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IN THE THICK OF THE BATTLE
first service held at the New Tabernacle was on Monday morning, 15th March, 186I, more than a thousand persons being present. Mr Spurgeon presided, and the time was profitably spent by this vast number of people in praise and prayer. The first sermon was preached on the following Monday to a crowded audience by the pastor, from Acts v. 42, "And daily in the temple and in every house they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ," the sermon being but the forecast of what was to be the essence of the preacher's ministry. After a month's opening services, the Church commenced its regular work, in this cathedral of non-conformity, free of debt. The total cost of this building was 31,332 pounds 4 shillings and 10 pence, nearly half of which was raised by the pastor's unaided efforts, by preaching special sermons in every part of Great Britain.
To hear Mr. Spurgeon preach, especially in his own commodious Tabernacle, was to feel his marvellous power, even though it was difficult to understand and explain it. He owed little to things purely adventitious for his success. The service at the Tabernacle was utterly devoid of such accessories of worship as good music and imposing ritual, and yet Sabbath after Sabbath that great congregation of 6,000 souls assembled for more than thirty years. Without undue exaggeration, we can affirm that his record as a preacher is absolutely without parallel in the history of the world, for in addition to the crowds that waited upon his ministry, his sermons have been printed, translated into other languages, and widely circulated in many lands. It is no doubt as a preacher that Spurgeon is best known, and it is to his unrivalled power in the pulpit that he owes his renown. None better than himself was aware that the methods he adopted represented a departure from the prevailing fashion, to which the majority of people still adhered as the only standard of propriety. "We have most certainly departed from the usual mode of preaching," he remarked, "but do not feel bound to offer even half a word of apology for so doing, since we believe ourselves free to use any manner of speech which is calculated to impress the truth upon our hearers."
That Mr. Spurgeon was thoroughly conscientious in his pulpit ministrations was evidenced by the remarkable sermon he preached on "Baptismal Regeneration." Wherever he saw sin he rebuked it, or a wrong he condemned it. This sermon raised a storm of reproach against the champion of the truth. Having delivered his soul upon this vital question, he was perfectly regardless as to consequences. No less than two hundred thousand copies of this sermon was sold.
A large volume might be made up of the various special services which Mr. Spurgeon from time to time was engaged in. During the renovation of the Tabernacle in 1867, he preached in the Agricultural Hall, when it is computed that not less than 20,000 persons for five consecutive Sundays assembled to hear the greatest preacher of his time. Speaking of the literature issued from this busy pen, the Christian World says, "Including the weekly sermon, and his many artictes in the Sword and Trowel, Mr. Spurgeon's printed works have probably been more voluminous than the productions of any modern author. The weekly sermon, beginning with the first week of 1855, has completed 36 yearly volumes. The average circulation has been maintained at 25,000 weekly. The monthly magazine has also completed 26 yearly volumes. Of the 'Treasury of David,' in seven 8vo. volumes, something like 130,000 volumes have been sold. Of `Lectures to my Students,' and ' Commenting and Commentaries,' between sixty and seventy thousand volumes have been disposed of. Then 'John Ploughman's Talk'and 'Pictures' together show a circulation of half a million volumes. The other works are very numerous, all being more or less popular." What a wonderful testimony do these statistics furnish of the indomitable will and heroic perseverance of the famous preacher. In these lines are given us the work of any six ordinary men, and yet, in addition to all this and very much more beside, he was to the front in every good word and work. Assuredly such a career has been altogetlter unselfish; there was much of self-denying in his life, but no self-seeking. Where shall we find any other teacher whose printed sermons would be read week after week, and year after year, by tens and hundreds of thousands. not only over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but in the backwoods of Canada, on the prairies of America, and in the remotest corners of the civilised world? And echo answers, Where? A herculean task like this has no parallel. Not only did he preach to his church of over five thousand members, but by these published sermons he has been preaching week by week, for these thirty years past, to a larger audience than could be gathered even in that spacious Tabernacle. Where his voice was never heard, where his face was never seen, in languages which he could not speak, his sermons were read; and, doubtless, he has met many in heaven whose conversion, unknown to him, has been brought about instrumentally by his words, and who, with many more, are "his joy and his crown of rejoicing."
