Tabernacle Conversions in 1860

There are over twenty ­volumes of beautifully handwritten testimonies of those converted during Spurgeon’s pastorate. These are the elders’ reports of each applicant for baptism and church membership throughout his ministry, including the revival year of 1861. Many glorious themes shine through these records of trophies of grace, especially the instrumentality of preaching and the impact of particular sermons, the seed sown during Sunday School years, the transformed lives of converts, and their forsaking of the world and its entertainments.

Many converts were servants and apprentices. Some converts took months to find peace with God, others were saved suddenly. Occasional pages show the interviewing elder dissatisfied with a testimony, and the referring of the applicant to a Bible class for further help.

There are over 12,000 entries in these priceless volumes. Those clearly converted were given a card to see the pastor (or for a period the co-pastor James Spurgeon) who would sanction their baptism or proposal to the church for membership.

Here is a small selection of entries some of which form part of a larger number published in Wonders of Grace.WondersGrace_forwebsite-(1).jpg

A-2 Penton Place, Walworth
Age: 21

Stated that about 2 years ago, he was opposed to religion, but hearing of the accident at the Music Hall and being fond of fun and excitement thought he would go, in case there might be a similar occurrence. Mr Spurgeon’s ministry caused him to attend regularly. The impressions of the Sunday sermon never wore off till about Wednesday; he says he always felt miserable at the beginning of the week. When Mr S left the Music Hall, he attended nowhere regularly until the Tabernacle was opened. Has scarcely been absent since. About 6 months ago he went to the Surrey Theatre to hear Mr Carter the Sweep [evangelist], he there felt his lost condition. He pointed him to Jesus in his sermon but his state of mind was so dreadful for days, that all that knew him said he was going mad. He resolved to throw himself away if Jesus did not appear. Jesus did appear, and he found peace. Gave him a card.

T R Phillips

58 Cromer Street,
Grays Inn Road

I have seen this young person two or three times having at my first interview with her given her a ticket for the Catechumen class as she had not a very clear view of the work of Christ for sinners – this evening I have again seen her and am more satisfied. She has a sister who is a member of Soho Chapel but a frequent hearer of Mr Spurgeon’s – this sister brought her to Exeter Hall and after attending a few Sundays she heard the sermon published under the title of ‘The Wail of Risca’. Under this sermon she was fully aroused to a sense of her condition as a sinner before God having previously been a giddy, worldly, prayerless young girl. She went home in great distress of mind, relief from which she soon obtained by prayer for pardon through the blood of Jesus – thus far her testimony when I first saw her, but she was very confused in her ideas about the blood and entirely ignorant about the imputed righteousness in which the believer stands complete before God, and on several other points her knowledge was very deficient. I therefore gave her the necessary counsel and sent her as before stated to the Catechumen class – I am now however sufficiently satisfied and gave her a card.

Thomas Moor 

37 Tavistock Square

Lost her parents at the age of ten years. At the age of eighteen came up to London, where she fell into all kinds of worldly pleasures and Sabbath breaking but felt convictions at the same time that it was sinful, but could not resist temptation. Now feels no pleasure save in the house of God. Was much blessed under the sermon entitled – ‘The Mission of the Son of Man’, also by an appeal made by our Pastor after the ordinance to the spectators in the gallery and felt especially comforted during prayer by the words ‘Though your sins be as scarlet &c’. The sermon from the words ‘He shewed them his hands and his side’ was also very precious to her. She is willing to give up all things rather than Christ; though feeling daily the indwelling of sin yet feels a sweet sense of forgiveness in Christ.

Seen by Bro Barrow who was well satisfied with this case, and gave a card accordingly.

35 Valley Street,
Kingsland Road

This young man is an orphan. He is lodging at the house of one of the Plymouth Brethren. He is a painter to a glazier. About 19 months ago he was induced out of curiosity to come and hear our Pastor. He came to the Music Hall and heard the sermon ‘Come unto me all ye that are weary &c.’ He had never felt a sense of sin before and had never prayed. But that morning he went home to pray and did so earnestly. He did not however find peace but was in considerable distress of mind for some time, about 6 months. He at last found peace from hearing our Pastor again at the Music Hall but does not remember the text then. He says he was brought then wholly to trust in the Lord Jesus. He feels now what a precious Saviour Jesus is. He loves him with all his heart and wishes to live only for and with him. He now feels a constant desire to love Jesus more and more. Prayer and the reading of the Scriptures and the Sabbath is his delight now whereas once he cared for none of these things. He views baptism as a command binding on believers only.

