William Squirrell

The Recognition Of W. K. Squirrell As Pastor, Hill Street, Dorset Square

Earthen Vessel 1891:

Recognition Of Mr. W. K. Squirrell As Pastor, Hill-street, Dorset Square, London

Tuesday, February 3rd, 1891, was one of the most pleasurable days we ever enjoyed in the above highly favoured and far-famed sanctuary. The crowded place reminded us of the happy anniversary occasions when first we visited Mount Zion, and heard with delight godly John Foreman of blessed memory, and many of his renowned colleagues, such as James Wells, George Murrell, Samuel Collins, Philip Dickerson, Samuel Milner, and other valiant men of the past, whose spirits have long been at rest with God. We rejoice, however, that although the above-mentioned brethren are not with us today, they seem to live over again in the present representative preachers of Christ who adorn our Strict Baptist pulpits, and conspicuous among them is the pastor-elect of Mount Zion, William Knibb Squirrell, late of Enon, Woolwich. During the widowhood of the Church they had the deep sympathies and prayers of the denomination, and on this interesting occasion representatives from London and suburban Churches were present in large numbers to rejoice with them in the services of the day (Is 61:3). Among whom were Messrs. Arnold Boulden, Green, Crowhurst, and Carr (Surrey Tabernacle); Turner (Elim, Limehouse); Weston, Campbell, and Goodson (Watford); Mote Sawyer, Licence, Sidders, Fricker, and J. W. Banks (Chadwell-street); H. Clark (Clapham Junction); Fromow and Franklin (Richmond); West (Erith); White, Falkner, and Flegg (Soho); Rider (Gurney-road); I. R. Wakelin (Keppel-street); White, Abraham, and others (Enon, Woolwich); W. Horton (Croydon); G. Herring (Notting-hill); Hider (Little Alie-street); Wright, sen and jun (Carmel, Pimlico); J. Curtis (Hounslow); S. Crowhurst (Meopham); G. W. Thomas (Tring); R. Burbridge (Camden-town), and many others. The Psalmody on the occasion was of the grand old type, in which all present appeared to heartily unite: special hymn-sheets were used. At 2.30, brother O. S. Dolbey, pastor of the Surrey Tabernacle, occupied the chair, supported on the right by Mr. C. Wilson, senior deacon, and on the left by the pastor; several other brethren were also on the platform. After the opening hymn—

“Now, dearest Lord, to praise Thy name,

Let all our powers agree”—

brother George Elnaugh offered earnest prayer. The chairman then read Eph 4, and gave a suitable introductory address, in the course of which he bore testimony to the fact that from the Scriptures it was evident God had a perfect knowledge of all His children and of all their daily needs. He knew, too, that they required a stated ministry for the constant declaration of His word. In olden times the Lord raised up prophets for the benefit of His Israel, and One especially, even Jesus Christ, to whom all the prophets gave witness, and who in due time brought good tidings to His people. He also appointed apostles to do His work, to be followed by Divinely-ordained ministers of His word. The chairman closed his remarks by stating that as the Lord had been pleased to grant the friends a brother to minister to them regularly, and that they too had made choice of him, he hoped that the Holy Spirit would rest upon them as of old, and prove to their comfort that they had been rightly led in the matter before them. Brother R. Burbridge pleaded with the Lord to seal the union with His blessing. Hymn No. II, “Arise, O King of grace, arise,” having been heartily sung, brother Dolbey observed that when a brother had been elected to preside over a people as pastor, they usually wanted to know in what way the Church had been directed to choose him. Brother Wilson was then asked to state the Lord’s dealings with the Church in relation to their choice of brother Squirrell as pastor. Brother Wilson said: Beloved Friends,—Most of you are aware that in the month of August, 1889, we became, for the second time in our history, a widowed church, and we take this opportunity of heartily thanking our ministerial brethren for the kind of generous help they so readily afforded us in our emergency, and also to the churches who so willingly encouraged their pastors to come to our aid, so that we were never left without a faithful and efficient minister of Jesus Christ to preach to us the Gospel of the grace of God. We also thank all our brethren who preached to us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But as time ran on there became an intense desire among us, as was manifest in all our prayer meetings, when the brethren poured out their hearts before the Lord that He would send among us a man of God to take the oversight as pastor to preach unto us the unsearchable riches of Christ, going in and out among us as an example to the flock, and one also whom He would make a blessing to the gathering in of many precious souls, as well as building up the church in their most holy faith; and among the brethren who came as supplies was our brother Squirrell, who, each time he came, appeared to be heard with increased pleasure and profit. At our regular Church meeting, held on Feb. 24th, last year, the deacons advised the members to come prepared at the next regular Church meeting, with the name of any minister who they desired to have as a pastor; and at our Church meeting, held March 31st, the papers were brought in, when there were 106 for brother Squirrell, and the next highest number being only ten, the numbers for brother Squirrell being so overwhelming, also knowing he had resigned his pastorate at Woolwich, we felt justified in asking the church, by show of hands, if they were prepared to give him an invite for three months with a view to the pastorate, in which they were unanimous. On Monday, the 14th of April, at a special church meeting, the minute relating to the invite on March the 31st, was unanimously confirmed, and the invitation was at once forwarded to brother Squirrell, which he cordially accepted. It was mutually agreed that he should commence the three months’ probation on the 1st of October, which he did, and each service seemed to draw the affections of the church and congregation towards him, as well as bind the members of the church together in love and unity. The deacons consequently, at our regular church meeting on Dec 1st, suggested the advisability of calling a special church meeting in a fortnight’s time to decide by ballot whether brother Squirrell should be invited to the pastorate or not, when it was moved, seconded, and carried unanimously that the suggestion of the deacons be acted upon, and on Monday, the 15th, the church met to take the votes, and there proved to be 198 for, and only 2 against. The result was at once communicated to brother Squirrell, who said, “The matter is evidently of the Lord, and I dare not refuse”; upon which an application was made to the church at Enon, Woolwhich, for his dismissal from their communion to ours, which was kindly granted, and he was received into communion and fellowship as our pastor on January the 4th, 1891. The chairman having expressed his appreciation of brother Wilson’s testimony, called on brother Squirrell to relate his call by grace. 

