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LETTERS OF C. H. SPURGEON
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TO HIS UNCLE AND AUNT
MY DEAR UNCLE,—
Dumb men make no mischief. Your silence, and my neglect, make one think of the days when letters were costly, and not of penny postage. You have doubtless heard of me as a top-tree Antinomian. I trust you know enough of me to disbelieve it. It is one object of my life to disprove the slander. I groan daily under a body of sin and corruption. Oh, for the time when I shall drop this flesh, and be free from sin! I become more and more convinced that, to attempt to be saved by a mixed covenant of works and faith is, in the words of Berridge, “To yoke a snail with an elephant.” I desire to press forward for direction to my Master in all things; but as to trusting to my own obedience and righteousness, I should be worse than a fool, and ten times worse than a madman. Poor dependent creatures, prayer had need be our constant employment, the foot of the throne our continued dwelling-place; for the Rock of Ages is our only safe Hidingplace.
I rejoice in an assured knowledge by faith of my interest in Christ, and of the certainty of my eternal salvation. Yet what strivings, what conflicts, what dangers, what enemies stand in my way The foes in my heart are so strong, that they would have killed me, and sent me to hell long ere this, had the Lord left me; but, blessed be His name, His electing, redeeming, and saving love has got fast hold of me; and who is able to pluck me out of my Father’s hand? On my bended knees, I have often to cry for succor; and, bless His name, He has hitherto heard my cry. Oil, if I did not know that all the Lord’s people had soul-contention, I should give up all for lost! I rejoice that the promises left on record are meant for me, as well as for every saint of His, and as such I desire to grasp them. Let the whole earth and even God’s professing people, cast out my name as evil; my Lord and Master, He will not. I glory in the distinguishing grace of God, and will not, by the grace of God, step one inch from my principles, or think of adhering to the present fashionable sort of religion.
Oh, could I become like the holy men of past ages, —
fearless of men, —
weaned more from the world, and enabled to fix my thoughts on spiritual things entirely! But when I would serve God, I find my old deceitful heart full of the very essence of hell, rising up into my mouth, polluting all I say and all I do. What should I do if, like you, I were called to be engaged about things of time and sense? I fear I should be neither diligent in business, nor fervent in spirit. “But,” (say you,) “he keeps talking all about himself.” True, he does; he cannot help it. Self is too much his master. I am proud of my own ignorance; and, like a toad, bloated with my own venomous pride, —
proud of what I have not got, and boasting when I should be bemoaning. I trust you have greater freedom from your own corruptions than I have; and in secret, social, and family prayer enjoy more blessed, sanctified liberty at the footstool of mercy.
May we be enabled to go on, brave as lions, and valiant for the truth and cause of King .Jesus, and by the help of the Spirit, vow eternal warfare with every sin, and rest not until the sword of the Spirit has destroyed all the enemies in our hearts! May we be enabled to trust the Lord, for He will help us; we must conquer; we cannot be lost.
Your affectionate nephew, C. H. SPURGEON.
The first part of this letter to his Aunt (Mrs. Walker) is missing.
The body of Christians, of which for some little while I have been a member, is not distinguished for high standing in the world. I trust I shall never be rich, lest I should by force of additional temptation ever bring dishonor upon the name of Him with whom I have entered into solemn league and covenant. Would that, as I have been buried with Him in baptism, I might have the inward spiritual grace, and be dead to the world, but alive unto the service of the Lord!
There has been much stir here about the late Popish Aggression, —
the clergy seem to be very anxious about it .... I hope Uncle will not write to me until he is well. He is so very kind; but he may tire himself. Tell him I am now studying Paine’s Elements of Mental Science and Porter’s Lectures on Homiletics. I cannot in Greek get further than the Testament.
We have only thirteen boys.
June 3, 1851.
MY DEAR AUNT, —
I make my old complaint again —
I have nothing to write about .... I hope to see the Exhibition with father and mother. I say, it will be quite a treat to see them there. We have our Missionary meeting next Sabbath. Last Sunday we had old Mr. Jay of Bath; a real wonder he is. The place was crammed everywhere. He is eighty three or eighty four, I think.
I do not know anything of my future steps. I have nothing to do with it; I have no wish but to remain here, but am perfectly contented to do as friends think best. I trust I have endeavored to improve my mind —
others will best judge with what success. If I can earn my own living and manage to progress, all my wishes are attained. I have pursued Divinity with some ardor, and only wish that I could learn more of its wondrous mysteries, and feel more deeply the effects of its doctrines. In this course I find fresh and ever increasing delight. May I never go astray or leave the path the Bible prescribes.
