Let me describe certain Baptists in this hotel. (1) A father and son;--the father, rather lame; the son, very attentive to the father; in fact, a model; father improving as to health, but nothing to boast of. (2) An old man-servant with a grey beard,--an odd customer, commonly called 'Old George.' (3) Mrs. Godwin, daughter of Dr. Acworth, of Rawdon, and wife to the son of Dr. Godwin, of the same place. With her are two daughters, once pupils of Miss Dransfield, excellent ladies. (4) An old round-faced Dutchman, a Mennonite, with his daughter, another Mennonite;--haters of baby-baptism, and very glad to see Mynheer Spuurjeoon!--C.H.S., in letter written home during the furlough, 1879·
The Furlough and Semi-Jubilee of 1879
WHEN the year which was to mark the completion of Spurgeon's twenty-five years in London commenced, the preacher was once more laid aside from his work. His regular ministry had been broken off after Sunday, November 3, 1878 and, with the exception of Sunday, December 22, he was not heard again in the Tabernacle until Easter Sunday, April 13, 1879. In The Sword and the Trowel for January, 1879, he wrote: 'Should there be error in the notes ...the editor's ill-health will be sufficient apology. We have done our best; but with a pained and wearied brain, which is the root of our malady, we, cannot but fail in many ways.' The same month he left for Mentone (Fr. Menton) on the Riviera Mediterranean coast. Since his visit to Italy in 1871, regular--frequently annual--breaks in the sunny South, away from the chill and damp of English winters, had become a necessity, and Mentone, about fifteen miles east of Nice, was now firmly established as his favourite second home. The resort enjoys what has been described as 'a delicious climate', and even in the winter the temperature is usually about 72ºF. in the sun and 55ºF in the shade. Frost is a rarity. Its Bay faces south-east and is sheltered on the north and west by mountains the slopes of which are covered by lemon, olive and pine. In 1860 it was purchased by Napoleon III's France from the Prince of Monaco, and when, in the same year, Nice was ceded to France by Piedmont-Sardinia, it was added to the Department of the Alpes Maritimes which was then formed.
The visit in 1879 was memorable on account of the presence with him of his twin-son, Thomas, then in his twenty-second year. On account of a lung weakness, it had been advised in 1877 that Thomas should take a sea voyage and accordingly that year he had terminated his apprenticeship in the engraving business (to which his considerable artistic gifts had inclined him) and sailed for Australia. As he himself notes at the commencement of his narrative which continues below, the illness of his mother summoned him back from Australia in September, 1878. It was during this stay overseas that Thomas first became recognized as a preacher and his home-coming was marked by a call to stand for the first time in his father's pulpit on November 10, following the latter's breakdown.
'MOTHER WORSE, RETURN', was the sad, brief message that hurried me home from Australia in 1878. How joyful was the discovery, on arriving at Plymouth, that the crisis of her illness was past! But, alas! alas! dear father soon fell sick; and what with helping to nurse him at home, and attempting to take his place at the Tabernacle, it really looked as if it was on his account, rather than on mother's, that Providence had led me back. This surmise was further strengthened when, much to my surprise, it was proposed that I should accompany the convalescent to Mentone.
It might be thought that I should have jumped at such a privilege; but, if the truth is told, I must admit that I was by no means keen on going. Perhaps I was a little weary of travelling; maybe, I wanted to get at some permanent employment; perchance, I was loth to leave my mother, still so sorely sick. I fancy, too, that I had pardonable fears that I could not provide for my father such companionship as he deserved and desired. I had yet to learn how easy it was to please him. As it happened, I had not been a week with him ere I could write, 'What a good father he is, to be sure! I loved him much although away from him and now my affection will increase by being with him.' So, indeed, it did. Three months at Mentone, under the varying experiences of earnest work and happy recreation, of growing health and sad relapse, of fair and stormy weather, gave me an insight into his character such as I could not have gained in any other way. Many a time since then have the memories of that sojourn in the South been an inspiration to me, Of our journey to the land of sunshine, little need be said. The invalid began to improve directly we started. He seemed better at Folkestone, and better still at Paris. Even the long night-journey to Marseilles did not unduly tire him. Ere we left the gay capital, we had knelt in prayer, asking for peace and pleasure on our way; and, at the very start, we had an answer in the shape of a pleasing interview with a converted Jew who was acting as Cook's agent. He spoke very earnestly about the blessed Book, and his dear Saviour Jesus Christ. On the journey, father amused us for some time with arithmetical puzzles, in which, of course, he had the best of it. The night was bitterly cold, our breath froze on the carriage windows, yet the sick preacher took no harm. Our prayers were answered most graciously; we had journeying mercies rich and rare. I should have said that our party consisted of father and son, Mr. Joseph Passmore--that kindest and most genial of travelling companions and old George Lovejoy.
