"Observe how sovereign the operations of God are. When Elijah wanted rain, there was a cloud seen, and he heard a sound as of abundance of rain, and by-and-by the water descended in floods; but when God would send the water to Elisha, he heard no sound of rain, nor did a drop descend. God is not tied to this or that mode or form. He may in one district work a revival, and persons may be stricken down, and made to cry aloud; but in another place there may be great crowds, and yet all may be still and quiet, as though no deep excitement existed at all. God blesses often by the open ministry, and frequently by the personal and more secret action of His people. He can bless as He wills and He will bless as He wills. Let us not dictate to God. Many a blessing has been lost by Christians not believing it to be a blessing, because it did not come in the particular shape which they had conceived to be proper and right."--C. H. S.
"Shall we ever forget Park Street, these prayer meetings, when I felt compelled to let you go without a word from my lips, because the Spirit of God was so awfully present that we felt bowed to the dust. And what listening there was at Park Street, where we scarcely had air enough to breathe! The Holy Spirit came down like showers which saturate the soil till the clods are ready for the breaking; and then it was not long before we heard on the right and on the left the cry, 'What must we do to be saved!'"--C. H. S.
Revival at New Park Street
GREAT numbers of the converts of those early days came as the direct result of the slanders with which I was so mercilessly assailed. My name was so often reviled in the public press that it became the common talk of the street, and many a man, going by the door of our house of prayer, has said, "I'll go in, and hear old Spurgeon." He came in to make merriment of the preacher (and very little that troubled him), but the man stood there until the Word went home to his heart, and he who was wont to beat his wife, and to make his home a hell, has before long been to see me, and has given me a grip of the hand, and said, "God Almighty bless you, sir; there is something in true religion!" "Well, let me hear your tale." I have heard it, and very delightful has it been in hundreds of instances. I have said to the man, "Send your wife to me, that I may hear what she says about you." The woman has come, and I have asked her, "What do you think of your husband now, ma'am?" "Oh, sir, such a change I never saw in my life! He is so kind to us; he is like an angel now, and he seemed like a fiend before. Oh, that cursed drink, sir! Everything went to the public-house; and then, if I came up to the house of God, he did nothing but abuse me. Oh! to think that now he comes with me on Sunday; and the shop is shut up, sir; and the children, who used to be running about without a bit of shoe or stocking, he takes them on his knee, and prays with them so sweetly. Oh, there is such a change!"
One Sabbath evening, two brothers were brought to the Lord at New Park Street Chapel the very first time they met with us. These were the circumstances of the case. A widowed mother had two sons who had nearly come to man's estate. They had been excellent children in their boyhood, but they began to be headstrong, as too many young people are prone to be, and they would not brook maternal control; they would spend their Sunday as they pleased, and sometimes in places where they should not have been seen. Their mother determined that she would never give up praying for them, and one night she thought she would stop at home from the house of God, shut herself up in her room, and pray for her sons' conversion.
The very night she had thus set apart for prayer on their behalf, the elder son said to her, "I am going to hear the minister that preaches down Southwark way; I am told he is an odd man, and I want to hear him preach." The mother herself did not think much of that minister, but she was so glad that her boy was going anywhere within the sound of the Word, that she said, "Go, my son." He added, "My brother is going with me." Those two young men came to the house of God, and that odd minister was blessed to the conversion of both of them.
When the mother opened the door, on their return home, the elder son fell upon her neck, weeping as if his heart would break. "Mother," he said, "I have found the Saviour; I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ." She looked at him a moment, and then said, "I knew it, my son; to-night I have had power in prayer, and I felt that I had prevailed." "But," said the younger brother, "oh, mother! I, too, have been cut to the heart, and I also have given myself to the Lord Jesus Christ." Happy was that mother, and I was happy, too, when she came to me, and said, "You have been the means of the conversion of my two sons; I have never thought of baptism before, but I see it now to be the Lord's own ordinance, so I will be baptized with my children." It was my great joy to lead the whole three down into the water, and to baptize them "into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost".