Brother Squirrell said:—I was born of Christian parents in 1846, at Ipswich, in the county of Suffolk, and inherited a good constitution from my dear father’s side, but when an infant I received an injury in the back and soon had water on the brain: my back grew out (all medical aid failing), until I became a sad object. The last doctor attending me told my parents it was impossible for me to live, and further remarked that the sooner the little sufferer was in his box the better. But soon after, a man lecturing on and practicing mesmerism in the town of Ipswich, came accidentally into my father’s shop for a watch key. While fitting it he spoke of his favorite topic. My father replied, “I have a case that no man on earth could cure.” After much persuasion he was allowed to see me; at once he said, “I can cure that child; but father, not being willing to waste any more money, he (the lecturer) said, “To prove I love my work, let me try, and if a success follows, I will charge you five shillings, otherwise I will make no charge at all.” A few weeks showed a marked change in me, and ere long I became as healthy as any other child. When about eleven years of age, nothing would do but I must get out in life. We were then living at Croydon, in Surrey, and somewhat against my parents’ will I went one day up the London in answer to an advertisement, and was soon on my own account. My dear mother (a true born lady; oh, how I bless God for such a mother), was very sickly. I had not been from home a great while when I heard that my dear mother was appointed for death. At the last interview we had, she said, “William, I shall soon be gone, but I shall meet you in heaven, I am sure.” I replied, “How do you know that?” She said, “I know God will answer my prayers; I die in faith, believing His promise.” A fortnight following I went home on the Sunday morning. I had a new overcoat; but before knocking at the door I turned that coat on my arm, with a boyish pride, so as to display the gay lining to attract the attention of my mother; but alas, she was gone to that Heaven of which she had so often spoken to me, and I returned home to my situation at night, a motherless boy, feeling all was gone, and not caring much what became of me in the future. Then followed a most serious accident; I was carried by my dear father to the doctor, who told him he greatly feared that if I recovered I should be an idiot. However, I did fully recover, and soon had another situation in London. Ah, and little did the master, who was a true, godly Churchman, know that several young men in his employ made it a matter of glory and boast to corrupt every boy that went to that firm and, alas, I was one of them. At first I hated it, and thought of my dear mother, her advice, her prayers, her influence, and her dying words. I wanted to leave, but could not tell my father why; he thought it best for me to stay on. I did so until I liked it, and soon became almost as sunken as they who had taught me to love evil. I will pass over several, worse than wasted, years of precious time, only naming one awful fact. One Sunday evening I interrupted a young street preacher, and spoke blasphemous things about the incarnation of our precious Lord Jesus Christ; and that very night I had such working of conscience that I was afraid to sleep. I wept as I thought of my dear mother, and wished I had never been born. I was melted, but soon hardened into my former state. As I look back on that act, I am ashamed, and wonder at God’s grace towards me. 

