HOW TO RAISE THE DEAD AN ADDRESS DELIVERED TO THE TEACHERS OF THE SOUTH LONDON AUXILIARY OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION, AT THEIR ANNUAL PRAYER MEETING,
Held in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on Monday Evening, Jan. 28, 1867.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
FELLOW-LABORERS in the vineyard of the Lord, let me call your attention to a most instructive miracle wrought by the prophet Elisha, as recorded in the fourth chapter of the Second Book of Kings. The hospitality of the Shunammite woman had been rewarded by the gift of a son; but, alas! all earthly mercies are of uncertain tenure, and after certain days the child fell sick and died.
The distressed but believing mother hastened at once to the man of God; through him God had spoken the promise which fulfilled her heart’s desire, and she resolved to plead her case with him, that he might lay it before his divine Master, and obtain for her an answer of peace. Elisha’s action is recorded in the following verses :— Then said he to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. And the mother of the child said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose and followed her. And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there ‘was neither voice, nor hearing.
Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and wen up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the-child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shuneremite. So-he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, slid went out.”—2 Kings 4:29-37.
The position of Elisha in this case is exactly your position, brethren, in relation to your work for Christ. Elisha had to deal with a dead child. It is true that, in his instance, it was natural death; but the death with which you have to come in contact is not the less real death because it is spiritual. The boys and girls in your classes are as surely as grown-up people, “dead in trespasses and sins.” May none of you fail fully to reveal the state in which all human beings are naturally found. Unless you have a very clear sense of the utter ruin and spiritual death of your children, you will be incapable of being made a blessing to them. Go to them, I pray you, not as to sleepers whom you can by your own power awaken from their slumber, but as to spiritual corpses who can only be quickened by a power divine. Elisha’s. great object was not to cleanse the dead body, or embalm it with spices, or wrap it in fine linen, or place it in an appropriate posture, and then leave it still a corpse: he aimed at nothing less than the restoration of the child to life. Beloved teachers, may you never be content with aligning at secondary benefits, or even with realizing them; may you strive for the grandest of all ends, the salvation of immortal souls. Your business is not merely to teach the children in your classes to read the Bible, not barely to inculcate the duties of morality, nor even to instruct, them in the mere letter of the gospel, but your high calling is to be the means, in the hands of God, of bringing life from heaven to dead souls. Your teaching on the Lord’s-day will have been a failure if your children remain dead in sin. In the case of the secular teacher, the child’s fair proficiency in knowledge will prove that the instructor has not lost his pains, but in your case, even though your youthful charge should grow up to be respectable members of society, though they should become regular attendants upon the means: of grace, you will not feel that your petitions to Heaven have been answered, nor your desires granted to you, nor your highest ends attained, unless something more is done—unless, in fact, it can be-said of your children, “The Lord hath quickened them together with Christ.”
Resurrection, then, is our aim! To raise the dead is our mission! We are like Peter at Joppa, or Paul at Troas, we have a young Dorcas or Eutychus to bring to life. How is so strange a work to be achieved? If we yield to unbelief we shall be staggered by the evident fact that the work to which the Lord has called us is quite beyond our own personal power. We cannot raise the dead. If asked to do so we might each one of us, like the king of Israel, rend our clothes and say, “Am I God to kill, and to make alive?” We are, however, no more powerless than Elisha, for he of himself could not restore the Shunammite’s son. It is true that we by ourselves cannot bring the dead hearts of our scholars to palpitate with spiritual life, but, a Paul or an Apollos would have been equally as powerless. Need this fact discourage us? Does it not rather direct us to our true power by shutting us out from our own fancied might? I trust we are all of us already aware that the man who lives in the region of faith dwells in the realm of miracles.
Faith trades in marvels, and her merchandise is with wonders. “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to that alone; Laughs at impossibility, And cries, ‘It shall be done.’” Elisha was no common man now that God’s Spirit was upon him, calling him to God’s work, and aiding him in it. And you devoted, anxious. prayerful teacher, remain no longer a common being, you have become, ill a special manner, the temple of the Holy Ghost; God dwelleth in you, and you by faith have entered upon the career of a ‘wonder-worker. You are sent into the world not to do the things which are possible to man, but those impossibilities which God worketh by his Spirit, by the means of his believing people. You are to work miracles, to do marvels. You are not, therefore, to look upon the restoration of these dead children, which in God’s name you are called to bring about, as being a thing unlikely or difficult when you remember who it is that works by your feeble instrumentality. “Why should it seem a thing impossible with you that God should raise the dead?:” Unbelief will whisper to you as you mark the wicked giddiness and early obstinacy of your children, “Can these dry bones live?” But your answer must be, “O Lord, thou linguist.”
