MEETING THE UNFINISHED TABERNACLE.
I hope I shall never, while I live, cease to have another project always in hand. When one thing is done, we will do something else.
If we have tried to make ministers more diligent in preaching, we must try to make the churches more earnest in praying. When we have built our new chapel, we must build something else; we must always have something in hand. If I have preached the gospel in England, it must be my privilege to preach it beyond the sea; and when I have preached it there, I must solicit longer leave of absence that I may preach it in other countries, and act as a missionary throughout the nations. — C. H. S., in sermon at the Music Hall Royal Surrey Gardens, January 2, 1859.
At a church-meeting, held in New Park Street Chapel, August 6, 186o, the following resolution was carried unanimously and enthusiastically: — “We hereby record our sincere thankfulness to Almighty God for the gracious providence which has preserved our Pastor in foreign lands, and for the lovingkindness which has blest Iris travels to the restoration of his health. It is our earnest prayer that, for many years to come, our beloved Pastor may be spared to labor among us in the power of the Spirit and with the smile of our Heavenly Father. It is no small joy to us to hear of the great acceptance which the printed sermons of our dear Pastor have met with in France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Sweden, and the United States, and we equally rejoice that his personal presence among foreign churches has been attended with Divine blessing. Specially are we glad that our Pastor has been honored to occupy the pulpit of John Calvin in the venerable city of Geneva, and we devoutly pray that on that city the love of the great Head of the Church may ever rest, and that all her ancient glory may be restored. Unto Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be glory for the gracious success which has been with us even unto this day, and may it please our Covenant God to remember us for good even unto the end!”\parTHE first meeting in the Tabernacle was held on Tuesday afternoon, August 2, 1860, while the building was still unfinished. The object of the gathering was twofold; — first, to give thanks to God for the success which had thus far attended the enterprise; and, next, to raise as much as possible of the amount required to open the sanctuary free from debt. £22,196 19s. 8d. had been received up to that time, but more than f8,000 was still needed. Apsley Pellatt, Esq., presided, and heartily congratulated the congregation upon being present in the largest place of worship in Great Britain for the use of Nonconformist Christians. Several representative speakers delivered interesting and sympathetic addresses, and Mr. Spurgeon gave a detailed description of the main building in which the meeting was being held, and of the smaller rooms connected with it.
After a few introductory sentences referring to his ministerial brethren who were about to speak, the Pastor said: — “Now, my dear friends, you may perhaps guess the joy with which I stand before you to-day, but no man but myself can fathom its fulness, and I myself am quite unable to utter it. ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy Name.’ Much as I wish to express my gratitude, I must go at once to my business, and first say a few words about the structure itself. If the floor were to give way, our brethren, who are now upon the platform, would find themselves in the baptistery; and if, at any time, those of them who have never been baptized wish to be immersed in obedience to their Master’s command, they will always find a willing servant in me. The baptistery will be usually uncovered, as we are not ashamed to confess our belief in believers’ baptism. “On the occasion of the administration of the Lord’s supper, the table will also stand here; and there are steps on each side at the back of the platform by which the deacons will descend to distribute the memorials of the Saviour’s death. You see, above us, the pulpit, or platform, which might hold a large number of persons. I cannot stand like a statue when I preach; I prefer a wide range both of thought and action. The pulpit will also be convenient for public meetings, so that there will be no expense for erecting platforms. Concerning this vast chapel, I believe it is the most perfect triumph of acoustics that has ever been achieved. If it had been a failure at present, I should not have been at all disappointed, because the walls have yet to be covered with matched boarding, so that not a particle of brickwork is to be exposed, — it being my theory that soft substances are very much the best for hearing;, having proved in a great number of buildings that stone walls are the main creators of an echo, and having seen hangings put up to break the reverberation, and to give the speaker a hope of being heard. “It has been remarked by a great many friends, as they entered, that the building was not so large as they expected; and I was pleased to hear them say so, for it showed me that the structure did not appear huge and unsightly. To look very large, a building must be generally out of proportion, for when there is proportion, the idea of size is often lost. If you went down below, you would find the lecture-hall, about the same area as New Park Street Chapel, or rather larger; and the school-room, larger in its area than the venerable sanctuary in which my brother, Dr. Campbell, long preached the word, — I mean, the Tabernacle, Moorfields;. I believe that four chapels like the one at Moorfields could be put into this building; two resting on the basement would only just fill up the same area, and then there: would be room for two more on the top of them. Now, perhaps, you may get some idea of the size of the Tabernacle. “With regard to the appearance of the structure, I have this much to say; I think: it is highly creditable to the architect. The omission of the towers has deprived him of much of the effect which he hoped to produce by his design, and is perhaps the reason why the roof seems to rise too much, but they will never be erected as long as I am here. I will have no ornament which has not a practical use, and I do not think those towers could have had any object except mere show. As for the front elevation, it is not surpassed by anything in London. The building has no extravagance about it, and yet, at the same time, it has no meanness. True, the roof rises to a very great height above the portico, and does not present a very architectural appearance from the Causeway, but we must recollect this, — those who only look at the Tabernacle from the outside have not subscribed anything towards its erection, and therefore cannot judge of its true beauty. “The lecture-hall, beneath this platform, is for our church-meetings; it is rendered fully necessary, as we have now more than 1,500 members. The schoolroom will contain, I should think, 1,500 if not 2,000 children. There are large class-rooms which will be used on the Sabbath-day for classes, and on the week-days for my students. I have no doubt my friend, Mr. Rogers, who has so long been my excellent helper in that work, — and to whom very much credit is due, — will feel himself more comfortable when he has proper rooms in which all his young men can be taught in every branch necessary to give them a complete education for the ministry. There is a very fine room for the ladies’ working meetings, which will also be available for a library, — a place where the works of all our former Pastors will be collected and preserved, for you must know that, of old, our church has ever been prolific of good works, in both senses of that term. We have the almost innumerable works of Keach, — they were so many that it was difficult to find them all. The chap-books, which used to be hawked about the country, — printed from worn type on bad brown paper, and adorned with quaint illustrations, yet containing good, sound theology, — I have no doubt interested the villagers, and greatly impressed the public mind at the time. Then we have the ponderous tomes of Gill, the tractares and hymns of Rippon, and the works of those who, since their day, have served us in the Lord. The pulpit of my glorious predecessor, Dr. Gill, will be brought here, and placed in the vestry below, that we may retain our ancient pedigree. It is said to have had a new bottom, and some: of the four sides are new, yet I affirm it to be Dr. Gill’s pulpit. I am as certain that it is so, as that I am the same man as I was seven years ago, though all the component parts of my body may have been changed in the meantime. “Behind the upper platform, there are three spacious rooms; in the centre, is the minister’s vestry; to the right and left, are the rooms of the deacons and elders, — the officers of the army on either side of the captain, so that they may be ready to go forward at the word of command. Then above them, on the third story, there are three other excellent rooms, to be used for tract and Bible depositories, and for other schemes which we hope the church will undertake. “I have thus tried to explain the structure of the building to you; I do not think that anything else remains to be said about it, except I draw your attention to the staircases by which you ascend to the galleries, each gallery having a distinct entrance and staircase, so that there is no fear of any overcrowding. I will only say that a design was never carried out with more fidelity by any builder than this has been. There have been improvements made as we have gone on, but they always have been improvements, to which, if they did not seem absolutely necessary, the builder has objected, lest he should have any extras; and when we have compelled him to make them, he has done them as cheaply as possible. He is a man of whom I am proud that he is at once a member of the church, a member of the Building Committee, and the builder of this house of God.
