164 years ago today—January 6, 1850—15-year-old Charles Spurgeon was trudging up Hythe Hill in Colchester, on his way to church. When the blizzard prevented him from going further, he turned the corner and made his way into a small Primitive Methodist Church on Artillery Street.
He recounted the story hundreds of time, each time a bit differently. But here is one of his most vivid recollections:
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to a place of worship.
When I could go no further, I turned down a court and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel.
In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people.
The minister did not come that morning: snowed up, I suppose.
A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach.
He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had nothing else to say. The text was, ‘Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth’ [Isa 45:22].
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter.
There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in the text.
He began thus:
‘My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, “Look.”
Now that does not take a deal of effort. It ain’t lifting your foot or your finger; it is just “look.” Well, a man need not go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man need not be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; a child can look. But this is what the text says.
Then it says, “Look unto Me.”
‘Ay,’ said he, in broad Essex, ‘many of ye are looking to yourselves. No use looking there. You’ll never find comfort in yourselves.’
Then the good man followed up his text in this way:
‘Look unto Me: I am sweating great drops of blood.
Look unto Me; I am hanging on the Cross.
Look: I am dead and buried.
Look unto Me; I rise again.
Look unto Me; I ascend; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand.
O, look to Me! Look to Me!’
When he had got about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes, he was at the length of his tether.
Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.
He then said, ‘Young man, you look very miserable.’
Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made on my personal appearance from the pulpit before. However, it was a good blow struck.
He continued: ‘And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.’
Then he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘Young man, look to Jesus Christ.’
There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the Precious Blood of Christ.”