LAST DEAR AT WATERBEACH AND CAMBRIDGE.
BRIGHT constellation of Jubilee celebrations has risen on our age; amongst them, as one star in the galaxy, too small to be recognized singly, was the Waterbeach Baptist Chapel Jubilee. The year 1853 beheld the grass of fifty years growing in the small spot surrounding the meeting-house where a crowd of willing worshippers often assembled in the memorable days of my first pastorate. The village should! not be unknown to fame, for the records of the Baptist Church prove that Rowland Hill first exercised in Waterbeach his gifts as a minister of Jesus, after riding over from Cambridge by stealth between the hours of College duty. The house still stands in which he is said to have commenced his labors as a preacher.
Long before that time, the sainted Holcroft, the apostle of Cambridgeshire, ejected by the Act of Uniformity front his living at Bassingbourne, had founded a church in this village, as in many others around. When confined in Cambridge Castle for the truth’s sake, he obtained favor in the eyes of his jailer, who allowed him by night to visit Waterbeach, where he preached and administered the ordinances of our Lord to his little band of followers, returning always before morning light awoke his slumbering foes. Since then, the little vessel, launched in boisterous times, has been safely steered by its Captain even until, now. It has passed through rough waters and fierce storms; but it still lives, thanks to Him who sits at the helm. (The following hymns, composed by the young Pastor, were sung at the Water-. beach Jubilee services on Lord’s-day, June 26th, 1853: — ) THE ONE REQUEST. If to my God I now may speak, And make one short request; If but one favor I might seek Which I esteem the best, — I would not choose this earth’s poor wealth; How soon it melts away!
I would not seek continued health; A mortal must decay.
I would not crave a mighty name; Fame is but empty breath.
Nor would I urge a royal claim; For monarchs bow to death.
I would not beg for sinful sweets; Such pleasures end in pain.
Nor should I ask fair learning’s seats; Love absent, these are vain.
My God, my heart would choose with joy, Thy grace, Thy love, to share; This is the sweet which cannot cloy, And this my portion fair. IMMANUEL. When once I mourned a load of sin, When conscience felt a wound within, When all my works were thrown away, When on my knees I knelt to pray, Then, blissful hour, remembered well, I learned Thy love, Immanuel!
When storms of sorrow toss my soul, When waves of care around me roll, When comforts sink, when joys shall flee, When hopeless gulfs shall gape for me, One word the tempest’s rage shall quell, That word, Thy name, Immanuel!
When for the truth I suffer shame, When foes pour scandal on my name, When cruel taunts and jeers abound, When “ bulls of Bashan” gird me round, Secure within my tower I’ll dwell, That tower, Thy grace, immanuel! When hell, enraged, lifts up her roar, When Satan stops my path before, When fiends rejoice, and wait my end, When legion’d hosts their arrows send, Fear not, my soul, but hurl at hell Thy battle-cry, Immanuel!
When down the hill of life I go, When o’er my feet death’s waters flow, When in the deep’ning flood I sink, When friends stand weeping on the brink, I’ll mingle with my last farewell, Thy lovely name, Immanuel!
When tears are banished from mine eye, When fairer worlds than these are nigh, When Heaven shall fill my ravish’d sight, When I shall bathe in sweet delight, One joy all joys shall far excel, To see Thy face, Immanuel!
At our Waterbeach prayer-meetings, we used sometimes to have very quaint utterances from certain of the brethren who led the devotions of the assembly. I once heard a poor man offer this singular supplication: “Lord, watch over these young people during the feast time, for Thou knowest, Lord, how their enemies watch for them as a cat watches for mice.” Some ridiculed the form of the petition, but it appeared to me to be natural and expressive, considering the person who presented it. When it was known that I was coming to London, I was made the subject of many remarkable requests. One queer old man offered a very extraordinary prayer for me. I did not understand it at the time, and I hardly think he ought to have prayed it in public in that shape. He pleaded that I might be able “to swallow bush-faggots cross-ways.” It was a very strange prayer; but I have often done just what he asked that I might do, and it has cleared my throat wonderfully; and there is many a man, who cannot now speak out boldly for God, who will be obliged to have some of those bush-faggots thrust down his throat; and when those great troubles come, and he is compelled to swallow them, then he will grow to be a man in Christ Jesus, who will proclaim with power to others the truths he has tried and proved in his own experience.
Another of my country brethren prayed that I might be “delivered from the bleating of the sheep;” and, for the life of me, I could not make out what he meant. I am not sure that he understood it himself, but I quite understand it now. He meant to ask the Lord that I might live above the fear of man, so that, when some persons said to me, “How much we have been edified today!”
