ENQUIRERS AND CONVERTS (CONTINUED ).
WHEN talking with anxious enquirers, I am often amazed at the ingenuity with which they resist the entrance of the truth into their hearts. I do not think I have ever been so much astonished at the invention of locomotive engines, electric telegraphs, or any other feats of human mechanism, as I have been at the marvelous aptitude of simple people in finding out reasons why they should not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. After I have proved to them to a demonstration that it is the most reasonable and fitting thing in the world for them to trust themselves with Christ, they ask, “How is this to be done?” or, “How is that to be accomplished?” and they argue, first one way, and then another, all against their own best interests. Often, I go patiently through the whole process again and again; and even when that has been done, there comes another objection. I have tracked these people to their holes as diligently as if I had been a fox-hunter, and I have tried to unearth them from their hiding-places; but I find that they can often burrow faster than I can follow them. Oh, the “ifs” and “buts” they put; the “perhaps,” and “peradventure,” and “I don’t feel this,” and “I don’t feel that”! Oh, that wicked questioning of Christ! While talking with them, endeavoring to comfort them, and I hope not unsuccessfully, I am often led to realize more deeply than before, in my own mind, what an awful crime it is to doubt God, to doubt Him who speaks from above, to doubt Him who hung bleeding on the tree.
Sitting, one day, to see enquirers, a young Dutchman came into the room.
He had crossed from Flushing, and desired to tell me his difficulties of soul.
He began, “Sir, I cannot trust in Christ.” My answer was, “Why not? What has He done that you should speak so ill of Him? I have trusted everything in His hands, and I believe Him to be quite trustworthy. What do you know against His character?” “Indeed, sir, I know nothing against Him, and I am ashamed that I have so spoken, for I believe the Lord Jesus to be worthy of all confidence. That was not what I meant. May I trust Him to save me?” “Of course you may, for you are commanded to do so by the gospel, which says, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ You are warned against not believing by the words, ‘He that believeth not shall be damned.’“ “I may, then, trust Christ; but does He promise to save all who trust Him?” “Certainly. I have already quoted to you the promise of the gospel. It is also written, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.’ It Jesus does not save you upon your trusting Him, you will be the first He ever cast out.” “Ah, sir, I see it! Why did I not see it before? I trust, and Jesus saves me. I am well repaid for coming from Flushing.”
I prayed with him, and he went his way trembling for joy.
A lady came to me, after a service in the Tabernacle, and asked me to pray for her. She had been before to speak to me about her soul, so I said to her, on the second occasion, “I told you very plainly the way of salvation, namely, that you are to trust yourself in Christ’s hands, relying on His atoning sacrifice. Have you done that?” She answered, “No,” and then asked me whether I would pray for her. I said, “No, certainly I will not.”
She looked at me with astonishment, and again asked, “Will you not pray for me?” “No,” I replied, “I have nothing for which to pray for you. I have set the way of salvation before you so simply that, if you will not walk in it, you will be lost; but if you trust Christ now, you will be saved. I have nothing further to say to you; but, in God’s Name, to set before you life or death.” Still she pleaded, “Do pray for me!” “No,” I answered, “would you have me ask God to shape His gospel so as to let you in as an exception? I do not see why He should. His plan of salvation is the only one that ever has been or ever will be of any avail; and if you will not trust to it, I am not going to ask God anything, for I do not see what else is wanted from Him.
I put this question plainly to you, ‘Will you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? I certainly was somewhat surprised when the sister said, very deliberately, “If it be so, then, that salvation will come to me by believing, I do believe what the Scripture says concerning Christ; and, moreover, I feel that I can trust myself with Him, because He is God, and He has offered a sufficient sacrifice for my sins; and I do trust myself to Him just now; and I feel such a strange peace stealing over me at this very moment. I have trusted Him, and I am certain that I am saved;” and, in an instant, she said to me, “Good evening, sir; there are other people waiting to see you,” and away she went, like at common-sense woman as she was; and she has often told me, since, how glad she was that I refused to pray for her, and so brought her to the decision to trust Christ for herself, and thus to receive the assurance of her salvation.
