Murray starts this book off in a very interesting manner, introducing those who may not know the dear man, to a preacher by the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an English particular Baptist of the late 1800’s. The first thirty-odd pages are spent giving us an introduction to this renowned preacher, sketching briefly his life and ministry, and letting us know of the man behind the controversy. The rest of the book, however, is not spent on quaint considerations of his life, which is filled with excellent accounts of the evangelistic exploits, triumphs of faith, the suffering, both physically and mentally endured by the man, but rather on a controversy in which he was engaged against some of his other brethren. This is the controversy of Hyper-Calvinism.
For those who aren’t familiar with this term, Hyper-Calvinism differs from general Calvinism, in regards to the extent that the doctrines of grace (commonly called the five points) are exercised. They hold that we should not hold forth a general invitation to those who we do not believe to be elect. This greatly differs from general Calvinists, who believe that the Gospel should be generally proclaimed to all, and urged upon any who will believe, knowing that those who are elect will respond efficaciously to the particular calling of God. Spurgeon was of the latter type, and he stood against those who declared that his general call to unbelievers ought not be practiced.
The book is filled with excerpts from Spurgeon’s writing and preaching in response to the men involved in this controversy. It lists their names, disagreements, and responses, just as well as it lists Spurgeon’s view—but the focus of the book is the man Spurgeon, his love for the doctrines of Grace, and the free declaration of the Gospel of God.
The book is centered around the four areas that were central to Spurgeon's preaching: the Universal Gospel Invitation, The Warrant of Faith, Human Responsibility, and The Love of God—essentially this, how the Gospel should be declared to lost and dead men.
The more I read about Spurgeon, the more I enjoy and appreciate the impact he has made upon evangelicalism today. His writings that he has left to us are a testament to a man consumed by the Gospel, even through the harshest of afflictions. This book is another revelation of the man who was used by God.
Iain Murray has done his homework on Spurgeon and the times for this, and it shows through on these pages. Whether you are a Calvinist or not, this book would be good for you to read, because it shows the difference between the true Calvinist and the Hyper-Calvinist, a difference rarely made by some, and it shows that true Calvinism always centers around sovereign grace, freely offered to all.
I give it five stars.