For as long as I can remember my father has had a plaster bust of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) in his study. Like my father and I, Spurgeon was a Reformed Baptist pastor, and Spurgeon has always been one of our heroes. When, in 2017, my father preached his last sermon, he passed the bust on to me. So, as I write these words, Spurgeon is looking down on me.
Known as “the Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon attracted large crowds, often speaking to over ten thousand people at a time before the days of amplification. His preaching was characterized by the directness of his address and the vividness of his language. In 1861, his congregation moved to the specially-built Metropolitan Tabernacle with seating for five thousand people and standing room for a further thousand. It would remain his base for the next thirty-eight years until his death in 1892.
Spurgeon founded a pastor’s college to train church planters, opposed slave ownership, and opened an orphanage. He also fiercely opposed liberal theology. He paid a price for this work load and the controversies it brought, suffering for many years physically with gout and emotionally with depression. It is to these struggles that he alludes in his preface for this volume.
Spurgeon reached a still wider audience through his writings. His sermons were transcribed by stenographers as he spoke and on sale for a penny the following day. Among his many works was The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith.
It was not Spurgeon’s first book of daily devotional readings. In 1865, he published Morning by Morning, followed three years later by Evening by Evening. Soon they were combined into Morning and Evening, selling over 230,000 copies during his lifetime and many more since. Twenty years or so later Spurgeon wrote The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith as a follow-up. And this was my father’s favourite. He used to read it to our family during my childhood.
In The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith, Spurgeon likens the promises of God in the Bible to checks (or “cheques” as Spurgeon himself would have spelled it). A check is a promise in written form. It promises to give the recipient the stated sum whenever they present it at a bank. The promises of God, says Spurgeon, are like checks waiting to be cashed in “the bank of faith.”
In 2003, Crossway published an edition of Morning and Evening updated by Alistair Begg using the English Standard Version of the Bible. I have taken the liberty of doing the same with The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith. I have replaced archaic words, shortened sentences, used modern word ordering, and added references to biblical allusions. I have also changed the title to The Promises of God, partly because checks are becoming dated and partly to prevent a fight with my publishers over the spelling of “cheque” (the UK spelling) and “check” (the US spelling)! Apart from this the content is the same. Only occasionally have I retained an archaic phrase to retain the poetic power of the original text. My aim has been to let Spurgeon speak to a new generation. Why? Not as an historical curiosity. But so the promise-making and promise-keeping God of the Bible speak words of comfort to his people. As Spurgeon says in his preface: “I have written out of my own heart with the view of comforting their hearts … May the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, inspire the people of the Lord with fresh faith!”