Thursday, July 2, 2009

40TH Anniversary of Publishing


In 1955, at the age of 20, I traveled to Chicago with another young preacher who was in charge of a Mission where he preached periodically to a few families which wanted to start a church. It was my first time to be in Chicago, and while there we visited an old used bookstore named Blessing Book Store which had quite a large collection of old books. This store very definitely became a blessing to me! [See "Dreams Do Come True"]

While browsing around the multitude of old books, my eyes fell upon a shelf which had a large number of aging black volumes of considerable size. Upon closer examination, I discovered that the words "Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit" and "C. H. Spurgeon" were gold-stamped on the spines which also had an oval-shaped logo or symbol on the front cover, proclaiming "We preach Christ and Him crucified." It was a collection of original Spurgeon volumes, published in the 1800s by Passmore & Alabaster, London, England, during Spurgeon's ministry at Metropolitan Tabernacle.

I had, in God's Providence, become acquainted with the name of Spurgeon the first few days after I was converted in 1953, and I began to try to find some of his books. I found and read some of his sermons at a local Baptist university's library and also at the public library, But I had never seen anything like this huge set of original volumes of his sermons at that Chicago store in 1955, and I immediately was seized with the desire to possess those books.

I enquired of the book store manager about the price of the books, and made arrangements for their purchase.

Looking back at this decision to buy those books I would have to say the purchase was perhaps the most significant and life-influencing purchase I ever made. It seems that everything I have done from that day forward has had a direct or indirect relationship to the books. In fact, many others have had their lives influenced as a result of my buying and later publishing those books.

For example, recently an old friend, Al Smith, who now lives in Georgia, dropped by for a brief visit, and it was one of Spurgeon's sermon volumes we published years ago which brought Al into contact with Loretta, the lady he later married and with whom he raised a family. Al brought me a box of the famous Vidalia Onions, and I would not even have those onions if Al and I did not have a mutual interest in Spurgeon!

Most of my friendships which have developed across the years have been related to the books. Most of the ministers I have been privileged to meet, most of the schools and churches where I have spoken, and most of the traveling I have done resulted from something related to the books. The highlight of my travels was the trip I made with my friend, Boxley Boggs, to England in 1996 when we spent two weeks visiting every place which was known to have been associated with the life and ministry of Spurgeon. You can view the video of this trip to "Spurgeon Country" at this Google Video address --

Fast-forwarding . . . from 1955 when I purchased the books to 1969 . . . the announcement that Spurgeon's original and unabridged sermon set would be republished was mailed in 1969, dated May 5. It went to several thousand churches, preachers, and other individuals. We received a wonderful response from interested parties, but had they known how little money we had to bring this venture to pass, we might not have had any response whatsoever. We had just enough money to cover the printing of the first volume, and we were counting on advance subcription-type orders to continue republication of future volumes. It took us longer than we expected, but the plan worked.

In July of 1969, we took a booth at the Christian Booksellers Association's annual Convention, meeting that year in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first volume was put on display and we were blessed to have several dozen bookstores sign up for buying the books as they were published.

The Lord blessed, and we were enabled to finish off the entire series in 1980. He has continued to bless the effort through these 40 years.

We wish to thank each of you who has in any way assisted and encouraged the work of publishing Spurgeon's sermons. May the Lord Bless You! Numbers 6:24-26.

-- Bob L. Ross