A SERMON BEE.
REPORTED BY C. H. SPURGEON.
Sweet indeed is the communion of saints, and when the Spirit of God is pleased to set brotherly love in active exercise, it brings those who enjoy it into the land which borders upon Paradise. Such was our experience the other evening when some thirty or forty ministers, laboring in London, and all brethren of the Pastors’ College, met as is their wont once a month, to have fellowship one with another in the things of God. “As iron sharpeneth iron so doth a man’s countenance his friend.” Every man brought a bag of jewels with him, and the sacred traffic in the commodities of the “far country” ended in a gain to all.
First came the tea, a far from melancholy meal, for at a meeting of old friends and old college comrades, the talk is very free and fraternal.
Christian love reigned in all hearts, and happiness smiled from every countenance. Even the downcast one forgot his sorrows, or told them to his fellows to receive words of cheer.
Then the tables were moved back and a great family circle was formed round the fire and there we sat with the patriarchal and truly reverendG. R. in the midst of us, the one head of snow contrasting with the many others crowned with youthful locks. We sang one of the songs of Zion, and asked the divine Spirit. to be present with us, and then the President suggested that we should read the Forty-second chapter of Isaiah and give our comments thereon, sermon fashion. This was done to pour water into the pump that more might flow, and flow it did with living waters. We wish we could remember even half the good things which followed, but, alas, our memory is frail, so that much of the honey which flowed around us, as of old it dropped in the wood of Jonathan, cannot be conveyed to our readers. We will, however, do our best to give them a taste of it.
P. read “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom ray soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” He then remarked on verse 1, that we are called to Behold Christ, — a duty mid a privilege never too often exercised. To behold him as servant, and see how humbly, faithfully, and thoroughly he acted that part. To behold where his great strength lay, viz., in God’s upholding, in his election to his office, and in the possession of the Holy Spirit. To behold God’s pleasure in him, and to hope for the like delight in us if we too serve after the same manner. G. R. (not Georgius Rex, but a royal George) suggested for another arrangement, 1. The titles he bears. 2.
The qualifications he possesses. 3. The attention he demands, — “ Behold,” etc. A grand old homilist is the aforesaid G. R., and many a noteworthy sentence he let fall, which we, alas, have let slip.
M. most pertinently quoted a hymn which was new to most, if not all the brethren, and charmed us all. “O LORD, TRULY I AM THY SERVANT.” “O! not to fill the mouth of fame My longing soul is stirred; O give me a diviner name; Call me thy servant, Lord! “Sweet title that delighteth me, Rank earnestly implored; O what can reach my dignity?
I am thy servant, Lord. “No longer would my soul be known As self-sustained and free; O not mine own, O not mine own; Lord, I belong to thee. “In each aspiring burst of prayer, Sweet leave my soul would ask Thine every burden, Lord, to bear And do thine every task. “For ever, Lord, thy servant choose, Naught of thy claim abate; The glorious name I would not lose, Nor change the sweet estate. “In life, In death, on earth, in heaven, No other name for me!
The same sweet style and title given Through all eternity.” It was remembered that M. had read a paper at the London Baptist Association upon “The source c f superhuman power in the Savior’s ministry,” which subject is evidently contained in the verse before us.
We, have looked up this paper in the Baptist Magazine, for October, 1874, and a capital article it is. We quote the last few sentences upon the Lord’s restraint of his own omnipotence, and his willing dependence upon God “How majestic is the repose suggested in the voluntary dependence of our Lord! You look on a cup of water untroubled and still, and you do not say, ‘How I admire that calm!’ ‘but you gaze on the great ocean with. all its proud reserve of power, lying without a ripple beneath the silent sun, and it fills you with thoughts of rest. A child’s toy-boat floats quietly on that same sea, yet that suggests nothing of peace, but the ‘Great Eastern,’ or one of our colossal war ships, with its engines of many hundred horsepower, and its guns, so terrible for thunder and destruction, floats placidly before you — idling gently on the idle sea — and, you say, What a majestic symbol of tranquillity! Even so; the measure of power is the measure of repose. And, O brethren, in what a majestic aspect; does this ministry of dependence reveal the peace of Christi Here, if what we, have tried to say be true, — here for over thirty years is omnipotence holding itself in reserve. Nothing provokes it to assert itself — not even the trials of the ministry. ‘Command that these stones be made bread,’ says the tempter: it replies gently, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone; there is other bread — the bread of doing and following the will and plan of heaven.’ No scribes irritate this omnipotence into action; my Pharisees provoke it. It is challenged on the Cross to come down that all men may believe it. It does not even break the silence, but merely thinks, as it had sometimes said before, ‘How, then, shall the Scriptures be fulfilled? Sweet peace, that knows no wish to be or to do anything apart from the Father’s will.”
Then followed remarks and questions by many as to the oneness of the Deity, whether in the Father or the Son, and many thoughts were suggested not soon to be forgotten. It is beyond measure amazing that Jesus should lay aside his own power to be upheld by the Father, and anointed by the Spirit; yet such is proven both by plain Scripture and by the facts of his life to have been the case.