A brief halt at Marseilles was helpful, but the rest of the journey proved slow and wearisome. How shall I speak of the joy with which the Pastor hailed his chosen resting-place? What though the weather was so unfavourable for a while, that he had constantly to say, 'This is not Mentone,' the very sight of the hills, and the olives, and the sea, revived his spirit. He knew that, when the sun did shine on them, they would be surpassingly lovely. The closing days of January were 'as fine as fine could be', so, though the limbs were not yet strong, it was possible to get to Dr. Bennet's garden, or to watch the fishermen, draw in their nets, and even to saunter up one or other of the charming valleys. But progress was all too slow, and an alarming relapse supervened. It was a black Thursday when I had to send word home, 'Dear father's right foot is wrong, and he is fearful that it will get worse.' On the first of March, the most that could be said was, that where the path was pretty level, he managed well enough alone, but every now and then he had to lean upon my shoulder. Gladder tidings were sent to England a week later, 'All is full of mercy with us. Dear father still continues to improve, though his knees are certainly not hurrying to fullness of strength.' However, he gradually rallied. Great was my grief that the closing week was stormy and dismal. I had so hoped that he could be in the healing sunshine just to receive the finishing touches. On the fourth of April, I had the joy of recording, 'Father pronounces himself better than ever this morning.' That was the last bulletin.
I was particularly struck with the welcome accorded by all to the great preacher. It was hardly the sort of welcome usual in such cases. There was no undue familiarity in it, but it was hearty, spontaneous, and, I might even say, affectionate. Everybody was delighted to see him. The foreigners, who called him 'Meester Sparegen,' vied with Englishmen in assuring him of their joy at his return. He had a genial smile and a cheery word for all. The Hotel de la Paix was still more peaceful when he became its guest. Old acquaintances and ministers of the gospel had a specially hearty reception from him. Even the clergyman, who claimed to be 'a friend of more than twenty years' standing, because,' said he, 'I have been cribbing from you all that time,' was favoured with quite a large slice of attention. Most to his mind, however, were the King's three mighty men, George Müller, John Bost, and Hudson Taylor. In the company of these kindred spirits he literally revelled. Was I not honoured to be an onlooker?
Family worship was a delightful item of each day's doings. It was, of course, usually conducted by C.H.S., but he sometimes asked others to take part. His unstudied comments, and his marvellous prayers, were an inspiration indeed. I did not wonder that requests were received for a share in this privilege. My journal contains the following interesting entry for March 3: 'We had two fresh arrivals to morning prayers. Strangers to father, they had requested, through the waiter, admission to our worship, so a stately mother and a tall daughter from Belgrave Square were made right welcome.'
It was often directly after breakfast: that the work had to be seen to; for it: must be known that C. H, Spurgeon's holidays were by no means altogether devoted to so-called pleasure-taking, He found his truest delight in active service. Sometimes, if the truth must be told, it appeared to all of us that he rested insufficiently. There were those ceaseless letters; how they worried me, for he would answer them himself, when I wanted him to be by the sea, or under the olives! How he loved the olive trees, chiefly because they told him of his Lord and of Gethsemane!
I confess that I begrudged him the time he spent in corresponding with all save mother and the Tabernacle Church. This is how I wrote at the time concerning this matter: 'As to his other letters, I wish folk would not bother him with nonsensical epistles. I must admit that it does not seem any great labour to him to answer them; still, the time would be far better spent in the sunshine; but what can't be cured must be endured.' I think I understand better, by this time, why he answered almost everyone. He knew so well the power of letter-writing. He knew also how glad the recipients would be, and what life-long friends he would secure. Quite recently, a venerable saint, in his eighty-ninth year, sent me, 'just to look at,' a letter he had received from my father at Mentone. It was in answer to a message of gratitude for a sermon in The Christian Herald, and ran like this:
'My Dear Brother,
I thank you for your word of good cheer. It is a great joy to be the means of comfort to an aged believer. You will very likely get home before I shall, but tell them I am coming as fast as the gout will let me. The Lord will not leave you now that hoary hairs have come, but will now carry you in His bosom. Peace be unto you!
