Monday, February 19, 2007

Your Weekly Dose of Susannah Spurgeon: Marriage

Today we come to the wedding of Susannah Thompson and Charles Haddon Spurgeon. For many, the prospect of getting married brings much anticipation and nervousness, tinged with a sense of the awesomeness of the commitment about to be taken. This was no less true for Susannah and Charles, as we shall see.

The marriage between Susannah was no ordinary wedding, far from the quiet 'just for family and friends' ceremony. Instead, we find two young people pledging their lives to one another, not only before God, but before many. Charles Ray in his biography writes:
The wedding of Susannah Thompson and Charles Haddon Spurgeon took place at New Park Street Chapel on January 8th, 1856, Dr Alexander Fletcher of Finsbury Chapel officiating. As may be imagined in the case of a man whose name was in everybody's mouth, and whose remarkable work was the topic of discussion up and down the country, it was quite impossible for the wedding to be a quiet one.

At a very early hour in the morning, people began to gather outside the Chapel, ladies being among the first arrivals, and soon after eight o'clock the crowd had swelled to such proportions, that New Park Street and some adjoining thoroughfares were blocked with people, and traffic was practically at a standstill. A special body of police had to be summoned to prevent accidents.

When the Chapel doors were at last opened, there was a rush for seats, and less than half an hour the building was filled to its utmost extent. Large numbers who had tickets of admission but arrived late were unable to gain entrance. Many went home when they found that there was no chance of their being able to get inside the chapel, but some thousands remained in the streets to see the bridegroom enter and leave.

It must have been a trying ordeal for the modest and retiring girl. She had risen early and spent much time in her bedroom in private prayer. Although awed with a sense of responsibilities which she was about to assume, she was 'happy beyond expression' that the Lord had so favoured her, and on her knees, with no one else near, she earnestly sought strength and blessing and guidance in the new life opening before her.
Driving through the city to the chapel with her Father, Susannah's chief thought was whether the crowds 'knew what a wonderful bridegroom she was going to meet.' Bewildered by the many spectators, Susannah remembered little more until she was inside the Chapel.

Charles Ray continues:
The service was commenced by the congregation singing the hymn, 'Salvation, O, the Joyful Sound!' after which Dr Fletcher read the hundredth Psalm and prayed for the divine blessing upon the young couple. The venerable minister then gave a short address and the wedding ceremony was performed in the usual manner. The reading of another lesson, a hymn sung by the congregation and a closing prayer, completed the proceedings, and Mr and Mrs Spurgeon, after receiving the congratulations of their friends in the chapel, drove away amid the crowds gathered outside the building.
Charles and Susannah later spent ten days of honeymoon in Paris. Some years later during one of C.H. Spurgeon's numerous visits to the city he wrote to Susannah: 'My heart flies to you as I remember my first visit to this city under your dear guidance. I love you now as then, only multiplied by many times.'

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