Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 81
TO MR. JAMES LOW
CAMBRIDGE, January 27, 1854.
MY DEAR SIR, —
I cannot help feeling intense gratification at the unanimity of the church at New Park Street in relation to their invitation to me. Had I been uncomfortable in my present situation, I should have felt unmixed pleasure at the prospect Providence seems to open up before me; but having a devoted and loving people, I feel I know not how.
One thing I know, namely, that I must soon be severed from them by necessity, for they do not raise sufficient to maintain me in comfort. Had they done so, I should have turned a deaf ear to any request to leave them, at least for the present. But now my Heavenly Father drives me forth from this little Garden of Eden; and whilst I see that I must go out, I leave it with reluctance, and tremble to tread the unknown land before me.
When I first ventured to preach at Waterbeach, I only accepted an invitation for three months, on the condition that if, in that time, I should see good reason for leaving, or they on their part should wish for it, I should be at liberty to cease supplying, or they should have the same power to request me to do so before the expiration of the time.
Now, with regard to a six months’ invitation from you, I have no objection to the length of time, but rather approve of the prudence of the church in wishing to have one so young as myself on an extended period of probation. But I write, after well weighing the matter, to say positively that I cannot, that I dare not, accept an unqualified invitation for so long a time. My objection is not to the length of time of probation, but it ill becomes a youth to promise to preach to a London congregation so long, until he knows them and they know him. I would engage to supply for three months of that time, and then, should the congregation fail, or the church disagree, I would reserve to myself liberty, without breach of engagement, to retire; and you could, on your part, have the right to dismiss me without seeming to treat me ill. Should I see no reason for so doing, and the church still retain their wish for me, I can remain the other three months, either with or without the formality of a further invitation; but even during that time (the second three months) I should not like to regard myself as a fixture, in case of ill success, but would only be a supply, liable to a fortnight’s dismissal or resignation.
Perhaps this is not business-like, — I do not know; but this is the course I should prefer, if it. would be agreeable to the church. Enthusiasm and popularity are often the crackling of thorns, and soon expire. I do not wish to be a hindrance if I cannot be a help.
With regard to coming at once, I think I must not. My own deacons must hint that I ought to finish the quarter here; though, by ought, they mean simply, “Pray do so, if you can.” This would be too long a delay. I wish to help them until they can get supplies, which is only to be done with great difficulty; and as I have given you four Sabbaths I hope you will allow me to give them four in return. I would give them the first and second Sabbaths in February, and two more in a month or six weeks’ time. I owe them much for their kindness, although they insist that the debt lies on their side. Some of them hope, and almost pray, that you may be tired in three months, so that I may be again sent back to them.
Thus, my dear Sir, I have honestly poured out my heart to you. You are too kind. You will excuse me if I err, for I wish to do right to you, to my people, and to all, as being not my own, but bought with a price.
I respect the honesty and boldness of the small minority, and only wonder that the number was not great. I pray God that, if He does not see fit that I should remain with you, the majority may be quite as much the other way at the end of six months, so that I may never divide you into parties.
Pecuniary matters I am well satisfied with. And now one thing is due to every minister, and I pray you to remind the. church of it, namely, that in private, as well as in public, they must all earnestly wrestle in prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I may be sustained in the great work. I am, with the best wishes, for your health, and the greatest respect,
C. H. SPURGEON.