One of the foremost enterprises of which Mr. Spurgeon was the founder, and in which he displayed a great interest, is the Pastors' College, which was commenced in 1856. Like many other great institutions, it had a small beginning. At the first one young than was placed under the tutorial care of the Rev. G. Rogers, of Camberwell; this one was soon increased to forty, who were all maintained from Mr. Spurgeon's private purse--but the numbers multiplied so rapidly that this source of income was soon found insufficient to meet the necessary expenditure. The weekly offerings system was next adopted, but even this failed to meet the demand. At one time Mr. Spurgeon's college purse had only one pound remaining to its credit. What was to be done? Mr. Spurgeon solved the difficulty with his usual promptness by declaring his intention of disposing of his horse and carriage sooner than his beloved college should suffer. But there was no need for this willing sacrifice. At this critical juncture a lady sent a cheque for 200 pound, which was followed in a few days by another gift of 100 pound from the same source. And so, the work has grown; it has never lacked for supporters. In July, 1875, Mr. Spurgeon received 5,000 pound for this deserving institution, as a legacy from the late Mr. Mathews. This is only one example of the many ways in which God has answered prayer and rewarded the faith of His servant in this important work. About 845 have gone forth from this college into the world to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ." We cannot refrain from saying that, under God, the college owes much of its success to the earnest and devoted labours of the Rev. G. Rogers, its first tutor, and in whose home the students were originally located.
In the year 1866 Mr. Spurgeon published the following remarks in the October number of the Sword and Trowel:--"A sister in Christ has requested me to take care of 20,000 pound, which she desires to consecrate to the Lord's service by putting it in trust for the maintenance of orphan boys, with a special view to their godly education, in the hope that by Divine grace they may. be converted and become ministers and missionaries m future years. Being weighed down with care, we shall hesitate in this business, but dare not do other than follow the intimation of the Divine hand."
The donor of this munificent gift was the widow of a clergyman, and an entire stranger to Mr. Spurgeon. Her letter, in which the generous offer was made, fairly took him by surprise, and he was somewhat doubtful of its genuineness. It seemed too good to be true. A friend suggested he should call upon the lady. An interview was arranged. The abode of the donor not giving any evidence of wealth, Mr. Spurgeon said he had called respecting the two hundred pounds she wished to place at his disposal. "Dear me," replied the lady, "did I write two hundred? I meant twenty thousand." Assuring her that she had actually named in her letter the latter sum, Mr. Spurgeon accounted for the discrepancy by saying, "Concluding that there might be a nought or two too many, I thought I would avoid offence by being on the right side and saying two hundred pounds." Thus the Boys' Orphanage was started. One of the most pleasing features of the orphanages is, that they are entirely unsectarian. An orphanage has also been provided for girls. The cost of maintaining these orphanages is about 12,000 a year.
In reference to the Pastors' College, there are two names associated with it that we feel we must mention, showing as it does that if only these two men had through its training and tuition been raised to the high and honourable position they now occupy, as successful pastors of successful churches, its work has not been in vain.
The Rev. W. Cuff, the energetic pastor of the Shoreditch Tabernacle, says, "Pray let me bear a personal testimony to my beloved friend, Mr. Spurgeon. Today I feel poor, and sad, and lonely, because he has gone. I owe to him, under God, all I am, all I have done, or shall do in the days that remain. He took me from obscurity into his college when I could scarcely read or write. With marvellous love and untiring patience he nurtured my early faith in Christ and love to men. He touched all the sources of my being, and developed all my character. Whatever I am he made me, and I rejoice to say so .... I claim to know him, for I was with him much in the years gone by, and I say without reserve that he was the most unselfish, generous soul I ever knew. I speak of him as I found him, in all the changing circumstances of all the years, in change in doctrine, in forms of worship, and of controversy. He was always the same definite, kind, firm, generous man ..... Never did I appeal to him in vain, and his help was ever given in such a manner as to make one feel it was a delight to him to help all who were in distress. I have abundant proof of this in his letters which I have preserved. The last he wrote me I value beyond gold, and it must be amongst the very last he wrote, for it was written at Mentone only a few days before his fatal illness, and bears date 9th Jan., 1892 ..... My heart aches and I weep as I write over a loss that can never be replaced in a life of struggle and hard work for God and the good of men."