I found him a well informed and intelligent young man and that the work of grace has made considerable progress in his case. I gave him a card with pleasure and felt perfectly satisfied with him.

Wm Olney 

43 Alfred Road,
Kennington Park

Had a pious mother who now lives in Devonshire. As soon as out of parental control by coming to London, took up with wicked and ungodly companions, became fond of the theatre and ballroom and became a ringleader in vice. He and two of his companions resolved one Sabbath day to go to hear Mr S when a sermon from the words ‘Whosoever will let him come and take of the water of life freely’ was by the Spirit of God applied to his heart. After the service was over he left his ungodly companions, went home and fell upon his knees in prayer being sorrowfully impressed on account of sin, and prayed the Lord would forgive him. He then opened the Bible and there found the passage ‘though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow &c’. All this time he came without a Mediator, and wondered his prayer was not heard for he was sure he was the person described, until at length light dawned in upon his soul.

He then pleaded the blood of Christ and while upon his knees this time he believes the Lord heard and answered him for ever since then he has become a changed man. The things he once hated he now loves and those he once loved he now hates. He feels very anxious for his soul’s salvation. His only hope is in a crucified Saviour. Is also anxious for his fellow workmen and speaks to them as often as he can although subjected to great ridicule and contempt. Is anxious and willing to do something for Christ either in the Sabbath School or wherever he can be useful. Knows the grace of God has kept him up to the present time and believes it will keep him until the end. It was with pleasure and also with gratitude to our Heavenly Father I gave this dear brother a card for Sunday. He is a brand plucked from the burning. His wife is coming forward next week.

W Mead 

14 White Hart Street,

Is the son of Bro May. Was impressed from early age with sense of the need of religion and under those feelings used to attend the house of God on Sabbath days, but having been induced to go to Park St to hear Mr S the first sermon which was upon the ‘Canopy of Heaven’ made a great impression and induced him to attend the next Sabbath morning at the Music Hall which he thinks was ‘A Call to the Unconverted’ which produced the impression that up to that time all had been wrong, and indeed he had wasted his time, and went home very sad. Could not explain to anyone what he felt but was greatly exercised on account of the great sinfulness he discovered. He had been in the habit of deceiving his customers behind his employer’s counter. But now he felt he could not pursue that course, felt great compunction of conscience for what he had done and would gladly have restored what he had wrongfully got of them. Believes that he is regenerated by the Spirit of God or he could never have looked to Christ. Trusts entirely to the blood of Christ for salvation.

I was much pleased with this young man. Believe him to be sincere and well informed having had a good religious training. Gave him a card.

J M Ward

In Service At:
140 Regent Street
Age: 18

Came to London a few months since and after tasting freely of London’s vanities and sins, came to hear Mr Spurgeon at Exeter Hall and the Tab. The sermon of last Sunday evening from Jeremiah XVIII v 12, ‘No hope – and yet hope’, much affected him and he has been very unhappy since and came to see me not with a view of joining the church but to seek advice feeling that he knew not what to do. Directed him to continue hearing Mr S, to seek divine direction and read very carefully and daily with much prayer the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel and see me again. A hopeful case.

George Moore

12 Perry St, Brompton
Age: 20s

Wants to join the membership but does not attend Tab. He is very chatty – has very little knowledge but apparently a great deal of self-satisfaction. He can’t attend Mr Hanks’ class and thinks Mr Royes too dry for him – he seems to have only half an ear but seven tongues.

Thomas Moor

This ‘youth’ applied for admission to the College. Recommended him to the evening classes; he attended for a short time. I think the above a very accurate description. CB

27 Commercial Road,

Was induced by his wife to come and hear Mr S about 3 years ago. The chapel was so crowded she was obliged to leave but he stopped. Had hitherto been a blasphemer, swearer, and drunkard and had not been in any place of worship for 5 years. The text he cannot remember but he stood condemned and felt his lost condition, went home to pray for the first time. I asked him whether being such a great sinner, whether he was not afraid to ask God for mercy, his answer was that Mr Spurgeon said that Christ shed his blood to save sinners and he pleaded the blood of Christ. Continued in darkness for a few weeks, but still prayed and was enabled to look to the Cross, and then found relief. Attributes this change to free and sovereign grace; looks to God for strength to endure unto the end. I recommended him to get the Confession of Faith and come again. He has attended the Saturday evening prayer meetings for 12 months.

