MEMORIES OF MY FATHER (CONTINUED).
BY PASTOR CHARLES SPURGEON.
ONE of the most notable events, of which I still have vivid recollections, was the occasion of my baptism. An entry in the Tabernacle church-book, dated September 14, 1874, reads as follows:— “Charles and Thomas Spurgeon, of Nightingale Lane, Clapham, were proposed for church-membership, and Brother Payne was “Charles and Thomas Spurgeon came before the church, and gave a satisfactory statement of the work of grace in their souls, and the messenger reporting favorably, it was agreed that, after baptism, they should be received into communion with the church.”
On the following Lord’s-day morning, dear father preached at the Tabernacle, from Isaiah 8:18, a sermon to which he gave the title, “I and the Children.” The next evening, September 21, he baptized his twin-sons, who had, on the previous day’, celebrated their eighteenth birthday. As the beloved Pastor had not, for a long time, been able to baptize, and also, perhaps, because the candidates were his own sons, the great edifice was crowded with an interested concourse of people who had come to witness the solemn ceremony. Dr. Brock, of Bloomsbury Chapel, was present, according to promise, and delivered a forcible address, which was emphasized by some of father’s telling utterances. In connection with this joyful occurrence, an illuminated address (of which a facsimile appears on pages 288 and 289,) was presented to my dear mother, who had also been an eye witness of her sons’ confession of faith in the Scriptural fashion. We received the right hand of fellowship, at the Lord’s table, on the night of October’ 4; the motto text my father then gave me was, “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price;” and many a time since ‘has it been a source of spiritual inspiration to me. When it was put into my heart to serve the Lord, and to begin to speak for Him, I of course sought my father’s counsel. He was then laid aside with a painful illness at Brighton, but he wrote: to me thus:— “My’ Own Dear Son, “I think it very kind and thoughtful of you to write to your father, and appointed messenger to the fellowship the more so because the time you have: to yourself is not very long. I am glad you desire to do something for the Lord, and shall be still more pleased when you actually set: about it. Time flies;; and the opportunity for doing good flies with it. However diligent you may be in the future, you can only do the work of 1875 in 1875; and if you leave it undone now, it will be undone to all eternity. The diligent attention which you give to business, the careful purity of your daily life, and your concern to do common things in a right spirit, are all real service for the Lord. The hours in which your earthly calling is industriously followed for Christ’s sake, are really hours of work for Jesus but, still, this cannot satisfy you, or, at least, I hope it cannot. As redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, you feel that you belong to Him, and you long to show your love to Him by actions directly meant to extend His Kingdom, and gather in sinners whom He loves to bless. When once such efforts are commenced, they become easier, and a kind of hunger to do more seizes upon the heart. It is not toil, but pleasure; and if God blesses what we do, it rises from being a common pleasure to become a sacred delight. ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.’ It is not for me to suggest ‘what form your service shall take, that must be left to yourself; and half the pleasure of it will lie in the exercise of a sacred ingenuity in discovering the work for which you are best adapted. “I was very thankful to read that you rejoiced in prayer; may it always be so, and yet more and more; for nothing gives us such strength, or affords us such guidance. The Lord bless you there, and all must be well. I have always hoped to see you a leader in the host of God. How it will be, I know not; but that so it may be, is one of my increasing prayers. Dear son, may all blessings abound towards you; you know I love you very dearly. It is a very dull Sabbath here, as to weather; I hope you are having a ‘bright and happy day at home. “Your loving father, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
This admonition well sets forth what kind of father “my father” was. With such words as these to encourage and direct me, it was not long before I decided to begin work for the Lord Jesus Christ, feeling sure also that he, who had written thus to his son, would pray even more earnestly than before that the humble worker might be richly blessed. The special service which was laid upon my heart ultimately resulted in the building of a small chapel in Chatham Road, Wandsworth Common; and I sought the. re to glorify God in the faithful discharge of “my Father’s business,” while I was also not slothful in the business of my earthly master, the. late John Sands, Esq., of 50, Old Broad Street, City. The following note will show the interest my father took in both enterprises: — “Mentone. “My Dear Charlie, “Your conduct gives me the greatest pleasure when I think of it, for you have stuck to work right heartily, and I am sure God will open up your way. Live near to Him,. and for Him; and He will give you, of His grace, happiness here and hereafter. May your good endeavors, at Bolingbroke be crowned with success, and may you ere long see some souls; led to Jesus! I must give you some substantial help for the new chapel. Receive your father’s fondest love, and remember me. very heartily to Mr. Sands. “Your affectionate father, “C. H. S.”
