MR. SPURGEON’S OPINIONS ON SUBJECTS OF GENERAL INTEREST.
WHILE the many hundreds of letters and notes written by Mr. Spurgeon were being examined with a view to the selection of those inserted in the preceding chapters, it was found that, in several of them, he had given expression to his opinions upon subjects — of permanent public interest. It was decided, therefore, that a number of his epistles concerning religious, political, and social matters should be collected in a separate chapter, in order that those who desire to know what he said upon these topics may be able to refer to them. The letters are, as far as possible, arranged in chronological order, with sub-titles to increase the facility of reference to them.
Among the many falsehoods which, at different times, were told concerning Mr. Spurgeon, one which he naturally repelled with the utmost indignation was the statement that he once declared that “there are in hell infants a span long.” In reply to a correspondent who asked if he had ever said this, he wrote — “Newington, S.E., “June 12, 1869. “Dear Sir, “I have never, at any time in my life said, believed, or imagined that any infant, under any circumstances, would be cast into hell. I have always believed in the salvation of all infants, and I intensely detest the opinion, which your opponent dared to attribute to me. I do not believe that, on this earth, there is a single professing Christian holding the damnation of infants; or, if there be, he must be insane, or utterly ignorant of Christianity. I am obliged by this opportunity of denying the calumny, although the author of it will probably find no difficulty in inventing some other fiction to be affirmed as unblushingly as the present one. He who doubts God’s Word is naturally much at home in slandering the Lord’s servants. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
The question of the salvation of infants is also referred to in the following note, which was written to a minister, whose infant child had died, and to whose wife a Christadelphian had expressed the idea that children dying at that age have no existence after death — “Clapham, “June 8, 1872. “Dear Friend, “I am just leaving home, and can only write and say, — May the Comforter fulfill His Divine office in your hearts! The child is with Jesus. David did not think his babe annihilated when he said, ‘I shall go to him.’ Away with these foolish dreaams! The Lord be with you! “Yours in sympathy, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
ROMANISM IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
When Mr. Mackey, the Protestant lecturer, was put in prison, Mr. C. N.
Newdegate, M.P., called upon Mr. Spurgeon, to discuss the various aspects of the question, and the anti-Romish agitation in general. After he reached his home, he wrote to the Pastor as follows — “3, Arlington Street, “Piccadilly, “Sept. 24, 1871. “My Dear Sir, “I shall consider our conversation as confidential, as I am sure you will, since I mentioned individuals and their conversations, which I have no right to publish. You will, I am sure, understand this. “Yours very sincerely, “C. S.NEWDEGATE.”
To, this note, Mr. Spurgeon replied thus — “Clapham, “Sept. 26. “My Dear Sir, “Rely upon me. As far as I am concerned, I do not object to your repeating any remarks of mine but I quite see the propriety of your request, and will readily comply with it. The imprisonment of Mr. Mackey appears to be a breach of all equity. If law permits it, law itself is bad. To check the power of the Papacy, and put down its errors, is a work worthy of the efforts of the best of men. May you have success in your labors! So long, however, as the Episcopal denomination remains Popish and patronized, your efforts will be stultified. “Some years ago (such things are rare with us), I lost a member of my church, who is now a Romanist. How was he seduced? Not by Dr. Manning or St. George’s Cathedral, but by Mr. Mackonochie and St. Alban’s. I have more to fear from your Church than from the Pope’s hirelings, for it uses its Evangelical clergy as the first lure to godly people, then its semi-Ritualists, then its full-blown Papists, and so on, till men are conducted down to the pit of Popery. “Besides, your Church claims a pre-eminence I cannot concede to it, curses me roundly in its canons, denies my call to the ministry, shuts the worthlest of my brethren out of its pulpits, and to crown all, compels me to pay tithe, and support an establishment which I abhor. Yet I love the true Protestants in your Church most heartily, though smarting daily under grievous wrongs, in the infliction of which they are participes criminis. “Christian charity finds it hard to live where it is demanded on the one side, but cannot be returned on the other. While the existence of Protestant Dissenters is ignored by the Church, as such, and is treated as a crime in her canons, it is only a miracle of grace which enables a Nonconformist to have fellowship with any member of the dominant sect. I pray God to remove this monstrous barrier in the way of union, and to unite all our hearts in His fear. “I am glad to have seen you, and am, “Yours very heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
BELL-RINGING AT NEWINGTON.
