TEN THOUSAND SKULLS.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
THE little village of Glys, at the commencement of the famous Simplon Road, has a Church large enough to hold its inhabitants, should they all swell into Brobdignags, and occupy a pew each. When we passed the stone steps which lead up to the porch, they were strewn with boughs and blocked up with poles — the raw materials of the rustic finery to be displayed on. the morrow, which was a high fete day. Inside the very clean and spacious edifice was an image of the Virgin Mary, very sumptuously arrayed, and placed upon a litter, so as to be carried about the streets in solemn procession — just as the heathen of old were wont to do with their gods. “They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and’ hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth.” What made the travelers pause and enter the Church? Certainly it was no respect for the idols or their shrines, but curiosity, excited by the grim information that here was a charnel house filled with skulls, ten thousand or more at a rough computation. Now we had seen skulls and bones at Chiavenna, all clean and white and carefully placed, so as to form double-headed eagles, crowns and all sorts of fanciful devices, and we had also passed bone-houses, where the heads of deceased villagers, all white as pipe-clay were arranged in orderly rows upon shelves, labeled with their names and the date of their decease; but ten thousand at once was a novelty of ghastliness not to be resisted. Was the information correct as to the number? Did it not sound like a gross exaggeration? It certainly struck us that we might allow a very liberal discount upon the sum total of horrors, and yet be perfectly competent; but we had no necessity to make any deduction, for, like the heads of the sons of Ahab, they lay before us in two heaps, and were there in full number.
Under a chapel, which was decorated with scenery and flowers, not unlike a theater, was the dreary home of the departed.
From its unglazed windows, through the iron bars, peered out thigh bones and skulls — these were the rear ranks of the army of the dead. We entered the portal, and for a moment could see nothing but a few skulls on the title; but when our eyes were accustomed to the gloom, we saw plainly that on each side of a long chamber was a wall of grinning heads, with a leg bone under the chin of each; here and there they had fallen down, and the wall was in need of the sexton’s decorating hand, but for the most part the pile was complete from floor to ceiling, and was from six to eight feet thick. A kneeling figure, in plaster, stuck up in the corner, half made us shiver, as it seemed to rise up from the floor of this hall of the dead like a sheeted ghost. At the far end were the usual appurtenances of Popish worship, and a comfortable place whereon to kneel amid the many remembrances of mortality. It was hard to avoid a sickening feeling in the midst of this mass of decay, but in our case this was overcome by wonder at the want of human tenderness in the religion which allows such needless and heartless exposure of the sacred relics of mortality. There they were, by dozens, on the floor, the skulls of old and young, male and female, and one could scarce avoid kicking against them; while, by hundreds, the grim congregation grinned from the wall on either side. Abraham said, “Bury my dead out of my sight,” and one felt that his desire was natural, decent, tender, and manlike; but of that horrible collection, open to the bat or the dog, or to every idle passer-by, what could be said but that they were, an abomination and an offense.
To what purpose have we brought our reader into this region of desolation. It is that he may ask, as we did, the question; “Who slew all these?” These thousands are but as the small dust of the balance, compared with the mountains of death’s prey. These are but the ashes of the generations of one small hamlet — -what vast mausoleum could contain the departed inhabitants of our great cities — the millions of Nineveh, Babylon, Rome, London, Pekin? What a mighty Alp might be formed of the corpses of the men of vast and populous empires, who these thousands of years have been born only to die! Surely the dust, which daces in the summer’s sun, is never free from atoms once alive and human.
The soil we tread, the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, in all these there must, doubtless, be particles once clothing an immortal soul. In lovely flower, and singing bird, and flitting insect, there may be, perhaps, there must be, crumbling elements of mortal flesh and bone, new moulded by the Master-hand. How perpetually does that question press itself upon us — Whence came the shafts which so surely reach the heart of life, and lay humanity in rotting heaps? Men of skeptical views have appealed to science, and have tried to shew that death is an inevitable law of nature, and is to be viewed as a matter of course, having no more to do with sin or holiness than the fall of a stone by gravitation; but we are content with the divine teaching, that “by man came death.” We confess that it is more than possible that creatures expired in agony and pain long before the time of man; but is it quite so clear that what may have occurred in periods before our age, upon animals alone, can be made to contradict a statement which relates to man, and to man only? From whatever cause animals may or may not die, the fact that man dies, as the result of Adam’s sin, is not affected thereby. For now we know, the law of morality might have ruled over all non-intellectual creatures, and man made in the image of his Maker, night have remained immortal evermore. Such a state of things probably never did exist, but it is enough for our inquiry that it might have been so, and that the supposition is not irrational.