Mr. Higgs, besides being: a most generous donor, gives us in solid brick and stone far more than he has done in cash. If I had ten thousand buildings to erect, I would never look to anybody else; I would stick to my first love, for he has been faithful and true. ‘I must pass on to another point, namely, the present position of this project. We have pushed beyond the era of objection to it. Now, those very wise friends (and they were very wise) who said the building ought: not to be built, it would be too big, cannot undo it; the only thing they can do is to help us through with it, for so much money has been spent already that we cannot propose to pull it down, however absurd the structure may be.
Some of our brethren have asked,’ When Mr. Spurgeon dies, who will take his place?’ — -as if God could not raise up servants when He would, or as if we ought to neglect our present duty, because of something which may happen in fifty years’ time. You say, perhaps, ‘ You give yourself a long lease, — fifty years.’ I don’t know why I should not have it; it may come to pass, and will, if the Lord has so ordained. Dr. Gill was chosen Pastor of this church when he was twenty-two, and he was more than fifty years its minister; Dr. Rippon was chosen at the age of twenty, and he was Pastor for sixty-three years; I was nineteen when I was invited; and is it not possible that I also,, by Divine grace, may serve my generation for a long period of time? At any rate, when I am proposing to commence a plan, I never think about whether I shall live to see it finished, for I am certain that, if it is God’s plan, He will surely finish it, even if I should have to leave the work undone. “I said, just now, that this project has gone beyond the era of objections; it has even passed beyond the realm of difficulties. We have had many difficulties, but far more providences. The ground was as much given to us by God as if He had sent an angel to clear it for us. The money, too, hats been given, even beyond our hopes, and we have had it from quarters where we should least have expected it. All the Christian churches have contributed their portion, and almost all the ends of the earth have sent their offerings. From India, Australia, America, and everywhere, have we received something from God’s people to help us in this work. We hope now we shall go on even to the end of it without feeling any diminution of our joy. “Now I come to my closing remark, which is, that we earnestly desire to open this place without a farthing of debt upon it. You have heard that sentence again and again. Let me repeat it; and I pray that our brethren here, who have the command of the public press, will repeat it again and again for me. It is not because a small debt would weigh upon this church too much; we are not afraid of that; it is just this, we think it will tell well for the whole body of believers who rely upon the voluntary principle if this Tabernacle is completed without a loan or a debt. Our new place of worship has been spoken of in the House of Commons, it has been mentioned in the House of Lords; and as everybody happens to know of it, since it stands so conspicuously, we want to do our utmost, and we ask our brethren to give us their help, that this forefront of Nonconformity, for the time being, may have about it no failure, no defeat to which anyone can point, and say, ‘Your voluntaryism failed to carry the project through.’ I believe in the might of the voluntary principle. I believe it to be perfectly irresistible in proportion to the power of God’s Spirit in the hearts of those who exercise it. When the Spirit of God is absent, and the Church is at a low ebb, the voluntary principle has little or no power; and then it becomes a question, with many carnal wise men, whether they shall not look to Egypt for help, and stay themselves on horses. But, when the Spirit of God is shed abroad, and men’s hearts are in the right state, we find the voluntary principle equal to every need of the Church. Whenever I see members of any denomination turn aside, and begin to take so much as a single halfpenny from the hand of the State, I think they do not believe in their God as they ought, and that the Spirit of God is not with them in all His Divine power. Only give us a minister preaching Christ, and a people who will serve their God, and feel it to be their pleasure to devote themselves and their substance to His cause, and nothing is impossible. “I ask you to prove this to all men; and I appeal to you to help us in the effort to raise that remnant of £8,000. I believe we shall have a good and hearty response, and that, on the day of opening, we shall see this place filled with a vast multitude who will complete the work, and leave not a shilling unpaid. We pledge ourselves to the Christian public that they shall be:no losers by us. While this building has been going on, we have done as much as any church for all other agencies, — as much as it was possible for us to do. We hope to help other places, by first giving to our young men an education when God has called them to the ministry, and afterwards helping them when they are settled. We wish our church to become a fruitful mother of children, and pray that God may make this Tabernacle a centre, from which rays of truth, and light, and glory, may radiate to dispel the darkness of the land. We will not be an idle church; we do not ask to have our load taken away, that we may eat, and drink, and play, but only that we may go straight on to do God’s work. Of all things, I do abhor a debt. I shall feel like a guilty sneaking sinner if I come here with even a hundred pounds debt upon the building. ‘Owe no man anything,’ will stare me in the face whenever I try to address you. I do not believe that Scripture warrants any man in getting’ into debt. It may stimulate the people to raise more money; but, after all, attention to the simple Word of God is infinitely better than looking at the end which may be attained by the slightest deviation from it. Let us not owe a farthing to any living soul; and when we come here for the opening services, let us find that all has been paid.”
