CYCLOPAEDIAS OF ANECDOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
IN my last lecture, I promised to give you a list of cyclopaedias of anecdotes and illustrations, so far as they are at present known to me; and I hope, on another occasion, to tell you about books that contain fables, emblems, and parables. For this afternoon, we must confine our attention to collections of anecdotes and illustrations which have been compiled specially for the use of ministers and Christian workers in general.
I do not know what book of illustrations the apostle Paul used. He had some books, for he wrote to Timothy, “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” The books may have been various Latin and Greek works that Paul needed for reference, and the parchments were, possibly, the original manuscripts of his epistles; but, whatever they were, he did not like to lose them, so he asked his son Timothy to bring them to him. The parchments may have been his notes of illustrations that he had jotted down in his journeyings, or his commonplace-book, such as I have advised you all to make. At all events, whatever the earliest preachers had, we know that books of illustrations, metaphors, and similes, have been issued for centuries. Those of you who can read Latin easily, may find a great store of such works. While I was arranging the material for this lecture, I received a catalogue of nearly three hundred books of emblems, and similar publications, printed in Latin, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, and German; but any man who wished to make a collection of such works would need more money than usually falls to the lot of Baptist pastors.
For us poor English people, the first cyclopaedia that I should recommend isSPENCER’ S Things New and Old. This is a book, you know, which was scarcely purchasable till Mr. Dickinson reprinted it (after revision by Revelation J. O. Pilkington, M.A.), bound up withCAWDRAY’ S Similes, in a very bulky volume of 1,112 pages. The original title-page explains the character of the work, so I will read the description in full, though it is rather long: — Things New and Old; or, a Storehouse of Similes, Sentences, Allegories, Apophthegms, Apologues, Adages, Divine, Moral, Political, etc., — with their several applications. Collected and Observed from the writings and Sayings of the Learned in All Ages to the Present.
By John Spencer, a Lover of Learning and Learned Men. With Preface by Thomas Fuller. This book, published in 1658, was compiled by a man who was librarian at Sion College more than two centuries ago. I find that Spencer was elected librarian, September 2, 1634, and with certain interruptions, during which he was suspended or discharged, and then reappointed, he occupied the post till his death in 1680. Being for such a long period in charge of that very remarkable collection of valuable books, he made extracts from them, and thus prepared this volume. It was a very happy circumstance for me that John Spencer should have happened to be the librarian of that institution, and that he should have compiled so good a book; for I have always been able to make good use of it.
Years ago, I recommended this volume to the students, and several of them have since told me that they thought I made a mistake in doing so. They bought the book on my recommendation, but they did not care for it, and they have sold it. I ought to be impressed by their very valuable opinions; but I am not, for I like Spencer still. Some of his illustrations are very queer, cramped, and antique; and if a man does not take the trouble to trim and shape them into more modern form, he cannot use them. They require labor to make them of service; but, when I praised the book, I thought that, if a sensible man could get hold of even the tail of an illustration or anecdote, it would be enough for him to make something out of it for himself; and therefore I recommended Spencer. On looking over the volume again, I must admit that there are many things in it that are not now usable; but I am also quite certain that, to me, it has been a great thoughtbreeding book. It has often started me with an illustration that I should never else have thought of; therefore I have good reason to speak well of it. I opened my volume again this morning, just to see whether I was mistaken or not, because I have great faith in the judgment of all the students who go out of this College; and, on further examination and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I was fight in my first estimate of the work.
Let me read to you No. 11., on page 4: — AFFLICTION FROM GOD IS FOR HIS CHILDREN’ S GOOD. “A tender-hearted father, walking with his little son, I suppose in the City, when he perceives him gaze up and down, and wander from him, withdraws himself behind some pillar, or hides himself in some corner of the street, not that he means to lose him, but to make him cry and seek after him, and keep closer to him afterwards; so doth our heavenly Father with us. He correcteth every son whom he loveth; he hides himself, and, as it were, pulls in the beams of his gracious favor for a time, when we are rambling about in our thoughts, and roving in our imaginations; but it is to make us cry after him the louder, and keep closer to him for the time to come, and walk more circumspectly than ever we did before.”
I think that is a very pretty illustration. You have often seen a parent or a nurse thus act with the children. In like manner, God sometimes hides himself from us for a while that we may be made to cling the more closely to him afterwards.
Here is another of Spencer’s illustrations, No. XVII., on the next page to the one I just gave you: — THE DIFFERENCE BETWIXT SPIRITUAL AND CARNAL PRAYERS, IN RESPECT OF ANSWER. “Children shoot arrows on purpose to lose them, and never so much as look where they light; but men, when they shoot, aim at the mark, and go after the arrow, to see how near it falls. So, wicked, carnal men, when they have said, not made, their prayers to Almighty God, it is but opus operatum; they have no more regard of them. But God’s children, when they, upon the bended knees of their souls, dart out their prayers, when they pour out their requests unto him, they look after their prayers, eye them up into heaven, observe how God entertains them, and wait for a happy return at his good will and pleasure.”
Therein you have a true idea of prayer, as the psalmist puts it in Psalm 5:3: “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” That would be a good text for you to preach from on Sunday. The idea is that the suppliant is like a man with a bow and arrow, taking aim, directing his prayer unto God, and then looking up to see where it goes, and watching also to see what answer is coming down in response to his supplication Take another illustration from the same page: — GOD’ S KNOWLEDGE AND MAN’ S KNOWLEDGE, THE DIFFERENCE IN VIEWING THINGS. “In a sheet almanack, a man may, uno intuitu (at one view), see all the months in the year, both past and to come; but in a book almanack, as he turneth to one month so he turneth from another, and can but look only on the present. This is the true difference betwixt the knowledge of God and man. He looketh in one instant of time to things past, present, and future; but the knowledge of man reacheth only to a few things past and present, but knoweth nothing at all of things that are to come. That is God’s prerogative so to do, and a piece of learning too high for any mortal man to attain unto.”