You will now ask, how came you by your religion? Did you give your heart to the Lord? or, did you let Christ in, because it seemed unkind to keep such a Christ waiting longer? I answer, emphatically, No! it was far from that, as you will see. When under twenty, I married into a Christian family, connected with the church under the pastorate of our beloved brother, J. L. Meeres, of Bermondsey. I went with my dear wife when she returned thanks for our first child; at first I would not go in, for I had no desire to be a chapel-goer, and had only heard Mr. Meeres once or twice before. But after my wife and her parents entered the chapel and service began, I went in for the sake of peace. Ah I well do I remember Mr. Gordon putting me into seat No. 18, a few seats in front of where my wife sat, and I, turning my head round as much as to say, All right, I have come. In prayer, Mr. Meeres prayed for my wife and also for her partner in life, and said, “Deliver him from going down into the pit.” That was enough, I was enraged, and returning to her father’s house to spend the day, I refused to go to the dinner-table on the ground that I believed he had told his minister all about me. Ah! dear man, how the tears stood in his eyes as he assured me that he had not said anything to his pastor about me. I could take his word on any matter. At once the arrow entered my soul. The minister had been moved by God, and God knew I was on the road to hell. I had sinned against light, knowledge, and many privileges. Then I set to work in good earnest to reform and to throw off old habits, also to go to chapel. I expected, of course, to be very near heaven shortly. Poor, foolish, young man, what had I not yet to learn! Under the faithful ministry of Mr. Meeres I was brought into a dreadful state of mind; it seemed to me that God was using him to drive every hope of salvation out of my troubled heart; for when he spoke of the privileges of the believer I knew they did not belong to me, the effect was almost maddening to my kind of mind, while every word of awful condemnation I took for months as my portion. Oh! what would I have given to have avoided such a searching ministry and yet go I must, for an inexplainable something wrought upon my soul that I could not stay away; meanwhile my attempts at reformation became utterly futile and my state became worse; old habits were not so easily to be got rid of. Moreover, I saw sin and felt its curse in my soul where I had least expected, till, to be brief, my righteousness; under the Spirit’s teaching and the revealing power of God’s holy laws, I say my righteousness became very rottenness, until I abhored myself as a mass of pollution; my tears, my acts, my prayers were like myself, so sinful, that I felt as sure as God was just, my soul would be for ever lost, and that hell must be my eternal portion. Nay, more, I had a hell already in my soul. “Going down into the pit” followed me night and day; as for being “delivered from it,” that I felt was impossible; I had sinned until grace herself was ashamed to own me, and powerless, as I though, to help me. Sometimes I cursed God in my heart that I was an immortal being, a being that must live for ever. Oh, how I became envious of brute creatures I saw, my heart was a fountain of sin, and for every sin I felt, I righteously deserved to be damned. Such a state of mind acted on the body, and well do I remember lying on the bed in a semi-unconscious state, and hearing the doctor say to my dear wife’s father, “I don’t understand what he is suffering from,” who, in his usual quiet way, replied, “I do, doctor; its soul trouble.” If you asked, did you read your Bible through all this? let me say, “Yes,” but mostly by fits and starts, for therein I found a doctrine, at which I stumbled, yea, it became as vinegar to the teeth, as a rasp to festering sores, and as the lash to the already bleeding back. It was the doctrine of Election. I felt God would, as a Lawgiver, be glorified in my eternal condemnation. But could His justice be seen in choosing some to “obtain salvation,” and leaving others in their state of nature without any possibility of their being saved. Nay, He was, I thought, an arbitrary Being, and could say, “Why doth He yet find fault.” I became most anxious about His justice, until at last every bone in me was broken. There I lay, a mass of sin, with the whole structure of my proud being broken up, and was brought to see it was mine to bow to the Sovereign will of Jehovah, and that in the display of that perfect will, God would take care of His own justice.

