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LETTERS OF C. H. SPURGEON
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TO HIS FATHER AND MOTHER NEWMARKET,
January 30, 1850.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
I am most happy and comfortable, I could not be more so whilst sojourning on earth, “like a pilgrim or a stranger, as all my fathers were.” There are but four boarders, and about twelve day-boys. I have a nice little mathematical class, and have quite as much time for study as I had before.
I can get good religious conversations with Mr. Swindell, which is what I most need. Oh, how unprofitable has my past life been! Oh, that I should have been so long time blind to those celestial wonders, which now I can in a measure behold! Who can refrain from speaking of the marvelous love of Jesus which, I hope, has opened mine eyes! Now I see Him, I can firmly trust to Him for my eternal salvation. Yet soon I doubt again; then I am sorrowful; again faith appears, and I become confident of my interest in Him. I feel now as if I could do everything, and give up everything for Christ, and then I know it would be nothing in comparison with His love. I am hopeless of ever making anything like a return. How sweet is prayer! I would be always engaged in it. How beautiful is the Bible! I never loved it so before; it seems to me as necessary food. I feel that I have not one particle of spiritual life in me but what the Spirit placed there. I feel that I cannot live if He depart; I tremble and fear lest I should grieve Him. I dread lest sloth or pride should overcome me, and I should dishonor the gospel by neglect of prayer, or the Scriptures, or by sinning against God.
Truly, that will be a happy place where we shall get rid of sin and this depraved corrupt nature. When I look at the horrible pit and the hole from which I have been digfed, I tremble lest I should fall into it, and yet rejoice that I am on the King’s highway. I hope you will forgive me for taking up so much space about, myself; but at present my thoughts are most about it.
From the Scriptures, is it not apparent that, immediately upon receiving the Lord Jesus, it is a part of duty openly to profess Him? I firmly believe and consider that baptism is the command of Christ, and shall not feel quite comfortable if I do not receive it. I am unworthy of such things, but so am I unworthy of Jesu’s love. I hope I have received the blessing of the one, and think I ought to take the other also.
My very best love to you and my dear Mother; I seem to love you more than ever, because you love my Lord Jesus. I hope yourself, dear Mother, Archer, Eliza, Emily, Louisa, and Lottie, are well; love to all...
May we all, after this fighting life is over, meet in —
“That Kingdom of immense delight, Where health, and peace, and joy unite, Where undeclining pleasures rise, And every wish hath full supplies;” and while you are here, may the blessings of the gospel abound toward you, and may we as a family be all devoted to the Lord! May all blessings be upon us, and may —
I ever remain, Your dutiful and affectionate son, CHAS. H. SPURGEON.
Feb . 19, 1850.
MY DEAR MOTHER, —
Monsr. Perret comes once every week for an hour. I have 33 houses at present where I leave tracts, I happened to take a district formerly supplied by Mrs. Andrews, who last lived in this house, and Miss Anna Swindell.
Next Wednesday, I mean to-morrow, —
I am to go to a meeting of the tract-distributors. They have been at a stand-still, and hope now to start afresh. On Thursday, Mr. Simpson intends coming to talk with me upon the most important of all subjects. Oh, how I wish that I could do something for Christi Tract distribution is so pleasant and easy that it is nothing, —
I have written to grandfather, and have received a very nice letter. I have been in the miry Slough of Despond; he sends me a strong consolation, but is that what I want? Ought I not rather to be reproved for my deadness and coldness? I pray as if I did not pray, hear as if I did not hear, and read as if I did not read —
such is my deadness and coldness. I had a glorious revival on Saturday and Sunday. When I can do anything, I am not quite so dead. Oh, what a horrid state! It seems as if no real child of God could ever look so coldly on, and think so little of, the love of Jesus, and His glorious atonement.
I am sure I must if left to myself, and then, when I am cut off from Him, in Whom my great strength lieth, I shall be taken by the Philistines in my own wicked heart, and have mine eyes for ever closed to all spiritual good. Pray for me, O .my dear Father and Mother! Oh, that Jesus would pray for reel Then I shall be delivered, and everlastingly saved. I should like to be always reading my Bible, and be daily gaining greater insight into it by the help of the Spirit. I can get but very little time, as Mr. S. pushes me on in Greek and French.
no difficulty, —
grandfather encourages me to do so, and I hope to do so both as a duty and privilege. I trust that I shall then feel that the bonds of the Lord are upon me, and have a more powerful sense of my duty to walk circumspectly. Conscience has convinced me that it is a duty to be buried with Christ in baptism, although I am sure it constitutes no part of salvation. I am very glad that you have no objection to my doing so. Mr. Swindell is a Baptist.
You must have been terribly frightened when the chimney fell down, what a mercy that none were hurt! There was a great deal of damage here from the wind. My cold is about the same as it was at home, it has been worse. I take all the care I can, I suppose it will go away soon. How are all the little ones? Give my love to them, and to Archer and Eliza. How does Archer get on? Accept my best love for yourself and Father. I hope you are well, And remain, Your affectionate son, CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON.
March 12, 1850.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
I am sure I would not have dared to take this great decisive step were it not that I am assured that Omnipotence will be my support, and the Shepherd of Israel my constant Protector. Prayer is to me now what the sucking of milk was to me in my infancy. Although I do not always feel the same relish for it, yet I am sure I cannot live without it.