That seems to me to be a beautiful picture, looking on the whole year at once as on a sheet almanack, instead of seeing only a page at a time as in a book almanack. Thus, to God’s all-seeing eye, events, past, present, and to come, all stand out dearly revealed, while our restricted vision perceives but little of the past and present, and nothing of the future.
To No. 23., Spencer prefixes this title, “The Danger of Trusting to Worldly Greatness in Time of Distress,” and upon this subject he says: — “As a traveler in a storm that, for shelter against the weather, steppeth out of the way, betaketh him to a fair spread oak, standeth under the boughs, with his back close to the body of it, and findeth good relief thereby for the space of some time, till at length cometh a sudden gust of wind, that teareth down a main arm of it, which, falling upon the poor traveler, either maimeth or mischieveth him that resorted to it for succor; thus falleth it out with not a few, meeting in the world with many troubles, and with manifold vexations, they step aside out of their own way, and too often out of God’s, to get under the wing of some great one, and gain, it may be, some aid and shelter thereby for a season, but after a while that great one himself, coming down headlong, and falling from his former height of favor and honor, they are also called in question, and so fall together with him, that might other — wise have stood long enough on their own legs, if they had not trusted to such an arm of flesh, such a broken staff that deceived them.”
Well, brethren, you need not use that metaphor exactly as Spencer does; though I think he turns it to good account. Many a man does go under a tree for shelter from the storm, and then a bough of that tree falls on him to his injury. This would be a good illustration of Isaiah 30:1 - 3: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.”
This book, Things New and Old, is almost full of good things such as I have read to you. I have taken them just as my eye caught them; I have not attempted to make a selection from the 2,283 illustrations that are here given. Therefore, I still persist in recommending this work to you; and I hope it will prove as helpful to you as it has long been to me. CAWDRAY is not so good as Spencer by a long way; his illustrative extracts are of a very different class. You cannot get Spencer without Cawdray, as the two are bound together; and, therefore, though he is not so useful as Spencer, you must take him as being given into the bargain. His book was printed in 1609; its full title is: A Treasury; or, Storehouse of Similes both Pleasant, Delightful, and Profitable, for all Estates of Men in General.
Newly-collected into Heads and Commonplaces. /By Robert Caw-dray.
Here is a sample of his selections: — ADVERSITY BETTERETH THE GODLY,BUT MAKETH THE WICKED WORSE. “Even as full wheat in the ear falleth out with the least motion of the sheaf, but that which is somewhat shrunk more hardly leaveth the husk, while that which is altogether shrunk will rather go to the chaff than go out of the ear; so, a sincere-hearted Christian, with the least affliction, leaveth his sin, and flieth to God. The weaker Christian more hardly doth the same; but the apostate will rather burn with unquenchable fire than forsake his beloved sin, that so he may turn to God.”
I think that is a very good illustration, because every thresher must know that there is this difference between the grains of wheat, and there certainly is such a contrast as Cawdray points out between the effect of affliction upon believers and the ungodly.
Another pretty illustration is the one numbered 12.: — AFFLICTION. “As a piece of brass, being stricken with a hammer upon the anvil or stithy, breaketh, and withal maketh a sharp and irksome noise; so, when a hypocrite cometh betwixt the anvil and the hammer of troubles and affliction, he breaketh with impatience, he murmureth, crieth out, and lamenteth in blasphemies against God.”
No, if I am examining a book, I do not mind if I have to read twenty pages before I find one illustration that I can use; I feel rewarded when I meet with that one, and you must do the same, brethren. Books of illustration are very much like hymn-books, and books of tunes. There is not a hymnbook which you ever think of singing through from beginning to end.
There is not a book of tunes extant of which anybody ever sings more than one in three; even in a collection like Mr. Sankey’s, you would not want to sing all the pieces. Well, so is it with books of illustrations. Yet, though you do not sing all the hymns or tunes in any book, somebody else prefers those which you do not sing, and so the whole selection may be useful to someone or other. In like manner, you might say of any cyclopaedia of illustrations, “I could only use twenty of the metaphors here;” but somebody else, who was less wise than you, might be able to utilize forty; while another preacher, who had not half as many brains as you had, managed to secure fifty; and there might even be some brethren who could find a hundred illustrations where you very clever gentlemen only saw twenty. There is no harm in having a rather larger supply than you yourself need; for what you do not use another preacher may.
Here is another of Cawdray’s similes: — AREGENERATE MAN FALLETH NOT FINALLY’. “As with a man in travelling from Berwick to London, it may be that, now and then, he doth go amiss, and out of his way, but he speedily returns to the way again, and his course generally shall be right; even so, it is the property of the regenerate man to walk according to the Spirit, which does not mean now and then to make a step forward, but to keep his ordinary course in the way of godliness.”
Well, brethren, we have probably found that to be true in our own case; if we have ever gone aside from the right path, I trust that we have speedily returned to the way of holiness.
I think this must suffice for Spencer’s Things New and Old, and CAWDRAY’ S Similes, published by Mr. Dickinson.