If it be contended that the condition of the animal creation is bound up with the state and position of man, — without venturing into speculations, we are quite willing to accept the statement, and yet we are not at all perplexed by the fact of death before sin, and the doctrine that death is the result of sin. He who foresees and foreordains all things, has old constituted the creation, upon the foresight of that death which he foreknew would reign, as the result of sin, over man and the creatures linked with him. Had not sin and death been foreseen, as part of the great epic of earth’s history, it may be that there had been no brute creation at all, or else an undying one; but since the existence of evil in man, and his consequent fall, was a portion of the great scheme of his, cry which was always present before the divine mind, he made the world a fitting stage for the triumphs of his redeeming love, by permitting the creation to groan and travail under subjection to vanity, in solemn harmony with the foreknown state of fallen man.
We are not disposed to accept all the statements of geologists as facts, but even if we were credulous to the last degree concerning their discoveries, we should still hold the Bible, in its every jot and tittle, with unrelaxing grasp, and should only set our brain to work to find ways of reconciling fact and revelation, without denying either. We unhesitatingly accept the inspired declaration, that “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
What a view of the evil and mischief of sin have we here in this charnelhouse!
What a murderer is transgression! What a deadly poison is iniquity.
O earth, earth, earth, scarce canst thou cover the slain! Thy caverns reek with death! And as for thee, O sea, thy waves are glutted with the bodies of the mariners, whom thou hast swallowed up! Sin is the great manslayer!
Red-handed, with garments dyed in blood, sin stalks; through the land, and leaves its awful tracks in tears, and pains, and graves, and charnel-houses, such as this; would God it were no worse; but, alas, we must complete the picture, its trail is eternal damnation, it kindles the flames of Topher, which burn even to the lowest; hell.
A gleam of sunlight strays into the gloomy assembly of the dead, and as our eye drinks it in, our heart cheerfully hears another question? “Can these dry bones live?” So dry, so chalklike, so pierced by worms, so broken, so powdered, so scattered, so mixed up with other existences — blown by the winds, ground into dust, carried along by streams, lost, forgotten, unknown, can these dry bones live. As the top of one great mountain may be seen from another which towers to an equal height, so this one question may be breasted in all its greatness by another, and as the second, inquiry deals with a familiar fact, it may ease the difficulties which faith and reason may find in the first: Have these dry bones lived? Is it possible that out of those sockets looked merry eyes, sparkling with laughter, or orbs of grief, flowing with tears? Did that hollow globe hold thought and emotion, love and hate, judgment and imagination? That yawning mouth, did it ever cry, “Abba, Father,” or chant the Morning Hymn, or utter discourses which thrilled the, heart? How can it, have been possible? How could mind be linked with such poor crumbling matter? How could this earthy substance which men call bone, be in intimate, sentient, and vital connection with. a soul which thought and. reasoned? As well tell us that stones have walked, that rocks have danced, that mountains have fought in battle, as that spirits, full of intellectual and emotional power, have once quickened this poor brittle day; nay, more, walking, dancing, and fighting, are actions which brutes might perform, and involve no exercise of judgment and emotion, and therefore the wonder would not be so great as this before us, when we see that hollow circular box made of earth, and know that it was once essential to intellect and affection. Yet it is certain that these bones once lived; why not again? It is only because it is usual and common that life does not strike us as an equal miracle with resurrection. Let the wisest of our race attempt to animate the most accurate model which the most skillful anatomical model could prepare, and he would soon learn his folly.
Omnipotence is needed to produce and maintain one life; granted omnipotence, and impossibility vanishes, and even difficulty ceases to exist.
Believing that these shall live again, what then? In what body shall they comer,’ What will be their future, and where? Are these the bones of saints, and wall they rise all fair and glorious in the image of their exalted Lord, just as the shriveled seed starts up a lovely flower, begetting and beautiful? Will they mount from the chrysalis of death into the full imago of perfection, just as you fly, with rainbow wings, has done? Will they march, like the ten thousand Greeks, in dense phalanx, from this their narrow city? And will they know each other in their new condition, and preserve a manifest identity, even as Moses and Elias did, when they appeared upon the mount? Many questions, both answerable and unanswerable, are suggested by these poor relies of humanity. They are great teachers, these silent sleepers! But it may be more profitable to leave them all, and our speculations too, and permit one reflection, to abide with us, as we leave the close and dismal vault for the purer air without; that reflection is this, “I, too, shall soon be as these are.” It may be, through the care of kindly survivors, that my body shall rest where no curious travelers shall gaze thereon; no moralist may muse on death with my skull in his hand; and yet I must be even as these are. How vain then is life! How certain is death! Am I ready for eternity? This is the only business worthy of my care. Go ye vanities to those who are as vain as you are! Thoughtful men live solemnly, regarding this life as but the robing-room for the next, the cradle of eternity, the mould wherein their future must be east. If we rightly think upon this well-known truth, it will haw. been a healthy thing to visit the chambers of the dead.