The Rev. Archibald G. Brown (whose work in the east of London is only second to that of Mr. Spurgeon in the south), the pastor of the East London Tabernacle, said, "He remembered, in much trembling, going to the Metropolitan Tabernacle to ask Mr Spurgeon if he would allow him to enter his college, and he seemed to hear again the very sentence the pastor uttered as they entered the vestry, 'Oh, Brown, I have been looking for you.' .... They would not wonder how he revered Mr. Spurgeon's memory, if they knew all he had been to him in trouble. Some sixteen years ago, when broken with a sore grief, he went over to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and how surprised he was to find that Mr. Spurgeon had taken the trouble to prepare a sermon on purpose for him After the sermon Mr Spurgeon came down to him, and with a grip of the hand, said, ' I have said all I could for you, poor fellow.' God was an awful reality to Spurgeon ..... He lived before God; he acted before God; he spoke before God, and it was not left for the pulpit. He had never known himself spend half-an-hour with Mr. Spurgeon, and how many had he spent, without being brought into the very presence of the Lord Himself .... God satisfied him. The Elijah of the nineteenth century had the characteristic of his forerunner, that of being one who consciously stood before God. Again Jesus was so absolutely and so manifestly his heart's Lord -- wonderfully so ..... He never knew a man who had the tear so near the surface for his Lord as Mr. Spurgeon .... It was wonderful how he lingered at Calvary, -- how he would go on talking about the Lord's unknown agony, the big tears running down his cheeks as he spoke."
These instances might be multiplied, but space forbids. They need no comment. They teach their own lesson. We regret we can only mention "The Colportage Association;" "The County Mission;" "The Evangelical Society;" "The Alms' Houses;" "The Tract Society," and a multitude of other good works, all formed directly or indirectly by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
SCARRED AND WOUNDED
now come to one of the most painful episodes in the life of the great preacher. It was no light trial that he passed through; it was no puny conflict that he engaged in when fighting the great battle for right and truth, in that which is now so well known as the "Down Grade Controversy" He could do no other than what he did. For the firm unflinching stand he took he has earned the eternal gratitude of Evangelical Christendom. No watchman, according to the best of his ability, ever sounded an alarm in Zion, concerning the growing evils of the time when it was more needed. No uncertain sound concerning departures from the faith came from his voice. And was there not a cause for this? Verily there was. When we find the Atonement scouted; the Inspiration of the Bible denied; the Holy Spirit degraded into an influence; the punishment of sin turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth; surely it was time that someone should show himself jealous for the honour of the Lord of Hosts! Nobly did he champion the orthodox faith; righteousty did he contend for that faith once delivered to the saints!
Writing only a few months since, Mr. Spurgeon said:- "We live in perilous times; we are passing through a most eventful period; the Christian world is convulsed; there is a mighty upheaval of the old foundations of faith; a great over-hauling of old teaching. TIm Bible is made to speak today in an unknown tongue. Gospel teachings, the proclamation of which made men fear to sin and dread the thought of eternity, are being shelved Calvary is being robbed of its glory, sin of its horror, and the power of the Gospel weakened. There is no use in mincing matters; there are thousands of us in all denominations who believe that many ministers have seriously departed from the truths of the Gospel, and a sad decline of spiritual life is manifest in our churches .... The case is mournful. Certain tninisters are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. A plain man told us the other day that two ministers had derided him, because he thought we should pray for rain .... Have these advanced thinkers filled their own chapels? Have they, after all, prospered through discarding the old methods? The places which the old Gospel filled, the new nonsense has emptied and will keep empty."
|MR. SPURGEON PREACHING IN THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE|
Mr. Spurgeon never appeared more truly grand than when he was willing to fling up and sacrifice all for the truth; willing to forfeit a thousand friendships and suffer the loss of the help of thousands in his work. Mr. Archibald Brown says, "That Mr. Spurgeon did speak strongly none could deny. But he lived in his utterances, he lived in the truths he proclaimed, he lived in the witness he had borne, and the battle must go on. The champion had fallen, he had gone to his rest, but the fight continued. The truth was not less precious because dear Spurgeon was dead. He never had a shadow of a doubt of the step he took. Most distinctly let it be understood, that he never for a moment regretted the step that he was led of God to take for the Honour of Gods Truth. The last time I saw him he said, 'If I had not come out when I did, I should have come out half-a-dozen times since.' If he had not come out when he did, he would have come out to-day. He maintained the perfectly verbal inspiration of the Bible from beginning to end, and that the Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but that it is the Word of God."
