Ft1 It is worthy of note that the paper which, in 1855, thus described Mr. Spurgeon, in 1898, in reviewing Vol. 1 of his Autobiography, spoke of him as “this noble Puritan preacher and saintly Christian.”
Ft2 In the Autobiography, Vol. 1, a quotation is given from the reminiscences of Professor Everett, who had been Mr. Spurgeon’s fellow-tutor at Newmarket. Soon after the young Pastor’s settlement at New Park Street Chapel, he invited his former colleague to pay him a visit. During their conversation, Mr. Everett referred to this supposed irreverence; and recalling the interview, in 1892, he wrote: — ”I remember suggesting to him, in this connection, that a man ought to feel and show some sense of awe in the presence of his Maker, and his reply was to the effect that awe was foreign to his nature, — that he felt perfectly at home with his Heavenly Father.” That “perhaps” just saves the prophet’s reputation. Over a hundred millions of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons have been already issued, and they are prized beyond measure by an ever-increasing circle of readers. Can this be said of “the old lights, — Irving, and Hall, and Chalmers”? This was the service which is referred to in Mr. Spurgeon’s letter in chapter 35. Readers may be interested in knowing that the discourse then delivered is published by Messrs. Passmore a: Alabaster in their series of “Rare Jewels from Spurgeon.” It is entitled, “Christ is All.” The Clerkenwell News, in an appreciative account of the service and the preacher, said: — ”His discourse, which was bold, imaginative, and abounding in felicitous and appropriate metaphors, was listened to with the most profound attention — a distinction rarely shown to open-air preaching.”
Ft5 The text on the second occasion was Matthew 8:11,12; and the sermon was printed in The New Park Street Pulpit (Nos. 39-40), under the title, “Heaven and Hell.” Translations were published in various languages, including Russian and French. Copies of the Russian version reached Mr. Spurgeon from time to time, each one bearing on its front cover the “Alpha and Omega” in the centre of the official stamp certifying that it might be read and circulated by faithful members of the Greek Church; on the back, was a list of nine more of the sermons issued by the same publisher. As soon as the permission of the censor had been obtained, the gentleman who had sought it ordered a million copies of the sermons to be printed, and scattered over the Russian Empire. “That day” alone will reveal how many souls have been saved through this method of spreading the truth in that dark region. A copy of the French translation was recently received by Mrs. Spurgeon, from M. Robert Dubarry, one of the French students in the Pastors’ College, who found it a few years ago in a Parisian hospital, where it had been left by a former patient, who had evidently been greatly benefited by reading it. The margin is almost covered with a most elaborate system of marks, and the discourse itself is underlined as though every word had been read and pondered again and again. At the end is written, in French: — ”A Souvenir for my children! Sunday, 3rd June, 186o.
Lord, grant that this worthy and true sermon may become to them a salutary and precious blessing, and that it may remind them of their mother!” The beloved preacher had many similar testimonies to the usefulness of his words when translated into foreign tongues, although he was not spared to see this one, which would have greatly interested him. It appears, from the New Park Street church-book, that the number was even larger than this. At the end of 1854, there were 313 names on the roll; during 1855, there was a net increase of 282; and the following year the net increase was 265; making the total membership 860.
Ft7 Readers of Vol. 1 of the Autobiography may remember that the total income of the New Park Street Church for the year 1853 was less than £300. The following figures prove the truth of Mr. William Olney’s statement, and also show how rapid and how great was the growth of the finances after Mr. Spurgeon’s Pastorate commenced in April, 1854: — Mr. Passmore preserved a letter, written to himself by Mr. Spurgeon, in which there was the following allusion to the incident he:re described: — ”You may tell Mr.___ that I was so far from intending to insult him by what I said that I uttered the sentence ir the purest love for his soul; and that I dare not be unfaithful to him any more than to anyone else in my congregation. God is my ‘witness, how earnestly I long for the salvation of all my hearers, and I would fi~r rather err by too great personality than by unfaithfulness. At the last great day, none of us will be offended with Christ’s ministers for speaking plainly to us. I am sorry that Mr.____ was vexed, and have prayed that the sermon may be blessed to him.” Mr. John Eastty, who had been up to the time of his death, in 1896, the senior deacon at Maze Pond Chapel, sent to Mrs. Spurgeon, in 1893,::is personal recollections of her dear husband, in which there was the following reference to this m~eting: — ”The grandfather of Mr. Archibald G. Brown was in the chair. Mr. William Olney had introduced Mr. Spurgeon to us, knowing that he would help Le cause by speaking on behalf of the school. What a stripling he then was!