Before Mr. Dickinson reprinted this book, as Spencer’s volume was extremely dear, and not obtainable by the general public, a Mr.SALTER brought out a sort of hash of Spencer, with some modern illustrations intermingled with the older extracts. The title that he gave to his work was, The Book of Illustrations; or, Scripture Truths Exhibited by the Aid of Similes, Original and Selected. By the Revelation H. G. Salter, A.M., Curate and Lecturer of Glastonbury. It was published by Messrs. Hatchard and Son. I see that, in 1858, I wrote in my copy, “A right good book, but not so good as precious old Spencer.” This worthy clergyman, in making his book, imagined himself to be walking in an untrodden path, and in attempting the work of collecting metaphors, he thought he should get very little reward, lie considered that it required no small degree of moral courage to undertake such a task, because, as he said: — “It is safer to follow others. The fact that the public are not in possession of some work of this nature, would discourage most men; and the enquiry, why it was ,o, would present an obstacle at the beginning. But the request of some, eminent in judgment, to publish on the subject, which originated the idea, strengthened by the unanimous approval of those whom I consulted, overcame my hesitation. Indeed, the desire to possess a full collection of illustrations, I found, was very general with the clergy to whom it was mentioned. “But another and a greater discouragement will be found in the subjectmatter.
Its materials cannot be subjected to the just decisions of Reason, but the capricious judge to be appealed to is Taste. Whether any particular illustration should be admitted or rejected, can hardly be decided by Reason. There are no fixed principles to try it by; it will be liked or disliked often without any assignable grounds. As our tastes and fancies vary, so will be our approval or otherwise. So various is the character of men’s minds, that it would be impossible to obtain a uniform judgment. Some illustrations, of singular point and beauty, might secure universal approval; but this excellence cannot be expected to belong to illustrations in general, any more than to other subjects. Here, then, we must surrender at discretion to the taste of our judge. In general, the standard of Taste has been tolerably adjusted. Here it. is otherwise.”
Mr. Salter made a very good index to his book, and he used scarcely anything except Spencer; but what he did use that was not Spencer’s was well chosen, and selected from writers of considerable repute. There are many good stories in [he volume. Here is one which I have no doubt you know, but which, possibly, you may never have seen used in this way: — SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. “Sir James Thornhill was the person who painted the inside of the cupola of St. Paul’s, London. After having finished one of the compartments, he stepped back gradually, to see how it would look at a distance. He receded so far (still keeping his eye intently fixed on the painting), that he had gone almost to the very edge of the scaffolding without perceiving it; had he continued to retire, half a minute more would have completed his destruction, and he must have fallen to the pavement underneath. A person present, who saw the danger the great artist was in, had the happy presence of mind to suddenly snap up one of ‘the brushes, and spoil his painting by rubbing it over. Sir James, transported with rage, sprang forward to save the remainder of the piece; but his anger was soon turned into thanks, when the person said to him, ‘Sir, by spoiling the painting, I have saved the life of the painter. You had advanced to the extremity of the scaffold without knowing it. Had I called out to you to apprise you of your danger, you would naturally have turned to look behind you, and the surprise of finding yourself in such a dreadful situation would have made you fall indeed. I had, therefore, no other method of saving you but by acting as I did.’ “Similar, if I may so speak, is the method of God’s dealing with his people. We are all naturally fond of our own legal performances.
We admire them to our ruin; unless the Holy Spirit retrieve us from our folly. This he does by marring, as it were, our best works; by showing us their insufficiency to justify us before God. When we are ‘truly taught of God, we thank him for his grace instead of being angry at having our idols defaced. The only way by which we are saved from everlasting destruction, is by being made to see that ‘by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.’” I suppose that our ministerial fathers, two generations ago, used to be very well satisfied with Buck’s Anecdotes. The full title of the book is, Anecdotes, Religious, Moral, and Entertaining; Alphabetically Arranged, and Interspersed with a Variety of Useful Observations. Selected by the late Rev. Charles Buck. It was published by Messrs. Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. The date of my copy is 1842, and the work had at that time reached the tenth edition; so I judge that it had. a good long run.
I do not see very much in the anecdotes; and I expect the reason why they do not particularly impress me now is that I know, most of them by heart.
If the stories were just a little older, they would be almost as useful as if they were new; but they have reached that period in which they are apt to be considered stale. Still, there are among them some anecdotes that have not been used more than once a week lately, and therefore can be brought out again. Here is an old story which, I suppose, you have often heard: — THE WORLD ASEA. “A friend of the famous Mr. J. Dod being raised from a mean estate to much worldly greatness, Mr. Dod sent him word that this was but like going out of a boat into a ship; and he should remember that, while he was in the world he was still on the sea. Let us, then, wisely prepare for difficulties, and learn to cast all our cares on him who holds the winds in his fists, who stills the waves of the sea, and who has promised to guide his people safe into the haven of rest.”
Here is an anecdote, rather clumsily told, about — APRECOCIOUS BOY. “A child, six years of age, being introduced into company for his extraordinary abilities, was asked, by a dignified clergyman, ‘where God was?’ with the proffer of an orange. ‘Tell me,’ replied the boy, ‘where he is not, and I will give you two.’” ‘Well, there are many stories as good as these two; and possibly some of them may be quite new to your congregations. If you can obtain a copy of this book, it may be worth your while to secure it; indeed, you should make it a rule that, whenever you see books of anecdotes to be sold cheaply, you should add them to your library if you can spare the money, for they are among the things that are indispensable to yore The next good man who did much to furnish ministers with illustrations was Mr. John Whitecross. Whitecross’s Anecdotes are always to be had at a reasonable price. There are three volumes of them; their full titles are, Anecdotes Illustrative of A Select Passage in Each Chapter of the Old Testament; Anecdotes Illustrative of Select Passages in each Chapter of the New Testament; and Anecdotes Illustrative of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism. They were published in Edinburgh by Messrs. Oliphant and Co., and in London by Messrs. Hamilton, Adams, and Co.
