Charles Stanley (1821-1890), of Rotherham, England, was left an
orphan at the age of four. At seven, he had to earn his living in the
summer by working in the fields. With his energy he could have been a
rascal. But it was his legal guardian who stopped the precocious little
fellow and, with a firm hand on his shoulder, foretold, "Charles, you
will either be a curse or a blessing to mankind."
By the mercy of God, "C.S." became a blessing to thousands.
Converted when fourteen, that year he preached his first message. One
Sunday, the preacher had not arrived, and so young Charles opened his
Bible to John 3:16 . God's hand was upon him. The quick-witted youth
would be like that anonymous Christian that Paul spoke of: "We have
sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all
At age twenty-three, with meager capital, he had begun his own
hardware business in Sheffield. Then the businessman met Captain
Wellesly, (the nephew of "the Iron Duke" of Wellington). Under his
gracious teaching, the Bible became a new book to him. It was his daily
study, and "he grew in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ."
As a salesman, he crisscrossed England, at the same time doing "the
work of an evangelist." Forty years after, he said, "Seldom in those
days did the Lord open my lips without some soul being converted. Not
that this appeared at the time, but I have met them everywhere, ten,
twenty, or thirty years after." His favorite Old Testament story was of
Mephibosheth, the orphan who was tragically crippled. Speaking of his
message on Mephibosheth, he remarked: "I believe the Lord rarely ever
led me to preach from Mephibosheth without souls being converted." D.
L. Moody told Stanley he had preached it in almost every city in
America, and, he thought, never without souls being brought to God.
"C.S." expected the Lord's special and direct guidance. He pitied
the Christian who did not enjoy looking to the Lord every day for
directives from the Holy Spirit. His own record abounds with the mystic
and subjective. As an example, he would be deeply impressed that he
ought to go to specific places to preach the Gospel, often where he had
never been. "Three of us felt led to go to Leamington. We had a small
notice printed, asking the Christians of Leamington to come together in
the Music Hall at three o'clock for prayer for the Lord's blessing on
the Word to be preached in the hall that night. About two hundred came
together, and oh! what a cry of united, expecting prayer went up to the
Throne of Grace. At seven, the large hall was filled. That night God
answered prayer. It was the birth-night of many precious souls. It was
said some hundreds found deliverance and blessing that night." By the
riverside, in railroad cars and steamboats, at balls and races, in
halls and chapels, in kitchens and drawing-rooms, theatres and concert
halls, Charles Stanley confidently witnessed to the grace of God.
On one occasion, he was leaving Bristol, where he had been
preaching, for Tetbury. A stranger to that part of the country, he said
"On arriving at Wootton-under-Edge, I had some time to spare. It was
about five o'clock on a hot day in the midst of harvest. There was
scarcely a person to be seen in the little town. I was very distinctly
impressed from the Lord, that I must preach the Gospel there that
afternoon, yet there appeared to be no people to preach to. Nearly all
seemed to be out in the harvest field. Yet the conviction deepened,
that I must preach."
Taking a handful of tracts, he began hunting for a congregation,
great or small. He was standing in a little shop, speaking to a woman
about her soul, when from up the road, a man puffing with exertion,
perspiration streaming off his face, charged into the shop, and said,
"Please, sir, are you a preacher of the Gospel?"
"Yes," he admitted, "I am, through the Lord's mercy, but why do you ask?"
The man, who was the town bellman (town crier), said, "I was working
in the field, and a woman came past and told me someone was
distributing tracts in Wootton, and it was just as if a voice had said
to me, You must run, and there must be preaching in Wootton today. That
is why I left my work, and came immediately."
As he was the bellman, Stanley involuntarily put his hand into his
pocket to give him a shilling. "Oh, dear no, sir," he said, "I don't
want the money; I want souls to be saved." In half an hour he had
washed himself, publicly announced the preaching, and they were on the
way to the preaching location.
Just outside the town, they were passing a house on the right when,
wrote Stanley, "the Spirit of God stopped me, and distinctly directed
me to stand on that doorstep, and on that end of it nearest the town."
The crowd that gathered was not large. Stanley wondered what the
purpose was in preaching from that place, when after the message the
husband and wife who owned the house opened the door from behind him.
They had been standing behind the front door and had heard every word.
The man was openly weeping as he told Stanley: "We have never heard
these things before." Stanley went in and spoke to the man, his wife,
and his invalid mother, who had also heard the entire message from an
upstairs window. All three trusted the Lord Jesus Christ.
A wave of spiritual awakening had reached Scotland. William Trotter
had been to Glasgow, and saw hundreds of souls coming to Christ. He
told Stanley of the wonderful works of God. "A remarkable sense of the
Lord's presence came over me," said C. S. "I felt moved by divine power
to go at once to Birmingham. A strength of faith and expectation that
souls would be saved, such as I had never had before, filled my soul."
The large room in Broad Street was crammed night after night. At the
after-meetings, nearly all stayed. The preaching was devoid of
emotional string-pulling or psychological manipulation. Stanley did
little inviting, or pleading with sinners. He spoke almost entirely of
the righteousness of God in justifying the sinner, and of justification
in the risen Christ. "Indeed, I have always found the more God is
revealed in Christ in preaching, the more lasting the results. There
must also be undoubting confidence in the Word of God: that all who are
brought by the Holy Spirit to believe God, are justified from all
While these meetings were held in Birmingham, a brother in Christ
came over from Stafford. He believed that God was about to bless souls
there. He returned, and asked some brethren to come together to cry to
God, at six o'clock the next morning. A number prayed for blessing on
the Word there that same night. But when this brother borrowed chairs,
so as to seat every available space in the large meeting room, some
But at 6:45 P.M., the large room was packed. Several were fainting,
but could not be taken out. The danger from the crush was so great,
that a gentleman stood up, and offered the use of a large church
building nearby. Then it also was quickly filled. One drunk man
unexpectedly lurched in and the solemnity of God's presence had him
sobered in a moment. With many others he professed to be converted that
Stanley was not interested in tallying numbers. He viewed the
results of his Gospel preaching with caution. Looking back at a very
encouraging Gospel campaign, he would say, "Many professed to be saved,
some fell away as stony-ground hearers; but the day will declare what
was of the Spirit of God."
Charles Stanley was called from his earthly home in Rotherham, to his Heavenly Home on March 30, 1890.
Stretching beyond his preaching, perhaps his greatest Christian work
has been the "C.S." tracts. A brother asked, "'Why don't you print some
of those incidents of the Lord's work in the railway cars? I am sure
the Lord would use them.' I said I had never thought of it. He urged me
to do so. How little did I think at that moment that the Lord would use
them in so many languages." The goal in writing the tracts was "to look
to God to give me to write just what He pleased, and to enable me to
write it plainly without any adornment. To never allow me to write with
a party feeling, but to write for the whole Church of God, or Gospel to
every sinner. In every incident related to give the exact words as near
as I could recollect."
His counsel to Christian workers should be heralded among believers
across the continent: "I have always found blessing and results in
proportion to communion with Christ in His love to the whole Church,
whether in writing or preaching; and no Christian can prosper in his
own soul unless he is seeking the welfare of others."
Incidents of Gospel Work: Showing How the Lord Hath Led Me, by Charles Stanley, G. Morrish
Chief Men Among the Brethren, by Hy. Pickering, Loizeaux Bros.