Samuel Logan Brengle Yields To God

Samuel Logan Brengle records that ‘something’ happened to him on January 9, 1885. Maybe some will quibble over the terminology, whether you call it the ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ or ‘Entire Sanctification’ or ‘Second Blessing’, but he was transformed into one of the most zealous evangelists the Salvation Army has ever known.

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Brengle was born in Fredericksburg, Indiana, USA, June 1, 1860. His father joined the Union army when the boy was two, and was wounded during the American Civil War. The former schoolteacher died from his wounds after returning home, leaving his young bride to raise their only child on her own.

She was a godly woman who always took her son to church, despite her subsequent remarriage and many moves in the ensuing years.

During revival meetings in the small town of Olney, Illinois, young Samuel went to the altar five nights in a row, seeking elusive peace with God. He did not receive any inner witness of conversion in his soul until he later referred to himself as a “Christian” while talking with his mother. The sudden and glorious witness in his heart was music to his soul.

When he reacted to a schoolyard taunt by punching the offender he realised the evil in his own heart and could not find peace until he repented before God.

These lessons of the heart led him to serve the Lord and his keenness led those around him to commend him to lessons with an excellent professor in a nearby town. When his mother died he threw himself into his studies, going to DePauw University at age 17, where he was noted as a brilliant scholar.

The Lord led him to abandon his political aspirations for the pulpit, so he studied theology and cultivated ambitions to become a preacher of note. Under the godly instruction of Dr Daniel Steele Brengle says, “I saw the humility of Jesus and my pride; the meekness of Jesus and my temper; the lowliness of Jesus and my ambition; the purity of Jesus and my unclean heart; the faithfulness of Jesus and the deceitfulness of my heart; the unselfishness of Jesus and my selfishness; the trust and faith of Jesus and my doubts and unbelief; the holiness of Jesus and my unholiness. I got my eyes off everybody but Jesus and myself, and I came to loathe myself.”

Brengle maintained an ongoing tussle between personal ambition to have his oratory win him fame, and his desire to have all of God’s power at work within him. The two ambitions were mutually exclusive.

Already famous as an eloquent Methodist circuit-ridin’ preacher, it was on January 9, 1885 that Brengle laid his all on the altar. “Lord,” he prayed, “I want to be an eloquent preacher, but if by stammering and stuttering I can bring greater glory to Thee than by eloquence … then let me stammer and stutter.” (S.L. Brengle, by C. Hall, page 49). And he meant it! “So hungrily does he yearn for complete cleansing and holiness,” his biographer continues, “that the very vehicle of his destiny is thrown upon the altar.”

A few days later Brengle experienced a further touch from God. “It was a Heaven of love that came into my heart. My soul melted like wax before fire. I sobbed and sobbed. I loathed myself that I had ever sinned against Him or doubted Him or lived for myself and not for His glory. Every ambition for self was now gone.”

Then he met General William Booth … and joined the Salvation Army. On page 74 of this inspiring biography we find him blacking the boots of his fellow cadets. This was one of Booth’s requirements, to test the heart of those in training. Brengle struggled with the menial task, but then surrendered to the Lord and found joy in serving others. On page 191 we see him promoted to the rank of Commissioner!

Brengle continued as an eloquent and effective preacher, but not without opposition and challenge. The task of street preaching exposed him to violence from the public. However, the Lord had plans even with that. Some of the valuable books which Brengle wrote were penned during convalescence following being badly injured by a brick thrown at his head while street preaching.

There came from his pen some powerful volumes, calling the reader to Holiness and Soul-winning.

As a faithful soldier of Jesus Christ, Samuel Logan Brengle “was Promoted to Glory” (as the Salvationists delight to describe it), on 20 May, 1936. In his final message written for the Salvation Army War Cry magazine he had stated, “Go forward where He leads in glad obedience and in willing self-denial, and you will find with me that ‘at evening time it shall be light’. Hallelujah!” (S.L. Brengle, by W. Clark, page 147).

He was described by one observer as a “kindly, literate and articulate man who left good memories with nearly everyone he met”.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Thomas Chatterton Hammond Keeps Sydney Anglicans Evangelical

Thomas Chatterton Hammond died on November 16, 1961.

This man who was later to shore up evangelicalism on the other side of the world, was born on 20 February 1877 at Cork, County Cork, Ireland, youngest son of a farmer. Following his education at Cork Model School Thomas became a railway clerk at the age of 13.