On one occasion, when dear father was preaching in the Tabernacle, he thus joyfully referred to several stages in the spiritual experience of his twin-sons: — “Did not our hearts overflow, as parents, when we first discovered that our children had ‘;ought the Lord? That was a happy night, a time to be remembered, when we were called up to hear their tearful story, and to give them a word of comfort. We were not half so glad at their birth as we were when they were born again. Have we not, since then, often rejoiced as we have seen them useful in the service of the: Savior? It was an exquisite pleasure to hear them speak for the first time in the Redeemer’s Name; and it has been a greater pleasure to know that God has owned their ministry in the conversion of souls. All parents have not that particular form of joy; but it has been mine to a high degree, and for this I bless the Name of the Lord. All of you have had great delight in your converted children, when your boy has stood out against temptation, or your girl has remained faithful when thrown among worldlings. No one can recount the mutual joys of the various members of a believing: household; they rejoice in each other, and then. they all rejoice in God. How cheering it is for you as a parent to live again in your children, and to march once more to the holy war in. the vigorous zeal of one whom you still call ‘‘My boy “! O friends, I feel, at this time, in my own case, that my joy is up to the brim of my life-cup. Pardon me if I pause to magnify the Lord. I have seldom been long without affliction; but no man who has ever lived could have been more highly favored in domestic happiness than I have been.,” On June: 27, 1878, when nine persons from Chatham Road Chapel were admitted to membership at the Tabernacle, their names were entered in the usual way in the Tabernacle church-book, and then the following resolution was added: — “The church, having received the foregoing persons into fellowship, desire to record its gratitude to our Heavenly Father for this evident blessing resting upon the labors of our Pastor’s two sons, Messrs. Charles and Thomas Spurgeon. As these are the first fruits of their ministry, since the erection of the new chapel, we earnestly and heartily pray that abundant prosperity may continue to rest on the work carried on at Chatham Road.”
During the period I spent as a student in the Pastors’ College, my dear father was always interested, not only in my own welfare, but in that of all the brethren. Perhaps at: no time in the history of the Institution was he better acquainted than he was then with the whole of the men, and the internal work and hidden life of our “Alma Mater.” It was not looked upon as “telling tales out of school” when the son answered the inquires of the sire. On two occasions, I was privileged to receive from him letters containing’ sermon-notes, which he desired me to read to all the brethren.
No less than eleven outlines of discourses were given in the following letter; but space can only be spared here for one or two specimens: — “Mentone. “Beloved Brethren, “Always make hay while the sun shines, and store up notes of sermons when your mind is fertile, for there are seasons of famine as well as of plenty, and every Joseph should lay up a store against the time of need. I fear I am not just now in the right order for sermonizing; but, if ‘ silver and gold have I none,’ ‘ such as I have give I you.’ By the way, that would not be a bad subject, — What we would give if we could, not half so valuable as what we can bestow if ‘.we will. Or, (1.) Talents we do not possess; are not to be the source of repining, of sloth, or of indifference to men’s wants; (2.) Talents we do possess are to be used for the good of men, in faith, in the Name of Jesus, to the glory of God. “Turn to Acts 29., which is rich in texts. Verse 8. (I.) The characteristic of a useful ministry: “he spoke boldly.’ ( II. ) The subject of such a ministry: ‘persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God.’ “(1) The consistency of it with the Old Testament. “(2) The binding character of its claims. “(3) Its; blessedness. “(4) Its immediate requirements.”
At the: earl of the eleven skeletons of sermons, dear father wrote:— “This is all I can do to-day. I am much better, and send my love to you all, and thanks for capital letters, all of which are beyond criticism. “Yours ever heartily, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
Those ever-memorable Friday afternoons produced many rich seasons for storing up homiletic hints and outlines. This exercise seemed to be a recreation to the President, for if ever there was a brief interval that needed filling in between a bracing talk and a brilliant exposition, he would quietly make some: such remark as this’. — “ Here’s a good text’ ‘HE restoreth my soul,’— “( 1. ) To life, by regeneration. “( 2. ) To hope, by the revelation of His Son. “( 3. ) To strength, by being my food. “( 4. ) To wealth, by being my Father. “( 5. ) To a Kingdom in Christ. “( 6. ) To Paradise with Christ.”
