Spurgeon and the Cholera Epidemic 1854

Spurgeon and the Cholera Epidemic of 1854

It is worth noting that the global pandemic in which we find ourselves is  not comparable to epidemics of former times.  There were not the communications systems and infrastructure in place back then yet, during those times, Christians continued to reveal the love of God through their compassion and good works. There are a lot of considerations today with regard to quarantines and other precautions and there is a love and a wisdom in which we are called to walk. May our lives be sensitive to the leading of His Spirit in this time. All things are for our learning and growth.  There is a fine line between presumption and faith; may we walk circumspectly.  Love to you all.
BT

The following is an article I found interesting:

SPURGEON’S WALK AN EXAMPLE TO US

“As a young village preacher, Charles Spurgeon admired the Puritan ministers who stayed behind to care for the sick and dying during the Great Plague of London in 1665.[1] Now in the fall of 1854, the newly called pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London found himself pastoring his congregation amid a major cholera outbreak in the Broad Street neighborhood just across the river.

How did Spurgeon respond?

1) Prioritize local ministry

During that epidemic of cholera, though I had many engagements in the country, I gave them up that I might remain in London to visit the sick and the dying. I felt that it was my duty to be on the spot in such a time of disease and death and sorrow.[2]

Spurgeon’s popularity had grown throughout the Fenland villages outside of Cambridge during his pastorate at Waterbeach. Even after arriving in London, he continued to be invited to preach in those villages during the week. But during the outbreak, Spurgeon recognized his responsibility to be present with those who were sick and dying. This was not a time to be an itinerant preacher. This was a time to focus on caring for his church and the community in which he lived. He would not outsource this task to his deacons or other church leaders but remained in London in order to fulfill his duty.

2) Adjust as needed, but continue meeting if possible

The Broad Street Cholera Outbreak of 1854 occurred in August and September of that year, and its effects would continue to be felt in the weeks and months following. The neighborhood where Spurgeon’s church met was not quarantined, so they were able to continue meeting throughout those months. Interestingly, no record of the sermons Spurgeon preached during those days remain.[3] Perhaps the outbreak forced the congregation to adjust some of their previous practices, including the transcription of sermons. Additionally, Spurgeon was likely too busy in those days to edit sermons for publication.

However, we know that the congregation continued meeting during those days because the church’s minute books contain records of congregational meetings carried on throughout the fall of 1854. In those books, amid all the pastoral challenges of the outbreak, Spurgeon and his deacons continued to receive new members, pursue inactive members, observe the Lord’s Supper, and practice all the other normal activities of a church. Not only that, but in retrospect, it was particularly during this time, when news of death raged all around the city, that Spurgeon found Londoners most receptive to the gospel.

If there ever be a time when the mind is sensitive, it is when death is abroad. I recollect, when first I came to London, how anxiously people listened to the gospel, for the cholera was raging terribly. There was little scoffing then.[4]

In other words, not only did Spurgeon gather his church amid the outbreak, but he saw in these gatherings a powerful opportunity for the gospel and proclaimed the gospel boldly.

Pastors need to exercise wisdom when it comes to gathering as a church, especially when the health and lives of people are at stake. Certainly, adjustments will need to be made and priority will have to be given to only the most important aspects of our gatherings. But when such gatherings are possible, pastors should realize that they can be tremendous opportunities for preaching the gospel to those who are desperately looking for hope.

3) Visit the sick

As the pastor, Spurgeon not only continued to gather his church, but he also made himself available throughout the week, working tirelessly to visit the sick and grief-stricken.

In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighborhood in which I labored was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave.[5]

In these visits, Spurgeon prayed with the sick and grieving, and pointed them to the hope of the gospel. But more than just bringing gospel content, his presence communicated something of God’s comfort to his people. Though these visits were often fearful and full of grief, there were also glorious occasions of faith and joy.

I went home, and was soon called away again; that time, to see a young woman. She also was in the last extremity, but it was a fair, fair sight. She was singing, — though she knew she was dying, — and talking to those round about her, telling her brothers and sisters to follow her to Heaven, bidding goodbye to her father, and all the while smiling as if it had been her marriage day. She was happy and blessed.[6]

4) Be open to new evangelistic opportunities

Spurgeon did not limit himself merely to visiting members of his congregation but was willing to visit “persons of all ranks and religions.”