That doctrine of election I love today, for in it, when rightly viewed, there is encouragement for the seeker, and comfort and surety for the believer. Thus, ye who know the path, “which the vulture’s eye hath not seen,” will expect to hear that soon God began to heal and bind up my heart as He alone can. Yes, it was even so. I could not explain it; but while hanging for very life upon the words of dear Mr. Meares, now and again a little hope would spring up in my soul; sometimes I became very bold as he set forth a precious Christ in His atoning work for poor sinners, and His Divine ability and willingness to save the vilest of the vile. I would catch at it like a drowning man at a rope, and say within my soul, “That’s all for me, even me.” Now and then a sweet promise would be applied; altogether, the preaching and the Bible now seemed to savour more of Jesus Christ and less and less of Moses in my experience. Then, again, there were seasons when I was sorely tempted and tried, and could not dare to take an atom of comfort from any source whatever; but one Lord’s-day evening Mr. Thurston, of Croydon, supplied the pulpit, his next was “Who then can be saved.” He spoke (1) of salvation, in such a manner that made me admire the plan of grace as I had never done before. He considered (2) characters that, living and dying in that unchanged state could not be saved. How I trembled lest he should condemn me. The question (3) “Who then can be saved?” Well do I remember, he began with the “elect,” and came down at last just to where I was, and described my feelings to the very letter, pointing (it seemed) right at men. He said, “You, poor sinner, can and shall be saved.” My chains fell off, my soul was flooded with Gospel light and liberty, and I “the chief of sinners” felt completely blessed. I could see it all as plain as a pike staff. It was the Holy Ghost who had been working in my heart, “convincing me of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” It was that dear Saviour whose incarnation I had so wantonly and vilely blasphemed, when I interrupted the street preacher. “It was He who loved me and gave Himself for me”: and all this was the outcome of the eternal love of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, according to the covenant of grace. Moreover, I seemed to see again the face of that dying mother, and to hear over again her last tender words, and felt indeed her prayers had followed her wandering child, and was sure we should meet again, and that before the throne of Him who said, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” 

“The sovereign grace of God,

Is matchless, rich, and free:

When wandering in the downward road,

It stopped the sinner, me!

The voice of Jesus came with power,

I sunk in soul distress;

But He has kept me to this hour,

A witness of His grace.”

The chairman thanked brother Squirrell for his address, and hoped it would be sanctified of the Lord to His people present. He then, having announced Hymn III, commencing—

“In evil long I took delight,

Unawed by shame or fear,

Till a new object struck my sight,

And stopped my mad career”

…called on brother R. E. Sears, pastor of Little Allie-street, to address the audience. 

Brother Sears, who, from his childhood until settled as pastor at Laxfield, had been (as his parents before him) closely associated with Mount Zion, made a right noble speech. He was pleased to see brother Dolbey in the chair, as he thought there ought to be a strong bond of union existing between the Surrey Tabernacle and the Hill-street Church, according to the past history of the two places. He also touched with great force and clearness on the value of Evangelical Nonconformity in this country, and on the unfairness of the State in throwing a mantle of love over one sect only, leaving Nonconformists (who were as true and loyal to Her Majesty as any of the State Church) without protection. He then drew a beautiful word portrait of a true pastor and his staff from Bunyan’s immortal allegory, supported by the following words of Moses to Joshua: “And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” At the close of brother Sears’ speech the chairman said:—I am glad, brother Sears, you stated that we meet today as Nonconformists. In the Word of God you get Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel, four good men, Nonconformists, who would not bow down to the false gods set up in Babylon. We are true conformists, and protest against that which is opposed to truth. We are here to recognize God’s hand in sending our brother here as your pastor. There were some good people who could not see God’s had in my removal from Slaithwait to London; and there may be some here who cannot quite see brother Squirrell’s removal to this church to be right. Brother Dolbey then called on brother E. White, the pastor-elect of Enon, Woolwhich, to say a few words before closing the first part of the services. Brother White, in a very easy and happy way, related in brief his long and strong attachment to brother Squirrell, and gave a short address brimful of solid truth on the word, “Consecration.” He hoped brother Squirrell would be entirely and eternally (through life) consecrated to his work, and prayed that the church might be as a band of men and women touched of the Lord as those of old. He then gave a graphic description of the struggles of individual Christians and of the church collectively from Bunyan’s allegory on the oil and water poured upon the fire. Brother Dolbey, having given out Hymn IV.—

“Jesus, Sovereign Lord of all,

At Thy feet we humbly fall:

Lift our hearts and eyes to Thee,

Send, O Lord, prosperity,” &c.—

…asked brother I. C. Johnson, who was in the gallery, to offer prayer, which he assented to do; after which the benediction closed the first half of the happy day’s proceedings. A very large gathering of ministers and friends partook of an excellent tea.