As my College course was drawing to a close, my father wrote to, me: — “ Your time will soon be up, and I should like you to begin in some sphere, not too large, nor too small, from which you may step into a life-longposition.
I think you will maintain a good congregation; and, by God’s blessing, will be useful. We must not push or strive to get you a position, but wait on the Lord, and He will do better for you than I can. When Bishops look out for livings for their sons or nephews, we condemn their nepotism, so we must not fall into the same evil ourselves. You will be patient and believing, and the right door will open.”
When the time came for me to settle in the ministry, my father’s counsel was a great factor in helping me to decide to accept the “call” from the members of South Street Baptist Church, Greenwich, and it afforded me no little joy to have him as the preacher on the occasion of my recognition as Pastor. A striking injunction, from the discourse he then delivered, stands Out vividly in my memory, and has been a constant inspiration to me. Leaning over the pulpit rail, and looking down upon me, as I sat on the lower platform, he said, in tender, yet thrilling tones, “Preach up Christ; my’ boy! PreachHIM up!!”
Among my father’s letters that I treasure beyond the price of gold, are those which relate to the help rendered to him in times of sickness. Some of them look almost like hieroglyphics, because they were hurriedly scribbled, when his poor hands were swollen with gout, on a Sunday morning, and sent to Greenwich by a special messenger, asking me to take his service. Here is one: — “ I am too full of pain to preach this morning; will you go to Tabernacle? I telegraphed Dunn to go to you, but if you have anyone else available, let him be ready. Your poor father, — C. H. S.”
The first time that ever it was my honor to stand in his place, and thus occupy the pulpit in the Metropolitan Tabernacle on the Lord’s-day, called forth from him the following loving letter: — “Nightingale Lane, “Balham, “Surrey, “December 14, ‘78. “My Dear Son, “I pray earnestly for you under the solemn responsibility of tomorrow.
May your father’s God lift you out of yourself, giving you lowly dependence on His Spirit, and pleading earnestness that men may come to Christ! I am very ill, or I would be in my pulpit. I am ready to weep on being still away; but, dear son, the Lord is so good in giving me you, that I dare’, not think of repining. Only lean thou wholly: on Him, and be nothing before Him. He has been my stay these many years. “Tell the people that, night and day, I am full of pain; and as these three times I have promised to be with them and have failed, I fear to hope any more. Only they will be all sure that it will be my highest joy to be back among them, to see their loving faces, and to speak to them the good Word of God. I am an exiled prisoner, and the iron enters into my soul; but the Lord is good, and in His Name do I hope. “With best love from your dear mother, and — “Your poor lather, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
The deep interest he ewer took in my work at Greenwich, and his ardent affection for my beloved mother, are set forth in many of his letters, such as the following: — “Mentone. “My Dear Son, “May you, some quarter of a century hence, enjoy the pleasure of having your son Charles to preach for you! It is a great delight to me to receive such loving letters from the Bishop of Greenwich, who is also my son and heir; and it is even more joy to see that God is prospering you, and making your work successful. I think you have made specially good progress in the time. Stick to your studies;. Read Matthew Henry right through, it’ you can, before you are married; for, ‘after that event, I fear that Jacob may supplant him. Remember me to Mr. Hunthey, and all the: good people. “I have not yet ‘.had this week’s letter from the Tabernacle, and therefore have not read the eulogiums on your sermons. I am better and better. It is forty-two days since we had any rain; and, all along, the fine weather has been unbroken. I am so grieved about your dear mother, and my impulse, is to come home at once; but then I reflect that I can do her no good, and should do her harm by becoming the second invalid to be waited on. Dear Charlie, do not get the rheum’s or the gouts; but spin-away on your skates or your cycles. Don’t go too much over the bridge; but you may give my love to Him. The sermon was capital; thank you much. “With heartiest love and all good wishes from — “YOUR OWN DAD.”