As we were getting into deep waters the topic was changed and P. read again verses 2 and 3, Isaiah 42. “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”
Remarks were made upon the very remarkable connection of this verse in Matthew 12:20, where it follows upon the council of the Pharisees to destroy Jesus, and his withdrawal from them, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Esaias the prophet,” etc. Therefore, the first sense must be that our Lord would not come into needless conflict with such weak and offensive bruised reeds and stacking flaxes as the Pharisees were he was not so combative as at once to crush out the miserable pretensions of these men. Those who strive and cry in the streets are eager for controversy where they feel sure of an easy victory, but not so Jesus: he turns aside and lets these despicable foes die out of themselves. From this first sense the more common reading derives force, for if he did not stamp out such poor pretensions as these, we may be all the more sure that real life will be preserved and fostered by him.
The unambitious, gentle, peaceful character of our Lord’s ministry was suggested as a topic upon verse 2.
Verse 4 was then read, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” It was remarked that until the nations shall be converted, our Redeemer will follow out his great purpose. Topic suggested — The Lord’s discouragements, or things which would of themselves cause failure to the gospel; and the constancy of the Lord in his work till his end is accomplished.
C. suggested that we heard a great deal of the final perseverance of the saints;: it would be well to dwell upon the final perseverance of their Savior, and, therefore, gave us an outline as follows: — 1. The Fact of our Lord’s perseverance in the work which his Father gave him to do. This implies his true humanity, otherwise we could hardly speak of his persevering. What a glorious spectacle we are here permitted to behold! It was “a new thing in the earth.” 2. The Difficulty of it. Arising from his being almost alone in his work, from his not being strong physically, from his being poor, from his “views” being unpopular, from his own family deriding his claims, from having raw recruits as followers, and lastly from his real and sore temptations. 3. The Success of it. He taught the truth he came to teach, he did the work he came to do, he suffered all that was necessary and appointed, he triumphed over sin, death, and hell, by his resurrection and ascension. We see his success in the triumphs of his apostles and the early Church, we see it still today in the spread of the gospel, and that success shall continue until “the whole earth shall be filled with his glory,”’ and he is” satisfied.” 4. Its Secret. “He trusted in God.” “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works,” his strong, abiding, and incomparable faith was the secret of his constancy. Jesus is the Greatest Believer. 5. Its Practical Lessons are two. Example and stimulus for his followers to “endure unto the end,” and encouragement to those “without.” “He will not fail” you, nor “be discouraged” about you: he saveth to the uttermost.
It was also proposed to show the Redeemer’s perseverance in the case of each believer this would be a very choice subject.
Thus we passed on from verse to verse till we reached the 16th. We can only remember a few of the jewels which were dropped around us by the brethren.
On verse sixth, “I will give thee for a covenant of the people,” the Lord was spoken of as the surety, the seal, the substance, the mediator, and the federal head of the covenant, and as the covenant itself. On the words, “I will give thee for a light of the Gentiles,” Christ as a light, and a light to ignorant, deluded, sinful, miserable Gentiles, was also suggested to cur consideration. “Light of those whose dreary dwelling Borders on the shades of death.” None need him more or will prize, him more than those whose darkness is extreme. Y. P. illustrated the promise contained in the words “I will hold, thy hand,” from a father’s holding a child’s hand to guide him, to comfort him, or to strengthen him. “The arms of his hands were made strong by the mighty God of Jacob.” When the boy tries to draw the bow his father puts his hand upon the boy’s hands and imparts his own force to his pull.
Verse 7 is so rich that there was hardly any room or need for exposition.
Verse 8 The Lord’s jealousy of his glory, and. the practical lessons to be derived therefrom.
Verse 9 1. The novelties of grace — “new things do I declare.” 2. Though new to our experience, they are the “old, old story” of the word — “before they spring forth I tell you of them.” 3. The confirmation to our faith which this fact affords when we see how the Bible end our own experience tally we gather confidence in God.
Verse 10. V.P. remarked upon the text as a suitable vindication of the abundant singing at revivals. P. suggested that a new song is asked for because we are new men, with new knowledge, new mercies, and new hopes. Old songs are not good enough, nor suitable to new circumstances, nor expressive of cur own peculiar delights: besides, it would argue indolence to go on for ever in one strain, and honor the Lord with stale music.
It was proposed to take the two verses as exhorting people under all spiritual conditions, as well as in all physical positions to sing unto the Lord: — the far off ones, the restless souls at sea, the lonely ones like islets cut. off from fellowship, the barren ones in the wilderness, the little ones in the villages, the believers to whom Christ is only a refuge, and the assured on the mountain top. This was dwelt upon as a jubilant theme to be handled when the heart is in tune.
Verse 13 contains a fresh and stimulating topic — the Lord in battle. 1. His power displayed. 2. His jealousy aroused. 3. His voice heard. 4. His victory secured.
Verse 16 produced many remarks. W. suggested divisions — 1. The unknown way. 2. The known guide. P. remarked upon four kinds of blind; the physically, mentally, spiritually, and consciously blind, and reminded the brethren that at the end of the London-road, Southwark, they have all four; on the right is the Blind School, for the physically blind; on the left; Bethlehem Hospital, for the mentally blind; right before yoga, St. George’s Catholic Cathedral for the spiritually blind, and the Christian man is himself the fourth, or consciously blind. The words of our Lord to the Pharisees were quoted, “Now ye say we see, therefore your sin remaineth”: and P. added this outline — 1. Who these consciously blind are? 2. What does God promise to do for them? Bring, lead, etc. 3. What comes of his guidance? I will make, etc. 4. How it all ends? Fulfilled promises — “these things will I do unto them.” Everlasting preservation, “and not forsake them.” These are mere gleanings of the vintage. Marty voices contributed to the harmony of thought, and no one raised a discordant note, or one aside from the subject.