He was scarred and wounded in this terrible conflict, but nobly did he fight. He has gone to his well- earned rest and reward. The sword he so well wielded has fillen from that hand for ever. Now he wears the victor's crown, now he sings the conqueror's song. He was a martyr for Truth's sake. He has now received the martyr's prize.
Speaking at the memorial service in the Tabernacle, his private secretary, Mr. Harrald, said, "Within that olive casket lies all the remains of a martyr for Truth's sake. That great controversy killed him. 'Even though an almost fatal illness was part of the cost,' he said himself in the Sword and Trowel, and now we may leave out the almost."
little sketch of the great preacher's life andwork would not be complete without a glimpse of the home circle and its surroundings. Mr. Spurgeon was married in 1856 to Miss Susannah Thompson, daughter of Mr. Robert Thompson, of Falcon Square, London. Twin boys, Charles and Thomas Spurgeon are the only additions to their family. They were born in Nightingale Lane, Balham, near London, on 2oth September, 1857. They were both educated at Camden House School, Brighton. There they acquitted tlaemselves honourably in the scholastic department, and succeeded in obtaining some handsome prizes.
The conversion of Charles took place under the following circumstances:--He was out riding, accompanied by a Christian friend, when their conversation turned into a religious channel. Rain came on, and they sought shelter under a tree. Dismounting, they both knelt down upon the grass, while his friend offered up a prayer. It was during this short season of communion that the sunshine of truth broke in upon his young heart. In 1879 he received a call from the congregation at South Street, Greenwich. The call was after prayerful deliberation accepted, and he entered upon his first pastorate there at the age of twenty-three. The building, which was almost empty, is now filled with nearly a thousand hearers, and the church rejoices in many tokens of spiritual prosperity.
Mr. Thomas Spurgeon, after being for some years pastor of the Auckland Tabernacle, New Zealand, is now following the work of an evangelist, his labours being abundantly blessed.
A bond of filial love and affection bound the hearts of these two sons to their revered and sainted father. In him they ever found a ready counsellor, a willing helper, a trusted friend, one to whom they could ever turn for advice or consolation. What really was the hallowed relationship that existed between this spiritual Goliath and his offspring is best told in the words of Charles Spurgeon himself. He writes, "There is only one other who can write the words, 'My father,' after the illustrious name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. And such a father! Blessed be his dear memory! Never had any son a kinder, wiser, happier, holier, or more generous sire, than it pleased God to grant me; and now that he has gone there are no words powerful enough in my vocabulary to describe the irreparable loss. Most gratefully do I endorse the many true and kind things that have been said in reference to him; but all has not been uttered of his worth, and never can be for many a day to come. I feel that even the fullest poetic license may be granted to those who would fain do him hononr, either by tongue or pen, and none would be charged with exaggeration. Do I seem to over-estimate this beloved one? Well, forgive me. I am his son; and as I have ever loved him with a deep affection, now that he is 'waiting on the other side,' I feel to love him more. He was what he was 'by the grace of God,' and I do but magnify the Master in speaking well of the servant. All glory be to God for such a life! and we take the crown of our esteem and lay it at Jesus' feet."
What a noble testimony from such a loving heart to departed worth and goodness! Well may such a one exclaim in this hour of sadness and of grief, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thcreof" May the spirit of the departed Elijah rest in a mighty measure upon his Elishas.
One word, and one word only, in reference to her who had been the close companion of his life, the choice "helpmeet" in his toils, and the sharer of his sufferings Precious and beloved as a mother, too intensely dear and affectionate as a wife, for words to adequately express, she is left for a little while--the loving and the loved wife--until the summons comes, when she shall meet her beloved in that land "where congregations ne'er break up, and Sabbaths have no end." For several years Mrs. Spurgeon, although herself a great invalid, has in the kindness of her generous heart distributed 130,000 volumes among poor ministers of all denominations. How it has cheered our hearts to know that in this hour of her widowhood, she has been remembered by all classes, from the Heir-Apparent and his Consort to the peasant in his cot.
