THE PASTORS' COLLEGE
It is divine to create; it is heroic to stand alone; and that man best exemplifies the divine and heroic who single-handed begins an enterprise for the good of his fellow-man. There are usually found plenty of people who are willing to spread a cause already under way, and the whole world will run tumultuously after a great success. As at the beginning of creation we find God, so at the beginning of any great enterprise in the earth we find the godly man or woman.
Mr. Spurgeon began many things which he intended should be a blessing to mankind, and for that characteristic he deserves the everlasting praise of humanity. Any person who goes through life laying foundation stones for new sources of delight or benefit will be remembered long after he has passed from the stage of action ; for these fountains which he releases from the rocky mountain side will flow on in ceaseless rivers.
The Pastors' College is a peculiar institution, differing from anything else of its kind, and yet one greatly needed for the furtherance or the Kingdom of the Lord. Many measures connected with the practical theological training of men for Christian work have received the attention of great minds and have been discussed for many years, yet we seem as far from agreement at present concerning the proper solution of the question as we were a hundred years ago.
Just what training is necessary, and just what is to be considered a call of God is one of those important matters to which Mr. Spurgeon gave his attention, and to which many other men of equal ability ought to give their attention. As the Gospel is intended to change the heart and not to specially discipline the mind, and as it is a question of moral influence and not of scientific erudition, the preacher or teacher could make use of any event or influence which would produce the desired change, whether or not it be in accordance with theory or precedent.
As there are many different classes of people to be instructed in the way of righteousness, belonging to all grades of moral and intellectual culture, so it would seem that there is needed for their instruction a class of people especially adapted to each order of the hearers. A man may be educated altogether too much to accomplish a great work among a certain class of people ; another may be far too ignorant to be of any value among the scholars whose minds he would influence and whose hearts he would touch. One person's experience may especially fit him for labors among a definite class in society which would at the same time unfit him for the accomplishment of any good in any other class in society. The poor are to be saved, as well as the rich; the ignorant need the Gospel as much as the wise; and the truths of Scripture are far better inculcated by persons who are in touch with the people they address.
Mr. Spurgeon evidently founded the Pastors' College upon the idea that God calls men to the ministry, and consequently selects them from many different grades of society. It was not in his idea to found an institution to educate them out of the very position into which God called them. But rather to supply them with better means for working in their own grade and in their own place.
He prayed much for an opportunity to do good in the name of his Master, and in response to his petition the door was opened for the establishment of this theological school. It has accomplished great things indeed in itself, but will accomplish far more in the number of other institutions like it because of the great demand.
Seeing that an intelligent devout coal miner could preach with the most effective illustrations to coal miners out of his own experience; seeing that a sailor could preach to sailors; and a teacher to teachers, he used his excellent common sense in assisting such representatives of the people to do more efficiently the work to which the Lord had apparently called them. He did not accept the testimony of every emotional or deluded individual as evidence that God had called him to be a minister, but he only accepted that inward conviction as a part of the evidence with which to judge a man's fitness for the Lord's work. He certainly required on the part of his students that they should have sincere piety and should feel convinced beyond contradiction that they must preach the Gospel. But he also had the sanctified sense to see that if God did call a man to preach the Gospel He would also call men to hear him.
When He sent Philip into the desert of Gaza He had already provided the hearer, the Ethiopian, to whom Philip was to preach.
Men are called to preach the Gospel if other men are called to hear them preach itthat is, if they preach the true and simple Gospel presented by Jesus of Nazareth. The students who have attended the College thus far have been selected from almost all different trades that could be found. They have been required to show their ability to preach and their power to convert the souls of men before they were accepted as students at the College. Hence, the education they received was given as a result of God's call and not as a preparation for His call. The inception of the idea of opening a school and the progress of the work until he had an excellent building well fitted to the needs of students engaged in the study of the Bible, all came naturally in one sense, and miraculously in another sense. For Mr. Spurgeon simply "did the next thing" and trusted in the Lord that when one thing was well done he would be led to another. He was so led; and the vast good which the graduates of his school are now doing all over the civilized world is one of the wonders of this time. America has almost equal reason with England to send up her thanksgiving to God for the great man who had the courage and the divine wisdom to begin an enterprise of such great importance.
