Central Florida is known for its amusement parks. The Scriptorium in Orlando is an amusement park for Bible geeks and for church history geeks.
We’re going to start our tour of the Scriptorium with Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon is no stranger to Five Minutes in Church History. We talk about him almost as much as we can. The Scriptorium houses actual letters from Spurgeon. Some of them are in Spurgeon’s classic royal purple ink. You could get a fountain pen and some purple ink, and you too could write like Spurgeon. Although, I must say, he has quite a flowing hand, so you’ll have to practice.
In one of these letters, Spurgeon writes simply, “I am better.” He must have not been feeling well prior to this, but he’s on the mend. He says, “I am better. Can walk a quarter of a mile. Hope to preach twice tomorrow.” There is a preacher for you. Soon as they’re better, they’re back in the pulpit—not once, but twice.
Actually, the bulk of these letters concern Spurgeon’s orphanage. They mostly address gifts to the orphanage. In one letter he writes, “I owe you many thanks for your very kind gift to the orphanage.” Then he says, “And for your good advice. However, I know not how to follow.” I’m intrigued. And then there’s a short note that was written on September 12, 1890. It simply says, “Dear sir. Alas, the child is dead.” Then Spurgeon writes, “I am attacked with a vile influenza cold. And it may be very unlike me and altogether dissatisfactory. Come Saturday week have wired, C.H. Spurgeon.” These letters do not just celebrate the giving of gifts, but they also reflect the sadness at the orphanage.
In other letters, Spurgeon references gifts that he is grateful for, such as plates. Apparently he was trying to have some pictures made of the orphanage that could spread the word of what was happening there, so that more funds could be raised for the orphanage. This is what Spurgeon writes: “Dear Sir. I will right gladly accept the plates for the orphanage. But what I asked for was some plates to make it into an album for use in another direction. I have frequently people here to whom the looking at a collection of such plates is a sermon better than I can preach.”
What these plates were about, we have no idea. But Spurgeon was certainly interested in them. And if these plates were better than a sermon that Spurgeon could preach, then they must have been some plates.
In another letter he simply acknowledges that somebody had sent him a book. I’m sure people sent Spurgeon books all the time. In fact, this book he had already received. He says, “I am grateful for your kindness, but I do not need the book, having had it already, by the like thoughtfulness of another friend.” And then lastly, a little personal note from September 6, 1890: “Dear Sir. I have written my father and son. If there is any hitch, I will let you know. I have told them, next Saturday, 10:30 for 11. Yours truly, C.H. Spurgeon.”
We think of Spurgeon as a great pastor. But here we have him simply concerned about his orphanage, responding to letters of people sending him books, and setting up a Saturday afternoon event for eleven people.