Committing all cases to the Almighty hand, it is yours to prophesy to the dry bones and to the heavenly wind, and ere long you too shall see in the valley of your vision the signal triumph of life over death. Let us take up at this moment our true position, and let us realize it. We have dead children before us, and our souls yearn to bring them to life. We confess that all quickening must be wrought by the Lord alone, and our humble petition is that, if the Lord will use us in connection with his miracles of grace, he would now show us what he would have us to do.
It would have been well if Elisha had recollected that he was once ,the servant of Elijah, and had so studied his master’s example as to have imitated it. If so, he would not have sent Gehazi with a staff, but have done at once what at last he was constrained to do. In the First look of Kings, at the seventeenth chapter, you will find the story of Elijah’s raising a dead child, and you will there see that Elijah, the master, had left a complete example to his. servant; and it was not till Elisha followed it in all respects that the miraculous power was manifested. It had been wise, I say, if Elisha had at the outset imitated the example of the master whose mantle he wore. With far more force may I say to you, my fellow servants, that it will be well for us if, as teachers, we imitate our Master—if we study the modes and methods of our glorified Master, and learn at his feet the art of winning souls. Just as he came in deepest sympathy into the nearest contact; with our wretched humanity, and condescended to stoop to our sorrowful condition, so must we come near to the souls with whom we have to deal, yearn over them with his yearning, and weep over them with his tears, if we would see them raised from the state of sin. Only by imitating the spirit and manner of the Lord Jesus shall we become wise to win souls. Forgetting this, however, Elijah would fain strike out a course for himself, which would more clearly display his own prophetic dignity.
He gave his staff into the hand of Gehazi, his servant, and bade him lay it upon the child, as if he felt that the divine power was so plenteously upon him that it would work in any way, and consequently his own personal presence and efforts might be dispensed with. The Lord’s thoughts were not so. I am afraid that very often the truth which we deliver from the pulpit—and doubtless it is much the same in your classes—is a thing which is extraneous and out of ourselves; like a staff which we hold in our hand, but which is not a part of ourselves. We take doctrinal or practical truth as Gehazi did the staff, and we lay it; upon the face of the child, but we ourselves do not agonize for its soul. We try this doctrine and that truth, this anecdote and the other illustration, this way of teaching a lesson and that manner of delivering an address; but so long as ever the truth which we deliver is a matter apart from ourselves and unconnected with our innermost being, so long it will have no more effect upon a dead soul than Elishe’s staff had upon the dead child. Alas! I fear I have frequently preached the gospel in this place, I have been sure that it was my Master’s gospel, the true prophetic staff, and yet it has had no result, because I fear I have not preached it with the vehemence, and earnestness, and heartiness which ,ought to have gone with it! And will you not make the same confession, that sometimes you have taught the truth—it was the truth, you know it was- the very truth which you found in the Bible, and which has at times been precious to your own soul, and yet no good result has followed from it, because ‘while you taught the truth you did not feel the truth, nor feel for the child to whom the truth was addressed, but were just like Gehazi placing with indifferent hand the prophetic staff upon the face of the child. It was no wonder that you had to say with Gehazi, “The child is not awkward,” for the true awakening power found no appropriate medium in your lifeless teaching. We are not sure that Gehazi was convinced that the child was really dead; he spoke as if it were only asleep, and needed waking. God will not bless those teachers who do not grasp in their hearts the really fallen estate of their children. If you think the child is not really depraved, if you indulge foolish notions about the innocence of childhood and the dignity of human nature, it should not surprise you if you remain barren and unfruitful. How can God bless you to work a resurrection, when if he did work it by you, you are incapable of perceiving its glorious nature? If the lad had awaked, it would not have surprised Gehazi; he would have thought that he was only startled from an unusually sound sleep. If God were to bless to the conversion of souls; the testimony of those who do not believe in the total depravity of man, they would merely say, “The gospel is very moralizing, and exerts a most beneficial influence!” but they would never bless and magnify the regenerating grace by which he who sitteth on the throne maketh all things new.
