'Sydney Smith called Scotland "the knuckle-end of England;" but, as to gospel preaching, we have always regarded it as the choicest part of the three kingdoms, and so it is, and so it shall be by the grace of God.'--C. H. SPURGEON in a review of 'Modern Scottish Pulpit' in 'The Sword and The Trowel', 1881.
As recorded in the previous volume, Spurgeon had first preached in Scotland in 1855 at the age of twenty-one. At that time one of his first impressions of a Scottish congregation was hardly encouraging. He wrote of a service at Aberfeldy: 'After prayer and singing I began to preach; but there were no eyes of fire, and no beaming countenances, to cheer me while proclaiming the gospel message. The greater part of the congregation sat in apparent indifference; they seemed made of lumps of ice. I tried all means to move them, but in vain . . . I felt like the Welshman who could make Welshmen jump, but could not move the English. I thought within myself, "Surely your blood is very cold here, for everywhere else I should have seen signs of emotion while preaching Christ and Him crucified."' Yet this first impression was soon corrected as he goes on to say: 'Feeling rather sad at our singular service, I went into the street, and was delighted to find that, although cold as marble in the building, they were now hearty and full of feeling.' Beneath the sombre countenance of the Highlander Spurgeon found men whose life-long attachment to his gospel-preaching was exceeded by no other part of the British Isles. It was also a benefit to him to gain the acquaintance and friendship of such Scottish evangelicals as Brownlow North, John G. Paton of the New Hebrides and David Livingstone. The last mentioned was present at a service in the Surrey Music Hall in 1857 and after his death, in the heart of Africa in 1873, one of Spurgeon's sermons--turned yellow--was found embedded in one of his journals and inscribed in his neat hand, 'Very good.--D. L.'
Spurgeon's second visit to Scotland was in the early part of March 1861, and included services at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, Montrose, and Aberdeen. According to The Morning Journal of Glasgow, more than half the clergy of the city were present at the services at the City Hall and at the Queen's Rooms, while in Aberdeen, 5,000 tickets of admission to the service were sold long before the preacher's arrival. On March 10th he preached for his friend John Anderson, Free Church minister of Helensburgh, twice in his church and a third time from a table in the manse garden.
The sum of £391 which he brought back went to the completion of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. On returning to Scotland in 1863 another such Sabbath was spent at Helensburgh. 'Helensburgh', writes C. H. Pike, 'was probably at this time the place which Mr. Spurgeon loved best to visit in Scotland.'
In May, 1866, Spurgeon was in Edinburgh to address the General Assemblies of both the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church. His speech in the Free Church Assembly on 'Home Missions', delivered on May 29th, Was one of the finest of all his addresses. On the previous Sunday he had also preached to packed congregations for his friend Robert Candlish, minister of Free St. George's, and for Andrew Thomson, minister of the United Presbyterian Church.
It was in the 1870's, however, that Spurgeon was to be found most frequently in the North. In May, 1870, after speaking in Edinburgh and Dundee (at the latter for the opening of the M'Cheyne Memorial Church) he proceeded for the first time to Ross-shire; The previous winter he had formed a friendship with Dr. John Kennedy, minister of the Free Church, Dingwall, who had been convalescing in the South after an illness. At that time a new Free Church was being built for Kennedy in the county town of Ross-shire and the Scots leader secured a promise from Spurgeon that he would come to open the new building. The event is well described in Alexander Auld's Life of John Kennedy:
Great was the joy of the Highland people, not only in the prospect of hearing Mr. Spurgeon, but also in the realization. His printed sermons and books had prepared the way before him. When he alighted at the railway station a ringing cheer welcomed him. The new church could not hold the multitude of people who came to hear, so Mr. Spurgeon kindly said that he would preach in the open air, and the 17th of May proved to be the first lovely summer day of the season. The old and the delicate could listen without fear of consequences, and even the deaf could hear the splendid clear voice as it poured forth the living, loving message from John 7.37, 38.
As Mr. Spurgeon and his host drove from the tent to the Free Church Manse, the people who lined the streets involuntarily stood and uncovered their heads, anxious to show more than regal honour. An old saint turned round and said, "Are you not thankful that Spurgeon is still so young?" Clergymen from all quarters appeared on that day, and many of them dearly prized the right hand of fellowship extended to them by the metropolitan preacher.
