Frederick Brotherton Meyer

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F. B. Meyer, c. 1899

Frederick Brotherton Meyer (8 April 1847 – 28 March 1929), a contemporary and friend of D. L. Moody and A. C. Dixon, was a Baptist pastor and evangelist in England involved in ministry and inner city mission work on both sides of the Atlantic. Author of numerous religious books and articles, many of which remain in print today, he was described in an obituary as The Archbishop of the Free Churches.

Life and ministry[edit]

Frederick Meyer was born in London. He attended Brighton College and graduated from the University of London in 1869. He studied theology at Regent's Park College.

F. B. Meyer was part of the Higher Life movement and preached often at the Keswick Convention. He was known as a crusader against immorality. He preached against drunkenness and prostitution. He is said to have brought about the closing of hundreds of saloons and brothels.

While in York in the early 1870s F. B. Meyer met the American evangelist Dwight L. Moody, whom he introduced to other chapels, churches, and ministers in England, and by exchange was invited to make several trips to minister in America. The two preachers became lifelong friends.

During the First World War he worked for fair treatment for conscientious objectors: "For three years we have done everything we could think of, publicly and privately, to secure the just treatment of conscientious objectors. This does not imply our endorsement of the position which they have taken up, but our consciousness that the state has no right to punish a man for acting according to his conscientious principles - it being taken for granted that he is not captivated by a whim or fancy, but compelled by the imperative of 'oughtness' ,,, Will not chivalry prevail where Christianity has failed? It seems the only ray of light in a dark sky. Loose them and let them go!"[1]

F. B. Meyer wrote over 75 books, including Christian biographies and devotional commentaries on the Bible. In 1918, Meyer, along with seven other clergymen, was also a signatory to the London Manifesto asserting that the Second Coming was imminent.

An illustrated biography of his life was published in 1929, with a new edition a few years later. 2007 saw the release of a new biography of Meyer, F.B. Meyer: If I had a hundred lives, written by Professor Bob Holman and published by Christian Focus publications.

Associated chapels[edit]

Meyer began pastoring churches in 1870; his first pastorate was at Pembroke Baptist Chapel in Liverpool, his second at Priory Street Baptist Church in York, 1872. Other chapels and churches he pastored were:

  • Victoria Road Church in Leicester (1874–1878)
  • Melbourne Hall in Leicester (1878/80-1888) - founded by Meyer
  • Regent's Park Chapel in London (1888–1892) and (1909–1915)
  • Christ Church in London (1892–1909) and (1915–1921)

Of these, Melbourne Hall and Christ Church are perhaps most closely associated with his independence of approach.

Melbourne Hall, Leicester : Melbourne Hall has been described as F. B. Meyer's abiding monument; it was initiated in 1878 as a 'Church of Christ' with a small band of believers who fund-raised for, built, and opened the premises in 1880. As an entirely new, independent venture, designed to evangelise the people lying outside ordinary Christian agencies as a local mission, with every member a 'worker' active in the local community, it was decided not to name it a 'chapel' or a 'church', nor a 'tabernacle', and not the old nonconformist term of 'meeting house'; but simply a 'hall'.

Meyer's mission centre attracted great interest - visitors included national figures such as Hudson Taylor as well as local people; Melbourne Hall became a centre as well as a sphere. All sorts of people visited... it became, in fact, the Church of the Cordial Welcome, and as a consequence a place of pilgrimage and a centre of evangelical and missionary influence in Leicester and far beyond. [2] His 'Farewell Meeting' in 1888 was presided over by the Mayor of Leicester.

Meyer nevertheless decided to move on to pastorates in London - Regent's Park Chapel and Christ Church.

Christ Church, London : In 1892, Christopher Newman Hall was due to retire from the Christ Church complex in Lambeth, and invited Meyer to leave the Baptist's Regent's Park Chapel and its wealthy church-going district, to become his successor at the non-denominational institution, the successor to Rowland Hill and James Sherman's Surrey Chapel from where many welfare societies and services operated for the largely working class and slum district. Meyer wrote to his people at Regent's Park Chapel Shall I devote the remaining years of my manhood to the service of a section of the Church of Christ, or accept a position that is equally in touch with all sections of Evangelical Christians ? [3] and after careful consideration, and successfully negotiating that a Baptistery would be provided, he decided to take on the role. Meyer left Regent's Park Chapel and entered upon his new charge in September 1892.

This being the year that Charles Spurgeon died, leading to unrest at the nearby baptist Metropolitan Tabernacle, Meyer was able to attract a considerable number of its former members to migrate to Christ Church. Frederick Meyer stayed there until 1902, when Dr A. T Pierson was asked to undertake his duties during two prolonged periods of travel abroad. Returning from his sabbaticals to Christ Church, Meyer continued as its pastor until 1909. In September of that year he returned to Regent's Park Chapel for nearly 6 years, coming back to Christ Church as sole minister from May 1915 until 1921.

Final days[edit]

Frederick Meyer spent the last few years of his life working as a pastor in England's churches, but still made trips to North America, including one he made at age 80 (his earlier evangelistic tours had included South Africa and Asia, as well as the United States and Canada). A few days before his death, Meyer wrote the following words to a friend:

I have just heard, to my great surprise, that I have but a few days to live. It may be that before this reaches you, I shall have entered the palace. Don’t trouble to write. We shall meet in the morning.[4]

Following F. B. Meyer’s death in 1929, an English newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, described him as ‘'The Archbishop of the Free Churches'’. Across the Atlantic, he had earlier been described in the New York Observer as a man of international fame whose services are constantly sought by churches over the wide and increasing empire of Christendom. In 2007 Stephen Timms wrote of him as a man with enduring popularity, dubbed virtually a Christian socialist.[5]

Works[edit]

  • The Way Into the Holiest: Expositions on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 1893 (Online Text)
  • The Secret of Guidance (Online Text)
  • Our Daily Homily (Online Text)
  • Christian Living (Online Text)
  • John the Baptist
  • The Prophet of Hope
  • Christ in Isaiah
  • The Gospel of John
  • Saved and Kept
  • Tried by Fire

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daily News, 18 March 1919
  2. ^ Fullerton (1929), p.65
  3. ^ Fullerton (1929), p.74
  4. ^ Cowman (1933), p.70
  5. ^ Holman (2007), p.ii & p.7

Sources[edit]

  • Fullerton, W.Y. (1929) F.B.Meyer: a biography, London:Marshall, Morgan, Scott
  • Cowman, Lettie B. (1933) Consolation, Los Angeles:Oriental Missionary Society
  • Holman, Bob (2007) F.B.Meyer: if I had a hundred lives, London:Christian Focus

External links[edit]