The gentle hint, towards the close of this. letter, shows that it was penned during the period of my courtship. At my marriage, on April 11, 1881, both my dear parents were. present; the happy ceremony was performed by my father, and I can even now recall some of his words after the legal portion of the service had been completed: — “.As this ring is round, so may your love be endless! As it is made of pure gold, so may your affection be pure.”
Continuing to say all manner of nice, kind things, he added: — “ It is exceedingly necessary that a minister, especially a young minister, should have a wife. The duties a minister’s wife has to fulfill are very important, for she is expected to be a combination of all impossible virtues; in fact, altogether a wonder.” Glancing lovingly at dear mother, he. ‘said: — “I know one minister’s wife who has greatly strengthened her husband in the Lord.” Never shall I forget the beautiful prayer in which he commended “the happy couple” to God; the answers to those: petitions we continue to receive even to this day.
He was again in the sunny South when he wrote the following letter: — “Grand Hotel, “Mentone. “My Dear Son, “Your note was a real joy’ to me. What a good fellow you are! I live twice in seeing you so firm in the faith of God’s elect. I do not wonder that the chickens flock around the man who gives them real corn, and not mere chaff. The Lord keep you evermore true to the truth, and you will see His hand with you more and more! “your little notice-s of books are first-rate;’-short and pithy, better than half a page of long-winded nothings. You may do as many as ever you like, for nobody can do them better, nor as well. You charm me as I think of your interesting your dear mother with your lantern and views. It is most sad to have her at home when I am here enjoying myself. What can we do but try to cheer her up and pray the Lord to give her journeying strength? “I am right glad to hear of the growth and advancement of the little girl. God bless her, and her mother, too! I am having a true holiday; not idle, but restful.
Love evermore to you and yours, from — “Your happy father, “C. H. S.”
There are one or two matters of interest alluded to in the above correspondence, which recall happy memories of my father. The reference to my “notices of books” recalls a slight service which I sought to render to the overtaxed Editor of The Sword and the Trowel, by reading some of the lighter literature sent to him for review, and giving him my opinion of the books. One day, at dinner, a friend thanked my father for his racy review of an interesting little work; whereupon, with evident delight, he drew the speaker on to say more about the criticism, and then, with that merry twinkle in his eye, which always told how he relished harmless fun, he said, “Well now, it so happens that I did not write that notice in the Magazine; there is the: dear boy opposite who wrote it.”
Father paid many visits to my flock at Greenwich, for it has ever been my delight — a delight fully shared by my people, — to help him in the many good works to which the Lord had moved him to set his hand. As these visits were paid upon my birthday are used the occasion to make him a present on behalf of either College, Orphanage, or Colportage.
His appreciation of my filial affection is expressed in the following letter: — “Dear Son, “You are. ever a well of joy to your father. On this occasion, you greatly refresh me by helping the orphans. Checks for £58 15s. 6d. do not come in so very often; but when they do, I praise. God with all my heart. Will you thank all those good people for me? I am very grateful to them. God bless them! “Chiefly, may a blessing rest on the church of God over which He has made you overseer! To that church I render grateful thanks for furnishing the occasion for this love-token, — this sacrifice of sweet smell. “All the blessings that God can give be yours evermore! So prays — “Your loving father, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
In acknowledging some pecuniary help, sent on behalf of the College, in connection with the Annual Conference, he wrote: — “Dear Son, “You are always helping me and ray work. May the Lord bless you; and, one day, give you such joy in your family as I have in you! “I met, last week, with another soul converted under your last Tabernacle sermon. “Your loving father, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
How he delighted in recounting cases of conversion! He liked me to go out driving with him; and, as I sat silently listening, he would tell of recent instances of blessing which he had been permitted to see as the result of his own preaching. In this way, I learned much of the holy art of dealing with anxious inquirers, an art of which he was indeed a master.
I must relate an incident which, at the time, afforded my father a large amount of pleasure; and which is, I should think, unique in ministerial life.