It was now proposed to begin at the right hand corner of the fire and each one give an outline of a sermon. Our brother B. who is wealthy in all good things, gave us a handful of his golden apples. One was founded on.
Proverbs 9:8: “He knoweth not that the dead are there.” There are other houses besides those of “ill-fame,” which contain the dead, and there are other temptresses besides the “strange woman.” There are, 1. Madam Avarice at the house of Wealth, and in her house are 1. Dead affections. 2. Dead generous impulses. 3. Dead joys. 4. Dead manhood 2. Madam Gambling at the house of Speculation. In her house are, 1.
Dead honor. 2. Dead truthfulness. 3. Madam Gaiety, at the house of Pleasure. In her house are, 1. Dead virtue: young men and women ruined by music-halls. 2. Dead impressions: impressions of the sanctuary murdered. 3. Dead hopes of parents. 4. Madam Drink at the house of Intoxication. 1. Dead promises of future usefulness. 2. Dead talents and gifts. 3. Dead home-happiness. 5. Madam Morality at the house of Self-righteousness; a more respectable courtesan, but she slays as many as any. Her house is full of dead souls.
After this admirable sketch, as the next brother was not prepared, B. favored us with another in his stead, upon what God’s grace can do in an hour. He has since favored us with this outline on paper, and here it is.
Acts 16:33. “He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” In the history of the jailer we have the case of one who, in one and the same hour, Was 1. A heathen, and a brutal one; for “he thrust them into the inner prison,” and” made their feet fast in the stocks”: — two aggravations of their sufferings which he had not been ordered to commit. 2. At, anxious inquirer. 1. “He springs in”; see his earnestness. 2. “He trembled”: showing his alarm. 3. “He fell down”: which indicated his humble sense of helplessness. 4. He was suddenly courteous: he said, “Sirs; ” — grace had already produced fruit. 5. He was thoroughly serious, and his one thought was how to be saved. 3. A rejoicing believer. He not only believed, but attained to assurance, for he “rejoiced.” (verse 34). 4. A Christian worker. 1. He brought his family to hear the gospel. 2. He washed the apostles’ stripes; manifesting not only his love to the instruments used of God to his salvation; but also his desire to make amends for his former ill-treatment of them. 5. A thorough Baptist, and the head of a Baptist family: He was baptized, he and all his, straightway, for he is described as “believing in God with all his house.”
These were lively and refreshing, and with many thanks we passed on to E., who is a thoughtful elder brother, He gave us his last sermon. The text was John 8:31-32, “Disciples indeed.” He worked out the connection, making “disciples tricked” his central idea. From above that idea he drew forth the two leading characteristics of true discipleship (verse 30); faith, “then said Jesus to those Jews which believed,” and perseverance, “if ye continue in my word.” From below the text he drew the two leading privileges, “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (verse 32). Knowledge of the truth and freedom as the result.
B. of D. suggested the Savior’s I ams of the gospels as a topic; it is one in which there is plenty of sea room, and might be made into a series of discourses. The Jams of the Revelation he also mentioned, and showed how they could be profitably used.
V. P. gave an outline upon our Lord’s visit, to Bethesda, in which he showed 1. Mystery ,present everywhere. Sin and sorrow existing in God’s world. 2. Mystery examined by our Lord himself, and thus made more mysterious, since he looked on and did not at once heal all. 3. Mystery explained by the reasons for the existence of sorrow, and, 4., Mystery terminated in heaven.
U. remarked that the visit of the King of kings to Bethesda might be illustrated by the late visit of Her Majesty to the London Hospital. Sweetly did this brother descant upon the joy of the people, upon the mottoes upon the route, especially “Come Again,” and upon the enthusiasm of the poor little sick child, who exclaimed, “O if I could only see the Queen, I am sure I should get well!” How the visits of our Lord create gladness, hope, and enthusiasm in all faithful hearts. The contrast as to what the Queen could not do, and Jesus does do, was also hinted at.
C. observed that whenever brethren were pressed for a subject they would find the whole of John 13 a wonderful storehouse of preachable texts, almost every verse being available for a sermon.
Thus did one and another minister to the general edification till the time had expired; and P. closed the meeting with prayer, after reading from “Spiritual Fables, Apologues and Allegories” the three following eminently beautiful pieces: — CAMOMILES.
“You smell delightfully fragrant,” said the Gravel-walk to a bed of Chamomile flowers, under the window. “We have been trodden on,” replied the Chamomiles. “Does that cause it?” asked the Gravel-walk. “Treading on me produces no sweetness.” “Our natures are different,” answered the Chamomiles. “Gravel-walks become only the harder by being trodden upon; but the effect on our own selves is, that, if pressed and bruised when the dew is upon us, we give forth the sweet smell which you now perceive.” “Very delightful!” replied the Gravel.
Oh! what sweetness has issued from the sufferings of the Lord Jesus!” It pleased the Father to bruise him” (Isaiah 53:10), and from his sorrows spring sympathy for his afflicted, comfort to the humble, and salvation unto sinners. (Hebrews 2:10,17,18.)
Our trials have theft good effects only when they cause our spirits to send up ardent desires to heaven, and to shed a holy fragrance around us in the world.
With the dew of grace on our hearts (Hosea 14:5) persecutions and afflictions will bring out our divine character, so that we shall be like bruised chamomiles. “Thy dew is as the dew of herbs.” (Isaiah 26:19.)