Mr. Spurgeon proved quite as attractive in private as in public; his sparkling wit, his joyous spirit, his ready rejoinder, made time fly all too quickly. His host and other friends remarked a strong similarity between him and John Macdonald; the apostle of the North, even in his movements as well as in his social qualities.
Very soon after Mr. Spurgeon's return to London the following letter was received by Mr. Kennedy:
"MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, You are very kind to express the pleasure my visit gave you, but rest assured mine was quite equal to yours. It was a sunny spot in a very sunny life when I saw you and your dear wife and family, and your beloved people. I shall always look back on it with unfeigned joy, and we will even talk of it in heaven, for 'the Lord was there.' I trust and pray that you may have fully recovered the elasticity of your spirit, which is oil to the bones.
I have had small strokes of the gout, but otherwise was never better--I wish I could add, never nearer to God. Still, I walk in the light, and have fellowship with Him and the blood--ah, there's the joy of it, the blood cleanses me from all sin. I should delight to see a more solemn and deep religious work going on in and around all Churches. We must unite in prayer for this. God has not left us, but we long to sing, 'The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.' I am a scant letter-writer; you know how to excuse me; but an epistle from you will always be precious, and, time being given, would find a reply. Present my love in the Lord to Mrs. Kennedy and yours, all of them. My wife is marvellously better. Pray for my two boys when you have the Master's ear. One word more for you. Glory in infirmities, because the power of Christ doth rest upon you. You see the infirmities most, but others see the power and feel it, and glorify God for it.--Your own brother in the Lord's house,
C. H, SPURGEON."'
For three successive years, 1876-1878, Spurgeon spent summer holidays with James Duncan, of Benmore, an estate at the head of Holy Loch on the river Clyde, opposite Gourock and Greenock. Here, amidst scenes of great beauty, there was rest, and in the Duncan's yacht opportunity to be left alone with Sky and ocean. Without revealing the precise whereabouts of his retreat, Spurgeon apologized for the absence of the customary editorial notes in The Sword and the Trowel for September, 1876, with these words: 'The Editor has been out of the way of taking notes of anything except Highland cattle, sea gulls, herrings, and heather. Hence this department of the magazine must go bare this month. Perhaps, also, the rest of this issue may show that the ruling hand is absent; and if so, gentle reader, forgive the fault. We must rest now and then, and breathe the ocean air, or else we shall become as flat, stale and unprofitable as a stagnant pool. What salt could be expected in a magazine if the editor never went to the sea-side?'
Even at Benmore, however, it was not all rest and Spurgeon could have reported the service on the hill-side at the Duncans' home on August 20th when over 3,000 heard him preach. The following year, 1877, still larger numbers assembled along the Clyde to hear him. On Sunday, July 22nd, 1877, he preached at Dunoon skating-rink to some 7,000 persons. An hour before two o'clock, the time of commencing, the place was so thronged that there was some danger of the platform being forced down. 'Presumably,' reported one paper, 'all the church-going folk in Dunoon were present, for all the churches were closed in the afternoon, and from the surrounding villages and the other side of the water there were great streams of people. Some of the congregation came as far as from Garelochhead, a journey involving a walk of about twenty-two miles, and crossing and re-crossing of two lochs.'
The scene at the time of the service was thus described by one eye-witness writing in The Greenock Daily Telegraph:
'If the weather were to prove unpropitious the new United Presbyterian church in the town had been agreed upon as the meeting-place. Several boats containing occupants were lying in the bay. When Mr. Spurgeon ascended the platform, he advanced to the front of it, and in a clear, ringing voice remarked that, as most of his audience were standing, he would not make the service very long, to which he added that he should have to stand also. This seemed to tickle his listeners, and though the day was Sunday, and the scene the shores of a Scotch river, a general laugh could be heard. Then in a most solemn manner the reverend gentleman opened the proceedings with prayer. When finished he announced the 89th Psalm. This he read out, and having asked the crowd to watch the time in singing, the precentor led to the tune of Martyrdom. The effect was very grand, for the vast concourse of people seemed to be impressed by the Christian associations which the meeting recalled, and they sung the psalm with great earnestness, Mr. Spurgeon beating time with his psalm-book.