There is a great contrast between the way in which different converts begin their new life. I have sometimes thought that, if a man does not become a high-class Christian during the first three months after his conversion, he probably never will. I have noticed some people who have commenced their Christian career in a very feeble fashion. I hope they so began that they were really saved; but, still, they started doubting and fearing, and they kept on in the same style till they went to Heaven. “Ah, sir!” said one to me once, “either all the world has altered, or else I have, for people I once delighted in I am now afraid of. The things that once made me glad now make me unhappy, and those that I thought melancholy are now the very things in which I find my highest joy.” I am always thankful when our friends get a very decided conversion, because, though I am not going to say a word against those who come to Christ very gradually, yet their experience is rather cloudy. No doubt they are just as safe as others, but they lack a good deal of comfort afterwards; and, sometimes, persons who are very readily converted, and who have no very deep sense of sin, are more apt to play with evil than others are who have had a clearer sight of its enormity. Some begin by serving the Lord stingily, not giving Him their whole hearts; or they commence coldly, and so they never get hot with zeal all their lives. I am glad when a young convert is red-hot, or even whitehot; I like to see him too full of zeal, if that is possible; because, when he cools down, he will come just to the right temperature if he is too hot at first but, if he is cool at the beginning, what will he come to by-and-by?
There are no laborers for the Master who are so useful as those who begin to serve Him while they are young. Sometimes, God converts men in middle life, or even in old age, and uses them in His service; but, still, I venture to assert that Church history will show that the most useful servants of Christ were those who were caught early, and who from their youth up bore testimony to the gospel of Jesus. In the case of some old people, who have been professors of religion for years, but who have done next to nothing for Christ, I find it very difficult ever to stir them up at all.
When I do get a saddle on them, they are very restive creatures, like a horse that hats never been broken in; but if I break them in while they are colts, they get used to their work, it becomes a delight to them, and. they would not be happy unless they had something to do for the Lord Jesus. I remember having a considerable share of sneers, and rebukes not a few, from some who thought themselves very wise men, because I began preaching at the age of sixteen. I was recommended to tarry at Jericho till my beard had grown, and a great many other pieces of advice were given to me; but I have never regretted that I was a “boy-preacher” of the Word; and if I could have my time over again, I would like to do just the same as I did then.
I have been delighted as I have noticed the earnest efforts of many of my church-members in seeking to bring sinners to the Tabernacle to hear the gospel.
Two of our brethren, both working-men, — one of whom has been afamous runner, and who has won prizes in many running-matches, — are accustomed, as they say, to hunt in couples for souls. Their usual method is for one to go on one side of the street, and his friend on the other, on the Lord’s-day morning, in those parts of London where Sabbath trading is carried on to the greatest extent. One morning; one of them was giving a tract to a person as the other was crossing over to join him, to communicate with him on some subject. As the second friend met the man who had received the tract, he heard him say, with an oath, “What is the use of giving me this tract? I shall be in hell in an hour!” He said to his fellow-laborer, on reaching him, “Did you hear what that man said?” “No,” he answered, “I did not notice; what was it?” “He appeared very wild, and talked of being in hell in an hour; he is either insane, or he is intending to commit suicide.” “Do you think so? Then we will be after him.” They followed him, and the second one, on coming up to the man, said to him, “What did you say when you took that tract?” “That’s no concern of yours,” he answered, “mind your own business.” “Oh!” ‘was the reply, “but it is my business, for, if I heard aright, you said that you would be in hell in an hour.” “Yes, I did say so; this world is worse than hell, and I’ll be out of it in an hour.” “No, you won’t,” said our friend, “for I mean to stick by you; and I won’t leave you for an hour, go where you may.”
The poor creature then succumbed, and the godly men took him into a coffee-shop, and gave him a good breakfast. The man felt less like committing suicide after that meal. Our friends knew that the best gospel sermon would not be likely to benefit a man who was starving; he had tasted nothing for three days, and had walked the streets all the night.