He had been announced to preach on behalf of a small Baptist church in the East End of London, and the Congregationalists had kindly lent their large place of worship for the occasion. Long before the appointed hour of service, a great crowd had gathered both within and around the building, so that, when the preacher entered the pulpit, many hundreds were still seeking admission. Turning to me, as I sat just behind him, he asked me whether I would take an overflow meeting in. the sanctuary opposite. I readily assented; whereupon he rose, and told the people to pass word on to those outside, “that his dear son Charles would preach just over the way, in the Baptist Chapel.;’ He continued his own service, and I retired to fulfill my promise, and had a crowded audience in the smaller building. It had been arranged that I should preach, in the evening, in the Baptist Chapel; and it turned out that the experience of the father was to be repeated with the son, for the place was filled in every part, and a large number in vain sought admission, so I dispatched a pencilled note to the great preacher of the afternoon, asking him if he would kindly come and take my overflow in the schoolroom opposite! As we journeyed home together, he said, “Well, Charlie, I do not suppose it has ever happened before, that father and son should be preaching opposite to one another at the same time; but, thank God, dear boy, not in opposition.”
I remember, too, in connection ‘with this visit, that, as we passed through the great meat-market at Smithfield, he called my attention to the immense quantities of provisions, remarking, as he did so, “Whatever will become of it all?” But we had not gone far Clown the Mile End Road, before the ever-moving mass of humanity caused another inquiry to rise to mind and lip, which was expressed in the Scriptural question, “From whence can a man satisfy these?” The conversation, which might very naturally have taken the form of a discussion upon the law of supply and demand, and such kindred themes as social and political economy, was, however, diverted into the higher Channel of talk about the gospel amply meeting the spiritual needs; of the masses, — a truth which was shortly after to receive its exemplification through the ministry of father and son.
On another occasion, it was my high privilege to preach to some three or four thousand people, who were the residue of a congregation numbering one thousand, gathered to hear my father in at church at Pollockshaws.
The intense joy, which seemed to ripple over his face, and sparkle in his eyes, when he learned that his son had the larger’ audience, increased the already large measure of happiness which delighted my heart. The crowds surged round him, blocking the thoroughfare, and rendering it impassable, until “the good man” had shaken hands with his Scotch friends; and joyous cheers rang out again and again as the carriage conveyed the two preacher.’; away from the place of their joint ministry.
It was a very memorable day to me when I had to take my father’s place in Exeter Hall, — the building which is inseparably associated with some of the greatest triumphs of “the boy-preacher’s” history.
The letter summoning me to this service was as follows: — “Dear Son, “Alas! I may be unable to preach on Sunday at Exeter Hall. Can you serve: me yet again? All would be content.
I am better; but can barely hold a pen, and have two rheumatic arms. Ah, me! “Love to my dear son and his, — my comfort and joy. “C. H. SPURGEON.”
Birthday billets down and New Year’s notes are among ‘my special treasures:
A specimen of each may serve as; a pattern for those who would fain express their loving wishes to dear ones. Here is the birthday epistle: — “Westwood, “September 20, 1888. “My Dear Son, “The Lord, Himself, bless you! Long may your useful be continued and growing blessings be given to you, and be scattered by you! It is always a joy, to me, even to think of you. In all things you cause me comfort and delight, specially for the grace manifested in you.
The Lord remember, in His infinite love, your dear’ wife and children, and make them ever your joy! “I could, not tell what birthday gift to send. you; so I thought I would ask you to serve in ‘by taking upon yourself the trouble of laying out the enclosed little cheque for something which would give you pleasure. “I have been to Wotton, to see Mr. Evelyn, and have rested finely.
I feel that my candle has been snuffed. “Your loving father, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
The New Year’s greeting runs as follows: — “Mentone. “Dear Son, “I wish to you and yours, one and all, a happy new year. The Lord bless you in your person, your household, your ministry, and your church! Peace be to you within, and prosperity’ without! The blessing on your father has been great, and long may it rest upon you to a still larger degree! I breathe a joyful prayer for you and your below, d, to whom, remember me. “Your own loving father, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
A large book could be written concerning the experiences of persons who had the honor and delight of meeting with my dear father during his visits to different parts of the country. I often wish that I had had it in my power to preserve, more securely than in mere. mental jottings, many of the wise sayings reported to me by those who remember their interviews with him.
