WHEN modest ministers submit their sermons to the press they usually place upon the title page the words “Printed by Request.” We might with emphatic truthfulness have pleaded this apology for the present narrative, for times without number friends from all parts of the world have said, “ Have you no book which will tell us all about your work? Could you not give us some printed summary of the Tabernacle history?” Here it is, dear friends, and we hope it, will satisfy your curiosity and deepen your kindly interest.
The best excuse for writing a history is that there is something to tell, and unless we are greatly mistaken the facts here placed on record are well worthy of being known. In us they have aroused fervent emotions of gratitude, and in putting them together our faith in God has been greatly established: we hope, therefore, that in some measure our readers will derive the same benefit. Strangers cannot be expected to feel an equal interest with ourselves, but our fellow members, our co-workers, our hundreds of generous helpers, and the large circle of our hearty sympathizers cannot read our summary of the Lord’s dealings with us without stimulus and encouragement.
Our young people ought to be told by their fathers the wondrous things which God did in their day “and in the old time before them.” Such things are forgotten if they are not every now and then rehearsed anew in the ears of fresh generations. “Why should the wonders he hath wrought be lost in silence and forgot?” We feel that we only discharge a duty to the present and coming generations when we use our pen for such a purpose.
Very graciously has the Lord dealt with us, and our own part of the long story is by no means the least bright with tokens of his goodness. Charged with egotism we may be, but if this be the penalty for declaring that “the Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad,” we will bear it with easy patience. The Baptist character of the book may trouble some thin-skinned readers of other denominations, but we appeal to their candor and ask them, if they were writing the story of a Methodist or Presbyterian church, would they think it needful, fitting, or truthful to suppress the peculiarities of the case? In all probability they would not have been less denominational than we have been, or if they had succeeded in being so they would have robbed their record of half its value and all its interest. We do not expect in reading a life of Wesley to find his Arminianism and his Methodism left out, nor ought any one to expect us to weed out Believers’ Baptism and Calvinistic doctrine from the annals of a particular Baptist church. We are Calvinistic Baptists, and have no desire to sail under false colors, neither are we ashamed of our principles: if we were, we would renounce them to-morrow.
All controversial questions laid aside, dear reader, you will here see how our fathers struggled and suffered for liberty of conscience in former times, how their sons held fast the truths handed down to them, and in a measure how a church “upon whom the ends of the earth are come” still lives and flourishes by faith in the unseen God. How often prayer has been answered in our experience, and what great things faith has done for us, the latter part of this little book will show, and yet not all nor a hundredth part has been told or could be told.
We have taken passages verbatim from other works whenever they suited our purpose, and we have not mentioned the sources of our information, for such details are not needed in a mere popular manual. We end the matter in a word by saying that nothing here is original, but everything borrowed. How could it be otherwise in a history? Ours only is the setting; we could, not make facts any more than jewelers can make diamonds.
May the reader’s belief in prayer be increased, and his reliance upon God strengthened, as he reads our testimony, and should he unhappily be as yet unconverted, may he be led to believe in God, to rest in the sacrifice of Jesus, and cast in his lot with the people of God.
Brethren, who have helped us so long, support our enterprises still by your prayers, your efforts, and your gifts, and so shall our Zion become increasingly a praise in the earth. To the Triune God be praise that for two centuries his mercy has surrounded this portion of his church, and that “his hand is stretched out still.”
C. H. SPURGEON.
P. S. — Those friends who would like to possess another volume relating to Tabernacle History can procure “The Metropolitan Tabernacle; or, an historical account of the Society, from its first planting in the Puritan era to the present time, with other sketches relating to the rise, growth, and customs of Nonconformity in Southwark, the Stockwell Orphanage, and the Pastors’ College. By Godfrey Holden Pike, with an Introduction by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon.” It is published by Passmore and Alabaster for 2s. 6d.