Within the past two weeks I have read with care the reports of twelve of the Wesleyan Mission Halls, but none has impressed me more than that of the Leeds Mission by Rev. Samuel Chadwick, who until the last Conference had been for sixteen years the inspiring superintendent of this mission. Mr. Chadwick’s description of how he became a missioner is certainly interesting and suggestive. His ﬁrst work was as a lay missioner in Rossendale, with a population of quarrymen and factory workers. There he faced the problem of bringing the godless and indifferent to the house of God. In spite of his best sermons, and after giving himself without stint to every form of religious activity, members were stolid and outsiders indifferent. He grew desperate. Then came a revelation, a crisis, and a baptism. In looking for guidance in Christian service he was led to study the resurrection of Lazarus and its results. For weeks the story possessed him. The miracle seemed to accomplish just what was needed in Rossendale. He felt that if they could only get Jesus and Lazarus into touch with each other they would see wonders.
"Lazarus solves the problem of empty churches. He is the greatest attraction and the strongest argument. Wherever there is the continual operation of saving power, bringing dead men out of their graves, the work of the Lord will prosper. For this power there is no substitute, and it never fails. There are no languishing churches where souls are saved. People believe when they see graves opened and the dead come forth in newness of life. This has been the ﬁrst fundamental of my working creed.” “It is no exaggeration,” says Mr. Chadwick, “to say that all I know of mission work was discovered in that revival.”
“My heart,” he says, “began to cry for the big, strapping fellows abandoned and buried beyond all hope. The Lazaruses in that valley were very many, and it seemed as if my heart would break. If only we could get a Lazarus! Then people would ﬂock to see a man who had been raised from the dead. . . . With unwearying persistence we prayed that the Lord would save the worst, and send a man so dead and buried in sin that his wickedness was offensively notorious and overwhelmingly bad. God heard our cry. The man came of his own accord and volunteered to sign the pledge. He was a dreadful character; everybody knew him and everybody believed it impossible for him to be any better. He was the terror of the neighborhood, and did the most extraordinary things out of sheer deviltry. A fortnight after he had signed the pledge he came to the service and our hearts nearly stood still as he walked down the aisle and ﬂung himself at the communion rail. He was gloriously saved, and there was a shout among the redeemed that night. We got our Lazarus. . . . We had not long to wait for the crowd. The news of his conversion spread like wildﬁre. It was discussed in every public house and every barber shop in the district. Hundreds came to church, not to see Jesus, but the man he had raised from the dead. A glorious revival followed, in which many were turned to God. That was my ﬁrst great discovery. Lazarus solves the problem of empty churches. He is the greatest attraction and the strongest argument. Wherever there is the continual operation of saving power, bringing dead men out of their graves, the work of the Lord will prosper. For this power there is no substitute, and it never fails. There are no languishing churches where souls are saved. People believe when they see graves opened and the dead come forth in newness of life. This has been the ﬁrst fundamental of my working creed.” “It is no exaggeration,” says Mr. Chadwick, “to say that all I know of mission work was discovered in that revival.”
"In that court I discovered the second working principle of a missioner’s life. From that day I have regarded it as an essential part of my sacred calling to hunt the wolf as well as to care for the sheep.”
The second fundamental of his working creed—and he has only two—was found in a very different way. It was at Clydebank, Glasgow, a new town which had sprung up with the rapidity of one of our Western American cities because of the large industrial works which had been planted there. The Lazarus was soon found, but the “epochmaking event,” as Mr. Chadwick calls it, was a bit of temperance work which he undertook single-handed. He found that the brewers had seized the most strategic positions for public houses, and when the spring sessions came round they made application for ﬁve new licenses. Temperance workers in the community were discouraged because of previous failures, and the young missioner saw that if anything was done he must do it. The experience in the court room is best told in Mr. Chadwick’s own words: “It was my ﬁrst appearance in court. The proceeding was unusual, and there was a wrangle over a question of order, in which I scored. The barrister who held the brief for the applicants made great sport of me, and everybody except myself seemed to enjoy the fun; but the Lord delivered him into my hands. He wound up his banter with an attack upon me as a minister, and in mocking tones instructed me in my pastoral duties as a shepherd of the ﬂock of Christ. It was hard to bear, but I sat still. At last he turned to me, and with withering scorn said: ‘I should like to ask this young-looking shepherd, What hast thou done with the few sheep in the wilderness?’ Quick as thought I sprang to my feet and ﬂung out the answer, ‘Don’t you trouble about my sheep; I am after the wolf to-day.’ Then the laugh was on the other side, and those sedate old magistrates cheered like schoolboys. We got the wolf, but more important than the fact that for three years we prevented any new license being granted was that on my feet in that court I discovered the second working principle of a missioner’s life. From that day I have regarded it as an essential part of my sacred calling to hunt the wolf as well as to care for the sheep.”
It was from such training and experience, and with the feeling that outcasts are not difﬁcult to reach when the church really wants them, that Mr. Chadwick went to Leeds in 1890, an evangelist and a social reformer who thoroughly loved to track a wolf. From the beginning, however, he emphasized the fact that conversion is the key to the problem of personal salvation and church prosperity. The transformation which came about in Wesley Chapel, Saint Peter’s, and Oxford Place has already been described. For sixteen years Mr. Chadwick, who is regarded as one of the strongest preachers of the Wesleyan Church, has maintained in Leeds, at the sessions of the Conference and at mission anniversaries, that the mission of a mission is to save the lost, attack the devil, and bring in the kingdom of God. His deﬁnition of mission theology is so thoroughly pertinent that I cannot forbear giving two quotations:
“An evangelistic mission implies an evangelical faith. A theology that is not missionary is of no use in a world like ours. The frozen abstractions of metaphysics are as powerless to save as the dead creeds of tradition. The speculations of theologians must be tested by their power to heal and save. Missions exist for the lost. Their work is not educational and social, but spiritual and redemptive.”
“Anything less than Deity is powerless to save men from sin. If Jesus be not God, he may be a great philosopher, a superb idealist, an unrivaled guide to the new order of life, but he is useless as a Saviour. Let the new theologies prove themselves in missionary campaigns among the lost. Missions have no use for a Christ that cannot save to the uttermost all who come unto him. For the same reason we hold to the complete and ﬁnal authority of the Scriptures. We cannot go to the perishing with the ‘perhaps’ of balanced probabilities. We need the certainty of a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’” Mr. Chadwick’s work in Leeds is hardly surpassed by any.”—William Crawford, The Church and the Slum, 94-105