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Written by Sylvester Hassell   

Hassell on Spurgeon


The Gospel Messenger—October 1889


In Appleton’s Annual Cyclopedia for 1887-88, I find the following very interesting and instructive account of Mr. C. H. Spurgeon’s withdrawal from the Baptist Union of England and Wales

“The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon gave notice of his withdrawal from the Baptist Union, by publication in his journal, The Sword and Trowel, for November, 1887, and in a letter to the Secretary of that body dated October 28th. As a reason for taking this step, he affirmed that the Union was tolerating error, and per­mitting a downward tendency of ministers in points of doctrine, in that some persons were allowed to remain in it who make light of the atonement, deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, call the fall of man a fable, speak slightingly of justification by faith, refuse credence to the dogma of the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and hold that there is another proba­tion after death, with possibilities of a future retribution of the lost. While efforts to induce him to reconsider his decision were without avail, be declared that he remained as much a Baptist as ever—his denomina­tionalism not being affected by his relations with the Union, a voluntary, unofficial body.

“In December, 1887, the Council of the Union, a kind of Executive Committee, consisting of one hundred members, appointed a committee to visit Mr. Spurgeon and deliberate with him as to how the unity of our denomination in true love and good works may best be contained. The committee reported to a subsequent meeting of the Council, January 18, 1888, that Mr. Spurgeon had declined to discuss the question of his action toward the Union, and that he could not see his way clear to withdraw his resignation; but that he had furnished a statement embodying the following conditions:

‘In answer to the question what I would advise as likely to promote permanent union in truth, love and good works; I should answer:

(1) Let the Union have a simple basis of Bible truths; these are usually de­scribed as ‘evangelical doctrine.’

(2) I know of no better summary of these than that adopted by the Evangelical Alliance [see Church History, page 596] and subscribed by members of so many religious com­munities for several years. The exact words need not be used, of course, but that formula indicates the run of truth which is most generally followed among us, and should be so followed.’

 He had, however, declared that he would not undertake, on these conditions being complied with by the Union, to rejoin it, but would await results. The question was again considered at subsequent meetings of the Council, and a declaration was adopted (at the annual spring meeting in April, 1888,) which was intended to define the attitude of the Union in relation to the question at issue, in terms that would be acceptable to Mr. Spurgeon. In this declara­tion, ‘while expressly disavowing any power to control belief or restrict inquiry, yet, in view of the uneasiness produced in the churches by recent discussions, and to show their agreement with one another and with their fellow Christians on the great truths of the gospel,’ the Council affirmed that the great majority of the Union accepted substantially the doctrinal basis of the Evan­gelical Alliance in the usual sense; but that, ‘from the first, some, while reverently accepting all divine teach­ing, have accepted other interpretations, which seem to them consistent with it, and that the Union have had no difficulty in working with them.’ ‘This action was not accepted by Mr. Spurgeon, who declared himself one outside of the Union,’ and having no right to have anything further to do with its creeds or its declara­tions. ‘All has been done that can be done,’ he said, ‘and yet, without violence we cannot unite; let us not at­tempt it any more; but each one go his own way in quiet, each striving honestly for that which he believes to be the revealed truth of God. I could have wished that, instead of saving the Union, or even purifying it, the more prominent thought had been to conform every­thing to the word of the Lord.”’

 Thus, with all their new nineteenth century means, and methods, and institutions, and machinery we see that the people known as “Missionary Baptists” in England and Wales, are affiliating with the leaven of infidelity, and are tolerating such a corruption of doc­trine that their most famous, and most able, and most nearly scriptural minister has publicly and finally withdrawn from them. And there is sad evidence to believe that a similar declension in doctrine has extensively affected the people known as “Missionary Baptists” in the United States.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 September 2006 )
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