In 1860, the Christian Watchman and Reflector, a Boston Baptist newspaper, secured Charles Spurgeon as an exclusive correspondent. Over that year, Spurgeon wrote 15 letters to the paper. They are being available now for the first time in 150 years. An index of the letters and several background articles can be found here: Charles Spurgeon in the Christian Watchman & Reflector | Index
The editors introduced the third letter with a reference to his letter on slavery (published the previous week) as well as a clarification of the terms of Spurgeon’s correspondence:
The Christian Chronicle mistakes in regarding the letter form Mr. Spurgeon, which it kindly quotes in full, as pertaining to the regular series of letters which he is engaged to write for the Watchman and Reflector. It was rather a volunteer utterance intended to vindicate—which all will agree it fully did—the strong anti-slavery position of the writer. The Chronicle is in error, too, in the impression that Mr. Spurgeon was to write every week In announcing him as our regular correspondent, we quoted his exact words, wherein he said, “I will endeavor to write once a fortnight.” This he has done, and doubtless will continue to do.
Here is the complete text of his third letter:
LETTER FROM REV. C.H. SPURGEON
[Owing to unavoidable circumstances there has been some little delay in placing the following letter from Mr. Spurgeon, our London correspondent, before our readers. It was written, as will be seen, on the day observed as Christmas, (the last being Dec. 26th.) This explains certain references in the letter, the interest of which, with this recognition, will not be diminished.]
Christmas in England—Extraordinary Religions Crusade by Episcopalians and Nonconformists—Change of Worship from Surrey Gardens to Exeter Hall—Work of the Adversary—The Writer’s Alleged denial of Calvinism
TO THE EDITORS OF THE CHRISTIAN WATCHMAN AND REFLECTOR:
MY DEAR FRIENDS:—All England and his wife are feasting to-day, and are trying to make themselves believe that this is Christmas. This last is hard work, seeing that the frost is all gone, the snow melted, and the streets ankle-deep in mud. However, the plum pudding is as richly orthodox as usual, and the roast beef not less glorious. As for me, I have too much on hand to have a whole day’s holiday at once, but am reckoning upon a warm-hearted prayer-meeting with the poor of my flock this evening. The rich will meet their families, and God bless them in their mirth; but there are very many who have no happy household, nor even a fire around which to gather; to these the chapel is a kind of home, and I delight to see them gathering within its wall, like sparrows under the eaves of a house when torrents of rain are falling.
The Christians of London are just commencing a crusade of a somewhat extraordinary kind. They have taken unusual places for worship, and are hoping to attract to them a class of persons who will not enter our regular sanctuaries. There are three bodies in the field. The church of England, using Exeter Hall in the evening, are about to open another campaign in St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. Then there are the Nonconformists, who fix their headquarters at St. James Hall; these, with my dear brother, Rev. W. Brock, at their head, have lately commenced special services in the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton, a place notable for the lowest school of dramatical performances. Judging from the placards which I have often seen on our wall, the “raw head and bloody bones” are very popular at the Britannia on week nights, and it is a noble sight, to see the minister of the Gospel lifting up his voice in such a place on Sabbath evenings. Besides these two associations there is a third just coming to the light of day, consisting of Christians of all denominations, Episcopal and Noncomforming. I must confess a great liking to this last, and am only fearful that some element of discord may arrive to break the league of union. I have just received the following circular from this last body, and I have sent it to you, as it contains interesting matter that may be found useful to your churches in America.
65 Lombard Street, City, Dec., 1859
REV. AND DEAR SIR,,—The united Committee for providing Special Religious Services for the Working Classes especially in the eastern and southern parts of the metropolis finding the following buildings available for their use on the Sunday afternoons and evening, viz.:
The Garrick Theatre, Leman Street, Whitechapel,
Effingham Theatre, Whitechapel Road,
New Concert Hall Limehouse,
Winchester Hall, Minor Theatre, attached to a tavern, Southwark Bridge Road.