In the evening the chapel was completely thronged to the doors, and a large body of ministers were seated on the platform. Our beloved brother John Box, of Soho, presiding, announced the opening hymn, “Kindred in Christ,” and read Ps. 122. Brother W. Winters offered prayer. The chairman, who appeared thoroughly at home and happy, gave the opening address, which was full of interest to lovers of the Gospel of Christ. Our brother, having referred in a suitable way to the necessity of Churches and ministers looking well to their Bibles, theology, and pulpits (on the ground of an excelled remark once made by the late J. A. James), and which the church at Hill-street had always done, spoke admirably well on the subject of peace, and of his high appreciation of brother Squirrell as pastor of Mount Zion. He then, in a few kind words, asked brother Squirrell to relate his call to the ministry. Our brother, having ascended the pulpit, said:—

You who were here this afternoon heard how, by mighty grace, I was called from darkness to light, from carnal ease into spiritual bondage, and how I was held fast by the law of a righteous God until, having “nothing to pay,” by Jesus Christ His Son, He “frankly forgave me all.” But grace did more for me than this; it raised and elevated my entire being and quickened my natural powers until I did not seem to be my old self. Before conversion I could curse, and swear, and fight, and desecrate the Sabbath, and, I am now ashamed to say it, I rejoiced in these things as fine traits in my character as a young man; but as for mind, or powers that could be a blessing to others, I had no idea of. Yet not long after following my Lord by baptism, and joining the Church of God, I remember being alone with the Searcher of hearts, and reflecting bitterly upon the past, when, with tears in my eyes, I wrote the following lines, and from a full heart I have prayed them over many times since:

Things that are worthy I would wish to learn,

For useful knowledge my anxious mind doth burn;

I would avoid all that is low and mean,

Lord, keep me, lest to that I lean.

Although my first joy abated, and many were the phases of experience that I passed under, yet the change was so marked, and God so faithful to His Word, that my communicative nature could not endure being pent up. I had no thought of being a preacher, far from it; but I did desire to be a blessing to others in the hand of the Lord, and soon was found visiting one or two sick old ladies of the church and congregation. One old lade was quite sure if I tried to read the Scripture, and pray with her, her God would help me, but I dare not try. At last she appealed to my sympathy for her sad case. I could go to the chapel and get a blessing, but she, poor soul, was bedridden. Her appeal touched me to the very core. I read, and her God did help me to pray. Both our souls were blessed. After that I visited others, and was encouraged by kindly words from my dear pastor, Mr. Meeres.

Soon after this my dear father-in-law, who was superintendent of the school, said in his quiet way, “William, I believe you could address the school, and some day I shall call upon you suddenly, and you will have to do it.” He kept his word, and one Sunday afternoon he and his son led me from the class I was teaching, and stood me before the school. The Lord also stood by me, and from that afternoon I took my turn in giving addresses. About this time, without the least thought of being a minister, I had two remarkable dreams, which I told my father-in-law, and he hid them away in his heart—dreams which have had, and I hope will have, a salutary influence on my public life. The first was, I dreamt I was on a platform as speaker before a crowded assembly, and, finding I could hold them spellbound, I was filled with conceit and self-admiration, when an angel appeared at the other end of the platform, and said to the chairman, “There’s one thing may be the ruin of that young man.” The chairman, who seemed delighted that I could hold the people, with surprise inquired, What? When the angel put a trumpet to his mouth, which trumpet reached right across the platform, and placing it close to my ear, said, with a voice like the sound of many waters, “Pride!” And, as a servant of the Lord, if ever I have felt lifted up and, alas, I have, that trumpet sound has again filled my ear, and brought me upon the knee of prayer with a “Lord, keep me humble.” The other was this. I was again upon a platform trying to give an address, but could not. The chairman inquired how it was, when a friend by his side remarked, “Don’t you see the young man is bound fast with cords;” for I had cords round me (like you have men men in the streets). He said, “You must give that young man liberty if you would give him power;” and suiting the action to the words, he cut the cords with a knife, and I had a time of great power and blessing.