Mr. Spurgeon's home life was ideal. No one could be an hour under his roof without perceiving the fragrance of domestic affection that pervaded the home. 'To his invalid wife he always spoke with a mingled gaiety and affection that was very touching. Her life was given up by an eminent physician many years since, but God has spared her to be her husband's chief aid in graceful, incessant, and increasing work at his side for the poor servants of Christ.
None enjoyed an outing at Westwood more than the hardly-worked students. It was indeed a cheerful break in the monotony of their lives. Westwood and its master, ay, and mistress too, had a charm for them that words cannot very well express. How they enjoyed walking round that exquisite garden, or gathering a lesson from the feathered songsters or the busy bees, or making the acquaintance of "Snowdrop" and "Daphne" and Mrs. Spurgeon's other orphanage cows. Oh, what a delight and freedom there was in it all to be sure! And then how champed they were with the simple, unpretending talk of the beloved host of "Beulah." How he sowed at will pearls of wit and wisdom, proverb and epigram in handful, yet always ready to listen to others, and prompt to acknowleclge with hearty appreciation any good thing they might utter. None enjoyed more than he his beautiful garden and grounds, and he manifested an equal pleasure in exhibiting these beauties of nature to others. Mr. Spurgeon once said, in answer to an overdrawn description in the public press of his house and gardens, "My Master, I am sure, does not grudge me the enjoyment of my garden. I owe it to Him. It is about the only luxury in which I indulge. I am very hard worked. I have no social intercourse on account of the limited time at my disposal. I have neither tithe nor strength to move about and find refreshment in variety and change as others do; but I have my garden, with its flowers and its fine prospects, and I praise Him for it."
And now, the earthly "Beulah" is exchanged for the heavenly one where
"Everlasting spring abides
And never withering flowers."
Mr. Spurgeon has died comparatively a poor man though he enjoyed ample opportunities of making money. Indeed, the sums which he has given away at different times would have been a fortune to most men. "I never expected," he once remarked, "anything but food and raiment; and when my income was forty-five pounds a-year, I was heartily content. It is much the same with me now. When I have a spare five pounds, the college or orphanage or something else requires it, and away it goes." This is not a matter of surprise when we know that the six thousand pounds which he received as a "silver wedding" testimonial, and the jubilee testimonial, on his completing his fiftieth year, of nearly five thousand pounds, was every penny of it given to the various institutions connected with the Tabernacle.
And now we come to the close of this great man's life, not because we could not say more, but simply for want of space to contain records of his greatness. Surely we may say, he who is united with Christ rises into an immortality of greatness. The majesty of the enthroned Mediator overshadows the Church, which is His bride He hath made us kings with God. He distributes crowns. He will reward every man, according as his work shall be.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been described, and rightly so, as the Elijah of the nineteenth century. He was a mighty leader in evangelical Israel. He had but one sermon, yet it was always new. Truly in his highest, noblest, and truest sense he was great. His special gifts are possessed by none, his unwearied devotion all may emulate. By his death we have been deprived of a courageous, faithful disciple,' a man of striking power and strong personality. He was Christ's gift, a precious gift to the Church of the nineteenth century. He has gone to his well earned rest, but he has left behind him a precious legacy of hope, trust, faith, and courage.
"To thousands of aching hearts, now his is still for ever;
To thousands of throbbing brains, now his is no longer busy;
To thousands of toiling hands, now his have ceased their labour;
To thousands of weary feet, now his have finished their journey."
"And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
This honour have all His saints. Wherever the Spirit of God subdues the will of the flesh, and arms the heart to self-denying tenderness, there is greatness that awaits its coronation by the Lord of Life and Glory; a greatness which will last when the things of time and sense are passed away for ever.
