LETTERS CONCERNING SETTLEMENT IN LONDON.
I do not know whether all of you can go with me here; but I think you must, in some instance or other, be forced to see that God has indeed ordained your inheritance for you. If you cannot, I can. I can see a thousand chances, as men would call them, all working together, like wheels in a great piece of machinery, to fix me just where I am; and I can look back to a hundred places where, if one of those little wheels had run awry, if one of those little atoms in the great whirlpool of my existence had started aside, I might have been anywhere but here, and occupying a very different position. If you cannot say this, I know I can with emphasis; and [ can trace God’s hand back even to the period of my birth. Through every step I have taken, I can feel that indeed God has allotted my inheritance for me. If any of you are so willfully beclouded that you will not see the hand of God in your being, and will insist that all has been done by your own will without the control of Providence, — that you have been left to steer your own course across the ocean of existence, and that you are where you are because your own hand guided the tiller, and your own arm directed the rudder, — all I can say is, my experience, and the experience of many now in this place, would rise in testimony against you, and we should say. “Verily, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” “Man proposes, but God disposes;” and the God of Heaven is not unoccupied, but is engaged in over-ruling, arranging, ordering, altering, and working all things according to the good pleasure of His will. — C. H. S. THE Church in New Park Street was sadly reduced in numbers, and from the position of its meeting-house there seemed no prospect before it but ultimate dissolution; but there were a few in its midst who never ceased to pray for a gracious revival. The congregation became Smaller and smaller; yet they hoped on, and hoped ever. Let it never be forgotten that, when they were at their worst, the Lord remembered them, and gave to them such a tide of prosperity that they have since had no mourning, or doubting, but many, many years of continued rejoicing. (‘The following official record shows in what condition the New Park Street Church was at the time that Mr. Spurgeon preached his first sermon in London. Although there had not been any additions during the year, and the total income for 1853 had been less than £300, the members of the church and congregation were so concerned about the spiritual welfare of their neighbors that, without waiting for the election of a new Pastor, they had subscribed the amount needed to secure the services of a city missionary for five years: — “Monthly church-meeting, 14th Dec., 1853. “brother Low presided. “The minutes of the last church-meeting were read, and the correctness of the entry confirmed. “Agreed to grant the use of the chapel to the London Baptist Association for the holding of their annual meeting on Wednesday, the 11th of January, 1854. “The letter proposed to be sent from this church to that meeting was read, approved, and ordered to be signed by brother Low as presiding deacon. It was as follows: — To the Ministers and Messengers composing the London Baptist Association, the baptized Church of Christ assembling in New Park Street, Southwark, sendeth Christian salutation. “Dear Brethren, “‘We regret that, during the past year, we. have made no additions to our numbers in consequence of our being without a Pastor, and that we have nothing particular to communicate to the Association, except that a friend has presented the sum of one hundred pounds, on condition that our church and congregation would raise the like amount, with the view to securing the services of a missionary in our locality, with the aid of the London City Mission, for five years.
We have the pleasure to state that our friends have contributed the full sum required for the carrying out of this important object. We enclose our statistics. ‘ Brethren, pray for us.’ “Signed on behalf of the church, at our church-meeting, 14th Dec., 1853, “‘JAMES LOW, Presiding Deacon.’” ) (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 Rippon over again. “It is God’s doing. I do not deserve it; — they are mistaken. I only mention facts. I have not exaggerated; nor am I very exalted by it, for to leave my own dear people makes it a painful pleasure. God wills 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 hole; I never asked my father to write it; anti 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.” (The allusions to a school refer to the following advertisement which Mr. Spurgeon had inserted in a Cambridge newspaper: — “No. 60, Park Street, Cambridge. Mr. C. H. Spurgeon begs to inform his numerous friends that, after Christmas, he intends taking six or seven young gentlemen as day pupils. He will endeavor to the utmost to impart a good commercial Education. The ordinary routine will include Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Mensuration; Grammar and Composition; Ancient and Modern History; Geography, Natural History, Astronomy, Scripture, and Drawing. Latin and the elements of Greek and French, if required.