To a friend, who had called upon him, he said, “I was looking at myself in the glass, this morning, when the words of the psalmist came to my mind: ‘ Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.’ I saw no signs of health upon my countenance, and thought that they were far away; but my heart was comforted by the latter portion of the text, for none can rob me of ‘my God,’“ To the same friend, he said, “I am going to preach, one clay, upon ‘bad lodgers.’ You get them here, for they come into your house to eat the food that you provide, and spoil the furniture in your home, and then leave without paying. I am not going to talk about this class of lodgers; but shall try to answer the question, ‘How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?’“ He was as good as his word, for he preached in the Tabernacle from Jeremiah 4:i4, and the sermon is published under the title, “Bad Lodgers, and How to Treat them.”
On one occasion, it was my lot to have to go some distance, from a countryside station to the village where I was to conduct some special services. A horse and cart: were in waiting to convey me:: to my destination, the driver being a local farmer. We had not gone very for upon the road before his rustic voice broke the silence. “So you be Mr. Spurgeon, be you, the son of the great man in Lunnon? I bin once in Lunnon, and heard him. I was up at the cattle show, and went over to his big chapel, and he preached about sheep. Bless you, he knew more about sheep than I do; and little bin a farmer all my life!” The conversation did not lack in vivacity for the rest of the journey, as my newly-found acquaintance gave his town friend some agricultural, education, secondhand, his tutor having been the worthy Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle! Dear father was a living “Enquire Within upon Everything.”
All who ever heard him can well understand how his almost universal knowledge furnished him with striking simile, matchless metaphor, forceful figure, and instructive illustration.
Entering, only the other day, an establishment which, in years long gone by, was frequented by both father and son, — as the former sought after some old Puritan, to add to his library, and the latter interested himself in conning picture-books, which were lying all around, — I fancied I could see the form of my father, sitting, as was his wont, in a particular corner of the shop, (and he would sit in no other place,) and I could hear him say, “Well, friend Smith, haw.’ you any new old books, — something rich and rare?” And the proprietor of the store would speedily bring forth from his treasures ‘;’ things new and old.”
Following in my father’s footsteps, I had betaken myself to this market of material for the mind; and, naturally, memories of former visits made me desirous to have a little talk with the worthy proprietor, who is now well on in years. With thoughtful mien, and moist eye, he recounted to an attentive listener several personal reminiscences of his dear friend. He told me that he once journeyed to London, to see the great preacher, and upon entering the precincts of the Tabernacle, my dear father turned to the caretaker of what is now, the Jubilee House, and gave the following restructions, “Please get dinner for two at one.” In due course,’ the bookseller and the bookreader returned to partake of the ordered meal, when, to their dismay, they found the table bare. Summoning the good woman into his presence, the following explanation was forthcoming, “Why, sir!” said she, “you ordered dinner for one at two.” The mistake caused great merriment to the would-be host and his guest; and, while waiting for the repast to be prepared, the dear Pastor discovered others whose expectations had not been realized. A number of old women had gathered in one of the rooms at the Tabernacle, in the hope of receiving gifts from the Benevolent Society; but the ladies in charge of that agency were: not present, as some mistake had been made in the day and hour.
The “fellow-feeling.” that always made him ‘“wondrous kind,” moved him to thrust his hand into his; pocket, to bring forth a number of shillings, and to bestow one upon each of the erstwhile disappointed applicants, saying as he did so, “Theres a trifle for you, so you haven’t had quite a lost journey” His benevolence was one of the best and brightest traits in his beautiful character. There are secrets, concerning’ his generous gifts, and the self-sacrifice they often entailed, which ‘will never be revealed on earth; I do not know whether they will be unveiled even in Heaven.
When the Good Shepherd was pleased to take a little lamb from my household, the hearts of the sorrow-stricken parents were greatly comforted by the following letter: — “Westwood, “September 11, 1890. “My Dear Children, “The Lord Himself comfort you! Think of that dear little creature being taken away yet it must be right, it must be good! Our Father is never mistaken, nor unkind. You are acting wisely in not bringing the little one from the place? You will be setting example of common sense, which is greatly needed in an age which is as sentimental as it is false-hearted. If you would like a wreath from me:, kindly order it in H — B —, and send the bill to me; but, if you are not going so have any, I should be setting and example by sending one. “I feel sure you will both find a secret strength poured into your souls, and in t-his also faith shall have the victor. I shall never forget this day. Your dear mother, to our intense delight:, was able to go with me to the Orphanage, and she greatly enjoyed the visit.