It is a mercy Uncle is so well. You have had a rough year; you have been tried severely. No doubt you will derive benefit from it. Accept my best love and thanks, for whenever I write I must thank you for past kindnesses, but thanks are no returns.
Your affectionate nephew, C. H. SPURGEON.
June 25, 1851.
MY DEAR AUNT, —
I enclose this in Uncle’s note. Is he better? I have much enjoyed my three days in London, and am now happy at home. I am very thankful that, if spared, I am going back to Cambridge. Of my progress there, I am not ashamed; it should and might have been greater, but still it is somewhat.
My faults I have not learned there, I had the same at Maidstone, and I am not at all fond of having blame thrown on the place where Providence has placed me. I am all fault, but what God’s grace has made right. I am content to be evil spoken of, if I can but grow in grace and serve God.
Where I have most opportunity of telling sinners the way of salvation, and of preparation for a future course of labor, I trust I shall always feel most happy. Human wisdom I desire to gain, but only in subservience, and as handmaid to spiritual knowledge and Divine instruction.
Grandfather is with us now; he preached last. night on “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” A blessed thing it must be for the new-born sons of God to have such a stay in the hour of trouble; and he who having left his own righteousness, trusts alone on Jesus, has a perfect right to this promise.
Mother is gone to old Mr. Merchant’s 52st Anniversary at Layer Breton.
He is almost past preaching, and stands a monument of the unchanging love of God, who, having once loved a person, will always love him. The motto over his pulpit is, “We preach Christ, and Him crucified.” I am sure you need all the comforts of the gospel now, and I wish I knew enough to be able to give them faithfully and successfully; that is reserved for future lessons of experience. None who rely on Jesus Christ will ever find their troubles too heavy; for all those who take Him as their whole Savior, He is a supporter. May God deal kindly with you, and support you!
Love to self and Uncle from all.
I am, Your affectionate nephew, C. H. SPURGEON.
MY DEAR AUNT, —
Can you kindly inform me whether Mr. James Spurgeon, Junr., of the parish of Stambourne, Essex, is yet alive? I have written two letters to the said gentleman, and, as he was a particular friend of mine, I begin to feel somewhat anxious seeing that I have had no reply. If you should find, among the papers he has left, any letter directed to me, I shall feel obliged by your forwarding the same.
When I was last at his house, he was extremely kind to me, and I flattered myself that, if I should ever have occasion to ask a favor, I should not be refused; or, if denied, it would be in so kind a manner that it would not look’ like neglect. If he is alive, and not gone beyond the seas, please to give him my kind love the first time you meet him, and tell him I suppose he must have gout in his hands, so that he cannot write. Should it turn out that it is so, keep all wines and spirits from him, as they are bad things for gouty folk; and be so good as to foment his hands with warm water boiled with the heads of poppies. By this treatment, the swelling will subside; and, as soon as he is able, if you find him at all tractable, put a pen in his hand, and make him write his name, and post it to me, so that I may be sure he is alive. Ah, ‘tis a sad thing people will get gouty!
But perhaps he is gone. Well, poor fellow, he was not the worst that ever lived; I felt sorry to part from him the last time, and, as the Irishman said, I hoped he would, at any rate, have let me know that he was dead. I thought you were the most likely person to know him, as I have seen you at his house several times when I have been there. I trust you will just send me a line to let me know how the poor fellow is, if alive at all.
Sept. 27, ‘53 MY DEAR UNCLE,—
I have two or three reasons for writing to you just at this time. We are going to have a baptizing service on October 19, and I should be so glad to see my uncle following his Master in the water. I am almost afraid to mention the subject, lest people should charge me with giving it undue prominence; if they will do so, they must. I can bear it for my Master’s sake. I know you love my Jesus; and the mention of His name makes the tear rush to your eye, and run down your cheek. Better than wife or child is our Beloved; you can sing, —
“Yes, Thou art precious to my soul, My transport and my trust; Jewels to Thee are gaudy toys, And gold is sordid dust.” You can lift your eye to Heaven, and, on your bended knee, before the presence of your Redeemer, exclaim, “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.”
