Sermons from the Penny Pulpit
CHAPTER XXVIII. ...Dr. Campbell was a successor of Whitefield, and was pastor
of the church at the Tabernacle in Finsbury, London, and also of the Tottenham Court
Road chapel. These chapels are both in London, and about three miles apart. They
were built for Mr. Whitefield, and occupied by him for years.
Dr. Campbell was also at that time editor of the British Banner, the Christian Witness, and of one or two other periodicals. His voice was such that he did not preach, but gave his time to the editing of those papers. He lived in the parsonage in which Whitefield resided, and used the same library, I believe, that Whitefield had used. Whitefield's portrait hung in his study in the Tabernacle. The savor of his name was still there; yet I must say that the spirit that had been upon him, was not very apparent in the church, at the time I went there. I said that Dr. Campbell did not preach. He still held the pastorate, resided in the parsonage, and drew the salary; but he supplied his pulpit by employing, for a few weeks at a time, the most popular ministers that could be employed, to preach to his people. I began my labors there early in May. Those who are acquainted with the workings of such a constant change in the ministry, as they had at the Tabernacle, would not expect religion in the church, to be in a flourishing condition.
Dr. Campbell's house of worship was large. It was compactly seated, and could accommodate full three thousand persons. A friend of mine took particular pains to ascertain which would hold the greatest number of people, the Tabernacle in Moorfields or Finsbury, or the great Exeter Hall, of which everybody has heard. It was ascertained that the Tabernacle would seat some hundreds more than Exeter Hall.
CHAPTER XXIX. LABORS IN THE TABERNACLE, MOORFIELDS, LONDON. I HAD accepted
Dr. Campbell's cordial invitation to supply his pulpit for a time, and accordingly,
after the May meetings I put in, in earnest, for a revival; though I said no such
thing to Dr. Campbell, or anybody else, for some weeks. I preached a course of sermons
designed to convict the people of sin, as deeply and as universally as possible.
I saw from Sabbath to Sabbath, and from evening to evening, that the Word was taking
great effect. On Sabbath day, I preached morning and evening; and I also preached
on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. On Monday evening, we had a
general prayer meeting in the Tabernacle. At each of those meetings I addressed the
people on the subject of prayer. Our congregations were very large; and always on
Sabbath, and Sabbath evenings, the house was crowded... Dr. Campbell told me that
the men stationed at the doors of the Tabernacle, reported several thousands more
than could at any one time get into the house. This arose from the fact that multitudes
entered the doors, and finding no place to sit or stand, would give place to others.
The interest was so great, that a place of worship that would hold many thousands,
would have been just as full as the Tabernacle... Whence they all came, Dr. Campbell
did not know, and no one could tell; but that hundreds and thousands of them were
converted, there is no reason to doubt. Indeed, I saw and conversed with vast numbers,
and labored in this way to the full limit of my strength.
On Saturday evening, inquirers and converts would come to the study for conversation. Great numbers came every week, and conversions multiplied. People came, as I learned, from every part of the city. Many people walked several miles every Sabbath to attend the meetings. Soon I began to be accosted in the streets, in different parts of the city, by people who knew me, and had been greatly blessed in attending our meetings. Indeed, the Word of God was blessed, greatly blessed in London at that time.
One day Dr. Campbell requested me to go in, and make a few remarks to the scholars in the British schoolroom. I did so, and began by asking them what they proposed to do with their education, and dwelt upon their responsibility in that respect. I tried to show them how much good they might do, and how great a blessing their education would be to them and to the world, if they used it aright, and what a great curse it would be to them and to the world, if they used it selfishly. The address was short; but that point was strongly urged upon them. Dr. Campbell afterward remarked to me, that a goodly number, I forget now how many, had been received to the church, who were at that time awakened, and led to seek the salvation of their souls. He mentioned it as a remarkable fact, because, he said, he had no expectation that such a result would follow.
The fact is, that the ministers in England, as well as in this country, had lost sight, in a great measure, of the necessity of pressing present obligations home upon the consciences of the people. "Why," said Dr. Campbell, when he told me of this, "I don't understand it. You did not say anything but what anybody else might have said just as well." "Yes," I replied, "they might have said it; but would they have said it? Would they have made as direct and pointed an appeal to the consciences of those young people, as I did?" This is the difficulty. Ministers talk about sinners; and do not make the impression that God commands them, now to repent; and thus they throw their ministry away...
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