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  • DIARY, LETTERS AND RECORDS -
    CHAPTER 33.


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    THE CHOLERA YEAR IN LONDON. Whether we gather in the harvest or not, there is a reaper who is silently gathering it every hour. Just now, it is whispered that he is sharpening his sickle. That reaper isDEATH! You may look upon this great city as the harvest-field, and every week the bills of mortality tell us how steadily and how surely the scythe of death moves to and fro, and how a lane is made through our population, and those who were once living men are taken, like sheaves to the garner, carried to the graveyard, and laid aside. You cannot stop their dying; but, oh, that God might help you to stop their being damned! You cannot stop the breath from going out of their bodies; but, oh, that the gospel might stop their souls from going down to destruction! It can do it, and nothing else can take its place. Just now, the cholera has come again. There can be little doubt, I suppose, about it being here already in some considerable force, and probably it may be worse. The Christian need not dread it, for he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by death. Still, for the sake of others, he may well pray that God would avert His hand, and not let His anger burn. But, since it is here, I think it ought to be a motive for active exertion. If there ever be a time when the mind is Sensitive, it is when death is abroad. I re collect, when first I came to London, how anxiously people listened to the gospel, for the cholera was raging terribly. There was little scoffing then. All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and. saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face! When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things Divine. And now, again, is the minister’s time; and now is the time for all of you who love souls.

    You may see men more alarmed than they are already; and if they should be, mind that you avail yourselves of the opportunity of doing them good. You have the Balm of Gilead; when their wounds smart, pour it in. You know of Him who died to save; tell them of Him. Lift high the cross before their eyes. Tell them that God became man that man might be lifted to God. Tell them of Calvary, and its groans, and cries, and sweat of blood. Tell them of Jesus hanging on the cross to save sinners. Tell them that — “There is life for a look at the Crucified One.” Tell them that He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. Tell them that He is able to save even at the eleventh hour, and to say to the dying thief, “to-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” — C. H. S., in Sermon preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, July 29, 1866. IN the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighborhood in which I labored was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. At first, I gave myself up with youthful ardor to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions; but, soon, I became weary in body, and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.

    I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when, as God would have it, my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Great Dover Road. It did not look like a trade: announcement, nor was it, for it bore, in a good bold handwriting, these words: — “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. ” The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying, in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The Providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window, I gratefully acknowledge; and in the remembrance of its marvelous power, I adore the Lord my God. (In a pamphlet entitled, “The Best Refuge in Times of Trouble,” published about the time of Mr. Spurgeon’s “home-going,” Mr. W. Ford, of 19H, Peabody Buildings, Orchard Street, Westminster, wrote: — “In the year 1854, the first year of Mr. Spurgeon in London, the cholera raged in the locality of his church, and the neighborhood where he resided. The parochial authorities were very thoughtful for the poor, and caused bills to be placed at the corners of the streets, headedCHOLERA, — in large type, — informing the public where advice and medicines would be supplied gratis. At that time, I lived in the Great Dover Road, and Mr. Spurgeon lived a little further towards Greenwich, in Virginia Terrace. Seeing the bills above-named at every turning, I was forcibly impressed that they were very much calculated to terrify the people. With the concurrence of a friend, I procured one, and wrote in the center these words: — ’Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.’ This bill I placed in my shop-window, hundreds read it, and I am not aware of one jeer or improper remark, — so subdued and solemnized were the people by the awful visitation. Among the readers of the bill, was Mr. Spurgeon.”) During that epidemic of cholera, though I had many engagements in the country, I gave them up that I might remain in London to visit the sick and the dying. I felt that it was my duty to be on the spot in such a time of disease and death and sorrow. One Monday morning, I was awakened, about three o’clock, by a sharp ring of the door-bell. I was urged, without delay, to visit a house not very far from London Bridge. I went; and up two pairs of stairs I was shown into a room, the only occupants of which were a nurse and a dying man. “Oh, sir!” exclaimed the nurse, as I entered, “about half-an-hour ago, Mr. So-and-so begged me to send for you.” “What does he want?” I asked. “He is dying, sir,” she replied. I said, “Yes, I see that he is; what sort of a man was he?” The nurse answered, “He came home from Brighton, last night, sir; he had been out all day. I looked for a Bible, sir, but there is not one in the house; I hope you have brought one with you.” “Oh!” I said, “a Bible would be of no use to him now. If he could understand me, I could tell him the way of salvation in the very words’ of Scripture.” I stood by his side, and spoke to him, but he gave me no answer. I spoke again; but the only consciousness he had was a foreboding of terror, mingled with the stupor of approaching death. Soon, even that was gone, for sense had fled, and I stood there.’, a few minutes, sighing with the poor woman who had watched over him, and altogether hopeless about his soul. Gazing at his face, I perceived that he was dead, and that his soul had departed.

    That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips. There I stood, unable to help him. Promptly as I had responded to his call, what could I do but look at his corpse, and mourn over a lost soul? He had, when in health, wickedly refused Christ, yet in his death-agony he had superstitiously sent for me. Too late, he sighed for the ministry of reconciliation, and sought to enter in at the closed door, but he was not able. There was no space left him then for repentance, for he had wasted the opportunities which God had long granted to him. I went home, and was soon called away again; ‘that time, to see a young woman. She also was in the last extremity, but it was a fair, fair sight. She was singing, — though she knew she was dying, — and talking to those round about her, telling her brothers and sisters to follow her to Heaven, bidding goodbye to her father, and all the while smiling as if it had been her marriage day. She was happy and blessed. I never saw more conspicuously in my life, than I did that morning, the difference there is between one who feareth God and one who feareth Him not.

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