The Ceremony Of Laying The First Stone Of The New Tabernacle
PRECISELY at two o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. SPURGEON, accompanied by Sir MORTON PETO, Bert., M.P. and other friends, ascended the temporary platform erected around the stone. And the proceedings shortly after commenced by singing the hundredth Psalm–Before Jehovah’s awful throneYou nations bow with sacred joy.Know that the Lord is God alone–He can create and He destroy.We are His people, we His care,Our souls and all our mortal frame.What lasting honors shall we bear,Almighty Maker, to Your name?We’ll crowd Your gates with thankful songs,High as the heavens our voices raise–And earth, with her ten thousand tongues,Shall fill Your courts with sounding praise.Wide as the world is Your command,Vast as eternity Your love.Firm as a rock Your truth must stand,When rolling years shall cease to move.
Mr. SPURGEON then offered up an opening Prayer–Oh, LORD God! Your throne is in Heaven. Yet Heaven and the Heaven of heavens cannot contain You, neither can any among the sons of men build a house for Your habitation and Your rest. The temple of Solomon, however beautiful for situation, glorious for its splendor and “exceeding magnificent,” was not fit for Your dwelling place. It is not possible that You who fill immensity, You who dwell in light to which no man can approach, should confine Yourself to temples piled with human hands. Nevertheless You have said, “To this man also will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My Word.”
Jesus, Master of assemblies, where two or three are gathered together in Your name, there You are in the midst of them. Blessed Comforter, without Your quickening influence, the largest congregation is but a listless crowd–the most gorgeous cathedral but a profane place. You have been pleased, O Lord, to increase this people and to multiply their joy. We have had the joy of harvest and the shouting as of them that tread the winepress. You have been great with us and Your right arm has been made bare in the eyes of all the people.
And now behold, this day we are come together to lay the first stone of a house for You, wherein we may meet for Your sacred worship. Oh, give us the first drops of a shower of mercy! Oh that this day everyone concerned in the laying of this stone may partake of the blessing of the Most High! Bless the Church that shall assemble in it! May we find our richest expectations far exceeded and our firmest hopes far excelled.
Bless, O God, the many thousands that we hope will gather here and grant that the Word may be quick and powerful to their conversion! We know that places cannot be consecrated. Yet can there be consecrated associations connected with them. Lord give us the fullness of Your blessing at the beginning and as we progress and stone mounts on stone, may we come at last to know that better is the end of a thing than the beginning. God bless Your servant who is about to lay this first stone!
We thank You for him and we pray You bless him abundantly. Grant that the wealth and station you have conferred present! Oh, grant to everyone of them the fullness of Your Spirit, the joy of Your salvation and the light of Your countenance! And bless, we beseech You, the assembled congregation! This very day may sinners be converted and God be glorified! And now, You who do bow your ear to listen to our requests, hearken to our prayer, while we beseech You to let this house be built without accident, obstruction, or hindrance.
When built, may it, by the manifestation of Your presence to the saints be filled with Your glory. And for many years to come, yes, until Your second advent, Your long-expected Messiah, may ministers of a full, free and finished salvation, occupy its pulpit! And unto Father, Son and Holy Spirit is glory, forever! Amen.
Mr. SURGEON then said–Before the stone is laid, the deacons of the Church–or rather my esteemed brother, Mr. Carr, on their behalf–has drawn up a statement of the history of this Church. I was afraid that our revered brothers in the deaconship would scarcely be heard. Mr. Carr, however is the author of the statement to be laid before you and he will therefore most properly read it himself. I can only say, if you are as much edified and delighted in hearing it read, as I was when I first perused it, you will not feel occasion for regret even though it should occupy twenty minutes in its reading. I have no fault to find with it, except I think it gives me a little too much praise. If you think so, ascribe it all to God. His praise can never be uttered in strains too loud or too hearty.
The following statement was then read by Mr. B. W. Carr–WITH THE REMEMBRANCE OF GRATEFUL ANNALS IN THE PAST, WITH THE TOKENS OF ABUNDANT PROSPERITY IN THE PRESENT, WITH GLOWING HOPES AND DEVOUT PRAYERS FOR THE FUTURE, WE ASSEMBLE THIS DAY TO LAY THE FOUNDATION STONE OF A NEW TABERNACLE.
THIS Church of baptized Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is not of recent formation. Its members hold a direct succession from progenitors in the faith, for the space of two hundred and seven years. The oldest Baptist Church in Southwark, we trace back our Commencement to the year 1652. After the death of King Charles the First and before the appointment of Oliver Cromwell to be Protector of the Commonwealth, our pious ancestors first associated in Church fellowship. Their spiritual compact was made in troublous times. While the trammels of Popery had then recently been cast off and Protestant Christians had but lately emerged from Papal darkness, full liberty of conscience was neither granted by the legislators, nor understood generally by the people. The GREAT PRINCIPLE OF UNRESTRICTED RELIGIOUS LIBERTY was, at that time, peculiar to the Baptists. They scrupulously maintained it and pioneered the way for its popular apprehension.
But the sect of Baptists was accounted schismatic. Their meetings were held by stealth. Being unlawful for them to gather together for worship in a suitable edifice, they were compelled to go from house to house, observing the strictest secrecy. From Psalmody they were obliged to refrain. They dared not sing the praises of God, lest the sounds of their devotion should attract the notice of informers. Persecution, in truth, they did not court, neither did they shrink from enduring it with gentle patience and holy boldness–when public indignation was aroused and legal indictments preferred against them.
Benjamin Keach, one of the earliest pastors of this Church, was convicted of asserting and publishing his belief, that Believers only and not infants ought to be baptized–that laymen, having abilities, might preach the Gospel–and that Christ should reign personally on earth in the latter day. In accordance with the verdict obtained and the sentence pronounced by the judge, he was imprisoned for fourteen days, fined twenty pounds and stood in the pillory twice during one week, in the marketplaces of Aylesbury and Winslow, in the County of Buckinghamshire.
The times have changed–the gradual enlightenment of the public mind has advanced–the face of the local district in which our various meetinghouses were situated has been transformed–the affinity of Christian denominations has become more truly felt–and the broad relation of all parties, whatever their religious opinions to the general state of the kingdom, has been recognized by the ruling powers. Amidst the flowing tide of civilization, our beloved Church, in connection with the sect to which it belongs, has maintained its original character–owning but one rule of faith–the pure unadulterated Scriptures. We recognize the order of government or discipline as no other standard than the example and precept of the Apostles as contained in the New Testament–without alloy of tradition or modification. Under fresh phases of secular estate, the old creed has been endorsed by each successive generation of Believers and is held intact by those, who this day are gathered to transmit the testimony they have received to a posterity yet unborn.
No novelty whatever led to the distinctness of our communion. No factious spirit induces us to perpetuate it. As a protest against an innovation still fostered in Christian Churches, we preserve the inscription of “Baptist” on our banners. By “immersion” the converts to Jesus in apostolic times made their public profession. In Godly and pious communities of the one Church of Christ, the primitive ordinance of discipleship has been practiced through an unbroken succession. Holding in common with Brethren of other denominations the unity of the faith, we desire now, as ever, in our own fellowship, to maintain the pureness of that polity, which is formed upon the model of the Church at Jerusalem.
Within the first half century of its history, this Church had three Pastors–WILLIAM RIDER, BENJAMIN KEACH and BENJAMIN STINTON. Under WILLIAM RIDER the Church was formed of a few individuals who had separated from one of the most ancient congregations of Baptists in the city of London. They had the reputation of being a people of solid judgment and substantial religion. Some of them were in good circumstances as to the possessions of this world. Mr. Rider died in the year 1667, after having taken the oversight of this infant Church for fifteen years.
BENJAMIN KEACH, chosen to the pastorate in the year 1668, was a man famous in his day. He was born at Stokehaman in Buckinghamshire, in February, 1640 and when eighteen years of age was called to the solemn work of the ministry. In controversy on the Baptismal question, the renowned Richard Baxter was his great antagonist. Distinguished for literary research and voluminous writing, he contributed forty-three books to the Christian public, two of which–his “KEY TO OPEN SCRIPTURE METAPHORS,” and his “EXPOSITION OF ALL THE PARABLES”–have been perpetuated in several editions and take rank in the libraries of the Christian student to this day. During his time the Church was prosperous and a large and commodious building was erected in Goat’s Yard Passage, Fair Street, Horseliedown. There he continued his ministry till the period of his decease in 1704, having completed thirty-six years of arduous ministerial labor.
After an interval of a few months, BENJAMIN STINTON, the son-in-law of Benjamin Keach, succeeded to the pastorate, which he faithfully discharged for fourteen years. Not lacking in that indefatigable industry which has been ever characteristic of the ministers of this Church, he first projected a plan of the Baptist history. The manuscript is still preserved, although it devolved upon other hands to complete the interesting work. It is further notable that in his time a baptistery was constructed “for the more decent administration of the ordinance.” The Baptists had, like the Christians in Primitive times, administered this rite in pools or rivers. In the year 1718, at the cost of one hundred and sixty pounds, a desirable change was effected, the old baptizing place in Horseliedown being enlarged, a meetinghouse built and three vestries of eleven feet square each being provided. The year following Mr. Stinton died.
Through the singular Providence and blessing of God, this Church was subsequently favored with the ministry of two eminent servants of Christ for the protracted space of one hundred and fifteen years. Dr. John Gill having been upwards of fifty-two years and his successor more than sixty-three years their pastor.
JOHN GILL was born at Kettering in Northamptonshire, November 23 rd, 1697 and ordained to the pastoral officeover this Church, March 22 nd, 1720, being then in the twenty-third year of his age. A man of profound learning and deeppiety, he was notable as a Divine for the exactness of his systematic theology in which he maintained the doctrines of grace against the innovations of Arminian teachers. His “BODY OF DIVINITY” has long been held in the highest repute. As the fervent exposition of an entire and harmonious creed, it has no rival. His famous treatise entitled, “THE CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH,” obtained for him the championship of the Calvinistic School of Divinity. He likewise published a voluminous, “COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES,” in nine volumes folio, remarkable for the copiousness of its glossary, the brilliance of its argument, his apprehension of prophecy and the richness of his Hebrew scholarship.
His preparations for the pulpit having, as is well known, furnished the materials for the press, we can but reflect on the priceless value of his ministry. The eulogy pronounced upon him by the Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady, a wellknown cotemporary Divine of the Church of England, was doubtless well merited. He says, “that his labors were indefatigable, his life exemplary and his death comfortable–if anyone can be supposed to have trod the whole circle of human learning–it was this great and eminent person. His attainments, both in abstruse and polite literature, were equally extensive and profound and so far as the distinguishing doctrines of grace are concerned, he never besieged an error which he did not force from its stronghold, nor ever encountered an adversary whom he did not baffle and subdue.”
In the year 1757, a new meeting house for the Church and congregation was built in Carter Lane, Tooley Street, which Dr. Gill opened on the 9 th of October in that year, “by recording the name of the Lord therein,” agreeably to hisown apprehension of that devout service, “preaching the doctrines of the Grace of God and administering Gospel ordinances as they have been delivered to us.” This venerable servant of Christ fell asleep in Jesus the 14 th October, 1771.
“Though we have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have we not many fathers,” but John Gill was a father of the true apostolic order. When this hoary old saint, bending with mature age, was gathered in and came to his grave, “like as a shock of corn comes in in his season,” there sprung up in his place a stripling youth, like a green blade and so forestalled another summer season, with a fresh crop of souls as precious grain for a future harvest.
