Spurgeon experienced long bouts of sickness throughout his ministry, which forced him to leave London for weeks or months to recover. But one of the signs of health is that even then, the church continued to flourish. On one occasion, an elder gave him this update:
"Your long affliction and tedious banishment have already borne some peaceable fruits. The stable character of your work has been proved. Had the church been built on the basis of your popularity as a preacher, the congregation would not have been so well kept up in your absence
but, so far from that being the case, the prayer-meetings and the weekly communion services are well attended, even when the severe weather, had you been here, would have been sufficient to account for some deficiencies." Autobiography 4:232.
At times, the elders were glad to report how the membership had grown more than usual in his absence! As popular as Spurgeon was, the church was not built "on the basis of [his] popularity as a preacher," but on the faithful ministry of the Word, which carried on in his absence.

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