On the Sacro Monte, at Varallo, is a supposed imitation of the sepulcher of the Lord Jesus. It was a singular thing to stoop down and. enter it, of course finding it empty, like the one which it feebly pictured. What a joyful word was that of the angel, “He is not here!” Sweet assurance — millions of the dead are here in the sepulcher, thousands of saints are here in the grave, but HE is not here. If he had remained there, then all manhood had been for ever imprisoned in the tomb, but he who died for’ his Church, and was shut up as her hostage, has risen as her representative, surety and head, and all his saints; have risen in him, and shall eventually rise like him.
Farewell, charnel house, thou hast no door now, the imprisoning stone is rolled away. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
ACQUA! ACQUA THE sharp shrill cry of Acqua! Acqua! constantly pierces the ear of the wanderer in Venice and other towns of sultry Italy. There is the man who thus invites your attention. Look at him. On his back tie bears a burden of water, and in his hand a rack of bottles containing essences to flavor the draught if needed, and glasses to hold the cooling liquid. In the streets of London he would find but little patronage, but where fountains are few and the days are hot as an oven, he earns a livelihood and supplies a public need. The present specimen of water dealers is a poor old man bent sideways, by the weight of his daily burden. He is worn out in al! but his voice, which is truly startling in its sharpness and distinctness. At our call he stops immediately, glad to drop his burden on the ground, and smiling in prospect of a customer. He washes’, out a glass for us, fills it with sparkling water, offers us the tincture which we abhor, puts it back into the rack again when we shake our head, receives half-a-dozen sold with manifest gratitude, and trudges away across the square, crying still, “Acqua, Acqua.” That cry, shrill as it is, has sounded sweetly in the ears of many a thirsty soul, and will for ages yet to come, if throats and thirst survive so long. How forcibly it calls to our mind the Savior’s favorite imagery, in which he compares the grace which he bestows on all who diligently seek it, to ‘:’ living water;” and how much that old man: is like the faithful preacher of the word, who, having filled his vessel at the well, wears himself’ out by continually bearing the burden of the Lord, and crying “Water, Water!” amid crowds of sinners, who must drink or die.
Instead of the poor Italian water-bearer, we see before us the man of God, whose voice is heard in the chief places of cone, course, proclaiming the divine invitation, “He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters!” until he grows grey in the service, and raven say “Surely those aged limbs have need of rest”; yet rest he courts not, but pursues his task of mercy; never laying down his charge till he lays down his body, and never ceasing to work until he ceases to live.
At the door of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, we bought a glass of what should have been the pure element, but when we began to drink, a pungent flavor of something which had previously been in the glass, made us leave the rest of our purchase, thirsty though we were. The water was good enough, but the vessel which held it imparted an evil taste to it; the like has often happened in the ministry, the gospel preached has been true and divine, but the unhallowed Savior of an inconsistent life, or a bitter disposition, has marred the sweetness of the, word. May all of us by whom the Lord hands out the water of life, see that we are clean and pure in conversation; vessels fit for the Master’s use. Men who are very thirsty will drink out of any cup, however dirty; but no conceivable advantage can arise from filth, and hundreds will turn away from the water because of it, and thus a very faulty ministry may be useful because of the truth contained in it, but its sinfulness can do no good, and may serve as an excuse to the ungodly for refusing the gospel of Christ.
In the square of the Doge’s Palace are two wells, from which the sellers of water obtain their stock-in-trade, but we can hardly compare either of them with the overflowing spring from which the preacher of righteousness draws his supplies. One of the wells is filled artificially and is not much used for drinking, since the coldness and freshness of water springing naturally from earth’s deep fountains is lacking. It is to be feared that many preachers depend for their matter upon theological systems, books and mere learning, and hence their teaching is devoid of the living power and refreshing influence which is found in communion with “the spring of all our joys.” The other well yields most delicious water, but its flow is scanty.