In the course of the meeting, Mr. Spurgeon made other interesting remarks. After the address of the clergyman who had accepted his invitation to be present, and who had spoken with great heartiness of the Pastor and his work, Mr. Spurgeon said: — “I thank my brother, the Rev. Hugh Allen, for coming here to-day. I know the opposition he has met with, and I believe he cares about as much for it as a bull does when a gnat settles on his horn. He shall have my pulpit at any time he likes, — I am quite sure he will commit no offence by preaching in it. I licensed Exeter Hall as a place of Dissenting worship, a few years ago, and the record stands on the: book yet. If it is a sin for a clergyman to preach in a licensed place, there are one hundred clergymen who are great sinners, for about that number have since preached there.”
Dr. Campbell having made some allusion to the name of the building, Mr. Spurgeon first stated that more than a million persons had contributed, chiefly in small sums, towards the erection of the Tabernacle, and then said: — ”I am astonished at Dr. Campbell for not knowing that the word Tabernacle involves a religious doctrine, namely, that we have:not come to the Temple-state here, we are now passing through the Tabernacle-state.
We believe this building to be temporary, and only meant for the time that we are in the wilderness without a visible King. Our prayer is, ‘Thy Kingdom come.’ We do firmly believe in the real and personal reign of our Lord .Jesus Christ, for which we devoutly wait. That is the reason why our new house of prayer is called a Tabernacle, not a Temple. We have not here the King in person, the Divine Solomon; till He come, we call it a Tabernacle still. Dr. Campbell and I will never quarrel for any precedence; his is a most mighty pen, he may have the kingdom of the pen if he will let me keep some part of’ the kingdom of the tongue. His pen is sharper and mightier than Ithuriel’s spear; it has detected many of the toads; of heresy, and transformed them to their right shape, and I have no doubt it will lind out a great many more yet.”
Mr. Spurgeon gave, at this meeting, a detailed and cheering account of the Continental tour which he had recently enjoyed, with Mrs. Spurgeon, Mr. Passmore, and another friend. The address was printed, shortly afterwards; but it contains so much interesting autobiographical information relating to the period, that at least a part of it must find a place here, to make the record as complete as possible. The Pastor said: — “I have been requested by two well-known and deservedly eminent publishers to print some notes of my journey on the Continent; but I went there for rest and recreation, and I felt that this most sacred purpose could not be attained if I chained myself to the drudgery of book-writing. My congregation would have been disappointed if I had come home as tired as I went, and I could have had no solid excuse for ceasing my daily preaching if I had not really rested my weary brain. I believe, moreover, that the narrative of my journey will be far more valuable to me as a fountain of fresh illustrations and suggestions, than if I could pour it all out into a book. Will it not be better to retain my pearl, and let it glitter every now and then, than to melt it into one small draught, too shallow to satisfy the public thirst? “I went from St. Katherine’s Docks down the river, accompanied by my well-beloved deacons and several of my friends. At Gravesend, they left me and my party, with the kindest wishes, and with many a prayer to God for our safety. The journey was rendered abundantly pleasant by the evening which we spent together in prayer and fellowship before our departure. I never heard such kind words and such loving prayers uttered, concerning any human being, as I heard that night concerning myself. There was nothing like fulsome flattery, all the glory was given to God; but every brother invoked such choice blessings upon my head that I went away with a rich cargo of joy, knowing that a full wind of prayer was following behind. “The captain of our vessel was from Essex, and as all Essex men have a high opinion of their countrymen, we soon found ourselves in full talk upon the excellences of our native county. Many were our anecdotes, and swiftly flew the time. Mine I have told so many times, I daresay you know them.
Some of the captain’s tales were new and original. I shall give you one, because it tends to illustrate the place in which we landed, — Antwerp.
That city is so full of images of the Virgin Mary that you cannot turn the corner of a street without seeing them — sometimes under a canopy of many colours, arrayed in all manner of imitation jewellery, and at other times in neat little niches which seem to have been picked out of the wall for their special accommodation; sometimes Mary is represented by an ugly’ black doll, and at other times by a decent respectable statue. So many of these objects are there, that the sailors may be excused for imagining every image which they see to be a Virgin Mary. One of them, who landed there, went to buy some tobacco; and when he returned to the ship, his companions said, ‘ That is very good tobacco, Jack; where did you get it?’ ‘ Oh!’ he answered, ‘you will know the shop, for there is a Virgin Mary sitting over the door, smoking a pipe.’ I don’t wonder at the man’s blunder, for, among so many idols, one may easily mistake a Turk and his turban for the-Virgin and her crown. I am sure they think vastly more of her than of our Lord Jesus Christ; for, though we saw many crucifixes, and many representations of the Saviour, yet even in their image-work it seemed to me that the Virgin Mary was cent per cent beyond the Lord Jesus Christ. “It happened, the very day we landed at Antwerp, that there was a grand procession just streaming in its full glory out of the cathedral, a fine and venerable building. There were priests in their robes, beadles resplendent in their livery, and a great number of men, whom I supposed to be penitents, carrying huge candles;, certainly I should think two inches in diameter.