I might not be puffed up; or if another said, “How dull the discourse was to-day!” I might not be depressed. There is no leader of the flock who will not occasionally wish to be delivered from the bleating of the sheep, for they bleat such different tunes sometimes. There is some old bellwether, perhaps, that is not bleating in the right style, and one is apt to be troubled about it; but it is a great thing to feel, “Now, I am not going to be influenced by the way these sheep bleat. I am set to lead them rather than to let them lead me, and I am going to be guided by something far more reliable than the bleating of the sheep, namely, the voice of the Great Shepherd.” I soon found that the best way to be delivered from the bleating of the sheep was to seek to be filled with the spirit of the Good Shepherd. (On page 229, there is the Outline of the first Sermon preached by Mr. Spurgeon at Waterbeach; the following are his notes of his last Sermon as Pastor of the little village church which had been so greatly increased under his ministry: —) OUTLINE 365. —JESUS SAVES FROM SIN. “Thou shall call His nameJESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” — Matthew 1:21.
As this was. my first text in Waterbeach, so, by the help of God, it shall be the one with which I close my stated ministry among you, — in order that Jesus may be Alpha and Omega with us. Let us speak of — I.THE GLORIOUS NAME.
II.THE WONDROUS SALVATION.
III. THEBLESSED PEOPLE.
I. THE GLORIOUS NAME: Jesus, or Joshua, “the Savior.”
Two men, who had borne this name before, — Joshua the son of Nun, and Joshua the son of Jozadak, — were both types of Christ.
Joshua, the son of Nun, — Fought for Israel, and overcame.
He led them through Jordan.
He divided their inheritance for them.
Joshua, the son of Jozadak, — Restored the priesthood, and Rebuilt the temple; but how much greater is our Joshua, Jesus, the Son of God! All that these two men did, and far more, He has done in His glorious work of saving His people.
II. THE WONDROUS SALVATION.
The salvation Jesus wrought for His people is salvation from sin. 1. From the result of sin, — the anger of God, — death, — hell, — loss of Heaven. He who trusts in Jesus is pardoned for all his offenses against God. 2. From the guilt and charge of sin, so that we become innocent in the sight of God, yea, and even meritorious through the righteousness of Jesus. This justification is instantaneous, perfect, unalterable, and brings with it all the blessings which by right only belong to perfection. 3. From the very being of sin. There is in each of us our original depravity, and our acquired habits, but these the Lord graciously takes away; and puts in their place a new nature, and holy desires leading to holy acts.
This is a gradually progressive work.
These three things pardon, justification, and sanctification, — must go together. God will not justify an unpardoned or unsanctified sinner at the last.
Oh, how glorious is this salvation! My soul, often muse thereon!
III. THE BLESSED PEOPLE.
Not known at first, but mingled with others; some of all countries, ranks, and characters, shall be brought in. The marks by which they are distinguished are — 1. A sincere desire after Heaven. 2. A devout seeking for God. 3. Diligent labor to find the way of salvation. 4. Great abhorrence of sin. 5. Sense of personal nothingness. 6. Humble reliance on Jesus.
And now, my Father, make Thy servant mighty at last to wrestle with sinners! Come, O Father, to mine assistance, by the ever-blessed Spirit, for\parJESUS CHRIST’ S sake! Amen.
Before I left Cambridge, to come to London, I went: one day into the library of Trinity College, and there! noticed a very fine statue of Lord Byron. The librarian said to me, “Stand here, sir.” I did as I was directed, and as I looked at it I said, “What a fine intellectual countenance! What a grand genius he was! .... Come here,” said the librarian, “and look at the other side of the statue.” I said, “Oh! what a demon! There stands the man who could defy the Deity.” He seemed to have such a scowl and such a dreadful leer on his face, as Milton would have painted upon Satan when he said, “Better to reign in hell, than serve in Heaven.” I turned away, and asked the librarian, “Do you think the artist designed this?.... Yes,” he said, “he wished to picture the two characters, — the great, the grand, the almost-superhuman genius that Byron possessed, and yet the enormous mass of sin that was in his soul.” Was ever libertine more free in his vices?