The plan of arrangement in Whitecross’s Anecdotes differs from the method adopted in the books I have previously mentioned, for the. stories are put under selected passages of Scripture instead of under subjects or topics. In the Old Testament, for instance, Mr. Whitecross begins with Genesis, and he gives one anecdote illustrating verse sixteen of the first chapter of that Book, another on verse three of the second chapter, another on verse fifteen of the third chapter, and so on; some of the anecdotes being appropriate to the text, and some of them not so suitable, Here is an anecdote that is given as an illustration of Genesis 8:22: — “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” “A minister, going to church one Lord’s-day morning, when the weather was extremely cold and stormy, was overtaken by one of his neighbors, who, shivering, said to him, ‘It’s very cold, sir.’ ‘Oh!’ replied the minister, ‘God is as good as his word still.’ The other started at his remark, not apprehending his drift, or what he referred to; and[asked him what he meant. ‘Mean?’ replied he, ‘why, he promised, above three thousand years ago, and still he makes his word good, that while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, shall not cease.”
Well, that is an interesting anecdote to tell on a wintry Sabbath morning; but there is not much in it. Neither are most of the anecdotes given in these books very remarkable; but many of them may be useful. Do not, however, say that the incidents happened to you, as I have known some preachers do. Why, I actually heard, not long ago, of a minister, who said that a certain thing occurred to him the other day, and yet I told the original story twenty years ago I ‘When I related it, I said that it had been my experience the other day, and I believed it was so; but after hearing that this man says it happened to him, it makes me question whether it really did occur to me at all. I think it is a great pity for a preacher, or any speaker, to try to make a story appear interesting by saying that the incident related happened to him, when it really did not. Scrupulous truthfulness should always characterize every one who stands up to proclaim the truth of God.
Here is a good story, and there are others of a similar character, which are both valuable and usable. This is intended to illustrate the fourth verse of the one hundred and thirtieth Psalm: — “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” “One Mr. Davies, a young man, being under religious impressions, opened his mind to Dr. Owen. In the course of conversation, Dr.
Owen said, ‘Young man, pray, in what manner do you think to go to God?’ Mr. Davies replied, ‘Through the Mediator, sir.’ ‘That is easily said,’ observed Dr. Owen; ‘but I assure you, it is another thing to go to God through the Mediator, than many who make use of the expression are aware of. I myself preached some years, while I had but very little, if any, acquaintance with access to God through Christ, until the Lord was pleased to visit me with a sore affliction, by which I was brought to the brink of the grave, and under which my mind was filled with horror; but God was graciously pleased to relieve my soul by a powerful application of Psalm 130:4. “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” From this text I received special light, peace, and comfort, in drawing near to God through the Mediator; and on this text I preached immediately after my recovery.’ Perhaps to this exercise of mind we owe his excellent exposition of this Psalm.”
There are also, in Whitecross’s Anecdotes, some very beautiful experimental pieces from the great divines; and therefore I recommend you to purchase them if you can.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
published twelve small volumes of anecdotes, at one and fourpence each. I suppose, therefore, you can buy them for one shilling each. They should not be reckoned dear at that price, and each volume ought to supply you ‘with many anecdotes. If you only pick one or two pearls out of each of these oyster-shells, it will be worth all you pay for it. The anecdotes in these books are arranged according to topics, each volume being devoted to one subject: — Admonitions, Christian Conduct, Christian Graces, Christian Ministers, Christian Missions, Holy Scriptures, Miscellaneous, Providence, Religious Tracts, Social Life Sunday Schools, and The Young. The copy which I have in my hand is on the Holy Scriptures. I will only detain you with one extract; but I know that there is quite a good selection of anecdotes here, so that, if you had to speak at a Bible Society meeting in the country, this book would be sure to furnish you with most of the materials for a speech. This is the story that I had noted to read to you from this volume: — FATHER FULGENTIO. “Father Fulgentio, the friend and biographer of the celebrated Paul Sarpi, both of them secret friends of religious reformation, was once preaching upon Pilate’s question, What is truth? ‘when he told the audience that he had, at last, after many searches, found it out; and, holding forth a New Testament, said, ‘Here it is, my friends;’ but added sorrowfully, as he returned it to his pocket, ‘It is a sealed book! ‘It has since been the glory of the Reformation to break the seal which priestcraft had imposed upon it, and to lay its blessed treasures open to mankind.” ‘There are some anecdotes in the other volumes which are well worth telling; here is one from the collection entitled Social Life: — MARSHAL DE BASSOMPTRE, “The Marshal de Bassomptre said to one of his officers, ~ How old are you? ‘‘ I cannot tell exactly,’ said the captain; ‘but I am either thirty-eight or forty-eight.’ ‘How is it,’ asked the marshal, ‘that you are so ignorant in a concern that every person finds pleasure in knowing? ‘‘ Why,’ said the captain, ‘I keep an exact account of my rents, and what is owing to me, for fear of being cheated; but I never trouble my head about my years, because nobody can rob me of them!’ “Poor man! did he not know that he was robbed of his precious time every day and every hour? It is gone, too, beyond recovery. If a thief steals our money, it is possible we may get it again; but time that is past never returns: life that is wasted is gone for ever. Learn, then, to turn to account every passing hour.”
