Indians Enough At Home

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my copy of Rev. John Farrar’s invaluable “Biblical And Theological Dictionary” which I found upstairs in that excellent second-hand bookshop on Lord Street in Southport. It cost me twelve pounds, which I think was money well spent. It was originally published in 1852, passing through fourteen editions.

My copy is “A new edition, revised and greatly enlarged, by the Rev. J. Robinson Gregory”, published in 1889. Inside the front cover is inscribed the name of the original owner, and the date of purchase: “Jos. S. Woof, 1890”. Yes, really! You couldn’t make it up, could you?

In the evening, after our day at the seaside, I was leafing through its pages when a piece of paper fell out. It appears to have been clipped from a newspaper or a magazine, and is somewhat faded with age.

On one side is the portrait above - a face familiar to those of the Evangelical and/or Reformed persuasion, I’m sure. On the other side we have an extract from a brief biography of the man, including a mention of his preaching to the colliers at Kingswood, which some would say marked the beginning of a revival in open air preaching, both here and abroad. Take a few moments to read it through, if you can make it out clearly enough on your screen.


A revival? Didn’t Whitefield and Wesley more or less invent open air preaching, when pulpits were denied to them?

Er… not really, no. May I urge you to turn to Spurgeon’s excellent “Lectures To My Students”, Second Series, Chapter 4: “Open-Air Preaching - A Sketch Of Its History”. You don’t have to buy the big Banner Of Truth edition, though it’s well worth having, because his writings are freely available on the internet. He begins with - well, I’ll let you find out for yourself!

From time to time, you may come across personable young (and not-so-young) people fired up with enthusiasm from some missionary meeting or Keswick-style conference, wanting to rush off abroad and make a name for themselves as missionaries, often appealing to their church, or visiting a series of churches, asking for funding to send them off and to support them while they’re away.

Nothing really wrong with that, of course; but it’s always worth asking them this question: “What experience of missionary work have you had so far?” If they look puzzled, and reply, “None, I need to get out there before I can begin”, then we might well say, with Whitefield’s friends: “What need to go abroad? Have we not Indians enough at home?”