In the morning it is full, but a crowd of eager persons drain it to the bottom, and during the ,day as it rises by driblets, every drop is contended for and borne away, long before there is enough below to fill a bucket. In its excellence, continuance and naturalness, this well might be a fair picture of the grace of our Lord Jesus, but it fails to set him forth from its poverty of supply. He has a redundance, an overflow, an infinite fullness, and there is no possibility of his being exhausted by the draughts made upon him, even though ten thousand times ten thousand should come with a thirst as deep as the abyss. We could not help saying “Spring up, a well,” as we looked over the margin covered with copper, into which, strings and ropes — continually used by the waiting many — had worn deep channels. Very little of the coveted liquid was brought; up each time, but the people were patient, and their tin vessels went up and down as fast as there was a cupful to be had. O that men were half as diligent in securing the precious gifts of the Spirit, which are priceless beyond compare. Alas, how few have David’s thirst for the well of Bethlehem. The cans sent down had very broad sides, so that they dropped down fiat upon the bottom of the well, and were drawn up less than half full; large vessels would have been useless, and so, indeed, would small ones, if they had not been made to lie quite down upon their sides, along what we must call the floor of the well, and had they have been erect they would not have received a drop.
Humility is always a profitable grace; pride is always as useless as it is Coolish. Only by bowing our minds to the utmost before the Lord, can we expect to receive his mercy, for he promises grace unto the humble in that same verse which foretells his resistance of the proud. If there be grace anywhere, contrite hearts will get it. The lower we can fall, the sooner will the springing water of grace reach us, and the more completely shall we be filled with it.
It would be a great misfortune for those who buy their water in the streets, if the itinerant vendors should begin to fill their casks and bottles from. muddy streams. At Botzen, in the Tyrol, we saw many fountains running with a liquid of a very brown color; and a seller of such staff might cry “Acqua” very long and very loudly before we should partake of his dainties. Sundry divines in our age have become weary of the old-fashioned well of which our fathers drank, and would fain have us go to their Abana and Pharpar, but we are still firm in the belief that the water from the rock has no rival, and we shall not, we hope, forsake it for any other. May the Lord send to our happy land more simple gospel, more Christ-exalting doctrine, more free-grace teaching, more distinct testimony to droning blood and eternal love. In most of the Swiss villages there are streaming fountains by the dozen, and the pure liquid is to be had at every corner; may we yet, see the Word of God as abundantly distributed in every town, village, and hamlet in England. Meanwhile, having recorded the prayer, we resolve by divine grace, to cry more loudly than ever, “Acqua! Acqua!”
A GENTLE REMINDER.
WE, have felt a vehement desire that in connection with our magazine, we should accomplish work for the Lord; real, substantial, useful work, which would make it worth while to have had a magazine at all. The thought struck us, that our readers might feel called upon to aid in relieving the needs of our great and sinful city of London, and that we might achieve the erection of four places of worship in the year 1865. We are now arrived at the eighth month of the year, and we are fearful that our project will scarcely be accomplished. Owing to the generosity and diligence of our friend Mr. John Olney, we may consider the chapel at Ealing as a fact, for if the immediate friends of that interest exert themselves as they should do, they will be able to open the place free of debt. To the second building at Bermondsey, our friends at the Tabernacle have contributed with their usual generosity, so that their £500 is waiting for the laying of the stone: towards our own £500, we have £250 given by one noble donor, and several contributions from friends at a distance, but added together they fall short of the mark. However, of this we shall not complain, but must make an effort to complete the sum we guaranteed, and so we put the second chapel down as a fact. The third is; to be built at Redhill, near Reigate, and here again Mr. John Olney has planned the matter with great skill, and we trust the plan will be carried out. Of the fourth I shall say nothing, for without the assistance of the many, and especially those at a distance, we must not venture upon it. Friends at home have done their fair share and more, the work must now pause, unless others are raised up to help. Millions in and round London are perishing for lack of the word, and the great want with us is places in which to preach it. The bazaar is postponed till Christmas. Many friends may be working for it, but it must be very secretly, for we have had only one intimation of assistance, and therefore suppose that friends are otherwise engaged. We shall be glad to hear from friends who are working, so as to know how to proceed, and we have yet hope that this will prove a success.