I cannot very strongly recommend the twelve volumes, as a whole; still, a shilling is not much to pay for such a store of stories as each of these little books contains, so you will do well to add. them to your library. The book of all books of anecdotes is Arvine’s Cyclopedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes: a Collection of nearly Three Thousand Facts, Incidents, Narratives, Examples, and Testimonies. I took in my copy of Arvine, many years ago, from the Primitive Methodists, who brought it out in sixpenny numbers. The edition corrected and authorized by Mr. Arvine is the one edited by Rev. John Flesher, and published by Mr. George Lamb, Sutton Street, London, E. Arvine’s work is really a perfect cyclopaedia.
After using it for many years, I am still of opinion that scarcely anything better in the way of a collection of anecdotes has come out since. The arrangement and classification of the subjects are excellent, and the copious topical and textual indexes are admirable. You, gentlemen, who are very enthusiastic retailers, will find this book exactly to your taste; in parts, it is as dry as a furnace, and some of the anecdotes are sufficiently strong for the most ardent abstainer. It is a capital book for all that; and I should like, for once, to read a volume in which the evils of intemperance are overdrawn. There is a book, called The Devil’s Chain, written by Mr. Edward Jenkins, M.P., the author of Ginx’s Baby; but terrible as are the descriptions in that book, the dreadful doings of drink are not exaggerated.
When I was a boy, I went to Madame Tussaud’s, and paid sixpence extra to go into the chamber of horrors; but I always thought that I had not my full sixpennyworth; but when I read The Devil’s Chain, I had horrors enough there. I do not think anyone could portray all the evils of intemperance, or of the drink system. ‘This book of Arvine’s is none the worse, but all the better, for the anecdotes about drunkenness, for those of you who do not want to use these wonderful stories about intemperance, can let ‘them alone; and you who do need them for your temperance addresses, can find plenty of them here. ! suppose that most of you are well acquainted with Arvine; but I will give you two of his anecdotes, one showing the doctrinal position of the editor, and the other giving rather an amusing description of how a preacher practically “improved the opportunity” of occupying the pulpit o£ a brother minister: — RIDDLE’ S DYING TESTIMONY. “Mr. Edward Riddle, an aged Christian in Hull, remarked, a few days before his death, to one who was present, ‘Some may suppose that a person at my time of life, and after so long making a profession of religion, has nothing to do but to die and go to heaven; but I find that I have as much need to go to God through Christ, as a sinner, at the last hour as at the beginning. The blood of Christ, the death of Christ, his victory and fullness, are my only ground of faith, hope, and confidence; there is the same need of him to be the Finisher of my faith as there was for him to be the Author of it.’” The editor inserts the following foot-note to the paragraph about going to God as a sinner; but you and I, brethren, will agree with good old Mr. Riddle: — “This and similar views are not ours: we believe that Christians may live without sin; still, other people have as much right to their belief as we have to ours.”
THE PULPIT WINDOW AND CUSHION REPAIRED.
“The Rev. Zabeliel Adams at one time exchanged with a neighboring minister, — a mild, inoffensive man, — who, knowing the peculiar bluntness of his friend’s character, said to him, ‘You will find some panes of glass broken in the pulpit window, and possibly you may suffer from the cold. The cushion, too, is in a bad condition; but I beg of you. not to say anything to my people on the subject; they are poor,’ etc. ‘Oh, no! Oh, no! ‘said Mr. Adams; but ere he left home, he filled a bag with rags, and took it with him.
When he had been in the pulpit a short time, feeling somewhat incommoded by the too free circulation of the air, he deliberately took from the bag a handful of rags, and stuffed them into the window. Towards the close of the discourse, which was more or less upon the duties of a people towards their minister, he became very animated, and purposely brought down both fists; upon the pulpit cushions, with a tremendous force. The feathers flew in all directions, and the cushion became nearly featherless. He instantly checked the current of his thoughts, and simply exclaimed, ‘Why, how these feathers fly,’ and then proceeded. He had fulfilled his promise of not addressing the Society on the subject; but he had taught the members a lesson not to be misunderstood. On the next Sabbath, the window and cushion were found in excellent repair.”
Messrs. Gould and Lincoln, Boston, U.S.A., published another cyclopaedia of Arvine’s, which I do not think has been reprinted in England. It contains 3,040 illustrations, and is entitled: A Cyclopcedia of Anecdotes of Literature and the Fine Arts; Containing a Copious and Choice Selection of Anecdotes of the Various Forms of Literature, of the Arts of Architecture, Engravings, Music, Poetry, Painting, and Sculpture, and of the Most Celebrated Literary Characters and Artists of different Countries and Ages, etc. By Kazlitt Arvine, A.M. You should get it if you can.
Dr.CHEEVER brought out a book of anecdotes, but all, or nearly all of them, were taken from Arvine. Do not buy Cheever if you have Arvine, because Cheever is simply a hashing-up of the cold cabbage of Arvine.
What a good thing it is for those who are preparing books of anecdotes today that so many have been published before! This saves them the trouble of making illustrations, and they have only to pick out as many as they choose from the books that have been already issued. That is the way people do when they are making collections of anecdotes; each man takes the stories of other people who came before him, so that, if you have many of such books, you get some of the illustrations over, and over, and over again. Cheever borrowed from Arvine, and Arvine from Whitecross, or Buck, or Spencer; and where White-cross and the others borrowed theirs, I do not know; but there must have been some primeval Whitecross, or Buck, or Spencer, or Arvine, or someone else, from whom all the others stole their good things.