These men walked two-and-two along the streets. Whether that burning of the candles typified the consumption of their sins, the melting of their church, or the illumination of soul which they so greatly needed, I do not know. There were also carried great lamps of silver, or electro-plate, very much like our own street lamps, only of course not quite so heavy; and these, too, when the sun was shining brightly. and there was no need of the slightest artificial light. In all solemnity, the men marched along, not in the dark cathedral, but in the open streets, with these candles and lanterns blazing and shaming the sunlight. Someone told me they were taking ‘ the most blessed and comfortable sacrament’ to some sick people; but what the candles had to do with the sacrament, or the sacrament with the candles, or the people with the sacrament, I do not know. I noticed two little boys, very handsomely dressed, walking in the middle of the procession, and throwing flowers and oak leaves before the priests as they walked; so that, as they went along, their holy feet scarcely needed to touch the soil, or to be hurt with the stones. The presence of those children, full of infantile joy, relieved the soul for a moment, and bade us pray that our own little ones might take part in a nobler celebration when the Lord Himself should come in the glory of His Father. Almost every house had, just before the window, a little place for holding a candle; and as soon as the inmates heard the procession coming along, the candles were lighted. I noticed that, the moment it passed, the thrifty housewives blew out the lights, and so they saved their tallow if they did not save their souls. I enquired, and was informed — and I think on good authority, — that even some of the Protestants in Antwerp burn these candles in front of their houses lest their trade should be hindered if they did not conform to the customs of the rest of the people; it is an unutterable disgrace to them if they do so. I would like to have seen Martin Luther with a candle before his door when the priests were passing, unless, indeed, he had burned the Pope’s Bull before their eyes. He would sooner have died than have paid respect to a baptized heathenism, a mass of idolatries and superstitions.
Never did I feel my Protestant feelings boiling over so tremendously as in this city of idols, for I am not an outrageous Protestant generally, and I rejoice to confess that I feel sure there are some of God’s people even in the Romish Church, as I shall have to show you by-and-by; but I did feel indignant when I saw the glory and worship, which belong to God alone, given to pictures, and images of wood and stone. When I saw the pulpits magnificently carved, the gems set in the shrines, the costly marbles, the rich and rare paintings upon which a man might gaze for a day, and see some new beauty in each time, I did not marvel that men were enchanted therewith; but when I saw the most flagrant violation of taste and of religion in their “Calvarys” and cheap prints, my spirit was stirred within me, for I saw a people wholly given unto idolatry. They seem as if they could not live without Mary the Virgin, and without continually paying reverence and adoration to her. “We journeyed from Antwerp to Brussels. I cannot say that Brussels greatly interested me; I do not care much for places in which there is nothing but fine buildings and museums. I had much rather see an odd, oldfashioned city like Antwerp, with its sunny memories of Rubens, Quintin Matsys, and other princes in the realm of art. I think its singular houses, its quaint costumes, and its ancient streets, will never die out of my memory.
In Brussels, I heard a good sermon in a Romish church. The place was crowded with people, many of them standing, though they might have had a seat for a halfpenny or a farthing; and I stood, too; and the good priest — for I believe he is a good man, — preached the Lord Jesus with all his might. He spoke of the love of Christ, so that I, a very poor hand at the French language, could fully understand him, and my heart kept beating within me as he told of the beauties of Christ, and the preciousness of His blood, and of His power to save the chief of sinners. He did not say, ‘justification by faith,’ but he did say, ‘efficacy of the blood,’ which comes to very much the same thing. He did not tell us we were saved by grace, and not by our works; but he did say that all the works of men were less than nothing when brought into competition with the blood of Christ, and that the blood of Jesus alone could save. True, there were objectionable sentences, as naturally there must be in a discourse delivered under such circumstances; but I could have gone to the preacher, and have said to him, ‘Brother, you have spoken the truth;’ and if I had been handling his text, I must have treated it in the same way that he did, if I could have done it as well. I was pleased to find my own opinion verified, in his case, that there are, even in the apostate church, some who cleave unto the Lord, — some sparks of Heavenly fire that flicker amidst the rubbish of old superstition, some lights that are not blown out, even by the strong wind of Popery, but still cast a feeble gleam across the waters sufficient to guide the soul to the rock Christ Jesus. I saw, in that church, a box for contributions for the Pope; he will never grow rich with what I put into it. I have seen moneyboxes on the Continent for different saints, — Santa Clara, St. Francis, St.
Dominic; another box for the Virgin, and another for the poor; but I never could make out how the money got to the Virgin, and to Dominic, and to the rest of them; but I have a notion that, if you were to discover how the money gets to the poor, you would find how it reaches the saints. “After leaving Brussels, and getting a distant glimpse of the Lion Mound of Waterloo, we hurried down to Namur, and steamed along the Meuse, — that beautiful river, which is said to be an introduction to the Rhine, but which to my mind is a fair rival to it; it quite spoiled me for the Rhine.
Everywhere, on each side, there were new phases of beauty, and sweet little pictures which shone in the sunshine like small but exquisite gems. It was not one vast Koh-i-noor diamond; it was not sublimity mingling its awe with loveliness such as you would see in Switzerland with its majestic mountains, but a succession of beautiful pearls, threaded on the silver string of that swiftly-flowing river. It is so narrow and shallow that, as the steamboat glides along, it drives up a great wave upon the banks on either side. In some parts, along the river, there were signs of mineral wealth, and the people were washing the ironstone at the. water’s edge to separate the ore from the earth. “One thing which I saw here I must mention, as it is a type of a prevailing evil in Belgium. When there were barges of ironstone to be unloaded, the women bore the heavy baskets upon their backs. If there were coals or bricks to be carried, the women did it; they carried everything; and their lords; and masters sat still, and seemed to enjoy seeing them at work, and hoped it might do them good, while they themselves were busily engaged in the important occupation of smoking their pipes. When we came to a landing-place, if the rope was to be thrown off so that the steamboat might be secured, there was always a woman to run and seize it, and there stood a big, lazy fellow to give directions as to how she should do it. We joked with each other upon the possibility of getting our wives to do the like; but, indeed, it is scarcely a joking matter to see poor women compelled to work like slaves, as if they were only made to support their husbands in idleness.