Hence, our brethren wisely felt that they must first feed his hungry body; and after that, they brought him to the Tabernacle. When the service was over, their poor patient looked a little more hopeful, and the soul-doctors thought it best to repeat the dose of solid nutriment. They took him to a house where they were accustomed to dine, in a humble way, and he shared their meat. He went to one of the Bible-classes in the afternoon and, in the evening, they brought him again to the Tabernacle, and it pleased God to touch the poor man’s heart, and bring him to a knowledge of himself and his Savior. Then he became communicative, and it appeared that he had left his wife for four or five months, and had been living a life of dissipation, sin, and poverty. He gave the name and address of his wife, in the North of England; she was written to, and his fare was paid home; and, after he had gone back, a letter came from the good woman, saying that she had been a member with the Wesleyan Methodists, and had been long praying for her husband, who had been an awful reprobate, and had at last run away from home. Then she thought it was all over with him; but God had designs of love towards him, and now he had sat down at the Lord’s table with her.
She did not know what to say, her heart was so full of gratitude to God, and to the dear friends who had been the means of bringing her husband to the Savior.
At another time, a man came to join the church; and, according to our usual custom, he was asked how he had become converted, when he told us the following story. He said — “I was employed in driving a horse and van; I never thought of going to any place of worship, and I do not think anybody ever said a word to me about God or Christ until one day when I was crossing ,over London Bridge when, suddenly, a man jumped up, and climbed into the back of my cart. I took my whip to lash him off, but he said, ‘Hold hard mate, I’ve got a message for you.’ This was a very curious thing to me, and I asked, ‘What is it?’ ‘I will tell you, but I may as well sit in front.’ So he sat down beside me. Then I asked him. ‘What is your message?’ ‘It is a message from God to your soul.’ I cursed and swore at him; but that made no difference to him. He said, ‘You are the very man I was after. I knew you were a swearing man, for it was that first attracted my attention to you, and I am sure my message is for you.’ I said to him then, ‘What have you to say? Come cut it short.’ He did cut it short, and he put it pretty straight, too. He told me what would become of my soul if I died a swearer, and he talked to me about the world to come. Then he told me that there was a Savior for sinners, and that, if I trusted Him, I should be saved. Before he left me, he made me promise that I would go to, hear you, sir. So I promised, and as I always boasted that I kept my word, I came to hear you, though I was precious sorry that I had promised to do so. I never got up so early on a Sunday morning before; and when the man saw me at the gate, he took me in, and gave me his seat, and stood himself all the service, which I thought was was very kind on his part. After the sermon, he asked me, ‘Did you like it?’ I replied, ‘No, I did not; that is not the sort of thing that I care about; I don’t believe in religion.’ ‘Ah! but you will,’ the man said; and he and I parted company at the gate, and I hoped I should never meet him again. “I did not see him for some weeks; but, one day, as I was walking down the Blackfriars Road, I saw him coming along, so I slipped round the first corner, and began to run to avoid him; but, soon, I heard somebody running after me, and he came up to me, and said, ‘Well, mate, how are you?’ ‘All right.’ ‘Are you going on any better?’ he asked. I did not give him any answer, and then he told me that he had made up his mind that I should be a Christian one day, and that he never meant to let me alone till that came to pass. I believe he would have gone into my house with me; but, as my wife, and I were fond of drink, there was only a little furniture in it, and I did not wish him to come in, and see the miserable place, so, to get rid of him, I proposed to go and hear Mr. Spurgeon on the next Sunday. I kept my promise; and, now, I am happy to say that I do not need anybody to induce me to go to the Tabernacle. I have been here six months, I have found the Savior for myself, and I have got four of our men to come down to hear the gospel with me.”