At various times, Mr. Spurgeon was obliged to write to the Newington clergy concerning the bell-ringing during services at the Tabernacle. The following was one of these communications — “Nightingale Lane, “Clapham, “July 4. “Dear Sir, “I beg to call your attention to the great disturbance caused by the ringing of a bell, at St. Gabriel’s Church, while the congregation at the Tabernacle is engaged in prayer. I reminded your predecessor that no right of bell-ringing belongs to any but a parish church, and informed him that I really must appeal to the law to stop the needless nuisance. He very kindly reduced the evil to the minimum, and I no longer objected. I am sure it is far from me to wish to interfere with the peculiar habits of my neighbors; but when many hundreds of persons, met to worship God, are disturbed by the clanging of a loud bell, it compels me to complain. The hours when we are at worship are at 11 and 6.30 on Sunday, and from 7 to 8.30 p.m. on Monday and Thursday. “Wishing to be upon good terms with all in the parish, I trust that you will not allow the bell-ringer to disturb us further, but will substitute a few strokes for the many which are now given. “I am, “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
Canon Palmer, to whom the above letter was addressed, was one of the speakers at the memorial service for Christian workers held in connection with Mr. Spurgeon’s funeral, and, after reading the note, he said — “I have no copy of my answer, but I think I can remember its effect tolerably well. It was that I did not know what the law might order, but I was quite sure what the gospel required. It required that my neighbors should not be unnecessarily troubled, and I would give orders, at once, that the bell-ringing should be confined to a few strokes, and I had no doubt that the bell-ringer would be very much obliged to Mr. Spurgeon for mitigating his labors in that extremely hot weather. He wrote me again, immediately — “Dear Sir, “I am exceedingly obliged by your prompt and Christian reply. I felt it needful to make my protest against the bell-ringing somewhat strong, that I might not appear to be asking a favor merely, but claiming a right not to be disturbed. Otherwise, the lapse of years gives right to a custom against which no protest is entered. This, and no unfriendliness to you, prompted what you considered to be a threat. I can only hope that future correspondence may be, on my part, on a more pleasant subject, and, on your part, may be in the same generous tone. “Yours very heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
During the whole of Mr. Spurgeon’s ministry, comparatively few of the members of his church embraced erroneous opinions; but when they did, they usually resigned their membership, and united with those who held similar views to those which they had adopted. There was at least one individual who did not conform to this rule; and, concerning him, the Pastor wrote as follows to Revelation Samuel Minton — “Clapham, “July 20. “Sir, “I am sorry that Mr. — stultifies his own convictions, and distresses others, by remaining with a church whose testimony is diametrically opposed to his opinions. It seems to me that a Christian man is bound to unite with a church where he may consistently hold! and promulgate his views; but he has no excuse if he remains with a people to whom his views are obnoxious, and where his agitation of his opinions tends to create strife and division. We, as a church at the Tabernacle, cultivate fellowship with all the churches of our Lord, although differing in many respects from some of them; but, within our own membership, we have a basis of agreement in doctrine and practice, and where a member differs from it, it is his duty to remove to some other community where his views are held, or else he must expect us to withdraw from him. I have taken no further action in the case of Mr.___ than to request him to find a more congenial fellowship; but if he does not do so, our discipline must take its usual course. No honest man can be a member of the church meeting at the Tabernacle, and hold annihilationist views, for now and in all time past we have borne testimony to the generally-received doctrine. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
VOTING “AS UNTO THE LORD.”