Terms, £5 per annum.”) “No. 60, Park Street, “Cambridge, “December __, 1853. “My Dear Father, “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. I hope it will be a sweet visit although a short one. “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 ‘Hyperism’ is too hot-spiced for my palate. “I found a relation in London; a daughter of Thomas Spurgeon, at Ballingdon. 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. “I spent the Monday in going about London, climbed to the top of St. Paul’s, and left some money with the booksellers. F20 “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 endure, d. 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.” (At the laying of the foundation stone of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Mr. Spurgeon’s father made the following interesting reference to the College incident and his son’s coming to London: — “My Lord Mayor, I am very happy to meet you to-night. We are Essex men; we come from Colchester. Colchester has something to boast of great men. The chief physician of London comes from Colchester; the Lord Mayor comes from Colchester; and I need not tell you who else. I have never had the headache in my life, friends; but if I ever had it, it would have been to-day. I feel nervous and excited. But I do feel very happy to-day to acknowledge my faults; and when a man confesses his faults, he has done a great deal towards amending them. I always thought my son did wrong in coming to London; now you see that I was wrong. I always thought he was wrong in not going to College; I tried three or four hours with him, one night, with a dear friend who loved him; but it was no use. He said, ‘ No, I will never go to College, except in strict obedience to you as a father.’ There I left the matter; and I see that God has been with him, though I thought it was a wrong step in him to go to London. And I thought it was a wrong step for me to come here to-night; but perhaps I may be mistaken again. I can tell you it is one of the happiest days of my life. I feel beyond myself when I think of the kindness that has been shown to my son when but a youth. I ascribe it all to God’s goodness, and the earnest prayers of His people. He has been exposed to temptation from every source, and even now, my friends, he is not free from it. You have prayed for him, and God has sustained him. Let me entreat you to continue your prayers. Every one here to-night, go home, and pray for your Pastor.
A meeting like this is enough to carry a man beyond himself, and fill his heart with pride; but the grace of God is all-sufficient. Several persons said to me — I do not know what their motive was, — ’Your son will never last in London six months; he has no education.’ I said, ‘You are terribly mistaken; he has the best education that can possibly be had; God has been his Teacher, and he has had earthly teachers, too.’ I knew, as far as education went, he could manage London very well. Then they said his health would fail; but it has not failed him yet. He has had enough to shake his constitution, it is true; but God has been very merciful to him. I think, if there is one thing that would crown my happiness to-day, it would have been to see his grandfather here. I should have loved to see him with us.
He said, ‘ Boy, don’t ask me to go, I am too old; I am overcome with God’s goodness and mercy to me.’ He is always talking about you,’ Pastor. Old people like to have something to talk about, so he always talks about his grandson. And next to that, I should like, my dear friends, to have seen his Mother here. I believe, under God’s grace, his Mother was the means of leading him to Christ.”) In The Preachers’ Annual for 1877, in an article by Rev. G. T. Dowling on “Candidating,” I read as follows: — “Charles Spurgeon was not even seriously thought of as a prospective pastor the first time he preached in London. Months passed by before he was again invited to spend a Sabbath; and even when a call was extended, it was by no means unanimous. Some families even left the church because ‘ that boy’ was called.”
This is given as a proof that successful preachers frequently produce a poor impression as candidates. This may be a general fact, but it was a pity to fabricate an instance. The truth is exactly the contrary. The moment after my first sermon was preached,. I was invited by the principal deacon to supply for six months, for he felt sure that, at a church-meeting, which would at once be held, such a resolution would be passed. I declined his offer, for I thought it too hast),; but I promised to preach on alternate Sabbaths during the next month, and this was done, and followed up immediately by a further invitation. No one person left the church to my knowledge, and the resolution inviting me was as nearly unanimous as possible, only one man and four women voting to the contrary, all of these becoming in after time most friendly to me. I only mention the incident as a specimen of the manner in which advocates of a theory too often manufacture their instances, and as a warning to friends to be slow in believing anything which they may hear or read about public persons. (The three Sabbaths on which Mr. Spurgeon agreed to preach in London were January 1st, 15th, and 29th, 1854; but before the last-named date, the church had already taken definite action with a view to securing his services permanently. He had preserved, amongst his most treasured papers, the following letters, which are now published for the first time, together with a correct copy of his reply to the invitation to supply the pulpit at New Park Street Chapel for six months: — “15, Creed Lane, “Ludgate Hill, “London, “Jan. 25, 1854. “My Dear Sir, “It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to you hoping, through Divine grace, you are well and happy. “You will remember that I gave you a hint of the intention of the members of the church to request the deacons to call a special church-meeting for the purpose of inviting you to preach for a certain period. That special meeting has taken place this evening, and I am most happy to tell you that, at the private request of Mr. W. Olney, I moved a resolution that you should be invited for six months. Old Mr. Olney was in the chair, — Mr. Low being unwell, but strongly in favor of your coming’. We had a full vestry, and there were only five against you; three out of the five rarely occupy their places with us. It was a happy meeting, and I hope that God, in His tender mercy, will send you to us, and that you will see your way clear to come; and should the Great Shepherd of the flock make you the instrument to revive this ancient church, we shall be glad indeed, and shall give God all the glory. For my own part, since I have been at Park Street, I never saw such a desire on the part of the brethren toward a minister as there is at the present time toward you. We are cast down, but not destroyed. It has been a trying’ time to us; our church is scattered, but there is a goodly remnant filling their places constantly, and a band of young members growing up, requiring the watchful care of a good Pastor.