Another large collection of illustrations is Bate’s Cyclopoedia. It is entitled: A Cyclopcedia of Illustrations of Moral and Religious Truths (Alphabetically Arranged); Consisting of Definitions, Metaphors, Similes, Emblems, Contrasts, Analogies, Statistics, Synonyms, Anecdotes, etc., etc.
By John Bate. It was originally published by Messrs. Tresidder and Co., but is now in the hands of Messrs. Jarrold and Sons. If anybody praises Mr. Bate’s cyclopaedia very highly, I should have to a-bate his praise somewhat. Still, it is not a bad collection of anecdotes, and it has some very good things in it. It has a good deal of Arvine in it, and some Whitecross in it, and some Buck in it, and it has some of Keach’s Metaphors in it. It has also some of Dr. Guthrie’s illustrations; in fact, it contains a great many very good things, but there is also a considerable number that nobody could use, or would ever think of using. They help to make the book bigger, and increase its price; and, I hope, they also increase the pay of the good man who made the book, which is a very desirable and proper result. Our friend Bate is a Wesleyan, and there is just the slightest Wesleyan tinge in his volume. Of course, you who are not Wesleyans can do with this book what I advised those who are not teetotallers to do with Arvine; you can pass by anything that you do not like. This is not the best collection of illustrations that ever was made; but it is very good in its way.
Then followed a book by the Rev. Elon Foster, of New York, bearing the title, Hebrew Cyclopedia of Illustrations, which Messrs. Dickinson and Higham brought out; but Mr. Foster, being an American, had appropriated so many of Mr. Bate’s illustrations that, when the volume was printed here, Mr. Bate expected Mr. Dickinson to pay him a royalty on all the copies he sold. I might have done the same thing in several instances, for I am a considerable sufferer by these makers of anecdote books, for they never make one now without plucking my feathers pretty freely, and using my illustrations without stint. I do not say much about that matter; but there is one thing which, to me, is a greater cause for complaint. I mean, when people take my material without even giving me the credit of it. ‘When a certain gentleman produced his first volume of anecdotes and illustrations, there was a man of the name of Spurgeon, who was a decent fellow in very fair repute, so the compiler took a number of that man’s thoughts, and put his name, “Spurgeon,” upon them. Here and there in the book was the name, “Spurgeon,” “Spurgeon.” It was very kind to use the poor man’s illustrations like that, and to put his name to them; it was very kind, indeed; I ought to take my hat off to the gentleman, and I would, only it is not on my head. But during the time that the second volume was being compiled, the aforesaid man committed himself in a most disgraceful manner, through speaking his mind about the teaching of the Church of England. Such action, in some people’s estimation, is a sin unto death.
Therefor,:, the compiler was unable to put the name of this wicked man into his second volume; but he was unwilling to refrain from taking the wicked man’s illustrations, so he took them, and inserted them without the author’s name, and there is the first volume disgraced and degraded with my horrible name; here it is in any hand; but the second volume has my thoughts and illustrations without my name. No doubt that is thought to be a very neat improvement; but I do not quite see the justice of it.
It is of a piece with the way in which I have been treated by other Church of England writers. There is a certain magazine of theirs which, month by month, used to have a piece of mine in it, taken word for word out of my Feathers for Arrows, and they put at, the bottom of the extracts, By an old Author. I am the “old author.” One editor of a Church of England magazine took John Ploughman’s Almanack — and “John Ploughman,” you know, is a particular friend of mine, — well, this gentleman took the almanack, and put in every month the whole of the proverbs, January, February, March, and so on, as if they had been his own; and I wondered how long that kind of thing was going on, so I wrote to the editor to say that it was a very bright idea for him to take all my friend “John Ploughman’s” proverbs in that way, and print them in his magazine as he was doing, but that I was instructed by “John Ploughman” to say that he was not to do it any longer. The editor wrote back to ask what he should do, because he had begun printing the proverbs, and he should like to publish them in his magazine right through the year. I said, “Well, if you do so, you ought to say that I am the author of the proverbs, and say that you took them from me. If you do that, you will be a gentleman and a Christian, and I will say nothing more about the matter; but as that is, perhaps, too much to expect from you, you may simply put the names of the publishers, and say that the proverbs are ‘John Ploughman’s,’ and then my name will not defile your pages.” And, would you believe it, brethren, the gentleman actually accepted the second alternative?
I cannot imagine in what state of heart I should be myself, if, sitting here amongst you this afternoon, I were to say, “Well, brethren, I should have commended certain works to you; but I hear that, the other Sunday, the author spoke from his pulpit against believers’ baptism, and therefore I will not advise you to buy his books.” Why, I should think myself as mean as certain, other people I have known, if I were to act in such a fashion as that I And for a man to take my pieces, and put them into his ‘book without inserting my name as the author of them, simply because I had said what I believe to be the truth about the Church of England, I think to be atrocious. It may be, however, that, in the exercise of his Christian charity, he thought I should be exalted above measure if my name was allowed to appear to so many extracts, so he kindly omitted it; therefore, with that interpretation of his action, we will leave the matter.
