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
Here is the complete text of his seventh letter:
LETTER FROM REV. C.H. SPURGEON
Apologetic—Treaty with France, what It promises—New Reform Bill—Demagogues—Taxes—Middle Classes—Row at St. Georges —Daily Prayer-Meetings.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE CHRISTIAN WATCHMAN AND REFLECTOR:
You have alarmed me by your information that you have had no recent letter from me. Now I have written and posted two which have not yet appeared in the Watchman. Where are these? Has a steamer been lost, or is there a hole in the letter bags? Really, I am not to blame, for considering my great journeyings and preachings, I think I have been a very exemplary correspondent. Ten sermons a week on a minimum is not calculated to leave a vacuum in my time, and should I fail at intervals, your readers must have great forbearance with me.
The treaty with France seems to be the main article of conversation in our political world, and as far as I can judge, almost every man seems to approve of it upon principle, though nobody has much idea that it will be of any personal advantage to himself individually. We may not go to war for an idea, but the English people will spend their money, and even risk important interests in commerce, if they can see a valuable idea fully carried out. Free trade with all the world is an accepted object of our policy, and no petty interest must stand in the way of its achievement. To bind all lands together in the bonds of commercial interests, and to fuse all nationalities into one great peaceful family, is a noble object for the enlightened politicians; and although as Christians we may rely upon another and more mighty weapon for the destruction of the empire of war, yet we welcome every agency which lends its aid to the consummation for which we devoutly labor. We do not believe that any considerations of self-interest will in themselves be forcible enough to restrain the violent passions of nations, but while the grace of God shall subdue the vengeful feelings of the godly in every country, these more sordid motives may add their weight to the influences of the peacemakers, and may calm the ravings of the godless, with whom better reasons have no power. In this respect let every Christian find reason for hope in the signing of treaties of commerce among the nations of the world.
A new reform bill has been announced but no interest is felt either for or against it. No one cares whether it is carried or not. This is a very bad time for demagogues. There are no grievances to excite a burning indignation in the fiery soul of the valiant place-hunter. A chartist is an extinct animal, or at least if a single specimen may be seen in a year, it must be in some unknown beer-house, where pots and politics are mutual assistants. Plenty of work, good wages, brisk trade, and unrestricted liberty, and who cares for politics ? When bread is dear, work scarce and trade dull, every man complains that the State is badly managed; but prosperous seasons are not favorable to the agitations of the professional disturbers of the peace.
There is a laudable desire to remove the taxes from the poor, and lay them upon the rich, which is a proof that the enfranchised classes are not fond of class legislation, but are anxious to deal justly with their fellow-countrymen. We shall soon need a defender for the middle-classes, for when the shoe is made very easy to others, the pinch upon our foot becomes more and more severe. Income tax is a boon which you cannot fully appreciate; even those of us who feel its benign influence are apt to think it a blessing in disguise, and in very objectionable disguise, too. Apart from this last turn of the screw, there is an apathy concerning all sorts of political controversy, a stillness calm and deep, the rest of a people who can wait for the whole of their free inheritance, since every year gives them some addition to their privileges and some answer to their peaceful demands.
The great row at St. George’s in the East still continues. The Puseyite rector will not yield to the will of his Protestant parishioners, and consequently the riot continues every Sunday, to the disgrace of religion, and injury of morals. Last Sabbath day the rector and curates endeavored to drag some persons out of the seats appointed for the choristers; the Protestants, on the other hand, sat firm, and when removed by force, they summoned the rector, curate and choristers for assaults made upon them, and to the delight of a crowded court the white surplices were mulcted in fines, and sent on their rueful way sorrowing exceedingly. This hubbub will work good in the old Establishment; it may bring matters to a crisis, and compel her to avow herself as either Protestant or Romish; at any rate, it will widen the breach between the Evangelical and Puseyite parties, and it is always well when there is a wide distinction between truth and error. Peace with Rome can never be desired by true Protestants, and the strongest opposition is better than the slightest compromise.
Daily prayer-meetings continue to multiply all over London, and there is a manifest unction resting upon the hearts of God’s people constraining them to labor for the salvation of those who are out of the way. New fields of labor have been opened up and pursued with a vigor heretofore quite unparalleled in these lukewarm times. Young evangelists are rising up, and among them some who continue to be laymen in name, although their whole souls are given to the work of the ministry. The divisions in the church of Christ are healing, we are working together as one man, and we are looking and longing for better and more glorious days.
I will write more next week, and am yours very truly,
C. H. SPURGEON