Charles Stanley



Chapter 2


A Room Opened for Preaching.

Captain W.

Found out our ignorance.

Captain W. charged with error.

Testing him with Syllogisms proved my own folly.

A great change in the current of my course.

Visit to those who were gathered round the Lord Jesus.

Gathered to the Lord’s Table

Led to read 2 Corinthians 1., but read by another.

Real Guidance of the Spirit.

My second start in preaching.

God blesses His Word, though we are ignorant.

Visited many Towns.




At this time, two of us opened a little room at Sheffield, in Duke Street, for preaching the gospel.


The late Captain W. was then labouring in the service of Christ in Sheffield.  Hearing of this little meeting, he called on us, and asked if he might preach the gospel in our little room. We gladly consented.  He set before us the living Person of "Christ meeting the sinner at Jacob's well - meeting the woman just as she was.  Christ did not shun her, or tell her to go and reform her sinful character, before He could speak to her, or save her.  It was the Son of God saying to a poor sinner, :"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." (John iv.10)  I had never before heard Jesus thus set forth by any preacher; but I found it was the same precious Jesus, who had met me in that dark lane, and on that rainy night, and had spoken peace to my troubled soul.  The effect of this preaching, I doubt not, has been felt by me ever since that night.  It is a wondrous revelation of how God can, and does, meet the sinner.


We soon found that, for the present, instead of preaching, we needed close and continued study of the word of God. For eighteen months we read together the epistle to the Romans; and for that period, I scarcely read anything else but the Word of God.  This has been a great blessing to me.  I must however, relate on incident that occurred at the commencement of these readings.  As almost everybody spoke of the errors of Captain W., I thought he must hold some; and, strange to say, the most precious truths he sought to bring before us, I through my own ignorance, thought to be errors.  I have often noticed the same thing since.  At that time I had no little conceit of myself, and great confidence in logic. I thought the best thing to do would be to prepare a number of syllogisms, bearing on the points I judged to be error.  An opportunity soon occurred, and, in answer to a question from the Lord's servant, I let off a volley of syllogisms.  I shall never forget his kind, pitying look, as he clapped his hand on his knee, and so quietly read the next verse.  In that moment the Lord shewed me what a fool I was, and all my trust in logic was for ever gone.


I now come to an event that turned the whole current of my future course from that day to this.


I had heard that Captain W. and a few other Christians met on the first day of the week to break bread, like the disciples, in Acts xx.  One Lord's day morning, I went to see what this could mean.  I found them gathered in an upper room, in Wellington Street, Sheffield.  I sat behind, and naturally looked for the pulpit.  There was no pulpit, but a table spread, or covered with a white cloth, and on it the bread and wine, in commemoration of the death of the Lord Jesus.  I then looked for the minister, or president; there was no such person.  All the believers gathered were seated around the table of the Lord.  A deep. solemn impression fell upon me: "These people have come to meet the Lord Himself." I have no doubt it was the Spirit of God that thus spake to me.  It is impossible to describe the sense I had, for the first time, of being in the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus, according to that word, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."  I could scarcely notice what was done, I was so overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord.  No one can have any idea what this is, unless really gathered to His name.  What a contrast to everything I had seen before, and yet how simple! It was like going back to that which was in the beginning of Christianity, before any priest was heard of to offer in the church a sacrifice for the living and the dead.  I was much surprised to find, strange as this gathering together of Christians to break bread appeared to me, that it was exactly what we find in scripture.  Instead of even a minister at the Lord's Table, I found the same simple liberty as described in 1 Corinthians xiv.29-37.I was greatly struck with each worshipping before the Lord, in dependence on the Holy Ghost.  I felt that was my place, deeply unworthy as I was of it.  Well do I remember the thought, "This is my place, if even it were to be a door mat, for these Christians to wipe their feet on me."


After some weeks, I was named as one who desired to obey the Lord, "Do this in remembrance of me;"  and, through grace, I took my place as one redeemed to God, at the Table of the Lord.  Shortly after this, I experienced one morning, whilst we sat in silent worship, what I had never known before - the leading of the Spirit of God. It came as a gentle whisper from the Lord, "Read 2 Corinthians, chapter i.;" and very precious thoughts came into my soul on verses 3 - 5.  I felt agitated, so much so, that perspiration ran down my face and body.  We had sat some time in silence.  I felt bid to rise and read, but had not courage to do so. At length, Captain W., who sat at the other side of the room, arose and said, Let us read 2 Corinthians i., and then he ministered the very thoughts the Spirit had laid on my heart.  This was how I first learnt the leadings of the Spirit, in the midst of Christians gathered to Christ.  This has been a matter of frequent occurrence for these many years.  Some instances I shall relate.  We cannot read the Acts without seeing that, after the Holy Ghost formed the church, He was really present to guide the servants of the Lord.  I am persuaded it is our unbelief that hinders much more of His distinct guidance now.


One thing that made me now slow to speak, was the continued discovery of my astonishing ignorance of scripture.  The more I studied it, the more I discovered my ignorance.  I suppose it is always so.  With a deepening sense of my ignorance, I will relate how I began again to preach the gospel.  A brother in Christ was over from Ackworth.  Before he returned home he said to me, "It is much impressed on my heart, that you are to go back with me, and preach the gospel at Ackworth. "What," I said, "I go and preach! nay, it will take me all my life to unlearn what is wrong, before I can preach what is right."  He said firmly, "You will, I believe, go, and the Lord will bless the word;" This was quite another thing. I dare not doubt that He could bless His word.  After prayer I went, and proved then and ever after, that the Lord could, and would, bless His word.


This, then, was the second start to preach the Word, about ten years after the first, when a boy of fourteen. Seldom, in those days, did the Lord open my lips throughout the towns and villages of England, without some soul being converted.  Not that this appeared at the time, but I have met them everywhere, ten, twenty or thirty years after.  As I did not keep a journal, it would be impossible to give an account in order of those preachings, readings and conversations for forty-two years, in Sheffield, Rotherham, and the villages all around; in Hull, York, Wakefield, Scarboro', Malton, Whitby, Redcar, Newcastle, and around; in various parts of Scotland; in Manchester, Rochdale, Oldham, Bury, Southport, Liverpool, Llandudno, Stafford, Gnosall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Leamington, Banbury, Swindon, London, and around; throughout Kent, Cheltenham, Malvern, Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol, Clifton, Bath, Taunton, Exeter, Torquay, Plymouth.  Then in the Eastern Counties: Ipswich, Colchester, Needham Market Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich, Grimsby, etc., etc.,