They were lagged and worn; but they looked more fully developed than the men, and seemed to be more masculine. If I had been one of those women, and I had got a little bit of a husband sitting there smoking his pipe, if there is a law in Belgium that gives a woman two months for beating her husband, I fear I should have earned the penalty. Anyhow, I would have said to him, ‘ I am very much obliged to you for doing me the honor of marrying me; but, at the same time, if I am to work and earn your living and my own, too, you will smoke your pipe somewhere else.’ The fact is, my dear friends, to come to something that may be worth our thinking about, employment for women is greatly needed in our country, and the want of it is a very great evil; but it is not so much to be deplored as that barbarity which dooms women to sweep the streets, to till the fields, to carry heavy burdens, and to be the drudges of the family. We greatly need that watchmaking, printing, telegraphing, bookselling, and other indoor occupations should be more freely open to female industry, but may Heaven save our poor women from the position of their Continental sisters! The gospel puts woman where she should be, gives her an honorable position in the house and in the Church; but where women become the votaries of superstition, they will soon be made the burdenbearers of society. Our best feelings revolt at the idea of putting fond, faithful, and affectionate women to oppressive labor. Our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our daughters are much too honorable in our esteem to be treated otherwise than as dear companions, for whom it shall be our delight to live and labor. “We went next to a sweet little village called Chaufontaine, surrounded with verdant hills, and so truly rural, that one could forget that there was such a place as a busy, noisy, distracting world. Here we found the villagers at work making gun-barrels with old-fashioned tilt-hammers. Here for the first time we saw industrious men. Talk about long hours in England! These blacksmiths rise at four o’clock in the morning, and I do not know when they leave off; only this I know, that we passed by them very late, and found them still hard at work at the blazing forge, hammering away at the gun-barrels, welding the iron into a tube, working almost without clothing, the sweat pouring down them, and mingling with the black and soot of their faces. “The real workers on the Continent seem to be,. always toiling, and never appear to stop at all, except at dinner-time. Then you may go to the shop, and knock until your arm aches, but there is nobody to sell you anything; they are all having their dinner. That is a most important operation, and they do not like to come out even to wait upon a customer. I knocked a long time at a door in Zurich where I wanted to buy a print; but the man had gone to his dinner, so I had to wait till he had finished. That breaking up of the day, I have no doubt tends, after all, to shorten the hours of labor; but there is work to be done in the villages of the Continent by the Early Closing Association, — it will be well if they can persuade people that they can do quite as much if they work fewer hours. In the country villages, science appears to be very backward. My friend declared that he saw the linchpin of a waggon which weighed two pounds; I never saw such a huge linchpin anywhere else. And as to the carts and waggons, they were like racks put on a couple of pairs of wheels, and in every case five times as heavy as they need be; and thus the horses have a load to begin with before the cart is loaded. On the Continent, I think they have, in some towns and cities, made progress superior to our own; but in the rural parts of any country you like to choose, you would find them far behind our village population. The intelligence of those countries is centered in the large towns, and it does not radiate and spread its healthy influence in the rural districts so swiftly as in our own beloved land. It is well to see progress even in these social matters, because, as men advance in arts and commerce, it often happens that they are brought into contact with other lands, and so the Word of God becomes more widely known. I believe every steam-engine, every railroad, every steamboat, and ,every threshingmachine, to be a deadly enemy to ignorance; and what is ignorance but the corner-stone of superstition? “As everybody who goes on the Continent visits Cologne, so did we; but I must say of Cologne that I have a more vivid recollection of what I smelt than of what I saw. The Cologne odor is more impressive than the Eau de Cologne. I had heard Albert Smith say he believed there were eighty-three distinct bad smells in Cologne, and in my opinion he understated the number, for every yard presented something more terrible than we had ever smelt before. Better to pay our heavy taxes for drainage than live in such odors. Our filthy friend, the Thames, is as sweet as rose-water when compared with Cologne or Frankfort. Hear this, ye grumblers, and:be thankful that you are not worse off than you are! We went down the Rhine; and it was just a repetition of what we saw down the Meuse, with the addition of castles and legends. My want of taste is no doubt the cause of my disappointment upon seeing this river. The lakes of Westmoreland and Cumberland, and the lochs of Scotland, fairly rival the Rhine, and are of much the same character. Go and see for yourselves, and you will not repent it. “We went across to Frankfort and Heidelberg, and then to Baden-Baden.
Let me say a few words about Baden. I went to see the gaming-table there; it was, without exception, the most mournful sight I ever looked upon. The Conversation House at Baden is a gorgeous building. Wealth could not make it more splendid than it is. All the luxuries that can be gathered from the very ends of the earth are lavished there. It is a fairy palace, more like the fantastic creation of a dream than sober substantial fact. You are freely admitted; no charge is made, whilst the most beautiful music that can be found waits to charm your ear. Every place of amusement is free; even the public library is free. You ask me how all this is supported. To the left of the building there are two rooms for gaming. There is a long table, and a great crowd standing round it; the seats are all full, and there sit four men in the middle with long rakes, pulling money this way and that way, and shoving it here and there. I hardly ever saw such a mass of money, except upon a banker’s counter. There are long piles of gold done up in marked quantities, and there are also heaps of silver money. You see a young man come in; he does not seem like a gambler. He puts down a half-napoleon as a mere joke: in a minute it is shovelled away; he has lost his money. He walks round again, and puts down another piece of gold; this time he wins, and he has two. By-and-by he will play more deeply, and the day will probably come when he will stake his all, and lose it. You may see women sitting there all night playing for high stakes. Some people win, but everybody must lose sooner or later, for the chances are dreadfully against any man who plays. The bank clears an enormous sum every year; I am afraid to mention the amount lest I should be thought to exaggerate. What staring eyes, what covetous looks, what fiery faces I saw there! And what multitudes go into that place happy, and return to curse the day of their birth! I had the sorrow of seeing some fools play. I saw young men, who lost so much that they had hardly enough to take them back to England.
