. And he’s a master of illustration. You read his sermons and you know that he can use, he can take illustrations from natural history, from sciences, from nature, from everyday experiences. Everything becomes illustration in the hands of Spurgeon. It’s fantastic.

Nichols: And let’s back up and pick up this point about amplification. So, you know, we go back to the “Spurgeon before Spurgeon” of George Whitefield. And you’re thinking, okay, tens of thousands without amplification—this is a very significant feat that he pulled off. And then you think of Spurgeon’s church, and they couldn’t always fit in the church. So sometimes they’re gathered out on the street. So, they have to hear Spurgeon’s voice go through the sanctuary, out the window, and out onto the street to be able to be heard.

Lopes: There is a story I read—I don’t know if it’s true or not, I just tell it as I heard—that as the Tabernacle, Metropolitan Tabernacle was being built, Spurgeon actually wanted it to be built having in mind that he was going to speak and his voice needed to be heard in every part of the Tabernacle, everybody sitting in there would be able to hear what he had to say. So, one day nobody was working. It was a break for the workers. He went to test the sound, and then he went to the pulpit, and he recited John 3:16 a couple of times just to see the sound of it. And a worker that did not went for the break was there, and he listened, and he was converted . . .

Nichols: That’s great.

Lopes: . . . through that verse that Spurgeon was just using. Spurgeon was not aware that he was there, and the guy just got converted through that.

Nichols: That’s great.

Lopes: It’s nice.

Nichols: You know, I remember reading in Lectures to My Students, the chapter he has on using commentaries.

Lopes: Oh yeah, that’s a great, great book.

Nichols: Yeah, and just the value of the pastor’s study in the text and the importance of study in the text before they step into the pulpit.

Lopes: And the range of the books that he quotes and cites. And after that, I think he wrote a book, Commenting and Commentaries . . .

Nichols: Yes, he did.

Lopes: . . . where he expands on that. And the number of books, I mean, it’s amazing. I mean, his learning in everything.

Nichols: I’ve heard the statistic that he is the most prolific author in the English language, period.

Lopes: Oh, man.

Nichols: And I think it’s actually true. So, just amazing that came from Spurgeon not only the sermons but also then this material that also helps those who go on to preach sermons. It’s wonderful.

Lopes: Yeah, and that from a man that suffered a lot from depression and other limitations, sometimes he could not even work or do something because of that, and God used him so mightily.

Nichols: Yeah, sometimes in these saints’ lives, we forget that they’re people too, and they’ve had their fair share of afflictions that God brought into their lives to teach them. So, Spurgeon definitely is in that category.

Lopes: Yep.

Nichols: Well, thanks for drawing our attention to Spurgeon book number two, Lectures to My Students, and again, enjoyed the time with you and look forward to next week.

Lopes: Thank you.

Nichols: You’re very welcome, as we come back to Open Book.

I’m Steve Nichols and you’ve been listening to Open Book, a podcast about the power of books and the people they’ve shaped. Help grow this podcast by sharing it with friends or family. Also, be sure to leave a review if you can. This is a great way to help others find this podcast. We’ll be back in the library next week. Please join us for another episode of Open Book.