A Look at Books

Spurgeon, Charles H. COMMENTING AND COMMENTARIES. 224 pages. London, Banner of Truth Trust, 1969. 15s ($3.50)

Book lists are normally dry as dust and terribly uninteresting. Not so this one which has now been republished. The listing of commentaries on individual books of the Bible and the listing of sets of commentaries flashes with the wit of a man who could hold the attention of thousands as he would expound the unsearchable riches of the Word of God and it hums with the knowledge of a man who was thoroughly at home in the study.

The volume is divided into three parts. First, there are several lectures which are meant to be added to his Lectures to My Students. Next comes that lengthy book list. Finally, there is an up-to-date index of all the texts treated in the New Park Street Pulpit and the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, both of which are being republished. today. The only other index of these works was published after volume forty-nine. With this new textual index all sixty-two volumes of Spurgeon’s published sermons are at our fingertips.

The lectures in the first part of this volume are worth our reading time. The first of these introduces us to some of the old writers on the Scriptures. Names such as Henry, Calvin, Gill, Clarke and Doddridge are commented upon and their relative merits are extolled. In introducing these old writers, Spurgeon points out to his students and his readers of today that ministers of the Word cannot be “wiseacres” who think that they do not need to know what other men before them have found as they labored. with God’s Word. In the second lecture he makes a plea for preachers to be careful in their explanation of the Word and not to flinch from bringing the Word in its fullness in the pulpit. One cannot help but wish that many would listen to these words in the 1970’s since much so-called preaching is anything but the exposition of the Word. He says at one point,“…more expository preaching is greatly needed, and… preachers would be better if they were more able expounders of the inspired Word.”

The book list which makes up the largest part of this volume lists nearly 1400 different titles on every book in the Bible, on Bible characters and on specific portions of the Bible. A wide variety of books is given. The critical and homiletical commentaries find their place. The good and the bad are also listed, though there are more of the former and less of the latter. Each work is appraised according to what Spurgeon considered. its value to be. Comments like: “A book of no importance,” “Paper, spoiled,” “Words, and only words” can be found. On the other hand, comments like “…His work can scarcely be superceded or surpassed,” “Occupies a first place among expositors…” are in abundance. Once in awhile it is apparent that Spurgeon lost patience with what he read: “Rubbish.”

Of course, this work is dated. It was first published in 1876 and therefore the works listed are all before that time. This means that many of the notable commentators and expositors of today arc not found here. Names such as Hendriksen, Young, Murray, Leupold, Pink and others are obviously absent. Yet, this does not make this book less valuable. It gives a good listing of the old writers—writers which we ought to consult from time to time. Perhaps they could help us to see what the content of preaching ought to be.

Long a volume which has been hunted like a needle in a haystack by some but to no avail, this republication is a very worthy addition to an already fine list of reprints. The availability of this will aid the minister and the Bible student in knowing and finding books of great value.