During the months of May and June the treasury of the College was nearly drained dry. By reference to the monthly report it will be seen that with a constant outflow of about £80 per week, scarcely more than £40 came in to supply it. Faith sees in this no discouragement, for the Lord has provided and will provide for what is proved to be his work by the manifest blessing resting upon it; but we think it right to let the Lord’s stewards know the needs of his work, that they may know when to aid it. He who conducts these works with a single eye to God’s glory, desires to leave them at the foot of his Master’s throne with the prayer, “ thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
DR. CAMPBELL ON MR. SPURGEON’S BAPTISMAL REGENERATION SERMONS WE felt not a little grieved at the indistinct utterances of Dr. Campbell while the Baptismal Regeneration controversy was raging around us, and we did not fail to say some very strong things upon the subject. In our feelings of reset at the doctor’s singular tenderness for the Recordite party, and his apathy in defense of the truth on that occasion, we know that thousands of our friends deeply sympathized, and it needed a remembrance of all the veteran warrior’s former services to the good old cause to maintain him in the high position of esteem in which the most of us have held him. For our own part, we felt driven more completely to look to the strong for strength, and obtained an exceedingly vivid impression of that text, “Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of.” Our friend has now published his letters on Baptismal Regeneration, and prefaced them with an introduction, which we think it simple justice to him to reproduce in our pages. We accept it as the amende honorable, and trust that our friends will do the same. Like the letters themselves, the introduction is written with a heavy quill, and rather too much ink is laid on here and there, especially in our own praise and in excuses for the Evangelical clergy; but it is well and kindly meant, and though it gives us more than our due, we believe ourselves entitled to some little interest on account of the long delay, and shall not therefore raise the question.
The letters themselves, both as prolonging the conflict, and as a memorial of the struggle, deserve an extensive circulation. We are very far from agreeing with all the statements and opinions advanced in them, and we do not think them equal to other productions from the same vigorous pen, but, still we estimate them very highly, and trust that in certain quarters inaccessible to us they will work a lasting Food. The volume is published by Mr. John Snow at a cheap price. Here is the “Introduction:” — “The present publication originated in the sermon of the Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon on Baptismal Regeneration, which led to an excitement far exceeding everything of the sort known in our times. One portion of the Christian public approved, and another condemned the discourse, and both with equal fervor. The result was the publication of an incredible number of letters, sermons, and pamphlets, and a large amount of discussion, both in the general and in the religious Press. Some of the combatants, were men of ability and information, but none begirded themselves for a thorough and yet popular discussion of the subject. All seemed satisfied with an ephemeral expression of opinion on the one side or the other. “It was known to many, that between Mr. Spurgeon and myself there had long been an intimate and cordial friendship, proofs and illustrations of which, on my part, had from time to time appeared in the columns of the British Standard, and other publications under my control. :In his early days I stood by him, when his advocates in the Press were neither numerous nor, with one or two honorable exceptions, efficient, while his adversaries were both unscrupulous and powerful. Some surprise accordingly was felt by our mutual friends, that I was not among the first to place myself at his side. They were at a loss to account for my seeming apathy; but in this they were guided by feeling rather than by judgment; they did not reflect that the state of things was entirely altered. Mr. Spurgeon was no longer a tender sapling that might receive benefit from the friendly shade of an elder tree, but an oak of the forest, whose roots had struck deep in the earth, and whose thick and spreading boughs bade defiance to the hurricane. They forgot that Mr. Spurgeon alone was more than a match for all his adversaries. Besides, a passing newspaper article, however strong or telling, although it might have gratified our mutual friends, would have been of small importance to the cause which I had so much at heart — the correction and purification of the Liturgy of the Established Church. My mind had been familiar with the subject, and often painfully exercised by it, for a quarter of a century. I had, besides, written much concerning it in various channels, and in divers forms; and not, satisfied with these ephemeral efforts, a few years back I embodied my views at length, in a volume entitled ‘Popery and Puseyism.’ The Spurgeon controversy, however, led to the determination to deal with the question of Baptismal Regeneration on a scale more expanded, and in a manner more multifarious, definite and conclusive. Leaving Mr. Spurgeon, therefore — who did not want for able and zealous auxiliaries, both in pamphlets and sermons, although he required them not — I determined to come forth in a series of Articles in the British Standard, which extended over a period of seventeen weeks. These articles constitute the present volume. “Although the series was headed, ‘ The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon and the Clergy,’ no attempt was made to decide between the contending parties. conducted the discussion on an independent footing, as much so as if Mr. Spurgeon had neither published, nor preached his memorable sermon. I nevertheless carefully examined everything that appeared, whether for or against him, as well as a multitude of publications that