Not only were many converted who had been indifferent or careless about their souls, but I had peculiar joy in receiving not a few, who had themselves been numbered amongst the slanderers and blasphemers who seemed as if they could not say anything cruel and wicked enough concerning me, even though they had never been to hear me. Many a man has come to me, when he was about to be added to the church, and his first speech has been, "'Will you ever forgive me, sir?" I have said, "Forgive you for what?" "Why, because," he has answered, "there was no word in the English language that was bad enough for me to say of you; and yet I had never seen you in my life, and I had no reason for speaking like that. I have cursed God's people, and said all manner of evil of them; will you forgive me?" My reply has been, "I have nothing to forgive; if you have sinned against the Lord's people, I am heartily glad that you are ready to confess the sin to God, but as far as I was concerned, there was no offence given, and none taken." How glad I have been when the man has said that his heart was broken, that he had repented of his sins, that Christ had put away all his iniquities, and that he wished to follow the Lord, and make confession of his faith! I think there is only one joy I have had greater than this; that has been when those converted through my instrumentality have been the means of the conversion of others. Constantly has this happened during my ministry, until I have not only been surrounded by those who look upon me as their father in Christ, but I have had quite a numerous company of spiritual grandchildren, whom my sons and daughters in the faith have led to the Saviour.
The love that exists between a pastor and his converts is of a very special character, and I am sure that mine was so from the very beginning of my ministry. The bond that united me to the members at New Park Street was probably all the stronger because of the opposition and calumny that, for a time at least, they had to share with me. The attacks of our adversaries only united us more closely to one another, and with whole hearted devotion, the people willingly followed wherever I led them. I have never brought any project before them, or asked them to aid me in any holy enterprise, but they have been ready to respond to the call, no matter what amount of self-sacrifice might be required. Truly I may say, without the slightest flattery, that I never met with any people, on the face of the earth, who lived more truly up to this doctrine--that, chosen of God, and loved by Him with special love, they should do extraordinary things for Him--than those among whom it has been my privilege to minister. I have often gone on my knees before God to thank Him for the wondrous deeds I have seen done by some of the Christians with whom I have been so long and so happily associated. In service, they have gone beyond anything I could have asked. I should think they would have considered me unreasonable if I had requested it, but they have done it without request. At the risk of everything, they have served their Master, and not only spent all that they could spare, but have even spared what they could ill afford to devote to the service of Jesus. Often have I brushed the tears from my eyes when I have received from some of them offerings for the Lords work which utterly surpassed all my ideas of giving. The consecration of their substance has been truly apostolic. I have known some who have, even in their poverty, given all that they had; and when I have even hinted at their exceeding the bounds of prudence, they have seemed hurt, and pressed the gift again for some other work of the Master whom they love. A man once said to me, "If you want a subscription from me, sir, you must get at my heart, and then you will get at my purse." "Yes,"--I answered, "I have no doubt I shall, for I believe that is where your purse lies." But that was not the case with the great bulk, of my dear friends at New Park Street; their hearts were in the Lord's work, and therefore they generously gave of their substance for the advancement of their Saviour's Kingdom.
Our first sojourn at Exeter Hall, from February 11 to May 27, 1855, like the later assemblies in that historic building, was one long series of "special" services, which gave the church at New Park Street a position it had not previously attained. The simple record in our church-book scarcely conveys an adequate idea of the importance of the "forward movement" that was about to be inaugurated:
"Our Pastor announced from the pulpit that our place of worship would be closed for enlargement for the eight following Lord's-days, during which period the church and congregation would worship in the large room at Exeter Hall, Strand, on Lord's-days, morning and evening, and that accommodation had also been provided for the usual week-evening services to be held at Maze Pond Chapel."
The following paragraph, published in The Globe, March 22, was extensively copied into other papers, and the comments upon it, both favourable and otherwise, helped still further to attract public attention to our services:
"The circumstances under which the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon has recently come before the public are curious, and demand a passing notice. Some months since, he became minister of New Park Street Chapel, and it was soon found that the building, capacious as it was, was far too small to accommodate the crowds of persons who flocked to hear the young and eloquent divine. In this state of affairs, there was no alternative but to enlarge the chapel, and while this process was going on, Exeter Hall was engaged for him. For some weeks past, he has been preaching there every Sunday morning and evening; but he has filled the great hall, just as easily as he filled New Park Street Chapel. A traveller along the Strand, about six o'clock on a Sunday evening, would wonder what could be the meaning of a crowd which literally stopped the progress of public vehicles, and sent unhappy pedestrians round the by-streets, in utter hopelessness of getting along the wider thoroughfare. Since the days of Wesley and Whitefield--whose honoured names seem to be in danger of being thrown into the shade by this new candidate for public honours--so thorough a religious furor has never existed. Mr. Spurgeon is likely to become a great preacher; at present, his fervid and impassioned eloquence sometimes leads him a little astray, and sometimes there is a want of solemnity, which mars the beauty of his singularly happy style."