Perhaps, next to the joy of actual conversions, the rescue of those who have long been in dense spiritual darkness has given me the greatest delight. Many of God’s people are perplexed with questions concerning their interest in Christ, or they are afflicted with deep depression of spirit out of which only the Lord Himself can lift them up. I have tried, upon some of the sorely-troubled ones, all the promises of the Bible which I could remember. I have reminded them of the person of Christ, and of His consequent power; of the sufferings of Christ, and of His consequent ability to cleanse from sin; but I have many times had this answer given to me, “When God shutteth up, who can deliver?” and I have been very often made to feel that, as Pastor, I could not quench the fiery darts of the wicked one for other people, and that I could not break in pieces the sword of the enemy, for others, or even for myself. Yet I have been very happy when the Lord has enabled me to be the means of cheering any desponding or even despairing soul. One day, as I came out of the pulpit, there met me a brother-minister, and he said, “Sir, I cannot tell you all the particulars now, but I will write tomorrow; my wife is set at liberty. Afterwards, he wrote to tell me how she had been in despair, and what sorrow she had suffered, and what a grief it had, been to him; but while I preached upon the words, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward,” she was brought out of bondage.
Oh, how I praised and blessed God, and thought that I would like to preach day and night if I might but be the channel of such blessing again and again.
Another case which I remember was that of a man of excellent character, well beloved by his family, and esteemed by his neighbors, who was for twenty years enveloped in unutterable gloom. He ceased to attend the house of God, because he said it was of no use; and although always ready to help in every good work, yet he had an abiding conviction upon him that, personally, he had no part nor lot in the matter, and never could have.
The more anyone talked to him about the things of God, the worse he became; even prayer seemed but to excite him to more fearful despondency. In the providence of God, I was called to preach the Word in his neighborhood; he was induced to attend, and, by the Holy Spirit’s blessing on the sermon, he obtained a joyful liberty. After twenty years of anguish and unrest, he ended his weary roamings at the foot of the cross, to the amazement of his neighbors, the joy of his household and the glory of God. Nor did his peace of mind subside; for, until the Lord gave him a happy admission into eternal rest, he remained a vigorous believer, trusting and not being afraid.
Probably the most notable instance of the uplifting of a soul from the deepest despair was the one which was thus related by Mr. Spurgeon, at a Monday evening prayer-meeting at the Tabernacle, as an illustration of the personal preparation which a soul-winner may have to go through before the Lord use him to certain individuals — Some years ago. I was the subject of fearful depression of spirit. Various troublous events had happened to me; I was also unwell, and my heart sank within me. Out of the depths I was forced to cry unto the Lord. Just before I went away to Mentone for rest, I suffered greatly in body, but far more in soul, for my spirit was overwhelmed. Under this pressure, I preached a sermon from the words, “My God, My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I was as much qualified to preach from that text as ever I expect to be; indeed, I hope that few of my brethren could have entered so deeply into those heart-breaking words. I felt to the full of my measure the horror of a soul forsaken of God. Now, that was not a desirable experience. I tremble at the bare idea of passing again through that eclipse of soul; I pray that I may never suffer in that fashion again unless the same result should hang upon it.
That night, after the service, there came into my vestry a man who was as nearly insane as he could be to be out of an asylum. His eyes seemed ready to start from his head, and he saw that he should utterly have despaired if he had not heard that discourse, which had made him feel that there was one man alive who understood his feelings, and could describe his experience. I talked with him, and tried to encourage him, and asked him to come again on the Monday night, when I should have at little more time to speak with him. I saw the brother again, and I told him that I thought he was a hopeful patient, and I was glad that the word had been so suited to his case. Apparently, he put aside the comfort which I presented for his acceptance, and yet I had the consciousness upon me that the precious truth which he had heard was at work upon his mind, and that the storm of his soul would soon subside into a deep calm.
Now hear the sequel. Last night, of all the times in the year, when, strange to say, I was preaching from the words, “The Almighty hath vexed my soul,” after the service, in walked this self-same brother who had called on me five years before. This time, he looked as different as noonday from midnight, or as life from death. I said to him, “I am glad to see you, for I have often thought about you, and wondered whether you were brought into perfect peace.” I told you that I went to Mentone and my patient also went into the country, so that we had not met for five years. ‘To my enquiries, this brother replied, “Yes, you said I was a hopeful patient, and I am sure you will be glad to know that I have walked in the sunlight from that day till now. Everything is changed and altered with me.” Dear friends, as soon as I saw my poor despairing patient the first time, I blessed God that my fearful experience had prepared me to sympathize with him and guide him; but last night, when I saw him perfectly restored, my heart overflowed with gratitude to God for my former sorrowful feelings. I would go into the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit it is good for me to have been afflicted that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.
