Further Instances of Blessing
IGHT UP TO THE TIME of his death, C. H. Spurgeon used to hear almost weekly of cases of blessing, which had followed the reading of his printed sermons. All of these were cheering, but some were of an unique character, and proved that God was clearly putting His seal upon the work in a very special manner. Here, for instance, is a curious instance which we find recorded. A woman in Scotland, who was determined as far as possible to have nothing to do with religion, threw her Bible and all the religious literature she could find in her house upon the fire. One pamphlet fell out of the flames, and the woman hastily threw it back. But it fell out a second time, and again the woman committed it to the flames. Half the pamphlet was consumed when the remainder slipped into the hearth again, and the woman, picking it up, exclaimed, "Surely the devil is in this tract, for it won't burn." Out of curiosity she glanced at the paper, found it was one of C. H. Spurgeon's sermons, read on, and was converted by its means.
Still more remarkable was another incident which the preacher related to his congregation at the Tabernacle. "At the close of one of our services," he said, "a poor woman, accompanied by two of her neighbors, came to my vestry in deep distress. Her husband had fled the country, and in her sorrow she had gone to the house of God, and something I said in the sermon made her think that I was personally familiar with her case. Of course I had really known nothing about her; I had made use of a general illustration which just fitted her particular case. She told me her story, and a very sad one it was. I said, 'There is nothing that we can do but kneel down and cry to the Lord for the immediate conversion of your husband.' We knelt down, and I prayed that the Lord would touch the heart of the deserter, convert his soul, and bring him back to his home. When we rose from our knees I said to the poor woman, 'Do not fret about the matter. I feel sure your husband will come home, and that he will yet become connected with our church.'
"She went away and I forgot all about her. Some months afterwards she reappeared with her neighbors and a man, whom she introduced to me as her husband. He had indeed come back, and he had returned a converted man. On making inquiry and comparing notes, we found that the very day on which we had prayed for his conversion, he, being at that time on board a ship far away on the sea, stumbled most unexpectedly upon a stray copy of one of my sermons. He read it; the truth went to his heart; he repented and sought the Lord and as soon as possible he came back to his wife and to his daily calling. He was admitted as a member at the Tabernacle, and his wife, who up to that time had not joined the church, was also received into fellowship with us.
"That woman," added the preacher, "does not doubt the power of prayer. All the infidels in the world could not shake her conviction that there is a God that heareth and answereth the supplications of His people. I should be the most irrational creature in the world if, with a life every day of which is full of experiences so remarkable, I entertained the slightest doubt on the subject. I do not regard it as miraculous; it is part and parcel of the established order of the universe that the shadow of a coming event should fall in advance upon some believing soul in the shape of prayer for its realization. The prayer of faith is a Divine decree commencing its operation."
In the very same sermon that the above incident was narrated, C. H. Spurgeon told of another case of conversion which had occurred it few days before the delivery of the discourse.
"About a fortnight ago," he said, "there stood in Cheapside a young man reading one of my sermons which had attracted his attention. As he was reading it he came across this passage:
If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you are saved now. But I want you to project your faith further and to believe in Jesus Christ for the whole of your life; for if you do so, you shall not only be saved now, but you shall infallibly be saved for ever.' Then followed the text, 'I give unto them eternal life,' and this comment upon it:'Now, eternal life cannot come to an end. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Everlasting life cannot come to and end; it is a thing that lasts forever. Believe for everlasting life and you have it; you are saved forever.' The young man said, 'Standing there, I did believe just as I was told. I trusted Christ and I believed then that in Him I had everlasting life. The next minute I felt, "Oh, what a glorious thing this is! How I love Christ who has done this great thing for me! What is there that I can do to serve Him? What sin is there that I would not give up?" Then,' he added, 'I said to myself as I walked on, "Why, I am saved! I am sure I am, because now I love Christ; now I want to give up sin, and now I want to serve Him."' And was not that," continued C. H. Spurgeon, "a sure proof of his being saved, because he saw the greatness of Divine love to him, and this made him grateful; and that gratitude turned him right round and made a new man of him?"
Here is another instance of blessing told in a letter to the preacher from the secretary of a country branch of the Young Men's Christian Association:
"Dear Sir,I met with a young man a few days ago, whose case will interest you as you have had much to do with guiding him to his present position. W. T_________ was converted seven years ago. He was manager of a large brewery. As he was not happy, he commenced to read your sermons week by week. These made him more wretched, because they showed him that he had not made a full surrender to the Lord, and he felt that he could not continue in his business and serve the Savior fully. The time came when he saw that one or the other must go, and he told his uncle, who is the principle partner in the firm, that he must leave, giving his reasons for so doing. His father and uncle tried to persuade him not to be so foolish as to throw away what they considered his only chance in life; but his answer was, 'I must throw away this or Christ: the one I cannot, the business I must.' His uncle then offered to give him as many shares in the firm as he liked to name, but still his answer was, 'No, I must wash my hands of the trade,' and he left, not knowing where he would go or what he would do, but confident that the Lord who had given him grace to take this stand would help him to realize his one desire to please his Lord and Master. The way was opened for him to enter the City Mission, where he has been working for the last eighteen months with much success. I asked if he had told you the benefit your sermons had been to him, and, finding that he had not done so, suggested that he should write, knowing that you are encouraged by every fresh case of blessing."
From Quebec came a letter: "Since reading a sermon delivered by you a long time ago, on the text, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (No. 293), in which you set forth the great sin of unbelief, I have felt a strong desire to write to strengthen your hands by letting you know that your labor is not in vain, as I for one can testify to the great good derived from that and other sermons of yours. My father, before we left Scotland seven years ago, always got your sermons, as well as your Sword and Trowel, and having derived great benefit from them, he carefully put them away. About a year ago, my brother sent me a few of those old sermons, which I read, andglory be to God!He opened my eyes while I was reading the sermon I have mentioned, and I found peace in believing."
