On Spurgeon, Moody and Sankey
by J. K. POPHAM
This biography reveals James Kidwell Popham in 1875 (at the early age of 28) taking up his pen to resist error. The error was Arminianism, the Free-will of the Sankey and Moody campaign, which had come in its of Britain to Liverpool, where he was at that time pastor of the Strict Baptist chapel. In his own Arminian days as a Congregationalist he had raised his hand against God and in bitter enmity exclaimed regarding Election, "If the God you speak of is the God of Heaven, I neither want to know Him nor to be where He is." He says of this, "I have many scars on my heart, but the largest and deepest is that which the above terrible speech made; it was the expression of the unbridled passion of my alienated nature." Under deep conviction for this sin, the Lord blessed him with the word, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto me," (Matt. 12:31), and followed it with the words, "God and pray." J. K. Popham says, "I prayed, I know I did." Later under the ministry of Mr. de Fraine, the Pastor of the Strict Baptist chapel at Lutterworth, Free Grace was powerfully opened up to his soul in a sermon preached at Nottingham from Romans 5:2. He was baptized be Mr. de Fraine on 5th July 1868 and received into the Lutterworth Strict Baptist Church, and shortly afterwards was blessed with the full and complete pardon of all his sins through the application of the words, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold...., but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot," (1 Pet. 1:18,19). "Thus," he says, "I learned the doctrines of grace; for they were, as I afterwards found, implicit in my experience." This divine teaching armed the Lord's servant, to pen his first tract, entitled, Moody and Sankey's Errors versus the Scriptures of Truth. J. H. Gosden says of him as a controversialist, "He was no trifler, no unprincipled combatant, no mere rancorous faultfinder, no idle, carping critic, but was moved with a jealously for the honour of God and with the highest of purpose to defend His truth." This fist pamphlet ran through thirteen editions including one in Dutch. It brought him many friends, some in Holland, who felt his analysis of the ministry of these, "evangelists," was correct.
He quotes D. L. Moody as saying to his congregations, "Christ has purchased them, if only they will give themselves to Him; He put away their sins nearly 2000 years ago, but they may yet die in them through unbelief." In his pamphlet he exposed the errors of Universal Redemption and Free-will and says, "Every religious movement must be judged more by its doctrines than by what we usually see paraded, results." He asked, "Where in all Mr. Moody's preaching do we find any of the doctrine of eternal election?" He had with him in this contest an ally Dr. John Kennedy, (1819-1884), of Dingwall, a Scots minister, author of "The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire," who wrote a powerful pamphlet entitled Hyper-Evangelism, condemning Moody's practice and teaching, deeply revealing and of significance however was the attitude of C. H. Spurgeon.C. H. Spurgeon proceeded in his, "lack of serious concern about incipient doctrinal defects," to preach on behalf of D. L. Moody and invite him to preach at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. When J. K. Popham and Dr. Kennedy wrote against Moody and Sankey in 1875, C. H. Spurgeon leapt to their defence and said, "We are happy to have our friends here in London because somehow or other they manage to get the popular ear. Our brethren have got a grip of the masses, and they preach the Gospel." What Gospel did they preach? And where did Spurgeon stand? In his pamphlet J. K. Popham wrote, "One of the sad features of this movement is that it is approved and followed by so many ministers. Where is the deep experimental religion of our Puritan Fathers and ministers....to permit to pass unchallenged and with impunity such gigantic errors which strike at the glory of God and the root of true religion....It is almost amusing to see how very quietly these, 'Reverend,' gentlemen sit at the feet of this great Revivalist to be lectured....and yet there is a more serious view to be taken of the matter. Does not their support of Moody and Sankey stamp their characters? Does it not prove that, with respect to them, 'Truth is fallen in the street?'" "Fundamental errors," said J. K. Popham, "preached and sung, cannot produce a true christian." For his pains J. K. Popham was called an, "unregenerate blasphemer," and was equally labelled a Hyper-Calvinist, as he had been long before. Describing Moody & Sankey and their followers he wrote, "By the galvanizing apparatus these men are using, they succeed in evoking, 'mere emotion,' and this is called conversion and these galvanized, but dead souls, are then called Christians. Oh horrible profanity! A shocking caricature of a true Christian of God's living army," (Eze. 37:10). What a vast gulf existed between J. K. Popham and C. H. Spurgeon in their view of the Moody and Sankey revival! Who was true to the Scriptures of Truth? J. K. Popham and Dr. John Kennedy were the ones who had, "a right Jerusalem blade," and were the victors in this contest with error. Mr. Popham's and Dr. Kennedy's writings on the Sankey and Moody revival are reviewed in the Gospel Standard for 1875, pgs. 211-223, where some of the worst excesses of D. L. Moody are quoted such as, "It is just as easy to lay hold of Christ for salvation as it is to put the hand to the pocket to see that one's watch is safe." Mr. Popham proceeded in the same year to approach this error with a positive declaration of the doctrines of grace, publishing the substance of two sermons preached to his own people at Liverpool under the title, "Imperishable Grace."