A lapse of less than two years in point of time divided the ministry of Dr. Gill from that of Dr. Rippon. But the interval in a moral aspect looked rather wide just then to the eyes of those who saw the pulpit vacated by the one and occupied by the other. Of this no one was more sensible or more apprehensive than young John Rippon himself. Once and again he shrunk from accepting the solemn charge under an overwhelming sense of its responsibilities. Making the invitation a matter of daily prayer, he sought fresh proof that he had found favor with God and acceptance with His people, before returning an absolute and decisive answer.
Born at Tiverton in Devonshire, on April 29 th, 1751, JOHN RIPPON was in his twenty-third year when publicly ordained, on November 11 th, 1773, to the pastoral office in connection with this Church at Carter Lane Chapel. It had already appeared that the mantle of a true ministerial succession had fallen on him. The anointing of the Spirit of God had been fully manifested when by the laying on of hands he received the open recognition of his Brethren. This thing came of the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working and He worked mightily by His dear young servant.
A great revival ensued. Crowded congregations at the usual services and joyful Church meetings to receive the converts into fellowship, gave evidence that “the good hand of our God strengthened the hands of the Brethren for the good work.” For nearly fifty years Dr. Rippon was considered to be one of the most popular ministers in London of the Baptist denomination. Pure in doctrine and pungent in style, his discourses were sound and savory. In preaching the Gospel, he shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God. Zealous of good works, he failed not to exhort and rebuke with all authority, knowing the dispensation that was committed unto him. His lot being cast in times far different from those his predecessors had ever known, he diligently sought out opportunities and heartily applied his energies to the wide diffusion of the Gospel of Christ.
Itinerant societies for the work of evangelizing in this country and the Missionary Association for sending forth the Word of Life to heathen lands, specially engaged his heart, his counsel and his co-operation. As the editor of the “Baptist Register,” he kept up an extensive correspondence with Christians in all parts of the world. He enjoyed a high influence in his own denomination and acquired great esteem in other sections of the Church of Christ. His selection of hymns has had a wide circulation both in the British Empire and the United States of America, aiding the devotions and inspiring the praises of myriads of our fellow-Christians. Nor has it yet been superseded by any volume that can rival it in popularity. In the strange and inscrutable Providence of God he was permitted to survive his usefulness, but while the infirmities of age paralyzed his ministerial powers, he kept the faith and maintained the unblemished reputation of a Christian to the hour of his departure, which occurred on the 17 th December, 1836, in the eighty-sixth year of his age.
There yet remains among us, a few members of this Church, who remember the dear old Doctor in the vigor of his middle age and in our memories, the urbanity and warm-heartedness of his private manners are as fondly cherished as the glowing zeal of his public ministrations. If his life has not left behind it such massive and enduring monuments on earth as that of his predecessor, we doubt not that he has full as many trophies in Heaven. These men of God–each of them–filled his allotted sphere. Gill shone more like a star of the first magnitude amidst surrounding darkness–Rippon was one of a splendid galaxy. The luminous association in which he stood rendering his individuality less conspicuous when viewed from a distance.
“We have heard with our ears and our fathers have told us what work you did in their days,” and we adore You, O God for it. Our eyes have beheld greater things and our hearts are lifted up to Your throne for a more copious blessing. “Let Your works appear unto Your servants and Your glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us. Establish the work of our hands upon us, yes, the work of our hands establish it.”
An important event in our history as a Church occurred during the closing years of Dr. Rippon’s life. On Lord’s day, the 7 th of February, 1830, the Church and congregation assembled to worship God for the last time at the old meetinghouse in Carter Lane, previously to its being given up to the Corporation of the City for the approaches to the new London Bridge. For three years were we compelled to seek accommodation from the kindness of other Churches, at various times assembling in different buildings. This was a grievous affliction. At length in answer to many an earnest prayer, we were directed by the kindness of our heavenly Father to a piece of freehold ground in New Park Street, where a neat Chapel was built and opened free from any debt or encumbrance on the 6 th of May, 1833. Still did fresh anxieties besetour path. For when we had secured a permanent home for worship, we were constrained to seek temporary supplies for the pulpit, our pastor being totally disabled from further service. In reviewing our troubles, we do but recount God’s mercies, for the Lord has delivered us out of them all.
During the eighteen years that ensued after Dr. Rippon’s death, three pastors successively accepted office and removed from among us. This was a new experience in our annals. Up to now each servant of God who had been ordained over this Church in the Lord, continued unto his death in its fellowship.
For two years and a half from December, 1837, to July, 1840, the Rev. JOSEPH ANGUS ministered with considerable success. His piety and his talents commended him to our regard and his youth scoured for him our tender sympathy. We received him with the heartiest welcome–we parted from him with deep regret. He received more than a hundred and twenty members into our communion and increased the attendance on the public services. The institutions in connection with the Church flourished under his presidency. It is worthy of record that at his suggestion the communion of the Lord’s supper was made available in this Church to Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have not been baptized by immersion. At the earnest call of the Baptist Missionary Society, he resigned his charge to take the office of secretary and now fills the responsible trust of theological tutor in the college at Regent’s Park for the training of young ministers.
For about eight years and a half from January, 1842, to June, 1850, the Rev. JAMES SMITH, of Cheltenham, was our pastor. Under his ministry the hearts of the people were often moved and the pool of Baptism often stirred. Feeling that London air was unsuited to his health and provincial labors had superior charms for his soul he resigned his charge and returned to the scene of his early labors, not without leaving behind him many grateful reminiscences and many gratifying fruits of the Divine blessing on the testimony he was enabled to deliver.
For a short period of less than two years the Rev. WILLIAM WALTERS, now of Halifax, took the oversight of the Church, acceding to an unanimous invitation, given him in July 1851 and retiring in the month of April, 1853. By reason of these frequent changes, the Church had become beyond measure unsettled, the number in attendance on Lord’s days being greatly diminished. There remained, however, a faithful band, who besieged the Throne of Grace with much earnestness. The Prayer Meetings on Monday evening continued to give evidence that these who were absent on the first day of the week, had not ceased to hope that the Lord would revive His work among us.
In December, 1853, our present pastor, by a surprising Providence, was first invited to occupy the pulpit of our Chapel for one Sunday. Having been born on the 19 th of June, 1834, he was then only in his twentieth year. His preachingat once gave signs of singular attraction. And on his repeating his visits to the metropolis, each occasion witnessed the increasing interest his ministry excited. In January, 1854, he accepted the invitation to supply the pulpit for six months, three months of which only had expired when he was unanimously elected to the pastorate.
The antecedents of many generations and the cherished reminiscences of the older members, prepared for the Rev. CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON that enthusiastic welcome with which he was spontaneously hailed by this Church. From the day he commenced his labors in our midst, it pleased the Lord our God to grant us a revival which has steadily progressed ever since. Among the earliest additions to our number, there were not a few disciples of Christ, who, after making a profession under faithful ministers long ago departed to their rest, had wandered about and found no settled home. Many such were gathered into the fold of our fellowship.
Here their souls have been restored, while they have found the presence of the Good Shepherd, who makes us to lie down in green pastures and leads us beside the still waters. But the greater work was that of conversion. So did the Holy Spirit accompany the preaching of the Gospel with Divine power, that almost every sermon proved the means of awakening and regeneration to some who were up to now “dead in trespasses and sins.” Thus our Church became an asylum for the aged, as well as a nursery for the babes of our Savior’s family. Before the year had expired, the limited accommodation at New Park Street Chapel for the multitude that gathered at every service rendered it necessary to enlarge the building.
As a suitable place for worship during the alterations, the large room at Exeter Hall, in the Strand, was engaged for seventeen Lord’s days, from the 11
th of May, 1855. By this step our pastor’s fame became widely
extended. The crowd that beset the doors long before the hours of service impeded the public thoroughfare. Frequent paragraphs in the newspapers helped to make the preacher notorious. Slander after slander grieved his tender heart. But the grace poured into his lips by his Master, for the reclaiming of sinners (some of whom were of the most abandoned order) afforded him the richest cordial. On our return to the enlarged Chapel, we soon discovered that the place was too strait for us and in the summer of 1856, we again availed ourselves for a few months of the superior accommodation at Exeter Hall, on Sunday evenings.
In the autumn of that year, we arranged to hire the larger and more commodious hall of the Royal Surrey Gardens, for the Sunday morning service. This arrangement has been continued for nearly three years. Much of God’s good Providence is to be clearly recognized in thus causing us to wander. Our dilemma forced upon us a precedent, which others have followed, much to the furtherance of the Gospel–to God be ascribed the glory! The prejudice against entering a Nonconformist sanctuary has in many instances been laid aside by those who have convened within the walls of an edifice that is justly accounted neutral ground. It being sacred or profane according to the temporary use it is made to serve.
Every week has borne testimony to the saving influence of the Gospel, as it is there constantly proclaimed to an assembly of five thousand persons. Still, with so large a family and so small a dwelling-house, the inconvenience of a temporary lodging becomes more and more grievously felt. There is and has been for the past two years, as fair an average of that large congregation, who are devout persons and regular attendants as in any sanctuary in London. Yet not onethird of them can find a place under the same ministry for more than one service during the week. The Church members far exceed the extent of accommodation in our own Chapel to provide all of them with sittings. It is only by having two distinct services that we can admit our communicants to the table of the Lord.
The necessity therefore for the undertaking that we assemble to inaugurate, must be perceived by all. Every attempt to trace the popular demand for Evangelical teaching to spasmodic excitement has failed. The pastor of New Park Street Church has never consciously departed from the simple rule of faith recorded in the New Testament. The doctrines he has set forth are identical with those which have been received by godly men of every section of the Church since the days of the Apostles. The services of religion have been conducted without any peculiarity or innovation. No musical or esthetic accompaniments have ever been used.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty. The history of our progress for five years is patent to the world. The example has been found capable of successfully stimulating other Churches in their aggressive efforts to save perishing souls. With earnest individual and united prayer, each step has been taken. And to the exclusive honor and praise of our God, our stone of Ebenezer is this day laid.
The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON.
WILLIAM P. OLNEY.
Mr. SPURGEON–In the bottle which is to be placed under the stone we have put no money–for one good reason, that we have none to spare. We have not put newspapers, because, albeit we admire and love the liberty of the press, yet that is not so immediately concerned in this edifice. The articles placed under the stone are simply these–the Bible, the Word of God–we put that as the foundation of our Church. Upon this rock does Christ build the ministration of His truth. We know of nothing else as our standard. Together with this we have put the old Baptist Confession of Faith, which was signed in the olden times by Benjamin Keach whose name is in this book.
We put also the declaration of the deacons which you have just heard read printed on parchment. There is also an edition of Dr. Rippon’s Hymn Book, published just before he died. And then, in the last place, there is a Program of this day’s proceedings. I do not suppose that the New Zealander who one day is to sit on the broken arch of London Bridge will make much out of it. If we had put gold and silver there, it is possible he might have taken it back to New Zealand with him.
But I should not wonder, if ever England is destroyed, these relics will find their way into some museum in Australia or America, where they will spell over some of our old-fashioned names and wonder who ever those good men could be who are inscribed here, as James Low, Samuel Gale, Thomas Olney, Thomas Cook, William Olney, George Winsor and the like. And I think they will say, “Oh depend upon it, they were some good men or others and they have put them in stone there.” They are living stones indeed. They have served this Church well and long. Honor to whom honor is due. I am glad to put their names with mine here. And I hope we shall live together forever in eternity.