During the General Election of 1880, a gentleman having written to express his deep regret that Mr. Spurgeon “should have descended from his high and lofty position as a servant of God, and preacher of the everlasting gospel into the defiled arena of party politics,” the Pastor replied to him — “Nightingale Lane, “Balham, Surrey, “March 22, 1880. “Dear Sir, “Your letter amuses me, ‘because you are so evidently a rank Tory, and so hearty in ‘your political convictions that, in spite of your religious scruples, you must needs interfere in politics, and write to me. If there is anything defiling in it, you are certainly over head and ears. “However, dear sir, I thank you for your kindness in wishing to put me right, and I can assure you that I vote as devoutly as I pray, and feel it to be a part of my love to God and to my neighbor to try to turn out the Government whom your letter would lead me to let alone. “You are as wrong as wrong can be in your notion; but, as it keeps you from voting, I shall not try to convert you, for I am morally certain you would vote for the Tory candidate. “In things Divine, we are probably at one; and you shall abstain from voting as unto the Lord, and I will vote as unto the Lord, and we ‘will both give Him thanks. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
Yet, staunch Liberal and ardent admirer of Mr. Gladstone as he was, Mr. Spurgeon was by no means a blind follower of any earthly leader. He protested very’ emphatically against the appointment of the Marquis of Ripon as Viceroy of India, and he wrote thus, concerning that and other political questions, in reply to a letter from his old Cambridge friend, Mr. J.
S. Watts — “Nightingale Lane, “June 19, ‘80. “My Dear Friend, “Like yourself, I go in for religious equality, but I like things done legally, and not in Mr. Gladstone’s occasionally despotic way, — by Royal Warrant, or by his own will. Alter the Act of Settlement if the nation chooses, but do not contravene it. Moreover, I should not allow a Mormonite to be Judge in the Divorce Court, nor a Quaker to be Commissioner of Oaths, nor an atheist to be Chaplain to the House of Commons; and, for the same reason, I would not have a Roman Catholic, sworn to allegiance to the Pope, to be Viceroy of India. Mr. Gladstone said this himself when writing about the Vatican; but the way in which he eats his words, and puts on a new form so soon as he is in power, does not increase my esteem for him. “I belong to the party which knows no party. To cheapen beer, to confirm the opium curse, to keep in office the shedders of blood, and to put Papists to the front, are things I never expected from Mr. Gladstone; but ‘cursed be the man that trusteth in man.’ Yet I am a Gladstonite despite all this. “To turn to a better subject, — the Girls’ Orphanage is outdoing all that went before. Love-letters pour in today. Am I not happy? I believe I have £7,000 out of £11,000. It comes leaping over mountains and hills. The Lord is a glorious Helper. Oh, for more faith in Him! “Yours ever most heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
In order to keep together the letters relating to Mr. Gladstone, another of later date is inserted here — HOME RULE.
It is well known that Mr. Spurgeon did not agree with Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule proposals, and that many of his own most ardent admirers differed from him upon that matter. Among others, Pastor T. W. Medhurst supported the Liberal leader, and, in consequence, some of the Portsmouth papers represented him as having spoken unkindly of his beloved President.
He therefore wrote to Mr. Spurgeon. who sent the following reply — “Dear Friend, ‘I did not think your language, as reported, to be disrespectful, nor even dreamed that you would be unkind. Speak as strongly as ever you like, and I shall not be aggrieved. You are as free as I am; and I am free, and mean to be. If others think the bill wise and good, I hope they will do their best to carry it. I believe it to be a fatal stab at our common country, and I am bound to oppose it. I am as good a Liberal as any man living, and my loving admiration of Mr. Gladstone is the same as ever, hearty and deep, but this bill I conceive to be a very serious error. I claim to be under no man’s dictation, and to dictate to no man. Do not fear to speak through any shrinking on my account. Both sides ought to be heard. I shall love you none the less, but all the more, for being plain-spoken, “Yours very heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
REGISTRARS AT NONCONFORMIST WEDDINGS.
The following letter is of special interest now that the proposal referred to in it has been embodied in an Act of Parliament — “Westwood, “April 9, 1881. “Dear Friend, “I regard marriage as a civil contract, which ought to be made before a magistrate or a registrar. I should be glad to be rid of marrying and burying altogether as religious matters, save only where there is a sincere desire for the Divine blessing or consolation. In these cases, let the minister hold a service at the house or the meeting-house; but do not make him a State official to register marriages, and to be held responsible for all the intricacies of marriage law. “I hope Mr. Briggs’ proposal will never pass, or anything like it. If it did, I could only refuse to marry anybody, for I will not become a registrar. I altogether agree with the reported action of the Liberation Society, and wish for the time when all marriages shall ‘be at the registrar’s office, and then the godly can have such religious service afterwards as; they wish. “Yours ever heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”\parVIVESECTION.
