One of the first things they had to do, if they would increase in London — and he thought they ought to — was to see that there was the work to be done, and they were “the boys to do it.” Let them believe in the work to be done, and get forever rid of that intolerable nonsense often entertained — the idea that if anybody came within a mile of them they were opposed.
They should believe that in ten years’ time they would be ten times their present number, and then establish three or four chapels in districts where now there was only one. It was really disgusting that any brother should be frightened about another chapel coming within a mile of him in such a city as London. They might go and put up a whole street of them around the Tabernacle, if they liked.
The next idea of which they must get rid was that in order to preserve their own strength they must not have surrounding stations. As if the heart could afford to store its own blood without dying. Send it out; let them deplete themselves and grow strong, believing in the infinite God being with them, so that all the streams running out would make more room for the infinite God to pour in. In giving out they would increase and multiply. They must get rid of the notion that they did not get on because there was someone else too near them. The reason must rather be that they themselves had nothing in them, or were in their wrong places and ought to get out. In spite of such statements, while they had fighting they could not help the people who were ill. They must take them to the hospitals. He meant by God’s help to do his share in the work, and intended to take every room he could hire, whoever it might affect, and he accordingly then gave notice of his determination to send men to those rooms when taken to preach the gospel, for they would not have respect to such insane ideas that there was not room for all amidst so vast a population. A great number of the deacons who attend public worship regularly ought never to listen to preaching, but ought to preach themselves. There was a great amount of such idle talent in the Churches, and such men ought to be turned out neck-and-crop, and made to preach. He sometimes thought of such friends, and wondered how God Almighty could have patience with them sitting to hear him preach when they might preach as well if they tried, only they could not get them at it.
He urged the great need for cultivating the speaking power of the young, and said that every church should give good opportunities to its young men, not for fine, deep speeches, but for the winning of souls. Now, as to getting hold of artisans, he thought he had a fair proportion of all sorts of people in the world in his congregation, excepting the nobility, whom God had given up. It was the hardest thing in all the world for God to make a nobleman into a Baptist, and it was a rare thing to happen. It would be a rare fine thing to appoint Dr. Landels to go and evangelize that class of society. The artisans would come; but still there was the great fact that they were not got at in many populous parts of London. They might make a practical test by selecting the best men they knew, not for mere talent or oratory, but the best for getting at the people, with sword in hand, going down to the people; and saying to such men, “Now you have to build a chapel in a certain district.” He thought they had forty places of worship built in London, mainly by the young men of the Pastors’ College, and what could be done by them could be done by others. He said to his young men, “You go down to so-and-so, and never show yourselves again until you have established a chapel. Hang on by your hands, and then by your teeth, and then by your eyebrows. I will find money to keep you in breadand- cheese. You have to establish a self-supporting cause, and do not come back till you have done it.” There were at Bermondsey, for instance, thousands of people who never attended a place of worship at all, and there a tent had been erected and services held. It did not strike the people to go to a place of worship. They did not understand some of the preachers enough; they did not talk Saxon enough. Let them do so, and knock the people straight down with Christian experience, so that when they saw the preacher’s joy and peace in believing, they might say there was something in it after all. They could get to all London if they were alive.
One more word. They must keep their ministers right. Some of their ministers were half starved. They could not win souls for fretting about the children’s socks, and troubling about how to pay the rent. A minister could not give his soul to preaching in such circumstances, and, if he could, God would say, “I will never bless that church who treat a man like that — one who is my servant; and while having luxuries themselves they cannot find him in necessaries.” A friend had said he did not believe God would save souls by the ministry of a man getting less than £150 a year. He did not believe that, but he believed in the philosophy at the bottom of it. A minister ought to be willing to suffer poverty to win souls if necessary, but the church should not permit him so to suffer. He wished no ministers had the excuse for being dull in preaching because the cupboard was empty. In conclusion he exhorted the deacons and elders to more active exertions in the service of the church. Let all the ministers preach better, more plainly, more intensely, and encourage their young men to be at it. Would that all the servants of God were prophets. If they wanted to be a king, let them try and make everybody else a king too.