Before we had completed the two months for which we had engaged Exeter Hall, we found that it was advisable to continue there for eight more Sabbaths (making sixteen in all). Our return to our own chapel is thus recorded in the church-book:
"The meeting-house in New Park Street was re-opened, after the enlargement, on Thursday, May 31st, 1855, when two sermons were preached, that in the forenoon by the Rev. James Sherman, of Blackheath, and that in the evening by our Pastor."
It was a very wet day, and, although I am not a believer in omens, I told the people that I regarded it as a prognostication of the "showers of blessing" we hoped to receive in the enlarged building; and that, as it had rained literally at the re-opening services, I prayed that we might have the rain spiritually as long as we worshipped there. To the glory of God, I am grateful to testify that it was so. I also quoted to the crowded congregation Malachi iii. 10--"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it;"--and reminded the friends that, if they wished to have the promised blessing, they must comply with the condition attached to it. This they were quite ready to do, and from the time of our return to our much-loved sanctuary until the day when we finally left it, we never had "room enough to receive" the blessings which the Lord so copiously poured out for us.
There were two evenings--June 22, and September 4, 1855--when I preached in the open air in a field in King Edward's Road, Hackney. On the first occasion, I had the largest congregation I had ever addressed up to that time, but at the next service the crowd was still greater. By careful calculation, it was estimated that from twelve to fourteen thousand persons were present. I think I shall never forget the impression I received then when, before we separated, that vast multitude joined in singing--
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
That night, I could understand better than ever before why the apostle John, in the Revelation, compared the "new song" in Heaven to "the voice of many waters". In that glorious hallelujah, the mighty waves of praise seemed to roll up towards the sky, in majestic grandeur, even as the billows of old ocean break upon the beach.
[Preaching at New Park Street Chapel on the last Lords-day morning in 1855 Spurgeon said: "Ought we to let this year pass without rehearsing the works of the Lord? Hath He not been with us, and prospered us exceeding abundantly? We shall not soon forget our sojourn in Exeter Hall--shall we? During those months, the Lord brought in many of His own elect, and multitudes, who had been up to that time unsaved, were called by Divine mercy, and brought into the fold. How God protected us there! What peace and prosperity hath He given to us! How hath He enlarged our borders, and multiplied our numbers, so that we are not few; and increased us, so that we are not weak! I do think we were not thankful enough for the goodness of the Lord which carried us there, and gave us so many who have now become useful to us in our church. . . . Some old writer has said, 'Every hour that a Christian remains a Christian, is an hour of miracle. It is true; and every year that the church is kept a united church, is a year of miracle. This has been a year of miracles. Tell it to the wide, wide world; tell it everywhere: 'The eyes of the Lord' have been upon us, 'from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.' Two hundred and ten persons have this year united with us in church-fellowship about enough to have formed a church. One half the churches in London cannot number so many in their entire body; yet the Lord has brought so many into our midst. And still they come; whenever I have an opportunity of seeing those who are converted to God, they come in such numbers that many have to be sent away; and I am well assured that I have as many still in this congregation who will, during the next year, come forward to put on the Lord Jesus Christ."
One of the earliest descriptions of Spurgeon's preaching at New Park Street is given by John Anderson, a man thirty years older than Spurgeon who had been ministering in Helensburgh, Scotland, since 1827. Visiting London, he was at New Park Street on March 30, 1856, and on returning home he related the following experience: "When Mr. Spurgeon was in Glasgow last summer, the fame of his eloquence had reached me in my seclusion here, by the shores of the sounding sea, the noise of whose waves delight me more than the 'din of cities' or the tumult of the people. I had heard him 'spoken against' by some, but spoken of by others as a preacher of remarkable and, since the days of Whitefield himself, of unprecedented popularity. But being one of those who judge for themselves in the matter of preaching, and whose opinions as to what constitutes good preaching are somewhat peculiar, I did not attach much--I may almost say any--importance whatever to what I heard of Mr. Spurgeon and his popularity in Glasgow. One of his printed sermons, however, having fallen in my way, I had no sooner read a few paragraphs of it than I said, 'Here, at last, is a preacher to my mind; one whom not only I, but whom Paul himself, I am persuaded, were he on earth, would hear, approve, and own.' I forget what was the subject of the discourse; but I remember well saying to myself, 'I would rather have been the author of that sermon than of all the sermons, or volumes of sermons, published in my day.' I had lately before this been reading Guthrie and Caird, but here was something entirely different, and to my mind, in all that constitutes a genuine and good Gospel sermon, infinitely superior.
