10 Downing Street
June 18, 1884
My Dear Sir,
I cannot avoid writing a line to offer you my hearty congratulations upon the approach of a day full of interest to many who stand beyond the circle, wide as it is, of your immediate hearers, followers, and denominational brethren.
I believe that both you and I belong to the number of those who think that all convictions, once formed, ought to be stoutly maintained, and who would, therefore, be called strong denominationalists.
But, without prejudice to this persuasion and outside the points by which our positions are marked off, there happily abides a vast inheritance of truth which we enjoy in common and which, in its central essence, forms, as I rejoice to think, the basis of the faith of Christendom. I, therefore, ask to unite my voice with the voices of thousands in acknowledging the singular power with which you have so long testified before the world “of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment,” and the splendid uprightness of public character and conduct, which have, I believe, contributed, perhaps equally with your eloquence and mental gifts, to win for you so wide an admiration.
[Very Sincerely Yours,]
From: Correspondence on Church and Religion of William Ewart Gladstone, selected and arranged by D. C. Lathbury; 2 volumes (London: John Murray, 1910), 2:324.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the recipient of this letter, was the most famous preacher in England. The letter was written to mark the occasion of Spurgeon’s 50th birthday (the next day).
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), politician and statesman, was four times Prime Minister of Great Britain (1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886, and 1892-1894).