had been previously issued. As the chief bulwark of the Evangelical Clergy, I finally betook myself to the huge work of Dr. Geede, Dean of Ripen, and traveled very carefully through its six hundred closely-printed pages, in order to obtain a clear conception of its complex and multifarious contents. Having completed this part of my task, I next sat down to a thorough reperusal of Mr. Spurgeon’s celebrated discourses on ‘Baptismal Regeneration,’ ‘ The Book of Common Prayer Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary,’ ‘The Duty of Going Forth and Bearing Reproach,’ and ‘ True Unity Promoted,’ with the Letters addressed by Mr. Spurgeon to the Evangelical Alliance, and to the Christian public, respectively. It will thus be seen that I have gone about the matter with at least some measure of the care and labor required in a matter so momentous, from its involving interests so tremendous, alike as affecting both time and eternity. I have now, therefore, I humbly submit, some right to express an opinion upon the results of my inquiry; and this I shall do without the slightest regard to sect or party, friend or foe. “In my view, then, the statements of Mr. Spurgeon, as to the general doctrine, in point of accuracy, are unimpeachable; truth has obviously, from first to last, been the sole object of his inquiry. “His argument also is, in my view, clear, cogent, and unanswerable. “His complaints and remonstrances are, I think, well-founded, and such as deserve the candid and serious consideration of those to whom they are addressed. “His appeals and protests are, nevertheless, occasionally marked by an acritude of spirit, fitted to startle, scandalize, and exasperate. “His style, too, more especially in the first discourse, is vehement and trenchant in a manner which has rarely been exceeded. His conceptions of the enormity of the evil in question are most vivid, and his convictions are in consequence exceedingly strong. The power Of the discourse, however, arises less from its logical than from its rhetorical qualities. The error has been exposed and exploded in a manner the most convincing a thousand times, but never I believe was it exhibited to the public eye with coloring so vivid, and never was it pressed home on the clerical conscience with a force no thrilling, resistless and terrible! But even Mr. Spurgeon’s clinching logic, apart from his devastating eloquence, would have left things very much as it found them. In that case Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, the publishers, would not have had to report the unparalleled issue of 350,000 copies of these discourse,;. Mr. Spurgeon’s opponents have been so dazzled, I might almost say concerning some of them, so infuriated by the daring drapery, as to lose sight of the subject-matter. They have merged the essentials in the circumstantial. There has, I think, been a mutual oversight. Neither party has duly estimated the position of the other Mr. Spurgeon, in my view, has not made the allowance, which equity and charity required, and which is made in the following articles, for the Clergy’; and the Clergy have not made the allowance, the large allowance, for which we equally contend, on behalf of Mr. Spurgeon, whose training has been thoroughly scriptural, and in all points and-Romanist. They have not, moreover, duly estimated the condition of a gentleman still far short of manhood’s prime, a gentleman endowed with great powers and strong passions, holding farthing the midst of five thousand hearts beating in unison with his own, and with ten thousand admiring eyes converged upon him. The case of such a man is extraordinary, unparalleled, and when placed in the balances of critical judgment and severe propriety, charity apart, it is, I contend, but just and fair to make a very large allowance for strong language, language stronger than I could have used; but,-with his talents, temperament, views, and convictions, and placed in his circumstances, I might have spoken as he spake, without at all feeling that I had violated the strict rules of verity’, justice, and Christian propriety. “But this is not all. Mr. Spurgeon is, I think, more sinned against than sinning. The Dean of Ripon, Dr. Goode, has thought it consistent with his character and office, with truth and decency, to attack Mr. Spurgeon in the following terms:— “‘As to that young minister who is now raving against the Evangelical clergy on this point, it is to be regretted that so much notice has been taken of his railings. He is to be pitied, because his entire want of acquaintance with theological literature leaves him utterly unfit for the determination of such a question, which is a question, not of mere doctrine, but of what may be called historical theology; and his charges are just a parallel to those which the Romanists would bring against himself as well as others for the interpretation of the words, ‘This is my body.’ But were he a wiser man than he is, he would know better what his qualifications are for passing judgment on such a point, and be willing to learn from such facts, among others, as the Gorham Judgment and the cases of Mr. Maskell and Mr. Mozley, what ground there is for his charges against the Evangelical clergy. Let him hold and enforce his own view of doctrine as he pleases; but when he undertakes to determine what; is the exclusive meaning of the Book of Coramort Prayer, and brings a charge of dishonesty against those who take a different view of that meaning from what he does, he only shows the presumptuous self-confidence with which he is prepared to pronounce judgment upon matters of which he is profoundly ignorant. To hold a controversy with him upon the subject would be to as little purpose as to attempt to hold a logically-constructed argument with a child unacquainted with logical terms’ Now this I hold to be a very serious matter, and! call upon every man of sense and candor, whether Churchman or Dissenter, who has carefully read the discourses of Mr. Spurgeon, to say if he has found there in ought to demand, or to justify this outburst of arrogance, insolence, and contempt!