The Ceremony of Laying the First Stone was then performed in the customary manner by Sir S. M. Peto, amidst the loud acclamation of the Spectators.
Sir MORTON PETO then addressed the assembly as follows–My Christian friends, I congratulate my excellent friend Mr. Spurgeon, the deacons, the Church and all our friends assembled on this interesting event. It is one to which you have looked forward for some time. It is the commencement of an edifice in which we must hope that the era of much usefulness inaugurated with his ministry will be continued and largely increased. That admirable paper which was read before the stone was laid, gave you a succinct, but interesting account of the Church up to the present time.
We must hope that those glories which have been so remarkably shown in the earlier history of the Church, may not only be continued in the salvation of a larger number than has ever yet been known, but that in years to come those glories may be largely increased and that all who live may have the happiness of feeling that the work which has been begun today was one which the Lord had eminently blessed. It is well, dear Christian friends, in the commencement of any large undertaking, to look warily and see whether we are warranted in what we are about to attempt. I could not but feel, during the reading of that paper, the fact there stated that the Church at Park Street is larger at the present time than can be accommodated in the building–that there is practically no room in the Chapel for the world–is one reason which to every Christian heart, must show that there remained nothing but for the Church here to arise and build.
I know it may be said, that the Music Hall and other large places, might have given our friend Mr. Spurgeon an opportunity of making known the unsearchable riches of Christ, but then there are other institutions in connection with an edifice of this kind, which are of equal importance with that to which I have referred. We have not only the assembly of the Church within its walls, but we must have an opportunity of gathering the young for instruction. And when we look to the fact that this new edifice will accommodate above two thousand Sunday-School children and also place nearly five thousand people in the position of hearing the Gospel of Christ, we not only feel that the world will be accommodated to hear and the Church amply provided for, but the young will be trained up in the path in which they should go.
Then I rejoice, dear Christian friends, to know that this Church, though strictly denominational, is in no respect Sectarian, believing, as its members justly do, that there is no other mode of Baptism than that which is figuratively set forth in Scripture by “being buried with Christ in Baptism.” While I am sure my Friend Mr. Spurgeon will never, in coming across this Truth of God (as he does not in regard to any other) compromise its due weight, or give it more than fitting prominence that the congregations may hear the simple Gospel–yet on all occasions, when the claims of Christian usefulness are to be promoted, I am quite sure the Church will be rejoiced to lend this edifice to any, not only of the denomination to which we are so ardently attached, but to any other evangelical denomination that may ask it at your hands.
Then, dear Christian friends, let all the denominations feel that if this is to be a metropolitan building, it has large claims on them. While you have a large and a heavy burden, which you are delighted to bear, because it is only one of those things which enable you to evidence your love to Christ and one of those things which do so much good in stimulating exertion, yet I cannot but feel that my Friend Mr. Spurgeon and the deacons have a very strong claim on all other Churches of the metropolis and of the kingdom at large.
And I trust that this will be increasingly felt and that you will have the happiness of doing as good Dr. Rippon did. When my excellent friend, Mr. Spurgeon–as I have no doubt he will if spared, (and I trust he will be spared)–opens this place and declares the full, free and finished Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as the basis of his ministry to come, as it has been the basis of his ministry past–that it will be in, by God’s grace, a Chapel free from debt. I know there is no testimony which his loving heart would so freely acknowledge, as that testimony to himself, or rather to his Lord through him, which would enable him to feel when he first ascends the pulpit of this new Chapel, I am here speaking the Gospel to a people who are assembled in an edifice which has no claim whatever to discharge.
Now, dear Christian friends, I can but hope that my excellent and dear friend, Mr. Spurgeon, may be something like those two worthies of whom we heard–that he and the one who is to succeed him may occupy the century between them. I only hope that my Friend’s will be the larger half. I hope and believe that whenever the time comes, he will not allow his increasing years to give an evidence that he desires to occupy a position which he is no longer able to fill, but I am perfectly assured of this, that the Divine blessing which has so richly manifested itself in the ministry of his youth, will enable him to feel with advancing years the truth of the promise and that he will find that he who goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall find even to the hoariest age, that he will return bringing his sheaves with him.
Accept my hearty congratulations on this event, my hearty prayers that every wish of yours may be more than abundantly realized in the future, that my excellent and dear friend, Mr. Spurgeon and his deacons may not only live to see this house completed without accident, but that they and you occupying it together, may have what, after all, is of the greatest importance, a rich Baptism of that Divine influence, without which all that we undertake is worthless. Dear Christian friends, I thank you most heartily for having permitted me the honor of occupying this position on this occasion. And I earnestly desire that as Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you may find that what we have begun, may be accomplished to your joy and the enlargement of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
Mr. SPURGEON–My dear Friends, this is not the first time that I have borrowed light from Sir Morton Peto. I have often cheered the darkness of a long railway journey by a most excellent lamp of his own manufacture, which he kindly presented to me, that I might see to read by it as I was traveling. I am very glad to see him blazing forth again today. In the light of his countenance many of us have been made glad. It is my earnest prayer that while God is pleased to bless him with wealth and rank and influence, he may find it quite as easy to serve his God in the future as he has done in the past.
We owe him much as Dissenters for his great zeal and wisdom in having brought through the House of Commons an Act whereby our Chapels are well secured to us. I pray that God may give him grace every day that he may know his own title to the kingdom of Heaven to be clearer and clearer as years come upon him. May his course be like that of the sun, which goes forth in his strength and stays not till the full blazing noon.
And now I have to say a few words to you this afternoon with regard to this great edifice. I never answer any slanders against myself and very seldom answer any questions about what I mean to do. It is always enough for me to have my own approbation. I always feel perfectly satisfied with the approval of my own conscience–without that of anybody else–and when I have done wrong it is always enough for me to have the condemnation of my own heart. I find that I am obliged to be a self-contained man, just going on my way and letting other people do the same. If I am wrong I will be accountable to my own Master, but to no flesh living or breathing. And if I am right the day will tell it. God knows how true are my intentions even when I may have acted most foolishly.
“This place,” I said some time ago, when our Brethren were half afraid, “is to be built and it will be built and God will fill it with His presence.” There is no doubt whatever about the money being obtained. I scarcely know that I have asked an individual to give anything, because I have such a solid conviction that the money must come. I suppose that out of all that is now in our hands I have collected more than half myself in preaching and that is the way I dare say the larger part of the rest will come, through the kindness of the provincial and metropolitan Churches who have almost all treated me with the noblest generosity.
I give this day my hearty thanks to all that have helped me. And I do not know but what I may as well add to all that have not helped me. They many of them mean to do so and so I will thank them beforehand. There is one gentleman here today who is going to make a speech, after Brother Dowson shall have addressed you. I think (albeit that he can speak admirably well) the best part of his speech will be made with his hand, for he has three thousand pounds with him to give as a noble donation from an aged servant of Christ, long sick and confined to his house but who loves Christ’s ministers and desires to help Christ’s cause. He would not like me to mention his name and therefore I shall not do it.
And now, my dear Friends, as to the place to be erected here. I have a word or two to say with regard to its style, with regard to its purposes and with regard to our faith and our promise. It is to me a matter of congratulation that we shall succeed in building in this city a Grecian place of worship. My notions of architecture are not worth much because I look at architecture from a theological point of view, not from an architectural one. It seems to me that there are two saved languages in the world. There was the Hebrew of old and I doubt not that Solomon adopted Jewish architecture–a Hebrew form and fashion of putting stones together in harmony with the Hebrew faith. There is but one other sacred language–not Rome’s mongrel tongue–glorious were that for a battle cry, but of no use for the preaching of the Gospel–the Latin!
There is only one other sacred language, the Greek and that is dear to every Christian’s heart. Our fullest Revelation is in that tongue. Our noblest names for Jesus–the very epitome and standard of our faith is Greek. And this place is Grecian. I care not that many an idol temple has been built after the same fashion. So it may have been that Abraham and the ancient Hebrews may have carried their architecture from some heathen temple in Ur of the Chaldees. Greek is the sacred tongue and Greek is the Baptist’s tongue. We may be beaten in our own version sometimes, but in the Greek, never!
Every Baptist place should be Grecian–never Gothic. We owe nothing to the Goths as religionists. We owe our Scriptures to the Grecian language. And a Grecian place shall this be. And God give us the power and life of that master of the Grecian language, the Apostle Paul, that here like wonders may be done by the preaching of the Word. As for our faith as a Church you have heard that already.
We believe in what are called the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic. But we do not regard those five points as being barbed shafts which we are to push into the heart of Christendom. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to irradiate the Cross, or rather five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified. Against all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure Gospel Truth. At the same time I can make this public declaration, that I am no Antinomian. I belong not to the sect of those who are afraid to invite the sinner to Christ. I warn him, I invite him, I exhort him. Hence, then, I have contumely on either hand.
Inconsistency is urged by some, as if anything that God commanded could be inconsistent. I will glory in such inconsistency even to the end I bind myself precisely to no form of doctrine. I love those five points as being the angles of the Gospel, but then I love the center between the angles better still. Moreover, we are Baptists and we cannot swerve from this matter of discipline, nor can we make our Church half-and-half in that matter. The witness of our Church must be one and indivisible. We must have one Lord, one faith and one Baptism. And yet dear to our hearts is that great article of the Nicene Creed, the “Communion of Saints.” I believe not in the communion of Episcopalians. I do not believe in the communion of Baptists. I dare not sit with them exclusively. I think I should be almost strict communicant enough not to sit with them at all, because I should say, “This is not the communion of saints, it is the communion of Baptists.” Whosoever loves the Lord Jesus Christ in verity and truth has a hearty welcome and is not only permitted, but invited to communion with the Church of Christ.
However, we can say with all our hearts, that difference has never lost us one good friend yet. I see around me our independent Brethren, they certainly have been to Elim today, for there has been much water here. And I see round about me dear strict communion Brethren and one of them is about to address you. He is not so strict a communionist but what he really desires in his own heart, Brethren, that they soon buy me a baptistery. I leave it open for any generous friend here that pleases to do so, to engage to provide some part of the Chapel and say, “I will give that.” Churchmen give painted windows and if some of you agree to give different parts of the Chapel, it may be so erected.
Understand, our large expenditure is caused partly by the fact that we have immense school rooms under ground and also a vestry for Church-meetings holding between 800 and 900 persons. This is necessary, because our Church is of such an immense size and our members come out to every service if possible. There is no Church-edifice in London so well used up as ours. They hack it to pieces. We must build this strong, I am sure, for the people are always with us. They love to be at the Prayer Meetings. There is no people that take out their quarter’s seat-money so fully. They say, “We will hear all that we can.”
And depend on it, they never give me a chance of seeing the seats empty. But our prospect is, after we have fitted up our vestry, schools and the like, that we shall be able to go on and build other Chapels. Now, Sir Morton Peto is the man who looks to build one Chapel with the hope that it will be the seedling for another. He has the noblest chance that ever man had for getting this done. We will pretty soon try our hands at it. Our people have taken to Chapel-building and they will go on with it. They built a great Chapel that held two thousand persons in Horseliedown for Benjamin Keach. Then they built one in Goat Yard. Then one in Carter Lane for Dr Rippon, then one in Park Street.