All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and. saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face! When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things Divine.[7]

On one occasion, at three in the morning, Spurgeon was summoned to visit a dying man. Surprisingly, this was not a Christian, but someone who had opposed him:

That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips.[8]

Spurgeon went right away, but by the time he arrived, there was little he could do.

I stood by his side, and spoke to him, but he gave me no answer. I spoke again; but the only consciousness he had was a foreboding of terror, mingled with the stupor of approaching death. Soon, even that was gone, for sense had fled, and I stood there, a few minutes, sighing with the poor woman who had watched over him, and altogether hopeless about his soul.[9]

Not every evangelistic opportunity will result in dramatic conversions. But during times of disease, surprising opportunities may arise. Therefore, take advantage of any opportunities you might have to preach the gospel to those who are suffering.

5) Entrust your life to God

As Spurgeon gave himself to this pastoral work, he soon found himself physically and mentally exhausted. Not only that, but he began to fear for his own safety. Yet, amid his fears, he learned to entrust himself to God and to His faithfulness.

At first, I gave myself up with youthful ardor to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions; but, soon, I became weary in body, and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.

I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when, as God would have it, my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Great Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore, in a good bold handwriting, these words: —

“Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”

The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying, in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The Providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window, I gratefully acknowledge; and in the remembrance of its marvelous power, I adore the Lord my God.[10]

Here, Spurgeon does not promise that no Christian will ever die of sickness. Rather, the Christian “[needs] not dread [sickness], for he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by death.”[11]

Once again, pastors must exercise wisdom and take appropriate precautions as they visit those who are dying. At the same time, our security cannot be in those precautions, but it must be in God. As we entrust our lives to God and faithfully carry out our responsibilities, we have an opportunity to demonstrate what hope and peace look like in the midst of death.

Conclusion

In many ways, Spurgeon’s example during the cholera outbreak of 1854 follows the pattern of normal pastoral ministry on every occasion. Pastors are to be present with their people, lead in the gatherings of the church, care for those who are suffering, be faithful in evangelism, and continue trusting in God through it all. The main difference is that during an outbreak, there is a heightened reality of suffering and death. Therefore, the work becomes more intense and urgent, and the opportunities for the gospel multiply. As pastors and church leaders consider their response to the coronavirus in our present day, there is much to figure out practically and logistically. But the core of our ministry remains: Preach the gospel.

Speaking in 1866, amid another cholera outbreak, Spurgeon gave this charge to pastors and all Christians:

And now, again, is the minister’s time; and now is the time for all of you who love souls. You may see men more alarmed than they are already; and if they should be, mind that you avail yourselves of the opportunity of doing them good. You have the Balm of Gilead; when their wounds smart, pour it in. You know of Him who died to save; tell them of Him. Lift high the cross before their eyes. Tell them that God became man that man might be lifted to God. Tell them of Calvary, and its groans, and cries, and sweat of blood. Tell them of Jesus hanging on the cross to save sinners. Tell them that —

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”

Tell them that He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. Tell them that He is able to save even at the eleventh hour, and to say to the dying thief, “today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”[12]

Copied from:
https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/blog-entries/spurgeon-and-the-cholera-outbreak-of-1854

Thought for Today – Eternal Life

Thought for Today

Eternal Life

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you are not having life in yourselves. He who is eating my flesh and is drinking my blood is having life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day, for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. He who keeps on eating my flesh and drinking my blood, in me is continually abiding and I in him”
John 6:53-56 (Wuest Translation)

The Wuest Translation brings out the correct Greek Parsing in these very significant verses where the “ing” speaks of a continuously feasting upon Him who is the True Bread of Life. They who feed upon the eternal living bread are filled with the eternal living life of Him. If an individual ceases to eat they cease to know of the fire and the life of Him who holds us in the mystery of His Life.