For some time after this I heard little, and thought little, about Mr. Spurgeon. Having been, however, in London on the last Sabbath of March, and having been unexpectedly released from an engagement to preach, I thought I could not do better than go and hear for myself the preacher of whom I had heard so much in my own country. Along with two young friends, see me, then, early on the beautiful morning of that beautiful Sabbath day, when as yet there were few people on the streets, and all the 'mighty heart' of that great city was 'lying still', on my way from Islington to New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, a distance of nearly four miles. We arrived at the chapel about eleven, but found that the service had commenced a quarter before eleven. The church was filled, and there were crowds of people at the gate uncertain what to do. Seeing one of the doorkeepers near the great entrance, I went up to him and said 'that I was from Scotland, and that having come so far I really must get in.' He asked me from what 'part of Scotland I came.' I said, 'Glasgow.' He asked no more, but said, 'Come, follow me; I really must get you in', or words to that effect. He led the way into a wing of the building, fitted up and evidently used as a school; and here, where there were many assembled, we found seats; and though, from the crowd which choked the doors and passages, we did not see the preacher very well, we and this was what we wanted--heard him distinctly. When we entered he was expounding, as is his custom, a portion of the Scriptures. The passage expounded was Exodus, fourteenth chapter, which contains an account of the Israelites at the Red Sea--a passage of Scripture peculiarly interesting to me, having stood on its shore and sailed on the very spot where the waters were so wondrously divided. The remarks of the preacher on each of the verses were very much in the style of Henry, and were rich and racy. His text was from the 106th Psalm, and the subject of the discourse was the same with that of the chapter he had just expounded--'The Israelites at the Red Sea'.
Regarding them as typical of the people of God under the Gospel, he said there were two things which he intended to consider. First, their difficulties; secondly, their resources. Their difficulties, he said were occasioned by three things--first, the Red Sea before them; second, the Egyptians behind them; and third, the weakness of their faith. These difficulties were in the way, he said, of believers: first, the Red Sea of trials--trials peculiar to them as Christians, and caused by their coming out of Egypt, or their renouncing the world; second, the Egyptians are behind them--sin, Satan, and the world, seeking to recover them to their yoke, and, failing this, to harass and distress them. But the greatest difficulty in the way of both was unbelief. Had they trusted in Him that was for them, they would have made little of all them that were against them.
Second, their resources. These were three--first, the providence of God. He had brought them to the Red Sea; and He who had brought them to it, was able and wise enough to bring them through it. Second, His covenant, in virtue of which He was under engagement to do so, and was bound in honour to do so. Third, the intercession of Moses. He prayed for them when they knew it not. So Christ prays for His people, and Him the Father heareth always; and in answer to His prayers, delivers, and will continue to deliver, them out of all their troubles, etc.
Such was the method of one of the richest and ripest sermons, as regards Christian experience, all the more wonderful as being the sermon of so young a man, I ever heard. It was a sermon far in advance of the experience of many of his hearers; and the preacher evidently felt this. But, not withstanding this, such was the simplicity of his style, the richness and quaintness of his illustrations, his intense earnestness, and the absolute and admirable naturalness of his delivery, it told upon his audience generally, and told powerfully. Many, most of them, were of the 'common people', and when I looked upon their plebeian faces, their hands brown with labour, and, in many cases, their faded attire, I could not help remembering Him of whom it is said, 'And the common people heard Him gladly.' Yes, Mr. Spurgeon is the minister of the 'common people'; he considers himself, I am told, to be such; and well he may. Happy London people, if they but knew their happiness, to have such a minister! But to return to the sermon, and its effects on the faces! How intensely fixed were they on the preacher--how eager to hear every word he uttered--how fearful lest they should fail to catch the least! Tears were now to be seen trickling down them; and then, again, pale and careworn though many of them were, they might be seen beaming with light and joy, and brightening into smiles. One man I noticed in particular. He was evidently of humble rank, but had a noble and intelligent countenance; his face was a perfect study; every time the preacher said a striking thing, he looked expressively to me and I to him. At the close of the service I could have given him a hearty, brotherly shake of the hand, but I lost him in the crowd, and did not see him again.
