Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Was Spurgeon’s Conversion Sparked by a Georgia Methodist Evangelist?

Was Spurgeon’s Conversion Sparked by a Georgia Methodist Evangelist?

In 1850 on January 6th the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers”, was converted and received saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Previously the despondent fifteen year old knew he did not possess saving faith and dreaded his current destiny.

The young Spurgeon, from a family of ministers, was contemplating an eternity in hell.
In Lewis Drummond’s biography on Spurgeon he wrote that Spurgeon, under conviction of sin, said his heart was being plowed by “ten black horses” as he referred to the Ten
Commandments.  Later, praise God, Spurgeon said his heart was cross plowed by the gospel.

That January morning, to his soul’s relief, Spurgeon, took unplanned refuge from the harsh winter weather  in Colchester, England and walked in from the cold with his misery into the Primitive Methodist Church on Artillery Street.  Spurgeon randomly, he thought, attended that church due to the harshness of the winter winds as he entered the nearest preaching house.  As it is famously known, on that snowy day, the church's preacher was not able to attend.  An anonymous uneducated everyday working man deacon supplied the pulpit at the last moment and yet was able to preach a simple powerful message.

The on the spot sermon’s text was from Isaiah 45:22
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. “
The deacon repeatedly went back to the text pointing to the small crowd to "look" to the Lord for salvation.  Spurgeon "looked"
 and his burden was lifted.  Often, when giving his testimony, Spurgeon recalled the shouting of praises of the congregation as only the Primitive Methodists could do.

The rest is history.  Spurgeon went on to preach to thousands weekly at the huge Metropolitan Tabernacle Church.  The Baptist Spurgeon went on to impact London and the world leaving a huge historical footprint as the  century’s most famous preacher whose sermons today are read and influencing the world yet.

How Did The State Of Georgia Contribute To The Conversion of Charles Spurgeon?

The official Primitive Methodist web site said this about their history-(

“ Primitive Methodism began in England, in the early 1800's, as an attempt to restore the Methodist Revival begun under the ministry of John Wesley.
In America, Methodist preachers invented a new form of Evangelism, the Camp Meeting.  Such a preacher, Lorenzo Dow, visited England.  He told of many converts being won to the Lord in these outdoor meetings.  He spoke of John Wesley, and his Field preaching.  Hugh Bourne and William Clowes listened.”
“On May 31, 1807, these two leaders called for and aggressively promoted an American style Camp Meeting, an all day prayer, song, and preaching event.  Many people were converted to Christ at that meeting, now called: “Mow Cop”.”

Lorenzo Dow is a (in)famous preacher in Georgia history. 
Around 1820 Lorenzo Dow was preaching in Jacksonborough, Georgia outside of the small town of  Sylvania ,Georgia in the southeast central  part of the state.
This itinerant evangelist reportedly preached in a saloon among other places.  The Methodist of that day were preaching in saloons and not drinking in them (with their Baptist friends).  Dow reportedly knocked over a barrel of drink and preached sin and their need for the Savior.   A mob threw objects at him and roughed him up.  Dow shook the dirt off his feet, as Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:14 when they were rejected by men, and through imprecatory prayer laid a curse on the town.  Only the Goodall home, the family that gave Dow shelter, remained after a few years.  The home of his Samaritans remains to this day and no other structures from that time.
My mother has relatives in Sylvania and once lived there for a short period with her grandmother.  I have heard in my lifetime several times.  I thought this tale and this unknown preacher was just a myth.

Later I came across this story in print.  The preacher’s name I did not know, just the story.  This preacher in the wild tale was Lorenzo Dow I was to learn.
There was several relatives in my father’s family named L.D. Law.  The L.D. stood for Lorenzo Dow.  In research I found that Lorenzo was the most popular registered name in the 1800’s.  Why?  Lorenzo Dow was one of the most influential men in America in the early 1800’s.
This was some man and some kind of different preacher.  

Lorenzo Dow lived from 1777-1834.
This much is learned from Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography 1988.
He was born in Coventry, Connecticut.  He preached all over the country.  Georgia can not claim him other than his many evangelical works recorded here.  He preached in every existing state and Canada.  I will claim him.  He certainly left a mark.
The Connecticut Conference of the Methodist Church denied his acceptance several times before admitting him into their ranks for a short time.  Dow was never officially ordained with them.   L.D. was not going to let ordination stop him.  He knew he was God called.
He was a very important figure in the Second Great Awakening.
At one time his autobiography was the bestselling book in America other than the Bible.
He was born in Coventry, Connecticut.  He was a sickly child.  Like Spurgeon he had strong religious influences in his pre-conversion life.
He had a conversion experience at age thirteen as he was also concerned with an eternity in hell and was convicted of his sins and put on Christ for salvation according to
the  book  LORENZO DOW'S CONVERSION From: The Testimony of a Hundred Witnesses Compiled by J. F. Weishampel Sr.  

He traveled by foot and horseback after a brief time as a pastor.
He was a circuit rider who made his own schedule
preaching in every state  in America in his lifetime.
He often traveled alone. Often he traveled with a box of Bibles to be distributed to the crowds.
He gave away most of his money made from many successful books to the poor.
The preachers wardrobe was what he wore on his back and no more.  When a garment was worn through people in his crowds would often donate new clothes on the spot.  Their are more than one report of a man in the crowd hearing him would remove their coat and handing it to him for wardrobe replacement.  Not surprisingly one of his trademarks was clothing that did not quite fit.  He was tall and thin and let his hair and beard flow.
This helped reinforce his nickname “Crazy Dow.”  It was often commented that he had not been in acquaintance with a brush, comb or razor for a while.
He broke with American Methodism when he felt called to go to Ireland, Wales and England to preach. 
Yes, there he helped start the Primitive Methodist church movement to restore the waning revival movement of John Wesley.

Dow could work a crowd using jesters, humor, anger and encouragement for conviction of sin.  Shouting and screaming and crying were part of his preaching.  In his celebrated preaching at times he spoke to more than 10,000.
While in America he would appear and tell folks in 365 days he would preach on the spot he stood at.  Dow would return and honor that time commitment.

So how did an evangelist who trod through Georgia on many preaching assignments contribute to the conversion of Charles Haddon Spurgeon?

In England Dow helped start a series of churches, the Primitive Methodists, which believed in sharing Christ alone for salvation.  Spurgeon "looked" to Christ for salvation at the Primitive Methodist Church on Artillery Street in Colchester, England.  As John Wesley once said to a conference of preachers “You have nothing to do but save souls.”
“Crazy” Dow was a Wesleyan /Armenian Christian.
C.H. Spurgeon, “The Prince of Preachers”, was a Calvinistic Baptist Christian.
The sovereignty of God reigned through both of their lives.
They both answered the call to “look” to Christ to be saved.  
They both freely offered everyone they preached to the offer to be saved from their sins and to become citizens of heaven.     
They both fully committed their lives to the gospel.
They both worked to glorify God not man. 
That is something the body of Christ from all traditions should agree on.

In Christ Alone!

Fletcher law

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