Seen by Brother Hanks.

May 25: I have seen this case and feel satisfied, gave a card.

T Olney 

6 Thomas Street,
Kennington Park

Has attended at Park St and the Music Hall about 7 or 8 months. Was first impressed under the sermon ‘The Shameful Sufferer’. She then saw the love of Christ as she never saw it before and went home to ask an interest in it. She says that sermon convinced her of the very great guilt of her sins and led her to cry for mercy and forgiveness. She now enjoys private prayer and reading the Bible. She finds she is living a new life, has new desires, and with her ‘that old things have passed away, all things have become new’.

She has a good understanding of the doctrines of the Bible and rejoices very greatly in the ministry of the Word and the Sabbath day. She wishes to be baptised and join the church out of love to Christ and obedience to his commands. I thought this a very clear and satisfactory case and gave a card with pleasure.

Wm Olney 

25 Maltby Street,

Has heard Mr Spurgeon about 10 months with much profit, had attended Sunday School and often heard the Word preached but thought nothing of it until the sermon ‘The bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it’ which awakened her to see her hopeless state – she found as a sinner she had no bed long enough to stretch herself upon, was deeply concerned about her soul, went home that night to pray and was a long time under conviction before she found peace with God through Jesus Christ. It was during prayer God manifested himself unto her. Says Christ died to save just such sinners as she was. Ascribes the work to God the Spirit. An entire change – all things have become new – no theatre now – no Sabbath breaking now, the people of God are her dearest companions, the house of God her sweetest resort. Is ridiculed by ungodly parents but trusting alone in Christ, endureth with patience. Prays much for her parents. She says she could give up all for Jesus. Doctrinal knowledge good. Gave her a card.

Mr Roe 

23 Pardew Row,
London Road

Came first to hear Mr Spurgeon at the Surrey Music Hall last Christmas twelvemonth. Used to laugh and scoff at religion and was addicted to theatres and worldly pleasures, but feels now dead to them and only loves the Lord Jesus Christ, his people and the house of God. Has doubts and fears sometimes. Believes that when she first heard the Word, she hardened her heart against it from fear of her parents, who are averse to her making a profession of religion.

The sermons she used to hear were felt by her at the time but left no lasting impression. Felt very low spirited for some time but with occasional seasons of joy. On hearing the sermon of ‘The Three Woes’ felt very deeply her sinful state, but at the prayer meeting after the discourse, felt the prayers of the brethren much blessed to her, went home and prayed and has felt joy in believing ever since. Cannot live without prayer and that very frequent.

By the advice of Bro Ward, I recommended this young person to come again as her experience was scarcely quite so clear as I could wish.

Fred Grose

8 Peckham Grove, Camberwell
Age: 27

Went to the Music Hall, heard Revd C Spurgeon preach from the words ‘Compel them to come in’. She could not describe her feelings, felt she was blind, lame, and halt. In his sermon he said, ‘go home and pray to God to break your bars of iron.’ She did so and then began to read her Bible in earnest upon her knees. Opened the Bible at the chapter where Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. She thought if Jesus could raise the dead, he could her. Felt she could only be saved through Christ. Her heart was broken and she has ever since sought the Saviour. Up to this time she could read newspapers on the Sunday, but now nothing but the Bible and sermons. Under the above sermon was brought to remember her sins from her youth; had never felt them before.

I considered it a good case and gave her a card.

Thomas Phillips 

21 West Street, Walworth
Age: 17

This youth is the son of our brother and ­sister White. He has been in the Catechumen class for about 10 months having been persuaded by a former companion in sin to join that class. He then began to read and search the Word of God for references to his subjects, by which, with the ministry from Pastor, he has been brought to feel himself a lost sinner, and his need of a Saviour. He suffered much agony of mind having been left to ­wander far from God by swearing and bad company – but the change now is very manifest and in answer to his earnest prayer he believes the Lord has forgiven his sins. He now takes great delight in the ways of God and has found peace in believing in Christ, who, he states, is the foundation upon which he is alone resting. His views of doctrine are scriptural and clear and I believe a genuine case of conversion and wishes to follow the Lord in baptism out of obedience to his command. Gave him a card.

