When Charles Spurgeon skyrocketed to prominence in London as a young preacher in his early twenties, he had many critics. Not a few of his detractors were Christians. One of those was the Rev. James Wells of Surrey Tabernacle, an eminent minister who was then at the apex of his career. Wells wrote an editorial in a Christian publication, expressing doubts about Spurgeon’s conversion. He warned that, though Spurgeon spoke some truth and had a partial moral influence, his hearers were likely to be fatally deluded.
After Spurgeon’s mighty Metropolitan Tabernacle was built several years later, he and Wells were church neighbors. One day they chanced to meet on the street, and Wells asked Spurgeon if he had ever seen the inside of Surrey Tabernacle. The younger minister responded that he had not, but would very much like to someday.
Wells, with seeming goodwill, said that if Spurgeon would come some Monday morning he would show him round his church. But he added insultingly that there would then be time enough to thoroughly ventilate the church premises before the following Lord’s Day!
Spurgeon in turn asked Wells if he had ever been inside the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Wells admitted that he had looked in one Saturday and gave the specific date. “Ah,” replied Spurgeon, “that accounts for the delightful fragrance of the services the following Sabbath!”
On a later occasion Dr. Newman Hall, another prominent pastor in Spurgeon’s day and author of the immensely popular book Come to Jesus, was sharply ridiculed in a volume that was published anonymously. Though he knew who the author was, Hall patiently bore the ridicule for a time. But as the caustic volume began to circulate more widely, Hall wrote a letter of protest which was even more insulting than the book that had attacked him.
Hall took the letter to Spurgeon and asked his opinion of it. Having carefully read the correspondence, Spurgeon handed it back, declared it was excellent, agreed that the book’s author deserved it all, but then added that the letter lacked one thing. Hall, being quite gratified with Spurgeon’s response, was all ears to his further suggestion.
“Underneath the signature, ‘Newman Hall’,” coached Spurgeon, “you ought to put the words, ‘Author of Come to Jesus’.”
The two godly men gazed in silence at each other for a moment. Then Hall tore his critical letter in pieces.
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My book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians contains an entire chapter of incidents like these, showing how outstanding servants of Christ responded to the trials and even persecution they faced as they sought to live for the Lord. Their examples have much to teach us about handling hardship and opposition in ways that honor Christ and serve as a powerful testimony to others. I’d love to hear from you if you would care to share a valuable lesson the Lord has taught you about properly processing adversity.
Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie