Earthen Vessel 1894:
Mr. William Knibb Squirrell
Residing in the vicinity, when our translated brother was preaching at the neat and commodious chapel, “Trinity,” Trinity-street, Boro’, and being without a home, we frequently dropped in there. Mr. Squirrell was a young man then, yet considerably in advance of his time of life in the experimental truths of the Gospel, and we have often remarked, after hearing him preach, that the Lord was preparing him for a larger sphere of usefulness. We can testify (at that time, feeling somewhat like a forlorn, dejected wanderer) to being often lifted up and helped on the way under his ministry.
Mr. Squirrell’s origin, &c., having been given in extenso in the March and April numbers of the Earthen Vessel & Gospel Herald of the year 1891 (see uploaded post), only a brief summary is now necessary.
The excellent portrait is from a photo by Messrs. Russell, of Baker-street.
It is known to many of our readers that Mr. Squirrell was a Suffolk man, being born in the town of Ipswich, in the year 1846. He was, in early life, brought up to the watch-making trade; entered into business and married before he was 20, and settled down in Bermondsey. Was induced by his wife’s relations, who were members at New Church-street, to hear Mr. J. L. Meeres, who was instrumental in cutting him down and building him up, but was set at gospel liberty when listening to the late Mr. Thurston, of Croydon, who preached from the words, “Who, then, can be saved?”
Mr. Squirrell preached his first sermon in Mr. Osmond’s chapel, Hoxton. Later on Mr. Osmond introduced Mr. Squirrell to the cause at Dartford, Kent, where he preached for twelve months. His first pastorate was at Trinity, Borough; second pastorate was at Meopham; third at “Enon,” Woolwich; fourth and last at Mount Zion, Hill-street, Dorset-square. Each of which places our departed brother made many friends, and left in peace, with a “God be with thee.”
Mr. Squirrell’s was an interesting career, fraught, through childhood and on to the latter part of his career, with many changing scenes which can be summed up in two words, “miracles” and “mercies.”
We thank God for his life, and the use He made of him among the Churches of truth. By the grace of God he was what he was, and by which he was enabled to walk before the world as becometh the Gospel of Christ.
The funeral service, as we said last month, was on June 12, when Mr. Adam Dalton conducted the service in the chapel and at the grave. A great number of ministers were present.
On Lord’s-day, June 17th, the funeral sermon was preached by Mr. John Bush, of the Surrey Tabernacle, when every seat in the noble and spacious building was occupied. Mr. Bush was led to base his remarks from: “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). The following is a brief summary of his discourse:—
“Beloved friends,—The Word of the Lord informs us that Moses, the servant of the Lord, died according to the word of the Lord. Just so, our departed brother Squirrell, although so unexpected, yet he, the servant of the Lord, died by the same word. The details concerning the death of all God’s saints are by divine appointment. Our brother’s work was done, quite finished, and although to us so mysterious, yet he is now for ever with the Lord, and we are exhorted by the apostle to comfort one another with these words. With Christ, his life, his light, his peace, his rest, his joy, for ever. The departure of God’s saints, and especially of God’s ministers, should teach us useful lessons, that we may by the blessing of God profit by every dispensation of His providence and grace. First, it speaks to each one of us, saying, “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Secondly, the dust of the righteous teaches us, or should do so, their value. On looking at the mourning-card, I find the words, “A loving husband, an affectionate father, and a faithful friend,” and we may add, a faithful minister of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, it should teach us to pray earnestly to God that if it be His gracious will He will send more such men to take the place of those who He is removing from the Church below to the Church above. Fourthly, another truth it does teach, and that is, that although God is taking His servants home, He Himself is the same, so that our dependence is in Him.
But coming to the words of the text, let us by the help of the Holy Spirit notice: (1) The characters referred to; (2) the rest mentioned; (3) the reward, “Their works do follow them.” First, their character. In the previous verse they are described as saints (by nature, sinners). Saints by divine grace. Holy, separate, sanctified. Sanctified by God the Father, sanctified by Christ Jesus, sanctified by God the Holy Ghost. (2) Redeemed ones. In the 3rd and 4th verses they are spoken of as redeemed from the earth and from among men.
“Redeemed, by Jesu’s blood redeemed,
His beauties called to trace;
No angel can be more esteemed
Than sinners called by grace.”
(3) Patient ones (see 12th verse). Patient in tribulation, in waiting, in watching, in enduring. No cross, no crown. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (4) They are further described as they that keep the commandments of God (see 12th verse). This our brother, by divine grace and sovereign mercy in Christ Jesus, was able to do. He was a believer in Christ, a lover of God’s people, united to them, and walked in the ways of his God. (5) Another character of the blessed dead is given us in the 12th verse. They keep the faith of Jesus, His doctrine, His precepts, His ordinances, contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. (6) They continue faithful unto death, for they are said to die in the Lord. Our brother was chosen in Christ, lived in Christ, died in Christ.