“Unaccountable this!” said the Wax, as from the flame it dropped melting upon the paper beneath. “Do not grieve,” said the Taper. “I am sure it is all right.” “I was never in such agony!” exclaimed the Wax, still dripping. “It is not without a good design, and will end well,” replied the Taper.
The Wax was unable to reply at the moment, owing to a strong pressure; and when it again looked up, it bore a beautiful impression, the counterpart of the seal which had been applied to it. “Ah! I comprehend new,” said the Wax:, no longer in suffering. “I was softened in order to receive this lovely durable impress. Yes, I see now it was all right, because it has given to me the beautiful likeness which I could not otherwise have obtained.”
Afflictions in the hand of the Holy Spirit effect the softening of the heart, that it may receive heavenly impressions. Job said, “God maketh my heart soft” (Job 23:16).
As the wax in its naturally hard state cannot take the impress of the signet, and needs to be melted to render it susceptible, so the believer is by sanctified trials prepared to receive and made to bear the Divine likeness. “In whom also after that ye believed (says the apostle) ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:22).
EBB AND FLOW.
“Mother,” said a little Limpet, sticking to the rock, “Mother, what has become of the sea? I am so dry here!” “Nothing unusual has taken place, dear,” said the old Limpet, affectionately. “Oh, it was so nice to be in the deep water,” said the little one. “Is the, sea all gone?” “It will come again by-and-by, love,” replied the kind old Limpet, who had had long experience of ebb and flow. “But I am so thirsty, and almost faint; the sea has been away so long.” “Only wait awhile in hope, little one; hold fast to the rock, and the tide will soon come back to us.”
And it did come, soon come; rolling up the ‘beach and humming over the sands, making little pools, and forming tiny rivers in the hollows; and then it rolled up against the rocks, and at last it came to the Limpet, bathed it with its reviving waters, and so amply supplied its wants that it went to sleep in peace, forgetting its troubles.
Religious feeling has its ebbings and flowings. But, when former sensible comforts are departed, still to hold fast to the immovable, unchangeable rock, Christ Jesus, is the soul’s support and safety.
Love mourns the absence of spiritual enjoyments. “Hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Will he be favorable no more? and is his mercy clean gone for ever?” .(Psalm 77:7-9).
It is then that faith checks fears, and encourages confidence in God. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42:11). [Since preparing this for the press it has been mildly hinted to us that the brethren cannot use these suggestions if we print them. Well, for this once we crave forgiveness. We will not transgress again until next time. Three weeks or more have elapsed since the meeting, and we hope all the gatherers have eaten their manna by this time. At any rate, we are seldom so near heaven as on that evening, and, having a great weakness as to letting out secrets, we could not keep our revelation for fifteen years as Paul did, nor is there the same need. If we stir up other brethren to meet together and edify each other in the same way our end will be served.] OUR FIRST SEVEN YEARS [We have been preparing a History of the Tabernacle, and it will be ready with the magazine, or soon after, price one shilling. It is full of illustrations, and to give our readers a taste of it we here insert part of Chapter VIII.]
IT is not to be expected that we should write the story of our own I personal ministry : this must be left to other pens, if it be thought worth while to write it at all. We could not turn these pages into an autobiography, nor could we very well ask any one else to write about us, and therefore we shall simply give bare facts, and extracts from the remarks of others. On one of the last Sabbaths of the month of December, 1853. C. H. Spurgeon, being then nineteen years of age, preached in New Park Street Chapel, in response to an invitation which, very much to his surprise, called him away from a loving people in Waterbeach, near Cambridge, to supply a London Pulpit. The congregation was a mere handful. The chapel seemed very large to the preacher, and very gloomy, but he stayed himself on the Lord, and delivered his message from James 1:17. There was an improvement even on the first evening, and the place looked more cheerful; the text was, “They are without fault before the throne of God.” In answer to earnest requests, C. H. Spurgeon agreed to preach in London on the first, third, and fifth Sundays in January, 1854, but before the last of these Sabbaths he had received an invitation, dated Jan. 25, inviting him to occupy the pulpit for six months upon probation. The reply to this invitation will be found entire in Mr. Pike’s “Sketches of Nonconformity in Southwark.” The six months’ probation was never fulfilled, for there was no need. The place was filling, the prayer- meetings were full of power, and conversion was going on. A requisition for a special meeting, signed by fifty of the male members was sent in to the deacons on April 12, and according to the church book it was, on April 19, resolved unanimously, “that we tender our brother, the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, a most cordial and affectionate invitation forthwith to become pastor of this church, and we pray that the result of his services may be owned of God with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a revival of religion in our midst; that it may be fruitful in the conversion of sinners and in the edification of those that believe.” To this there was but one reply, and it was therefore answered in the affirmative in a letter dated, 75, Dover Road, April 28, 1854, also inserted in Mr. Pike’s book, which can be had of our publishers. In a very short time the congregation so multiplied as to make the chapel in the evening, when the gas was burning, like the blackhole of Calcutta. One evening in 1854 the preacher exclaimed, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, and by faith this wall at the back shall come down, too.” An aged and prudent deacon in somewhat domineering terms observed to him, at the close of the sermon, “Let us never hear of that again.” “What do you mean?” said the preacher, “you will hear no more about it when it is done, and therefore the sooner you set about doing it the better.” A meeting was held, and a fund was commenced, and in due course the vestries and schools were laid into the chapel and a new schoolroom was erected along the side of the chapel, with windows which could be let down, to allow those who were seated in the school to hear the preacher. While this was being done, worship was carried on at Exeter Hall, from Feb. 11, 1855, to May 27 of the same year. At this time paragraphs began to appear in the papers announcing that the Strand was blocked up by crowds who gathered to hear a young man in Exeter Hall.