Who can tell the joy that brief, bright, brotherly note brought the octogenarian, who, after all, was not the first to 'get home'?
But there was other work to be done. The weekly sermon had to be revised, and the magazine edited. Here is a striking holiday item: 'He is very busy with the magazine, and fears he cannot write to you to-day.' Moreover, there was generally some book on the stocks, and since he who would write books must read them--a maxim which obtained even with so original a thinker as he was--it is written in my diary--'We have beguiled many of our hours by reading, and father has been culling flowers of thought to be arranged in fragrant nosegays by-and-by.' The only mishap on our journey to Mentone was the temporary loss of a bag full of books; but a more serious loss than that seemed scarcely possible to the author and devourer of books. He was as a workman bereft of his tools. He was in terrible distress, and refused to be comforted till the satchel was forthcoming. Great was his joy on finding his peculiar treasure.
With very special delight I recall the fact that I, too, was set to work, and that I had the President of the Pastors' College as my private tutor. Let me give a few quotations which will sufficiently indicate the curriculum of the Mentone branch of that Institution: 'I read Chapter I of a French history from which father questioned me afterwards. I then stuck to Hodge till dinner-time, and by to-morrow I hope to get into real working order. It is very good of father to interest himself so in my welfare. I shall do my very best to prevent him ever regretting it.' 'Father and son worked at history and Hodge. The driest matter bursts into a blaze when C.H.S. puts some of his fire to it.' 'Father is now on a sofa, at an open window, inspecting a primer of political economy, prior to my study of it. I wonder if this College course extraordinary will admit me to the Conference; I greatly hope so.' 'I have just completed an examination in history, and am, as usual, top of the class. A still more interesting way of studying French history was introduced yesterday. Father borrowed Carlyle's French Revolution, and read it to us! It was glorious to hear C. H. Spurgeon read Carlyle!
Every day, when the weather favoured, and health permitted, we had an outing of some sort. It often consisted only of a drive up one of the valleys, and a stroll back; but we generally took our lunch, and Old George was sorely tried because there was no spot sufficiently level for his cloth, and no centre-piece more elegant than an orange; but these were trifles which our sharpened appetites scorned. How the Pastor gloried in the freedom of these rambles! The spring flowers and the trap-door spiders, no less than the towering hills and dashing rills, filled his soul with prayer, and praise, and poetry. The prayer and praise constantly found expression, and once at least the poetry overflowed. 'We lunched beneath the fir trees. Meanwhile, the birds were singing to us. No wonder, then, that the poetic fire burst forth, and C.H.S. gave vent to his delight in extempore rhyme. It should be perhaps explained that we had been reading Cowper together before the meal.'
But Dr. Bennet's garden was our chief resort--a veritable paradise on the side of a rocky steep. How many times it was visited, I cannot tell. It was near at hand, and no special invitation was necessary. Father loved to look on the town from this viewpoint, and desired me to sketch the scene. It was not the first time my pencil had been at his service and great was my joy to transfer to my sketch-book the scenes which particularly interested him, such as some queer specimens of architecture in the old town, the tunnel-pierced cliff with the Italian guard-house on its brow, the ruined castle and running fountain at Roquebrune or a specially gnarled and twisted olive tree. Never had aspiring artist a more indulgent patron.
After dinner, there was generally an adjournment to the smoking-room, where father chatted freely with the other visitors at the hotel, who were by no means loth to exchange sentiments with the distinguished preacher. And he could discourse on almost any theme. How pleased he was to meet an aged Mennonite Baptist there! An Alsatian baron, who had translated some of the sermons, and had come all the way from Cannes to see him, was received, one evening, with due ceremony, in his private sitting-room.
Will anyone be surprised to hear that, on one occasion, Mr. Spurgeon witnessed a conjuring performance? 'We were entertained at a 'brillante séance de magie,' given by Le Professeur Prestidigitateur, B. Marchelli.' The performance was very good for that of a strolling conjuror. Father seemed to enjoy it mightily, especially when the Professor produced a turtle-dove from 'Old George's' pocket in first-rate style.' Almost every evening, we had some reading of a light description--The Ingoldsby Legends being a favourite work. It was my privilege, also, to add to the paternal merriment by reading certain humorous sketches of my Australian experiences, sometimes amid a shower of newspapers and other missiles.