Now, although in preaching I would never knowingly show anything less than a loving spirit, I have no need to throw stones at my hearers, seeing that God has given me the moral courage to take any brother or sister aside, look well into their face, and in the name of my Master, tell them affectionately of the wrong. Yet never have I, and never will I be bound in my work, or fettered in any way as to the doctrines I am sent of God to preach. Hence, before I accepted the invite to the pastorate of this Church, I met the dear brethren in office, and asked them each the following question: “Do you desire as pastor one who cannot be a respecter of persons, and would you accord to him the right of preaching fearlessly and lovingly all parts of God’s truth, and in no sense desire to bind or fetter him by private opinion?” Let me say, their answer and the manner of reply were both noble and kind, and made me feel they were “men of God and honourable.”

It is about twenty years ago since I first attempted to preach; it was for brother Osmond, in his old chapel at Haxton. To this brother I was recommended by my pastor, Mr. Meeres, and never shall I forget that Lord’s-day evening. My dear brother-in-law and I paced up and down in front of the chapel a long time before it was opened. My feelings I cannot now describe. How I trembled before the deacons: they asked me if I was not feeling very ill, but my brother, who was spokes-man, said, “It is his first time.” How I got round the long singing pew to the stairs of the pulpit I know not; but this I do know, no sooner had I placed my hand upon the rail to ascend the pulpit, than a solemn, holy charm filled my anxious heart, and I was greatly helped. Although I had no idea of dividing a subject into heads, yet I felt the power of a throbbing life from Christ the Head. The text was Ps 55:22. I was enabled to cast my burden upon the Lord, and have had many to cast upon the same Almighty One since then, and expect a few more before I die.

A few weeks later on brother Osmond brought to my house a friend from the cause at Dartford, and they prevailed upon me to take an engagement for a whole month, and to make it worse, when they had gone, I discovered there were five Sundays in the month. What sleepless nights, what misgivings, what crying to the Lord. what heart sinkings were mine to endure, until the time came to go and preach at Dartford. Yet go I did, but not alone, for God, even the “mighty God of Jacob,” was my helper, and, instead of the dreaded breakdown, there came just as I needed it, “the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ,” not only for one month, but for twelve months, so much so that I received a unanimous invite to the pastorate, but did not accept it. I mention this, it may be, to the encouragement of some whom the Lord is just calling to preach His glorious truth. To such I would say, dear young brother, fear not, God will help you.

My first pastorate was at Trinity, in the Borough—a chapel almost as large as this, and my first sermon I preached to a congregation of eleven persons, including the brother who gave out the hymns. Yet so sure I was that God had sent me there, that after awhile I took the pastorate, and remained there about four years. The numbers increased to about 200. Yet not much encouragement was mine to enjoy. Far from it, but it was a school in which God taught my soul many needful lessons; and since then how many I have met in my travels who have said, “I heard you at Trinity years back, and my soul was blessed.”

When I had left “Trinity” I solemnly reviewed the past, and felt in that review a great need of sound instruction, never having enjoyed so much as six months’ proper schooling in my childhood. Acting on the advice of a Christian brother, the late Mr. Thomas May, of Foot’s Cray, I saw Mr. C. H. Spurgeon, who received me most kindly, and we arranged that I should attend his evening classes. I saw Mr. Spurgeon again, and assured him that I not only held the doctrines of grace, but they held me; yea, that God had so burnt His truth into my soul that I did not want to be told by any man what to preach; also that from deep convictions I was a Strict Baptist, and could be nothing else. He now advised me to go right into his college, and that without signing an article of belief, or binding me in any way. I was in business at the same time, and frequently had only four hours in bed out of the twenty-four. While at college I was called to the pastorate at Meopham, in Kent, where I enjoyed proofs that God had thrust me into the ministry. 