Thus much for the morning. A word or two now about the evening sermon. We were told that, if we wanted to get in, to come early, as the crowd would be greater than in the morning. With two friends, I returned about six; the service was to commence at half-past six. To Our dismay, when we arrived, we found crowds already at the door waiting for admission. Those only who had tickets were now permitted to enter; as we had none, we almost despaired of getting in. One of my friends, however, knowing how I had got in in the morning, went up to a police officer, and told him I was a clergyman from Scotland, and was anxious to be admitted. The police officer, hearing this, said, very politely, he would allow us to enter the church, but would not promise us seats. This was all we wanted. One of us (a lady) was kindly favoured with a seat; my other friend and myself thought ourselves happy, like Eutychus of old, in being permitted to sit 'in a window', with a dense crowd in the passage at our feet. I asked a man near me if he came regularly; he said he did. 'Why, then,' I asked, 'do you not take a seat?' 'Seat!' he replied; 'such a thing is not to be had for love or money. I got a ticket for leave to stand.' The church, I was told, is seated for 1,500; but what with the school-room and the passages, which were choke-full, there could not have been fewer in it than 3,000. The service commenced with a hymn, which was sung by the congregation standing. Never did I hear such singing; it was like the 'voice of many waters, or the roll of thunder. No need was there of an organ in that congregation; the most powerful organ would not have been heard in the loud swell of so many living human voices. Then came the prayer. Phrenologically speaking, I should say veneration is not largely developed in Mr. Spurgeon; yet that prayer was one of the most remarkable and impressive I ever heard. He prayed first for confirmed believers, then for declining ones, then for sundry other conditions. Then there was a pause, after which he prayed for the unconverted. 'Some,' he said, 'were present who were in this state, who, in all likelihood, would never be in that or any other church again--who were that night to hear their last sermon--who, ere next Lord's day, would not be in this world; and where would they be? There was but one place where they would be--in hell!' He then said, or rather cried out, 'O God, God! must they perish? wilt Thou not save them, and make that sermon the means of their conversion?' The effect was overwhelming; many wept, and I am not ashamed to say I was one of them. The text was in Psalm cxxvi. 1, 2--'When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.' The subject raised from the text was the 'joy of the young convert'. This sermon, in some respects, was not equal to the one in the morning, but in other respects, and in particular in its suitableness to a large and promiscuous audience, was superior.
Some of the sketches, and that in particular of a slave newly emancipated, drunk with joy that he was free, were equal to anything ever drawn by a Dickens, or any of our great masters of fiction. Equally fine was that of the sick man restored to health, and going forth for the first time after his recovery to take his walk in the streets of London. But it would be impossible to mention all the fine touches of nature in that sermon, which made the whole of that vast congregation for the moment 'kin'. His denunciations of the Sabbath-breaker and others were as terrible as his delineations of the penitent were tender and melting. Mr. Spurgeon is equally great in the tender and the terrible. Nor is he without humour. Here many will refuse him their sympathy, and think him censurable. I scarcely think he is. Others will think, and do think, differently. His taste, according to others, is bad; It is, I admit, often so. But, then, think of the immaturity of his years. I was told he was conceited. I saw no proofs of it; and if I had, was I on that account to think less of his sermons? I do not say I will not eat good bread, because the maker of it is conceited. His conceit may be a bad thing for himself--his bread is very good for me. I am far from thinking Mr. Spurgeon perfect. In this respect he is not like Whitefield, who from the first was as perfect an orator as he was at the last. In respect of his power over an audience, and a London one in particular, I should say he is not inferior to Whitefield himself. Mr. Spurgeon is a Calvinist, which few of the dissenting ministers in London now are. He preaches salvation, not of rnan's free will, but of the Lord's good will, which few in London, it is to be feared, now do. On all these accounts, we hail the appearance of Mr. Spurgeon with no ordinary delight, and anticipate for him a career of no ordinary usefulness. 'Happy are they which stand continually before him, and hear his words of wisdom.' As for myself, I shall long remember with delight the day on which I stood among them, and recommend such of my countrymen as may have a Lord's day to spend in London, to spend it as I did at New Park Street Chapel in hearing Mr. Spurgeon."
