Shortly after the dawn of 1893 the financial difficulties in which the New Tabernacle had been reared confronted us. It had arisen from the ashes of its predecessor by sheer force of energy and pluck. It had taken a vast amount of negotiation. A loan of $125,000, made to us by Russell Sage, payable in one year at 6 per cent., was one of the means employed. This loan was arranged by Mr. A.L. Soulard, the president of the German-American Title and Guarantee Company. Mr. Sage was a friend of mine, of my church, and that was some inducement. The loan was made upon the guarantee of the Title Company. It was reported to me that Mr. Sage had said at this time:—
“It all depends upon whether Dr. Talmage lives or not. If he should happen to die the Brooklyn Tabernacle wouldn’t be worth much.”
The German-American Title and Guarantee Company then secured an insurance on my life for $25,000 and insisted that the Board of Trustees of the church give their individual bonds for the fulfillment of the mortgage. The trustees were W.D. Mead, F.H. Branch, John Wood, C.S. Darling, F.M. Lawrence, and James B. Ferguson. In this way Mr. Sage satisfied both his religious sympathies and his business nature. For more reasons than one, therefore, I kept myself in perfect health. This was only one of the incidents involved in the building of the New Tabernacle. For two years I had donated my salary of $12,000 a year to the church, and had worked hard incessantly to infuse it with life and success. This information may serve to contradict some scattered impressions made by our friendly critics, that my personal aim in life was mercenary and selfish. My income from my lectures, and the earnings from my books and published sermons, were sufficient for all my needs.
During the year 1893 I did my best to stem the tide of debt and embarrassment in which the business elements of the church was involved. I find an entry in my accounts of a check dated March 27, 1893, in Brooklyn, for $10,000, which I donated to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Emergency Fund. There is a spiritual warning in almost every practical event of our lives, and it seemed that in that year, so discomforting to the New Tabernacle, there was a spiritual warning to me which grew into a certainty of feeling that my work called me elsewhere. I said nothing of this to anyone, but quietly thought the situation over without haste or undue prejudice. My Gospel field was a big one. The whole world accepted the Gospel as I preached it, and I concluded that it did not make much difference where the pulpit was in which I preached.