Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - XXXVI.

David Brown, as we have seen, saw Mr. Spurgeon as perhaps the greatest preacher of the age, and certainly the best model for his students. This was because Spurgeon was natural in the pulpit, straightforward and down-to-earth in his use of language. Unlike some of the older Free Church ministers, like Dr. Thomas Guthrie, inclined to flowery language that was popular enough in its day, but makes them sound very quaint today.
And there lies the irony. For it was Guthrie, not Spurgeon, who was up-to-date in his day. In London it was Joseph Parker, who now seems incredibly Victorian and old-fashioned, who was the equivalent to the modern 'Emerging' pastor. Spurgeon was not fashionable. But he was timeless and plain.
Their common contending against error brought Brown and Spurgeon together. Holding very different positions, one the principal of a small theological college in the Highlands of Scotland, the other the pastor of the largest Church in London, they contended in different ways, but for a common cause and against a common foe.
Mr. Spurgeon liked to have the autographs of men whose books he enjoyed, and so, having read Brown's biography of 'Rabbi' Duncan, he wrote to Brown for his autograph - only to discover he already had it, having requested it after reading the commentary. He wrote:

Nightingale Lane, Clapham, May 11.

Dear Sir, - I have to apologise for having troubled you twice about so small a matter as your autograph; but the fact is, I did not recognise Dr. David Brown of Duncan's Memoir as the David Brown of the Commentary. Pray excuse me. I am getting to fear and tremble about the Browns. You must know that the President and Vice-President of our Baptist Union are both Browns, and that the Chairman of our London Association is also a Brown. 'Browns to right of us, Browns to left of us,' etc. God bless them all.
Yours Heartily C. H. Spurgeon.

On his travels, Spurgeon visited Aberdeen on several occasions to speak. On one of them Brown found him in the vestry surrounded by a number of friends. One of Spurgeon's Tabernacle Deacons, who had come with his pastor, told Brown that Spurgeon needed a few quiet minutes, or the lecture would be a disaster, but Spurgeon was unwilling to mention the fact. Brown instantly cleared the room. Even in the hall, Spurgeon was obviously deeply burdened, and obviously affected by his depression. Turning to the Prince of Preachers, Brown promised that he would be praying for him through the lecture. "Thank you for that!" Spurgeon exclaimed. "Thank you for that!"
When the time came, the depression lifted and Spurgeon spoke with great power and clarity. At the end, when people came to congratulate Spurgeon, the great man turned to the college principal and said, "You owe it all to him."
How often, indeed, could it be said of a powerful sermon that much, if not all, is owed to those men and women who hold up the minister in prayer?

God willing, next time we shall consider Principal Brown's electionand labours in that office of Principal.



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