The result of Mr. Bate’s complaint of Mr. Foster was that Mr. Dickinson employed the Revelation J. G. Pilkington, Incumbent of St. Mark’s, West Hackney, and compiler of The Spiritual Garland, to produce another book, which is called, The Dictionary of Illustrations, Adapted to Christian Teaching: Embracing Mythology, Analogies, Legends, Parables, Emblems, Metaphors, Similes, Allegories, Proverbs; Classic, Historic, and Religious Anecdotes; etc. This is, I believe, the best book of illustrations that exists at present. I have looked through all the cyclopaedias which I know, and I think I may fairly say that this is far better than anything else of the kind that has yet been produced. I may also say of it, using the familiar quotation, “Quorum pars magna fui,” for there are many pages on which you will see my name printed, so I may be said to have a very fair finger in that pie. I cordially commend it to you, excepting the portion that is mine; that, I do not care about recommending to you, you can form your own opinion upon that part of the work. I think it is a well-arranged and judiciously-made collection, containing not only anecdotes, and really good illustrations, but proverbial sayings, pithy pieces, and things worth knowing, worth saying, and worth your people hearing. I should decidedly say that you cannot do better than buy this cyclopaedia,DICKINSON’ S Dictionary of Illustrations. You will not regret, I am sure, that you have so invested your money. There are 6,744 extracts in the volume, and that number ought to be sufficient to last you for a week or two at least.
Then, Mr. Elliot Stock issued two books of illustrations. The first was entitled, The New Handbook of Illustration; or, Treasury of Themes, Meditations, Anecdotes, Analogies, Parables, Similitudes, Types, Emblems, Symbols, Analogues, Allegories, and Expositions of Scripture Truth and Christian Life; and the second was called, The New Cyclopoedia of Illustrative Anecdote, Religious and Moral, Original and Selected. I remember reviewing this New Cyclopaedia of Illustrative Anecdotes and I said that it was a new cyclopaedia of very old anecdotes, and I cannot alter that verdict. The cyclopaedia is new, but the anecdotes certainly are not. They are Whitecross’s, and Arvine’s, and everybody else’s, touched up, and. put in new order. Still, if you have not any other, you will find this to be a capital book of illustrations. We live in an age in which everything is better than it used to be, and I hope everything is going to be better than it now is. Dr. Guthrie liked this Cyclopaedia of Anecdote, and wrote commending it very highly; and he was a man who ought to know the value of such works, for he was himself a great master of the art of illustration. These two volumes of Mr. Elliot Stock’s would make a very handsome present for any minister. I suggest to your congregations, brethren, that they should give them to you when you are settled in the ministry.
Among the very best books of illustrations are the two volumes byMR. BOWES, entitled, Illustrative Gatherings for Preacher, and Teachers. A Manual of Anecdotes, Facts, Figures, Proverbs, Quotations, etc. By the Revelation G. & Bowes, B.A., formerly Rector of Chillenden, Kent, and late scholar of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. They are published by Messrs. Nisbet and Co. I cannot praise them too highly; they are a perfect mine of discourses, you can get any number of sermons out of them; that is to say, if you have any sermons in your own soul, and if you can make them when the materials are supplied to you. The compiler of these books has put the matter he has gathered into such a handy shape, that you cannot help getting good by using his works. I heartily recommend Mr. Bowes’ books; and I believe that, whoever buys them upon my recommendation, will think that I have done him a good service. They contain an admirable collection of all sorts of good things, well arranged under proper headings so as to be exceedingly helpful to a student or minister. There are not only anecdotes and illustrations, but also parables, and witty and pithy remarks upon texts of Scripture, and notes upon various doctrines, so that a man who has these two volumes will have something which will last him, as I said just now about another book, for a week or two, at any rate. I question whether he will be able to use all the material he will find there for many a day to come; he will, at all events, be saved from the necessity of making anecdotes, for he will have plenty here all ready for use.
The last book of illustrations that I recommend you to buy, if you do not already possess it, is, Feathers for Arrows; or Illustrations for Preachers and Teachers, from my Note-book. By C. H.SPURGEON. It has as many new illustrations in it as any book that I know; they are nearly all new, and they are all original. I met with a High Churchman once, who told me that he had purchased Feathers for Arrows; “and,” said he, “some of the illustrations are very telling; but they have to be used with great discretion.” His words seemed to imply that my expressions were possibly a little too strong, and perhaps somewhat rough and unpolished here and there; so he said, “They must be used with great discretion.” “Well,” I replied, “that is how I wrote them.” He looked at me, but he said nothing; probably it had never occurred to him that the same kind of discretion was necessary in making the illustrations as in using them.
I shall have to make another list of books of anecdotes and illustrations byand- by when I prepare this lecture for the press; but this list comprehends all that I know of in the English language at the present time. If any brother here knows of another book of anecdotes or illustrations that I have not mentioned, I should be very glad if he would tell me of it, as I should like to make the list complete. I have used all means to find out any other books of the kind, but have not heard of any more.
Of course, brethren, I am fully aware that there is a host of books of anecdotes in addition to those I have mentioned; but they are not religious anecdotes, nor were they compiled for the use of ministers. That opens up quite another field of illustration. I have often obtained quite as much help from anecdotes that were not religious as I have from those that are. The Percy Anecdotes must always be classed as “A1” amongst books of miscellaneous anecdotes. Even volumes of wit and humor may be of service, if used, as my High Church friend said, “with great discretion.”
There is a shilling book of wit and humor, which came out a little while ago, which really has some stories in it that are very well worth turning to account. They are amusing, but they are narrated as facts of history, and they illustrate human weakness in such a way that you can very easily use them to set forth the folly and stupidity of sin. I remember one of these stories about the; mayor of a town in France. His daughter had a canary bird, and it escaped from its cage, so he issued a proclamation that all the, gates of the town were to be shut, so that the little creature might not get away. That is a very telling illustration of how men tried to prevent the spread of religious truth in the olden time. The Roman Catholics shut the gates to keep the truth within bounds; but truth, like the canary bird, had wings, and it was no use, to shut the gates to try to confine it to the town.
