BY C. H. SPURGEON.
MANY preachers made use of the holy life and peaceful death of James Spurgeon, Senior, to stir up their hearers’ minds. In London it so happened that a venerable deacon of our church passed away during the same week, and so the Tabernacle friends heard of two aged worthies, and considered their holy examples at the same moment.
Those who are privileged to bear many striking testimonies for God in their lives are often taken home without any special witness-bearing in their closing hours. My grandsire’s departure was not quite so. He had a long and peaceful evening of life in which his patience glorified his Lord; and very gradually he passed away, with all that ease and confidence which one might expect in a man whose faith was firm and unwavering. He had not so many raptures as certain saints, and had times of severe inward conflict; but the peace of God which passeth all understanding kept his heart and mind by Christ Jesus. He had no question as to the safety of a soul who trusts in Jesus only; and knowing that he: himself did this, he had no doubt about his own safety and glory.
The following are some of the things we lovingly said of him: — I have photographed upon my heart just now, the portrait of one very, very dear to me, who has been taken up to his rest and reward. I am somewhat bold to venture to produce a rough sketch of a man worthy to have been drawn by the chief of word-painters, He was one who began at the beginning, and endured unto the end. He was not supremely great, but he was, through grace, pre-eminently good. This man, while yet a youth, commenced to preach the Word of God, for he had felt its power. Sprung of ancestors who had loved the Lord and served his church, he felt the glow of holy enthusiasm for the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Having proved his capabilities, he, entered Hoxton College, and after the close of its course, settled in a spot where for more than fifty years he continued his labors. The old-fashioned doctrine affords material for long pastorates; its opposite has so little in it that wearied hearers cry for change. In his early days, his sober earnestness and sound doctrine were owned of God in many conversions both at home and abroad, and he was a power for good in all the region wherein he dwelt. Assailed by slander and abuse, it was his privilege to live it all down. He outlived his enemies; and though he had buried a generation of his friends, yet he found many warm hearts clustering round him to the last. His holy influence formed for him many holy friendships as loving and lasting as the relationships of nature. Visiting his flock, preaching in his own pulpit, and making very many journeys to other churches, years followed one another so rapidly, that he found himself the head of a large tribe of children and grandchildren, most of them walking in the truth, many of them ministering unto the Lord. At the age of fourscore years, he preached on still; until, laden with infirmities, but yet as joyful and as cheerful as in the heyday of his youth, his time had come to die. He was able to say truthfully, when last he spake to me, “I do not know that my testimony for God has ever altered, as to the fundamental doctrines of the gospel; I have grown in experience; but from the first day until now, I have had no new doctrines to teach my hearers. I have had to make no confessions of error on vital points, but have been held fast to the doctrines of grace, and can now say that I love them better than ever.” Such a one was he, as Paul, the aged, witnessing to what he had received of the Lord, and longing to preach so long as his tottering knees could bear him to the pulpit.
I am thankful to have had such a grandfather. He fell asleep in Christ but a few hours ago, and on his dying bed talked more cheerfully than most men do in the full vigor of their health. He had a twinkle in his eye, and a smile on his face till the end. Most sweetly he talked of the preciousness of Christ; and chiefly of the security of the believer, the truthfulness of the promise, the immutability of the covenant, the faithfulness of God, and the infallibility of the divine purpose. Among other things which he said at the last was this, which is, we think, worth your treasuring in your memories.
One who would comfort him said, “You are resting on a sure foundation, for Dr. Watts sings — ‘Firm as the earth Thy gospel stands, My Lord, my hope, my trust; If I am found in Jesus ’ hands, My soul can ne ’er be lost. ’ “ But the comparison used in this verse did not suit my grandfather, and he said, “What, Doctor, is not the gospel firmer than the earth? Could you not find a better comparison? Why, the earth will give way beneath our feet one day or another, if we rest on it. I could not rest upon it now. The comparison will not do. The Doctor was much nearer the mark, when he said: — ‘Firm as His throne this promise stands, And He can well secure What I ’ve committed to His hands, Till the decisive hour. ’ “ “Firm, as his throne:” said he, “he must cease to be King before he can break his promise, or lose his people. Divine sovereignty is the foundation of grace, and makes every promise sure.” He fell asleep right quietly, for his day was over, and the rest-time was come: what could he do better than go to sleep on the bosom of Jesus? Long had he trusted in the Lord Jesus in life, and therefore it was no new thing to rely upon him as to the life to come.
Oh, that all men would accept the Savior whom the Father has appointed, and at once enter into eternal life!
My grandfather, who is now with God, once ventured upon punishing a volume of hymns. I never heard anyone speak in their favor, or argue that they ought to have been sung in the congregation. In that volume he promised a second, if the first should prove acceptable. We forgive him the first collection because he did not inflict another. The meaning was good, but the dear old man paid no attention to the mere triviality of rhyme. We dare not quote even a verse. It may be among the joys of heaven for my venerated grandsire, that he can now compose and sing new songs unto the Lord. When we say we dare not quote, we do not refer to the meaning or the doctrine: in that respect we could quote every line before the Westminster Assembly, and never fear that a solitary objection would or could be raised.
Here is a copy of grandfather’s memorial in the present Stambourne Meeting.
IN MEMORY OF THE REV. JAMES SPURGEON, Who for fifty-four years was the faithful and beloved Pastor of the Church in this place, and for four years previously of the Independent Church at Clare.
He departed this life on the 12th day of February, 1864, in the 88th year of his age.