Such is the infatuation that I am not surprised when spectators are carried away by the torrent. There are some who defend the system; I hold it to be fraught with more deadly evils than anything else that could be invented, even by Satan himself. I saw an old respectable-looking man put down ten pounds. He won, and he received twenty. He put down the twenty; he won again, and he had forty. He put down the forty, and received eighty. He put down the eighty, and took up one hundred and sixty pounds. Then ]he put it all in his pocket, and walked away as calmly as possible. The man would lose money by that transaction, because he would go back on the morrow, and probably play till he would sell the house that covers his children’s heads, and pawn the very bed from under his wife. The worst thing that can happen to a man who gambles is to win. If you lose, it serves you right, and there is hope that you will repent of your folly; if you win, the devil will have you in his net so thoroughly that escape will be well-nigh impossible. I charge every young man here, above all things never have anything to do with games of chance. If you desire to make your damnation doubly sure, and ruin both body and soul, go to the gaming;table; but if not, avoid it, pass by it, look not at it, for it has a basilisk’s eye, and may entice you; and it. has the sting of an adder, and will certainly destroy you if you come beneath its deadly influence. “From Baden-Baden, we went to Freiburg, and afterwards to Schaffhausen. There, for the first time, we saw the Alps. It was a wonderful sight, though in the dim distance we hardly knew whether we saw clouds or mountains. We had to hold a sort of controversy with ourselves,w’ Is that solid — that glittering whiteness, that sunny shimmering that we see there? Is it a bank of white mist? Is it cloud, or is it a mountain?’ Soon you are assured that you are actually beholding the everlasting hills. If a man does not feel like praising God at such a moment, I do not think there is any grace in him; if there be anything like piety in a man’s soul when he sees those glorious works of God, he will begin to praise the Lord, and magnify His holy Name. We went from Schaffhausen to Zurich. Everywhere there was something to delight us. The magnificent falls of the Rhine, the clear blue waters of the Zurich lake, the distant mountains, the ever-changing costumes of the people, mall kept us wide awake, and gratified our largest love of novelties. All nature presented us with a vast entertainment, and every turn of the head introduced us to something new and beautiful. “At Zurich, I saw in the great fair what I also saw at Baden-Baden, a sight which gave me pleasure, namely, the little star of truth shining brightly amid the surrounding darkness. Opposite the house at Baden where Satan was ruining souls at the gaming-table, there was a stall at which an agent of the Bible Society was selling Bibles and Testaments. I went up and bought a Testament of him, and felt quite cheered to see the little battery erected right before the fortifications of Satan, for I felt in my soul it was mighty through God to the pulling down of the stronghold. Then, in the midst of the fair at Zurich, where the people were selling all manner of things, as at John Bunyan’s Vanity Fair, there stood a humble-looking man with his stall, upon which there were Bibles, Testaments, and Mr. Ryle’s tracts. It is always a great comfort to me to see my sermons, in French an(] other languages, sold at the same., shops as the writings of that excellent man of God. There is the Simple gospel in his tracts, and they are to my knowledge singularly owned of God. How sweet it is to see these dear brethren in other churches loving our Lord, and honored by Him! “At Lucerne, we spent our third Sabbath-day. Of all days in the year, Sabbath-days on the Continent are the most wretched, so far as the public means of grace are concerned; this one, however, was spent in quiet worship in our own room. Our first Sabbath was a dead waste, for the service at church was lifeless, spiritless, graceless, powerless. Even the grand old prayers were so badly read that it was impossible to be devout while hearing them, and the sermon upon ‘ the justice of God in destroying the Canaanites’ was as much adapted to convert a sinner, or to edify’ a saint, as Burke’s Peerage, or Walker’s Dictionary; there was nothing, however, Puseyistical or heretical. Far worse was our second Sunday, in Baden, which effectually prevented my attending Episcopal service again until I can be sure of hearing truthful doctrine. The preacher was manifestly a downright Puseyite because, during one part of the service, he must needs go up to the Roman Catholic altar, and there bow himself with his back to us. The images and idols were not concealed in any way; there they were in all their open harlotry, and I must say they were in full keeping with the sermon which was inflicted upon us. The preacher thought he would give us a smart hit, so he began with an attack upon all who did not subscribe to baptismal regeneration and sacramental efficacy. He did not care what we might say, he was certain that, when the holy drops fell from the fingers of God’s ordained minister, regeneration there and then took place. I thought, ‘Well, that is ,coming out, and the man is more honest than some of the wolves in sheep’s clothing, who hold baptismal regeneration, but will not openly confess it.’ The whole sermon through, he treated us to sacramental efficacy, and made some allusion to St. George’s riots, saying that it was an awful thing that the servants of God were subjected to persecution, and then he told us we had not sufficient respect for our ministers, that the real ordained successors of the apostles were trodden down as mire in the streets. I abstained from going to church after that; and if I were to continue for seven years without the public means of grace, unless I knew that a man of kindred spirit with Mr. Allen, Mr. Cadman, Mr. Ryle, and that holy brotherhood of Evangelicals, would occupy the pulpit, I never would enter an Anglican church again. These Puseyites make good Churchmen turn to the Dissenters, and we who already dissent, are driven further and further from the Establishment. In the name of our Protestant religion, I ask whether a minister of the ‘Church of England is allowed to bow before the altar of a Popish church? Is there no rule or canon which restrains men from such an outrage upon our professed faith, such an insult to our Constitution? In the church at Lucerne, I think they had the head of John the Baptist, with some of the blood in a dish, and other relics innumerable; yet I was expected to go on Sunday, and worship there! I could not do it, for I should have kept on thinking of John the Baptist’s head in the corner. Though I have a great respect for that Baptist, and all other Baptists, I do not think I could have. controlled myself sufficiently to worship God under such circumstances. “We went up the Rigi, as everybody must do who visits the Alps, toiling up, up, up, ever so high, to see the sun go to bed; and then we were awakened in the morning, with a dreadful blowing of horns, to get up and see the sun rise. Out we went, but his gracious majesty, the sun, would not condescend to show himself; or, at least, he had been up half-an-hour before we knew it; so we all went down again, and that was the end of our glorious trip. Yet it was worth while to go up to see the great mountains all around us, it was a sight which might make an angel stand and gaze, and gaze again; the various sharp or rounded peaks and snowy summits, are all worthy of the toil which brings them into view. The circular panorama seen from the Rigi-Kulm is perhaps unrivalled. There is the lake of Zug, there the long arms of Lucerne, yonder Mount Pilatus, and further yet the Black Forest range. Just at your feet is the buried town of Goldau, sad tomb in which a multitude were crushed by a falling mountain. The height is dizzy to unaccustomed brains, but the air is bracing, and the prospect such as one might picture from the top of Pisgah, where the prophet of Horeb breathed out his soul to God. “We went here, there, and everywhere, and saw everything that was to be seen; and, at last, after a long journey, we came to Geneva. I had received the kindest invitation from our esteemed and excellent brother, Dr. D’Aubigne. He came to meet me at the station, but he missed me. I met a gentleman in the street, and told him I was Mr. Spurgeon. He then said, ‘Come to my house, — the very house’ where Calvin used to live.’ I went home with him; and after we found Dr. D’Aubigne and Pastor Bard, I was taken to the house of Mr. Lombard, an eminent banker of the city, and a godly and gracious man. I think I never enjoyed a time more than I did with those real true-hearted brethren. There are, you know, two churches there, — the Established and the Free; and there has been some little bickering and some little jealousy, but I think it is all dying away; at any rate, I saw none of it, for brethren from both these churches came, and showed me every kindness and honor. I am not superstitious, but the first time I saw this medal, bearing the venerated likeness of John Calvin, I kissed it, imagining that no one saw the action. I was very greatly surprised when I received this magnificent present, which shall be passed round for your inspection. On the one side is John Calvin with his visage worn by disease and deep thought, and on the other side is a verse fully applicable to him: ‘ He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.’ This sentence truly describes the character of that glorious man of God. Among all those who have been born of women, there has not risen a greater than John Calvin; no age,, before him ever produced his equal, and no age afterwards has seen his rival. In theology, he stands alone, shining like a bright fixed star, while other leaders and teachers can only circle round him, at a great distance, — as comets go streaming through space, — with nothing like his glory or his permanence. Calvin’s fame is eternal because of the truth he proclaimed; and even in Heaven, although we shall lose the name of the system of doctrine which he taught, it shall be that truth which shall make us strike our golden harps, and sing, ‘ Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever;’ for the essence of Calvinism is that we are born again, ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ “I preached in the cathedral at Geneva; and I thought it a great honor to be allowed to stand in the pulpit of John Calvin. I do not think half the people understood me; but they were very glad to see and join in heart with the worship in which they could not join with the understanding. I did not feel very happy when I came out in full canonicals, but the request was put to me in such a beautiful way that I could have worn the Pope’s tiara, if by so doing I could have preached the gospel the more freely. They said, ‘ Our dear brother comes to us from another country. Now, when an ambassador comes from another land, he has the right to wear his own costume at Court; but, as a mark of great esteem, he sometimes condescends to the manners of the people he is visiting, and wears their Court dress.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘yes, that I will, certainly, if you do not:require it, but merely ask it as .a token of my Christian love. I shall feel like running in a sack, but it will be your fault.’ It was John Calvin’s gown, and that reconciled me to it very much. I do love that man of God; suffering all his life long, enduring not only persecutions from without but a complication of disorders from within. and yet serving his Master with all his heart. “I ask your prayers for the Church at Geneva. That little Republic stands now, like an island as it were, on each side shut in by France, and I can assure you there are no greater Anti-Gallicans in the whole world than the Genevese. Without knowing that I trod upon tender ground, I frequently said, ‘Why, you are almost French people!’ At last they hinted to me that they did not like me to say so, and I did not say it any more. They are afraid of being Frenchified: they cannot endure the thought of it; they know the sweets of liberty, and cannot bear that they should be absorbed into that huge monarchy. Dr. D’Aubigne charged me with this message, ‘ Stir up the Christians of England to make Geneva a matter of special prayer.
We do not dread the arms of France, nor invasion; but something worse than that, namely, the introduction of French principles.’ There is a French population constantly crossing the border; they bring in infidelity, and neglect of the Sabbath-day, and Romanism is making very great advances.
