“Dear Dr. Talmage.—With saddened hearts, but undismayed, and with faith in God unshaken and undisturbed, the trustees of the Brooklyn Tabernacle have unanimously resolved to rebuild the Tabernacle. We find that after paying the present indebtedness there will be nothing left to begin with.
“But if we can feel assured that our dear pastor will continue to break the bread of life to us and to the great multitudes that are accustomed to throng the Tabernacle, we are willing to undertake the work, firmly believing that we can safely count upon the blessing of God and the practical sympathy of all Christian people.
“Will you kindly give
us the encouragement of your promise to serve
the Tabernacle as its pastor, if we will dedicate a new building
free from debt, to the honour, the glory, and the service of God?
“Trustees of the tabernacle.”
On reading this letter, or rather hearing it read to me, in the impulse of gratitude I replied in like sympathy. I thanked them, and remembering that I had buried their dead, baptised their children and married the young, my heart was with them. I sincerely felt then, and perhaps I always did feel, that I would rather serve them than any other people on the face of the earth. It was my conclusion that if the trustees could fulfil the conditions they had mentioned, of building a new Tabernacle, free of debt, I would remain their pastor.
My date for beginning my journey around the world had been May 14, the day following the disaster. Before leaving, however, I dictated the following communication to my friends and the friends of my ministry everywhere:—
“Our church has again been halted by a sword of flame. The destruction of the first Brooklyn Tabernacle was a mystery. The destruction of the second a greater—profound. The third calamity we adjourn to the Judgment Day for explanation. The home of a vast multitude of souls, it has become a heap of ashes. Whether it will ever rise again is a prophecy we will not undertake. God rules and reigns and makes no mistake. He has His way with churches as with individuals. One thing is certain: the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle will continue to preach as long as life and health last. We have no anxieties about a place to preach in. But woe is unto us if we preach not the Gospel! We ask for the prayers of all good people for the pastor and people of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
“T. Dewitt Talmage.”
At half past nine o’clock on the night of May 14, 1894, I descended the front steps of my home in Brooklyn, N.Y. The sensation of leaving for a journey around the world was not all bright anticipation. The miles to be travelled were numerous, the seas to be crossed treacherous, the solemnities outnumbered the expectations. My family accompanied me to the railroad train, and my thought was should we ever meet again? The climatic changes, the ships, the shoals, the hurricanes, the bridges, the cars, the epidemics, the possibilities hinder any positiveness of prophecy. I remembered the consoling remark at my reception a few evenings ago, made by the Hon. William M. Evarts.