Observe carefully what Elisha did when thus foiled in his first effort. When we fail in one attempt, we must not therefore give up our work. If you have been unsuccessful, my dear brother or sister, until now, you must not infer that you are not called to the work, any more than Elisha might have concluded that the child could not be restored. The lesson of your nonsuccess is not—cease the work, but—change the method. It is not the person who is out of place, it is the plan which is unwise, ill you have not been able to accomplish what you wished, remember the schoolboy’s song— “If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try, try again.” Do not, however, try in the same way unless you are sure that it is the best one. If your first method has been unsuccessful, you must improve upon it.
Examine wherein you have failed, and then, by changing yore: mode, or your spirit, the Lord may prepare you for a degree of usefulness far beyond your expectation. Elisha, instead of being dispirited when he found that the child was not awake, girded up his loins, and hastened with greater vigor to the work before him.
Notice where the dead. child was placed: “And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.” This was the bed which the hospitality of the Shunammite had prepared for Elisha, the famous bed which, with the table, the stool, and the candlestick, will never be forgotten in the church of God. That famous bed had to be used for a purpose which the good woman little thought of when out of love to the prophet’s God she prepared it for the prophet’s rest. I like to think of the dead child lying on that bed. because it symbolizes the place where our unconverted children must lie if we would have them saved. If we are to be a blessing to them they must lie in our hearts—they must be our daily and nightly charge. We must take the cases of our children to our silent couch with us; we must think of them in the watches of the night, and when we cannot sleep because of care, they must share in those midnight anxieties.
Our beds must witness to our cries—” O that Ishmael might live before thee! O that the dear boys and girls in my class might become the Children of the living God I” Elijah and Elisha both teach us that we must not place the child far from us, out of doors, or down below us in a vault; of cold forgetfulness, but, if we would have him raised to life, we must place him in the warmest sympathies of our hearts.
In reading on we find “He went in, therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.” Now the prophet is at his work in right earnest, and we have a noble opportunity of learning from him the secret of raising children from the dead. If you turn to the narrative of Elijah, you will find that Elisha adopted the orthodox method of proceeding, the method of his master Elijah. You will read there, “And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord, my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the woman with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord, my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” The great secret lies in a large measure in powerful supplication. “He shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.” The old proverb is, “Every true pulpit; is set up in heaven,” by which is meant that the true preacher is much with God. If we do not pray to God for a blessing, if the foundation of the pulpit be not laid in private prayer, our open ministry will not be a success. So it is with you; every real teacher’s power must; come from on high. If you never enter your closet and shut to the door, if you never plead at the mercy-seat for your. child, how can you expect that God will honor you in its conversion? It is a very excellent; method, I think, actually to take the children one by one into your room alone and pray with them. You will see your children converted when God gives you to individualize their cases, to agonize for them, and to take them one by one, and with the door closed to, pray both with them and for them. There is much more influence in prayer privately offered with one than in prayer publicly uttered in the class—not more influence with God, of course, but more influence with the child. Such prayer will often be made its own answer; for God may while you are pouring out your soul make your prayer to be a hammer to break the heart which mere addresses had never touched. Pray with your children separately, and it will surely be the means of a great blessing. If this cannot be done, at any rate there must be prayer, much prayer, constant prayer, vehement prayer, the kind of prayer which will not take a denial, like Luther’s prayer, which he called the bombarding of heaven; that is to say, the planting a cannon at heaven’s gates to blow them open—for, after this fashion fervent men prevail in prayer; they will not come from the mercy seat until they can cry with Luther — “Vici” — “I have conquered, I have gained the blessing for which I strove.” “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent tike it by force.” May we offer such violent, God-constraining, heaven-compelling prayers, and the Lord will not permit us to seek his face in vain! After praying Elisha adopted the means. Prayer and means must go together. Means ‘without prayer—presumption! Prayer without means— hypocrisy! There. lay the child, and there stood the venerable man of God!