I know you are being persuaded not to come among us; but I will say, ‘come and try us.’ I hope next week to spend half a day with you, if possible, and then I will tell you more than I can write. I should have written before, but I thought I would wait for the result of this evening’s meeting. We don’t want an idle preacher; I know we shall not have that in you. As I have said before, we are cast down, but there is room to rise; and I believe God is about to answer our poor prayers, though they have been offered weak in faith. The different societies in connection with the chapel will be revived with an active Pastor as our leader. There may be a few against you, but I assure you it is only on the part of those who are as unstable as water, and seldom are at chapel. You will find a great many faithful friends; and should the Holy Spirit lead you to decide for New Park Street after you have received the request from the deacons, I hope and pray that you will prove a blessing to thousands, — that God will give you a great number of souls for your crown of rejoicing, that, like Rippon, and Cox, Collier, Bennet, and others, you will be a guide to thousands of ignorant travelers to conduct them to the cross of Jesus. I hope I shall soon see you, and if it shall please God that it shall add to His glory for you to come among us, I will thank Him, and do all I can so far as my influence is concerned, for your temporal and spiritual happiness. “I have enclosed a copy of the resolution which I moved at the meeting, and which Mr. Ward seconded. I conclude with my Christian love to you, hoping you will be wisely directed in all your ways, and believe me to be, “Your sincere friend and brother in Christ, “WILLIAM CUTLER, Superintendent of the Sunday School.” “To The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon.” “Resolved, That the ministry of the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon having been very generally appreciated, he be invited to supply the pulpit for six months; and that the deacons be requested to communicate this resolution to him, and to make the necessary arrangements with him.” “Market Street, “Bermondsey, “London, “Jan. 26th, 1854. “My Dear Sir, “I cannot refrain from informing you of the very satisfactory result o[ our church-meeting last evening. It was called specially to confer as to giving you a further invitation. There was a very large attendance, and a most cordial and hearty enthusiasm on your behalf. I do trust God will incline your heart to come among us. He has already given both you and us clear indications that there is a great work for you to do among us. There is one consideration that makes me feel very deeply on this subject, and that is, my brother Henry. He has so repeatedly expressed his regard for your ministry, and his desire to attend it, that I do trust there are already some impressions for good on his heart. Oh, that the Holy Spirit may seal these good impressions, and make them abiding, and to end in his conversion to God! May you, my dear friend, be indeed his spiritual teacher, to lead him to Christ! I do most earnestly pray that it may be so. F21 Then, also, there are the young men at my father’s. It is with great difficulty they can be induced to enter any place of worship, yet they will come and hear you, and I believe will continue to do so. I have most earnestly prayed that you may be directed aright in this matter, and I trust already your heart is turned towards us. “I most heartily promise you sympathy and co-operation; and anything that lies in my power to promote your comfort and usefulness shall be done. This is, I am certain, the general feeling throughout the church; and if you come for six months, will, I believe, be the unanimous one. There is now but one family not prepared to vote for you, and I believe a short acquaintance with you will soon change their minds. Hoping you will have a happy Sabbath with us next Lord’s-day, and give us then your affirmative reply to our invitation, “I remain, “Yours in Christian bonds, “WILLIAM OLNEY.”