At a meeting, held at West Norwood, under the auspices of the London Anti-vivisection Society, the. following letter from Mr. Spurgeon was read — “Westwood, “July 25, 1881. “Dear Sir, “I am unable to attend your garden meeting. I wish evermore the utmost success, to all protests against the inhuman practice of vivisection. It does not bear to be thought of. How it must excite the righteous indignation of the all-merciful Creator! It is singularly sad that there should need to be an agitation on such a question; for one would think that the least-enlightened conscience would perceive the evil of such cruelty, and that the most-hardened heart would retain sufficient humanity to revolt against it. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
PERSECUTION OF JEWS IN RUSSIA.
Mr. Spurgeon was unable to be present at the meeting held at the Mansion House, on February 1, 1882, to protest against the persecution of the Jews in Russia, but the following letter from him was read by the Lord Mayor — “I am sorry that I am quite precluded by prior engagements from being at the Mansion House to speak against the outrages committed upon the Jews. I am, however, relieved by the belief that the heart of England is one in a strong feeling of indignation at the inhuman conduct of certain savages in Russia. Every man and woman among us feels eloquently on behalf of our fellow-men who are subjected to plunder and death, and still more for our sisters, to whom even worse treatment has been meted out. Thence you have the less need of speeches and orations. As a Christian, I feel that the name of our Redeemer is dishonored by such conduct on the part of His professed followers. As a Nonconformist and a Liberal, believing in the equal rights of all men to live in freedom and safety, I must protest against a state of things in which the Jew is made art outlaw. Lastly, as a man, I would mourn in my inmost soul that any beings in human form should be capable of such crimes as those which have made Russia red with Israelitish blood. But what need even of these, few sentences? The oppressed are sure of advocates wherever Englishmen assemble.”
On March 15, 1882, Mr. Spurgeon wrote the letter on the following page, to be read at the meeting to which it refers — “Dear Friends, “I am exceedingly sorry to be absent from this first meeting to form the Tabernacle Total Abstinence Society. The worst of it is, that my head is so out of order that I cannot even dictate a proper letter. I can only say, ‘Try and do all the better because I am away.’ If the leader is shot down, and his legs are broken, the soldiers must give an extra hurrah, and rush on the enemy. I sincerely believe that, next to the preaching of the gospel, the most necessary thing to be done in England is to induce our people to become total abstainers.
I hope this Society will do something when it is started. I don’t want you to wear a lot of peacocks’ feathers and patty medals, nor to be always trying to convert the moderate drinkers, but to go in for winning the real drunkards, and bringing the poor enslaved creatures to the feet of Jesus, who can give them liberty. I wish I could say ever so many good things, but I cannot, and so will remain, “Yours teetotally, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
When the second anniversary of the Society was celebrated, Mr. Spurgeon was again ill, for he wrote this letter to be read at the meeting — “Westwood, “March 19, 1884. “Dear Friends, “I have just been saying that I should like to be as strong as a lion; but it has been suggested to me that, then, I might not be so strong as I am now. I am sorry that I happen to be weak when the battle is against strong drink. May the speakers tonight make up for my enforced absence by speaking twice as well as possible! The theme should fire them. I hope they will be full of spirit against evil spirits, stout against stout, and hale against ale. Let the desolate homes, the swollen rates, the crowded goals, the untimely graves, and the terrible destruction of souls, all wrought by drunkenness, inspire you with fervor for the cause of temperance. Thank God for what has been accomplished; your year’s labor has not been in vain in the Lord; but let this nerve you for larger endeavors. The drink must be dried up, — fountain, stream, and pool; this river of death must cease to flow through our land. God’s grace will help us. His pity for sinners will move Him to aid every loving effort for the salvation of the fallen. “I pray for a sevenfold blessing upon the year to come. If I cannot speak to men, I can speak with God for them, and I will do so. May our Lord Jesus Christ inspire us with a deeper love to perishing sinners! With my hearty love, “I am, Brother Blues, “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
In a letter to Mr. J. T. Markley, of Eastbourne, dated April, 1882, with reference to his suggestions in the public prints in favor of the substitution of artificial for live birds at shooting contests, Mr. Spurgeon wrote — “My judgment is heartily with you as to the brutality of pigeon-shooting matches. I cannot make out how people, who are in other matter, kind and gentle, can frequent these butcheries. I am still very unwell, and hardly like to think of the woes of this creation. I cannot just now do or say anything worth doing or saying, so I must leave the cause of the dumb in the hands of such good pleaders as yourself.”