Watch his singular proceeding, he stoops over the corpse and puts his mouth upon the child’s mouth. The cold dead mouth of the child was touched by the warm living lips of the prophet, and a vital stream of fresh hot breath was sent down into the chill, stone-like passages of the dead month and throat and lungs. Next the holy mart, with loving ardor of hopefulness, placed his eyes upon the child’s eyes, and his hands upon the child’s hands; the warm hands of the old man covered the cold palms of the departed child. Then he stretched himself upon the child, and covered him with his whole body, as though he would transfer his own life into thelifeless frame, and would either die with him, or would make him live. We have heard of the chamois hunter acting as to a fearful traveler, who, when they came to a very dangerous part of the road, strapped the traveler firmly to himself, and said, “Both of us or neither,” that is to say, “Both of us shall live, or neither of us, we are one.” So did the prophet effect a mysterious union between himself and the lad, and in his own mind it was resolved that he would either be chilled with the child’s death, or warm. the child with his life. What does this teach us? The, lessons are many and obvious. We see here as in a picture that if we would bring spiritual life to a child, we must most vividly realize that child’s state. It is dead, dead.
God will have you feel that the child is as dead in trespasses and sins as you once were. God would have you, dear teacher, come into contact with that death by painful, crushing, humbling sympathy. I told you that in soulwinning, we should observe how our Master worked; now how did he work? When he would raise us from death, what did it behove him to do?
He must needs die himself: there was no other way. So is it with you. If you would raise that dead child, you must feel the chill and horror of that child’s death yourself. A dying man is needed to raise dying men. I cannot believe that you will ever pluck a brand from the burning, without putting your hand near enough to feel the heat of the fire. You must have, more or less, a distinct sense of the dreadful wrath of God and of the terrors of the judgment to come, or you will lack energy in your work, and so lack one of the essentials of success. I do not think the preacher ever speaks well upon such topics until he feels them pressing upon him as a personal burden from the Lord. “I did preach in chains,” said John Bunyan, “to men in chains.” Depend upon it, when the death that is in your children alarms, depresses, and overwhelms you, then it is that God is about to bless you.
Thus realizing the child’s state, and putting your mouth upon the child’s mouth, and your hands upon its hands, you must next strive to adapt yourself, as far as possible to, the nature, and habits, and temperament of the child. Your mouth must find out the child’s words, so that the child may know what you mean; you must see things with a child’s eyes; your heart must feel a child’s feelings, so as to be his companion and friend; you must be a student of juvenile sin; you must be a sympathizer in juvenile trials; you must, so far as possible, enter into childhood’s joys and griefs, you must not fret at the difficulty of this matter, or feel it to be humiliating; for if you count anything to be a hardship, or a condescension, you have no business in the Sunday School. If anything difficult be required of you, you must do it, and not think it difficult. God will not raise a dead child by you, if you are not willing to become all things to that child, if by any possibility you may win its. Soul.
The prophet, it is written, “stricken himself upon the child.” One would have thought it should be written “‘ he contracted himself!” He was a fullgrown man, and the other a mere lad. Should it not be “he contracted himself”? No, “he stretched himself;” and, mark you, no stretching is harder than for a man to stretch himself to a child. He is no fool who can talk to children; a simpleton is much mistaken if he thinks that his folly can interest boys and girls. it needs our best wits, our most industrious studies, our most earnest thoughts, our ripest powers, to teach our little ones. You will not quicken the child until you have “stretched” yourself; and, though it seems-a strange thing, yet it is so. The wisest man will need to exercise all his abilities if he would become a successful teacher of the young.