MR.JOHN T.OLNEY wrote: — “We had a very delightful church-meeting last evening. We met at 7, and closed at 9 o’clock; and, during the whole evening, not a word was spoken which did not consort with the Heavenly precept, ‘ Walk in love.’ The vestry was well filled, great unanimity prevailed, and a delightful satisfaction beamed in the countenances of all the members. The special church-meeting then held was convened by a memorial requesting the deacons that it might be holden to invite your services for six months, subject to the approval of the majority of the church. The memorial was signed by most of the influential members of the church, so that the deacons cheerfully convened the meeting. There were a great many speeches made, because we were anxious all should speak out most fully and freely their opinions. The resolution may be said to have been carried almost unanimously, — only one hand and four small kid gloves having been held up in answer to the Chairman’s inquiry, ‘Any on the contrary?’
These five friends were quite friendly with the majority, and will continue to fill their places with us. They object to you on the ground that they consider you do not use sufficient reverence in prayer. This was very well answered by Mr. Carr, and some of the other brethren. Apart from this unimportant exception, the members were quite unanimous in giving you a cheerful, cordial, and loving invitation for six months. I never expected we could have been nearly so much united in sentiment respecting any man to occupy the pulpit of a church consisting of many belonging to the old church at Carter Lane under Dr. Rippon, and of many introduced by Dr. Angus and Mr. Smith. I am sure you will find the church render to you all that esteem and affection you will desire, and be ready to sustain you by their prayers and co-operation, and I am equally certain that you will not be lacking in your efforts to supply them with the Bread of Life, and the Good Wine of the Kingdom. I hope and pray that you may be led by what appears to my mind, and I trust will appear to yours also, to be the guiding of Providence, — to accept the invitation of the church. The church, the neighborhood, and the denomination in London, have, I think, need of the talents and order of preaching which God has, for good and gracious purposes, given you to possess.”) (Mr. Spurgeon’s reply to the official letter from the deacons was. as follows: — ) “No. 60, Park Street, “Cambridge, “January 27th, 1854. “To James Low, Esq., “My Dear Sir, “I cannot help feeling intense gratification at the unanimity of the church at New Park Street in relation to their invitation to me. Had I been uncomfortable in my present situation, I should have felt unmixed pleasure at the prospect Providence seems to open up before me;. but having a devoted and loving people, I feel I know not how. “One thing I know, namely, that I must soon be severed from them by necessity, for they do not raise sufficient to maintain me in comfort. Had they done so, I should have turned a deaf ear to any request to leave them, at least for the present. But now my Heavenly Father drives me forth from this little Garden of Eden; and whilst I see that I must go out, I leave it with reluctance, and tremble to tread the unknown land before me. “When I first ventured to preach at Waterbeach, I only accepted an invitation for three months, on the condition that if, in that time, I should see good reason for leaving, or they on their part should wish for it, I should be at liberty to cease supplying, or they should have the same power to request me to do so before the expiration of the time. “Now, with regard to a six months’ invitation from you, I have no objection to the length of time, but rather approve of the prudence of the church in wishing to have one so young as myself on an extended period of probation. But I write, after well weighing the matter, to say positively that I cannot, I dare not , accept an unqualified invitation for so long a time. My objection is not to the length of the time of probation, but it ill becomes a youth to promise to preach to a London congregation so long, until he knows them and they know him. I would engage to supply for three months of that time, and then, should the congregation fail, or the church disagree, I would reserve to myself liberty, without breach of engagement, to retire; and you could, on your part, have the right to dismiss me without seeming to treat me ill. Should I see no reason for so doing, and the church still retain their wish for me, I can remain the other three months, either with or without the formality of a further invitation; but even during that time (the second three months), I should not like to regard myself as a fixture, in case of ill-success, but would only be a supply, liable to a fortnight’s dismissal or resignation. “Perhaps this is not business-like, — I do not know; but this is the course I should prefer, if it would be agreeable to the church.
Enthusiasm and popularity are often the crackling of thorns, and soon expire. I do not wish to be a hindrance if I cannot be a help. “With regard to coming at once, I think I must: not. My own deacons just hint that I ought to finish the quarter here; though, by ought, they mean simply, ‘Pray do so, if you can.’ This would be too long a delay. I wish to help them until they can get supplies, which is only to be done with great difficulty; and as I have given you four Sabbaths, I hope you will allow me to give them four in return. I would give them the first and second Sabbaths in February, and two more in a month or six weeks’ time. I owe them much for their kindness, although they insist that the debt lies on their side. Some of them hope, and almost pray, that you may be tired in three months, so that I may be again sent back to them. “Thus, my dear sir, I have honestly poured out my heart to you.