Prayer, sweet prayer I Be it ever so feeble, there’s nothing like prayer.” Even the Slough of Despond can be passed by the supports of prayer and faith. Blessed be the name of the Lord, despondency has vanished like a mist, before the Sun of righteousness, who has shone into my heart! “Truly, God is good to Israel.” In the blackest darkness I resolved that, if I never had another ray of comfort, and even if I was everlastingly lost, yet I would love Jesus, and endeavor to run in the way of His commandments: from the. time that I was enabled thus to resolve, all these clouds have fled.
If they return, I fear not to meet them in the strength of the Beloved. One trial to me is that I have nothing to give up for Christ, nothing wherein to show my love to Him. What I can do, is little; and what IDO now, is less.
The tempter says, “You don’t leave anything for Christ; you only follow Him to be saved by it. Where are your evidences?” Then I tell him that I have given up my self-righteousness, and he says, “Yes, but not till you saw it was filthy rags!” All I have to answer is, that my sufficiency is not of myself.
(Thursday afternoon.) I have just now received a very nice note from my dear Mother. Many thanks to you for the P.O. order. I do not know what money obligations are imposed upon members; I must do as you tell me. (Here a piece of the letter has been cut out.)
I am, Dear Father, Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
April 6, 1850.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
You will be pleased to hear that, last Thursday night, I was admitted as a member. Oh, that I may henceforth live more for the glory of Him, by Whom I feel assured that I shall be everlastingly saved! Owing to my scruples on account of baptism, I did not sit down at the Lord’s table, and cannot in conscience do so until I am baptized. To one who does not see the necessity of baptism, it is perfectly right and proper to partake of this blessed privilege; but were I to do so, I conceive would be to tumble over the wall, since I feel persuaded it is Christ’s appointed way of professing Him. I am sure this is the only view which I have of baptism. I detest the idea that I can do a single thing towards my own salvation. I trust that I feel sufficiently the corruption of my own heart to know that, instead of doing one iota to forward my own salvation, my old corrupt heart would impede it, were it not that my Redeemer is mighty, and works as He pleases.
Since last Thursday, I have been unwell in body, but I may say that my soul has been almost in Heaven. I have been able to see my title clear, and to know and believe that, sooner than one of God’s little ones shall perish, God Himself will cease to be, Satan will conquer the King of kings, and Jesus will no longer be the Savior of the elect. Doubts and fears may soon assail me, but I will not dread to meet them if my Father has so ordained it; He knows best. Were I never to have another visit of grace, and be always doubting from now until the day of my death, yet “the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His.”
I see now the secret, how it is that you were enabled to bear up under all your late trials. This faith is far more than any of us deserve; all beyond hell is mercy, but this is a mighty one. Were it not all of sovereign, electing, almighty grace, I, for one, could never hope to be saved. God says, “You shall,” and not all the devils in hell, let loose upon a real Christian, can stop the workings of God’s sovereign grace, for in due time the Christian cries, “I will.” Oh, how little love have I for One Who has thus promised to save me by so great a salvation, and Who will certainly perform His promise?
I trust that the Lord is working among my tract people, and blessing my little effort. I have most interesting and encouraging conversation with many of them. Oh, that I could see but one sinner constrained to come to Jesus! How I long for the time when it may please God to make me, like you, my Father, a successful preacher of the gospel! I almost envy you your exalted privilege. May the dew of Hermon and the increase of the Spirit rest upon your labors! Your unworthy son tries to pray for you and his Mother, that grace and peace may be with you. Oh, that the God of mercy would incline Archer’s heart to Him, and make Him a partaker of His grace! Ask him if he will believe me when I say that one drop of the pleasure of religion is worth ten thousand oceans of the pleasures of the unconverted, and then ask him if he is not willing to prove the fact by experience. Give my love to my dear Mother....
As Mr. Cantlow’s baptizing season will come round this month, I have humbly to beg your consent, as I will not act against your will, and should very much like to commune next month. I have no doubt of your permission. We are all one in Christ Jesus; forms and ceremonies, I trust, will not make us divided....
April 20, 1850.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
I have every morning looked for a letter from Father, I long for an answer; it is now a month since I have had one from him. Do, if you please, send me either permission or refusal to be baptized; I have been kept in painful suspense. This is the 20th, and Mr. Cantlow’s baptizing day is to be the latter end of the month; I think, next week. I should be so sorry to lose another Ordinance Sunday; and with my present convictions, I hope I shall never so violate my conscience as to sit down unbaptized. When requested, I assured the members at the church-meeting that I would never do so.
I often think of you poor starving creatures, following for the bony rhetoric and oratory which he gives you. What a mercy that you are not dependent upon him for spiritual comfort! I hope you will soon give up following that empty cloud without rain, that type-and-shadow preacher, for I don’t think there is much substance. But, my dear Mother, why do you not go and hear my friend, Mr. Langford? He is an open-communion Baptist, and I have no doubt will receive you without baptism. Perhaps his preaching may be blest to Archer, Eliza, and my sisters, as well as to myself; would it not be worth giving up a little difference of persuasion for? God can save whom He will, when He will, and where He will, but I think Mr.____’s Mount Sinai’s roarings are the last things to do it, to all human appearance.
