Charles Stanley



Chapter 3


A preacher and a man of business.

Two cases of my need met by God.

God cares for the temporal things.

The lost dinner.

Led to go where the Lord directs, and found fruit after many years.

Sent to Scarborough.

Expenses paid.

A collision on the way.

Met at the Terminus, though unknown.

Call to preach on a Steamer.

A Sermon, twenty miles long.

Many Saved.





It may be asked by some, how could I preach all my life in so many places, and provide for my family? Well, I found there was nothing too hard for the Lord.  I may say I never gave up my business, until the Lord had given me sufficient to live upon; but my custom was to preach three or four times a weak, sometimes more, and work the rest.  Indeed, often after a day's work in commercial traveling on my own business account, I found the Lord with me in preaching the word.  The Lord often helped me in a very remarkable way.  I will give two instances when I felt greatly in need of His help.

At the time I kept a store of material for the Sheffield trades, I had only small capital, but desired no more than I had.  Indeed, I had learnt that the Lord took special care of His little dependent ones.  I was walking about in my shop, having been absent of late about half my time preaching. I had a bill to pay on the following Monday, and I felt a Christian should
always pay as payment was due, but in this case I had not the money, and did not know where it was to come from.  I lifted up my heart in prayer to the Lord about this, and immediately thought of a large stock of emery; I had many casks, which I could not sell.  I told the Lord about this emery.  He said, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship."  I said, Lord, which is "the right side of the ship"?  Immediately the thought came, He must be the right side of the ship.  I then asked the Lord to sell for me the emery, for
I could not, and the amount would just meet my need.  Whilst I was in prayer, a man walked into my shop, and said, "Have you any emery to sell?" "Yes, I have," I said; and went and took a pinch of the heavy stock I had to sell and placed it in his hands.  "Aye," he said, "this is exactly what I want: how much have you?" I told him the number of casks (a twentieth part
as much I had never sold at one time in my life); he said, "We will have it all at the price you name, send it down to our firm to-morrow.  And we always pay for all we buy casually on Monday morning."  I said, "I will do so; and now tell me how it is you came here, and how is it you can use this kind of emery?  I have tried, and could not sell it anywhere; indeed, I
ought to have returned it, as it was sent in mistake to me."  He replied, "Such and such a grinder told me you had a quantity to sell; we wanted it badly, so I came on to see it.  You might well not sell it, as we are the only manufacturers who use this particular kind; we use it for scratching saws for the foreign market."  I sent it on, and received just the money I needed.

I will give another out of the hundreds of instances of the Lord's care; and then return to speak of His work.  Years after the former case, when I was a Sheffield merchant, supplying export houses in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, London, Liverpool, and Glasgow, I had been traveling three days, and preaching at night, and had received no orders-this was trying, I was walking down B_____ Street, in Birmingham, in prayer that the Lord would direct me to the house where I might receive an order for goods.  As I was thus in prayer, I felt distinctly bid to walk exactly opposite to where I had arrived.  There was a small plate on the side of the door, H. and G., but it did not say what they were.  I looked in, and from what I saw, I said, "Why, Lord, this is a leather warehouse.  This is nothing in my way!" But the Spirit of God seemed to say, "Go forward!" I did so.  I opened the warehouse door, and found a number of men doing something to skins of leather.  I presented my card and inquired if Mr. H. was within.  I was shewn into the private office, where I found Mr. H., and inquired if they were requiring Sheffield goods for the export trade, naming Australia, as there was a great demand for those colonies.  He looked with some surprise, and said, "Do you supply such goods for Melbourne?" I replied, "Yes," and named several firms in the neighbourhood that I supplied. Opening the order book brought by a clerk, he said, "Are you sure that you supply R. & Sons?" "Certainly," I replied. "Well," he said, "this is very strange.  We are export leather merchants, and one of our clients in Melbourne has just sent us an order for Sheffield tools, &c.  We know nothing about these goods. But here is the order, reading out some of the numbers and prices of my goods, which had been sent by some one else."  He ordered the clerk to write out the order, which came to several hundred pounds.  This was the commencement of a large and most satisfactory account with a most honourable, straightforward house.

How can we account for all this, except on the ground of the tender care of Him who hears and answers prayer?  The history of that ever watchful love, even in temporals, would fill a volume.  From a child I had been led to believe that God heard and answered our prayers.This will be seen from a circumstance that occurred to me soon after my conversion.  I was in a field two miles from home, and had put my dinner in a hedge; a young horse had got the dinner out of the hedge, and destroyed it except one small piece of bread.  Also my tinder and flint were gone, for making a fire, the weather being cold in winter.  I knelt down and prayed for a fire, and also that the Lord would make the bread sufficient for my dinner.  I found the steel, and walking in the field soon found a flint.  I gathered some dry leaves and rotten wood, and soon had a fire.  I then sat down, and whether the Lord multiplied the bread, or made the little give the same sustenance, I know not; but certainly I was as strengthened and satisfied as if I had had the best of dinners.  Many may smile at this; for my own part I only pray that we all had more childlike faith, that expects and then enjoys answers to prayer.  Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you."  I felt thankful for the need, which gave the opportunity for asking and receiving.

This is a little digression, but it is happy to think of His loving care. From that first visit to Ackworth, about forty-three years ago, I was led to go just wherever the Lord sent me, depending on what He could and would do, by the Holy Spirit, in blessing to souls.  Now I would not so much relate what appeared at the time; but for the encouragement of the Lord's servants I would say, I scarcely ever have visited a place twenty years after preaching but there I have found fruit to His praise.

 Some may be ready to ask, “What do I mean by going wherever the Lord sent me?”  I will try to give a few distinct cases out of very many.

