Few series of biographies are as encouraging as Dr. John Piper The Swans are Not Silent series. In his seventh book in this series, Dr. Piper explores the lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and Hudson Taylor. All three of these men were known for extraordinary faith in God and untiring service to others. Each of these men continues to spur God’s people on to love and good works today.
These three giants of the nineteenth-century Christians encouraged one another in their ministries. Spurgeon in the church, Muller in orphan care, and Taylor in world missions. Even through intense adversity, their lives displayed a share confidence in the power of God and a common love for his glory and goodness. This is why as I read A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Spurgeon, Muller, and Hudson Taylor by Dr. John Piper, I was greatly encouraged.
For those familiar with Spurgeon, Muller, and Taylor you will not learn much new in this book. That isn’t a criticism of the book in any way. Chances are even if you are familiar with these men’s lives as I am, you will still learn much about how they lived their lives.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book was how George Muller was connected to the ministries of Spurgeon and Taylor. This was new to me, especially how Muller supported Taylor’s missions work to China. It was also interesting how Spurgeon felt lead to give money to Muller’s orphanage and then went to his office at Metropolitan Tabernacle to find a check for the exact same amount he had given to Muller’s orphanage.
Each of these men faced an incredible amount of difficulty yet through they stood fast in the midst of it. In our own day, we need the witness of other Christians. We need to learn from their stories and how God worked in their lives. There is wisdom in doing this. Rather than having to learn everything the hard way ourselves, we should be humble and teachable. Part of being humble is learning from those who have gone before you or those who have more life experience than yourself.
Learning from men like Spurgeon, Muller, and Taylor is needed in our own day. Spurgeon is the most famous among the three but he still has a lot to teach us. He stood fast in the midst of difficulty. He struggled with depression and yet didn’t give up. Taylor faced immense difficulty in a pioneering work in China and the Lord used him powerful to that task. Muller has much to teach us about the place of prayer in ministry as he prayed for God to provide and God provided.
One common thread among all three men was their prayer lives. While we may not face the depression of Spurgeon or the challenges of Taylor or the financial needs of Muller—our challenges are just as real. We have a very real Savior who pleads for us before the Father. His invitation is the same as it ever was—He bids us come to His throne of grace. There we are summoned by grace to our High Priest to give our petitions, pleas, and intercession before the One who intercedes for us before the Father.
Christians today have a great need for Jesus and a great Jesus for their need. Jesus ever lives to plead the merits of His own blood as their Advocate before the Father. Through Jesus, we can enjoy our time in prayer not as a duty but as a delight. Learning from men like Spurgeon, Muller, and Taylor is needed. Their greatest lesson is the need for communion with Christ in prayer.
Reading A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Spurgeon, Muller, and Hudson Taylor will be a boon to strength the saints in the work of service. Reading this book encouraged my faith and helped me learn more about these great men of God. I encourage you to read this biography and learn more about these men and the significance of their God-honoring lives for today.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021) and The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.