Mr. Spurgeon promised to be present, if possible, at the Liberation Society’s meeting at the Tabernacle, on May 3, 1882; but, in consequence of ill-health, he was not able to be there, so he sent the following letter to Mr. J. Carvell Williams, who read it at the meeting — “Westwood, “May 3, 1882. “Dear Sir, “I had always intended to speak tonight if strength were given to me, and I am greatly disappointed that I am obliged to be absent. I feel that this question of liberating the bride of Christ from her dishonorable association with the State grows upon me in importance the more; I love the Lord Jesus. I see the political evil of the situation, but the religious criminality is that which most oppresses me. “Here is a Church of Christ which surrenders itself to the State. Its Bishops are appointed by the rules of a worldly kingdom; and as for itself, it cannot wear a ribbon, or leave it off, without Caesar’s permission. It is a mercy that some few of her sons find this fetter too galling. The mystery is that they should continue to wear it when the door to Christian liberty is open. I long to see the piety of Episcopalians so elevated that they will hate the present infamous alliance, with all its hard bondage. Failing this, may the eyes of statesmen be opened that they may cease to intermeddle in a sphere in which they have no vocation! For members of our legislature, as for us all, it is a task difficult enough to enter the strait gate each one for himself; and it is a superfluity of naughtiness for these gentlemen to attempt to legislate for the Kingdom of Christ, who asks for no help, from them. More strength to the arm of those true friend; of the Church of England who would establish her by Disestablishment, and enrich her by Disendowment! “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
In the Richmond (U.S.A.), Christian Advocate , May 17, 1883, there appeared what the Editor called “a clever, chatty letter” by Mr. Richard Ferguson, who represented Mr. Spurgeon as saying that “he would rather be a cannibal than a close-communion Baptist.” This statement was reported to Mr. Spurgeon, and he thereupon wrote — “London, “June 20, 1883. “Dear Sir, “I am not in the habit of speaking disrespectfully of strictcommunion Baptists, for I have a full conviction of their conscientiousness. As to saying that I would sooner be a cannibal than a close-communion Baptist, I never thought so, and certainly never said so. I have not the slightest wish to be one or the other; but I rejoice in being a loving brother to the latter. “Yours heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
At various times, Mr. Spurgeon was asked about the genuineness of expressions with reference to close-communion which were attributed to him; another of his replies may suffice, to show the general tenor of his letters upon this question. An American Presbyterian paper stated, “on the authority of a sainted gentleman,” that Mr. Spurgeon had said, “I hate a close-communion Baptist as I hate the devil.” When this paragraph was brought under Mr. Spurgeon’s notice, he wrote — “London, “March 26, 1884. “Dear Sir, “I do not know who ‘the sainted gentleman’ may be, but he did not speak the truth if he reported me as saying that I hated a closecommunion Baptist as 1 hate the devil. I never even thought of such a thing, and assuredly it is not and never was true of me. The ‘saint’ have have dreamed it, or have mistaken the person. “The most unaccountable statements are made by men of known integrity, and they can only be accounted for by misunderstanding or forgetfulness. I know my own mind and views, and I can say, without reserve, that the expression could not have been used by me. As compared with the bulk of English Baptists, I am a strictcommunionist myself, as my church-fellowship is strictly of the baptized. “Yours heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.” “Rev. A. S. Patton.”