My third, and what I and most people thought would have been my last pastorate, was at Enon, Woolwhich—a pastorate of nine years, where I was indeed blessed and made a blessing. The fact that we lived together in true unity and love as pastor and people is so well known to the churches that no further remark is needed from myself. But an important matter needs to be explained, viz., How could I, in the fear of the Lord, leave such a dear people amidst continued (not declining) prosperity. Let me say, for about three years before my leaving, there were times when I was cast down for want of room. I could see that although we had made a little enlargement that was soon filled up, and we had not seats for many that did come. Still as much as possible I kept this feeling to myself, and was daily praying for rest of mind, for I could not bear the thought of leaving such a devoted flock. But in August, 1889, I needed a change, and fully intended to go to Wales. But a few days before starting I felt compelled to go by water to Scotland—why, I knew not, not having visited Scotland before. I had not been at Rothsay long before a Scotch gentleman, a stranger whom I met on an excursion boat, asked me to give him my company. I did so, feeling that we could mutually help each other in the best things. We had nearly a fortnight together, and a soul-profiting time it was. In conversation I told him of my flock and chapel, and also of our belief as a denomination, the work which by God’s help we were doing; when to my surprise, ere we parted, he said: “We have been brought together by God in a very especial manner, and I believe for a special purpose. I have thought and prayed about you day and night, and am sure God bids me say, He has a greater work before you. You talk so about your loving people, but what about the church of God as a whole, and the real welfare of the kingdom of Jesus Christ?” Moreover, he said: “Unless you are living for comfort only, your duty is to lay down your resignation with simple trust in God, and I am sure good will come of it every way.” Further he said, “You are not ill, or you could not leap into the open sea before breakfast, and stand the rough weather on the boats as well as I do. “No,” he said, “Your soul is pent up; serve your Master right up to the hilt, and all will be well.” I was amazed, and protested, but he followed this up by letter after letter. After I had returned home each letter I laid before the Lord. At last I saw it was of God. His will, I thought, must be done. Although leaving Enon was like tearing off the right hand, I would do His will, and did do it with a clear conscience and an inward sense of divine approval, which abides with me tonight. I laid down my resignation on March 20th, 1890, not knowing how my family or myself would be provided for, nor where I was going, nor what would befall me. Only this I knew, that God was with me, and for me, so that I could trust Him as I had never done before, and that wherever I was led a great blessing was awaiting me. I will grant you that men who have but a slender hold of God will not understand this experience; but the Lord has do dealt with my soul, that to me and many more in this place He is truly God Almighty. I did not think I was the man for this people, but preaching here about eight days after I had laid my resignation down, the deacons asked me how I stood with Enon. I told them what I had done. They remarked, “We shall have church meeting shortly, but we do not know the mind of the people towards you.” By that I knew a church meeting would take place, but when I did not know. Awhile after, on the Monday evening, the beloved deacons of Enon were trying to show me the wrong I had done in laying down my resignation, and asking it to be received. That night there was no sleep for me. I went over all the ground again, and begged the Lord to show me the wrong, and I would call the church together, and as a true man ask their forgiveness, and abide with them. Strange to say, by the morning post there was but one letter, and that was from “Mount Zion,” to say the church gave me a unanimous invite for three months, with a view to the pastorate, which I accepted, dried up my tears, and said, “What hath God wrong?” Then the words rolled sweetly into my soul, “I will not fail thee.” And oh, what a three months’ probation. I had not a care about the future, or an endeavor to please, as this church can bear witness to the honor of God; for I knew I was not a place-seeker, and that God would not fail me. Then the final church meeting was held, and I was invited to the pastorate with only two votes of “No.” Did I take the right step? Let the following speak for itself. Brother White, late of Clare, has accepted the pastorate of Enon, with only one “No.” But what about Clare? Well, they have given a young and promising itinerate brother an unanimous invitation to the pastorate. So all is well. 

And now I am not here as a rival to any other preacher in the locality. No, God forbid. I would scorn so mean an act. But I am here to be used for good by the Lord of hosts. Already I feel I am beloved by the people, and by each dear bother in office. As for the Bible, my text book, I am increasingly charmed with it. May its great Author help me to bring out things, both new and old, to the comfort and building up of believers, and to the salvation of many, many, precious souls; to the praise, not of this church, nor to the praise of myself, but to “the praise of the riches of His grace.” I conclude by saying, dear brethren and sisters, “pray for us.” I would be nothing that that Christ I once blasphemed may be all in all. I can truly say tonight:—

“A guilty, weak and helpless worm,

On Thy kind arms I fall;

Be Thou my strength and righteousness,

My Jesus and my all.”

The chairman thanked brother Squirrell for his address, and announced a part of the well-known hymn (367 Denham’s Sel.), commencing “God moves in a mysterious way,” altering the last line of the last verse as fallows: “And He has made it plain.” Warm and suitable speeches were delivered by brethren E. Mitchell, E. Beecher, J. Bush. G. W. Thomas, J. H. Lynn, and W. Hoxham. Brethren G. Herring. T. B. Voysey, and others assisted in the work of the evening.

The newly-elected pastor heartily thanked the numerous friends for their presence and help; and the Benediction, pronounced by the chairman, closed the very happy day’s proceedings.

“May all the blessings of our God, 

In rich abundance fall:

Pastor and people all rejoice, 

And Christ be all in all.”

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.