Posted by: jmark | October 26, 2005

Spurgeon – All the subtlety of sledgehammer

There was me worrying about giving a slightly negative book review, and then I remembered Spurgeon’s “Commenting and Commentaries”. For those of you who don’t know, this is probably the funniest serious work by a Christian in the last 200 years. In it Spurgeon gives comment on hundreds of major and minor commentaries and devotional writings. It must have been a real publishers nightmare for each book in different font sizes depending on how worthwhile they are.

However, it is not the font-size that is so entertaining, but the comments from the Prince of Preachers. Here are a few gathered from a very quick gleaning:

  • A masterly work; but about as dry as Gideon’s unwetted fleece.
  • Comparatively feeble.
  • Contains nothing of any consequence to an expositor
  • On a book subtitled “For reading at family prayers” – Alas, poor families! Ye have need of patience.
  • We hope they benefited the printer; they will not help the reader much.
  • On a book by a man called Wake – The author was Wake, but not awake, or he would never have wasted so much good paper.
  • Our estimate of his work is not so high as his own.
  • More curious than valuable. The style is scholastic and pointless.
  • To listen to these sermons must have afforded a suitable Lenten penance to those who went to church to hear them.
  • Dry and tedious
  • We need no longer wonder how spiders make such long threads with such little material, for here is an equally amazing instance of spinning.
  • Another specimen of sermons published by subscription. The poor curatewas no doubt the better for the profits, and nobody was any the worse. Clipston church was not set on fire by the flaming eloquence of the preacher, nor was the country disturbed by any fanatical excitement produced by his excessive zeal.
  • The Proverbs themselves are plainer than this author’s exposition of them.
  • The author professed to offer his work with great diffidence, and he had just cause to do so: he had better have burned his manuscript.
  • Commonplace remarks; intended to be used at family worship. Likely to send the servants to sleep.

And my favourite so far:

  • On a book entitled “Psalms: a commentary and Prayer, for use in families” – Families will best use these commentaries and prayers by lining their cake tins with them.

There are others I remember from previous dippings, but I cannot remember where to find them.

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