“I proposed to them, on one occasion, that I should preach on Sunday evening by the riverside, and the remark was made by one of them “Ah! I do not like it, it is imitating the Methodists.” To him, as a sound Calvinist, it was a dreadful thing to do anything which Methodists were guilty of; to me, however, that was rather a recommendation than otherwise, and I was happy to run the risk of being Methodistical.
All over England, in our cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, there are tens of thousands who will never hear the gospel while open air preaching is neglected. I rejoice that God allows us to preach in churches and chapels, but I do not pretend that we have any apostolical precedent for it, certainly none for confining our ministry to such places.
I believe that we are permitted, if it promotes order and edification, to set apart buildings for our worship; but there is no warrant for calling these places sanctuaries and houses of God, for all places are alike holy where holy men assemble.
It is altogether a mischievous thing that we should confine our preaching within walls.
Our Lord, it is true, preached in the synagogues, but he often spake the mountainside, or from a boat, or in the court of a house, or in the public thoroughfares. To him, an audience was the only necessity. He was a fisher of sits souls of the true sort, and not like those who sit still in their houses, and expect the fish to come to them to be caught.
Did our Lord intend a minister to go on preaching from his pulpit to empty pews, when, by standing on a chair or a table outside the meeting house, he might be heard by hundreds? I believe not, and I held the same opinion that the very beginning of my ministry, so I preached by the river side, even though my good deacon thought that, by so doing, I was imitating the Methodist.”
(Vol 1, page 256, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES H. SPURGEON, American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia)
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