Mr. Spurgeon has told in a most concise manner the history of the College, and his own words carry better authority and clearer ideas than anything which others could write. In 1870 he said:
"The College was the first important institution commenced by the pastor, and it still remains his first-born and best beloved. To train ministers of the Gospel is a most excellent work, and when the Holy Spirit blesses the effort, the result is of the utmost importance both to the Church and to the world."
"The Pastors' College, commenced in 1856, has now entered on its fourteenth year, and during this long period has unceasingly been remembered of the God of heaven, to whom all engaged in it offer reverent thanksgiving. When it was commenced, I had not a remote idea of whereunto it would grow. There were springing up around me, as my own spiritual children, many earnest young men who felt an irresistible impulse to preach the Gospel, and yet with half an eye it could be seen that their want of education would be a sad hindrance to them. It was not in my heart to bid them cease their preaching, and had I done so, they would in all probability have ignored my recommendation. As it seemed that preach they would, though their attainments were very slender, no other course was open but to give them an opportunity to educate themselves for the work. The Holy Spirit had very evidently set his seal upon the work of one of them, Mr. T. W. Medhurst, now of Landport, by conversions wrought under his open-air addresses; it seemed therefore to be a plain matter of duty to instruct this youthful Apollos still further that he might be fitted for wider usefulness. No college at that time appeared to me to be suitable for the class of men that the providence and grace of God drew around me. They were mostly poor, and most of the colleges involved necessarily a considerable outlay to the student; for even where the education was free, books, clothes, and other incidental expenses required a considerable sum per annum. Moreover, it must be frankly admitted that my views of the Gospel and of the mode of training preachers were and are somewhat peculiar. I may have been uncharitable in my judgment, but I thought the Calvinism of the theology usually taught to be very doubtful and the fervor of the generality of the students to be far behind their literary attainments. It seemed to me that preachers of the grand old truths of the Gospel, ministers suitable for the masses, were most likely to be found in an institution where preaching and divinity would be the main objects, and not degrees and other insignia of human learning.
"I felt that, without interfering with the laudable objects of other colleges, I could do good in my own way. These and other considerations led me to take a few tried young men, and to put them under some able minister, that he might train them in the Scriptures, and in other knowledge helpful to the understanding and proclamation of the truth. This step appeared plain ; but how the work was to be conducted and supported was the questiona question, be it added, solved almost before it occurred.
"Two friends, Mr. Winsor and Mr. W. Olney, both deacons of the Church, promised aid, which, with what I could give myself, enabled me to take one student, and I set about to find a tutor. In Mr. George Rogers, then the pastor of the Independent Church, Albany Road, Camberwell, God sent us the very best man. He had been preparing for such work, and was anxiously waiting for it. This gentleman who has remained during all this period our principal tutor, is a man of Puritanic stamp, deeply learned, orthodox in doctrine, judicious, witty, devout, earnest, liberal in spirit, and withal juvenile in heart to an extent most remarkable in one of his years. My connection with him has been one of uninterrupted comfort and delight. The most sincere affection exists between us; we are of one mind and one heart; and, what is equally important, he has in every case secured not merely the respect, but the filial love of every student. Into this beloved minister's house the first students were introduced, and for a considerable period they were domiciled as members of his family.
"Encouraged by the readiness with which the young men found spheres of labor, and by their singular success in soul-winning, I enlarged the number; but the whole means of sustaining them came from my own purse. The large sale of my sermons in America, together with my dear wife's economy, enabled me to spend from ?(6oo (about $3,000) to ?8oo (about $4,000) in a year in my own favorite work; but on a sudden, owing to my denunciations of the then existing slavery in the States, my entire resources from that 'brook Cherith' were dried up.
"I paid as large sums as I could from my own income, and resolved to spend all I had, and then take the cessation of my means as a voice from the Lord to stay the effort, as I am firmly persuaded that we ought under no pretense to go into debt. On one occasion I proposed the sale of my horse and carriage, although these were almost absolute necessaries to me on account of continual journeys in preaching the Word. This my friend Mr. Rogers would not hear of, and actually offered to be the loser rather than this should be done. Then it was that I told my difficulties to my people, and the weekly Offering commenced; but the incomings from that source were so meager as to be hardly worth calculating upon. I was brought to the last pound, when a letter came from a banker in the city, informing me that a lady, whose name I have never been able to discover, had deposited a sum of ?200 (about $1,000) to be used for the education of young men for the ministry. How did my heart leap for joy! I threw myself then and henceforth upon the bounteous care of the Lord, whom I desired with my whole heart to glorify by this effort.
"Some weeks after, another ?100 (about $500) came in, from the same bank, as I was informed from another hand. Soon after Mr. Phillips, a beloved deacon of the Church at the Tabernacle, began to provide an annual supper for the friends of the College, at which considerable sums have from year to year been given. A dinner was also given by my liberal publishers, Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, to celebrate the publishing of my five-hundredth weekly sermon, at which ?5oo (about $2,500) were raised and presented to the funds. The College grew every month and the number of students rapidly advanced from one to forty. Friends known and unknown, from far and near, were moved to give little or much to my work, and so the funds increased as the need enlarged. Then another earnest deacon of the Church, Mr. Murrell, espoused as his especial work the weekly offering, and by the unanimous voice of the Church under my care, the College was adopted as its own child. Since that hour the weekly offering has been a steady source of income, till in the year 1869 the amount reached exactly ?1,869 (about $9,345).
"There have been during this period times of great trial of my faith; but after a season of straitness, never amounting to absolute want, the Lord has always interposed and sent me large sums (on one occasion ?1,000 (about $5,000), from unknown donors. When the Orphanage was thrust upon me, it did appear likely that this second work would drain the resources of the first, and it is very apparent that it does attract to itself some of the visible sources of supply; but my faith is firm that the Lord can as readily keep both works in action as one. My own present inability to do so much, by way of preaching abroad, occasions naturally the failure of another great source of income; and as my increasing labors at home will in all probability diminish that stream in perpetuity, there is another trial of faith. Yet, if the Lord wills the work to be continued, He will send His servant a due portion of the gold and silver which are all His own; and therefore as I wait upon Him in prayer, the all-sufficient Provider will supply all my needs. Nearly ?5,000 (about $25,000) is annually required for the College, and the same sum is needed for the Orphanage; but God will move His people to liberality, and we shall see greater things than these.
"While speaking of pecuniary matters, it may be well to add that, as many of the young men trained in the College have raised new congregations and gathered fresh churches. another need has arisennamely, money for building chapels. It is ever so in Christ's work; one link draws on another, one effort makes another needed. For chapel-building, the College funds could do but little, though they have freely been used to support men while they are collecting congregations; but the Lord found for me one of His stewards, who, on the condition that his name remains unknown, has hitherto, as the Lord has prospered him, supplied very princely amounts for the erection of places of worship, of which more than forty have been built, or so greatly renovated and enlarged as to be virtually new structures. Truly may it be said, 'What hath God wrought!'
"Pecuniary needs, however, have made up but a small part of our cares. Many have been my personal exercises in selecting the men. Candidates have always been plentiful, and the choice has been wide; but it is a serious responsibility to reject any, and yet more to accept them for training. When mistakes have been made, a second burden has been laid upon me in the dismissal of those who appeared to be unfit. Even with the most careful management, and all the assistance of tutors and friends, no human foresight can secure that in every case a man shall be what we believed and hoped. A brother may be exceedingly useful as an occasional preacher; he may distinguish himself as a diligent student; he may succeed at first in the ministry; and yet, when trials of temper and character occur in the pastorate, he may be found wanting.
"We have had comparatively few causes for regret of this sort, but there have been some such, and these pierce us with many sorrows. I devoutly bless God that He has sent to the College some of the holiest, soundest, and most self-denying preachers I know, and I pray that He may continue to do so; but it would be more than a miracle if all should excel. While thus speaking of trials connected with the men themselves, it is due to our gracious God to bear testimony that these have been comparatively light, and are not worthy to be compared with the great joy which we experience in seeing no less than two hundred and seven brethren still serving the Lord according to their measure of gift, and all, it is believed, earnestly contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints; nor is the joy less in remembering that eleven have sweetly fallen asleep after having fought a good fight. At this hour some of our most flourishing Baptist Churches are presided over by pastors trained in our College, and as years shall add ripeness of experience and stability of character, others will be found to stand in the front rank of the Lord's host.
"The young brethren are boarded generally in twos and threes, in the houses of our friends around the Tabernacle, for which the College pays a moderate weekly amount The plan of separate lodging we believe to be far preferable to having all under one roof; for, by the latter mode, men are isolated from general family habits, and are too apt to fall into superabundant levity. The circumstances of the families who entertain our young friends are generally such that they are not elevated above the social position which in all probability they will have to occupy in future years, but are kept in connection with the struggles and conditions of every. day life.
"Devotional habits are cultivated to the utmost, and the students are urged to do as much evangelistic work as they can. The severe pressure put upon them to make the short term as useful as possible, leaves small leisure for such efforts, but this is in most instances faithfully economized. Although our usual period is two years, whenever it is thought right the term of study is lengthened to three or four years; indeed, there is no fixed rule, all arrangements being ordered by the circumstances and attainments of each individual.
"As before hinted, our numbers have greatly grown, and now range from eighty to one hundred. Very promising men, who are suddenly thrown in our way, are received at any time, and others who are selected from the main body of applicants come in at the commencement of terms. The church at the Tabernacle continues to furnish a large quota of men, and as these have usually been educated for two or more years in our Evening Classes, they are more advanced and better able to profit by our two years of study. We have no difficulty in finding spheres for men who are ready and fitted for them. There is no reason to believe that the supply of trained ministers is in advance of the demand. Even on the lowest ground of consideration, there is yet very much land to be possessed; and when men break up fresh soil, as ours are encouraged to do, the field is the world, and the prayer for more laborers is daily more urgent. If the Lord would but send us funds commensurate, there are hundreds of neighborhoods needing the pure Gospel, which we could by His grace change from deserts into gardens. How far this is a call upon the reader let him judge as in the sight of God. Shall there be the gifts and graces of the Spirit given to the Church, and shall there not also be sufficient bestowed of the earthly treasure? How much owest thou unto my Lord?
"The College was for some little time aided by the zealous services of Mr. W. Cubitt, of Thrapstone, who died among us, enjoying our highest esteem. Mr. Gracey, the classical tutor, a most able brother, is one of ourselves, and was in former years a student, though from possessing a solid education, he needed little instruction from us except in theology. In him we have one of the most efficient tutors living, a man fitted for any post requiring thorough scholarship and aptness in communicating knowledge. Mr. Fergusson, in the English elementary classes, does the first work upon the rough stones of the quarry, and we have heard from the men whom he has taught in the Evening Classes, speeches and addresses which would have adorned any assembly, proving to demonstration his ability to cope with the difficulties of uncultured and ignorant minds. Mr. Johnson, who zealously aids in the evening, is also a brother precisely suited to the post which he occupies.
"These Evening Classes afford an opportunity to Christian men engaged during the day to obtain an education for nothing during their leisure time, and very many avail themselves of the privilege. Nor must I forget to mention Mr. Selway, who takes the department of physical science, and by his interesting experiments and lucid descriptions, gives to his listeners an introduction of those departments of knowledge which most abound with illustrations. Last, but far from least, I adore the goodness of God which sent me so dear and efficient a follow-helper as my brother in the flesh and in the Lord, J. A. Spurgeon. His work has greatly relieved me of anxiety, and his superior educational qualifications have tended to raise the tone of the instruction given.
"As to the quality of the preachers whom we have been enabled to send forth, we need no more impartial witness than the good Earl of Shaftesbury, who was kind enough to express himself publicly in Finsbury Chapel, April 4th, 1870, in the following generous terms:
"'It was an utter fallacy to suppose that the people of England would ever be brought to a sense of order and discipline by the repetition of miserable services, by bits of wax candle, by rags of Popery, and by gymnastics in the chancel: nothing was adapted to meet the wants of the people but the Gospel message brought home to their hearts, and he knew of none who had done better service in this evangelistic work than the pupils trained in Mr. Spurgeon's College. They had a singular faculty for addressing the population, and going to the very heart of the people.'
"Those who measure effort by result will be gratified to learn that during the last five years our statistics show that the Churches under the care of our young pastors have received a clear increase of ten thousand members. How much of Divine power and grace this reveals, eternity alone can disclose. Had we reckoned in earlier years, we should have seen equal proportionate success; and it is no small matter for congratulation that the stricter examination of results which we have carried out of late manifests such a satisfactory total.
