You're here: oChristian.com » Articles Home » C.H. Spurgeon » Sermon 268 - The Ceremony of Laying the First Stone of the New Tabernacle + 269,270 - part 1

Sermon 268 - The Ceremony of Laying the First Stone of the New Tabernacle + 269,270 - part 1

By C.H. Spurgeon


      FOR THE CONGREGATION OF THE REV. C.H. SPURGEON

      Took Place

      On Tuesday, August 16th, 1859.

      (No. 268-270)

      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 throne
      Ye 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 rear,
      Almighty Maker, to thy name?

      We'll crowd thy gates with thankful songs,
      High as the heavens our voices raise;
      And earth, with her ten thousand tongues,
      Shall fill thy courts with sounding praise.

      Wide as the world is thy command;
      Vast as eternity thy love;
      Firm as a rock thy truth must stand,
      When rolling years shall cease to move.

      Mr. SPURGEON then offered up an opening Prayer:-- OH! LORD God! thy throne is in heaven. Yet heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, neither can any among the sons of men build a house for thy habitation and thy rest. The temple of Solomon, however beautiful for situation glorious for its splendor, and "exceeding magnifical," was not fit for thy dwelling place. It is not possible that thou who fillest immensity, thou who dwellest in light to which no man can approach, shouldst confine thyself to temples piled with human hands. Nevertheless thou hast said, "To this man also will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word." Jesus, Master of assemblies, where two or three are gathered together in thy name, there art thou in the midst of them. Blessed Comforter, without thy quickening influence, the largest congregation is but a listless crowd, the most gorgeous cathedral but a profane place. Thou hast been pleased, O Lord, to increase this people and to multiply their joy. We have had the joy of harvest, and the shoutings as of them that bread the wine-press. Thou hast been greatly with us, and thy 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 thee, wherein we may meet for thy sacred worship. Oh, give us the first drops of a shower of mercy! Oh that this day every one 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. Do thou, O God, bless 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 thy 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 thereon God bless thy servant who is about to lay this first stone! We thank thee for him, and we pray thee bless him abundantly. Grant that the wealth and station thou hast conferred upon him may be ever, as they have been, fully consecrated unto thee. And do thou bless all the dear brethren of the ministry now present! Oh, grant to every one of them the fullness of thy Spirit, the joy of thy salvation, and the light of thy countenance! And bless, we beseech thee, the assembled congregation! This very day may sinners be converted and God be glorified! And now, thou who dost bow thine ear to listen to our requests, hearken to our prayer, while we beseech thee to let this house be builded without accident, let, or hindrance. When builded may it by the manifestation of thy presence to the saints be filled with thy glory. And for many years to come, yea until thy second advent, thou long-expected Messias, may ministers of a full, free, and finished salvation, occupy its pulpit! And unto Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be glory, for ever! Amen.

      Mr. SPURGEON 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 recent 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 RELIGOUS 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 market-places 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 meeting-houses were situate 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, while 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; recognizing the order of government or discipline 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 mantain 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 pastorale 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 pastorale, 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 baptistry was constructed "for the more decent administration of the ordinance." The Baptists had, like the Chlistians in Primitive times, administered this rite in pools or rivers. In the year 1818, at the cost of one hundred and sixty pounds, a desirable change was effected, the old baptizing place in Horeliedown being enlarged, a meeting-house 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 23rd, 1697, and ordained to the pastoral office over this church, March 22nd, 1720, being then in the twenty-third year of his age. A man of profound learning and deep piety, 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 DIVNITY" 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 well-known 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 any one 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 9th of October in that year, "by recording the name of the Lord therein," agreeably to his own 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 14th 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 cometh 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 fromaccepting 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 29th, 1751, JOHN RIPPON was in his twenty-third year when publicly ordained, on November 11th, 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 anointings 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 wrought 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 savoury. 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 evangelising 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 paralysed 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 17th December, 1836, in the eighty-sixth year of his age.

      There yet remain among us a few members of this church, who recollect 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 hath 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 be 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 thou didst in their days," and we adore thee O God for it. Our eyes have beheld greater things, and our hearts are lifted up to thy throne for a more copious blessing. "Let thy works appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou 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 7th of February, 1830, the church and caongregation assembled to worship God for the last time at the old meeting-house 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 6th of May, 1833. Still did fresh anxieties beset our 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 hath 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. Hitherto 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 Chlist 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 19th of June, 1834, he was then only in his twentieth year. His preaching at 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 pastorale.

      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 maketh us to lie down in green pastures and leadeth us beside the still waters. But the greater work was that of conversion. So did the Holy Ghost accompany the preaching of the gospel with divine power, that almost every sermon proved the means of awakening and regeneration to some who were hitherto "dead in trespasses and sins." Thus our church became an asylum for the aged, as well as a nursery for the babes of our Saviour'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 11th of February to the 27th 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 recognised 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 one-third 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 fire 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.

      Pastor.

      The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON.

      Deacons.

      SAMUEL GALE.

      GEORGE WINSOR.

      JAMES LOW.

      WILLIAM P. OLNEY.

      THOMAS OLNEY.

      GEORGE MOORE.

      THOMAS COOK.

      London,

      August 16th, 1859.

      Mr. SPURGEON: In the bottle which is 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 doth 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 Programme 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 oldfashioned 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. Honour to whom honor is due. I am glad to put their names with mine here; and I hope we shall live together for ever 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 to-day, 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; that 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 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 (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 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 goeth 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 realised in an 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 brethren 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 goeth forth in his strength and stayeth 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 to-day 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 bowels 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 hath 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 to-day, 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 in his own heart communes with the people of God. I can number among my choicest friends many members of the church of England, and some of every denomination under heaven. I glory in that fact. However sternly a man may hold the right of private judgment, he can yet give his right hand with as light a grip to every man that loves Jesus Christ. Now with regard to our prospects. We are to build this place, and the prospect I encourage is that it be paid for before it is opened. I think it is likely too; because if we carry out our intention as a committee, we have a notion that if our friends do not give us liberal contributions we will put the carcase up and roof it in, and allow them to come and stand. Those that want seats can buy them. I am sure my people would soon get me a pulpit, and such is the zeal of our brethren that they soon buy me a baptistry. 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 it that 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 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, 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 that is auspicious and triumphant in the proceedings of this day. Notwithstanding the prognostication of enemies, and notwithstanding the fears of halfhearted 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 cleanseth 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 Saviour'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 Ghost, we shall dedicate this edifice to the proclamation of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, and salvation only through his cross; we shall dedicate this edifice to the doctrine 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 thee 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 galled 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 circumstanees. 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 to wit--is waiting to give a response to what you do to-day, and that which you shall in your liberality bestow, will give a tone and influence far and wide amongst 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 corner stone. This is only a tabernacle; these stones will moulder 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 for ever, 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, and 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, the preparation for this building which is to be erected; 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 Saviour. I have, it is true, to appear before you to-day 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 to-day 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 to-day to say he will give you three thousand pounds and, what is more, if twenty gentlemen will come forward with one hundred pounds a-piece 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 saith the Lord." These things, as I said, emanate from small beginnings. It was my honor and my privilege this day three weeks 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-bye, 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 kingred, every tribe,
      One thuis terrestrial ball,
      To him all majest ascribe,
      And crown him Lord of all.

      Numerous donations were then placed upon the stone, after which the assembly separated.

Back to C.H. Spurgeon index.

Loading

Like This Page?


© 1999-2016, oChristian.com. All rights reserved.