And now we have set about building one here. “What are you going to do with Park Street?” it may be asked. Why, my dear Friends, we might get out of our difficulties if we were to sell it, but that is what we do not mean to do. Our motto is, “Go forward and never step back.” You know if we were to build one Chapel and sell another, that would be the “goose-step.” There would be no marching, it is merely putting one foot up and the other down, but never getting farther.
Belonging to the Presbyterian order, we have elders in our Church, as well as deacons and the presbytery is capable of the widest extension. That Church can be held in connection with our own–two preaching elders can preach the Word there and the Church still remain as one–not two Churches. God sparing my life, if I have my people at my back I will not rest until the dark county of Surrey be covered with places of worship. I look on this as the beginning of the end. I announce my own schemes–visionary they may appear, but carried out they will be. It is only within the last six months that we have started two Churches–one in Wandsworth and the other in Greenwich and the Lord has prospered them. The pool of Baptism has been stirred with converts. And what we have done in two places I am about to do in a third and we will do it not only for the third or the fourth, but for the hundredth time, God being our helper.
I am sure I may make my strongest appeal to my Brethren because we do not mean to build this as our nest and then to be lazy. We must go from strength to strength and be a missionary Church and never rest until not only this neighborhood, but our country, of which it is said that some parts are as dark as India, shall have been enlightened with the Gospel.
Now, I have laid out a grand scheme and I have no doubt some of my dear Brethren, the ministers of Surrey, especially Dr. Steane, will carry it all out almost before I have begun. We shall be glad whoever may do it so long as it is done. I always try to put my shoulder to everybody else’s wheel, though I have got sometimes a little mire on my shoulders as the result of it. But I am ready to go and give a heave at any time if they will only be kind to me on this occasion and lift my wheel out of the mud. After Brother Dowson shall have spoken and our friend Mr. Inskip, of Bristol, shall have made his three thousand pounds speech, we shall sing a hymn. This gangway will then be cleared and all persons present will have an opportunity of placing an offering upon the stone.
And if any of you would like to try your hand at building with a trowel you can lay a brick or two, or twenty, at a shilling a brick. Some of our friends will pay a guinea a brick to begin with, as they would not like to give less. But you can begin with a shilling a brick afterwards. We shall pay you nothing for the labor, but you will pay us for the privilege of putting bricks into the wall.
The Rev. H. Dowson–I stand here this afternoon, my dear Christian friends, as the representative of thousands of Brethren in the North of England, who love the Truth of God, who love you and who love your pastor–and who would be glad to be here today to mingle their Hosannas with your thanksgivings and to congratulate you and thank God upon an occasion that is auspicious and triumphant in the proceedings of this day. Notwithstanding the prognostication of enemies and notwithstanding the fears of half-hearted friends, this tabernacle is now beginning to look like a great fact and we can entertain not the least possible doubt of the success of this enterprise, promoted and devised amidst the liberality and the prayers of the people here.
Where God gathers together His sheep and increases their number, He will surely amplify the fold. And when He gives sinners hearts to hear and hearts to pray and hearts to believe, He will give them in His Providence a place in which to worship. This is the Lord’s doing, Brethren! The hand of God has been in this work from the beginning and I doubt not will conduct to a glorious termination. This vast metropolis of yours is covered in various parts with buildings–institutions of mercy and hospitals for the relief of almost all the maladies incident to our frail humanity. What is the meaning of this grand edifice which is to fill the place before me? It is to be a hospital, an infirmary for the spiritually diseased. Here the deaf and the dumb and the halt and the lame and the lepers are to be assembled together and they shall be pointed to the great Physician and they shall be told of the balm of Gilead. And in the midst of it shall be the bath of blood, as well as the bath of Baptism. And the bath of blood shall take the precedence of the bath of Baptism, for it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleans from all sin.
When I listened to that interesting record and sketch of the history of your Church, so fostered by a merciful Providence and by a Savior’s care, I could not but rejoice that the same great distinctive principles will be maintained. And that, though there may be a change of position there shall be no change in the doctrines preached and professed. We shall dedicate this sanctuary to the worship of the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–we shall dedicate this edifice to the proclamation of the doctrines of the Divinity of Christ and salvation only through His Cross. We shall dedicate this edifice to the doctrines of justification by faith, righteousness imputed, even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Christ Jesus, the doctrine of Sovereign Grace, the doctrine of the personality and agency of the Holy Spirit, the precepts of Christ, the ordinances of Christ and the free proclamation of the Gospel to every creature.
The trumpet shall give a certain sound, sinners shall hear the sound–
“Their thankful tongues shall own,
That righteousness and strength are found,
In You the Lord alone.”
As to your future prospects in the removal of this debt–my dear Friend, and Brother, Mr. Spurgeon has said, that if the money be not raised there will be a probability that the place will be left unfinished. I trust it will not be in the position of a place occupied by a venerable predecessor of mine a hundred years ago–when they commenced the Baptist interest in Bradford–in a place called the Cockpit and the females carried their stools under their arms, because they had neither forms nor chairs on which to sit.
Surely you will not wish this great Tabernacle to be opened under such circumstances. This day the eyes of all the provinces of this country, my Brethren, are turned towards you. Many parts of the country–the town from which I come–is waiting to give a response to what you do today and that which you shall in your liberality bestow, will give a tone and influence far and wide among the provinces, the hearts of whose inhabitants beat with sympathy for your cause and your enterprise.
Brethren, we have laid the foundation of a material edifice. There is a nobler temple, I need scarcely remind you, of which Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone. This is only a tabernacle. These stones will molder and decay, or some great convulsion or earthquake hereafter shall heave up the mighty foundations of this stable edifice. But the temple of the living God, of which I hope many of you are living stones, shall stand and stand forever, the memorial of God’s eternal unchangeable compassion and His pity for the lost and the guilty. May God bless and prosper you, cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace evermore. Amen.
Mr. INSKIP, of Bristol–My Christian friends, after the trumpet-tongued introductions which my Friend and Brother, Mr. Spurgeon, has given me, I am sure you must expect very large things. But I do hope that you and himself will not go away disappointed by very small things. But, however large, things have their commencement from very small beginnings. As we see yonder ground covered with the sands of the gravel and the stones about it, and as we see the bricks yonder piled and contemplate the lime which will have a large number of component particles to combine and unite therewith, so it is that we have to look forward from small individual materials to the consummation of the glorious kingdom of our blessed Lord and Savior. I have, it is true, to appear before you today as the representative but of one and not of the multitude. But well assured I am, that had my Brethren in the West known that I was to come here as a representative, or a delegate at all, they would have sent me well furnished and well armed.
And it is only for my Brother, Mr. Spurgeon, to make his way to the West and I know that he will find a very hearty response to his warm appeals. However, the response which I have to make today is one which comes from a single heart. It comes from the heart of one who is confined to a sick chamber and has not seen the outside of the city for some years past. But that chamber is enlivened and enlightened by the bright illumination of the Eternal Spirit. That man’s large wealth and large fortune has been dedicated to his Lord. He numbers eighty-three years of age and has given away upwards of eighty thousand pounds. And he has sent me here today to say he will give you three thousand pounds and, what is more, if twenty gentlemen will come forward with one hundred pounds apiece upon the opening of this Chapel, I am prepared to put down twenty hundreds to meet it.
“It is not by might, it is not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” These things, as I said, emanate from small beginnings. It was my honor and my privilege this day three weeks ago to address a large concourse in laying the foundation stone of a new edifice for the Church of England, in the city of Bristol. The new Church for our dear friend and brother, Doudney, is now progressing, through the same gentleman’s bounty. There is one thing you will say, “Dear me, he deserves great praise.” But he says, “Give me none of it, away with it, away with it, it is fulsome, it is annoying. Lay it upon the head of Immanuel, for He gave it to me. He it is that has induced me thus to give you assistance.” It is not for me to laud the man and therefore I leave him it his solitude–with an earnest prayer which no doubt many of you will reciprocate–that the Lord will bless and grant to him the bright shinings of His countenance in his last declining hours.
As regards this building which is about to be erected, it is a matter of considerable delight to me to be able to forward in the least degree the views of my Friend, Mr. Spurgeon. With much true delight has it been my happiness to hear of many sinners in the West of England having been brought to a knowledge of Christ by his ministry. Let me now ask you earnestly to supplicate that the same blessing may rest upon his labors here, in answer to earnest and incessant prayer–prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit of God who alone is the inspirer of prayer. May the work of conversion proceed!
There are many things here to be considered. There are many things to be talked of, but the time would fail me now even to hint at them. I trust by-and-by, if I should stay to the evening meeting, an opportunity will be afforded me of saying a few words which will be more audible. I leave now others more able to address you than I can possibly be and I shall be very happy to place on this stone, in accordance with the mission with which I am entrusted, not a painted window, but a printed piece of paper.
The following verses were then sung–
All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall–
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him lord of all.
Let every kindred, every tribe,
One thus terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all.
Numerous donations were then placed upon the stone, after which the assembly separated.
EVENING MEETING. A PUBLIC TEA MEETING was held in the evening in REA’S REPOSITORY which was appropriately fitted up for the occasion. About two thousand persons sat down to tea at five o'clock and at half-past six, the cloth having been removed and the seats re-arranged, the chair was taken by the Right Honorable, the LORD MAYOR.
The Doxology having been sung, the Rev. JOHN SPURGEON (father of the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon) offered up prayer as follows–“OUR Father and our God, we supplicate Your blessing upon us at this time. O may we feel Your presence to be in the midst of us. May we realize You as a God of love in Jesus Christ and O do send that rich blessing which shall make us all happy and fill our hearts with joy through the precious Savior who bled and died for us. We thank You that we have lived to see this happy day. O our Father, may we never forget Your goodness and mercy to us. Accept the free will offerings of Your people and O may that foundation stone which is laid today be blessed by You and may that building be erected to Your glory, honor and praise.
“May we each be made living stones of that living temple which is to adorn the world of glory and may we live there forever with Jesus Christ. O bless us all. And bless You Young servant. Stand by him and keep him from the mighty foes against whom he has to contend. Keep far from him the influence of sin and Satan and may he find joy and peace in God. O our Father, keep him, O, keep him, let him not be lifted up by what he has seen, or by what You have done for him today. O, keep his soul humble and then he will always be strong to praise Your great and holy name. O, may he draw from that Fountain which is full–which runs over and may he find that the God of peace and love is continually with him. Bless his Church and congregation, O Father smile upon them. We leave them in Your hands. We seek Your favor and Presence with us tonight.
“Grant, great God, that sinners may be converted unto You. There are some in Your presence who are but a few steps from the grave, some hastening on to the abyss of woe, walking with the giddy multitude in the way which leads to death and eternal destruction. God save them! Oh, pluck them as brands from the eternal burning! May Your allsufficient grace turn their hearts and Your name be glorified! Bless everyone now present. Prepare us for this service, accept our song of praise and fill our hearts with joy, for the dear Redeemer’s sake. Amen.”
The LORD MAYOR said–My Christian friends, I do not think that it is possible for me to be heard at the extremity of the building, but, if you will have patience with me, I trust I shall be able to get up my voice so that everyone shall hear. This is a happy day, a day long to be remembered in the annals of the country, because here today we are permitted to meet in quietness, in order, with the guardians of the peace around us to prevent any disturbance. A proof that civil liberty and religious freedom have made great advances in this country.