Many remarkable instances of blessing upon Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons were never reported to him while he was here. The following pleasing testimony came to Mrs. Spurgeon on the first anniversary of his home-going — “More than thirty-nine years ago,” the writer said, “when he was a youth of nineteen, and I a child of ten, I heard him preach a never-to-be-forgotten sermon, which was like an echo upon earth of the ‘new song’ in Heaven. I was in great distress of soul at the time, and had just given myself up as a hopeless backslider, when he came to our little chapel, and preached this lovely sermon the text was, ‘And they sang a new song.’ Vividly, as though it only happened yesterday, do I recall every part of that service, and the heavenly smile lighting up his clear young time, as, looking round into our pew, he seemed to single me out, and said, ‘Have you learned the key-note of that new song? I’ll tell you in a whisper what it is, ‘tis Jesus! only jesus.’ And then he went on ringing ‘those charming bells’ of ‘free grace and dying love’ till my poor heart was lifted up into joy, and peace, and full assurance, which, through all the ups and clowns of thirty-nine years of spiritual life, I have never quite lost from that day, till the hour he left this world for his native Land, it has been my joy to watch, with the profoundest sympathy and love, his wonderful and beautiful life, — to weep over his sorrows, to rejoice in his joys, and to pray for him in all the trials he endured with such Christlike gentleness and patience. None have greater reason than I to say, from the very heart, ‘Bless God for dear Mr. Spurgeon!’ The weekly sermon is, next to the Word of God, my meat and my drink; each one seems more precious than the last. I have given away as many as I could; and one entitled, ‘Christ’s Hospital, (No. 2,260,) is such an exquisite jewel, such a gem of the first water, that I should like to place it in the hands of every human being on the globe. “I have often wished to tell your dear one all this; but now, in your dark days, I feel I must tell you, May ‘the consolations of God’ indeed abound towards you!”
Pastor’ E, A. Tydeman, one of “our own men,” thus relates how a sermon by Mr. Spurgeon was the means of preserving from suicide one who had. long been in terrible distress of mind — “Some years ago, in a village on the South Coast, I met an elderly man, who gave me the following account of the only time he ever heard our dear President. He said “It was in the year 1861, and I was in great anxiety. My business was failing, we had trouble in the family, and, worse than all, I had allowed my trials to estrange my heart from God. I had from childhood been an attendant upon the means of grace, and for many years I was a member of a Baptist church; but I had gradually become a “backslider in heart,” and now, when these outward troubles came upon me, it appeared to me that the Lord had cast me away from His presence, and taken His Holy Spirit from me, till I said, with Israel’s first king, “God is departed from me, and answereth me no more.” My wife — a godly woman, — did her best to rouse me from my despondency, but to no purpose; and I went from bad to worse, forsaking the house of God, and the companionship of His people, till I seemed to have lost all hope, and almost all desire for the knowledge of the ways of the Lord. Then I seemed to hear the evil one say, “Curse God, and die.” Yes, what better course could I take? If I must be damned, why not meet my fate at once? I went down to the shore, for I lived not far from the sea; but the thought that my body would probably be washed up where I was so well known, deterred me. “Then came the suggestion, why not go to London, where I should be a stranger, and end my life there? So, going home, — it was a Saturday, and the week’s work was done, — I got ready for the journey, and telling my wife that I should not be home till Monday, I took train and went to town; and all that evening, I wandered from street to street in utter wretchedness, and when it was dark, I went down to the riverside; but, at every available spot, I found someone standing about, who seemed to be watching me, so I gave up the idea for that night. I found a lodging somewhere in the neighborhood of Kennington Lane, intending to carry out my purpose on the Sunday when the wharves and lanes would be more lonely.