In reply to an invitation to speak at the Reform Demonstration, in Hyde Park, on July 21, 1884, Mr. Spurgeon wrote — “I heartily approve of the measure for giving the franchise to our country brethren, and I much regret that the Lords should stand in the way of it. It must come as surely as time revolves, and no hurt can come of it unless it be from the friction occasioned by the opposition to it. I am not able to attend meetings to urge on political reforms; but whenever topics which touch upon the rights of men, righteousness, peace, and so on, come in my way, I endeavor to speak as emphatically as I can on the right side. It is part of my religion to desire justice and freedom for all.”
Mr. Spurgeon’s opinions on this subject were expressed in the following note to at gentleman who was devoting his attention to the work of answering the arguments brought forward in support of the idea — “Westwood,. “September 27, 1884. “Dear Sir, “I wish you every success in your warfare against this silly craze. I was at one’ time rather amused with the delusion, as a freak of human folly; but it evidently has its moral and spiritual bearings, and must therefore be met and exposed. I have not time for this contest, and therefore I am the more pleased to see others in the field. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
A newspaper correspondence having arisen concerning the proceedings in connection with open-air baptism at Sheepwash, in Devonshire, Pastor W.
T. Soper, one of “our own men,” wrote to Mr. Spurgeon concerning the matter, and his letter elicited the following reply — “Westwood, “May 13, 1885. “Dear Mr. Soper, “I was not present at Sheepwash; and, consequently, can form no opinion as to the behavior of the villagers after the baptism was over; but I remember that the same things were said, more ‘than thirty years ago, of our public baptisms in Cambridgeshire, and I daresay there is as much truth in the representations now made as; in those of the older time. “Those who did not wish to see so much of baptism imagined evils which existed mainly in their fears. “Baptism in the open river is so Scriptural, and, withal, such a public testimony, that I hope our friends will never abandon it. The reproach is to be bravely borne; for, if you hide away in the meeting-house, it will follow you there. We are most numerous where the ordinance is most known Next to the Word of God, a baptizing service is the best argument for baptism. “Whenever numbers of people come together, whether for trade, politics, or religion, there will always be loose persons to dishonor the occasion; but we are not therefore to abstain from such gatherings. Such an inference would be absurd. “God bless and prosper you! “Yours heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
In reply to an enquiry with regard to the evolution theory, Mr. Spurgeon wrote — “Westwood, “February 8, 1887. “Dear Sir, “Thanks for your most excellent and courteous letter. I have read a good deal on the subject, and have never yet seen a fact, or the tail of a fact, which indicated the rise of one species of animal into another. The theory has been laid down, and facts fished up to support it. I believe it to be a monstrous error in philosophy, which will be a theme for ridicule before another twenty years. “In theology, its influence would be deadly; and this is all I care about. On the scientific matter, you do well to use your own judgment. “The Lord bless you, and lead you into His truth more and more! “Yours heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
At one of the memorable gatherings under “The Question Oak,” a student asked Mr. Spurgeon, “Are we justified in receiving Mr. Darwin’s or any other theory of evolution?” The President’s answer was — ” My reply to that enquiry can best take the form of another question? — Does Revelation teach us evolution? It never has struck me, and it does not strike now, that the theory of evolution can, by any process, of argument, be reconciled with the inspired record of the Creation. You remember how it is distinctly stated, again and again, that the Lord made each creature ‘after his kind.’ So we read, ‘And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind and God saw that it was good.’ And again, ‘And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind and God saw that it was good.’ Besides, brethren, I would remind you that, after all these years in which so many people have been hunting up and down the world for ‘the missing link’ between animals and men, among all the monkeys that the wise men have examined, they have never discovered one who has rubbed his tail off, and ascended in the scale of creation so far as to take his place as the equal of our brothers and sisters of the great family of mankind. Mr. Darwin has never been able to find the germs of an Archbishop of Canterbury in the body of a tomcat or a billy goat, and I venture to prophesy that he will never accomplish such a feat as that. There are abundant evidences that one creature inclines towards another in certain respects, for all are bound together in a wondrous way which indicates that they are all the product of God’s creative will; but what the advocates of evolution appear to forget is, that there is nowhere to be discovered an actual chain of growth from one creature to another, — there are breaks here and there, and so many missing links that the chain cannot be made complete. There are, naturally enough, many resemblances between them, because