C.H. Spurgeon loved to read and owned a library of over 12,000 volumes. Reading was not a hobby to Spurgeon, and it wasn’t for his recreation. He believed that it was essential toward the growth of the mind – and more particularly of the spirit. Beginning early in his ministry, he had the habit of reading six books per week, which I suppose meant one per day, excluding Sundays. But of course, he also immersed himself in the Word of God directly, writing his own commentaries on many books of the Bible.
Spurgeon was so passionate about reading that he used his position and influence to encourage other preachers to read. Mrs. Susannah Spurgeon, who spent much of her life as a semi-invalid, became, among other things, the informal secretary of a ministry which provided books to rural preachers in England and missionaries around the world.
In another aspect of his distribution of good reading material, Spurgeon established a colporteur ministry. On this day in 1878 the annual conference of colporteurs met at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Sixty-one men had been employed that year in distributing – at cost, or free of charge – great quantities of gospel literature. During the meeting it was reported that the men had visited more than half a million British homes, giving away 160,000 tracts, 239,758 periodicals, innumerable of Bibles and sold 84,147 Christian books.
Spurgeon’s book ministry was very much like that of the old Waldensian Baptists. For a time those brave people risked their lives, traveling throughout Europe from their bases in the Alps, giving away copies of the Bible in the Received Text to everyone who would receive them – from farmers to city magistrates. Even though they were not Protestants, the Waldensians were part of the catalyst which led to the Reformation.