It was long before I could sleep, and I was late in rising the next morning.
After I had eaten my breakfast, I went out, and asking the way to London Bridge, turned my steps in that direction, the load at my heart heavier than ever, yet with no relenting in my determination to end my wretched life.
Wandering disconsolately along, I came to a spot where a crowd was waiting, outside a large building, which I must have passed the night before without noticing it. I found, on enquiry, that the place was none other than “Spurgeon’s Tabernacle,” — as my informant styled it. Scarcely realizing what I did, I joined the people waiting on the steps, and, when the doors were opened, found myself hurried forward by the press, till I had reached the uppermost landing; Once fairly inside, it seemed as though every seat was occupied; but, after a while, I secured a place at the back of a recess in the top gallery. “There was a hush as the minister came to the front of the platform, and said, “Let us pray,” but the prayer did not touch me, for he was evidently on the mount with God, and I was in the deeps of despair. After the prayer, a hymn was sung; but, though all around me were singing I could not; and I remained in the same state all through the reading, the singing, and the prayer which followed, for my heart was still unmoved, unless it was to a deeper depth of darkness. Then came the text, Psalm 35:3; and if I live to be a hundred years old, I shall never forget the thrill which passed through me as Mr. Spurgeon read those words, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” and then, coming forward to the front rail, he looked up at me, and said, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” and if ever God’s voice was heard on earth by human ear, it was heard by me that morning. The first time, for many a weary week a gleam of hope came to my soul, and I sat and drank in the message, as a thirsty pilgrim in a desert land might drink at Elim. As the sermon advanced, and various phases of soul-conflict were depicted, I trembled with emotion, till I could sit no longer; it was fortunate that I was in front of no one, for there I stood during the rest of the service, with eyes intent, and, for aught I know with mouth wide open too and when once, during the sermon, the preacher looked up at me, and spoke of one “standing far away in the gallery,” F3 I thought that I must have shouted. Long before the close of the discourse, my handkerchief was wet with tears, but they were tears of joy; and when the end came, I made straight for the door, saying to those before me, “Let me out, or I shall knock somebody down!” “Are you out of your mind? “ said one. “No, thank God!” I answered, “not out of it, but in it for the first time for many a long day;” and so I passed out into the street, and for hours, oblivious of everyone and everything around me, I wandered up and down with a heart as full of joy and praise as it could hold; and from then till now, I have never lost the assurance that God is my salvation.”
Another of “our own men,” Pastor W. E. Rice, reports the following remarkable case of conversion, which was related to him by a Congregational minister in Australia — “Some years ago, a father, living in a country town, apprenticed his son to a London silversmith. For a time, all seemed, to be going well but, one day, he received a letter to say that the lad had robbed his master. With a sad heart, he hastened to town only to find, alas! that it was but too true. The indentures were cancelled, and the boy left his situation in disgrace. As the father and son were walking through the crowded streets of the City, the lad suddenly darted away, and disappeared. The police searched for him in vain, and the poor man had to return alone to tell the sad news to his broken-hearted wife. “Years passed, and nothing was heard of the prodigal son. One Sabbath evening, the parents stayed home from the service; and, while sitting quietly reading God’s Word, they were unusually constrained to pray for their lost boy; and they knelt down together, and asked that he might be arrested in his sinful career, and brought back to the old home. Presently, the servant came back from the service she had attended, and her master enquired as to the sermon she had heard. ‘Oh, sir!’ she said, ‘I have not heard a word of the sermon; I could do nothing but pray for Master Harry.’ “That night, some men were passing the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on their way to break into the shop of a certain silversmith in London, when one said to another, ‘Harry, just run up the steps, and see the time.’ He did so, opened the door, and stood in the aisle. Mr. Spurgeon was preaching about the dying thief; and seeming to point direct at Harry, said, in those ringing, well-remembered tones, ‘If there is a thief here tonight, Jesus Christ can save him.’ The arrow hit the mark. Harry went back to his garret to pray; and, in a week’s time, there was a knock at the door of the old home in that country town. The father opened it, stood face to time with his longlost son; and then followed the old story of the prodigal’s return, — tears, confession, forgiveness, welcome, restoration, joy.”