Another prayer followed, and in it the Deity was addressed as the "God of the Covenanters", and a special appeal was made on behalf of those in the congregation who were unconverted. So well did Mr. Spurgeon speak that at some distance from the shore his voice was distinctly heard, and one remarkable feature was that the echo was so perfect that the words could be understood almost as well as when the speaker uttered them. During the sermon a large number of ladies fainted owing to the great heat and crush; but in spite of the fears which at an earlier stage of the proceedings were entertained as to the stability of the front wall of the rink, the meeting was unattended by any mishap.
On the evening of the same day a service was held in the grounds of Benmore. The following Saturday he preached at Fort William and on Sunday, July 29th, to 3,000 at Oban. The Glasgow Herald reported the striking scene:
'Long before the hour appointed for the commencement of the service the hill-side was well-nigh filled with people; many of whom came a long distance--some twenty and thirty miles--to hear the distinguished preacher... From the platform, which was temporarily erected, and covered with tarpaulin to protect the speaker from the weather should it prove unfavourable, Mr. Spurgeon had a full view of the congregation. Speaking of the depravity of man's heart and its antagonism to the will of God, he said that the stars in the firmament were only restrained by Omnipotence from darting baleful fires against those who were obnoxious to God. The Christian, he said, depended upon his God for his spiritual prosperity as much as the vegetable world depended upon the heat of the sun for its growth. He concluded with a most earnest appeal to his hearers to accept of Gods salvation through Christ, reminding them all, young and old, that they and he would meet again when heaven and earth would be in a blaze, and on that day none of their blood would be on his head.'
The press though decidedly friendly was not entirely uncritical. The Greenock Daily Telegraph wrote:
'Mr. Spurgeon made one mistake in the Highlands. At Dunoon he delivered in his prayer an apostrophe to the "God of the Covenanters;" and at Oban he improved upon this by speaking of the times of old when the mountains and valleys of the surrounding country had resounded with the psalms sung by the Covenanters. The worthy pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, whom we all hope to see often in this part of the world, must revise his study of Scottish history against his next visit. He will learn, on further inquiry, that the parts about Oban, instead of contributing subscribers to the Covenant, provided a pretty large proportion of that sanguinary "Highland host" which sprinkled some of our Lowland counties with martyr graves. Happily, a great change has come over the Land of Lorne, and this was indicated at the close of Mr. Spurgeon's Oban sermon, when crowds of venerable Highland peasants, some of the women especially very far advanced in life, crowded round the great preacher to shake hands with him and invoke the blessing of God upon himself and his work. Not a few of the old dames told him how greatly they enjoyed reading his sermons at home, and Mr. Spurgeon was much affected by these tokens of friendly feeling, so fervently expressed by the sons and daughters of the Gael, no longer the instruments of despotism and superstition, but the most ardently Evangelical and Protestant section of the Scottish nation.'
Among the many lighter moments enjoyed by Spurgeon at 'Benmore' one is reported by William Williams, pastor of Upton Chapel, London, who shared a holiday with 'the President' beside the Clyde. His narrative needs to be read in connection with the picture of Benmore reproduced opposite:
'In the foreground of the picture is a stag lying majestically, with head erect, in the meadow (as though 'Benmore' belonged to him). There is a little incident connected with this stag which I think is worth relating. It may tell a "wee" bit against the writer, but it illustrates Mr. Spurgeon's love of fun. Soon after we were settled down at Benmore, Mr. Duncan said to me, "Can you shoot, Mr. Williams?" "Yes," I replied, 'I was almost born with a gun in my hand." "Well then," said he, "I will send to Glasgow for a gun licence for you to-morrow." I had not specially noticed the stag in the meadow, for there were plenty of deer close, too. The next evening, just as it was getting a little dusk, as Mr. Spurgeon, Mr. Duncan, and I were sitting outside the house, Mr. Spurgeon said, "Oh, Mr. Williams, I have asked and obtained permission from Mr. Duncan for you to shoot that fine stag in the meadow; see, he is lying there now. But you are to shoot him as he lies; for, if you get him to move, you won't hit him; and Mr. Duncan says, if you kill him, you can have a haunch of venison to take home with you. Now, there is a chance for you.'' I expostulated, and said, it was not fair to shoot at the animal sitting; if I were allowed first to make him rise, I would fire.' "No, no," said Mr. Spurgeon, "if you don't shoot him sitting, Mr. Duncan is sure you won't shoot him at all. He is a very unusual sort of stag." I yielded and crept quietly behind the trees in front of him until I got within forty yards of the animal, when, dusk as it was, I began to be suspicious, and soon discovered that the stag was bronze. I did not fire, or the reader might be now looking at the singular phenomenon of a lively-looking stag's body without a head. I turned round to find Mr. Spurgeon laughing with all his might. A tougher piece of venison than I should have liked to bring to London, was that stately monarch of the meadow.'