Remarks of no very flattering character appeared in various journals, and the multitude was thereby increased. Caricatures, such as “Brimstone and Treacle,” adorned the printsellers’ windows, the most ridiculous stories were circulated, and the most cruel falsehoods invented, but all these things worked together for good. The great Lord blessed the word more and more to the conversion of the hearers, and Exeter Hall was thronged throughout the whole time of our sojourn. To return to New Park-street, enlarged though it was, resembled the attempt to put the sea into a teapot.
We were more inconvenienced than ever. To turn many hundreds away was the general if not the universal necessity, and those who gained admission were but little better off, for the packing was dense in the extreme, and the heat something terrible even to remember. Our enemies continued to make our name more and more known by penny pamphlets and letters in the papers, which all tended to swell the crowd. More caricatures appeared, and among the rest “Catch-’em-alive-O!” In June 1856 we were again at Exeter Hall, preaching there in the evening and at the chapel in the morning; but this was felt to be inconvenient, and therefore in August a fund was commenced to provide for the erection of a larger house of prayer. Meanwhile the Exeter Hall proprietors intimated that they were unable to let their hall continuously to one congregation, and therefore we looked about us for another place. Most opportunely a large hall, in the Royal Surrey Gardens, was just completed for the monster concerts of M. Jullien, and, with some trembling at the magnitude of the enterprise, this hall was secured for Sabbath evenings. We find the following entry in the Church-book:— “Lord’s-day, Oct. 19, 1856. On the evening of this day, in accordance with the resolution passed at the Church meeting, Oct. 6th, the church and congregation assembled to hear our pastor, in the Music Hall of the Royal Surrey Gardens. A very large number of persons (about 7000) were assembled on that occasion, and the service was commenced in the usual way, by singing, reading the Scriptures, and prayer. Just, however, after our Pastor had commenced his prayer, a disturbance was caused (as it is supposed, by some evil-disposed persons acting in concert), and the whole congregation were seized with a sudden panic, This caused a fearful rush to the doors, particularly from the galleries. Several persons, either in consequence ‘of their heedless haste, or from the extreme pressure of the crowd behind, were thrown down on the stone steps of the northwest staircase, and were trampled on by the crowd pressing upon them. The lamentable result was that seven persons lost their lives, and twenty-eight were removed to the hospitals seriously bruised and injured. Our pastor not being aware that any loss of life had occurred, continued in the pulpit, endeavoring by every means in his power to alleviate the fear of the people, and was successful to a very considerable extent. In attempting to renew the service, it was found that the people were too excited to listen to him, and the service was closed, and the people who remained dispersed quietly. This lamentable circumstance produced very serious effects on the nervous system of our pastor. He was entirely prostrated for some days, and compelled to relinquish his preaching engagements. Through the great mercy of our heavenly Father, he was, however, restored so as to be able to occupy the pulpit in our own chapel on Sunday, Oct. 31st, and gradually recovered his wonted health and vigor. “The Lord’s name be praised!”
The church desire to note this event in their minutes, and to record their devout thankfulness to God that in this sad calamity the lives of their beloved pastor, the deacons, and members were all preserved; and also with the hope that our heavenly Father from this seeming evil may produce the greatest amount of real lasting good. This was the way in which this great affliction was viewed by our church; but we had, in addition to the unutterable pain of the whole catastrophe, to bear the wicked accusations of the public press. We will give only one specimen; it is taken from a popular newspaper which has long been most friendly to us, and therefore we will not mention names. In the days of its ignorance it said— Mr. Spurgeon is a preacher who hurls damnation at the heads of his sinful hearers. Some men there are who, taking their precepts from Holy Writ, would beckon erring souls to a rightful path with fair words and gentle admonition; Mr. Spurgeon would take them by the nose and bully them into religion. Let us set up a barrier to the encroachments and blasphemies of men like Spurgeon, saying to them, “Thus far shalt thou come and no further;” let us devise some powerful means which shall tell to the thousands who now stand in need of enlightenment—This man, in his own opinion, is a righteous Christian, but in ours nothing more than a ranting charlatan. We are neither straightlaced nor Sabbatarian in our sentiments: but we would keep apart, widely apart, the theater and the church—above all, would we place in the hand of every right-thinking man, a whip to scourge from society the authors of such vile blasphemies as on Sunday night, above the cries of the dead and the dying, and louder than the wails of misery from the maimed and suffering, resounded from the mouth of Mr. Spurgeon in the Music Hall of the Surrey Gardens. A fund was raised to help the poor sufferers, and