That same mayor, when the King of France went through the town, with thousands of armed men, told him that, about four miles away, there was a very dangerous wood, with thieves lurking in it, and if his majesty would not mind, he would send the beadle and two men to protect the army as they went through the wood! That is wonderfully like the way in which the Church of England protects our liberties as Nonconformists. You know that we are all indebted for our civil and religious liberty to the Church of England; we should never have been allowed to exist if it had not been for the church as by law established; — so some say! They have preserved us from the Church of Rome, and they are now doing the best they can, with their beadles, to defend the great army of dissenters against all dangers, imaginary and real! Well, well, brethren, such a harmless joke as that can be very readily turned to good practical account.
There is a great number of books of illustrations, such as those which Mr. TIMBS has compiled, under the title of Anecdote Lives of Wits and Humorists, containing much information about people and things not generally known; but then, if I get into that line of illustration, I shall begin an endless task. I am now only trying to give you a list of anecdotes compiled for the use of ministers. I remember, in reviewingPAXTON HOOD’ S World of Anecdote, I said that it was a cyclopaedia of religious anecdotes and others. They certainly are a queer assortment of stories, as curious a collection as I ever saw put together. I have often wondered why they were printed at all, except for the real geniality and fun of the thing; whether Mr. Hood ever asked a blessing on that volume, I do not know.
Many shilling books of anecdotes have come out of different times; they are generally to be seen on the railway bookstalls. Some of the anecdotes are just suitable for travelers on the railway; and some of the older ones are very old. Mr. Joseph Miller, whoever he may have been, was the author of a large number of them. A remarkable man was that Mr. Joseph Miller; but brethren, beware of ever using any of his anecdotes, or telling any of his stories The mention of this venerable gentleman, and his ancient sayings, reminds me of a newspaper article that I read the other day, a few extracts from which will appropriately dose this already long lecture. The heading of the article was “An Asylum of Similes “, and the writer said: — “Among the institutions of the future there certainly ought to be an asylum for similes, a place of quiet retreat, where the decayed similitude, the decrepit metaphor, and the aged and tortured illustration may’ find rest, and be definitely relieved from further active service. There is a vast number of these poor beings at present wandering up and down columns of papers, pages of books, and speakers’ addresses, who have well. earned their right to be pensioned off. Your heart is filled with compassion when you meet these old friends on the literary, oratorical, or hortatory high road, all travel-stained and toil-worn, and you are led to wish that some means could be found of keeping them comfortably indoors .... There is our friend, ‘the old man of the sea’, who, by this time, must be heartily sick of riding on orators’ necks, and being denounced and flung off amid tumultuous applause. This poor fellow has had to Do an awful amount of duty in his time. He has had now to represent the chief of the opposite party, and now the rival candidate; at one time he has been forced to illustrate the income tax, and at another the landlords or the parsons; he was howled at for years as ‘Protection ‘, and now, he is beginning to be hooted as ‘Free Trade.’ Surely, in this ease, humanity should step in, and the aged one should be allowed to retire to the asylum, and peacefully breathe his last, at last. He might do so very properly, side by side with Queen Anne, for it is really quite time that she died for good and all, and was released from the drudgery of serving the small beer of witlings. There are plenty of other worthy candidates. ‘Macaulay’s schoolboy’ would be very’ glad now, no doubt, if he were only asked to leave off knowing everything, and being made a butt of for it. This poor youth has been trotted out to be sneered at ever since he was born, and has never been allowed the ghost of a holiday. It is time he was released from duty, and allowed to go and play lawn-tennis in the asylum grounds with the Spartan boy, who has surely had his inside torn out by that fox quite enough in twenty centuries to satisfy the most brutal moralist in search of illustrations... Columbus, also, might at any time claim admission by right of his egg. Nearly everybody who has wanted to be smart or striking has quoted that egg, and modestly suggested the inference that he is the man to ‘show you how’; and the egg must be fairly addled by now. He would be quite at home in the asylum with that King of Spain who was grilled to death because the proper officer was not at hand to turn him over or baste him. We have all hurled the latter at the heads of rite people in official positions, and he must be longing to be left to grill in tranquillity. Scores of other candidates will occur to every one’s mind. And the ‘humans’ would by no means lack specimens of the animal creation to keep them company in the asylum. There is Newton’s dog Diamond, for instance, who has been pointing the moral of patience in calamity for ever so many generations.
Bruce’s spider, too, is another deserving candidate. The superior narrator has been lugging this poor creature into his improving tale or essay for ages now, till he has made him the terror of every generation of youth. It is time he was allowed to leave off persevering, and to eat his flies in peace.
The whole of Aesop’s menagerie should certainly be admitted. The sarcastic way in which these poor animals have been treated for ages is a reproach to the human race... Our asylum would not lack external adornment. There are many objects of nature from which literature and oratory have had a good innings, with which they ought to be satisfied. For instance, there are Scylla and Charybdis, who were recruited for short service by Homer, but have been kept hard at work in the ranks ever since his day. They should go to adorn the grounds, together with Pelion and Ossa, and be soothed to rest there by the Pierian spring. Then Goldsmith’s tall cliff, that midway cleaves the storm, should also decorate the landscape; and a niche should be cut in it for Mahomet’s coffin, which has been used as a simile for a dozen centuries in spite of all the laws of matter, and might well be released from its state of suspense. And. here, again, hundreds of other suitable candidates will suggest themselves to the patient reader. Somebody really ought to found this asylum as soon as possible, in the interests of literary humanity.”
And so say all of us, do we not, brethren!