On several, accounts his stay on the Clyde in 1878 was one of the most memorable of all. Travelling by carriage he was reported to have experienced a deliverance from what might have been a serious accident if not sudden death. The coachman was allowing his horses to run at considerable speed down a steep hill; on being asked to rein in the horses he responded, 'Oh, we always go like that here,' and continued down a further descent at a rate the English preacher had never travelled at before, except in an express train.' At that point the harness broke and the driver lost all control. As the vehicle approached the bottom --a precipice protected by a fence--the passengers anticipated disaster, but the horses of their own accord swung into another road in which an incline brought them to a standstill.
During the same holiday the party proceeded by yacht far out towards the Western Isles. Having touched at Oban, Tobermory, and other places, Spurgeon arrived at Rothesay Bay on Saturday, July 27th. The next day he worshipped at the Baptist Chapel and in the evening he preached from the top of the porch of Provost Orkney's house, his text being Luke 13.10-17. This weekend was remembered many years later by one of the students of the Pastors' College who happened to be there at the time:
'I was at Rothesay, spending a brief holiday, when our ever-beloved President preached there in 1878. The mere fact that Mr. Spurgeon was announced to preach, created great interest all along the Clyde; and in Rothesay, as the day fixed on (Sunday, July 28,) drew near, every scrap of information concerning the proposed service was greedily devoured. On the Saturday, Bute's bright little capital received a large temporary addition to its summer population. Many yachts, too, came and anchored in the bay. Mr. Duncan's yacht, with Mr. Spurgeon on board, arrived about 3 p.m.; and in a few minutes the word had gone all over Rothesay, "Mr. Spurgeon is in the bay." Directly on his arrival, our dear Brother Crabb (who is still the respected Pastor of the Rothesay Baptist Church) and I went off in a boat to greet our President, and to tell him what preparations had been made for the morrow.
The next evening, Mr. Spurgeon preached, with marvellous power, to a congregation supposed to number from fifteen to twenty thousand persons. I need hardly say that the service was greatly enjoyed by the great company of worshippers. When it was over, the dear preacher rested for a while in the Provost's garden, to allow the crowds to disperse; but they evidently did not intend to leave him quite in that fashion. As they knew that he would have to go in a boat to reach the yacht, they gathered in thousands along the sea-wall. When Mr. Spurgeon stepped into the boat, and the sailors began to ply their oars, as one looked along the crescent-shaped front, it seemed; as if every person in that vast gathering had brought a white handkerchief for the special purpose of waving it in his honour. I have witnessed many touching scenes in my day, but I do not think I ever saw anything more impressive than the sight of those thousands of true-hearted Scotch people saying, by their silent action, better than they could have said it in words--"Accept our heartiest thanks for your sermon, and may God bless you at all times!" That was Scotland's way of bidding a Sabbath adieu to the great and good man she loved so well; and not until he was on board the yacht did the farewell signals cease to flutter in the evening breeze.'
In a real sense Rothesay was saying farewell to Spurgeon. The following year, 1873, saw one of the longest of Spurgeon's break-downs in health, necessitating more than five months on the Continent and thus his succession of summers in the North came to an end. He returned to Scotland in the 1880's and as late as 1885 some four thousand heard him preach again on James Duncan's lawn at Benmore but the more widespread great open-air gatherings of the 1870's were never to be repeated.