In former days we had to meet in holes and corners and alleys, but now we can meet in open day in the front of the high road, inviting the assembled public to come and be witnesses of the order of our ceremonies and to partake of the benefits which are to be derived from there. I therefore urge upon all, when they have anything to do with the question of civil and religious liberty, never to give up their efforts until they see it extended far and wide.
Our beloved young friend has, through the Providence of God, been raised up to gather the largest congregation ever gathered together. He has dispensed the Truth of God as it is in Jesus to thousands upon thousands. And he is a despised–no, an honored Baptist minister. He comes among you, not in Episcopal guise, clothed in secular authority and robed in the habiliments of office, but he comes among you a simple-hearted man. He comes clothed in the authority of his Divine Lord and Master, speaking the Truth of God in simplicity and love, winning, not by human power, but subduing by the power of the Gospel. Evidently God has called him to do a great work. And you are the people who ought to love and honor him, esteeming him for his work’s sake and ever protecting him against the calumnies of the world, to prove that he is a true servant of Jesus Christ.
I have said you ought to adhere to the principles of civil and religious liberty. But for them you never could have seen the thousands at the laying of the foundation stone. But for them you would not have been gathered together now in peace and safety. And all honor be to the men in Church or State, who during the past centuries have suffered, advocated, bled and died–that you might meet in peace and comfort. Well, when you hear of the assumptions of Church authority, remember that if they are not sanctioned by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the world may fight for them, but truth will prevail. And though our Episcopal Brethren have the authority of the State and the wealth of the State, tell them that you envy neither, because you can proceed without the authority of the State and you can raise money without its power to compel.
When they tell you that there is no certainty in the doctrine taught in the Dissenting congregations, that they have no creed, you can reply, they have a creed–the best, the purest that ever man possessed. Their creed is the Bible. They glory in the saying of one of the Churchmen, “The Bible, the Bible, the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.” We stand in an age when Popery is making a large aggression upon the religious liberties of the people–secretly, silently, openly and boldly. They are anticipating the time when they shall take possession of the cathedrals and churches and once more dominate over the English people. But religious liberty is safe in your hands. You will endeavor, I am sure, so to hold the Word of Truth, that it may everywhere prove a barrier against the approaches of error.
The Tabernacle which is to rear its walls in the adjoining ground is to be consecrated not by the authority of men, but by the dependence of men upon the teachings of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel and the Gospel only, is there to be preached–sinners are to be invited to Christ and the full sufficiency of His salvation is to be maintained. We do not despise things in their proper order. The ordinances of the Church will be respected by its worshippers and it will be necessary, therefore, not only that the Gospel should be preached, but that you who hear it to be “living Epistles, seen and read of all men,” of the power, the truth, the purity, the holiness, enjoined by the Gospel.
It is a solemn charge committed to your trust and woe be unto you if you neglect the sound and swerve from the Gospel. And then, to maintain the Gospel it is not only necessary that you should love it and have it, but that you should do all in your power to propagate it everywhere–to rich and to poor, to learned and to unlearned. To all classes and conditions of people the Gospel is to be preached. You can preach it as well as your pastor–he in the pulpit, you in your lives. There are Missionary Societies which will require your aid and though you tarry at home, you have a power to prevail in earnest supplication before the Throne of Divine Grace–that all the labors you undertake may be blessed.
And then you have something else to do with the work at home. The Gospel is to be preached in your Tabernacle. But that will not be sufficient if you do not go abroad and carry with you the essential principles that you have received and tell the people that they may see from your walk and conversation, that you have sat under one of the most successful and useful of Christ’s ministers and that you have learned from him to do your duty to your neighbors. Remember, “the poor you have always with you.” What a blessed and happy thing that is that you have the poor with you and that they are standing monuments by which you may prove your faith in Jesus Christ!
Let it not be said that while you hear the Gospel you have forgotten to practice it. I beg to commend you and your work to the blessing of Him who along can make it prosper. May this be but the beginning of the undertakings throughout the country, where the Dissenting places of worship, like the palaces of our land, may stand as landmarks to prove the onward progress of society and that among Protestant Dissenters there is loyalty to the Queen, obedience to the laws, a desire to promote the well-being of society and to make this nation blessed, peaceful and happy, until, as from Zion, the perfection of beauty, the glory of the Lord may shine upon all the earth.
The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON–I have but a word or two to say with regard to the order of the meeting. I feel myself so extremely ill just now that I must go away for a little time. I nevertheless may say a word or two. There is a large amount of talent here tonight, far more than we can bring out. Here are dozens of ministers, all of whom could speak to edification. I trust none of them will think that any invidious distinction is made when we call upon one and not another. For myself I have this much to say–thanks, thanks to everyone. My Lord Mayor, I have to thank you sincerely for your kindness in coming this evening. I hardly expected you, knowing how it has pleased God to lay the heavy hand of affliction upon you. I thank God that you are able to come and I thank you for the will to come.
May every blessing rest upon your head and when earthly honors shall fade before your eyes, may you have the more lasting glories and the eternal splendors which God has prepared for His faithful servants! I have to thank a large number of ministers who are not here for their kind letters. Especially must I mention the name of that honored father of all the Dissenting Churches, the Rev. John Angell James, of Birmingham. There is no name I think just now that ought to be more venerated than his. Long has he worn the harness and in the kind letter which he sent me he said his work was done and he could do but little more to serve his Master.
It was just like his humility. I had written to him sometime before expressing my candid opinion concerning him and my hearty respect. And he told me that I was mistaken in him. I am quite sure that I was not. I know that I could not think too highly of him. My dear Friend, Dr. Campbell sent me a note today, that he read in the papers that this strike had put off the laying of the first stone. He should have learned by this time, as an editor, to believe nothing he sees in the newspapers unless he himself knows it to be true. I confess I take a little time to chew everything I read there. I am not clear upon it the first time I see it. If I were clear upon it, my dear Friends, this Chapel would need no subscriptions from you.
I only wish newspapers would make true what they say about me–not in the abuse line, but with regard to this magnificent fortune which they had the generosity to confer upon me. I mean to distribute the dividends of this fortune among the newspapers and much good may the share do to each of them. No one has left me a sixpence. The headache and the sickness I now feel almost seem to say that somebody is thinking of doing so. Don’t do it. It is the ruin of many ministers. It is no use your giving them money–give them a right good income every year for their preaching. I can say, with regard to that, that I have nothing more to ask, or to desire, but I am afraid that if ministers get money they will have the bronchitis and all the rest of it. It is such a common thing that I hope no one will try me.
I say again, I have to thank many who are not here and then I have to thank the Brethren that are here. I did not think there were so many of them that loved me. I do feel quite beaten up tonight. I sometimes say some hard things. Well, I shall go on, but they will have no reference to the Brethren here, I dare say. I am sure if they think that I should be hard or unkind towards any of them, they do not know me. When all the world abused me I just bent my fist and set my teeth together and said, “I’m a match for you.” But no sooner did the papers begin to praise me some little, than they brought tears in my eyes, for I began to say, “No, I do not deserve that. I cannot take that credit to myself.”
If any man wants to make me preach more vigorously than I have against any doctrine, let him abuse me and the doctrines I preach and I will soon come out strong upon it, rest assured. The only danger we fear is–being thrown off our guard by success. But this I rejoice to know, wherever God puts His servants, they are safe. I have sometimes met with some minister who has an average congregation of fifty, perhaps, whose back was as stiff as possible and whose neck was never bent and he has said, “My dear Brother, you are in a very dangerous position. I hope you will not be carried away with pride.” Poor dear soul! I thought if he had kept his advice to himself it might, perhaps, have been profitable to him.
I do feel myself crushed down by the weight of Divine mercy. I am bowed to the very earth by it, I know not what to say to you tonight, nor how to express my thoughts and feelings. Glory be to Him that has done all this! May He continue to bless! But even should he stay his hand, if I were laid aside and could never preach again, I feel I have such mercies that I must praise Him throughout eternity for what I have received. Again I say, to Him be glory! Yet I do thank my kind and loving friends from many a fond expression of affection that I have received this day.
Oh, my dear Friends, pray for all the ministers of Christ, that God would make them more abundantly useful. Ask for us more liberty in speech, more unction on our heads and in our hearts. Ask for us a greater intensity of agony on account of the souls of men, ask for us greater earnestness in prayer. Pray for us that we may be masters of the sacred art of wrestling with God. Pray for us that a revival of religion may come into this land. What is Ireland that it should have a revival denied to us? What is Scotland that it should be stirred and we should sleep? God has blessed this nation first and foremost previously–why not now?
Let us cry unto Him mightily and He will hear our prayers and grant us His richest blessing. Before I sit down, I would ask the Lord Mayor kindly to forgive me for being long, but not to let any speaker speak more than ten minutes, as there are so many to address us. Then I want to observe that our dear Brother, Mr. Joynson, the second most liberal subscriber to our fund, would have been here, but that he is sore sick and has had to remove to Teignmouth. I wrote to him, hearing that he was near death’s door and he wrote me a kind reply, saying that he was not so bad as I thought, but he was far too ill to come.
Pray for him that he may be restored. He is a very prince in Israel in his generosity. He has served this cause and may God Almighty bless him! I must also publicly acknowledge my obligations to the Crystal Palace Company for the use of chairs this day. I suppose I did them a good turn once. I did it, however, out of love to those poor creatures who were injured in India and out of a desire to preach the Gospel to the great numbers assembled in that building. Still it was very kind of them so to act. Some places of worship in the neighborhood, have denied us the use of forms and the like. The Crystal Palace Company have kindly done it for us.
The Rev. W. G. LEWIS, of Westbourne Grove–my Lord, ladies and gentlemen–I have been thinking since the commencement of this meeting, if it were possible, that one or two of the humble godly folk, who two centuries since assembled with prayers and tears in Horseliedown, to commence an obscure and almost unknown Baptist Church could have foreseen the gatherings of this day and the still further events in the future connected with this Tabernacle, how marvelously overwhelming, how astounding to the sense, how almost beyond the power of their credulity would have been the prospect. Verily, this Church connected with New Park Street, has been a chosen object of the Divine regard. In the characters of the excellent men of God who have been its pastors, in the wondrous success that they have attained, in the conversion of sinners and the recovery of lost souls to Jesus Christ, its past annals have been truly wondrous and nothing is certainly more wonderful than that portion of its history which attaches to our beloved Brother, Mr. Spurgeon.
I beseech you, Christian Friends, who are connected with the Church as its members, to respond to that appeal which God in His mercy makes to you today, to offer unto Him the sacrifices of thanksgiving and of praise. I say that your experience and that of your ancestors demand today a tribute of unwonted extent, both as to the feeling of your hearts and as to the action of your hands. It becomes you, indeed, to remember well those touching, those beauteous annals to which we have listened already and which I trust the committee in charge of the operations connected with your building, will print and promulgate far and wide. And oh, my dear Friends, when I look upon the vast extent of this meeting and reflect that very seldom, if ever, has there been such a congregation, even in this metropolis upon such an occasion as this, I feel constrained to address my Brethren in the ministry also to hear the appeal which God in His Providence makes to them–to be faithful, uncompromising, simple and bold in their declaration of Gospel truths.