I think I might date this letter from a place in the Enchanted Ground, with the warm air of Beulah blowing upon me. One drop of the pleasures I have felt is worth a life of agony. I am afraid of becoming satisfied with this world.
My very best love to yourself, dear Father, Eliza, Archer, Emily, Louisa, and Lottie. I hope you are well. I am very much better; thanks for the prescription; and with my love to you again, I remain, Dear Mother, Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
May 1, 1850.
MY DEAR MOTHER, —
Many very happy returns of your Birthday! In this instance, my wish will certainly be realized, for in Heaven you are sure to have an eternity of happy days. May you, in your coming years, live beneath the sweet smiles of the God of peace; may joy and singing attend your footsteps to a blissful haven of rest and tranquillity! Your birthday will now be doubly memorable, for on the third of May, the boy for whom you have so often prayed, the boy of hopes and fears, your first-born, will join the visible Church of the redeemed on earth, and will bind himself doubly to the Lord his God, by open profession. You, my Mother, have been the great means in God’s hand of rendering me what I hope I am. Your kind, warning Sabbath-evening addresses were too deeply settled on my heart to be forgotten. You, by God’s blessing, prepared the way for the preached Word, and for that holy book, The Rise and Progress. If I have any courage, if I feel prepared to follow my Savior, not only into the water, but should He call me, even into the fire, I love you as the preacher to my heart of such courage, as my praying, watching Mother. Impossible, I think it is, that I should ever cease to love you, or you to love me, yet not nearly so impossible as that the Lord our Father should cease to love either of us, be we ever so doubtful of it, or ever so disobedient. I hope you may one day have cause to rejoice, should you see me, the unworthy instrument of God, preaching to others, —
yet have I vowed in the strength of my only Strength, in the name of my Beloved, to devote myself for ever to His cause. Do you not think it would be a bad beginning were I, knowing it to be my duty to be baptized, to shrink from it? If you are now as happy as I am, I can wish no more than that you may continue so. I am the happiest creature, I think, upon this globe.
I hope you have enjoyed your visit, and that it will help much to establish your health. I dare not ask you to write, for I know you are always so busy that it is quite a task to you. I hope my letter did not pain you, dear Mother; my best love to you, be assured that I would not do anything to grieve you, and I am sure that I remain, Your affectionate son, CHARLES HADDON.
Mr. and Mrs. Swindell’s respects to you and dear Father.
June 11,MY DEAR MOTHER, —
I have had two opportunities of addressing the Sun-day-school children, and have endeavored to do so as a dying being to dying beings. I am bound to Newmarket by holy bonds. I have 70 people whom I regularly visit on Saturday. I do not give a tract, and go away; but I sit down, and endeavor to draw their attention to spiritual realities. I have great reason to believe the Lord is working, —
the people are so kind, and so pleased to see me. I cannot bear to leave them. We are so feeble here that the weakest cannot be spared. We have a pretty good attendance at prayer-meetings; but so few praying men, that I am constantly called upon ....
Grandfather has written to me; he does not blame me for being a Baptist, but hopes I shall not be one of the tight-laced, strict-communion sort. In that, we are agreed. I certainly think we ought to forget such things in others when we come to the Lord’s table. I can, and hope I shall be charitable to unbaptized Christians, though I think they are mistaken. It is not a great matter; men will differ; we ought both to follow our own consciences, and let others do the same. I think the time would be better spent in talking upon vital godliness than in disputing about forms. I trust the Lord is weaning me daily from all self-dependence, and teaching me to look at myself as less than nothing. I know that I am perfectly dead without Him; it is His work; I am confident that he will accomplish it, and that I shall see the face of my Beloved in His own house in glory.
My enemies are many, and they hate me with cruel hatred, yet with Jehovah Jesus on my side, why should I fear? I will march on in His almighty strength to certain conquest and victory. I am so glad that Sarah, too, is called, that two of us in one household at one time should thus openly profess the Savior’s name. We are brother and sister in the Lord; may our Father often give each of us the refreshing visits of His grace! I feel as if I could say with Paul, “Would that I were even accursed, so that my brethren according to the flesh might be saved!” What a joy if God should prove that they are redeemed ones included in the covenant of grace I long to see your face, and let my heart beat with yours, whilst we talk of the glorious things pertaining to eternal life. My best love to you and Father, may the Angel of the covenant dwell with you, and enchant you by the visions of His grace! Love to Eliza, Archer (many happy returns to him\, Emily, Lottie, and Louisa; may they become members of the church in our house! I am very glad you are so well. I am so, but hard at work for the Examination, so allow me to remain, Your most affectionate son, CHARLES.
Master H shall be attended to; be ye always ready for every good work. I have no time, but it shall be done. CAMBRIDGE, 19th Sept., ‘50.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
I received your kind letter in due time. I joined the Church here at the Lord’s table last Ordinance day. I shall write for my dismission; I intended to have done so before. The Baptists are by far the most respectable denomination in Cambridge; there are three Baptist Chapels, —
St. Andrew’s Street, where we attend, Zion Chapel, and Eden Chapel. There is a very fine Wesleyan Chapel and some others. I teach in the Sundayschool all the afternoon. Mr. Leeding takes the morning work. Last Sabbath-day we had a funeral sermon from Hebrews 6:11,12. We have a prayer-meeting at 7 in the morning, and one after the evening service; they are precious means of grace, I trust, to my soul. How soon would the lamps go out did not our mighty Lord- supply fresh oil; and if it were not for His unshaken promise to supply our need out of the fullness of His grace, poor indeed should we be.