You are too kind. You will excuse me if I err, for I wish to do right to you, to my people, and to all, as; being not mine own, but bought with a price. “I respect the honesty and boldness of the small minority, and only wonder that the number was not greater. I pray God that, if He does not see fit that I should remain with you, the majority may be quite as much the other way at the end of six months, so that I may never divide you into parties. “Pecuniary matters I am well satisfied with. And now one thing is due to every minister, and I pray you to remind the church of it, namely, that in private, as well as in public, they must all earnestly wrestle in prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I may be sustained in the great work. “I am, with the best wishes for your health, and the greatest respect, “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.” (The following letter was written to the Uncle mentioned in Chapter 26.
The swift transition from innocent mirth to deep solemnity was characteristic of Mr. Spurgeon to the end of his days.) “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. “Can you see my address? I send my very best respects to your good wife; she is certainly worth more than you, if I am to value her by the number of letters I have received. “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. Our place is one of the pinnacles of the denomination. But I have a great work to do, and have: need of all the prayers the sons of God can offer for me. “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 chill my love to the brethren. Permit me, most respectfully and lovingly, to inquire, ‘ 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.” (The following letter was written by Mr. Spurgeon to the ladies with whom he had lodged at Cambridge: — ) “75, Dover Road, “Borough, “March, 1854. “To the Misses Blunson, “My Dear ‘Friends, “I have not forgotten you, although I have been silent so long. I have thought of your trials, and have requested of my Master that He would comfort and sustain you. If you have a portion in Him, your troubles will be blessings, and every grief will be turned into a mercy. “I am very well, and everything goes on even better than I could have hoped. My chapel, though large, is crowded; the aisles are blocked up, and every niche is packed as full as possible. I expect to come and see you in about a month. I hope to be at Waterbeach the fourth Sabbath in April. I get on very well in my present lodgings; — but not better than with you, for that would be impossible. I had nothing to wish for better than I had, for your attention to me was beyond all praise. I cannot but feel very much for you, and only wish that I knew how I could serve you. “I hope you will not give way to doubts and despondency; but do what you can, and leave the rest to God. Blessed is the man who has the God of Jacob for his Helper; he need not fear either want, or pain, or death. The more you can realize this, the happier will you become; and the only means for so doing is to hold frequent communion with God in prayer. Get alone with Jesus, and He will comfort your hearts, and restore your weary souls. I hope you have let your rooms. I think I shall stop at Mrs. Warricker’s; but I will be sure to come and see you, and leave something to remember me by.
Trust in God, and be glad, and — “Believe me to be, “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
The six months’ probation was never fulfilled, for there was no need. The place was filled, the prayer-meetings were full of power, and the work of conversion was going on. A requisition for a special church-meeting, signed by fifty of the male members, was sent in to the deacons on April 12, the meeting was held on April I9, with the result mentioned in the following letter: — “30, Gracechurch Street, “April 20th, 1854. “My Dear Young brother, “I annex a copy of a resolution passed last evening at a numerously-attended special church-meeting held at New Park Street Chapel. “If you feel it your duty to accept the invitation of the Church to become its Pastor, it will be desirable that you should obtain your dismission from the Church at Waterbeach to our Church as early as you can, in order that you may be in a position as a member to attend our church-meetings. “I remain, “My dear young brother, “Yours affectionately, “JAMES LOW, Chairman.” “Rev, C. H. Spurgeon.” (Copy of Resolution .) “At a special church-meeting, held on Wednesday evening, April 19th, 1854, at New Park Street Chapel, after prayer by two of the brethren, it was resolved unanimously, That while, as members of this Church, we desire to record with devout and fervent gratitude to God our estimation of the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon’s services, during the period of his labors amongst us, we regard the extraordinary increase in the attendance upon the means of grace’, both on Lord’s-days and week-evenings, combined with the manifest fact that his ministry has secured the general approbation of the members, as an encouraging token that our Heavenly Father has directed his way towards us, in answer to the many prayers we have offered up for a suitable Pastor, — and as there are several inquirers desirous of joining our fellowship, we consider it prudent to secure as early as possible his permanent settlement with us; — we, therefore, beg to tender our brother, the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, a most cordial and affectionate invitation forthwith to become Pastor of this Church, and we pray that his services may be owned of God with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a revival of religion in our midst, and that his ministry may be fruitful in the conversion of sinners, and the edification of those that believe.” (Mr. Spurgeon’s letter, accepting the invitation to the pastorate, was as follows: — ) “75, Dover Road, “Borough, “April 28th, 1854. “To the Baptist Church of Christ worshipping in New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, “Dearly Beloved in Christ Jesus, “I have received your unanimous invitation, ‘as contained in a resolution passed by you on the 19th instant, desiring me to accept the pastorate among you. No lengthened reply is required; there is but one answer to so loving and cordial an invitation. IACCEPT IT. I have not been perplexed as to what my reply should be, for many things constrain me thus to answer. “I sought not to come to you, for I was the minister of an obscure but affectionate people; I never solicited advancement. The first note of invitation from your deacons came quite unlooked-for, and I trembled at the idea of preaching in London. I could not understand how it had come about, and even now I am filled with astonishment at the wondrous Providence. I would wish to give myself into the hands of our covenant God, whose wisdom directs all things. He shall choose for me: and so far as I can judge, this is His choice. “I feel it to be a high honor to be the Pastor of a people who can mention glorious names as my predecessors, and I entreat of you to remember me in prayer, that I may realize the solemn responsibility of my trust.