What a marvelous blessing is that which God has poured out upon this stripling! How has He been pleased as of olden times to select His own instrument where men little thought–to call him forth and to place him before the eyes not merely of this million-peopled city, but of our whole country and I trust that when the reports of this day’s proceedings have gone forth on the swift wings of the press, the country will feel that Spurgeon and his people are in their hearts and that they have a claim not merely upon denominations, but upon all who love the Savior.
The man is national property. They know it on the other side of the Atlantic and I, as I believe him not to be present, I say it with the greater freedom–Mr. Spurgeon’s conduct in relation to that American proposal to procure his labors on the other side of the Atlantic–his noble conduct upon that occasion, wholly in harmony with all the other acts of his public career, demands some acknowledgment from the Christians of England. He might have money enough for his Tabernacle if he would stoop to the course that men of the world would dictate.
Before my ten minutes have elapsed, I must be allowed to ask the members of Mr. Spurgeon’s Church, as individuals, have you done what you ought in contributing to this building? I ask, have you done what a congregation, I believe I may say of five thousand persons, ought to have done? Do that and then I am sure the country will share your feelings, approve of your self-denial and complete what is wanting. Oh, it is a blessing even to have been present at the proceedings of this day–we will cherish the memory of it to life’s latest moment. It is a greater blessing still to have had the mind to work and to put forth the hand in exertion towards the completion of this undertaking. I beseech you, therefore, every one of you, do your share, either in giving, or in collecting. And fear not that God in His mercy, who has up to now so marvelously prospered you in days of darkness, in times of peril and persecution–who has blessed you so much in the person and ministry of your beloved pastor, will in the future annals of this New Tabernacle, still more abundantly and more wondrously shower down upon you of His heavenly favor and most Divine regard.
The Rev. EVAN P ROBERT of Bristol–My Lord Mayor and Christian Friends, I cannot less than say, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see–and your ears, for they hear,” what your ancestors desired to see and to hear. We must consider ourselves this day highly privileged in being permitted to meet on such a very important and delightful occasion. I need not tell you, because your esteemed chairman has announced it, that I am come from the city of Bristol–a city where your pastor is very highly esteemed and beloved–a city ready to receive him with open heart and arms. A city in which Christians of all denominations hailed with gladness the approach of my dear Brother Spurgeon and I have not the shadow of a doubt, from my knowledge of Bristol, that the Christians in that city will be ever ready to contribute their mite towards the erection of that large building, the foundation of which has been laid this day.
The first time that I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Spurgeon, I felt that I loved him. And my love to him has increased with my acquaintance with him. I feel this evening, as I have felt before, a deep interest in the movement that is now going on in this place and I am optimistic as to its results. I have not the shadow of a doubt that by the time the last stone is to be placed upon the building, the money will be forthcoming and our esteemed Brother will have to ascend the pulpit and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ in a Chapel out of debt.
I could not less than think, Christian Friends, while our excellent chairman was addressing us on the subject of civil and religious liberty, that we ought all to be thankful and not only so, but that we ought to be more zealous to maintain our ground and to make advances in that respect. I rejoice that, notwithstanding all the oppositions that are made to the progress of civil and religious liberty, it is going forward–going forward in the metropolis–going forward in the provinces–going forward through the length and breadth of the land–in spite of the Puseyism, of the Popery, of the infidelity and all the power of that which is brought to bear to oppose it.
It is a principle that must go on and prevail until it shall be felt throughout the habitable world. I am afraid to trespass on your time. We Welshmen are very dangerous–when we begin to speak and get the steam up a little, we hardly know where to stop. You must tell me, therefore, when my time is up, for I find I cannot trust myself. I have been thinking with regard to the stone that was laid today, that it stands there as a witness of the working of the voluntary principle. Some people have told us that the principle has failed. Where has it failed? Wherever it has been exercised, wherever it has had fair play, it has done great things. What has erected our Chapels? What has erected, too, some of the Churches in our land? Why, the voluntary principle. And what has moved my esteemed friend, Mr. Spurgeon, and his beloved people to take this very important, this noble step, but the voluntary principle working in their hearts?
There is no compulsion from the throne–all the compulsion they have is the love of Christ in their souls. May God increase that principle a thousand-fold! What has made my Brother Spurgeon so popular?–to use the term, for want of better? What has given him such power with the people in this city and wherever he has gone? It is this–He has preached the full and plain Gospel and the Spirit of God has rested upon his words. That stone stands as a witness of the power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as preached by our little stripling, our little David, who has been the means of effecting such good. And not only so, we see that stone as a witness of the faithfulness of God to His Church. God has said that He would be with His people always, even to the end of the world. That stone stands as a witness there. And as stone upon stone is laid upon it, it will give an additional testimony to the fidelity of Him who said, ‘'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
That stone stands as a witness to Angels, to devils, to infidels and to the Christian Church, of the zeal of the people of God at Park Street. May that zeal burn as a vehement flame! May it break out on the right hand and on the left and may your liberality be exercised until the whole money for the Tabernacle shall be contributed and the building be completed and out of debt. I hope the blessing of God will attend this meeting. That it will be the means of stirring up our Brethren in the provinces and reviving religion in the land–that we shall have some of the showers that are descending upon Ireland and Scotland and that this shall be the beginning of better days.
God grant that it may be so! Only let us retire from this place imploring God’s blessing and devoting ourselves to His service and the showers will come down, for God has said, “As the snow and the rain comes down from Heaven and returns not there, but waters the earth and makes it bring forth and bud, so shall My Word be that comes forth out of My mouth. It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I have sent it.”
The Rev. JOHN SPURGEON–My Lord Mayor, I am very happy to meet you tonight. We are Essex men. We come from Colchester. Colchester has something to boast of great men. The chief physician of London comes from Colchester, the Lord Mayor comes from Colchester. And I need not tell you who else. I have never had a headache in my life, Friends. But if I ever had one, it would have been today. I feel nervous and excited. But I do feel very happy today to acknowledge my fault. And when a man confesses his faults, he has done a great deal towards amending them.
I always thought my son did wrong in coming to London. Now you see that I was wrong. I always thought he was wrong in not going to college–I tried three or four hours with him one night with a dear friend that loved him, but it was no use. He said, “No, I will never go to college, only in strict obedience to you as a father.” There I left the matter. And I see that God has been with him, though I thought it was a wrong step in him to go to London. And I thought it was a wrong step for me to come here tonight, but perhaps I may be mistaken again. I can tell you it is one of the happiest days of my life. I feel beyond myself when I think of the kindness that has been shown to him when but a youth. I ascribe it all to God’s goodness and the earnest prayers of his people. He has been exposed to temptations from every source and even now, my Friends, he is not free from it. You have prayed for him and God has sustained him. Oh, let me entreat you to continue your prayers. Every one here tonight go home and pray for your pastor.
A meeting like this is enough to carry a man beyond himself and fill his heart with pride. But the Grace of God is allsufficient. Several persons said to me–I do not know what their motive was–“Your son will never last in London six months, he has no education.” I said, “You are terribly mistaken, he has the best education that can possibly be had, God has been his teacher and he has had earthly teachers, too.” I knew, as far as education went, he could manage London very well. Then they said his health would fail. But it has not failed him yet. He has had enough to shake his constitution, it is true, but God has been very merciful to him. I think if there is one thing that would crown my happiness today, it would have been to see his grandfather here. I should have loved to see him here. He said, “Boy, don’t ask me to go, I am too old. I am overcome with God’s goodness and mercy to me.”
He is always talking about him. Old people like to have something to talk about, so he talks about his grandson. And next to that I should like, my dear Friends, to have seen his mother here. I believe, under God’s grace, his mother has been the means of leading him to Christ. You are well aware that I go and talk in the best manner I can to a few poor people on the Sabbath Day and God has blessed my labors. I thought, however, I ought not to go out on the Sabbath Day, as God’s people should train up their children in the best way they can. I thought I was neglecting my children and as I came home one evening about seven o'clock and went upstairs, I heard the voice of a mother pleading for her boy, Charles, and talking to him and the others and pouring her heart out in prayer in such a way as I never did in my life and as I never heard before.
It is for the encouragement of mothers that I mention this, that you may pray for your children, for God is a prayerhearing and prayer-answering God. My heart is too full to say more. May God bless you and keep you and may we be brought together when this building shall be finished and entirely out of debt! I hope tonight that some gentlemen will come forward and give each one hundred pounds. You know we must work as well as pray and there has been a kind offer made tonight, that if twenty hundred pounds are laid down, a gentleman will double it. I trust, therefore, our good Friends will come forward and make their free will offerings to that God who has done so much for them. Oh, may God bless you all, for Christ’s sake! Amen.
The CHAIRMAN–I have now to call upon the gentleman who made the best speech this morning and laid upon the foundation stone three thousand pounds.
EDWARD INSKIP, Esq., of Bristol–My Lord Mayor and Christian friends, as regards “the best speech” that has been made today, I trust that any merit in the speech, or in the donation will be laid at the feet of our covenant Head. I was thinking during the speeches to which we have listened, of a line or two of one of the poets of the sanctuary–
“Let party names no more, the Christian world overspread.”
And when I tell you that this gift of three thousand pounds, together with that which follows, comes from a man who was born a Churchman and who was brought to a knowledge of the Truth of God under a minister of the Church of England and who is a Churchman at heart, you will see that his liberality is profound and that he comes here in the true philanthropic principles of the Christian religion.
But since I had the honor and privilege of laying that painted piece of paper, as I termed it, upon the stone this afternoon, I have been going round the boundaries of the proposed walls of this intended sanctuary and I was thinking as I mused upon the various portions of the stones and gravel, cement, lime, ashes, bricks and timber–what would be the position which the multitude before me would occupy in that better temple, where we all hope to adore the Lamb? I was led to ask, is my name, however mean and humble, inscribed there as a living stone? Believe me, if you value His instructions there and wish to see that building the birthplace of souls–nothing short of an earnest and agonizing entreaty that God the eternal Spirit will sanctify that Word will ever promote your views, or bring about the realization of your wishes.
Believe me, it has afforded me great gratification to be the bearer of this honored man’s donation–my esteemed Friend unknown to you. I said this afternoon, there are something more to follow. Three thousand pounds will not erect the building. I understand that it will take no less than seven times as much again. Where is it all to come from? I hear that the response today has realized only about three thousand nine hundred pounds and that about two hundred pounds more is promised. Now, I do not pretend to be a Goliath, but I come as a simple stripling and ask, who am I and what my father’s house, that I am thus honored to ask twenty other persons to come forward and give their one hundred pounds apiece, or even forty persons their fifty pounds each, with the promise that the sum shall be doubled when that is done?
This I am sure is nothing less than your pastor deserves. He has devoted his time, his energy, his health, to this matter. He has been incessant in his labors and he has found that they have been crowned with success. As for you, the fruit of his labors, it behooves you to see that he has a place in which he can address the multitudes who flock to hear him. This afternoon he spoke of this building being erected and the roof put on and the Tabernacle being left seatless. Surely this will not be permitted. Whether it is by the humblest mite or by the large donation, I am sure that those who love the Lord Jesus Christ will see that this thing is accomplished and speedily, too.
We were speaking just now, of the living stones in the temple above and I was thinking of a scene which occurred to me in the Music Hall yonder, some year or two since. When I heard the sounds of the voices of the multitude there, I reminded myself on that occasion, why, what must be the heavenly choir. If such be the perfection of sound realized by the humble few here upon earth–what must be the sound rising from immortal voices and from angelic tongues? Surely while we contemplate the grandeur of that scene, we shall all be in earnest in asking ourselves the one question–are we heirs of the kingdom of God? We shall all be asking ourselves that marvelous question, “Is my name inscribed on the walls of Zion?” Remember, Jesus dwells there and if Jesus dwells there, we should desire to dwell there, too.