they have all been wrought by the one great master-mind of God, yet each one has its own peculiarities. The Books of Scripture are many, yet the Book, the Bible, is one; the waves of the sea are many, yet the sea is one; and the creatures that the Lord has made are many, yet the Creation is one. Look at the union between the animal and the bird in the bat or in the flying squirrel; think of the resemblance between a bird and a fish in the flying fish; yet, nobody, surely, would venture to tell you that a fish ever grew into a bird, or that a bat ever became a butterfly or an eagle. No; they do not get out of their own spheres. All the evolutionists in the world cannot ‘improve’ a mouse so that it will develop into a cat, or evolve a golden eagle out of a barn-door fowl. Even where one species very closely resembles another, there is a speciality about each which distinguishes it from all others. “I do not know, and I do not say, that a person cannot believe in Revelation and in evolution, too, for a man may believe that which is infinitely wise and also that which is only asinine. In this evil age, there is apparently nothing that a man cannot believe he can believe, ex animo, the whole Prayer-book of the Church of England! It is pretty much the same with other matters; and, after all, the greatest discoveries made by man must be quite babyish to the infinite, mind of God. He has told us all that we need to know in order that we may become like Himself, but He never meant us to know all that He knows.”
When the proposed Treaty of Arbitration between Great Britain and the United States was under consideration in the year 1887, Mr. Spurgeon wrote, in reply to a request for his opinion with regard to it — “Concerning the substitution of arbitration for war, there can surely be no question among Christian men. I rejoice that the two great Protestant nations should seek to lead the way in making permanent arrangements for the future settlement of differences in a reasonable manner. May they succeed so admirably as to induce others to follow their excellent example!
It is surely time that we reasoned like men instead of killing like tigers.”
UNFERMENTED COMMUNION WINE.
A question having been raised, in The Christian Commonwealth, as to the wine used at the communion services at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Mr. Spurgeon wrote to the Editor as follows — “Westwood, “June 20, 1887. “Dear Sir, “We use Frank Wright’s unfermented wine at the Tabernacle, and have never used any other unfermented wine. I am given to understand that some of the so-called unferrnented wine has in it a considerable amount of alcohol; but Mr. Wright’s is the pure juice of the grape. One person advertised his wine as used at the Tabernacle though we had never used it even on one occasion. So far as we are concerned, we use no wine but that produced by Messrs. Frank Wright, Mundy, and Co. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
In June, 1887, Mr. Spurgeon gave an address in connection with the Tabernacle Total Abstinence Society, in the course of which he said — “I could tell some dreadful stories of respectable Christian men, whom I know, who come home from business with heavy hearts because they do not know whether or not their wives will be drunk. They have prayed with them, they have wept with them, they have forgiven them many times, and vet the grocer’s shop has been too much for them. Do not talk about the public-house. That thing is straight and above-board, — that much I will say for it, — but the grocer’s shop is the place that ruins an immense number of women. They can get the drink there, and put it down under the name of something else; and I believe there never was a worse move for the temperance of this nation than that which made it easy to buy drink at grocers’ shops. I have not known a grocer who has not been deteriorated by the sale of it. I do not say they have become bad men, but they have not become better men.”
The solicitor to the Off-licenses Association wrote to Mr. Spurgeon, challenging some of his statements, and referring to the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords upon the matter; the following reply was sent to him — “Westwood, “June 30, 1887. “Dear Sir, “I thank you for your letter. I am always ready to hear the other side, and especially when the pleading is so temperate in spirit. I do not intend to enter into controversy, but my opinion has not been arrived at without observation. I believe myself to be much better able to form an opinion than those who are engaged in the trade.
Facts well known to us as ministers cannot be divulged. The ease with which drink can be obtained at respectable shops, I believe to be a peculiarly evil form of temptation; but to publish the facts which prove it would be as painful as it would be easy. “A Committee of the House of Lords can prove nothing; the witnesses are silenced by a delicacy which their position demands. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
An actress in America, replying to some ministerial criticisms upon the influence of the stage upon religion and morals, made the following statement to an interviewer — “Among the best friends I have ewer had, have been such eminent divines as Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Chapin, Dr. Talrnage, Dr. Swing, Mr. Spurgeon, and others; and I am sure that none of these thought that my profession, rightly followed, carries with it any danger to good morals or religion.”