The brethren said, ‘ Ask the people to pray for us, that we may stand firm and true. As we have been the mother of many churches, desert us not in the hour of our need, but hold us up in your arms, and pray that the Lord .may:still make Geneva a praise throughout the earth.’ After the service in the cathedral, it was arranged for me to meet the ministers; D’Aubigne was there, of course, and Caesar Malan, and most of the noted preachers of Switzerland. We spent a very delightful evening together, talking about our common Lord, and of the progress of His work in England and on the Continent; and when they bade me ‘Good-bye,’ every one of those ministers — a hundred and fifty, or perhaps two hundred of them, — kissed me on both cheeks! It was rather an ordeal for me, but it was meant to express their esteem and regard, and I accepted it in the spirit in which it was given. It was a peculiar pleasure to me to have the opportunity of visiting that great centre of earnest Protestantism, and of meeting so many of the godly and faithful men who had helped to keep the lamp of truth burning brightly. To my dying day, I shall remember those servants of Jesus Christ who greeted me in my Master’s name, and loved me for my Master’s sake. Hospitality unbounded, love unalloyed, and communion undisturbed, are precious pens with which the brethren in Geneva wrote their names upon my heart. “At last we got away from Geneva, and went off to Chamouni. What a glorious place that Chamouni is! My heart flies thither in recollection of her glories. The very journey from Geneva to Chamouni fires one’s heart. The mind longs to climb the heavens as those mountains do. It seemed to sharpen my soul’s desires; and longings till, like the peaks of the Alps, I could pierce the skies. I cannot speak as I should if I had one of those mountains in view; if I could point out of the window, and say, ‘There! see its frosted brow! see its ancient hoary head!’ and then speak to you of the avalanches that come rattling down the side, then I think I could give you some poetry. We went up the Mer de Glace on mules. I had the great satisfaction of hearing three or four avalanches come roiling down like thunder. In descending, I was in advance, and alone; I sat down and mused, but I soon sprang up, for I thought the avalanche was coming right on me, there was such a tremendous noise. We crossed many places where the snow, in rushing down from the top, had swept away every tree and every stone, and left nothing but the stumps of the trees, and a kind of slide from the top of the mountain to the very valley. What extraordinary works of God there are to be seen there! We have no idea of what God Himself is. As I went among those mountains and valleys;, I felt like a little creeping insect. I sank lower and lower, and grew smaller and smaller, while my soul kept crying out, — “‘Great God, how infinite art Thou!
What worthless worms are we!’ “After leaving Chamouni, we came at last to what was to be the great treat of Our journey, namely, the passage of the Simplon. The crossing of that mountain is an era in any man’s life. That splendid road was carried over the Alps by Napoleon, not for the good of his species, but in order that he might transport his Cannon to fight against Austria. Sir James Mackintosh described the Simplon road as ‘the most wonderful of useful works.’ There are other works which may contain more genius, and some which may seem to be more grand; but this, in the midst of the rugged stern simplicity of nature, seemed to say, ‘ Man is little, but over God’s greatest works man can find a pathway, and no dangers can confine his ambition.’ Where the rock was so steep that the road could not be: made by any other means, workmen were hung down from the top in cradles, and they chipped a groove, and thus carried the road along the precipitous face of the rock; frequently, too, it was made to run through a huge tunnel cut in the solid rock. On and on we went up the enormous height until we came to the region of perpetual frost and snow. There one could make snowballs in the height of Summer, and gather ice in abundance. On the top of the mountain stands the hospice; there were some four or five monks, who came out and asked us to enter; we did so, and would honor the religious feeling which dictates such constant hospitality. We were shown into a very nice room, where.’ there was cake and wine ready, and if we had chosen to order it, meat, soup, and anything we liked to have, and nothing to pay. They entertain any traveller, and he is expected to pay nothing whatever for his refreshment; of course, no one who could afford it would go away without putting something into the poor-box. It pleased me to find that they were Augustinian monks because, next to Calvin, I love Augustine. I feel that Augustine’s works were the great mine out of which Calvin dug his mental wealth; and the Augustinian monks, in their acts of charity, seemed to say, ‘ Our master was a teacher of grace, and we will practice it, and give to all comers whatsoever they shall need, without money and without price.’
Those monks are worthy of great honor; there they are, spending the best and noblest period of their lives on the top of a bleak and barren mountain, that they may minister to the necessities of the poor. They go out in the cold nights, and bring in those that are frostbitten; they dig them out from under the snow, simply that they may serve God by helping their fellowmen.
I pray God to bless the good works of these monks of the Augustinian Order, and may you and I carry out the spirit of Augustine, which is the true spirit of Christ, the spirit of love, the spirit o! charity, the spirit which loves truth, and the spirit which loves man, and above all, loves the Man Christ Jesus! We never need fear, with our strong doctrines, and the spirit of our Master in us, that we shall be carried away by the heresies which continually arise, and which would deceive, if it were possible, even the very elect. “If any of you can save up money — after this Tabernacle is paid for, — to go to Switzerland, you will never regret it, and it need not be expensive to you. If you do not find your head grow on both sides, and have to put your hands up, and say, ‘I feel as if,my brains are straining with their growth,’ I do not think you have many brains to spare. As I have stood in the midst of those mountains and valleys, I have wished I could carry you all there. I cannot reproduce to you the thoughts that then passed through my mind; I cannot describe the storms we saw below us when we were on the top of the hill; I cannot tell you about the locusts that came in clouds, and devoured everything before them; time would utterly fail me to speak of all the wonders of God which we saw in nature and in providence. One more remark, and I have done. If you cannot travel, remember that our Lord Jesus Christ: is more glorious than all else that you could ever see. Get a view of Christ, and you have seen more than mountains, and cascades, and valleys, and seas can ever show you. Thunders may bring their sublimest uproar, and lightnings their awful glory; earth may give its beauty, and stars their brightness; but all these put together can never rival Him, of whom Dr. Watts so well sang, — “‘Now to the Lord a noble song!
Awake, my soul, awake, my tongue; Hosannah to th’ Eternal Name, And all His boundless love proclaim.
See where it shines in Jesus face, The brightest image of His grace; God, in the person of His Son, Has all His mightiest works outdone.
The spacious earth and spreading flood Proclaim the wise and powerful God, And Thy rich glories from afar Sparkle in every rolling star.
But in His looks a glory stands, The noblest labor of Thine hands; The pleasing lustre of His eyes Outshines the wonders of the sides.
Grace! ‘tis a sweet, a charming theme; My thoughts rejoice at Jesus’ Name:
Ye angels, dwell upon the sound, Ye heavens, reflect it to the ground!’” In the course of the day, a total of £1,050 was added to the Tabernacle Building Fund. During the time that the great sanctuary was being completed, the remainder of the amount required was raised, so that the first Sabbath services in the new house of prayer were conducted in a building entirely free from debt.