An Australian lady wrote: "I have often felt inclined to write to you. Twelve years ago I lost a darling boy; everything seemed dark and nothing brought me any comfort. The Word of God, which had been my stay through many previous trials, was all darkness to me. A friend brought me one of your sermons and asked me to allow her to read it. At first I refused, but at last I consented. I forget the title, but it was to the effect that everything is ordered by God, and that there is no such thing as chance. I felt all the time my friend was reading almost afraid even to breathe; I could only say, 'Go on, go on!' When she had finished it, I leapt from my couch and said, 'All is right; thank God, my dark mind is all light again!' I have had similar sorrows since and many other trials, but I could from my heart say to the Lord, 'Thy will be done; it is all right.' At that time my husband ordered your sermons monthly, and we still continue to have them. Every Sunday evening we read one of them aloud for all to hear, and afterwards I send them into the bush. My dear sir, go on and preach what you feel; it has often been a great comfort to us that you seemed to feel just as we felt."
Two instances may be given from America. Wrote a minister in Tennessee: "Nine years ago I was a wild young man, but I was converted through reading one of Mr. Spurgeon's sermons, and I am now the Pastor of a large and influential church. The Lord's name be magnified!" The other case was that of a slanderer in California converted through reading the sermons of the preacher whom he formerly maligned. "I consider it but justice to yourself," he wrote, "and my duty as one who is striving to follow the example set by our Lord and Master to seek Your pardon for the manner in which I have spoken and thought of you in former years. Too much prejudiced to hear and see for myself, although the opportunity lay daily within my reach, I accepted and repeated all I heard to your reproach, not remembering the injunction of the Holy Scriptures to 'prove all things.' And you have had a noble revenge, for it was your words, as read by me in your published sermons, that have shown me to myself as I really was, and have been the means through the grace of God of awakening a desire within me to seek to lead a pure and holy life; and not only this, but they have likewise awakened a great desire in me to be the means, God willing, of bringing others to see the danger of their sinful state, and to lead them also to the Savior."
A remarkable instance of the work performed by the sermons in New Zealand is worth recording. The three grown up sonsall unconvertedof Christian parents left England for that colony, and after their departure, the father and mother conferred as to what could be done for the spiritual welfare of their sons. They decided to send copies of C. H. Spurgeon's sermons to the young colonists and to pray that these silent messengers might be used by God to the salvation of their souls. Sure enough God owned the effort and all three young men were converted through reading the discourses.
It was not always by letter or in a personal interview that the preacher heard of such cases. Sometimes he would see in a newspaper an announcement of blessing following the reading of the printed sermons. An instance of this occurred in a Baptist paper, published in America. Under the heading, "For Brother Spurgeon's Eye," the following paragraph appeared: "At our prayer-meeting the other Sunday evening, a brother, to show the different ways there are of doing good, mentioned an incident that occurred on board a steamer in which some time before the was a passenger up the Pacific Coast to Oregon. It was Sunday; and a passenger, who had with him a volume of Spurgeon's sermons, went round asking one and another to read one of them aloud. The passengers declined, till he came to our brother, who consented to act as reader. Quite a company gathered round him, which gradually increased as he went on with the discourse, until, looking up, after a little time, he saw that, not only the passengers but all the crew, who could possibly be at liberty, were among his audience and that all were very attentive.
"The informal service was soon over. But not so the effect of the sermon; for some months after, being in San Francisco, he was abruptly saluted in the street one day by a strangera sailorwho seemed overjoyed at meeting him. 'How do you do?' said he. 'Don't you know me? Why I heard you preach!' 'I am not a preacher, my friend; so you must have made a mistake.' 'Oh, no! I have not; I heard you preach. Don't you remember the steamer that was going to Oregon?' 'Oh, yes!' replied the gentleman, 'I recollect, and I read one of Mr. Spurgeon's sermons.' 'Well,' said the sailor, 'I never forgot that sermon; it made me feel that I was a sinner and I have found Christ and I am so glad to see you again.'"
A friend of C. H. Spurgeon's, seeing this paragraph, wrote to him and told of another incident that occurred in connection with the sermons on board ship.
"One of the most earnest and devoted of the Christian brotherhood at Dover," he said, "had been 'before the mast,' in a small schooner, the master of which, a godly man, going for a cruise of some months, and being anxious about the spiritual welfare of his crew, resolved to take with him some Bibles, in order that none on board should be without at least the letter of the Word. He, however, from some cause or other (probably, forgetfulness), sailed without the Bibles; but had to put back to harbor through stress of weather. Again he essayed to go to sea, but with a similar result. As he lay in port, weather-bound, it flashed across his mind that it might be the hand of the Lord which had detained his vessel; and, believing it to be so, he added to his freight some of the incorruptible seed of the Word in the form of Bibles, for his crew; and with them some of your own sermons, one of which latter he read to the assembled ship's company each Lord's-day morning.
"Our brother informed me that his spiritual birth was the fruit of one of these sermons read by the illiterate captain, who had adopted this simple method of echoing our exposition of God's truth. The sermon read upon the momentous morning in question was from the text, 'Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight' (No. 86). The arrow guided by the Holy Spirit, went home to the hearer's heart, and David's conviction and confession were repeated in the case of our brother, who gratefully recognizes the sovereign grace of the Lord in His repeated interference with man's purpose, and the saving efficacy of God's truth in the unpretending service on the schooner's deck."
These that have been quoted are but a few typical instances of the work wrought by the Holy Spirit of God through the sermons, but they show that the blessing was confined to no particular class, sinners having been saved, backsliders reclaimed, and saints comforted through reading or hearing the printed discourses.