The minister who had been in controversy with the lady wrote to Mr. Spurgeon, enquiring as to the truth of this statement, and he replied thus — “London, “January 24, 1888. “Dear Sir, “So far as I can charge my memory, I have never before heard of Miss — am decidedly of the opinion that the stage is the enemy of ‘good morals and religion.’ It has not improved this lady’s truthfulness if she mentioned me as enrolled among her friends. She may be a very excellent person, but I know nothing of her. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
Mr. Spurgeon’s opinions concerning professing Christians going to the theater are well known. Perhaps his most notable utterance upon that subject was evoked by the attendance of a large number of clergymen and minister’s at a special performance in the Shaftesbury Theatre. Shortly afterwards, in a sermon at the Tabernacle, he said — “The Christian Church of the present day has played the harlot beyond any church in any other day. There are no amusements too vile for her. Her’ pastors have filled a theater of late; and, by their applause, have set their mark of approval upon the labors of play-actors. To this point have we come at last, a degradation which was never reached even in Rome’s darkest hour; — and if you do not love Christ enough to be indignant about it, the Lord have mercy upon you!”
BRETHREN AND BRETHRENISM.
In May, 1890, a correspondent wrote to ask Mr. Spurgeon some questions concerning Brethren and Brethrenism, and at the same time mentioned the following incident in connection with one of the Pastor’s sermons — “Dear Mr. Spurgeon, “This may interest you. My father-in-law, twenty-five years ago, lived in London, and on one occasion went to hear you preach.
Your text was Nathan’s words to David, ‘Thou art the man!’ He had been exercised as to doing some little preaching; and as you proceeded with your sermon, he thought, ‘Well, there is nothing for me here.’ You went on, however, to picture the Plague of London, and asked, ‘What would you think of a man who, during the time of the Plague, had a specfic for it, but kept it in his pocket?’ Then, after a pause, and with outstretched finger, you called out, ‘Thou art the man!’ This went right home to my father-in-law’s heart, and he thought, ‘That’s for me! I’ve heard enough!’ From that time he began to preach, and has continued to do so ever since, the result being blessing to many souls, and much glory to the Name of Jesus.
His thought was that he had the specific for the plague of sin in his pocket, but that he was failing to administer it’, one of his favorite illustrations of the simplicity of the gospel message is the story of your own conversion, under the local preacher’s sermon upon the text. ‘Look unto Me. and be ye saved,’ which story I once came across in my reading, and showed to him.”
In reply to the foregoing letter, Mr. Spurgeon wrote — “Westwood, “May 9, 1890. “Dear Sir, “I cannot say that I have changed my opinion as to Brethrenism, but with many Brethren I have always been on most brotherly terms. I don’t think I am bound to answer your questions about individuals. I believe that I was loved by C. S., and that Mr. Kelly regards me in the kindest manner; and I return the like to the memory of the first, and to the other wire survives. I am, perhaps, better able to sympathize with their separateness now than aforetime; but their ideas of the ministry I do not accept. “The sermon you mention was not printed. I rejoice that your father-in-law was; set working through hearing it; and I pray that we may each one in his appointed way, hold and spread the truth of the gospel of our Lord who cometh quickly. “Yours very truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
Mr. Spurgeon wrote the following letter to the honorary secretary of the Church of England Burial, Funeral, and Mourning Reform Association — “Westwood, “September 11, 1890. “Dear Sir, “I hardly think it can be necessary to say that the expending of money on mere show at funerals is absurd, unthrifty, and even cruel. I hope the common sense of the people will soon destroy customs which oppress the widow and fatherless by demanding of them an expenditure which they cannot afford. To bedeck a corpse with vain trappings, is a grim unsuitability. Something has been done in the right direction, but I fear your Society has yet to battle with prejudices which are hard to overcome; and when these are conquered, there, will speedily spring up another host of extravagances. I wish you good success in a reform so evidently demanded. “Yours truly, “C. H.SPURGEON.”