Astley’s Horsemanship Circus and Theatre, Westminster Road,
Royal Albion Theatre (late Rotunda) Blackfriars Road,
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Clerkenwell,
will have great pleasure in placing one or more of them at your disposal for the simple preaching of the Word to a portion of that vast multitude in this great city who are daily perishing for lack of knowledge. The date of the engagement, with such exceptions as may he necessary, to be left to the appointment of the committee.
The committee themselves are quite indifferent as to the particular section of the church of Christ with which any clergyman or minister they may invite to assist in these services may be connected ; their only solicitude being to have Christ faithfully and earnestly preached unto the people. Still, to avoid the appearance of any bias on their part, it is the purpose of the committee to arrange a course of services for the ensuing three months, and to assign an equal number of such services to the clergy of the Established Church, and of the evangelical nonconforming bodies.
The mode of conducting the services it is proposed to leave open to the judgment of the officiating clergyman or minister.
The committee on their part promise to use their utmost endeavors to fill the various buildings with the class of persons sought to be benefited ; and believing themselves, that nothing is so likely to strike the senses of the unthinking multitude as a combined movement of this character, they sincerely trust that all denominational distinctions will be held as subordinate to the paramount duty of saving the souls of the perishing.
The committee think it only due to themselves and to the public to state the principal considerations which have influenced them to engage, in some instances, the use of theatres for the carrying out of the objects of the conference on Special Religious Services held November 22d.
1. The deplorable spiritual condition of the work ing classes in London, as shown by the estimate that about 2 in every 100 of the working men are found to attend any place of public worship.
2. The impossibility of obtaining neutral secular buildings in the localities.
3. The unfortunate prejudice existing, as a rule, among the working classes against churches and chapels as such.
4. The smallness of the sum generally required by the lessees for the use of their theatres.
5. The circumstance that the Music Halls in the East End are invariably connected with taverns.
Waiting the favor of as early a reply as possible, believe us. Rev. and Dear Sir,
Your faithful servants,
A. KINNAIRD ) Treasurers
R C. L. BEVAN, )
SAMUEL GURNEY, ) Hon. Secretaries
R N. FOLWER, )
May God speed this good work, and may the theatres be empty six days in the week, and crowded on the seventh, or “first day of the week,” sacred as the memorial day of our Saviour’s resurrection from the dead.
I am now preaching on Sabbath mornings in Exeter Hall, and not at the Surrey Gardens. The proprietors of the last named place had twice attempted to open it on Sunday evenings for music and amusements. I was, however, able to prevent this by threatening to cease my occupation, and as we paid a rent of more than £700 a year, ($3500,) they were not willing to lose so large a sum, and therefore gave up their unhallowed design. Now, however, they have conceived the idea that my preaching injures them; for the people will not come to dance and drink on week days in a place where the Word is thundered out on Sunday mornings. This, I think, is very likely to be a near guess at the truth; for two companies have been broken up since I have preached there, and a blind man can see the end of the present one. I left the place on the very day upon which it was opened for Sunday desecration. This has been a very painful trial to me. For not one-half of my people can get into Exeter Hall, if they were all able to go so far, and alas, not a third of them can make it convenient to walk that distance. However, all things work together for good. Exeter Hall is full; a fresh, company of sinners are brought under the word, and by God’s grace we hope to see a new host of converts.
The devil is doing his best to injure me, and my foes are many. I have just seen a paragraph in which it is stated that I have recanted my Calvinistic sentiments, and am very penitent on account of the mischief I have formerly done by my doctrines. This is but a specimen of the villainous lying to which I am daily subject. I am now quite used to these things, and do not think that those who know me believe any such infamous libels. I fear I have hardly grace enough to have recanted if I had been an Arminian, for I find in me a very strong tendency to conservatism, which nothing but an earthquake can shake. As it is, I shall renounce my Calvinism when I lose my reason, or forsake my God; but not till then. I had rather die than deny the truth. By the grace of God the precious doctrines of grace shall always be my delightful theme.
This letter is quite long enough for a man to write on a holiday, so farewell.
C. H. SPURGEON
Clapham, Dec. 26.