What an impression he made! It was then that he related the difficulty he felt, when a child, as to how the apple got through the narrow neck of the boftle (see Autobiography, Vol. 1), and made the application, ‘ So, then, you must put it in while it is a little one! ‘ And again, at about the same period, he preached a sermon in the same chapel, one Sunday afternoon, for one of the societies, when my mother pronounced judgment on him, and said, ‘He will be a second Whitefield!’ The minister of Maze Pond, the Rev. John Aldis, at once foresaw for him a very distinguished career, and was the first amongst the London ministers who took him by the hand; and Mr. Spurgeon never forgot it, for he was not so generally well received by his brethren. Most of what was said by them, is better forgotten, for nearly all of them came round to him at last; but, at a devotional meeting where Mr. Spurgeon had been invited to be present, a London Pastor prayed for’our young friend, who has so much to learn, and so much to unlearn.’ The narrafor of this told me, however, that it did not at all affect him, nor did he betray the least feeling of annoyance.” See Autobiography, Vol. 1., chapter 7. As this volume of the Autobiography is passing through the press, the forty-fourtk year’s publication of the sermons is proceeding, making from No. 2,550 to No. 2,602, in regular weekly succession; and there are still sufficient unpublished discourses to last for several years longer, while the demand for them is as great as ever.
Ft12 ·On March 30, 1884, just after the sudden .death of the Duke of Albany, I preached aga/n from the same text: “What is your life?” The sermon was published as No. 1773 in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpi~, and during the following week a gentleman, who came to see me at the Tabernacle upon some matter of business, said to me, “I felt quite overwhelmed with emotion a minute ago.” I asked him the reason; and he answered, “As I entered this building, I saw an announcement that you had lately preached from the words, ‘“What is your life?’” “Well,”! enquired, “what is there special about that?” “Why!” he replied, “the night before you came of age, you preached from the same text.” I told the friend that I had no doubt it was a very different discourse from the one I had just delivered, and then he said, “I have never been able to shake hands with you before to-day; but I have great pleasure in doing so now. When you were twenty-one years old, I was dreadfully depressed in spirit; I was so melancholy that I believe I should have destroyed myself if I had not heard you preach that sermon in celebration of your twenty-first birtheay. It encouraged me to keep on in the battle of life; and, what is better, it made such an impression on me that I have never gone back to what I was before. Though I live a long way from here, no one loves you more than I do, for you were the means of bringing me up out of tho horrible pit, and out of the miry clay.” I was very glad to have that testimony to the usefulness of one of my early sermons. Mr. Spurgeon’s copy contains forty-two sermons; it is lettered on the back, — “ACURIOSITY IN RELIGIOUS LITERATURE.” On the fly-leaf, in his handwriting, is the following inscription: — ”Specimen of a collection of sermons given to all the crowned heads of Europe, and the students of Oxford; Cambridge; Trinity College, Dublin; etc., etc.”
During the compilation of this volume of the Autobiography, Mrs. Spurgeon received from a Church of England clergyman a letter containing the following reference to this distribution of sermons to the students in the Universities:— “Over thirty years ago, when an undergraduate at Oxford, one of our men came into College with a volume of your husbanit’s sermons, saying that someone was distributing them to the ‘ men’ who would accept them. I was one of those who had the privileged gift, and have since read it through and through with advantage. I have never preached knowingly other than the doctrines of grace; and though the clergy round about are mostly Ritualists and Sacerdofallets, thank God the error taught by them has never tempted me!”
Ft14 Where the printing-offices were situated at that time.
Ft15 The two caricatures — ” Brimstone and Treacle” and “Catch-’emalive- O! ” — have been so often reproduced that they are not included in this volume; but others that are less known are given, — ”The Slow Coach and the Fast Train”, “The Old Conducfor and the New Conducfor”. and “The Young Lion of the Day and the Funny Old Woman of the Day” (Chapter 52). The site was formerly occupied by the Fishmongers’ Company’s Almshouses. They bore the name of St. Peter’s Hospital, and were built in 1618-36, out of the Kneseworth and other trusts; and consisted of three courts, a chapel, and a hall. They were rebuilt, in 1850-1, at East Hill, Wandsworth; and, after their removal, the land presented such a forlorn appearance that the building of the Tabernacle upon it was regarded as a great public improvement. It proved to be that in more senses than one. In the list of contributions for the Tabernacle Building Fund. is the name of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, — one hundred guineas. After the disastrous fire, on April 2o, 1898, which almost destroyed the beautiful building he designed forty years before, Mr. Pocock kindly offered to do anything in his power towards the rebuilding of the Tabernacle, and very generously lent to the Committee his original drawings free of charge. Sir Morton Peto was a most generous supporter of religious and philanthropic movements of all kinds, and he was a special benefactor to the Baptists. In later days, when reverses came upon him through no fault of his own he was greatly cheered by the reception of the following letter from Mr. Spurgeon: — “A little time ago, I thought of writing to condole with you in the late tempests; but I feel there is far more reason to congratulate you than to sympathize. I have been all over England, in all sorts of society, and I have never heard a word spoken concerning you, in connection with late affairs, but such as showed profound esteem and unshaken confidence. I do not believe that this ever could have been said of any other man placed in similar circumstances. The respect and hearty sympathy which all sorts of persons bear towards you could never have been so well known to you as they now are by means of the past difficulties.” Mr. Spurgeon dispensed with the collection from pew to pew, and simply had the plates held at the doors to receive the voluntary offerings of the worshippers.