I recently read Robert L. Peterson’s biography entitled, “Robert Chapman: A Biography”. It was a challenging book, making me consider my own life. You can read the review here.
Here are several excerpts from the book:
“After hearing his first sermons some of Chapman’s friends offered the opinion that he would never be a good preacher. This undoubtedly cause him a lot of anguish, and his reply was telling: ‘There are many who preach Christ, but no so many who live Christ. My great aim will be to live Christ.'” (29)
“One of Chapman’s customs was to clean the shoes or boots of his visitors. After showing arriving guests to their rooms, he would instruct them to leave their footwear outside their doors so that he could clean them by the next morning. Typically they objected to his doing such a menial task, but he was quite insistent. One guest recorded Chapman’s answer to his objections: ‘It is not the custom in our day to wash one another’s feet; that which most nearly corresponds to this command of the Lord is to clean each other’s boots.'” (82).
J. Norman Case, missionary with Hudson Taylor, wrote, “The whole ordering of the household had in view not only the comfort, but the general spiritual, mental, and physical well-being of the many who came there for rest. It struck me at the time as being in its arrangement and conduct an ideal Christian household. The wisdom of retiring and rising early was forcibly taught by precept and example. Love and reverence for the Scriptures, and subjection thereto formed the very atmosphere of the house. There too, the ‘table-talk’ was turned to spiritual ends as I have never to the same degree elsewhere known. An ordinary meal became an agape, more helpful than many a long meeting. The living was plain but good. It was recognized that the body was the Lord’s, and should be treated accordingly. It was an ideal home for a tired or discouraged worker, or for a desponded or perplexed Christian. There one seemed naturally to be in the state of mind to hear the question and heed the exhortation to one of old: ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.’ A stay there of days or weeks could not but deeply influence the whole aftercourse of a young Christian.” (82-83)
“In Chapman’s day the subject of prophecy was popular among many Christians. Although he occasionally preached on prophecy, he seemed not to have given it much prominence, in contrast to many preachers who gave the subject overriding importance. Perhaps he fel that too much ink and pulpit time were being devoted to a subject in which much interpretation was speculative and that such speculation was taking away time and energy from other essentials of the Christian life.” (169)
“Chapman new the difference between the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and those not essential to a saving faith. He did not permit his ego to defend nonessential, inferential doctrine at the expense of unity.” (172)
“During his last decade Chapman often said that those were the best days of his life. He had often prayed that his last years might be his best and God answered his servant’s prayer. Chapman reminded his friends that ‘the present times are the best for all of us; since our lot is cast in them, there is abundant grace to enable us to fully please God.’ He determined not to become a crotchety old man who just looked back at opportunities lost or what might have been. There was still abundant grace for living and pleasing God, and Chapman sought to serve the Lord as long as he was physically able.” (177)