The most fervid — and if the reader will so have it — the roast ferocious utterances of Mr. Spurgeon are polite, and even courtly, compared with the foregoing. Dean Goode, as a scholar, knows the meaning of the terms’, “raving” and “railing” and, therefore, cannot plead ignorance. He is, moreover, a man in the mellow autumn of human life, not carried away by youthful fire; he also wrote his invective in the calm retreat of his own deanery, and did not, like Mr. Spurgeon, pour it forth under the exciting influence of breathless thousands; so that in his case there is not a single mitigating circumstance. His attack is clearly a studied attempt to wound the feelings, to stab the character, and to blast the influence of one of the most useful and honored ministers of the century.
Dr. Goode is so full of the Cathedral, that he cannot see so tiny an object as the Metropolitan Tabernacle. That fabric, however, with its manifold adjuncts, is the wonder — I might say the glory — of Christendom. Is Dr. Goode quite sure that it does not bring more honor to God in the salvation of men than all the cathedrals of the realm? Is Dr. Goode quite sure that Charles Haddon Spurgeon does not, in the course of a single year, publish a larger measure of Gospel truth, and address a greater number of perishing men, several times over, than all the Deans of England? “Dr. Goode regrets that so much ‘notice’ has been taken of Mr. Spurgeon. as if alarmed lest that gentleman should be: lifted up to a celebrity which he could not otherwise command. The Dean betrays a sad lack of acquaintance with the living world around him. Has he let to learn that the fame of Spurgeon has filled both hemispheres, and that his readers and admirers are counted by the million? As to ‘pity,’ it is a precious commodity, and Dr. Goode had better reserve it for those — he knows them well — who require it more than Mr. Spurgeon. With respect to his ‘acquaintance with theological literature,’ I have no hesitation in declaring my belief that a portion of the Bishops, with not a few of the dignified Clergy, might, with special advantage, sit at Mr. Spurgeon’s feet. “Again, with all respect for Dr. Goode, I submit that Baptismal Regeneration is a ‘question of doctrine,’ and not of ‘ historical theology.’
Before such a theology was extant or possible, Baptism was perfectly understood, and it had been administered to millions, It is a question purely of the New Testament, as interpreted by the grammar and the lexicon — a question, with the settlement of which “historical theology” has nothing to do. Dr. Goode is deservedly considered a master of that ‘theology,’ and he has also written upon it one of: the most elaborate treatises in the English language — a treatise which, as already stated, I have studied with the utmost care and candor, but, I must say, with very little benefit. It is the fruit of much labor, and not a little learning; but nothing has been done, that I have been able. to perceive, to establish truth, or to correct error, with respect to the subject of Baptismal Regeneration.
Every sentence of Dr. Goode’s onslaught on Mr. Spurgeon would warrant, if’ it does not demand, the severest remonstrance; but I for-hear. Still, I deeply regret that a gentleman of Dean Goode’s character, learning, and position, should have so completely forgotten what was due to himself, to his office, to his Church, and to his religion, to say nothing of Mr. Spurgeon and the great Non-conforming bodies of these Isles. Evolutions of insult and scorn ill befit the lips. of men who minister at the altars of the land. “The Evangelical Alliance was forward to remonstrate with Mr. Spurgeon.
I should like to know if they acted as promptly and as frankly with Dean Goode; for, certainly, in the latter case, the matter was much more urgent, because much more flagrant. If the one deserved to be chastised with whips, the other deserved to be chastised with scorpions! Mr. Spurgeon, in reply to the Evangelical Alliance, has expressed himself as follow: — “‘In my censure I did (at least in my own judgment) avoid all rash groundless imputations. I have waited long and patiently for signs of reform in the ecclesiastical conduct of these brethren, and I have not spoken until my hopes of their spontaneous repentance have expired. Now that I have felt constrained to break my long silence, I believe that I have ground most solid, and reasons most ample for all that I have witnessed concerning them. I have only considered one part of their public position; I have not denied their many excellencies, or impeached their uprightness in other transactions; but upon the one point of subscription I have deliberately and with good cause upbraided them in unmistakable terms, and I entirely deny that the former part of your rule at all touches my conduct.’