“The appetite grows for what it feeds on”
I.B. Wells

Brian Troxel

The Fear of the Lord

The Fear of the Lord

“But you shall fear the LORD your God,
and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies”

2 Kings 17:39

Deliverance and freedom are fruits of the fear of the Lord. When we touch His Holy Presence there is a peace which settles over our entire being. Peace is the atmosphere of a life that is right with God. Through His Presence we come to know the wonder of the “fear of the Lord”. There is a sanctity which eradicates sin. The Seraphim (Fiery Ones) who stand before Him must shield their eyes from the majestic gaze of God. John in the Book of Revelation, who was walking in the fullness of the Spirit, fell down as one dead when he saw the Glorified Jesus. Men and women who do not fear God, do not know Him.

May He awaken us again to the benefits of knowing and walking in this wonder. In fearing Him we will once again discover the blessings associated with its beauty.

“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” (Psalm 19:9)
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him” (Psalm 33:18)
“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence” (Proverbs 14:26)
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 14:27)

SELAH
(Pause and Consider)

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judæa and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied
Acts 9:31

The early Church walked and lived in the atmosphere of the fear of the Lord. They knew well the consequences of the actions of Ananias and Sapphira. They understood His Holiness and Fire and walked accordingly.

God gives us the key to “understanding the Fear of the Lord”.

“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; THEN shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God”
Proverbs 2:3-5

The understanding of the fear of the Lord belongs to those who have sought for it and have discovered it riches.

“By humility and the fear of the Lord
are riches, and honour, and life”
Proverbs 22:4

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today – Charles Spurgeon

Thought for Today

“For he satisfieth the longing soul,
and filleth the hungry soul with goodness”
Psalm 107:9

“It is well to have longing, and the more intense they are the better. The Lord will satisfy soul-longings, however great and all absorbing they may be. Let us greatly long, for the Lord will greatly give. We are never in a right state of mind when we are contented with ourselves, and are free from longings. Desires for more grace and groanings which cannot be uttered, are growing pains, and we should wish to feel them more and more. Blessed Spirit make us sigh and cry after better things and for more of the best things.

Hunger is by no means a pleasant sensation. Yet blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. Such persons shall not only have their hunger relieved with a little food, but they shall be filled”
– Charles Spurgeon

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst
after righteousness: for they shall be filled”
Matthew 5:6

Thought for Today – Christmas

Thought for Today

Christmas

“And when they were come into the house,
they saw the young child with Mary his mother,
and fell down, and worshipped him
Matthew 2:11

Even though, in the past, I have not been a real enthusiast of the Christmas “season” (Please read: Grace for Others), I have become more aware of the spirit of the world endeavouring to discount its message and to denigrate its observance. I personally go out of my way now in my personal and business interactions with others to make mention of this season. I do this in spite of the fact that it is not the actual date of Christ’s birth, and in spite of the need to ignore the mixture with the fable of some jolly fellow who goes around giving gifts to all who have been “nice”. (In some convoluted way it portrays to a large extent the “gospel” of our day; if you are “nice”, God will give good gifts to you). The real truth of Christmas is the gift of Christ Himself; His person, His Life and His majestic wonder. This may be the one time of year that some may hear His name in a story or a carol.

The three Magi came from afar; their journey was not an easy one nor a convenient one. They followed the heavenly sign and when they found Him, they immediately “worshipped Him”! The true worship of God comes from our seeing of Him. May we be worshippers in our hearts and give freely as we have freely received. His unspeakable Gift to us is one that we can never repay; but that is the purpose and the nature of any true gift.

Σ

“Glory in the highest places to God,
and upon earth peace among men of good will
Luke 2:14
(Wuest Translation and the literal Greek rendering)

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today – The Cycle

Thought for Today

“The historical cycle seems to be: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy, from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more”
– Alexander F. Tytler (1747-1813)

This is an accurate description seen  today in the context of both spiritual and political realms. The days ahead will require a living faith to birth the courage and intensity to stand against the darkness,  clothed in the garments of “tolerance”,  declaring that “evil is good and good is evil”.

Brian Troxel

 

 

Thought for Today – Our Calling

Thought for Today

Our Calling

“For even hereunto were ye called:
because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps…”
1 Peter 2:21-22

Let the majesty of His call penetrate our hearts, and the grandeur of His purposes ascend above our experience. Let His call jolt us into the realization of our need for Him to be our life. We are to “follow His steps”, to climb heights unimaginable and unattainable by our own strength! The righteousness we have been called to must be apprehended upon the potency of faith. This living faith is undaunted by the magnitude of the call and our own utter weakness. How tragic it is for His people to settle for a justification by faith, rather than the full glory of a sanctified life lived unto Him. Those who knew Him, loved Him and pursued Him throughout the ages had a mark set before them. There was a divine aspiration, filling their hearts with a passion that eclipsed the religious of the day.