LAYING THE WARRIOR TO REST
was fitting and right, they brought him home to sleep his last sleep. They have laid him amongst the comrades who fought by his side, and fell only a little time before him. Never since the days of the immortal Wesley has there been such lamentation over a prince falling in Israel. For several days prior to that memorable Sunday, the whole nation had watched with fear and anxiety by that sick bed at Mentone. Anxiously was every telegram scanned and every message analysed. Hope and fear alternately predominated. With some that "hope deferred which maketh the heart sick," had taken possession. Whilst we anxiously waited, with every fibre of our beings strung to their utmost tension, a mighty host supplicated Him, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, that if agreeable to His will this precious life might be spared. But it was not to be. His will is always the right will. He who doeth all things well took the beloved pastor of thousands to one of His many mansions. Ere the close of Sunday, 31st January, 1892, "the labourer's work was o'er; his eyes had seen the King in His beauty," and the land of promise was his inheritance. At last the message reached our shores, and a chord of sympathy vibrated in every heart as they heard or read its import. Although sorrowful to some, yet there was a joy and hope declared that none could gainsay. It was touchingly beautiful in its simplicity. "Our beloved pastor entered heaven at 11.5 on Sunday night."
In response to a universally expressed wish, if for no other reason, it was decided to lay all that was mortal of the great chieftain in English soil. Those three days' services m the Tabernacle will never be forgotten by those who were present. Well might his able co-adjutor, Dr. Pierson, say he doubted if any one since Paul's day had entered heaven to find so many people gathered there saved by his ministry as Mr. Spurgeon. 'The vast crowds who again and again filled the Tabernacle were permeated with one common sorrow. They all sighed
"For the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still."
They all "wept, most of all that they should see his face no more"
In tile multitude of tributes offered to the memory of the great preacher at those monster gatherings, we can only notice one. Mr. Harrald, in the course of his pathetic address, said, "The beloved pastor had a last word for them, by a most remarkable over-ruling of the providence of God, in the sermon which he appointed for this very week, and which Mrs. Spurgeon had entitled, `His own funeral sermon.' The text was, remarkable to say, `Having served his generation by the will of God he fell on sleep.' The last message sent by the deceased pastor to his beloved church was, ' Self and wife's hearty thank-offering, 100 pound for Tabernacle general expenses fund; love to all friends.' This was the last greeting this side eternity."
In Mr. Spurgeon's desk was found by his secretary the following verse. It was in his own handwriting, which was as clear as any he ever penned, and was as follows :--
"No cross, no crown; no loss, no gain;
They, too, must suffer who would reign.
He best can part with life without a sigh,
Whose daily living is to daily die.
Youth pleads for age, age pleads for rest,
Who pleads for heaven will plead the best."
It was a wonderful and never-to-be forgotten sight that passed through London streets on Thursday, 11th February, 1892. Nothing was seen for miles but bared heads, closed blinds, and universal signs of grief and sorrow. It was indeed a memorable scene. What a lesson that Bible decked coffin preached to its tens of thousands as it passed through their midst! All classes, all creeds, all parties joined in the voice of mourning. The orphan children sang their last hymn to their beloved father as they bore him out of their sight for ever. But their little hymn of praise elicited no song of recognition now from him they had learnt to love so well. No, he is already singing the new song with that multitude which no man can number. Weep on, ye orphan ones, no wonder sobs choke your utterance and you can sing no more. The father's dead, yea, well we know it; but don't forget, ye desolate ones, your Heavenly Father lives and "He careth for you." Oh how loudly does "he, being dead yet speak" to this sorrowing multitude. Who will hear that message, and receive his Christ and live? Then verily, he shall not have died in vain!
Whether on the Tuesday, when more than 60,000 wended their way through the Tabernacle, silently and sadly, to view that olive-wood coffin, with its paints waving o'er it, or the next day when so many of England's greatest divines (Church of England and Nonconformist alike) paid their last tribute of respect to one whom all recognised as a leader, deep and effective must have been the sermons all this preached; long and lasting we trust the impressions tnade; but the real effect of which eternity alone will reveal.
|SPURGEON'S SCHOOL AND ALMSHOUSE|
With hearts bowed with a great grief, with tender and loving hands, is that precious burden borne to its last resting-place. Eight students (specially chosen for that last sad duty) from that college of which he had so long been the head and chief, deposit with reverent hands and stricken hearts that prized casket in its last resting-place. They weep. Well they may. Behold how they loved him! Their master is taken from their head to-day. They shall see his face no more. It is their last act of service; their last tribute of affection to him who had been so much to them. Alas! how much they have lost as yet they know not! Yet they sorrow not as those without hope. Their beloved one only sleeps, he shall rise again.
One scene more. Charles, the beloved and loving son, has a double, nay, a treble portion of duty and affection to discharge in this last trying hour. Does he not represent the other son (equally beloved) in the distant Antipodes, and her who has been so much to them all; now keeping her lonely vigil at Mentone? God help him! God bless and sustain her! May the father and husband's God put round about them each the "everlasting arms," is the prayer of many in that vast assembly Next comes the brother (J. A. Spurgeon), dearly beloved, who has laboured so arduously and zealously in the battlefield. With the sleeping warrior at his feet, he can scarce control his feelings as he bids that loved one farewell.
One by one the mourners draw near to take their last look into that open grave, and speak the last good-bye. Nothing is heard save the sobs of that vast throng. Strong men weep as little children as the first notes of the hymn he loved so well rises upon the air. But hush! this must not be now. We will weep later on. It was his hymn. So for a season the tears are held in check and most of that massive gathering join in singing,
"Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more."
A few words spoken by the dear friend of the departed, the Rev. A. G. Brown, a prayer by Dr. Pierson, and the benediction by the Lord Bishop of Rochester, brings this simple service to a close. So it was that Charles Haddon Spurgeon was laid to rest until "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed." May the reader and writer meet him in the better land!
I know of no more fitting words to close this short biography of this great man (whose life-work we have tried to depict in these pages) than this splendid but true eulogy spoken by the Rev. A. G. Brown at the grave side:--
"Loving president, prince of preachers, brother beloved, faithful servant, dear Spurgeon, we bid thee not ' Farewell,' but only for a little while ' Goodnight.' Thou shall rise soon, 'at the first dawn of the Resurrection day of the redeemed; but yet it is not ours to bid 'Farewell,' but thine. It is we who linger in the darkness. Thou art in God's own light. Then with thee will we greet the morning of a day that knows no end. for 'there is no night there.' Straight has been the furrow thou hast ploughed. No looking back has barred thy course. Champion of God, that battle, long and nobly fought, is over. A palm branch has taken the place of the Sword and Trowel. No longer does the helmet press thy brow; the victor's wreath from the great Commander has already proved thy full reward. Here for a little while shall rest thy precious dust, then shall thy well-beloved come and His voice shall cause thee to spring up from thy couch. Until then we will praise God for thee, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant, yet hope and expect to praise God with Thee."
must not be supposed that the writer of the foregoing sketch had forgotten or overlooked the rich vein of humour which flowed through many of the sayings of the great preacher, as from an inexhaustible mine. Assuredly such is not the case. We were anxious in the limited space at our disposal to confine ourselves to the more serious aspects of his life and work, thinking perhaps that a small appendix, recounting one or two instances of the humorous side of Spurgeon's life, would be more acceptable to the reader, and more congenial to our own feelings. We were extremely wistful that the incidents which we have recorded in this brief memoir should be of such a character that they might lead the reader to glorify the Christ whom he so much adored. Hence our reason for appending this addition.
One has only to glance at that marvellous production, "John Ploughman s Talk," to see what a fund of humour Mr. Spurgeon possessed. In all respects he was a wonderful man. In head, heart, energy, and spirit he presented a most wouderful and striking combination. His intellectual qualities, for instance, were of the highest order and supremest kind. He seemed to live many lives. To listen to his talk on books, one would think that he had done nothing but read in the library all his life; to mark his publications, one would fancy he could have done naught but write; to look at the works he administered, it would seem as an administrator he had enough to occupy all his liIb; while to preach the sermons that never grew stale, und were always fresh, what a demand that must have made upon him! There were few men who were such men of business. Truly, in the combination of manifold gifts of intellect and heart, of manhood and saintliness, in the passion of practical aims, in the utter absence of cant and insincerity, and in the nobleness of his character, his life, and his consecration, he was unique. He hated cant as though he were a disciple of Carlyle, and he battled for sincerity as though he had been trained by Wordsworth.