Mr. Spurgeon did not enter lightly on the subject of which he treats. tie says: — “The burden of the Lord is upon me, and I must deliver my soul. I have been loth enough to undertake the work, but I am forced to it by an awful and overwhelming sense of solemn duty. As I am soon to appear before my Master’s bar, I will this day, if ever in my life, bear my testimony for truth, and run all risk. I am content to be cast out as evil if it must be so, but I cannot, I dare not, hold my peace.’ “Thus much by way of explaining the origin and object of the following sheets. My conscience bearing me witness, they are the fruit of a sincere desire to promote the real welfare of the Established Church, and of the most disinterested benevolence towards both her ministers and her people, The subject is vital not only to her real usefulness, but to her very existence as a Protestant Institution! The universality of the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration will be the sure prelude to her overthrow, and the reestablishment of the Church of Rome, with all her darkness and bondage, misery and wickedness! Nothing is more to be dreaded on the subject than stupid apathy and blind confidence. A disposition to ridicule the idea of danger, and mock the voice of warning, is a sure and certain preparation for ruin!THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION BY SACRAMENTS IS ADEADLY DELUSION,THE OVERTHROW OF THE GOSPEL,THE DESTRUCTION OF SOULS,AND THE PATH TO PERDITION!”
— Every promise is built upon four pillars:-God’s justice or holiness, which will not suffer him to deceive; his grace or goodness, which will not suffer him to forget; his truth, which will not suffer him to change; and his power, which makes him able to accomplish. — Salter.
WE are told that when Alexander, the conqueror of the world was dying, he gave orders that at his burial his hands should be exposed to public view that all men might see that the mightiest of men could take nothing with him when called away by death. The same lesson was taught’ us by Job when he said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” A mouthful of earth will one day stop the cravings of the most covetous. This makes the hoarding up of wealth so vain an occupation. He who died the other day worth three millions and a half, is now as poor as the beggar whom he passed in the street. “I would not mind dying,” said a miserly farmer, “if I could take my money with me!” but when he ceased to breathe he left; all behind him. What folly it is to spend all one’s time in gathering a heap to leave it so soon. “He heapeth up riches, and knoweth nor who shall gather them.” How much wiser ;are they who seek an enduring inheritance which shall be theirs when the stars: have died out in darkness. Blessed are they whose treasure, is stored up, where time’s moth cannot eat it, where care’s rust cannot corrode it, and Where misfortune’s thief cannot steal it.
Dear reader, eternity will soon be your dwelling-place; are you not concerned to be a possessor of wealth which will enrich you there? If you have been taught of God to know your own poverty, remember that Jesus.
Christ gives. himself freely to all poverty-stricken sinners who will receive him. Having him, you will be a peer in heave its realm, and though you will be buried with empty hands, yet shall you rise again to be rich in all that makes men eternally blessed. Jesus cries, “Riches and honor are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than. choice silver.”
WHO is this gentleman? You guess him to be a Romish priest; and so indeed he is, but he is not honest enough to avow it. This, with the exception of the face, is a correct representation of a clerical gentleman, well known in the south of England, as a notorious clergyman of that religious association, which is commonly, but erroneously, called “The Church of England.” We can assure the reader that our artist has faithfully given the robes and other paraphernalia with which this person makes a guy of himself. We beg to ask, what difference there is between this style and the genuine Popish cut? We might surely quite as well have a bona fide priest at once, with all the certificates of the Vatican! There seems to be an unlimited license for papistical persons to do as they please in the Anglican Establishment. How long are these abominations to be borne with, and how far are they yet to be carried?
Protestant Dissenters, how can you so often truckle to a Church which is assuming the rags of the old harlot more and more openly every day?
Alliance with true believers is one thing, but union with a Popish sect is quite another. Be not ye. partakers with them. Protestantism owed much to you in past ages, will you not now raise your voice and show the ignorant and the priest-ridden the tendencies of all these mummeries, and the detestable errors of the Romish Church and of its Anglican sister.
Evangelical Churchmen, lovers of the Lord Jesus, how long will you remain in alliance with the defilements of High Churchism? You are mainly responsible for all the Popery of your Church, for you are its salt and its stay. Your brethren in Christ cannot but wonder how it is that you can remain where you are. You know better. You are children of light, and yet you aid and abet a system by which darkness is scattered all over the land.
Beware, lest you be found in union with Antichrist, when the Lord cometh in his glory. What a future would be yours if you would shake yourselves from your alliance with’ Papists and semi-Papists. Come out for Christ’s sake. Be ye separate, touch not the unclean thing!