Yes, where Jesus comes, He comes to reign; how I wish He would reign more in my heart; then I might hope that every atom of self, selfconfidence, and self-righteousness, would be swept out of my soul. I am sure I long for the time when all evil affections, corrupt desires, and rebellious, doubting thoughts shall be overcome, and completely crushed beneath the Prince’s feet, and my whole soul be made pure and holy. But so long as I am encaged within this house of clay, I know they will lurk about, and I must have hard fighting though the victory by grace is sure.
Praying is the best fighting; nothing else will keep them down.
I have written a letter to grandfather; I am sorry he is so poorly. He wants the promises now, and why may not young and old live upon them? They are the bread-corn of Heaven, the meat of the Kingdom; and who that has once tasted them will turn to eat husks without any sweetness and comfort in them? God’s power will keep all His children; while He says to them, “How shall ye who are dead to sin live any longer therein?” I feel persuaded that I shall never fathom the depths of my own natural depravity, nor climb to the tops of the mountains of God’s eternal love. I feel constrained day by day to fall flat down upon the promises, and leave my soul in Jesu’s keeping. It is He that makes my feet move even in the slow obedience which marks them at present, and every attainment of grace must come from Him. I would go forth by prayer, like the Israelites, to gather up this Heavenly manna, and live upon free-grace.
Add to all your great kindness and love to me, through my life, a constant remembrance of me in your prayers. I thank you for those petitions which you and dear Mother have so often sent up to the mercy-seat for me. Give my love to my sisters and brother, and accept the same for yourself and dear Mother. Hoping you are all quite well.
I remain, Your obedient, affectionate son, CHARLES SPURGEON.
October 3, 1850.
MY DEAR MOTHER, —
I am generally so slack of news, that I have been ashamed to send a letter with nothing in it. I was last night admitted into membership with this church by dismission from Newmarket. May my future relation with them, whether brief or protracted, be for the glory of Jesus Christ! I am very fond of Mr. Roffe; I like his preaching very much. There is to be a baptizing this evening.... I trust that a year or two of study with Mr. Leeding .will be of equal benefit to me with a College education .... I have found a great many Christian friends; last Sunday I had two invitations to tea. I went to the house of Mr. Watts, a coal merchant, and spent the time very happily. We read round with the children, and it seemed just like home-days. I have not had a letter from Stambourne, nor from Aunt, I am quite solitary.
Mr. Roffe preached a delightful sermon from “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” I trust I can look by faith to the hills, and confidently expect the help. I think I learn more every day of my own natural depravity and love of sin: how stupid should I be if I trusted to my own heart! If my salvation depended upon my continuance in the fervor of devotion, how soon should I perish! How joyful it is to know that Jesus will keep that which I have committed to Him, and that He will at length save every one of His redeemed ones!
Give my best love to dear Father, and accept the same yourself. I hope you are both well: give my love to Eliza, Archer, Emily, a kiss to Louisa and Lottie. I thank you for your many prayers; continue yet to plead for me, and may I ever be —
Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
Nov. 12, 1850.
MY DEAR MOTHER, —
I have just received the Maidstone Journal, in which you will see an advertisement of Mr. Walker’s sale. In one of my late letters to Aunt (having heard you speak of her as somewhat trusting to works), I ventured, as a babe in grace, to touch upon the subject, —
a long one, too, —
containing much good and even religious advice; of course, speaking as (Oh, how I desire it!) a Christian should speak. Mixed up with it, there was a tincture of naturalism or reason. I have therefore ventured on another letter, and have, I trust, said, though feebly, what a boy should say to a dying Uncle. False fear should never prevent us from being faithful with men walking on the confines of the grave. Could I make religion more the business of my life, how happy should I be I am conscious I do not live up to my duties or my privileges, and did I not feel sure that Jesus will certainly complete what He has begun, I should never think of reaching Heaven; but, by His might, I would look confidently for it.
I have found a little work here. I have spoken twice to the Sunday-school, and am to read an Essay on some subject connected with Sunday-schools at the next meeting of the Teachers’ Institute for the town. I only do so just to fill up. I have been driven to it, Mr. Watts and some others having taken their turns. I hope yet, one day, to prove myself no Antinomian, though I confess my daily sins and shortcomings; yet I would not willfully sin, and I feel some hatred to it. I desire to hate it more.
I hope you enjoy your health, and that, with dear Father, you have much of the marrow of the gospel as your daily meat. Give my love to all at home, and accept the same for yourself and Father. I am pursuing my studies, though I can say little about progress. I am most happy, and quite well, and hoping to see you before many weeks, I remain, Your most affectionate son, CHARLES.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
Mr. Leeding is very much obliged to you for the ham, and Mr.. Spurgeon, your son, desires to thank you for a nice cake, apples, etc. I wish you had not laid your hand on the Key to the Bible; for, if I had had it, I should have been delighted to have given it to my dear Mother. Perhaps I may take the credit for it now.... We have no minister yet. Mr. Leeding said, the other morning, “I need not ask you how you are; you are always well, like some tree.” I have been several times to see a lady in this town, mother of one of our boys .... I have reason to think her an eminent Christian. She is all day in pain, never goes out, and can hardly sleep. She made me think of your rheumatics. She has four little children. They are rich; her husband is a good, kind sort of man, but he is not, I fear, a renewed man. She has wave upon wave. She has no one to speak to. I think it a privilege to talk to any of God’s people, to comfort and console them. We do not know how many need our prayers.
Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
May 3, 1851.
MY DEAR MOTHER, —
Many happy returns of this day, I pray for you. Another year’s journey of the vast howling wilderness have you gone; you have leaned on the arm of your Beloved, and are now nearer the gates of bliss. Happy as the year has been, I trust, to you, yet I do not think you would wish to traverse it over again, or to go back one step of the way. Glorious, wondrous, has been the grace shown to all of us, as members of the mystical body of Christ, in preservation, restraint from sin, constraint to holiness, and perseverance in the Christian state. What shall a babe say to a mother in Israel? And yet, if I might speak, I would say, “Take this year’s mercies as earnests of next year’s blessings.” The God who has kept you so long, you may rest assured will never leave you. If He had not meant to do good continually to you, He would not have done it at all. His love in time past, in the past year, forbids you —
“FORBIDS YOU to think, He’ll leave you at last in trouble to sink.” The rapturous moments of enjoyment, the hallowed hours of communion, the blest days of sunshine in His presence, are pledges of sure, certain, infallible glory. Mark the providences of this year; how clearly have you seen His hand in things which others esteem chance! God, who has moved the world, has exercised His own vast heart and thought for you. All your life, your spiritual life, all things have worked together for good; nothing has gone wrong, for God has directed, controlled all. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?” He who counts the hairs of our heads, and keeps us as the apple of His eye, has not forgotten you, but still loves you with an everlasting love. The mountains have not departed yet, nor the hills been removed, and till then we may have confidence that we, His own people, are secure.
But I am writing what to you are everyday meditations. Well, dear Mother, you know where this comes from, only from your boy. Let us rejoice together; your prayers for us I know will be answered, they are sure to be, for God has said so. May God give you a feast, —
may you be satisfied with marrow and fatness, satiated with the dainties and luxuries of religion, and rejoice exceedingly in the Lord! I remember that, a year ago, I publicly professed the name of Jesus by baptism. Pray for me, that I may not dishonor my profession, and break my solemn vow.
Give my love to dear Father, Archer, and sisters; and accept the same doubly. I trust all are well. I have nothing the matter with me. Mr. and Mrs. L. desire respects. Many thanks for the postal order.
I am, Your affectionate son, CHARLES H. SPURGEON.
May 15, ‘51
MY DEAR FATHER, —
My choice of return home is easily made. I hope very much you will be so kind as to let me go to the Exhibition. Mr. C., who was at Mr. Lewis’s, has just called to see me .... I am going to his house to tea, he lodges with Mr.
You have not written to Mr. Leering.
Where is Mr. Walker? I cannot write, for I know nothing of his whereabouts. We have no minister yet. We have had some excellent supplies. I am very comfortable, and I may say, happy. Were it not for my vile heart, I might rejoice. I am the least of God’s people, and I am sure I am the worst. But yet I am one; I believe in Jesus and trust in Him, and this, I take it, is the evidence of life. I can fall into His arms, though I cannot rest on my own merits, for I have none. Jesus and Jesus alone is my defense. I know you pray for me. I think I have felt the answer to your earnest entreaties. Sometimes, I pour my heart out sweetly, freely; at another time, I can hardly bring up a petition, What a contrast, mixture, paradox I am! I hope you and dear Mother are well. Love to all.
Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
October 15, 1851.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
I received your most welcome note, and beg pardon if you think me negligent in returning thanks. I have been busily employed every Lord’sday; not at home once yet, nor do I expect to be this year. Last Sunday, I went to a place called Waterbeach, where there is an old-established Church, but not able to support a minister. I have engaged to supply to the end of the month. They had, for twenty years, a minister who went over from Cambridge in the same way as you go to Toilesbury. After that, they tried to have a minister; but as they could not keep him, he has left, and they will have to do as they used to do. There is rail there and back, and it is only six miles.
the fields are ripe unto the harvest, the seed you have sown has yielded plenty of green, let us hope there will be abundance of wheat. Give my love to dear Mother; you have indeed had trials. I always like to see how you bear them. I think I shall never forget that time when Mother and all were so ill. How you were supported and How cheerful you were! You said, in a letter to me, —
When troubles, like a gloomy cloud, Have gathered thick, and thundered loud, He near my side has always stood; His lovingkindness, O how good!” I trust that you are all well, and that the clouds are blown away. I am quite well, I am happy to say. Where is Aunt? It is four months since I have heard anything from her, or about her. We have no settled minister yet, nor do we expect any. I thank you much for your sermon; it will just do for me.
How greatly must I admire the love that could choose me to speak the gospel, and to be the happy recipient of it! I trust my greatest concern is to grow in grace, and to go onward in the blessed course. I feel jealous lest my motive should change, fearing lest I should be my own servant instead of the Lord’s. How soon may we turn aside without knowing it, and begin to seek objects below the sacred office!