to avoid all fear of further panic the preacher resolved to hold the service in the morning, though that part of the day is least favorable to large congregations. The multitude came, however, and continued still to come for three good years. All classes came, both high and low. We have before us a list of the nobility who attended the Music Hall, but as we never felt any great elation at their attendance or cared to have their presence blazoned abroad, we will not insert the names. It was a far greater joy to us that hundreds came who were led to seek the Lord, and to find eternal life in him. A famous letter, signed Habitans in Sicco, and dated from Broad Phylactery, Westminster, appeared at this period in the “Times,” and as it was known to be written by an eminent scholar it produced a very favorable impression. Part of the letter ran as follows:— “I want to hear Spurgeon; let us go.” Now, I am supposed to be a high churchman, so I answered, “What! go and hear a Calvinist—a Baptist!—a man who ought to be ashamed of himself for being so near the Church, and yet not within its pale?” “Never mind; come and hear him.” Well, we went yesterday morning to the Music Hall, in the Surrey Gardens. . . . Fancy a congregation consisting of 10,000 souls, streaming into the Hall, mounting the galleries, humming, buzzing, and swarming—a mighty hive of bees—eager to secure at first the best places, and, at last, any place at all. After waiting more than half an hour—for if you wish to have a seat you must be there at least that space of time in advance—Mr. Spurgeon ascended his tribune. To the hum, and rush, and trampling of men, succeeded a low, concentrated thrill and murmur of devotion, which seemed to run at once, like an electric current, through the breast of every one present; and by this magnetic chain, the preacher held us fast bound for about two hours. It is not my purpose to give a summary of his discourse. It is enough to say of his voice, that its power and volume are sufficient to reach every one in that vast assembly; of his language, that it is neither high-flown nor homely; of his style, that it is at times familiar, at times declamatory, but always happy, and often eloquent; of his doctrine, that neither the Calvinist nor the Baptist appears in the forefront of the battle which is waged by Mr. Spurgeon with relentless animosity, and with gospel weapons, against irreligion, cant, hypocrisy, pride, and those secret bosom sins which so easily beset a man in daily life; and to sum up all in a word, it is enough to say of the man himself, that he impresses you with a perfect conviction of his sincerity. But I have not written so much about my children’s want of spiritual food when they listened to the mumbling of the Archbishop of _______, and my own banquet at the Surrey Gardens, without a desire to draw a practical conclusion from these two stories, and to point them by a moral. Here is a man not more Calvinistic than many an incumbent of the Established Church, who “humbles and mumbles,” as old Latimer says, over his liturgy and text—here is a man who says the complete immersion, or something of the kind, of adults is necessary to baptism. These are his faults of doctrine; but if I were the examining chaplain of the Archbishop of ______, I would say, “May it please your grace, here is a man able to preach eloquently, able to fill the largest church in England with his voice, and what is more to the purpose, with people. And may it please your grace, here are two churches in the metropolis, St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. What does your grace think of inviting Mr. Spurgeon, this heretical Calvinist and Baptist, who is able to draw 10,000 souls after him, just to try his voice, some Sunday morning, in the nave of either of those churches?” Meanwhile the collection of funds for a new building went on, and in January, 1858, the money in hand was £6100; by January, 1859, it was £9,639, and £5,000 of it was set aside to pay for the ground near the Elephant and Castle. We went plodding on, the pastor collecting personally, or by his sermons, very much of the money, traveling far and wide to do so; Scotch friends especially helping; till in January, 1860, after the first stone had been laid, £16,868 was in hands or more than half of the sum required, so that the land had been paid for, and installments paid to the builder as required. The first stone of the Metropolitan Tabernacle was laid with great rejoicings, August 16th, 1859, by Sir Morton Peto; but as a report of the whole proceedings can be procured of our publishers we will say but little here.
We feel constrained, however, to mention the singular providence which placed Mr. Spicer and other friends upon the Court of the Fishmongers’ Company, so as to secure the land; next, the fact that the company was able to sell the freehold; and, next, that the late Mr. William Joynson, of Mary Cray, deposited the amount to pay for an Act of Parliament to enable the company to sell in case it had turned out that they had not the legal power to do so. Singularly happy also was the circumstance that a gentleman in Bristol, who had never heard the pastor, nevertheless gave no less a sum than £5,000 towards the building. Eternity alone can reveal all the generous feeling, and self- denying liberality evinced by Christian people in connection with this enterprise,—to us at any rate so gigantic at the time that apart from divine aid we could never have carried it through.