We enjoyed our Sundays thoroughly. The Presbyterian Church was not then built, so we worshipped in a room of Mrs. Dudgeon's villa. Dr. Hanna and others preached, and our Pastor was often an interested listener. He always had unstinted praise for a sermon which exalted Jesus, and proclaimed His dying love. 'That was a very sweet sermon,' he used to say when such a discourse had been delivered. How delighted he was to hear George Müller on 'Patient waiting upon God.' Especially did he rejoice in the man behind the message. The preacher came to our communion service, and closed it with prayer. I remember that, after asking great things for my beloved parents, he prayed very earnestly for 'the dear son in Australia.' I had great pleasure in informing him that I was the son in Australia; and oh! how warmly did he grasp my hand! Little did we dream then that, nine years after, he would help to marry me in New Zealand.
Perhaps I may venture to add, concerning our Sundays, that it was my joyful privilege to conduct several services. On one occasion, the Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle occupied a seat under the verandah. I told him, afterwards, how fortunate it was that I did not happen to address 'outsiders.' I cannot forget the loving encouragement he gave me. Not less did I prize the lenient criticisms and valuable hints as to style and delivery. I may be pardoned, too, for treasuring the memory of how, during this happy holiday, he conceived the idea of having me ever with him, and of instituting a Sunday afternoon service that I might conduct. But the Master willed it otherwise.
We had a whole day with George Müller in Dr. Bennet's garden, and I am able to copy from my letter of the following date this striking testimony to the advantage of such fellowship--'Father declares himself far better able to "trust and not be afraid" through intercourse with Mr. Müller.' The stimulus to faith was greatly needed then. How well God times His aid! In the same epistle, after recording our sorrow at mother's continued illness, these words occur: 'Another source of anxiety is the lack of funds for the Colportage Association. This matter also we have believingly commended to the God of all grace, who will surely not let His servants want. Father has been in many straits before and has always been delivered. In this trouble also the Lord will befriend him--for what is £700 to Him?'
As soon as a measure of health returned, the eager worker looked longingly towards home. His head nurse declared that he was not fit to go back, but the patient was impatient to be in harness again Here is the official bulletin for March 17: 'He seems, to my mind hardly strong enough to undertake the thousand duties of his gigantic work; but he will not hear of staying longer, and has already engaged a sleeping-car.' Urgent representations from the Tabernacle, that he should remain away till thoroughly restored, came to hand; but an extra week was all that the combined efforts could secure. He was as a greyhound in the leash till he was back at his post.
And what a home-coming it was! Nightingale Lane then heard sweeter music than ever Philomel produced--the music of loving welcome to dear ones mingled with fervent gratitude to God. And when the blessed ministry at the Tabernacle was resumed, there rose to heaven a doxology, loud as the voice of many waters, from a church and congregation that loved their Pastor almost as well as he loved them.
The first great event after Spurgeon's return to the Tabernacle in April, 1879, was the celebration of his pastoral silver wedding--the conclusion of his twenty-five years in London. It was felt that so notable a period of Christian service should not be allowed to pass without due recognition, and many desired to avail themselves of the opportunity to present to their Pastor a testimonial of their loving esteem. The commemoration was spread over three days, commencing Sunday, May 18th. On Monday evening the meeting was mainly devoted to praising God for His goodness to both Pastor and people. On Tuesday a tea preceded the assembling of a great congregation in the Tabernacle. After prayer and praise, B W. Carr summarized the church's progress during Spurgeon's ministry; Dr. Charles Stanford followed with an address on The Baptist Churches, twenty-five years ago and now'. After a few more brief addresses the Pastor said:
'We will sing our Tabernacle National Anthem, that glorious hymn,
Grace, 'tis a charming sound
to the tune "Cranbrook", which a critic has called "execrable". I am such a heretic as to like "Cranbrook"; and if you will only sing it as we generally do, we will make some of these heathen here tonight like it. The way of singing now (continued Spurgeon, in affected tones to imitate the parties to whom he alluded) is, "Let us sing to the praise and glory of God, and rattle through it as fast as possible, with never a fugue or a repeat, and get it over and done, for we are sick to death of it."'