The following letters, written by Spurgeon to his very intimate friend, Mr. J. S. Watts, Regent Street, Cambridge, record the young Pastor's experiences during the period 1854-1856, and throw a vivid light on many of the notable incidents which occurred then:
My Very Dear Friend,
I am astonished to find that fame has become so inveterate a fabricator of untruths, for I assure you that I had no more idea of coming to Cambridge on Wednesday than of being dead last week.
I have been, this week, to Tring, in Hertfordshire, on the border of Bucks. I have climbed the goodly hills, and seen the fair vale of Aylesbury below. In the morning, I startled the hare from her form, and at eve talked with the countless stars. I love the glades and dells, the hills and vales, and I have had my fill of them. The week before, I was preaching at Ramsgate, and then tarried awhile at Margate, and came home by boat. Kent is indeed made to rejoice in her God, for in the parts I traversed the harvest was luxuriant, and all seemed thankful.
The Crystal Palace is likewise a favourite haunt of mine; I shall rejoice to take your arm one day, and survey its beauties with you.
Now for the cause at New Park Street. We are getting on too fast. Our harvest is too rich for the barn. We have had one meeting to consider an enlargement--quite unanimous--meet again on Wednesday, and then a committee will be chosen immediately to provide larger accommodation. On Thursday evenings, people can scarcely find a vacant seat--I should think not a dozen in the whole chapel. On Sabbath days, the crowd is immense, and seat-holders cannot get into their seats; half-an-hour before time, the aisles are a solid block, and many stand through the whole service, wedged in by their fellows, and prevented from escaping by the crowd outside, who seal up the doors, and fill the yard in front, and stand in throngs as far as the sound can reach. I refer mainly to the evening, although the morning is nearly the same.
Souls are being saved. I have more enquirers than I can attend to. From six to seven o'clock on Monday and Thursday evenings, I spend in my vestry; I give but brief interviews then, and have to send many away without being able to see them. The Lord is wondrous in praises. A friend has, in a letter, expressed his hope that my initials may be prophetic--
C. ------------- H. ---------------S. COMFORT --- HAPPINESS --- SATISFACTION
I can truly say they are, for I have comfort in my soul, happiness in my work, and satisfaction with my glorious Lord. I am deeply in debt for your offer of hospitality; many thanks to you. My kindest regards to all my friends, and yours, specially your sons and daughters. I am sure it gives me delight to be remembered by them, and I hope it will not be long before I run down to see them. Hoping you will be blessed in going out, and coming in,
My Dear Friend,
I do not think I can by any means manage to see you. There is just a bare possibility that I may be down by the half-past-one train on Monday morning, but do not prepare for me, or expect me. I can only write very briefly to-day, as it is Saturday. Congregations as crowded as ever. Twenty-five added to the church last month; twelve proposed this month. Enlargement of chapel to be commenced speedily. £1,000 required. Only one meeting held, last Friday evening, £700 or £800 already raised; we shall have more than enough. I gave £100 myself to start the people off. Friends firm. Enemies alarmed. Devil angry. Sinners saved. Christ exalted. Self not well. Enlargement to comprise 300 seats to let, and 300 free sittings; 200 more to be decided on. I have received anonymously in one month for distribution, £18 5s., and have given it to poor Christians and sick persons.
Love to you all. Excuse haste. Forgot to say--Prayer-meeting, 500 in regular attendance. Glory to the Master!
My Dear Friend and Brother,
Often have I looked for a note from you, but I have not reproached you, for I, too, have been negligent. Really, I never seem to have an hour to call my own. I am always at it, and the people are teasing me almost to death to get me to let them hear my voice. It is strange that such a power should be in one small body to crowd Exeter Hall to suffocation, and block up the Strand, so that pedestrians have to turn down by-ways, and all other traffic is at a standstill.
The Globe, of last evening, says that, never since the days of Whitefield was there such a religious furor, and that the glories of Wesley and Whitefield seem in danger of being thrown into the shade. Well, the press has kicked me quite long enough, now they are beginning to lick me; but one is as good as the other so long as it helps to fill our place of worship. I believe I could secure a crowded audience at dead of night in a deep snow.
On Fast-day, all Falcon Square was full--police active, women shrieking--and at the sight of me the rush was fearful. . . . Strange to say, nine-tenths of my hearers are men; but one reason is, that women cannot endure the awful pressure, the rending of clothes, &c., &c. I have heard of parties coming to the hall, from ten or twelve miles distance, being there half-an-hour before time, and then never getting so much as near the door.