See to it, then, my Friends, that this meeting concludes not without some large, some noble response to that which I consider a noble offer I have been permitted, on behalf of another, to make to you today. The offer you have heard. It rests with you to accept it. And whenever it may be accepted, the money will be forthcoming, as the three thousand pounds is forthcoming now, on the very day when the two thousand shall be realized. But then I was about to disclose to you a secret–although, perhaps, Mr. Spurgeon may not like me to disclose it to you. I must tell you that he was very desirous that I should come and bring a large mass of feathers with which to line this beautiful nest.
I trust it will be a nest indeed, but not a nest in which you may nestle yourselves into fatal security–I trust it will be a nest which you will find the birds of the air, whose feathers are of yellow gold, will set and brood over and that there the sweet influences of those heavenly scenes will descend into your hearts. I trust I shall be able to carry back with me tomorrow the intelligence that the offer I have made has been accepted and that I shall shortly have the great pleasure of presenting to you the additional two thousand pounds.
The Rev. J. A. SPURGEON–My Lord, ladies and gentlemen–Your Lordship said at the commencement of this meeting, that it was a happy day. I am quite sure I can echo that sentiment now from the depth of my spirit and I think that I have in my cup one sweet ingredient which must be lacking in yours–that of having such a brother as I have, in your ministry. If ever pride can be a sinless thing, I think it will be in my case when I say I am proud of my brother. But I would desire to take that stand which the Apostle Paul took when he determined “to know no man after the flesh.”
Though I rejoice tonight most heartily in the success my brother has achieved, I rejoice more profoundly in the success which has attended the preaching of the Gospel and in the principles of the Cross of Christ which I see here tonight. While I look around me and see that every other religion is beginning to fade–that every other system is tottering to its fall–that everything that is of man seems like man to be fading–Christianity is growing in strength and seems to have the dew of its youth upon it and is going forth crushing all things before it and it shall triumph till it shall fill the world with its knowledge, power and glory. I rejoice to think that while I come in to take up that standard which aged hands must soon begin to let fall I see on it the “Excelsior” motto inscribed and I see that it is going higher and higher and it shall go so high till my Master shall be lifted up and shall draw all men unto Him.
I rejoice most devoutly in that Divine dispensation which makes a luxury in doing good and a blessedness also, so that he who puts forth his hand to bring down a blessing upon others evokes the shower of Divine blessing on his own head–that he who does good must get good–that he who serves the Lord shall never serve the Lord for nothing. I am sure in our meeting here today–met as we are seeking the welfare of others–that there shall be the richest blessing poured out upon our heads. And I trust that there will be some departing from this place tonight who will be made rich with those riches which add no sorrow therewith. It has been said that there are sermons in stones and if ever there is one class of stones that may be expected to have a voice and eloquence and depth of wisdom above others, it would be that class of stones to which we refer the one that has been laid today.
Would that we could bring the corner and foundation stones of some of our old Chapels and make them speak tonight! Methinks they would cry, “shame,” upon some of our fearful trembling-hearted ones tonight. The difficulties our ancestors had to encounter were far greater than ours. The stones they laid were laid under far less favorable auspices than our stone has been laid. This is an age of panic and of fears, but I rejoice to think that we are putting our panic and fears in a practical way of building up defenses for Zion. And I hope there will arise many more mighty arsenals in which the great guns of our denomination may come and fire with great success into the camp of our enemies.
I rejoice to think of the success that has already attended the efforts of our friends in collecting money. And while we feel very happy here tonight, I think we ought to give our happiness a practical turn. I cannot leave this meeting unless we once again raise our solemn thanksgiving to God for the great goodness and the great love that He has shown our Brother. I yield to no one in the profound respect I entertain for my brother’s peculiar talents, but I hold that it has not been so much how he has said, as what he has said, that has achieved his success. I hope that this meeting will take a practical turn and that we shall go forth tonight determined that we will preach more earnestly and simply–and then I trust with more success–the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr. JAMES LOW–The object of my rising is to call your attention to the noble offer that our friend, Mr. Inskip, has made. Our friend has given us a promissory note for two thousand pounds, on one condition, that is, that we raise another two thousand pounds in hundreds and fifties. This morning I screwed up my courage to fifty pounds, but as soon as that challenge was given, I altered my mind and made it one hundred pounds. This is a large meeting, containing some thousands of persons. I know there are some here who are very rich and who could pay the whole expense of this building out of their own pockets and scarcely miss it. I can hardly imagine that you will allow my friend, Mr. Inskip, to go away disappointed. Let me beseech you to fix him at once.
Now, I have to ask that nineteen other gentlemen, or ladies, if you please–for their money is equally valuable–to give a pledge for one hundred pounds each and that will make up the two thousand pounds which our friend, Mr. Inskip, has promised to double. If you would only do that this evening, it would give such an impetus to our efforts to raise the whole of the money required for this building, that I do believe we should get enough, in a month, to complete it. But lest I should be disappointed, our kind friend has given me a still greater latitude. I do not want to check the nineteen friends from coming forward with their hundred pounds. But he has very kindly allowed me to say, that if a portion of it comes in hundreds, the deficiency may be made up in fifties.
Now, surely with such latitude as that, we must succeed in getting the two thousand pounds. And then he has done another thing which I think was very liberal. If I fail to succeed after making this offer, I do not know what sort of a character I shall be able to give you. It is this–he will not only take it in hundreds and fifties, but, if it is more convenient for you to pay within three months, he will give you credit for that time. Now, as an old tradesman, I have known in my time what it is to be tempted by having a little credit offered me. But I took care I would not take credit for any article that I did not feel confident to be able to pay for in a given time. I feel the greatest encouragement in asking you either to send up your names for one hundred pounds each, or to those who cannot afford so much, for fifty pounds and those who are not prepared to pay the money down, we will give three months credit. Do not let me plead in vain.
The Rev. GEORGE SMITH, of Poplar–My Lord Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, I have very great pleasure in taking some part in the deeply interesting proceedings of this night. When I think of the men who have already spoken with fervor, with pathos, with eloquence and with the intimate knowledge of your Master, which justify them in honoring Him as they have. And when I think of the other Brethren on the platform of your own denomination, who will further vindicate the cause with which you are connected and advocate the great object which you have in view–I should shrink from the responsibility of occupying any portion of your attention, but for the fact that I belong to another denomination.
I am with you in heart though I am not with you altogether in practice. I am connected with the Congregational denomination, as most of you, if not all, know, and I am here to testify on behalf of myself and of my Brethren generally, to the very great regard we have for that gifted young man, under thirty-years of age, whose name has become a worldwide reputation and who everywhere has been greatly honored of God in turning multitudes from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God.
I never had any doubt about him from the beginning. I never entertained a suspicion of him from the commencement. I never uttered an unkind word about him from the time when he commenced his ministry. I always thought that he was raised up of God to do a great and good work and we might well rejoice if men are raised up in a way rather different from that which we had anticipated. There is a fact upon record of very great value in relation to liberty of preaching. In the days of Oliver Cromwell, many soldiers went to Edinburgh on the Lord’s day and finding there was very indifferent preaching in the pulpits, Cromwell’s chaplain took possession of the Churches and preached the Word of Life.
The Presbytery wrote a letter complaining to the Lord Protector, that his soldiers–the men connected with the iron-hearted regiment that he headed–those iron-sides, who feared God and kept their powder dry–actually had ventured to preach the Word of Life in the regular sanctuary. Cromwell’s reply was worthy to be written in characters of living light and handed down from age to age. “What? Does that offend you? I would to God that all the Lord’s servants were Prophets.” And with that feeling, my Lord, I am sure that we have hailed the advent of our beloved brother, Mr. Spurgeon. I hope his life will long be spared and that a great and important work will be carried on by him. If there is a man under Heaven that we might envy and if there is a man under Heaven in whom we might glorify the Grace of God, he is the man.
I honor the man that he has never pandered to the public taste. He has always preached the Word of Life fully, faithfully and effectually. I honor the man for the large-hearted Catholicity which has characterized him. The pulpits of the land have properly been opened to him and he has ever been ready to preach for his Brethren of every denomination. I have heard him preach in my own pulpit to crowded and delighted audiences. And I am sure that we ought to be prepared to help him in return, for he has been prepared to help very many. I am sure I am only among a large number of my Brethren–and I mention it as an encouragement to others–I proposed a short time ago to the deacons of our Church that, as he had often preached on behalf of other objects for us, we should invite him to come and preach and give him a liberal collection towards this New Tabernacle.
And it only waits for the time to be fixed by him and I trust we shall all be prepared to do everything we can to promote the common welfare of this great Church and congregation. I congratulate this meeting tonight most heartily and cordially upon the fact that three beloved honored men, bearing one name and related to each other, have taken part in this meeting. May they be a three-fold cord that cannot readily be broken. In expressing the largest desires for the welfare of the Baptist denomination represented by Mr. Spurgeon, I am only giving utterance to feelings that we all entertain.
There is but little difference between us, but a very little difference, indeed. Different sections of the Church of God look at each other in the distance through the mists of prejudice and passion and they think they are monsters. They get a little nearer and they find they are men–Brethren, related to one common Father, related to one Divine Redeemer who is not ashamed to call us Brethren and whether we are Baptists or pseudo-Baptists, whether we are Presbyterians or Congregationalists, whether we are Arminians or Calvinists (though I am not ashamed to call myself a Calvinist) if we are good men and true, we are related to each other and to the Lord. Let us then, be limited and angels shall look down from the crystal battlements of Heaven and say of our congregations here–“Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity!”
The Meeting then sung the following verse, commencing, “Jesus is worthy to receive honor and power Divine.”
JOSEPH PAYNE, Esq.–Ladies and gentlemen, I am very glad to meet you all upon the present occasion. I am one of those Churchmen whom my Lord Mayor has been digging in the ribs in rather an extraordinary manner. But I am not one that he would find fault with, I am sure. We have been working together too long and too often for any of his observations to be applied in that way to my humble self. The late Rev. Mr. Branch used to say that an old woman once asked him, “Mr. Branch, can you tell me what Mr. Payne is?” “Why,” said Mr. Branch, “he is a Churchman.” “No, no,” said the woman, “I am sure he ain’t.” “Why?” “Because wherever I go I sees him–at Wesleyan meetings, at Baptist meetings, at Congregational meetings and at all sorts of meetings–well, if he is a Churchman he’s a rum un.” The Rev. Dr. Archer was once speaking at a meeting, (you see I am giving myself a character,) and he went through the list of speakers and said–“The first is Dr. Archer, a humble Presbyterian. The second is Mr. Branch, a sturdy Baptist. The third is Mr. Gladstone, an Episcopalian. The fourth is Mr. Edward Corderoy, who belongs to the Wesleyan body and the fifth is Joseph Payne, who belongs to nobody.”
