Chapter 28 Boston (1928-1930)

Mr. McClure often enjoyed visiting the city of Boston, Mass. In that vicinity there are many places of note and special interest to the American people— places which have been preserved and their history handed down from one generation to another. “The Boston Tea Party” commemorates the fateful occasion when the colonists threw a cargo of tea into the harbor because of the tax levied by the King of England. There is also “Bunker Hill,” and the road where Paul Revere took that renowned midnight ride to warn the people of the British invasion back in 1775; the town of Lexington where the historic battle was fought in 1776, and the spot where the village blacksmith had his forge “under the spreading chestnut tree” concerning which Longfellow (whose home is only a short distance from it, and open for visitors to inspect) wrote the far-famed poem which many of us learned to repeat in our school days. Mr. McClure took special interest in viewing such scenes, but there was one place he had longed for years to visit. This was the city of Newburyport about thirty miles from Boston where the world renowned evangelist George Whitefield died in 1775. This eminent servant of Christ, a fellow-laborer of John Wesley, was a most eloquent preacher and soul-winner in the British Isles and in America.

One day Mr. W. H. Marshall drove Mr. McClur Mr. H. G. McEwen and some other brethren to Newburyport where they went to see the ancient church building in which Whitefield preached his last sermon. The guide took them through the building pointing out some unique and interesting things that were reminders of by-gone days. Ascending the pulpit he unlocked a little door, took a box and from it he drew a package carefully wrapped up from which he removed an old worn Bible. The guide opened it at 2 Cor. 5 and said, “This is the Bible Mr. Whitefield used” and pointing to verse 17 he said, “This was his last text that Sunday evening.”

He then took the visitors down to the basement and directly under the pulpit in a glass case lay the skeleton of that once mighty preacher. The brethren were moved by that sight and Mr. McClure stood with bowed head for a good while looking at the silent reminder of that noble witness of the Gospel of Christ. Then turning to leave he said, “Well, goodbye George. When I see you again you will be worth looking at.” His words came true for this was his first and last visit, and now the preacher of the twentieth century as well as the preacher of the eighteenth century together rest from their labors waiting for the coming of the Lord, when their bodies, now corruptible, shall be raised and fashioned like His glorious body.

After our brethren McCracken and Gould left Rhode Island for the west in May, 1928, Mr. McClure went to Boston and began a series of meetings in the Gospel Hall on Cliff St. As on former occasions his ministry was much appreciated by the Lord’s people of that large city.

At the end of June our brother left Boston for Pugwash Junction, Nova Scotia, for their conference at which his presence and ministry proved a great cheer to the saints.

Following a brief visit to Cape Breton he returned to the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Brennan in New Glasgow where he came down with “shingles” suffering much from a very painful attack of that disease. When he recovered sufficiently to travel he left for Hamilton, Ontario, where he was heartily received by Mr. and Mrs. John Moreland and during his stay there he improved slowly. It was suggested by his doctor in New York that a sea voyage might help his recovery, so our brother decided to travel to Oakland, California, by way of the Panama Canal.

Arrangements were made for him to sail on the S. S. California, and one Saturday morning at the end of August a large company of Christians accompanied him to the ship at the pier in New York to bid him God-speed.

The journey down the Atlantic coast was very interesting, but the great attraction to Mr. McClure on that voyage was passing through the canal. As the ship proceeded slowly through the great locks he was able to observe much of the stupendous engineering feat that made such a passage through Central America possible. Entering the Pacific Ocean they had still a long distance north, but the vessel docked for a few hours at the port in San Diego in Southern California. While there Mr. McClure was greatly surprised and cheered by a number of the Lord’s people coming on board to greet him, a very pleasant visit which was enjoyed by them all. The ship was soon on its way again and the next stop was San Francisco, and in Oakland as usual a hearty welcome awaited brother McClure after an absence of about two years.

During the summer of 1929, I decided to pitch a tent in Providence, Rhode Island, and to hold evangelistic services. Early in July, according to arrangement Mr. McClure arrived to share in the meetings. Already a site for the tent had been secured and it gave us joy to see our brother improved in health and with old time vigor and energy starting a tent season. We began with a full tent and interest was manifest throughout the series. The meetings were well advertised in the papers and one editor in giving a write-up referred to Mr. McClure as “a well known traveler who in size and bearing would remind you of an admiral of the British fleet.”

On Sunday evenings especially there were large audiences, for crowds came from far and near, and many from the near-by churches filed in after their services were over, and as a result of these meetings a few souls were saved.

Leaving Providence, our brother went to New York where he had a very fruitful season in 125th St. Gospel Hall, after which he planned a visit to Canada.

Many years had passed since Mr. McClure had had special meetings in Toronto where his name was a household word in many homes throughout the city. However, during that fall he paid them a long promised visit. In the east end of the city, interested crowds attended his meetings, after which he began on the west side. The old Central Gospel Hall on Brunswick Avenue was taxed to capacity on week nights, and it soon became necessary to hire a larger building for Lord’s Days. A theater holding 1200 on Bloor St. was secured and this was filled afternoon and evening.

Our brother enjoyed much help from God at that season. It could be truly said that his ministry was edifying, exhorting and comforting, and the fellowship he enjoyed with the Lord’s people was very cheering to him.

During the summer of 1930 he visited some places in Ontario where he had labored long and faithfully in the Gospel with other fellow-laborers in the early years of his service in the Gospel.

Many changes had occurred during that long interval. The majority of the older generation of saints had been called home and of those remaining with a new generation he had both joy and sorrow, but he counted it a great privilege to minister to them again.