One of the chief of our mercies was the fact that our beloved brother, William Higgs, was our builder, and treated us with unbounded liberality throughout the whole affair. He is now a worthy deacon of our church. In December, 1859, we left the Surrey Music Hall. We paid the company a large sum for our morning service, and this was the only amount out of which a dividend was paid. They proposed to open the gardens for amusement on the Lord’s-day evening, and we threatened to give up our tenancy if they did so. This prevented the evil for some time, but at length the baser sort prevailed, and under the notion that Sunday “pleasure” would prove remunerative, they advertised that the gardens would be opened on the Sabbath: we, therefore, felt bound in honor to leave the place, and we did so. After a while a fire almost destroyed the building, and the relics were for years turned into a hospital. We commenced on December 18th, 1859, our third and longest sojourn at Exeter Hall, which ended on March 1st, 1861. A few of our remarks upon leaving that place may fitly be quoted here. In the providence of God we, as a church and people, have had to wander often. This is our third sojourn within these walls. It is now about to close. We have had at all times and seasons a compulsion for moving: sometimes a compulsion of conscience, at other times a compulsion of pleasure, as on this occasion. I am sure that when we first went to the Surrey Music Hall, God went with us. Satan went too, but he fled before us. That frightful calamity, the impression of which can never be erased from my mind, turned out in the providence of God to be one of the most wonderful means of turning public attention to special services, and I do not doubt that—fearful catastrophe though it was—it has been the mother of multitudes of blessings. The Christian world noted the example; and saw its after-success; they followed it; and to this day, in the theater and in the cathedral, the word of Christ is preached where it was never preached before. In each of our movings we have had reason to see the hand of God, and here particularly; for many residents in the West End have in this place come to listen to the word, who probably might not have taken a journey beyond the river. Here God’s grace has broken hard hearts; here have souls been renewed, and wanderers reclaimed. “Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.” And now we journey to the house which God has in so special a manner given to us, and this day would I pray as Moses did, “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” Under date January 6th, 1861, there stands in our records the following solemn declaration, signed by the pastor and leading friends: “This church needs rather more than £4,000 to enable it to open the New Tabernacle free of all debt. It humbly asks this temporal mercy of God, and believes that for Jesus’ sake the prayer will be heard and the boon bestowed. As witness our hands.” Now let the reader mark that, on May 6th of the same year, the pastor and many friends also signed their names to another testimony, which is worded as follows: We, the undersigned members of the church lately worshipping in New Park Street Chapel, but now assembling in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, desire with overflowing hearts to make known and record the lovingkindness of our faithful God. We asked in faith, but our Lord has exceeded our desires, for not only was the whole sum given us, but far sooner than we had looked for it. Truly the Lord is good and worthy to be praised. We are ashamed of ourselves that we have ever doubted him, and we pray that as a church and as individuals we may be enabled to trust in the Lord at all times with confidence, so that in quietness we may possess our souls. To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost we offer praise and thanksgiving, and we set to our seal that God is true. After about a month of Opening Services, of which a full account can be had of our publishers, we began regular work at the Tabernacle in May 1861, the whole building being free of debt , and the accounts showing that £31,332 4s. 10d. had been received, and the same amount expended. Truly we serve a gracious God.
NOTES Feb. 22. — This was the evening appointed for the annual meeting of the late Mrs. Bartlett’s Class, now conducted by her son, and every one was full of expectation; but, alas, the senior pastor was confined to his bed with a thorough influenza cold, attended with rheumatism. However, with Pastor J. A. Spurgeon in the chair, and a good staff of willing speakers, the evening passed off happily, though all lamented the sick pastor’s absence.
They sent him £110 15s. 10d. for the College as their token of affection.
He wrote them a letter bewailing his absence, and inviting them to meet him at some future day.
Feb. 26. — At the annual meeting of the Baptist County M/as/on, C.H. Spurgeon presided. It was a good hearty meeting throughout, and the pastor was himself again. This is a capital society, and does a great deal of good upon very little money. The brethren who go out to preach spoke up like men, and told of the Lord’s dealings with them. At Carshalton, Walthamstow, and Puthey, there will soon be Baptist churches as the result of their efforts. Never did the small sum of £60 enable men to do so much as these brethren are doing in the villages which surround London. Some may think our brethren intruders, but it will be of no use their thinking so, for they are bound to intrude much more as their numbers increase and God blesses them.
March 1. — A meeting of the collectors was held at the Orphanage, and a very lively, loving, enthusiastic meeting it was.
Friends came up in good numbers and brought in £200, the orphans sang like cherubs, and looked bright and cheerful as the morn. The Rev. John Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon, and Thomas Spurgeon — grandfather, father, and son, addressed the meeting, and the deepest possible interest was manifested. The grandsire spoke of twenty years ago, when C.H. Spurgeon preached at his grandfather’s jubilee and three generations were present, and he blessed God that as the older generation had gone a new one had arisen. We all ‘joined in his gratitude; and the more so when the grandson proved by his cool, clear delivery, and lively warm-hearted manner, that he would worthily sustain the family name. We thank the collectors, and hope they will go on again, for the orphan boys are going on morning, noon, and night, and will eat up £200 as fast as silkworms eat up mulberry leaves. We thank several friends for their presents in kind, they are as valuable as money.
March 6. — The Tabernacle Ladies’ .Benevolent Society met in their annum meeting and gave a very good report of work done with an income of £105. We hope every lady in our congregation will join this society, or at least send in a subscription, for our poor are very numerous, and our visitors find out many outsiders in deep distress.
March 7. — C. H. Spurgeon opened a bazaar in the Agricultural Hall for Mr. Stone, Arthur Street, Gray’s Inn Road. This esteemed brother, who hails from our college, has crowded an empty chapel and been the means of leading hundreds to Christ. We have had six or seven students from his church. We mentioned this in our address, and we were somewhat amused to read in the newspaper report that we had 478 members of Mr. Stone’s church in our College!
I Think of this, dear friends, and never believe reports of our speeches again. It is really too bad thus to misrepresent a man’s utterances. Where the 478 came from we cannot tell. However, Mr. Stone is a brother for whom we ask the sympathy and help of all around him, for he is doing a real work among a poor population, near to the spot where our friend Mr. Sawday is so usefully engaged.
On the same day the members of the Baptist Fund dined together at the Guildhall Coffee House, according to annum custom. It was a pleasure to meet so many esteemed brethren. This fund distributes some £3,200 annually among poor ministers and students, and it deserves the attention of all the London churches. A very few churches have done all this work, and we wish others would now join them. A payment of £50, would admit the pastor of a Baptist church and a delegate. Members of Baptist churches who give £50 can be elected personal members, and many of our wealthy brethren ought to join upon these terms: their presence at the board would be of the utmost service. Our poor country churches must be sustained, and London must take its full share in this Christian service. We observe that some caustic remarks have been made as to the Fund having £600 in hand; but really these ought not to be made, for the amount had been very properly reserved to aid new churches with large temporary grants. As the new churches have not been forthcoming the money is not now needed, and will be gladly expended next year, but it was needful to provide for contingencies, for it would have been very unwise to have offered aid and then have had no means of giving it. All things considered, the Baptist Fund is one of the best, most useful, and most adaptable of all our denominational institutions, and deserves to be largely increased.