H Hanks

At Mr H J Olney’s,

This young friend received her first serious impressions from the conversation of a Christian friend about 2 years ago at Exeter [Hall] who put this question ‘Have you given your heart to Jesus?’ Her conscience told her that she had not and great distress of mind followed continuing day and night, she being totally lost and undone by nature. All her self-righteous notions fled and she was enabled to seek the Lord by earnest prayer as the ‘Friend of sinners’, pleading for pardon through the blood of Christ, and now by divine grace she has been enabled to ‘give her heart to Jesus’ and is resting alone upon his finished atonement, and wishes to show her obedience by following Christ in his own appointed ordinance. Ascribes the change to sovereign grace alone. Gave her a card.

H Hanks

At Messrs W&E Hunt,
182 Shoreditch

This young man is known to our Brother Spanswick who is engaged in the same house of business. He came to hear our Pastor last April and continued to do so several times without profit. On one occasion our Brother Spanswick sought an opportunity of asking him whether he had ever thought of his soul’s salvation. He acknowledged he had not, was urged to seek the Lord. He did so, and he soon discovered what a guilty sinner he was, and that God would be just in condemning him, but his only plea was the blood of Jesus. He gave his testimony with much simplicity and many tears. He felt that he was changed altogether. Bad company and bad language was hateful to him. Yet continued very unhappy until he heard the sermon ‘It is finished’ which set his soul at a happy liberty and he is now rejoicing in Christ as his portion. Wishes to join in obedience to our Lord’s command. A good case. Gave him a card.

H Hanks

At Mrs Mason’s,
33 Trinity Street, Borough

This young woman has been in our Sister Mason’s service for the last 5 years. It appears about 2 years ago she was dangerously ill and it was feared she would not recover and her mistress as well as her medical attendant (a godly man) talked very seriously to her and prayed for her. After her recovery she was wished to attend the ministry of our Pastor, this she refused and her mistress lent her the sermon entitled ‘Compel them to come in’ to read. This she refused until some time after. When she did read it and she was in great distress of mind, she felt herself a lost soul and she began to pray and to seek for mercy through Christ. She opened her mind to her mistress and she prayed for her and instructed her and after a few weeks through the ministry of our Pastor and prayer, peace was realized and she has been enabled to believe in Christ to the salvation of her soul. Also a great change in her temper and general deportment is effected. A genuine case of repentance and faith. Gave her a card.

H Hanks 

14 Well Walk, Hampstead
Age: 19

This young woman seems to have had her spiritual education neglected, her parents seldom taking her to a place of worship – but she went to Sunday School at times. Paid little or no attention to the advice given there and says she was always inclined to wander, and disobedient, the recollection of which causes her much sorrow. At the age of 17 was led to sin by the enticements of a girl much older than herself. Afraid to return home, went towards Blackfriars Bridge intending to destroy herself, but was stayed from that fearful act. Away from home only 6 days. Was rescued, and became an inmate of one of the Homes of the Rescue Society under our Sister Golding. Became much concerned about her soul by the religious services held there. Says one text by Bro Roe, ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,’ was deeply impressed upon her mind. She had no rest but went about anxiously seeking Jesus.

When one of the committee gave an address he pointed her to Jesus, and by faith she was enabled to behold him as her Saviour. Loves her Bible. Loves prayer. Father and mother are reconciled to her now. Is now in service at one of the members of this church – I was well satisfied and gave a card.

Mr Roe 

60 Lant Street, Borough
(In service)

This young woman attended Sunday School in early life. Says she often wished she was a Christian. Was sent out to service very young and being unable to do the work, left, and returned home, where her mother’s treatment drove her away. Soon fell into bad company and into sin, was often alarmed while in her sinful course, but seemed impelled on again. At last was rescued. Sent to the Greenwich Home of Rescue Society. Many addresses made useful to her, one by Bro Roe, ‘The way of transgressors is hard’, was owned of God in convincing her of her fearful state. Was nearly driven to despair, and in order to escape, fell again into sin. Again was rescued, and placed under Mrs Golding when Satan assailed her in trying to make her disbelieve God’s Word. Says she often stopped her ears and shut her eyes while the Word was preached but says now she cannot open them wide enough. One night during the prayer of one of her converted companions she became alarmed for her soul’s safety, was led to prayer and found some peace but could not rest wholly upon him. At last peace and joy came to her and she is now resting only on the finished work of Christ. (Knowing this young woman for a long time and seeing the manifest change in her, with much pleasure I gave her a card.) [CHS added – ‘A miracle of grace.’]