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren,
and exhort you by the Lord Jesus,
that as ye have received of us
how ye ought to walk and to please God,
so ye would abound more and more”
1 Thessalonians 4:1

May we hear the voice of Him who calls us to larger living and deeper places of abiding and drawing from Him; the power to live above and beyond the status quo of our day. May He open our eyes to see the heights and depths to which we have been called, that we may turn from any dependence upon ourselves, and launch our hearts into the great ocean of a grace which is able to lift us up and to make us to stand in this day.

Abounding More and More

Let us pursue an “abounding more and more” unto the perfect day. Let us hear the call with the hearing of the spiritual ear, without which there can be no arising. One who rests in the doctrine of justification, without a passion to know the power and wonder of the true righteousness of God produced and sustained by faith, has ceased to hear the Call of God in Christ!

“So then faith cometh by hearing,
and hearing by the word of God”
Romans 10:17

It is not a day to grow weary or to settle for meager living with faithless horizons. May God give us “ears that hear” that our faith would be energized with the certainty that He who has called us is able to fulfill His Call.

The fervency of an individual’s faith is revealed in its pursuit of Him. Those who see the summits of the call of God in Christ will not allow their experience to determine His Call; they have come to the place where the Call begins to determine their experience.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”
Proverbs 4:18

To those who are truly justified in Christ, the path is as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect Day. A path is not a resting place; a path is the way to get to a destination. It is our great Shepherd who leads those who follow Him, in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3).

“For even hereunto were ye called:
because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps…”

Please read Ephesians 1:17-23.
Meditate and feast upon
the Riches available to us in Christ!

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today – Hedged In

Thought for Today

Hedged In

“Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?”
Job 3:23

The confinements of God serve His end to those who understand His ways. Liberty in the Spirit often comes to those who feel hedged in in the flesh. The light of God is given in times of darkness. The constrictions of circumstances bring enlargement, patience and strength to those who see beyond the walls of this life. There is a hidden ministry, veiled from the prisoner, during the silent and painful work of a pearl being formed. The graces of God must be fashioned in the life of His own in the dark and lonely experiences of life.

“And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison,
a place where the king’s prisoners were bound:
and he was there in the prison”
Genesis 39:20

There are dark places within the soul of man which require dark times to bring and fill them with the light of God! Joseph could not comprehend the end God had determined for him. He had a dream of authority in the family of God, but he had never even considered the greater sphere in which he would rule and reign! God’s end is always larger than what we can see. What was the secret hidden in Joseph’s captivity?

“But the Lord was with Joseph…”
Genesis 39:21

There is treasure locked within the dark times of our lives. There are purposes to be mined in the deep places of confinement and loneliness. The promise of greater things is bound up within our faithfulness to serve God in these prisons. Joseph’s faithfulness to God was the key to his release. His faithfulness to the gift of interpreting dreams became the very means of unlocking his prison door.

Let not the dark places crush your vision. Let not despondency rob you of your service unto the King of kings. Remain faithful in every circumstance to serve and honor God; for we shall surely reap in proportion to our sowing. We will stand in the Day of harvest, bringing our sheaves to lay at the feet of the One alone who is worthy.

“I have remembered thy name,
O Lord, in the night,
and have kept thy law”
Psalm 119:55

Σ

“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness,
and hidden riches of secret places,
that thou mayest know that I, the Lord,
which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel”
Isaiah 45:3

Brian Troxel

The Eternal Question

Thought for Today

The Eternal question

Christ seen through the eyes of the philosopher,
     view Him through the opinions of men.
Christ seen through the eyes of a Christian believer,
     view Him as a teacher or teaching.
Christ seen through the eyes of a disciple,
     view Him as Lord and Master.

To the philosopher,
     a point of curiosity.
To the believer,
     a word to believe.
To the disciple,
     a word to obey.

“But whom say ye that I am?”

Matthew 16:15

Brian Troxel