An occasional hearer and great admirer of Spurgeon, who had made his fortune by being mixed up in some very shady business transactions, was extremely anxious that Mr. Spurgeon should name a villa that he had erected wherein to spend the remainder of his days. For some time Mr. S. warded off the contiuual appeals made to him by his wealthy hearer. But the man was not to be repulsed. At last, being wearied by his importunity, Mr. Spurgeon said, "What shall you name your villa? Why, if I was you, I should name it 'Dun Robbin' ("Done Robbing")." Needless to add, Mr. S. was not troubled with another visit from this importuuate gentleman.
Mr. Spnrgeon was an adept at reading character at first interviews. A young man of the masher type applied for admission as student to the Pastor's College. After a long conversation, the great preacher brought the interview to a close by quaintly remarking, "My advice to you, my friend, is that you had better tarry at Jericho till your beard grows."
In giving these few extracts showing the humorous side of the great preacher's character, we may say that we have some sympathy with the old clergyman, who at one time took it upon him to rebuke Mr. Spurgeon for his habit of occasionally using jocular remarks while preaching. He replied by saying, "You may be right, dear brother, but you would perhaps have more sympathy for me if you knew how many I keep back."
It has been maintained by many that Mr. Spurgeon's scholarship was neither scanty nor limited, in proof of which, Mr. Williams, a friend of the late preacher, gives us the following interesting reminiscence. "'Give me a text, Williams, and I will preach you a sermon,' said Spurgeon on one occasion when we were sitting alone in a lovely glen in Scotland. 'One star differeth from another star in glory,' said I. At once he began by describing the glory of certain special stars of separate constellations, giving in each case the name and their position in the heavens, until I listened and wondered, and wished I could only write it down. But the finish up! Never have I heard him do anything more sublime, even when preaching to gathered thousands."
One instance of his large heartedness and intense sympathy:-- Last year, when staying at Mentone, a poor organ-grinder played in front of the hotel where he was staying. After playing several tunes, the owner of the organ took round his hat for contributions, but met with very scanty support. Spurgeon noticing this went down at once, and began to turn the handle of the organ most vigorously. Of course the company flocked to the windows to witness such a novel sight. Spurgeon continued playing, and the man made the collection, with a most beneficial result.
This was the outcome of a great large heart on fire with the love of God and with love to his fellowmen. Mr. Manton Smith graphically describes his first meeting with the great preachers and with this we must close our appendix. Mr. Smith says :--
"The first time I opened my lips for God before him (Spurgeon) was in the Tabernacle, some twenty years ago. I was invited by Mrs. Bartlett to be one of the speakers at the annual tea meeting of her young women's class. I never dreamt that Spurgeon was coming to the meeting, as chairman, at which I was to speak, but so it was. When I saw him enter the room my courage failed me, my address left me, and I felt completely undone... In a friendly, brotherly way he tried to cheer me for the task that lay before me. He said, 'You are one of Mrs. Bartlett's curates, so I am informed. We won't trouble you to put on the surplice, but you must speak after me.' ..... How I stood I cannot tell, for the trembling of my legs under that ordeal I shall never forget. I commenced by saying, ' Dear sir, I am a bad speaker and a worse writer, and all I know is, like the Primitive Methodist preacher, the A B C gospel.' To my surprise Spurgeon rapped his stick on the floor, knocked his soft hat on the table, and laughed with such a hearty ring, it became quite contagious, and then said, 'Bravo, go on, brother; that's just the sort of gospel I like; tell us about it.' I did my best, and told them I thought A stood for a text that we should all learn first, for it was the very beginning of the gospel for every sinner--' All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.' My second head was B, which stood for `Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' My lastly was C, which stood to represent the words, `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' I quite expected at the close of my speech he would be disgusted and ashamed of me, but to my utter astonishment, when I turned round, I saw the big tears rolling down Mr. Spurgeon's cheeks, and he shook my hand so warmly, and said, 'God bless you, my young brother; you have got your degree already. Stick to that kind of talk, and you will be a real A.B.C., which I consider stands for
Through the kindness of Pastor FREDERICK H. ROBARTS, Belmont Gardens, Hillhead, Glasgow, we have the privilege of presenting to our readers the annexed fac-simile of Mr. Spurgeon's handwriting.
|FAC-SIMILE OF POST-CARD WRITTEN BY MR. SPURGEON TO PASTOR FREDERICK H. ROBARTS|
HILLHEAD BAPTIST CHURCH, GLASGOW
|Click on image for enlarged veiw of postcard|