Mr Roe

Boro’ Wheel Works,
29 Newington Causeway

The attention of this young person was first arrested by a sermon of Mr Spurgeon ­delivered about eleven months ago from the text ‘Come unto me all ye that labour &c.’ Before that time she had never thought about coming to Christ, but when she heard that sermon her desire for salvation by the blood of Jesus was intense. For 3 weeks she was unable to hope but afterward through the instrumentality of several of Mr Spurgeon’s sermons she received great encouragement and found peace in believing.

I have seen her several times, having at my first interview with her desired her to attend Mrs Bartlett’s class where she appears to have received great good.

Having seen her again today I can now cordially recommend her as a babe in grace.

Thomas Moor

Hampstead Home
Age: 18

Another instance of the grace of God in restoring a poor maiden and also of his blessing attendant upon the labours of our brethren in that particular branch of the Lord’s Vineyard, ‘The Refuge Society’. She was seduced at the early age of fifteen. About last June twelvemonth while at the Greenwich Home, she was convicted of sin under the general ministry of the brethren preaching there. But leaving there and going to a situation, these convictions gradually decreased and upon her going out with a friend and stopping late at night she was afraid to go back to her mistress and stopped away that night and the next. But Miss Howard, the matron at the Greenwich Home, met her on the following night and again rescued her from her unhappy sinful state, taking her to a missionary, Mr Baxendale. On the 16 August she came under the kind care of our sister Mrs Golding. Here she heard a discourse from our much esteemed Bro Roe from ‘These are they which came out of great tribulations.’ This very much encouraged her, as the former convictions were again renewed, now that she had come again under the ministry of the Word. She found peace through the blood of Jesus. Her greatest desire is now to do the will of the Lord and endeavour by precept and example to bring her poor fallen sisters to Jesus over whom her soul yearns.

This is a marvellous case of the Lord’s sovereign grace in as much as she has never had religious instruction, her parents ungodly and she having fallen into sin so young. I believe her to be now a truly converted woman. Before leaving me she desired an interest in my prayers and also I am informed by our Sister Golding she also desires [the prayers] of each sister whom she meets. A desire surely not springing from old Adam’s nature – gave a card.

Fred Grose

54 Devonshire Terrace,
Kennington Lane

This young person attended Sunday School, but says only trifled away her precious time, no care for her soul. Father died. She went into service where a kind fellow servant used to read to her, was often ­seriously impressed but the reading of the sermon, ‘Paul’s desire to depart’ deeply concerned her. She says she felt she was not ready to depart which caused her much sorrow, went upstairs to pray. And after some time light broke in upon her soul and she found peace in Jesus. Has been much tried but is still enabled to hold on. The promises come home to her at times as ‘Fear not’, ‘Lo it is I’. Sees baptism very clearly as a believer’s duty and privilege. Her doctrinal knowledge on other points is somewhat weak but I believe her a new creature in Christ Jesus. Gave a card.

Mr Roe

18 Bowling Green St,

Is the son of ungodly parents who kept a public house, was led into bad company by the young men who frequented his father’s house in the evening. The playhouse was his constant delight. Even took money from his father to obtain admission to the theatre. In this downward career was arrested by Mr King who pointed out to him the sin and folly of his path. Was induced to attend a school at Lambeth in the evening – yet could not forsake the theatre. On one evening when going to the play – on his road these words came across his mind – Shall I go to the play or no? These words flashed across his mind as rapid as the former thought, ‘Peace, peace where there is no peace.’ He at once resolved not to go to the play that evening. His feet were led that evening to the house of prayer. In the course of Mr Spurgeon’s sermon he spoke of those who were seeking peace, where peace could never be found. He has become a teacher in Ragged School. I believe him to be a sincere believer in Christ Jesus.

W Hackett

Read Wonders of Grace for more original testimonies of converts during Spurgeon’s early years.