Dear me, how little satisfies the crowd! What on earth are other preachers up to, when, with ten times the talent, they are snoring along with prosy sermons, and sending the world away? The reason is, I believe, they do not know what the gospel is; they are afraid of real gospel Calvinism, and therefore the Lord does not own them.
And now for spiritual matters. I have had knocking about enough to kill a dozen, but the Lord has kept me. Somewhere in nubibus there lies a vast mass of nubulae made of advice given to me by friends--most of it about humility. Now, my Master is the only one who can humble me. My pride is so infernal that there is not a man on earth who can hold it in, and all their silly attempts are futile; but then my Master can do it, and He will. Sometimes, I get such a view of my own insignificance that I call myself all the fools in the world for even letting pride pass my door without frowning at him. I am now, as ever, able to join with Paul in saying, 'Having nothing, and yet possessing all things.'
Souls are being converted, and flying like doves to their windows. The saints are more zealous, and more earnest in prayer.
Many of the man-made parsons are mad, and revile me, but many others are putting the steam on, for this is not the time to sleep in.
The Lord is abroad. The enemy trembles. Mark how the devil roars--see Era, last week, a theatrical paper, where you can read about 'Exeter Hall Theatre' linked with Drury Lane, Princess's, &c. Read the slander in Ipswich Express and the London Empire. The two latter have made an apology.
What a fool the devil is! If he had not vilified me. I should not have had so many precious souls as my hearers.
I long to come and throw one of my bombs into Cambridge; you are a sleepy set, and want an explosion to wake you. (Here omit a gentleman whose initials are J. S. W.) I am coming on Good Friday; is your house still the Bishop's Hostel? Of course it is. Now, do write me; I love you as much as ever, and owe you a vast debt. Why not come and see me? I know you pray for me.
With Christian love to you, and kind remembrances to all your family,
Dear Friend and Brother,
(D.V.) Thursday, I shall be with you at 1.30 by the mail train. I shall be glad to preach in St. Andrew's Street Chapel, but shall disappoint you all. The people are silly to follow me so much. It now gets worse. Crowds awful on Sunday last. Collected £90 morning and evening at the hall. At Shoreditch, on Tuesday, there were eight or nine hundred where only six hundred should have been admitted; upon personally appealing to the throng outside, disappointed at not getting in, most of them dispersed, and allowed the rest of us to worship as well as we could with windows open to let those hear who remained outside.
Joseph is still shot at by the archers, and sorely grieved (see Baptist Reporter, United Presbyterian Magazine, Critic, Christian News, &c., with a lot of small fry), but his bow abides in strength, neither does he tremble. Oh, my dear brother, envy has vexed me sorely--scarcely a Baptist minister of standing will own me! I am sick of man; but when I find a good one, I love him all the better because of the contrast to others.
I have just received a handsome silver inkstand, bearing this inscription: 'Presented to Mr. C. H. Spurgeon by J. and S. Alldis, as a token of sincere gratitude to him as the instrument, under Almighty God, of turning them from darkness to light, March 30, 1855.' The devil may look at that as often as he pleases; it will afford him sorry comfort.
And now, farewell. Christian love to you and yours, from Yours deeply in debt,
C. H. SPURGEON."
My Dear Brother,
A wearied soldier finds one moment of leisure to write a despatch to his brother in arms. Eleven times this week have I gone forth to battle, and at least thirteen services are announced for next week. Additions to the church, last year, 282; received this year, in three months, more than 80--30 more proposed for next month--hundreds, who are equally sincere, are asking for admission; but time will not allow us to take in more. Congregation more than immense--even The Times has noticed it. Everywhere, at all hours, places are crammed to the doors. The devil is wide awake, but so, too, is the Master.
The Lord Mayor, though a Jew, has been to our chapel; he came up to my vestry to thank me. I am to go and see him at the Mansion House. The Chief Commissioner of Police also came, and paid me a visit in the vestry; but, better still, some thieves, thimbleriggers, harlots, &c., have come, and some are now in the church, as also a right honourable hot-potato man, who is prominently known as 'a hot Spurgeonite'.
The sale of sermons is going up--some have sold 15,000. Wife, first-rate; beloved by all my people, we have good reason mutually to rejoice.
I write mere heads, for you can fill up details.
I have been this week to Leighton Buzzard, Foots Cray, and Chatham; everywhere, no room for the crowd. Next week, I am to be thus occupied: