Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A story from Spurgeon's childhood


Some of young Charles Spurgeon's earliest years were spent with his Grandparents in the village of Stambourne. James Spurgeon, the Grandfather, was the minister of the church. Here is one of the several remarkable stories of Charles' experiences as small boy, taken from C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography:

One of the members of the church at Stambourne, named Roads, was in the habit of frequenting the public-house to have his “drop of beer”, and smoke his pipe, greatly to the grief of his godly pastor, who often heaved a sigh at the thought of his unhappy member’s inconsistent conduct.

Little Charles had doubtless noticed his grandfather’s grief on this account, and laid it to heart. One day he suddenly exclaimed, in the hearing of the good old gentleman, “I’ll kill old Roads, that I will!”

“Hush, hush! my dear,” said the good pastor, “you mustn’t talk so; it’s very wrong, you know, and you’ll get taken up by the police, if you do anything wrong.”

“I shall not do anything bad; but I’ll kill him though, that I will.”

Well, the good grandfather was puzzled, but yet perfectly sure that the child would not do anything which he knew to be wrong, so he let it pass with some half-mental remark about “that strange child.”

Shortly after, however, the above conversation was brought to his mind by the child coming in and saying, “I’ve killed old Roads; he’ll never grieve my dear grandpa any more.”

“My dear child,” said the good man, “what have you done? Where have you been?”

“I haven’t been doing any harm, grandpa,” said the child; “I’ve been about the Lord’s work, that’s all.”

Nothing more could be elicited from little Charles; but, before long, the mystery was cleared up. “Old Roads” called to see his pastor, and, with downcast looks and evident sorrow of heart, narrated the story of how he had been killed, somewhat in this fashion: —

“I’m very sorry indeed, my dear pastor, to have caused you such grief and trouble. It was very wrong, I know; but I always loved you, and wouldn’t have done it if I’d only thought.”

Encouraged by the good pastor’s kindly Christian words, he went on with his story. “I was a-sitting in the public just having my pipe and mug of beer, when that child comes in, — to think an old man like me should be took to task, and reproved by a bit of a child like that! Well, he points at me with his finger, just so, and says, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah? sitting with the ungodly; and you a member of a church, and breaking your pastor’s heart. I’m ashamed of you! I wouldn’t break my pastor’s heart, I’m sure.’ And then he walks away. Well, I did feel angry; but I knew it was all true, and I was guilty; so I put down my pipe, and did not touch my beer, but hurried away to a lonely spot, and cast myself down before the Lord, confessing my sin and begging for forgiveness. And I do know and believe the Lord in mercy pardoned me; and now I’ve come to ask you to forgive me; and I’ll never grieve you any more, my dear pastor.”

It need not be said that the penitent was freely forgiven, and owned a brother in the Lord, and the Lord was praised for the wonderful way in which it had all come about.

The genuineness of the backslider’s restoration is evident from the testimony of Mr. Houchin, the minister at Stambourne who succeeded Mr. Spurgeon’s grandfather, and who has also ascertained from official records the correct way of spelling “Old Roads’ “ name. Mr. Houchin writes: —

“Thomas Roads was one of the old men of the table-pew, — an active, lively, little man, but quite illiterate, — not much above a laborer, but he kept a pony and cart, and did a little buying and selling on his own account …. I found him an earnest and zealous Christian, striving to be useful in every way possible to him; especially in the prayer-meetings and among the young people, opening his house for Christian conversation and prayer. He only lived about four years of my time, and was sustained with a cheerful confidence to the end.

"When near death, on my taking up the Bible to read and pray with him, he said, ‘I have counted the leaves, sir.’ I said, ‘Why! what did you do that for?’ and he replied, ‘I never could read a word of it, and thought I would know how many leaves there were.’ This was very pathetic, and revealed much. We had a good hope of him, and missed him greatly.”

From C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Volume 1, pages 23, 24. Available from Pilgrim Publications.


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