"Each year the brethren educated at the Pastors' College are invited to meet in the conference in the Tabernacle, and they are generously entertained by our friends. The week is spent in holy fellowship, prayer, and intercourse. By this means men in remote villages, laboring under discouraging circumstances and ready to sink from loneliness of spirit, are encouraged and strengthened: indeed, all the men confess that a stimulus is thus given which no other means could confer. The conference of 1870 was regarded by all as a visitation of the Holy Spirit, and the brethren returned to their labor full of zeal and hope.
"All things considered, gratitude and hope are supreme in connection with the Pastors' College; and with praise of God and thanks to a thousand friends, the president and his helpers gird up the loins of their minds for yet more abundant labors in the future. To every land we hope yet to send forth the Gospel in its fullness and purity. We pray the Lord to raise up missionaries among our students, and make every one a winner of souls. Brethren, remember this work in your prayers, and in your allotment of the Lord's portion of your substance."
In his report for 1881, Mr. Spurgeon gave an excellent resume of the work, and it is still of great interest. he said:
"On inquiring the other day for the secretary of one of our largest societies, I was informed that he had gone to the seaside for a month, in order that he might have quiet to prepare the report. I do not wonder at this if he has aforetime written many descriptions of the same work, for every year increases the difficulty unless a man is prepared to say the same thing over and over again. Very few can, like Paganini, perform so admirably on one string that everybody is charmed with the melody. The task grows still harder when the year has been peaceful and successful. It has been truly said, happy is the nation 'which has no history,' because it has been free from changes, wars, convulsions, and revolutions; but I may remark, on the other hand, unhappy is the historian who has to produce a record of a certain length concerning a period which has been innocent of striking eventsmaking bricks without straw is nothing to it.
"The Pastors' College has of late maintained the even tenor of its way, knowing little of external attack and nothing of internal strife. Regular in its work and fixed in its purpose, its movement has been calm and strong. Hence there are no thrilling incidents, painful circumstances, or striking occurrences with which to fill my page and thrill my reader's soul. Gratitude writ large is about the only material at hand out of which to fashion my report. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul!' is my one song. and I feel as if I could repeat it a thousand times.
"The College started with a definite doctrinal basis. I never affected to leave great questions as moot points to be discussed in the hall, and believed or not believed, as might be the fashion of the hour. The creed of the College is well known, and we invite none to enter who do not accept it. The doctrines of grace, coupled with a firm belief in human responsibility, are held with intense conviction, and those who do not receive them would not find themselves at home within our walls. The Lord has sent us tutors who are lovers of sound doctrine, and zealous for the truth. No uncertain sound has been given forth at any time, and we would sooner close the house than have it so.
"Heresy in colleges means false doctrine through-out the churches; to defile the fountain is to pollute the streams. Hesitancy which might be tolerated in an ordinary minister would utterly disqualify a teacher of teachers. The experiment of Doddridge ought to satisfy all godly men that colleges without dogmatic evangelical teaching are more likely to be seminaries of Socinianism than schools of the prophets. Old Puritanic theology has been heartily accepted by those received into our College, and on leaving it, they have almost with one consent remained faithful to that which they have received. The men are before the public in every part of the country and their testimony well known.
"This institution has now reached its twenty-fifth year, and its object, spirit, and manner of work remain the same. It was intended from the first to receive young men who had been preaching for a sufficient time to test their abilities and their call to the work of the ministry, and such young men have been forthcoming every year in growing numbers. Some bodies of Christians have to lament that their ministry is not adequately supplied: I know of one portion of the Church which is sending up to Heaven bitter lamentations because as the fathers depart to their rest, there is scanty hope that their places will be filled; but among the Baptists the candidates for the ministry are, if possible, too plentiful. This is a new state of things, and is to be interpreted as indicating growth and zeal. Certainly the applicants are not tempted by rich livings, or even by the prospect of competent support; or, if they are, I take abundant pains to set before them the assured truth that they will find our ministry to be a warfare abounding in long marches and stern battles; but equally noted for meager rations. Still they come, and it needs a very hard heart to repel them, and to refuse to eager brethren the drill and equipment which they covet so earnestly. If it were wise to increase the number of students, another hundred of suitable men could at once be added to those who are already under tuition.
"From the commencement our main object was to help men who from lack of funds could not obtain an education for themselves. These have been supplied not only with tuition and books, gratis, but with board and lodging, and in some cases with clothes and pocket money. Some very successful brethren needed everything, and if they had been required to pay, they must have remained illiterate preachers to this day. Still, year by year, the number of men who are ready to support themselves in whole or in part has increased, and I believe that it is increasing and will increase. As a college we have had to struggle with a repute based upon falsehood and created by jealousy; but this has not injured us to any great extent; for men come to us from America, Australia, and the Cape, and applications have frequently. been made from foreign countries. German students have attended our classes during their own vacations, and members of other colleges are usually to be seen at our lectures. The institution never deserved to be charged with giving a mere apology for an education ; and if ever that reproach could have been justly cast upon us, it is utterly undeserved now that the time of study has become more extended, and a fuller course of training has thus become possible.
"Scholarship for its own sake was never sought and never will be within the Pastors' College; but to help men to become efficient preachers has been and ever will be the sole aim of all those concerned in its management, I shall not, in order to increase our prestige, refuse poor men, or zealous young Christians whose early education has been neglected. Pride would suggest that we take 'a better class of. men;' but experience shows that they are not better, that eminently useful men spring from all ranks, that diamonds may be found in the rough, and that some who need most pains in the polishing, reward our labor a thousand fold. My friends will still stand by me in my desire to aid the needy but pious brother, and we shall rejoice together as we continually see the ploughman, the fisherman, and the mechanic taught the way of God more perfectly, and enabled through divine grace to proclaim in the language of the people the salvation of our God.
"During the past year about one hundred and twenty men have been with us; but as some have come and others have gone, the average number in actual residence has averaged one hundred. Of these a few have been with us three years, and more have entered upon the third year. The rule is that a man's usual period terminates at the end of two years, and his remaining longer depends upon the judgment formed of him. Certain men will never get beyond an English education, and to detain them from their work is to repress their ardor without bestowing a compensatory advantage. In other cases, the longer the period of study the better. Probably the third year is to many a student more useful than the other two, and he goes forth to his life-work more thoroughly prepared. I could not lengthen the course in former days, when churches tempted the brethren away before the proper time, as they too often did. They told these raw youths that it was a pity to delay, that if they justify their studies souls might be saved, and I know not what besides; and some were induced to run away, as Rowland Hill would have said, before they had pulled their boots on. If I constrained them to remain, the good deacons of the eager churches thought me a sort of harsh jailer, who locked up his prisoners and would not give them up at the entreaty of their friends. One wrote and bade me loose the brother, for the Lord had need of him, and I would have let the young man go if I had thought that he was one of the donkeys to whom the passage referred. That a number of brethren may have entered upon their ministry prematurely was no fault of mine, but of those who tempted them to quit their classes too soon. However, there have been periods in which there is a lull in the demand of the churches for ministers, and then we have been able to retain the men for a longer season. Such a time is passing over us just now, and I do not regret it, for I am persuaded it is good to give the brethren a longer space for preparatory study.
"I have been very ill through the greater part of the past year, and have therefore been unable to give so much personal service to the College as I have usually done.
"This has been a sore trial to me, but it has been much alleviated by my beloved brother, J. A. Spurgeon, the vice-president, who has looked after every-thing with great care; and I have also been greatly comforted by the knowledge that the tutors are as deeply concerned about the holy service as ever I can be. It has been my joy to learn that the College was never in a better state in all respects than now, and that the men under training give promise of becoming useful preachers. I have had very little weeding work to do on my coming back to my place, and those whom I have removed were not chargeable with any fault, but their capacity was questioned by the tutors;. All through the year this painful operation has to be carried on, and it always causes me much grief; but it is a necessary part of my official duty as president.