In these later years when his declining health was apparent it was viewed with much concern by his friends on the Clyde and a letter on this subject from Mr. Duncan's sister, Mrs. Moubray of Strone House, drew from him a characteristic reply. After mentioning various places she had recently visited which were known to Spurgeon, his Highland correspondent had advised him to desist from overworking himself and to remember that the sixth commandment required 'all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life'. From London, Spurgeon replied:
Dear Mrs. Moubray,
I heartily thank you for the proverbs, some of which I have used. I think I am well acquainted with the book you have culled from; indeed, I would go far to see a proverb-book which I do not know.
Happy woman to be sailing over the fair seas, and gazing upon those glorious hills! I find abundance to do all day, and every day; but, as the Lord blesses the work, I am not able to weary of it.
I saw Mr. Duncan on Sunday, much to my joy. He is, indeed, a kind and tender friend, and his sister is like unto him. God bless both!
I trust Mr. McKercher will get better, and be restored to you, Truly good men are scarcer than they used to be.The world has gone after the idols of modern thought, and those of us who do not thus wander are esteemed to be "old fogies."
A woman rose in the Tabernacle, last Sunday, just as I entered, and began to talk about the sixth commandment! Of course, I pricked up my ears, and wondered whether it was a lady from Strone House! She did not get far before the attendants carried her off. I have not asked her name, but it looks very suspicious. Were you up in London last Sunday?
I am studying that commandment, and I begin to think that I must work much harder, for fear somebody should be killed, spiritually, by my failure to preach in season and out of season.
My very kindest regard and heartiest thanks to you.
Yours ever gratefully,
C. H. SPURGEON.
Spurgeon's sermons were read all over the North and in many a glen and Highland croft there was no gospel preacher more highly esteemed. A colourful example of this was given by Pastor W. Brock in an article 'A Guide to Killiecrankie', published in The Sword and the Trowel in 1873. Visiting this beautiful Perthshire glen he had accompanied an agent of the Scottish Tract Society who, was accustomed to visit among the homes of the people. Brock thus recalls how they met an elderly member of the Baptist Chapel of Tullymet :
'The good colporteur, finding that I was a Baptist, had hinted to me that it was scarcely less than a duty to call on a Certain Annie Sims, living with her brother James, in the heart of a wood not far from the meeting of the rivers. Annie, he said, had been "in the way" for seventy-three years, having been baptized in the river Tay at Dunkeld when sixteen years of age, and it was not every day that you could meet with such a case of faithful pilgrimage as that. So, through rain and mire, I found my way up a cart-track to the cottage, and making known my errand, gained a speedy admission.
Three chairs stood beside the hearth, on which the wood crackled cheerfully. On one of the chairs sat an aged woman, her body bent with the injuries caused by a fall, but with a face smooth and bright like a girl's, and a happy voice that charmed you at once. The brother, a man of eight-four, took his seat opposite, and we were soon in for a "crack." Yes, she had been a church member all those years, and was now hoping for the blessed end. She remembered her baptism well--Mr. Macleod preached from a boat in the river to the people on the bank, and someone else baptized the candidates. It was nearly twenty years since she had been in the church; she could not move from the house, and should never leave it now. But she had her Gaelic Bible, and could read it easily, with her glasses, and Mr. B. (the colporteur) often paid her a visit, and brought her books. Then the talk took another turn. Where was the visitor from? From Perth or Edinburgh? What! from London? Ah, the brother had been there, thirty years ago, and a wonderful big place it was; but they, kent of naebody there now but Mr. Spurgeon, and they had his sermons every month, and sent them on to friends in Ireland. And did I know Mr. Spurgeon, and how old was he, and how many bairns had he, and how many would his Tabernacle hold, and could they all hear him and see him when he preached? Now the communion question came up. Mr. Spurgeon admitted persons to the communion who were not baptized, did he? The answer was "Yes," hereupon a difference of opinion ensued, the brother, a Presbyterian, highly approving, the sister questioning, "There were sae mony deceivers about now; the church at Tullymet had great need to take care whom they admitted." "Ay, but they mak it no longer the Lord's table, but their ain," objects the brother. And then we went to higher thoughts and future times, when all shall be one, sitting down together at Christ's table, in his kingdom. Prayer followed and as we said good-bye, the aged believer repeated once and again her favourite text, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world".
I had reached the door, when a hospitable thought struck Annie, and she called after me, "We have nae bottle here, but we can gie you a cup o' tea, gin ye will tak it." Then we parted, and the cottage was soon lost to sight among the trees. But in how many such corners of our land, hidden from the eye even of the church, the jewels of our Lord lie, waiting his hour to be set in their own place upon his crown.