As soon as we reached home, we received your telegram, — the bitter herbs with our feast. To you, it must be a sharp cut; but the Great Physician will apply the healing balm. “Your loving father, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
I know of no one who could, more sweetly than my dear father, impart comfort to bleeding hearts and sad spirits. As the crushing of the flower causes it to yield its aroma, so he, having endured so much in the: longcontinued illness of my beloved mother, and also constant pain in himself, was able to sympathize most tenderly with all sufferers.
It was my unspeakable pleasure frequently to see him, during the last few years of his earthly service, hardly a week passing without a drive being enjoyed together; and during the critical period of his last long illness, when the prayers of God’s people, undoubtedly brought him back to life, it was my sad pleasure to visit him every day, Sundays only excepted. Those seasons will ever remain fixed upon my memory. The secrets of the chamber of “the shadow of death” lie deeply hidden in a fondly-loving heart; and, especially, the emotions experienced when, with my dear mother, we stood at his bedside, and listened, as we thought, to his parting blessing, The last kiss I ever received from his dear lips was bestowed upon me ere he left the waiting-room at Herne Hill station, and the last look I had at him was from the furthest extremity of that platform, as the train bore him away, and he, with waving hand, bade me adieu. It was with great joy (for his sake,) that I hailed the day when he started for the sunny South. After so many weeks, which told up to months in the class-room of suffering, he went forth, like a scholar freed from his lessons for a while, out into the sunshine and sea breezes. We were all pleased that there was such a beautiful retreat, a spot on earth which he so dearly loved, where he could tarry, for a few bright weeks, as in veritable Beulah Land, ere he crossed the river, and entered the Celestial City, to go no more out for ever.
Pages could be filled by my pen in writing of my beloved father; but I must close with a brief tribute: of love. If ever a man was sent of God, he was; a true apostle and a faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ. Although my judgment may be deemed very’ partial,. I venture to express the opinion that, since the days of Paul, there has not lived a greater or more powerful exponent of the doctrines of grace, or a more able and successful preacher of the “saying” which is “worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” There was no one who could preach like my father. In inexhaustible variety, witty wisdom, vigorous proclamation, loving entreaty, and lucid teaching, with a multitude of other qualities, he must, at least in my opinion, ever be regarded as the prince of preachers.
From the days when, as a little boy, I sat behind the platform, in the highbacked and well-cushioned seat in the cleat’ old Tabernacle, with silver pencil-case and neat pocket-book, to take notes of my beloved father’s sermons, until this present time,. I have looked upon him as “the prime minister of England.” Those who believe eloquence lies in reaching hearts, rather than in tickling ears, will not hesitate to place him amongst orators of the highest order. It was his delight to travel on foot, rather than to soar like the eagle; but this did not hinder him from reaching altitudes loftier than Pisgah; and while he could always feel something solid under his feet, he was, like a brave mountaineer, leading his listeners to peaks which glistened with the glory of Patmos.
Both for quantity and quality, and each was of the best, there never has been one to equal him; and, for forty years, he preached the same old gospel. He never turned aside to the foolish vagaries of “modern thought”, or ran after the will-o’-the-wisp of “the new theology”; the ancient covenant of grace, and the inspired Word of God, were. the Alpha and Omega of his preaching. The ease and grace of his delivery were noteworthy; his preaching was a very kaleidoscope of ever-changing beauty, for each part of his speech fell into its right place with perfect aptness, and made a complete and charming pattern. When once he began to speak, you felt sure that each succeeding wave of expression would wash up some new and hitherto-hidden truth, or make. the common facts of every-day life glisten afresh, like. the silver sand lately laved by the ocean’s wave; and while listening to the matchless; voice, there seemed to steal over you the low murmur of another, which told you that he was declaring the very oracles of God. None can exaggerate the boundless generosity, tender sympathy, practical sagacity, and Christlike zeal displayed in the manifold agencies of which he was both head and heart.
His works do follow him, and are living monuments to the memory of a great man; — great, because the grace of God made him good. As a teacher and author, his works speak volumes; and while the wonderful voice silenced by death, one cannot but rejoice that thousands of his discourses are preserved in the printed sermons, and these shall, for many a year to come, still continue to bring forth fruit. Shall we not all humbly pray that the memory of his gracious and noble life may be a daily incentive and inspiration to us, and that grace may be given to us to follow him as fully as he followed the Lord?