"Young men who come to us loaded with testimonials are occasionally found after a while to be lacking in application or in spiritual power; and after due admonishment and trial they have to be sent back to the place from whence they came. Others are as good as gold, but their heads ache, and their health fails under hard study, or from lack of mental capacity they cannot master the subjects placed before them. These must be kindly but firmly set aside; but I always dread the task. This thinning-out process is done with conscientiousness, under the guidance of the tutors; but this year there has been little need of it, and I have rejoiced in the fact, since frequent depression of spirit has made it undesirable to have much trying work to do. I am glad to say that very rarely have I had to deal with a case of moral failure. Bad young men have crept in among us, and no men are perfect; but I have great comfort in seeing the earnest and prayerful spirit which has prevailed among the brotherhood.
"Foremost among our aims is the promotion of a vigorous spiritual life among those who are preparing to be under-shepherds of Christ's flock. By frequent meetings for prayer, and by other means, we labor to maintain a high tone of spirituality. I have endeavored in my lectures and addresses to stir up the holy fire ; for well I know that if the heavenly flame burns low, nothing else will avail. The earnest action of the College Missionary Society has been a source of great joy to me; for above all things I desire to see many students devoting them-selves to foreign work. The Temperance Society also does a good work, and tends to keep alive among the men a burning hatred of England's direst curse."
"We need the daily prayer of God's people that much grace may be with all concerned in this important business ; for what can we do without the Holy Spirit? How few ever pray for students! If ministers do not come up to the desired standard, may not the members of the churches rebuke themselves for having restrained prayer on their account? When does a Christian worker more need prayer than in his early days, when his character is forming and his heart is tenderly susceptible both of good and evil influences? I would beseech all who have power with God to remember our colleges in their intercessions. The solemn interests involved in the condition of these schools of the prophets compel me to entreat, even unto tears, that the hopeful youth of our ministry may not be forgotten in the supplications of the saints. For us also, who have the responsible duty of guiding the minds of these young men, much prayer is requested, that we may have wisdom, love, gentleness, firmness, and abounding spiritual power. It is not every man who can usefully influence students, nor can the same men have equal power at all times. The Divine Spirit is needed, and He is given to them that ask for His sacred teaching.
"In Great Britain three hundred and fifty-five former students are preaching the Word, some in the more prominent pulpits of the denomination, and others in positions where their patience and self-denial are severely tested by the present depression in trade, and the consequent inability of rural congregations to furnish them with adequate support. The College has reason to rejoice not only in the success of her most honored sons, but in the faithfulness and perseverance of the rank and file, whose services, although they are little noticed on earth, will receive the 'well done' of the Lord.
"This institution is not alone a College, but a Home and Foreign Missionary Society. Our three evangelists have traversed the land with great diligence and the Lord has set His seal to their work.
"It is my greatest pleasure to aid in
commencing new churches. The oftener brethren can create their own spheres the more glad
shall I be. It is not needful to repeat the details of former reports; but many churches
have been founded through the College, and there are more to follow. I announced at the
beginning of this enterprise that it was not alone for the education of ministers, but for
the general spread of the Gospel; and this has been adhered to, a part of the income being
always expended in that direction."
The buildings now known as the Pastors' College were begun in 1873; the foundation corner-stone being laid in October of that year. Mr. Spurgeon was led to the enterprise for the construction of a special building for the accommodation of students by a gift of five thousand dollars which was presented to him in the previous May. During the construction of the building he received a gift of five thousand more with fifteen hundred dollars from the students. Afterward a gentleman died, leaving him a bequest of twenty-five thousand dollars in his will. The students themselves entered with zeal into the work of raising money for the building, and although they were themselves universally poor they did have influence enough with others to raise twelve thousand five hundred dollars.
The completed buildings cost seventy-five thousand dollars, the debt for which was entirely paid within a few months after its completion. Fifteen thousand dollars toward the payment was given by a lady as a memorial to her husband, and ten thousand dollars was justify to the College by the will of a stranger who had regularly read Mr. Spurgeon's sermons.
The statistics of the College as late as 1889, show that the students who had graduated had established over eighty churches in and about London, and in all over two hundred churches in the world. Some in the most distant countries and a few on the islands of the sea. They had baptized over forty thousand people, and the increase of their churches had been over thirty-nine thousand. In America they have instituted fourteen different churches and proved themselves most efficient evangelists among all classes of people. They are men who not only preach and teach, but positively work, imitating very closely the example of Mr. Spurgeon. He was always engaged in some profitable labor, excepting only the hours positively necessary to physical and mental rest.
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