March 14. — The .Butchers’ Annual Meeting was held at the Tabernacle.
Some 1,600 sat down to a sort of tea-dinner, in which the consumption of meat, mustard, tea, and cake was immense This is Mr. Varley’s work, and he throws his whole heart into it, and we are sure that it is attended with the best results. We are glad that our rooms are available for such a gathering. We do not know where else such a force of men could be feasted and preached to.
March 10. — This was the night of the Sermon .Bee: a night to be long remembered. After it the Pastor went into a lively meeting of Mr. Perkins’ Bible Class, and assisted at a presentation to Mr. Rayner, the retiring Secretary, and Mr. Perkins, the President. The class presented £26 to the Pastor for the College. Thus one agency helps another, and God’s cause goes on.
March 16. — Pastor J. A. Spurgeon presided at the formation of a new Baptist church in Merstham, near Redhill. Mr. Barrow kindly built the chapel, and it must be a great joy to him to see it well attended and becoming a birth-place to many immortal souls. The little church only numbers seventeen, but the friends know that others are on the way, and they look for greater things. Surrey has few Baptist churches, but by God’s grace we shall grow.
March 17th. — Dr. Angus and the students of Regent’s Park College came over to the Pastors’ College and spent the afternoon. There was very hearty fraternization among the men, and not less among the tutors. It was a cheering season. The addresses were all hearty, solid, and well received.
We believe that the best interests of the denomination were subserved by the hours which were spent in social intercourse and Christian communion by the two Colleges. The Tabernacle men escorted their guests over the College and Tabernacle rooms, and we doubt not made acquaintances which will ripen into friendships when they meet each other on the actual field of service.
March 20th. — C. H. S. had his annual party of blind people at five o’clock. What a noisy, happy lot they were. There were many blind children; it was sad to see them, and yet we were glad to see them so happy. Our Blind Society was £ 45 in debt, but a collection on a Thursday night at Tabernacle has set us straight. Still we have nothing to go on with, and every Sunday expenses are incurred by giving tea and paying the guides. Will not some wealthy brother come out generously to help Mr. Hampton and our Society to preach Jesus to the poor blind, and to feed them at the same time? After tea Mr. Hampton and a Blind brother spoke to us in the prayer-meeting and touched all our hearts. We did pity the poor blind, and yet we rejoiced to find that they could see Jesus.
The same evening Mr. Hudson Taylor, for the third time, came over to ask our prayers for another missionary who is going forth to work with the China Inland Mission. The friends were earnest in prayer. This is a noble work, and deserves both the prayers and the gifts of God’s people.
March 21st. — This evening the Pastor presided at a meeting of the parents of the Sabbath-school children. Long ago we abandoned the system of treats to the children, seeing them to be in our case needless, and fraught with many dangers. The teachers agreed to spend the money in a tea for the parents. This brings them together, enables them to know the teachers, enables the teachers to plead with the parents, and is often made the means of salvation to fathers and mothers. Very excellent were the speeches of the superintendent and others, and very heartily did the pastor rejoice in the loving unity which was manifested, in the success of the teachers’ labors, and in their zeal for the glory of God.
Mr. Pilling has removed from Potter’s Bar to a larger sphere, Abingdon-street, Blackpool. We hope the great floods which have assailed that town will prove to be omens, not of storms and trials but of floods of blessing.
We were pleased to hear of a good work among the farm laborers at Eynsford, in Kent, under our friend, W. Mummery. Let but the country people be led to Jesus and we shall have hope that the continued influx into our cities will pour healthy blood into the veins of the body politic.
Country pastors can seldom see the result of their work, for their young people remove to London if they can’; but the Lord knows what they have done, and will reward them at the great day. It is sad to see how people who were accustomed to attend a place of worship in the country come to London and go nowhere. If they are converted before they are assailed with town temptations it will be a blessing indeed, COLPORTAGE.
— In addition to the new districts reported in February, the Association has started the following fresh ones: Cinderford, Forest of Dean, Hanley, Staffordshire Potteries, Ewell and River, Kent. A colporteur has also been started to work in the neighborhood of the Tabernacle, who will be supported by Mr. Charlesworth’s Bible Classes. Other districts might be opened if the funds would permit the society to do so, but at present general subscriptions to the work are greatly needed. Many persons readily subscribe when they receive personal benefit from the labors of a colporteur; will our friends help by subscribing to the General Fund? Nearly fifty men are now engaged in the work with much blessing.
It will give pleasure to our friends to observe that our Loan Building Fund has been brought up to £5,000 by the generosity of an anonymous donor, who excited the liberality of others by offering to give half the deficit.
In the first week of April our Conference will be held. All the pastors educated at the College are invited, and nearly all come to this “gathering of the clan.” Dear friends, pray for a blessing. Remember, also, that the College cannot; prosper without your prayers.
Our annual account, which was issued in January, shows a large balance in hand, but this was occasioned by a legacy of £5,000. A considerable portion of this must be transferred to the trustees of the College Building to secure the payment of the rent and incidental expenses, and therefore the balance is not what it appears to be.