Your affectionate son, CHARLES H. SPURGEON CAMBRIDGE, Dec. 31, 1851.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
Your Christmas letter was quite as welcome to me as (mine was) to you —
no good action is ever forgotten. I was at Waterbeach staying among my people, and so did not receive your letter till my return. I preached twice on Christmas (day) to crammed congregations,’ and again on Sunday quite as full. The Lord give me favor in the eyes of the people; they come for miles, and are wondrously attentive. I am invited (to preach at Waterbeach) for six months. My reputation in Cambridge is rather great.
I have written, the money is come .... My MS. will arrive here shortly.
Now, if you wish, I will send you £... (five-sixths of the amount received), as a little present to you and dear Mother —
that shall be exactly as you please —
I do not know yet how much I am to pay Mr. Leeding. I have enough. Mr. L. has given me a five-pound note, which I shall not touch except for clothes. I mean to keep that money only for clothes; what I earn on Sundays is my own, for books, expenses, etc. I hope I am sparing, but I have bought several books, which I could not do without. This week I have purchased a good Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament; you will see it mentioned by commentators. This I did for two reasons —
I got it in two volumes, unbound, for 12s. 6d. —
at that price it is reckoned exceedingly cheap.
Now and then you must give me leave to preach three times, not often. I have done so about four times, I was not at all tired. I shall never do so if I have had a hard day. When I feel myself in tune and not at all tired, I may do so; but only now and then. I must say, however, I always get the best congregation in the evening, or at least just as good, for sometimes it is best all day; and you would not have me give up so good a place. I have prayed earnestly that prosperity and fame may not injure me, and I believe strength will be equal to my day. More than one in Waterbeach have declared themselves on the Lord’s side —
the church is praying hard, and they seem very united.
I take every opportunity of improving myself, and seize every means of improvement. I have lately attended three lectures in the Town Hall to get information; I trust I do. (The conclusion of the letter is missing.)
CAMBRIDGE, Feb. 24, 1852.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
Mr. Angus, the tutor of Stepney College, preached for us on Sunday, Feb. 1. Being at my own place, I had no opportunity of seeing him, and was very surprised, when, on Monday, I was told that he wanted to see me. I assure you, I never mentioned myself to him, nor to anyone, —
Well, I went to the place of meeting; but, by a very singular occurrence, we missed each other; he wait in the parlor, while I was shown into the drawing-room, and the servant forgot to tell him I had come. As he was going to. London, and could not wait, he wrote the enclosed.
I have waited thus long because (1) I wanted to get a little more to tell you; (2) I do not want to appear to desire to go to College at’ your expense. I do not wish to go until I can pay for it with my own money, or until friends offer to help, because I do not want to burden you. It is said by almost all friends that I ought to go to College. I have no very great desire for it; in fact, none at all. Yet I have made it a matter of prayer, and I trust, yea, I am confident, God will ‘ guide me.
Of course, you are my only earthly director and guide in these matters; your judgment always has been best; you must know best. But perhaps you will allow me just to state my own opinion, not because I shall trust in it, but only that you may see my inclination. I think, then, (with all deference to you,) that I had better not go to College yet, at least not just now, for —
1. Whatever advantages are to be derived from such a course of study, I shall be more able to improve when my powers are more developed than they are at present. When I know more, I shall be more able to learn. 2. Providence has thrown me into a great sphere of usefulness, —
a congregation of often 450, a loving and praying church, and an awakened audience. Many already own that the preaching has been with power from Heaven. Now, ought I to leave them? 3. In a few years’ time, I hope to improve my financial position so as to be at no expense to you, or at least not for all. I should not like to know that you were burdening yourself for me. I should love to work my own way as much as possible. I know you like this feeling. 4. I am not uneducated. I have many opportunities of improvement now; all I want is more time; but even that, Mr. Leeding would give me, if it were so arranged. I have plenty of practice; and do we not learn to preach by preaching? You know what my style is. I fancy it is not very Collegelike.
Let it be never so bad, God has blessed it, and I believe He will yet more. All I do right, He does in me, and the might is of Him. I am now well off; I think as well off as anyone of my age, and I am sure quite as happy. If I were in need I think the people might be able to raise more for me. Now, shall I throw myself out, and trust to Providence as to whether I shall ever get another place as soon as I leave College? 5. But, no; —
I have said enough, —
you are to judge, not I. I leave it to God and yourself, but, still, I should like you to decide in this way. Of course, I have a will, and you now know it; but I say “Not mine, but your will, and God’s will.”
I have just acknowledged the letter, and said that I could make no reply until I had consulted my friends. I think it might be as well, if you think so, too, to let Mr. Angus know as much as is right of my present position, that he may be favorable toward me at any future time ....
I hope you will excuse my scrawl, for, believe me, I am fully employed.
Last night, I thought of writing; but was called out to see a dying man, and I thought I dare not refuse. The people at W. would not like to get even a hint of my leaving them. I do not know why they love me, but they do; it is the Lord’s doing.