I promised Annie that I would tell Mr. Spurgeon, when I saw him, of his readers and friends on the top of that distant Highland brae.'
In some memories of his father Charles Spurgeon wrote of a good lady of Loch Etive who had a glimpse of the preacher in unexpected circumstances:
'It has been my privilege to accompany dear father, on many occasions, to "the land o' cakes" and the county of lakes; and never had any tourist a more excellent guide. He was a veritable walking Encyclopaedia; so full of information, and so gracious in imparting it, that a holiday spent with him was as instructive as a term at school, and to me, far preferable. It sometimes became amusing to see how eager folks were to show any little kindness to him. On one occasion, we were passengers on Mr. Duncan's yacht, Varina, and had made the passage of the Caledonian Canal, as far as Loch Etive, where, in one of the sheltered and picturesque bays, we had anchored for the night. Next morning, when breakfast was being prepared, the steward discovered that the supply of milk had run short, and that he must needs visit the shore to replenish the store. Standing on deck, I watched the progress of our caterer as he climbed the hillside, and made application at a small cottage on the border of the wood which covered the slope. Presently, a woman made her appearance, and then it soon became evident that she and the steward were having a somewhat lively conversation. In a few minutes, the man returned but, alas! minus the milk.
He told us, when he came back, that the lady of the house would only supply it on condition that he would let her see Mr. Spurgeon, whose name he had used as his last argument. Upon my dear father learning that his appearance was required for this purpose, with his usual readiness to supply "the milk of human kindness," he came up on deck, and waved his hand in the direction of the cottage. The woman at once recognized him, and commenced a "Scotch reel" of delight. The steward had, meanwhile, again pulled to the shore; he soon disappeared within the house, and, in a few seconds, he came out, bearing a huge jug, brimful of pure milk, for which the worthy dame would not accept even two pence a quart!'
After Spurgeon's death another striking Instance of God's blessing on his sermons in Scotland came to light with this report from T. G. Owens:
'On July 6th, 1893, I was on board a steamer going to Islay, the most Westerly of the Southern Hebrides, and, as is my custom when travelling, I distributed some of the sermons to my fellow-passengers and to the ship's crew. Among the rest I gave one to the chief engineer who then made the following statement, which I noted down: "Ten years ago I was converted by reading one of Spurgeon's sermons. My wife was converted two years before me; but I then hated religion and strongly opposed her attending the Sabbath and week-night services. She tried hard to persuade me to accompany her to the house of God, but her entreaties only excited my evil passions, and I angrily refused, and threatened her saying, 'If you go to the prayer meeting, I will go to the public house'. She, however, persisted in her efforts; but on the very Sabbath before my conversion I said to her, 'It is of no use for me to go with you to church; my day of grace is past'. I was at that time so terrified at the remembrance of my sins that I was afraid to fall asleep at night, lest I should open my eyes in hell before morning. I despaired of my salvation and was sure that my sins were so aggravated that God could not forgive me. I have been a seaman for forty years. On Monday, January 15th, 1883, I was starting out on a voyage and my wife (who has since died) put into my portmanteau six of Mr. Spurgeon's Sermons, bound together. That very night I read one of the sermons. The text of it was 2 Cor.5:14: 'For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead' (No. 1411)· That sermon was the means God used for my conversion.'
We conclude this chapter with a letter written to Spurgeon while he was on holiday one year at 'Benmore'. It is a reminder that the preacher's sermons were sometimes heard in the North even when he did not deliver them! Spurgeon gladly gave his consent to the unusual proposal which the writer made:
My Dear Rev. Sir,
For many years, I have perused your weekly sermons with great benefit to body and soul. I now trouble you to say that I purpose delivering your admirable discourse on "Coming Judgment of the Secrets of Men," with your permission, in the oldest Episcopal Church of Scotland. If you veto this, I will hold fire. I mean to give it verbatim; the only lack will be the voice of the living author.
Were it in my power, you should have the first vacant mitre in honour and appreciation of your singular gifts. Pardon this obtrusion on the rest which you so much need for your unwearied tax of strength, and believe me to be,
Yours most truly in Christ,