I had gone down to Hull to collect a few accounts.  At the time I was only in a small way of business, and as I was pretty sure to collect the same, I had not taken money with me.  I was at a meeting for prayer and reading the word, with a few Christians from different places, at eleven o'clock on the Saturday morning.  As we were reading the Spirit of God laid it on my heart that I must go to Scarborough to preach.  I went into a room alone, and looked to the Lord in prayer that I might be assured of His will in the matter.  He gave me distinct assurance that I must go.  This was a long journey then via York, and I had not money to take my ticket.  But then the Lord knew that.  I took my bag, told the friends I was staying with, that I felt distinctly called to go to Scarborough, though I had never been there, and only knew the name of one person there, and I had not money to pay my fare.  I named this to no one.  But when God gives faith it is faith.  I left the house, and walked until I was just stepping up to the booking office, when A.H. cried out behind me, "We have just heard you are feeling led to go to Scarborough to preach to-morrow.  A brother, Mr. H., desires to have fellowship with you, and has sent you, (I think it was $3) to pay your expenses."

On the way we had a slight collision, exactly at the corner of the carriage where I sat which was broken through.  None of us were injured beyond a shaking.  I thought this was surely a token that the Lord would have me speak the word to some one.  I got into conversation with a young man who was, I judged, going home to die of consumption.  I found him somewhat anxious about his soul, but thought he had a great work to do before he could be saved.  I believe God blessed the message to his soul.  "It is finished" was a wondrous new truth to him. As we drew near to Scarborough, his mother, who was with him, was so delighted with the joy and peace of her son, that she begged I would make her house my home whilst I stayed in Scarborough.  I thanked her very much, but said I could not do so, as I had just been making a request to the Lord that would hinder me from accepting her kind offer.  As I only knew one name in Scarborough, I had been asking the Lord to bring him to the station, and shew me which was he.  At last the train stopped.  A gentleman came, and looked very earnestly at me.  And the Lord said to me, " That is he."  Still I hesitated to speak, and got out of the carriage.  He continued to look at me.  I thought, how foolish I am to pray, and not to believe God, so I said: "May I ask, Is your name Mr. L.? "Yes, it is," he said; "is your name Stanley, of Sheffield."  "Yes, it is," I said; "but how do you know my name?"  He said, "Mr. J., of Hereford, was expected by this train, to preach to-morrow; and this is the last train, and there is not one in the morning.  And as I was feeling disappointed, my eye caught you, and it was just as if a voice had said to me, “That is Stanley of Sheffield: I have sent him."  He assured me of a hearty welcome, and a large congregation on the morrow.  There is something very blessed in preaching Christ, feeling the certainty that He had sent you.  Certainly I had that assurance on the following day.

Shortly after this, I was again at Hull, having preached on the Lord's Day. I was seated with Mr. A.J. after dinner, when I had a distinct call to preach on a steamer.  I told Mr. J. He said, "There is a market steamer which will leave at 2 or 3 o'clock (I forget the exact time), and it will be crowded with market people."  I felt assured I was called to preach there on board that day.  I therefore took my bag, and Mr. J. went with me to shew me the way.  At that time there was no proper landing-stage for this steamer, and as I was walking the plank from the pier to the steamer, it suddenly lurched from shore, my plank fell in the water, and I just caught on to the steamer's side, and was got on board.  There was a great shout and excitement, and I was a good deal shaken.  In this weak condition, I looked to the Lord in prayer, that He would raise me up, and give me a fellow-helper on board.  I walked the crowded deck in prayer, and as I passed a man sat down; the Lord pointed him out as the one to help me.  I stooped down, and asked if he were a Christian.  "Yes," he said, "through mercy I am." I said, "Have you faith?"  I then told him how the Lord had sent me to preach on board, how shaken I was, and weak, and I had been asking the Lord for a helper.  He jumped up, saying, "Faith and works, man," and ran away.  I now felt much cast down.  How strangely the Lord prepares His servants for His work.  I had about become low enough for the Lord to use, when the man came back with a beaming face; "All is ready," He said. I asked, "What is ready?" He said, "I have got the captain's permission, and a number of people are ready to sing a hymn."  He gave out a hymn, which was heartily sung.  The Lord then gave me strength to preach the gospel all the way, nearly to Thorne------that was the name of the place.  The people kept getting off at different landing stages up the river.  At the time I was not aware that a single soul was saved that day.  I was preaching all the afternoon until night.

Many years after this, when I had almost forgotten the circumstance, after preaching in Birmingham, a gentleman came up, and said, "I dare say you have forgotten me."  I did not recollect him.  He said, "Do you remember preaching a sermon twenty miles long?"  I did not remember him, I said, "Well," he said, "Do you remember preaching up the river, from Hull to Thorne, which was twenty miles or more?"  Then it came to my mind very distinctly.  He was a Wesleyan minister, and said, "I have long wished to see you."  He was the man who helped me so kindly that day.  He told me he was stationed at Selby afterwards, and visited the different towns and villages up the river where the steamer stops, and he had found souls who had been saved that day all up the river.  Thus, after many days the Lord gives us proof that His "words shall not return unto Him void."  Oh to preach in full assurance that souls will be saved!

What a joy it will be in the presence of the Lord, at His coming, to see the thousands (it may be) of souls who have been brought to Him, through the riches of His grace, by His weak servants?  O depths of mercy, not only to have saved us from hell but to use us as channels of mercy to others.  The apostle could say, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"  I have never, that I am aware of, seen one of those dear children by the river.  No doubt by this time, after so many years, many of them are with the Lord.  I shall meet them in the glory, so near at hand.