Give my love, and many thanks to dear Mother, Archer, and sisters. If at any time you think a letter from me would be useful, just hint as much, and I will write one. May God keep me, in every place, every evil, and dwell with you, and abide with you for ever, and with my best love, I am, Dear Father, Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
April 6, 1852.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
I am sorry that anything I said in my letter should have grieved you. It was nothing you said that made your letter a sad one; it was only my thoughts of leaving the people at ‘Beach. I thank you most sincerely for your very kind offer, and also for your assurance that I am at perfect liberty to act as I think it is the will of God I should act. I am sure I never imagined that you would force me, —
it was only my poor way of expressing myself that caused the blunder, —
and I do now most affectionately entreat forgiveness of you if I said anything that had a shadow of wrong in it, or if I have thought in any wrong manner. I have desired, all along, to act the part of a dutiful son to an affectionate parent; and if I fail, I feel sure that you and dear Mother will impute it rather to my weakness in act, than to a want of love.
With regard to my decision, —
I have said so much in my last that more would be unnecessary. I do really think it to be my duty to continue in the place I now occupy, —
for a short time at least. I have been assured that never were more tears shed in Waterbeach, at any time, than when I only hinted at leaving. They could not give me stronger tokens of their affection than they did give. One prayer went up from all, “Lord, keep him here!” I am assured by Mr. King that the people have had ministers whom one lot were very pleased, with, but there always was a party opposed; but now, though he has a good scope for observation, he has not heard one opinion contrary to me. The Lord gave me favor with the people, and I am so young that they look over many faults; I believe this is one of the facts of the case. The worst is, I am in a dangerous place; the pinnacle is not so safe as the quiet vale. I know you pray that I may be kept humble, and I know I do. Oh, if the clouds pass without rain, how sorrowful I shall feel!
When I have been thinking on the many difficulties in preaching the Word, the doctrine of election has been a great comfort to me. I do want men to be saved, and it is my consolation that a multitude no man can number are by God’s immutable decree ordained to eternal life. So we cannot labor in vain, we must have some; the covenant renders that secure.
I shall always be glad of some of your skeletons, for though I do not want them to make me lazy, yet they give some hints when a passage does not open at once. It will be too much trouble for you to. write them, but I have no doubt Archer will copy them for me ....
As to my cash, I have bought a great many books lately, for my constant work requires them, and you know Mr. L. would not have many of the class of books I want. Yet I calculate on having £5 in hand at Midsummer, or by God’s blessing, more. I think that (of course, I mean, if God prospers me,) I shall be able to save enough to put myself to College, and if not, if I should go, which, as you say, is not very certain, why then friends at Cambridge would help me if I could not manage it. Has taken the positive steps yet with regard to joining the church? If not, tell her I blush that she should blush to own her Lord. Do not forget me in earnest prayer .... My very best love to my dear Mother. I am sure she can tell all the mothers in the world that parents’ prayers are not forgotten. I daresay you think God saved the worst first; if you do not, I do. I believe I have given you more trouble than any of the others, but I did not mean it; and I still believe that I have given you joy, too, and I hope the trouble, though not repaid, will yet be recompensed by a comfort arising from seeing me walk in the truth.
I remain, Your affectionate son, CHARLES.
Part of undated letter from C. H. Spurgeon to his mother; the first portion is missing : —
I need your prayers doubly at this time. I know I shall have them, and I believe I have felt the blessing of them more than once. The Lord visit you both, and bear you up in His everlasting arms! Troubles you have had, but I believe the comforts have always kept you joyful in tribulation; cast down, but not in despair.
Bless the Lord, I must say, for making me His son; ‘tis of His own sovereign mercy. Not one good thing has failed. I have felt corruptions rise, and the old man is strong, but grace always comes in just at the critical time, and saves me from myself. The Lord keep me! I have no hope of going on well but by His power. I know that His almighty arm is allsufficient.
Get everyone you can to pray for me; a prayer is more precious than gold, it makes me rich. Lift up your arms, like Moses; there is a great battle both in me and out of me. Jesus intercedes; sweet thought, to one who needs just such a Pleader. Jehovah-Jesus, His people’s buckler, is near; an ever-present help in time of trouble, not afar off. We live in Him, He is all around us; who shall destroy His favorites, His darlings? I have had for one of my sermons, John 15:9: “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love.” Here is (1) Love without beginning. God never began to love Jesus. (2) Love without limit. God loves Jesus with an unbounded love. (3) Love without change. God always loved Jesus alike, equally. (4) Love without end. When will God leave off loving Jesus? Even so does Jesus love you and me. “The weakest saint shall win the day, Though death and hell obstruct the way.” How are all Christian friends? Love to Mr. Langford, and my best respects; tell him I desire a special interest in his prayers. I want to feel “less than nothing,” but this is a very great attainment. Thank Father for his letter; the Lord of Hosts prosper his labors abundantly! My very best love to yourself. I hope, if it is right, that your hands are well. Kiss the little ones, and give them my love. May they learn of Jesus! I am glad Archer gets on so well; may your ten thousand prayers for us be answered by Him that heareth prayer t Emily is stronger, I hope, ask her to think whether she loves Jesus with all her heart.
Father is so much engaged, that I wonder I get so many. If you want to know any points in which I am not quite explicit enough, write and ask at any time. My affairs are your affairs. I hope always to do that which you would approve of.
Love to all once more, —
From your affectionate son, CHARLES.
Extract from letter from C. H. Spurgeon to his mother, November, 1852:—
I am more and more glad that I never went to College. God sends such sunshine on my path, such smiles of grace, that I cannot regret if I have forfeited all my prospects for it. I am conscious that I held back from love to God and His cause, and I had rather be poor in His service than rich in my own. I have all that heart can wish for; yea, God giveth more than my desire. My congregation is as great and loving as ever. During all the time that I have been at Waterbeach, I have had a different house for my home every Sabbath day. Fifty-two families have thus taken me in; and I have still six other invitations not yet accepted. Talk about the people not caring for me, because they give me so little! I dare tell anybody under heaven ‘tis false! They do all they can. Our anniversary passed off grandly; six were baptized; crowds on crowds stood by the river; the chapel was afterwards crammed, both to the tea and the sermon. CAMBRIDGE, December —
I concluded rather abruptly before ; —
but you are often called out from your writing, and therefore can excuse it in me. I hardly know what I left unsaid. I hope to be at home three days. I think of running down from London on Tuesday, January 3rd, and to go home by Bury on Friday, 6th.
Should I be settled in London, I will come and see you often. I do not anticipate going there with much pleasure. I am contented where I am; but if God has more for me to do, then let me go and trust in Him. The London people are rather higher in Calvinism than I am; but I have succeeded in bringing one church to my own views, and will trust, with Divine assistance, to do the same with another. I am a Calvinist; I love what someone called “glorious Calvinism,” but “Hyper-ism” is too hot-spiced for my palate.
I found a relation in London; a daughter of Thomas Spurgeon, at Bailingdon. On the Monday, she came and brought the unmarried sister, who you will remember was at home when we called last Christmas. I shall have no objection to preach for Mr. Langford on Wednesday, January 4th, if he wishes it.
My people are very sad; some wept bitterly at the sight of me, although I made no allusion to the subject in the pulpit, as it is too uncertain to speak of publicly. It is Calvinism they want in London, and any Arminian preaching will not be endured. Several in the church are far before me in theological acumen; they would not admit that it is so, but they all expressed their belief that my originality, or even eccentricity, was the very thing to draw a London audience. The chapel is one of the finest in the denomination; somewhat in the style of our Cambridge Museum. A Merry Christmas to you all; a Happy New Year; and the blessing of the God of Jacob!
Yours affectionately, C. H. SPURGEON. 75,DOVER ROAD, 4th March, 1855. DEAR FATHER,—
DO not be grieved at the slanderous libel in this week’s Express. Of course, it is all a lie, without an atom of foundation; and while the whole of London is talking of me, and thousands are unable to get near the door, the opinion of a penny-a-liner is of little consequence.
I only fear for you; I do not like you to be grieved. For myself IWILL REJOICE; the devil is roused, the Church is awakening, and I am now counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake... Good ballast, father, good ballast; but, oh! remember what I have said before, and do not check me.
Your affectionate son, C. H. SPURGEON.
near GLASGOW, July 19, 1855.
MY DEAR FATHER, —
There is as much stir about me here as there is in London, and I hope souls are really being saved. I am sure you will excuse my being brief, since I have so many letters to answer, and I do not want to keep indoors, but to have all the air I can.
you will guess the reason. I only want that one person to make the trip a very fine one; —
Mr. Spurgeon wrote two letters to his father, recounting his first experiences in London. A considerable portion of the earlier one is missing, including the first sheet, and also the end of the epistle. Evidently, the young preacher had been relating what the deacons had told him concerning the falling-off in the congregations, for the part of his letter that has been preserved begins as follows: —
...me that the people would be back at the first blast of the trumpet which gives a certain sound.... The people are Calvinistic, and they could not get on with anything else. They raised £100 last week for a city missionary, so that they have the sinews of war. The deacons told me that, if I were there three Sundays, there would be no room anywhere. They say that all the London popular ministers are gospel-men, and are plain, simple and original. They have had most of the good preachers of our denomination out of the country; but they have never asked one of them twice, for they gave them such philosophical, or dry, learned sermons, that once was enough. I am the only one who has been asked twice, the only one who has been heard with pleasure by all. I told them they did not know what they were doing, nor whether they were in the body or out of the body; they were so starved, that a morsel of gospel was a treat to them. The portraits of Gill and Rippon —
large as life —
hang in the vestry. Lots of them said I was Ripport over again.
It is God’s doing. I do not deserve it; —
The only thing Which pleases me is, as you will guess, that I am right about College. I told the deacons that I was not a College man, and they said, “That is to us a special recommendation, for you would not have much savor or unction if you came from College.”
As to a school, or writing to my deacons in case I do not go, I shall feel happiest if left to manage alone, for I am sure that any letter to my deacons would not do any good. A church is free to manage its own affairs. We are in loving unity now, and they will improve. But churches of the Baptist denomination would think it an infringement of their rules and liberties to be touched in the least by persons of other denominations in any matter which is their own concern. I should at once say, and you would not mind my saying so, “I had nothing to do with the note; I never asked my father to write it; and the deacons must do as they please about laying it before the church.” I feel pleasure in the thought that it will not now be necessary, and I feel that, if it had been, I should have been equally contented. Many other ministers have schools; it is a usual thing. It is not right to say, “If you mean to be a minister;” for I am one, and have been for two years as much a minister as any man in England; and probably very much more so, since in that time I have preached more than 600 times. More soon.