Now, my beloved brother in Jesus, can you refuse to perform this one act for Him? “No,” you say, “I do not refuse; I would do it at once if I were sure He had commanded it. I love Him too ‘well to keep back any part of my obedience.” Ah! but youARE sure it is your duty, —
or, permit me to hint that you may be sure, —
now, can you go to bed happily with the bare supposition that you are refusing to practice an express command of your Redeemer? Surely, a true lover of his Divine Master will never let even a supposed duty rest; he will want to be sure either that it is his duty, or that it is not; and knowing that, he will act accordingly.
I charge you, by the debt —
I charge you, by the solemnity of all our Savior’s commands, —
I charge you, by the shortness of time, and the near approach of the awful judgment, not to trifle with convictions of the rightness of this ordinance, not to put off a serious, prayerful enquiry as to whether it is, or is not, enjoined upon all believers in Jesus, and then to carry out your conscientious conviction. If Christ commands me to hold up my little finger, and I do not obey Him, it looks like a coolness in my love to Him; and I feel assured that I should sustain loss by the neglect.
Now with regard to coming for a week to preach at Stambourne and neighboring villages, I am yours to serve to the utmost; not on the Sabbath, but all the week. I have a good sphere of labor here, but I want to do more, if possible. There is a great field, and the laborers must work with all their might often wish I were in China, India. or Africa, so that I might preach, preach, preach all day long. It would be sweet to die preaching. But I want more of the Holy Spirit; I do not feel enough —
no, not half enough, —
If I come, I shall not mind preaching two evenings in Stambourne if you cannot get other convenient places; and I should love to have some good, thoroughly-hot prayer-meetings after the services. I wish it were possible to preach at two places in one evening, but I suppose time would hardly permit me to do that. Consult the friends, send me word, and I am your man.
As to the books, you had better bring them yourself when you come to be baptized. Mr. Elven, of Bury, is going to preach the sermon for me; and, as we have not many candidates this time, we shall all the more value your presence.
If you do not come, —
I cross that out,’ because youMUST, then send the books when you can. I left some tracts in Mr. Howell’s gig. I should be obliged if you see after them if you go to Hedingham. I should like to go there, too, if I come.
still, I think you had much better not, for it is not at all likely he will ever change an opinion so long rooted in him, and it is never worth while for us to mention it if it will only irritate, and do no good. I wish to live in unity with every believer, whether Calvinist, Arminian, (if not impossible), Churchman, Independent, or Wesleyan; and though I firmly believe some of them are tottering, I do not like them well enough to prop them up by my wrangling with them.
My best respects and regards to Aunt, —
Uncles and Aunts, —
Mr. Unwin, Will Richardson, and all the good people in Stambourne, not excepting yourself.
I am, Yours most truly, C. H. SPURGEON. 75,DOVER ROAD,BOROUGH, March 2, 1854.
DEAR UNCLE, —
I shall be extremely obliged if you will, at the earliest opportunity, forward to my address, as above, by rail or otherwise, the books I purchased of you. I have been expecting them for many months; but thought that, perhaps, you had no means of sending them. Send them to any station, carriage I will pay.
Of course, I shall not look for an answer to my note; I never shall again expect to see your handwriting to me. “Hope deferred maketh “ —
never mind, —
let Solomon finish the sentence. I have a birch in pickle for you; and when I come to your house, I shall use it with but little mercy, so you had need have on your very thickest skin. I might say some sharp things about the matter, but I will save them until I sit in your easy chair, or you are seated in mine. When you are in London, you will be in for a sound scolding, if you do not come to see me. I do not think you dare come, and I am sure you will not venture to stay away. I promise you a hearty welcome. 75,DOVER ROAD, BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK, LONDON.
But, to joke no more, you have heard that I am now a Londoner, and a little bit of a celebrity. No College could have put me in a higher situation.
I shall be glad to hear of your temporal and spiritual prosperity. Do not, for a moment, imagine that I am cold towards you. My Master’s one aim was to spread the spirit of love among His disciples; and I trust little things will never chili my love to the brethren. Permit me, most respectfully and lovingly, to enquire, “How does the cause of God prosper? .... How does your soul prosper? .... How is your love to the precious name of Jesus?” I wish for myself and you much soul-prosperity. We cannot afford to live a useless life; the sands of time are too valuable to be allowed to run on unheeded. We have a work before us, and woe be unto us if we are idle or unfaithful servants! Blessed is the man who often talks with his God alone, and comes forth from his closet, like Moses from the mountain top, with a celestial glory on his brow! Let us seek that blessing, and may God be ever with us! Do not forget the books, and believe me to be —
Yours truly, C. H.SPURGEON