This is the day that … John Angell James was born, in 1785.
James pastored Carrs Lane British Congregationalist Church in Birmingham for over 50 years!
From 8 May, 1806 (at just 21 years of age) until his death on 1 October, 1859, John Angell James was a laborious, earnest and successful pastor, not remarkable for scholarship, but with a fine talent for practical service, a ready flow of language, and a constant aim at religious impression.
He wrote voluminously – 15 volumes consisting of sermons and addresses on practical subjects. He said of his writing, “I write plain truths, in plain language, for plain people.” His writing was purposeful and he studiously kept his audience in mind, aiming to reach them effectively. “It is my purpose, as God shall assist me by His grace, to labour more carefully for the edification, consolation, and spiritual improvement, of those who through grace have believed.” “My design is to aid the Christian in the practice of Scriptural truth. My purpose is not to lead the theologian through the intricate labyrinths of controversy—or into the depths of profound Biblical knowledge. The highest object which my literary ambition has ever led me to seek, or my own consciousness will ever lead me to hope that I can obtain, is to assist the believer in the path of life.”
Most well known of his works is The Anxious Enquirer, which sold 200,000 copies in the first five years of its publication. A 4 year-old assistant school teacher read it in 1843, was converted, and later became John Angell James’ successor at Carr’s Lane Church. That was Dr R.W. Dale, who ministered there for many years.
Spurgeon, in his autobiography, thanks God for The Anxious Enquirer (page 88), and even tells us of his “pilgrimage to Birmingham” as a lad to hear James preach (page 190).
Another to be influenced by The Anxious Enquirer was the wife of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It led to her conversion (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Volume 1, pages 166-7).
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.