Secondly, The rest mentioned. From labour, such labours they were engaged in here. (1) From the toil of labour; (2) the woe of labour; (3) the faults of labour; (4) the discouragements of labour; (5) from the disappointments of labour, from sin, sorrow. A perfect rest in Christ, a rest with Him.
Third and lastly, Their works follow them. This is the right place for all works. Jesus has gone before. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and He will come again, and when He shall receive His people home, He, the King of kings and King of saints, will say to each, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” &c. And again, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Blessed dead! Blessed rest! Blessed reward! All of grace. To God be all the glory. Amen.
The Call Home
By Ethel E. Marsh
“Another gone from the ranks! Who will take his place?” This thought forced itself into our mind on hearing of the call “Home ” of our beloved brother in Jesus, Mr. W. K. Squirrell. Oh, what a gap has been made! How much will Zion miss the well-known form and smiling face with which he greeted all. It seems, perhaps, strange to our shortsightedness that one so soon should have been called to lay aside his armour and enter into rest, and at a time when sound, faithful soldiers of the cross are needed so much, but faith answers, “The Lord knoweth best,” and in that fact do we rejoice, feeling that He who raised him up to tell of redeeming love can also raise up others, and who so cares for His Church that He gave His life for her, will appear on her behalf in this time of need. Can we imagine half the glory that the faithful servant of the Most High God is now realizing? No! Can we form any idea of the joy that He now feels, of the brightness of the crown of life that he is wearing? No! Not until by sovereign grace we have entered the glory—land shall we know what joy awaits those that are washed in the blood of the Lamb. He knows now all he desired and wished below; the why and wherefore of the thorny road that led him home apace to God; the crooks in the lot; the dangers from which he was shielded; that it was the good pleasure of his Father sometimes to hide His face. He understands it all now. He tasted of the streams, and with us sang—
“If such the sweetness of the streams,
What must the fountain be?
Where saints and angels draw their bliss
Immediately from Thee.”
And now he is drinking at the fountain. He is face to face with Jesus. He has clasped hands around the throne with those that had gone before—Moses and the prophets, the apostles, with the numerous train of those who endured much for Christ’s sake on earth, and testifying their love to Him by gladly giving their lives. Yes, and with those too of our own loved friends is he now singing in the heavenly choir the music of which they will never grow weary.
“O think that while you’re weeping here,
His hand a golden harp is stringing,
And, with a voice serene and clear,
His ransomed soul, without a tear,
His Saviour’s praise is singing.”
He has received his crown that was awaiting him. We cannot but bless God for His goodness and mercy in removing the sting of death in having conquered it, and in taking away His servant from the many cares and trials that surround a pastor’s pathway, to be for ever with Him. Yet we mourn; for while to him it is gain, it is our loss. The Church at Hill-street have lost an under shepherd indeed, but, bless His dear name, they have not lost the Shepherd. He ever remains. The beloved family of the dear departed feels a wound that only the Great Healer Himself can heal; and while they “sorrow not even as others which have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), yet only Christ can understand a widow’s grief. And think you that He whose heart, when on earth, was moved to pity by the sight of sorrow, feels the less for His children who by His own act of love are plunged in grief? No! a thousand times no; but will fulfil His promise, “I will be a Husband to the widow, and a Father to the fatherless.”
Who will take his place? Who will fill the gap? Oh! you who are proclaiming to the world the preciousness of Christ and His love to men, how needful it is in the present day that you should be very earnest. It is an important work, and “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” The great enemy of souls is ever on the alert, and is using all that lies in his power to get especially the young into his net. There is much need for more grace, especial grace, to speak boldly in His name in spite of all oppositions, to those who are still careless as to their future state. Stop and think! A voice from this open grave says to you, “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” The messenger of death may soon, very soon, declare that time with you shall be no more. But then there is an eternity to spend, and where will you spend it? You may ere long be summoned to the judgment-bar of God, and how will you meet that Judge? May God in His mercy grant that your eyes may be opened, that you may see where you are standing.
Oh that our heavenly Father, who knoweth the special needs of His bereaved children may grant them grace to say, “Thy will, my God, Thy will be done,” feeling that He knoweth best, and confidently resting in His love and tender care, that we may be ready whenever the messenger is despatched from heaven for us. Then shall we have the joy of once more meeting with our loved ones, and never part again, but, best of all, to see Him who loved us, died for us, and entered the “valley of the shadow of death” before us, and conquered the last great foe.
William Knibb Squirrell (1846-1894) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He served the pastorate of four churches—(1) Trinity, Borough; (2) Meopham, Kent; (3) Enon, Woolwhich; (4) Mount Zion, Hill Street, Dorset Square. He was also served as President for the Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptist Churches.