And he gave the reason–“he belongs to nobody because he belongs to everybody.” Now, I think I have said enough about myself. I am aching to say a word or two about my excellent friend, the Rev. Mr. Spurgeon. Among these decorations, there is one that I do not see, but I have it before my mind’s eye–I mean the three letters C. H. S. [A voice–“It is outside.”] Then we have it outside and inside too. Now, what does C. H. S. mean? Why, it means first, “Charles Haddon Spurgeon.” But I do not mean that. C. H. S. means a Clear Headed Speaker, who is Clever at Handling Subjects in a Cheerful-Hearted Style. He is a Captain of the Home of Surrey. He is a Cold-Hating Spirit. He has Chapel-Heating Skill. He is a Catholic Humbug-Smasher, he is a Care-Hushing Soother. He is a Child-Helping Strengthener–he is a ChristHonoring Soldier and he is a Christ-Honored Servant. Those are all the C. H. S’s and a very good set of C. H. S’s they are.
Now I desire to look back upon the past, to look round upon the vast and to look onward to the last. I desire to look back to the past. Our friend was always popular, always clever, always active, but he was not always so popular, he had not always the large number of friends that gather round him now. I knew him and loved him and admired him from the beginning, therefore I look back upon the past with great satisfaction to think that I had so much discernment, that has been so admirably proved and so magnificently repaid. I look round upon the vast. It is a goodly and glorious sight to see such a meeting as this, with the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor in the chair. You know it is said there are four descriptions of speakers to preside at public meetings–some who are able and not willing, some who are willing and not able, some who are neither able nor willing and some who are both able and willing.
Now the Lord Mayor belongs to the fourth class. He is a first-class man in some respects but a fourth-class in that respect. He has shown his willingness in coming here and he has shown his ability in that splendid, magnificent, glorious speech that he made, though he was a little too hard upon some of us Episcopalians. I look onward to the last. Oh, what a glorious thought that will be when all the instrumentality shall be at an end, when we shall see the grand glorious gathering in the brighter and better world above! The Lord Mayor will be there, Spurgeon the grandfather will be there–the father–the mother–the brother–and Spurgeon himself will be there and I pray God that you and I may be there, also.
I have a high opinion of our excellent friend for four reasons–he is a preacher that does not mumble. He is a preacher that does not grumble. He is a preacher that does not stumble, and he is a preacher that never will crumble. He is a preacher that does not mumble. One of our celebrated authorities in the law, old Seldon, says, that if a man were to call out murder in the same tone in which he would make love, nobody would come to his assistance. A minister of the Gospel is calling out murder and it is to be called out in a loud tone. Not in a namby pamby style. He is also a preacher that does not grumble. You heard him tonight say how pleased he was with the salary given by the people of Park Street. He is perfectly satisfied with what he gets. Though he has not half that he deserves. He is a preacher that does not stumble. Did you ever see a man walk more firmly than he does before the world and the Church? He walks firmly, physically, morally and religiously. Then he is a preacher that will not crumble.
The man himself will die–many, many years let it be before that consummation is arrived at! We all must die, but the reputation and character of a faithful preacher of God’s free and glorious Gospel will never die. We may address the character and reputation of such a man in the language of the poet and say–
“The stars shall fade away. The sun himself
Grow dim in age and nature sink in years.
But you shall flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amid the war of elements,
The wreck of matter and the crash of worlds.”
I would say–pray and believe. Then persist and receive.
In connection with the first, let me tell you that there was a number of farmers somewhere in Essex, who met to pray for rain in a large open field. The deacons were there. The “Lows” and the “Olneys,” and the good men of that stamp, the five pounders and the fifty pounders and the hundred pounders were there for the purpose. It was a fine day but there was a little Sunday-School girl who came with an umbrella under her arm. The minister, who was not so clever as Mr. Spurgeon, said, “Why, bless you, my good girl, what do you mean by bringing a great umbrella on such a fine day as this?” “Why, Sir,” said she, “have not you all met to pray for rain? Don’t you expect to get it if you pray properly? I do, so I picked out the biggest umbrella I could find.” Well, there came a heavy shower and the ministers and the deacons were all very glad to get under the little school girl’s umbrella. And the ministers and deacons went out from under that umbrella with their heads lower than they had been before, because they had been shamed into propriety by a little Sunday-School girl.
Pray, then and believe. Pray that God will give you friends and believe that you will get them. The next is, persist and receive. There was a clergyman in Ireland who met with a ragged boy and he took him to a ragged school. The boy was very fond of using his slate and pencil. He never put sums upon his slate, but drew ugly pictures of the boys and the master. The master did not like it, because schoolmasters, you know, are very uppish people, some of them. Stuck-up people who think they ought not to be caricatured. He sent to the clergyman, saying “I cannot manage the boy at all, I wish you would take him away.” “Indeed I shall do no such thing,” said the clergyman, “I will come and see him and talk to him.
So the clergyman came and there was the boy in the school working away with his slate and pencil. “Well,” said the clergyman, “bring up your slate let us see what you are doing.” The boy did not like to do so, but however he brought up his slate and, giving it to the clergyman, bobbed his head down to avoid a box on the ears, which he knew he deserved and thought he might get. But that was not the clergyman’s plan. He looked at the slate and he there saw the ugliest picture of the good old clergyman himself, with long ears, very long hair, a hole in his coat and his white choker as dirty as it could be. He looked at it and said, “You have a very good notion of drawing, my boy. My daughter draws beautifully and if you will come to the parsonage house three times a week, she shall teach you to draw.
Well, she did teach him to draw and that boy is now an artist–a capital painter in London. And the very first thing sented it to them in a beautiful frame, as a token of his respect and gratitude for their having saved him from destruction and putting him in the way of gaining an honest livelihood. That clergyman persisted and received the end of his perseverance.
Now I want you to persist and go on with this great work and you will, in spite of all discouragements and difficulties, be sure to receive. You will draw people in the Tabernacle and money to your funds and then great things will be done. Now I have to read some verses and then there will be an end–
“My breath I will spend and my horn I will blow,
The claims and requirements to let the world know–
(Though my horn is not gold, but is only brass gilt,)
Of the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
Sir Samuel, Baptist and Baronet, too,
In handling the trowel to science was true,
And charged it with mortar right up to the hilt,
For the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
Unconquered, at present, Friend Spurgeon is found,
But soon he will hold unapproachable ground;
For no one will dream with the pastor to tilt,
Of the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
With wonderful talent all ranks to comprise–
The Truth that he preaches to make people wise
He’ll spread over his hearers, just like a great quilt,
In the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
The Englishman plainly and soberly dressed –
The Irishman clad in his holiday vest–
Will sit, side by side, with the Scot in his kilt,
In the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
Rich merchant of London, if such should be here,
You, friend to a preaching sublime and sincere,
Can not give too much, give whatever you will,
To the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
Poor widow, neglected, distressed and forlorn,
The prop of your age from your dwelling withdrawn,
To cast in two mites will not fix you with guilt,
Towards the great Tabernacle that is to be built.
Friend Spurgeon, the clearest of preachers I know,
Look on to the time when your language shall flow
Like a beautiful stream, without thickness or silt,
In the great Tabernacle that is to built.
And thousands delivered from sin and from Hell,
In mansions of glory forever shall dwell,
Who heard of the blood which for sinners was spilt,
In the great Tabernacle that is to be built.”
The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON–If our friends are not tired I should like another Brother to speak and I have a few words to say before I call upon my Brother Bloomfield. I have been treated somewhat severely by that class of Brethren who are exceedingly strong in their Calvinism. Many suspect me of being a great heretic. Now, a great heretic I certainly am, if it is heresy to judge of the Scriptures as God the Holy Spirit gives me ability and not to bend myself to the dictates of man. I am, I ever must be, from my deep and terrible experience of the depravity of the human heart, a high Calvinist, in the best sense of that term.
I am not bitter towards others. But I do love to preach the fullness of the decree of God. I do love, however, so to preach it that I may combine it with practical exhortation and fullness of precept. There are many Brethren who believe the same. The stone has to be rolled away from the sepulcher of Calvinism yet. The Calvinism of some men is not the Calvinism of John Calvin, nor the Calvinism of the Puritans, much less the Christianity of God. My dear Brother Bloomfield is one of those who hold the Truth of God very strongly. I hope he may hold it never less sternly. He has an affectionate loving heart and he is not prepared to condemn one who, in some points, differs from the Brethren. I do differ from some in certain matters, those are but small matters compared with the grand fundamentals of that holy faith delivered to us by Christ, translated by Paul, handed down by Augustine, clarified by Calvin, vindicated yet again by Whitfield and held by us as the very Truth of God, as it is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Rev. J. BLOOMFIELD–I rejoice to be with you today, just to show my firm attachment to that honored servant of God who has been the means, under the influence and power of the Spirit, of bringing you together. I believe that the preaching of Mr. Spurgeon is in harmony with our good old Puritan divines. I cannot understand that Christianity which dries up the sympathies of the human heart. I feel a strong sympathy with one expression dropped by Mr. Spurgeon’s father. He said he thought his son did wrong when he first came to London. I thought so, too, but what made me think so was losing a great many persons from my own congregation. However, I am very glad that so good a man has them and I wish them well from my very heart and him, too, and all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.
Any man that preaches the atonement in its perfection is a Brother that I am glad to shake hands with and bid God speed. Whether or not he preaches the high and distinguishing doctrine of Divine Grace in the phraseology that I employ–whether or not he chooses to preach those doctrines in the plain language in which I am bound to preach them, because I can preach them in no other–I say I bid him God speed and trust the blessing of God will go with him wherever he goes to preach the everlasting Gospel of the blessed God. Christ said, when on earth, “If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.” I ask any man to look at the vast numbers that have testified before delighted audiences to the way in which the ministry of Mr. Spurgeon has been blessed to them–and I ask if God has not honored him? I ask if the Holy Spirit has not honored his testimony and if the Father in Heaven, if the Holy Spirit has sealed his ministry, where is the man that dares to speak against the success which he has realized so largely in his work?
I love some of the friends that have spoken harshly of him, but I have always hated their harshness. I have told them so to their faces, as I would tell them again. I hate their bigotry, while I love the Truth of God they preach. May God continue to bless the ministrations of our excellent friend and honor him with increasing and abundant success, for his own sake. Amen.
The Rev. C.H. SPURGEON proposed a vote of thanks to Sir Morton Peto, for his kindness in laying the stone, to the Lord Mayor for presiding and the Lady Mayoress for coming to the meeting. The motion having been seconded by James Low, Esq., was carried by acclamation.
The LORD MAYOR–The best thanks you could give me would be this, that you fill every box and put your names to the piece of paper until you have got two thousand pounds. I believe you will have it tomorrow, if you do not get it tonight.
Mr. SPURGEON–The Lord Mayor has kindly said he shall contribute fifty pounds himself. I am sure, with his very great claims, it is far too much for us to expect from any Lord Mayor. He has out-done himself in liberality and I heartily thank him.
The Doxology was then sung and the proceedings terminated.
[The Committee think it needful to add, that notwithstanding the very great assistance afforded upon this occasion, their enterprise is very far from accomplishment. The freehold ground has been purchased and paid for, the excavation and throwing in of concrete for foundations have also been completed. And when this expense shall also have been fully defrayed, the Committee will find themselves with about ten thousand pounds in hand. The present contract for the erection of the building is twenty thousand pounds, which does not include lighting, boundary walls and necessary furniture. The Committee therefore earnestly appeal to the Church of Christ for help in their arduous undertaking.
Subscriptions will be joyfully received by the Rev. C. H. SPURGEON. Or by Mr. T. COOK, Hon. Sec., New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, S.E.]