Remember my youth and inexperience, and pray that these may not hinder my usefulness. I trust also that the remembrance of these will lead you to forgive mistakes I may make, or unguarded words I may utter. “Blessed be the name of the Most High, if He has called me to this office, He will support me in it, — otherwise, how should a child, a youth, have the presumption thus to attempt the work which filled the heart and hands of Jesus? “Your kindness to me has been very great, and my heart is knit unto you. I fear not your steadfastness, I fear my own. The gospel, I believe, enables me to venture great things, and by faith I venture this. “I ask your co-operation in every good work; in visiting the sick, in bringing in inquirers, and in mutual edification. “Oh, that I may be no injury to you, but a lasting benefit! I have no more to say, saving this, that if I have expressed myself in these few words in a manner unbecoming my youth and inexperience, you will not impute it to arrogance, but forgive my mistake. “And now, commending you to our covenant God, the Triune Jehovah, “I am, “Yours to serve in the gospel, “ C. H.SPURGEON.” (Professor Everett says, concerning this period in Mr. Spurgeon’s life: — “He gave me prompt intimation of his call to New Park Street Chapel; and soon after his settlement there, I called upon him by appointment. I spent half a day with him, and he poured forth to me, without reserve, the full tale of his successes, telling me of the distinguished men who continually came to hear him, and of the encomiums pronounced on his delivery by elocutionists like Sheridan Knowles.”
Pastor G. H. Davies, of Lisbon, North Dakota, thus records Sheridan Knowles’ remarkable prophecy: — “I was a student at Stepney, now Regent’s Park College. Sheridan Knowles, the celebrated actor and play-writer, had just been baptized by Dr. Brock, and appointed our tutor in elocution. We had collected funds to give the grand old man a handsome Bible. The presentation was made one Wednesday afternoon. It was an occasion never to be forgotten, not only for the sake of Sheridan Knowles himself, but because of his prophecy concerning one of whom till then we knew nothing.
Immediately on entering, Mr. Knowles exclaimed, ‘Boys, have you heard the Cambridgeshire lad?’ None of us had heard him. ‘Then, boys,’ he continued, ‘go and hear him at once.’ This was after Mr., Spurgeon had been preaching at New Park: Street Chapel two Sundays. ‘ Go and hear him at once if you want to know how to preach. His name is Charles Spurgeon. He is only a boy, but he is the most wonderful preacher in the world. He is absolutely perfect in his oratory; and, beside that, a master in the art of acting. He has nothing to learn from me, or anyone else. He is simply perfect. He knows everything. He can do anything. I was once lessee of Drury Lane Theater; and were I still in that position, I would offer him a fortune to play for one season on the boards of that house. Why, boys, he can do anything he pleases with his audience! He can make them laugh, and cry, and laugh again, in five minutes. His power was never equaled. Now, mark my word, boys, that young man will live lo be the greatest preacher of this or any other age. He will bring more souls to Christ than any man who ever proclaimed the gospel, not excepting the apostle Paul. His name will be known everywhere, and his Sermons will be translated into many of the languages of the world.’ ” Mr. Sheridan Knowles lived until 1862, and was able, therefore, to witness in great part the fulfillment of his own prophecy. His widow long survived him, and for some years was one of Mr. Spurgeon’s company of faithful friends who gathered at Mentone; and when she also was “called home,” she showed her appreciation of his work by leaving generous legacies to the Pastors’ College and the Stockwell Orphanage.)