The CHARACTER of the Man
Re-enforces the MESSAGE
In the very first volume of his published sermons, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) described what must have been among his earliest encounters, if not in fact the very earliest, with George Muller (1805-1898) of Bristol, the famous Christian orphanagist and man of faith and prayer:
There is no sermon like what you can see with your own eyes. I went down to the Orphan-house, last Wednesday, on Ashley Down, near Bristol, and saw that wonder of faith--I had some conversation with that heavenly-minded man Mr. Muller.
I never heard such a sermon in my life as I saw there.
They asked me to speak to the girls, but I said, “I could not speak a word for the life of me.” I had been crying all the while to think how God heard this dear man’s prayer, and how all those three hundred children had been fed by my Father through the prayer of faith. Whatever is wanted, comes without annual subscriptions, without asking anything, simply from the hand of God. When I found that it was all correct that I had heard, I was like the queen of Sheba, and I had no heart left in me. I could only stand and look at those children, and think, did my heavenly Father feed them, and would he not feed me and all his family? Speak to them? They had spoken to me quite enough, though they had not said a word--Speak to them? I thought myself ten thousand fools that I did not believe God better.
Here I am, I cannot trust him day by day; but this good man can trust him for three hundred children. When he has not a sixpence in hand he never fears. “I know God,” he might say, “too well to doubt him. I tell my God, thou knowest what I want today to keep these children, and I have not anything. My faith never wavers, and my supply always comes.” Simply by asking God in this way, he has raised (I believe) 17,000 pounds towards the erection of a new orphan-house. When I consider that, I sometimes think we will try the power of faith here, and see if we should not get sufficient funds whereby to erect a place to hold the people that crowd to hear the Word of God. Then we may have a tabernacle of faith as well as an orphan-house of faith. God send us that, and to Him shall be all the glory.
The New Park Street Pulpit
Vol. 1 (1855), p. 378
Two decades later, in the June, 1875 issue of The Sword and the Trowel (p. 293), Spurgeon noted the occasion in the preceding month when that same George Muller filled the pulpit at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London--
May 6.--Mr. George Muller, of the Orphan House, Bristol, preached for us at our usual Thursday evening service. It was a sermon long to be remembered. The wise and holy counsels then given were rendered the more weighty by the character of the man from whom they came [emphasis added]. He has fought a good fight and kept the faith, and it is delightful to hear him in his hale old age bearing sweet testimony to the faithfulness of God, the power of prayer, and the pleasures of true religion. May our venerable friend be attended with the divine sunlight during his present evangelistic movements, and till the daybreak, and the shadows flee away.
What Spurgeon perceived Muller to be in 1855, he still was twenty years later in 1875 (and as he would remain until his death nearly a quarter century beyond). He had not stumbled, faltered or failed. His character remained consistent and unmarred, and his credibility as a messenger of God was thereby mightily reinforced.
So it ever is: the credibility of the Gospel message is either enhanced and reinforced or subverted and degraded by the character of the messenger. May we strive by consistent Christian character to reinforce the message we are entrusted to proclaim.