He was involved with the YMCA, a very evangelical movement in those days, and received Christ. He was then led into full-time street preaching and mission work. This “evangelist, apologist and theological educator” cut his evangelistic teeth as an open-air preacher on the streets of Cork. The “boy Hammond”, as he was called, soon aroused the ire of Roman Catholic passers-by.

This was followed by two years of training, two years of itinerant evangelism, and then, in 1900, he entered Trinity College, Dublin. He became a rector of the Church of Ireland in 1905.

On 23 January 1906 Hammond married Margaret McNay, whose family had been closer to him than his own. He was an effective pastor, but also engaged in broader issues. He became a prolific pamphleteer and he had few equals as a public speaker, with “pungent and well-ordered eloquence”. As clerical superintendent of the Irish Church Missions from 1919 he controlled a large staff engaged in educational, welfare and evangelistic work. He wrote Authority in the Church (1921), a study of Anglican episcopacy and in 1926 he toured Canada and Australia, defending the Book of Common Prayer from threatened revision.

He became involved in the work of Inter Varsity Fellowship and “from this connection came an invitation to write an introductory hand-book of doctrine. In Understanding be Men was the result, an outstanding best-seller.

He was nearly 60 years of age when appointed Principal of Moore College in Sydney, Australia. He found the college understaffed and under-resourced, so he threw himself into building it up. Through his position there he greatly bolstered the evangelical emphasis that the Sydney Anglican Diocese became famous for.

One of his disappointments was that his more populist book, “In Understanding Be Men” became a standard text and was popular with the laity, while his more mature works—Perfect Freedom (London, 1938), a study in Christian ethics, Reasoning Faith (London, 1943), on Christian apologetics, and The New Creation (London, 1953), on the theology of regeneration—did not command similar support.

His weekly “Principles of Protestantism” radio broadcast opposed the teachings of Roman Catholicism and impacted many. And “T.C.” Hammond was ever ready to debate his opponents, finding the colonial situation much tamer than the tough environment in which he had grown up.

“T.C”, as he was affectionately know, retired from Moore College at the age of 75, and at the age of 84 he heard the Saviour’s “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Dan Crawford – Missionary to Africa

This is the day that … Dan Crawford was converted in 1887.

Born in Scotland on 7 December, 1870, he was only four years old when his father died, and a meagre education followed.  He grew up a “guid laddie”(good boy), became a member of the local kirk, and then became a Sunday-School teacher.

At the age of 17, as he taught Sunday-School, the influence of another teacher gave him uneasiness of soul.  “For some weeks he was in great anxiety.  One evening he attended a mission hall and heard a plain working man, out of a full heart, tell of a Saviour’s love …”  Convicted by the preaching but still unwilling to yield to the Saviour, Dan now found himself confronted by his friend’s final plea.

“Dan,” said Mr Storer as he drew a line on the floor with a carpenter’s pencil, “you’ll not step over that line until you have trusted Christ.  Will you trust Him now?”

There was “a minute’s dead silence,” says the biographer.  Then Dan Crawford said:  “I will” and strode across the line.  And, adds E. Enock, “he never faltered from that moment.”

“Dan started right away to tell all around of his new found Saviour.  He would preach anywhere.  In the street he would stop, doff his cap, and start to tell out the Gospel …” (Gathered Sheaves, page 2).

He threw in his lot with the Brethren, took to open air preaching, fell in love with Grace Tilsley … but declined to propose as he was going to Africa as a missionary.  And because he had developed such a “bad cough” in his street preaching days – in all kinds of inclement weather – the doctor did not expect him to live more than 12 months.

On 23 March, 1889, Dan Crawford sailed for Africa, in the company of F.S. Arnot, and there as a missionary sent out by the Brethren Assemblies, he served his Lord for the next 37 years.  In 1898 Grace Tilsley joined him, and they were married on 14 September.

He “relied upon unsolicited gifts and preferred to work alone.”  He translated the Scriptures into a native tongue, and wrote Thinking Black, a classic missionary volume that anticipated “modern cultural anthropology” (Who’s Who in Christian History), and “became a valuable contribution in the field of missionary practices and principles.”

Bishop Stephen Neill, in his History of Christian Missions, devotes three pages to Dan Crawford and the impact he made, not only on the African peoples he evangelised, but on missionary strategy.

On 29 May, 1926, during a restless sleep, he knocked his hand on a raw-edged shelf beside his bed.  Blood poisoning set in and he died five days later.