The hymn was sung to the tune 'Cranbrook' as only a Tabernacle audience of six thousand people could sing it. Then followed the presentation of the testimonial. Spurgeon had previously agreed to accept such a gift on condition that it could be devoted to the Church's work of supporting the poor members and especially for maintaining the women's Almshouses. Once the deacons agreed to this stipulation Spurgeon characteristically urged the raising of £5,000. The actual amount in the testimonial was £6,233, and the Pastor was urged to receive the £1,200 surplus. On no account would he do so and he alluded to his reasons as he brought the meeting to a close:
'When I gave myself up to Him at first to be His minister I never reckoned that He would give anything except raiment to put on and bread to eat. I recollect when my income was forty-five pounds a year. Well, I do not know, but I think I had more money to spare than I have got now. I had not many things to drag at me then; I never wanted anything. When I came to London I desired to keep up the feeling that I was to serve God altogether, and give myself and all that I should ever get entirely to Him, and just be a gentleman-commoner upon the bounty of God, whose livery would always be found him, whose bread would be given him, and whose water would be sure. So I have lived. I get sometimes requests for loans of hundreds of pounds, under the supposition that I am a very rich man. I never was a rich man, and never shall be; and yet I am the richest man in England, if you can make that out, because there is nothing that I want on earth but I have it. I have not any wishes which are not gratified and satisfied, except that I always want to be doing more for Jesus Christ, if possible.'
A sermon entitled 'Crowning Blessings ascribed to God' was preached by Spurgeon on the Sunday evening preceding the presentation. He spoke as follows:
'This very house of prayer has been to some of you a quiet resting-place. You have been more at home here than when you have been at home. I will be bound to say that you recollect more happy times that you have had here than anywhere else, and these have put out of your memory the sad records of your hard battling in the world, even for a livelihood. I know that many of you live by your Sabbaths. You step over the intervening space from Lord's-day to Lord's-day, as if the Lord had made a ladder of Sabbaths for you to climb to heaven by; and you have been fed, as well as rested, in God's house. I know you have, for he who deals out the meat has had his own portion; and when he is fed, he knows that others have like appetites, and need like food, and know when they get it. You have clapped your hands for very joy when redeeming grace and dying love have been the theme, and infinite, sovereign, changeless mercy has been the subject of discourse.
Well now, by every happy Sabbath you have had, my brethren; by every holy Monday evening prayer-meeting; by every occasion on which God has met with you in any of the rooms of this building, when a few of you, at early morning, or late in the evening, have gathered together for prayer; by every time in which the realization of Jesu's love has charmed your soul up to heaven's gate, bless and magnify His Name, who has crowned the years with His goodness. There had been no food for us if the Lord had not given us manna from heaven. There had been no comfortable rest for us if He had not breathed peace upon us. There had been no coming in of new converts, nor going out with rapturous joy of the perfected ones up to the seats above, if the Lord had not been with us, and, therefore, to Him be all the praise.
I do nor suppose that any strangers here will understand this matter. It may even be that they will judge that we are indulging in self-gratulation under a thin disguise; but this evil we must endure for once. You, my brothers and sisters, who have been together these many years, comprehend what is meant; and you know that it is not within the compass of an angel's tongue to express the gratitude which many of us feel who, for these five-and-twenty years, have been banded together in closest and heartiest Christian brotherhood in the service of our Lord and Master.' Strangers cannot guess how happy has been our fellowship, or how true our love. Eternity alone shall reveal the multitude of mercies with which God has visited us by means of our association in this church; it is to some of us friend, nurse, mother, home, all in one. During all these years, the Lord has been pleased, in infinite mercy, to prepare men's hearts to listen to the Word. It was not possible, they said, that great places could be filled with crowds to hear the old-fashioned gospel. The pulpit had lost its power--so unbelievers told us; and yet, no sooner did we begin to preach in simple strains the gospel of Christ, than the people flew as a cloud, and as doves to their windows, And what listening there was at New Park Street, where we scarcely had enough air to breathe! And when we got into the larger place, what attention was manifest! What power seemed to go with every word that was spoken; I say it, though I was the preacher; for it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me. There were, stricken down among us, some of the most unlikely ones. There were brought into the church, and added to God's people, some of those who had wandered far away from the path of truth and righteousness; and these, by their penitent love, quickened our life, and increased our zeal. The Lord gave the people more and more a willingness to hear, and there was no pause either in the flowing stream of hearers, or in the incoming of converts. 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, on the right and on the left, we heard the cry, "What must we do to be saved?" We were busy enough, in those days, in seeing converts; and, thank God, we have been so ever since. We had some among us who gave themselves up to watch for the souls of men, and we have a goodly number of such helpers now, perhaps more than ever we had; and, thank God, these found and still find many souls to watch over. Still the arrows fly, and still the smitten cry out for help, and ask that they may be guided to the great healing Lord. Blessed be God's Name for this! He went with us all those early days, and gave us sheaves even at the first sowing, so that we began with mercy; and He has been with us even until now, till our life has become one long harvest-home.