Mr. Cheyne Brady has thus recorded the means used by God for the conviction and conversion of a man who had previously lived a terribly dissolute life — “After some years spent in the service of sin, he set his heart on a change of residence. A house likely to suit him being pointed out, he went to the proprietor, and asked for the key. The landlord offered to accompany him, and show him the house; but he declined, saying he preferred going over it by himself. Having examined the lower part of the dwelling, he proceeded upstairs, and ascended to the attic. As he entered, he saw something scratched on the window-pane, and approached nearer in order to read it. These words, traced with a diamond, met his gaze — “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.’ “He staggered, and, for the first time in his life, he trembled before his Maker. The Spirit of God met him there alone. He stood riveted to the spot; and, in the agony of his soul, he cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me! Lord, save me!’ At length, he got out of the house; but the solemn message followed him, ‘Prepare to meet thy God.’ He lost all pleasure in his fox-hunting, and became utterly miserable. He tried to drown serious thought amongst his evil companions, but those warning words haunted him wherever he went. “Several days passed thus, when his eye caught a notice that, in a certain village, sixteen miles off, Mr. Spurgeon was to preach that evening. He said to himself, “Go and hear that man.’ He ordered his horse, and rode the sixteen miles, that he might listen to something which, perchance, would give his wounded spirit relief. The text was, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;’ and, in the course of the sermon, Mr. Spurgeon made an earnest personal appeal, which was blessed by the Holy Spirit to the conscience-stricken sinner, who, there and then, believed in the Lord Jesus, and left the chapel a new man in Christ.”
Rev. D .A. Doudney, Hatford Rectory, Faringdon, has recalled a remarkable incident, which was related to him by Mr. Spurgeon — “He told me that, many years ago, a well-dressed man, with a very proud and conceited manner, came to see him in his vestry with a view to joining the church at the Tabernacle. The man said, ‘I purpose giving seven thousand pounds to any object connected with your congregation, or in which you are interested, but it is on the condition that you accept me as one of your members.’ Mr. Spurgeon told him that he could not receive him into the church unless he felt sure that he was a converted man, and he asked him several searching questions. To all these enquiries, the man gave very unsatisfactory replies; and, consequently Mr. Spurgeon said that, although he was extremely sorry, he could not see his way to accept him whilst he was in his present spiritual state. The man was astounded. ‘What!’ he exclaimed, ‘do you mean to tell me that you will not receive me with seven thousand pounds, — seven thousand pounds?’ ‘No,’ said Mr. Spurgeon, ‘nor if you offered me seventy times seven thousand pounds.’ The man went away in at rage. “Mr. Spurgeon told me that, just then, money was greatly needed in connection with some of his undertakings, and seven thousand pounds would have been a most welcome gift; but he clearly felt that his visitor was not in a satisfactory spiritual condition, and that, therefore, he could not conscientiously accept him. Shortly afterwards, the man was admitted into another congregation, the minister of which was not so scrupulous; but, some years later, the same individual came again into Mr. Spurgeon’s vestry, and it was at once evident that he was greatly altered. No selfconceit was apparent in him then, but deep humility. He did not allude to a gift of seven thousand pounds, or, indeed, to any gift; but, after asking Mr. Spurgeon whether he remembered him and his rejection, he said that he had reason to thank God, with all his heart, for the treatment he then received, because it was the means of leading him to look within, to consider what his state was before God, to discover his many deficiencies and, eventually, it resulted in his being enabled to rejoice that he had been made a new creature in Christ Jesus. A few questions and answers confirmed his; statement, and then Mr. Spurgeon had the pleasure of willingly accepting him. He was for some years a useful member of the church at the Tabernacle; and, at length, he passed away in the full faith of the gospel.”