“In the years leading to the Civil War in the United States, Spurgeon’s stance against slavery ruined his reputation in the Southern states. His sermons, books, and tracts were censored and burned. Character assassinations were published. Many wished his demise.”
David once said, “There is only a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3).
Charles Spurgeon almost took that step many times.
His mother, Eliza, gave birth to sixteen children after Spurgeon was born. Half of them died.
Diseases like the plague that shut down Spurgeon’s school in Newmarket could have easily killed the preacher before his ministry even began.
A massive cholera pandemic killed ten thousand Londoners during Spurgeon’s first year in the city. Many of those who died were members of his church.
“All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face. When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things Divine” (Autobiography 1:371).
Spurgeon was once walking beneath a construction site and a large boulder fell from the scaffold above, missing the preacher’s head by a distance of only a few feet.
Three years before his death, Spurgeon tumbled down a flight of stairs and, according to one witness, did a “double somersault” in the air before smacking his head against the marble floor. With his failing health and fragile joints, the landing could have easily broken ribs, bones, or worse. Instead, he only lost a few front teeth.
As bizarre and seemingly coincidental as these incidents were, there were actually four assassination attempts made on Spurgeon’s life.
1. “If you are not out of this house this very moment, I’ll break every bone in your body.”
One night, Spurgeon was walking near the entrance of his “Helensburgh House” when he heard a loud banging on the front door.
As soon as he opened the door, “a wild-looking man, armed with a huge stick, sprang in, slammed the door, stood with his back against it, and in the most menacing manner, announced that he had come to kill Mr. Spurgeon!”
“You must mean my brother,” the preacher said. “His name is Spurgeon.”
“Ah!” said the madman, “it is the man that makes jokes that I mean to kill.”
“Oh, then you must go to my brother,” said Spurgeon, “for he makes jokes!”
“No,” he said, “I believe you are the man.” Then the madman exclaimed, “Do you know the asylum at —-? That’s where I live, and it takes ten men to hold me.”
“Ten men!” Spurgeon said. “That is nothing; you don’t know how strong I am. Give me that stick.”
Seizing the “formidable weapon,” Spurgeon opened the door and with “most impressive tones” screamed, “If you are not out of this house this very moment, I’ll break every bone in your body.”
“The stranger left the house, and after a few days he was taken back to his asylum” (Autobiography 3:196-97).
2. Almost stabbed by a knife-wielding French madman.
During Spurgeon’s vacation in Mentone, France, a madman wielding a knife barged into his room at the Hotel des Anglais.
Spurgeon, who was suffering physically that day, was resting on the bed when the madman entered.
“I want you to save my soul,” the stranger exclaimed.
Spurgeon tried to calm him by instructing him to kneel by the bed. The preacher prayed and then told him to go away and return in thirty minutes.
The authorities tried to subdue the man when he left the hotel, but he managed to stab someone in the street before meeting “a terribly tragic end” (Autobiography 4:209).
Every time Spurgeon visited Mentone, “he never passed that spot without looking at a certain room, and thanking God for the merciful deliverance which he there experienced” (Autobiography 4:209).