I am bound to acknowledge, with deep thankfulness, that, during these twenty-five years, the Word has been given me to speak when the time has come for preaching. It may look to you a small thing that I should be able to come before you in due time; but it will not seem so to my brethren in the ministry who recollect that, for twenty-five years, my sermons have been printed as they have been delivered. It must be an easy thing to go and buy discourses at sixpence or a shilling each, ready lithographed, and read them off, as hirelings do; but to speak your heart out every time, and yet to have something fresh to say for twenty-five years, is no child's play. Who shall do it unless he cries unto God for help? I read, but the other day, a newspaper criticism upon myself, in which the writer expressed his wonder that a man should keep on year after year with so few themes, and such a narrow groove to travel in; but, my brethren, it is not so, our themes are infinite for number and fullness. Every text of Scripture is boundless in its meaning; we could preach from the Bible throughout eternity, and not exhaust it. The groove narrow? The thoughts of God narrow? The Word of the Lord narrow? They who say so do not know it, for His commandment is exceeding broad. Had we to speak of politics or philosophy, we should have run dry long ago; but when we have to preach the Saviour's everlasting love, the theme is always fresh, always new. The incarnate God, the atoning blood, the risen Lord, the coming glory, these are subjects which defy exhaustion. When I recollect how, as a boy, I stood among you, and feebly began to preach Jesus Christ, and how these twenty-five years, without dissension, ay, without the dream of dissension, in perfect love compacted as one man, you have gone on from one work of God to another, and have never halted, hesitated, or drawn back, I must and will; bless and magnify Him who hath crowned these years with His goodness.
Now I come to my closing point. It is this--the crowning blessing is confessed to be of God. Some churches have one crown, and some another; our crown, under God, has been this--the poor have the gospel preached unto them, souls are saved, and Christ is glorified. O my beloved church, hold fast that thou hast, that no man take this crown away from thee! As for me, by God's help, the first and last thing that I long for is to bring men to Christ. I care nothing about fine language, or about the pretty speculations of prophecy, or a hundred dainty things; but to break the heart and bind it up, to lay hold on a sheep of Christ and bring it back into the fold, is the one thing I would live for. You also are of the same mind, are you not! Well, we have had this crowning blessing that, as nearly as I can estimate, since I came amongst you, more than nine thousand persons have joined this church.' If they were all alive now, or all with us now, what a company they would be! I find that, during these twenty-five years, there have gone from us, to the upper realms, about eight hundred who had named the Name of Jesus. Professing their faith in Christ, living in His fear, dying in the faith, they gave us no cause to doubt their sincerity; and, therefore, we may not question their eternal safety. Many of them gave us, in life and in death, all the tokens we could ask for of their being in Christ; and, therefore, we sorrow not as those that are without hope. Why, when I think of them--many of them my sons and daughters in the faith--now before the throne, they fill me with solemn exultation! Do you not see them in their white robes? Eight hundred souls redeemed by blood! These are only those whom we knew of, and had enrolled on our church books. How many more there may have been converted, who never joined our earthly fellowship, but, nevertheless, have gone home, I cannot tell. There probably have been more than those whose names we know, if we consider the wide area over which the printed sermons circulate. They are gathering home one by one, but they make a goodly company. Our name is Gad, for "a troop cometh." Happy shall we be to overtake those who have outmarched us, and entered into the Promised Land before us, Let us remember them, and by faith join our hands with theirs. Flash a thought to unite the broken family, for we are not far from them, nor are they far from us, since we are one in Christ.'
A sequel to the commemoration meetings was thus noted at the time by Spurgeon: 'The testimonial which celebrated our twenty-five years of pastoral work was presented on Tuesday, May 20, and there and then dedicated to the Lord. On the following Thursday evening, we commenced a new period in our church history; and it is a singularly pleasing coincidence that, at the church-meeting held on that evening, no less than thirty-seven candidates came before the church, and confessed their faith in Christ--the largest number that we have ever received at one church-meeting. This was the more remarkable as it happened entirely without arrangement on the part of the Pastor or anyone else. We regard it as "a token for good," and look for "greater things than these."'