Was ever sinner more wild in his blasphemy? Was ever poet more daring in his flights of fancy? Was ever any man more injurious to his fellows? Yet what did Byron say? There is a verse of his which just tells us what he felt in his heart; the man had all that he wanted of sinful pleasure, but here is his confession, — “I fly, like a bird of the air, In search of a home and a rest; A balm for the sickness of care, — A bliss for a bosom unblest.” Yet he found it not, for he had no rest in God. He tried pleasure till his eyes were red with it; he tried vice till his body was sick; and he descended into his grave a premature old man In the year 1853, I was asked to give an address at the annual meeting of the Cambridge Sunday School Union, in the Guildhall of. that town. There were two other ministers to speak, both of them much older than myself; and, as a natural consequence, I was called upon first. I do not now recollect anything that I said on that occasion, but 1 have no doubt that I spoke in my usual straightforward fashion I do not think there was anything in my remarks to cause the other speakers to turn upon me so savagely as they did when it came to their turn to address the large gathering. One of them, in particular, was very personal and also most insulting in his observations, specially referring to my youth, and then, in what he seemed to regard as a climax, saying that it was a pity that boys did not adopt the Scriptural practice of tarrying at Jericho till their beards were grown before they tried to instruct their seniors.
Having obtained the chairman’s permission, I reminded the audience that those who were bidden to tarry at Jericho were not boys, but full-grown men, whose beards had been shaved off by their enemies as the greatest indignity they could be made to suffer, and who were, therefore, ashamed to return home until their beards had grown again. I added that, the true parallel to their case could be found in a minister who, through falling into open sin, had disgraced his sacred calling, and so needed to go into seclusion for a while until his character had been to some extent restored.
As it happened, I had given an exact description of the man who had attacked me so unjustly, and for that reason all who were present, and knew the circumstances, would be the more likely to remember the incident. There was in the hall, that evening, a gentleman from Essex, — Mr. George Gould, of Loughton, — who felt so deeply sympathetic with me in the trying position in which I had been placed, through no fault of my own, and who also was so much impressed by what he had heard that, shortly afterwards, meeting in London old Mr. Thomas Olney, one of the deacons of the church worshipping in New Park Street Chapel, he pressed him to try to secure my services as a supply for the vacant pulpit, and thus became, in the hand of God, the means of my transference from Cambridgeshire to the metropolis. (The night before he came to London, Mr. Spurgeon gave the following poem, which he had composed, to the ladies with whom he had lodged after leaving Mr. Leeding’s school; it has probably never been published until now: — ) THE NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. Rouse thee, Music! Rouse thee, Song!
Noble themes await thee long. not the warrior’s thund’ring car, not the battle heard afar, not the garment rolled in blood, not the river’s redden’d flood; Subjects more sublime I sing, Soar thee, then, on highest wing!
Sing the white-robed hosts on high, Who in splendor suns outvie; Sing of them, the martyr’d band, With the palm-branch in their hand:
Fairest of the sons of light, Midst the bright ones doubly bright.
Who are these? Of noble birth?
Were they monarchs of the earth?
Kings of Babel’s ancient state, Lords of Persia, proud and great, Grecian heroes, bold and brave, Romans, making earth their slave?
No, — but hearken! Heav’n replies, List the music from the skies: — “These are they who dared to die, Champions of our Lord on high.
At His name they bow’d the knee, Sworn to worship none but He.
Fearless of the tyrant’s frown, Mindful of the promised crown; Trampling on Satanic rage, Conqu’ring still from age to age.
Come, the glorious host review, March the glittering squadrons through.”
Some, from show’rs of deadly stones, Some, from wheels, — with broken bones, Snatch’d by sweet seraphic might, Borne above the tyrant’s spite, — Wondrous in their dying hour, Rose above the demon’s power. Some by cruel racks were torn, others were in sunder sawn.
Hunger, nakedness, and thirst, Sword, and ax, and spear accurs’d, Cross, and knife, and fiery dart, All conspiring, join’d their smart:
Yet, unconquer’d e’en in death, Triumph fill’d their latest breath.
Yonder rank in chariots came, Blazing o’er with fiery flame; Now, in burnish’d arms they shine, Glorious in the gift Divine.
Some, from jaws of cruel beasts, Rose to Heav’n’s triumphal feasts; Some, in dungeons long immured, Saw in death their crown secured, Writhing in their tortures dread, Smiled as if on downy bed.
These, from Rome’s dark dungeons flew; These, on Alps, the despot slew; These, by Spanish priests were: slain; These, the Moslem curs’d in vain.
Yonder stands a gallant host, Martyrs from the Gallic coast, Heroes from Bartholomew, Soldiers to their Master true.
These, again, in shining row, Saw the fiery torments glow, They in Smithfield kiss’d the stake, Blest to die for Jesus’ sake.
Those who, further in the plain, Lift to Heav’n the lofty strain, In the ocean found a grave, Plung’d by force beneath the wave.
Some, by English prelates tried, On the scaffold firmly died; Scorn’d to own prelatic sway, Nobly dared to disobey. Covenanters bold are there, Sons of Scotia’s mountains bare, Mingled with the valiant band, Heroes of my fatherland.