We see, then, in Elisha, a sense of the child’s death and an adaptation of himself to his work, but above all, we see sympathy. While Elisha himself felt the chill of the corpse, his personal warmth was entering into the dead body. This of itself did not raise the child; but God worked through it—the old man’s heat of body passed into the child, and became the medium of quickening. Let every teacher weigh these words of Paul, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we ‘were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” The genuine soul-winner knows what this means. For my own part when the Lord helps me to preach, after I have delivered all my matter, and have fired off my shot so fast that my gun has grown hot, I have often rammed my very soul into the gun, and fired my heart at the congregation, and this discharge has, under God, won the victory. God will bless by his Spirit our hearty sympathy with his own truth, and make it do that which the truth alone coldly spoken would not accomplish. Here, then, is the secret. You must, dear teacher, impart to the young your own soul; you must feel as if the ruin of that child would be your own ruin. You must feel that if the child remains under the wrath of God, it is to you as true a grief as if you were under that wrath yourself. You must confess the child’s sins before God as if they were your own, and. stand as a priest before the Lord pleading on its behalf. The child was covered by Elishe’s body, and you must cover your class with your compassion, with the agonizing stretching: forth of yourself before the Lord on its behalf. Behold in this miracle the modus operandi of raising the dead; the Holy Spirit remains mysterious in his operations, but the way of the outward means is here clearly revealed.
The result of the prophet’s work soon appeared, “The flesh of the Child waxed warm.” How pleased Elisha must have been; but I do not find that ails pleasure and satisfaction caused him to relax his exertions. Never be satisfied, dear friends, with finding your children in a barely hopeful state.
Did a girl come to you and cry, “Teacher, pray for me?” Be glad for this is a fair token; but look for more. Did you observe to years in a boy’s eyes when you. were speaking of the love of Christ? Be thankful for it that the flesh is waxing warm, but do not stop there. Can you relax your exertions now? Bethink you, you have not yet gained your end! It is life you want, not warmth alone. What you want, dear teacher, in your beloved charge, is not mere conviction, but conversion; you desire not only impression, but regeneration. Life, life from God, the life of Jesus. This your scholars need, and nothing less must content you.
Again I must bid you watch Elisha. There was now a little pause. “Then he returned and walked in the house to and fro.” Notice, the restlessness of the man of God; he cannot be easy. The child waxes warm (blessed be God for that, but he does not live yet); so, instead of sitting down in his chair by the table, the prophet walks to and fro with restless foot, disquieted, groaning, panting, longing, and ill at ease. He could not, bear to look upon the disconsolate mother, or to hear her ask, ‘“ Is the child restored?:” but he continued pacing the house as if his body could not, rest because his soul was not satisfied. Imitate this consecrated restlessness. When you see a boy getting somewhat affected; do not sit down and say, “The child is very hopeful, thank God; I am perfectly satisfied.” You will never win the priceless gem of a saved soul in that way; you must feel sad, restless, troubled, if you ever become a parent in the church. Paul’s expression is not to be explained in words, but you must know its meaning in your hearts; “I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” Oh! may the Holy Ghost give you such inward travail, such unrest, disquietude, and sacred u,:-easiness, until you see your hopeful scholars savingly converted.
After a short period of walking to and fro, the prophet again “went up, and stretched himself upon the child.” What it is well to do once it is proper to do a second time. What is good twice, is good seven times. There must, be perseverance and patience. You were very earnest last Sabbath, do not be slothful next Sabbath. tow easy it is to pluck down on any one day what we have built up the day before. If by one Sabbath’s work God enables me to convince a child that I was in earnest, let me not convince the child next Sunday that I am not in earnest. If my past warmth has made the child’s flesh wax warm, God forbid that my future chilliness should make the child’s heart cold again. As surely as warmth went from Elisha to the child, so may cold go from you to your class unless you are in an earnest state of mind.
Elisha stretched himself on the bed again with many a prayer, and many a sigh, and much believing, and at last his desire was granted him. “The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” Any form of action would indicate life, and content the prophet. The child “sneezed,” some say because he died with a disease of the head, for he said to his father “My head! my head!” and the sneeze cleared the passages of life which had been blocked up. This we do not know. The fresh air entering afresh into the lungs might well compel a sneeze. The sound was nothing very articulate or musical, but it betokened life. This is all we should expect from young children when God gives them spiritual life. Some church members expect a great deal more, but for my part I am satisfied if the children sneeze—if they give any true sign of grace, however feeble or indistinct. If the dear child does but feel its lost estate and rest upon the finished work of Jesus, though we only find out the fact by a very indistinct statement, not such as we should accept from a doctor of divinity, or expect from a grown-up person, should we not thank God and receive the child and nurse it for the Lord!
Perhaps if Gehazi had been there he would not have thought much of this sneezing, because he had never stretched himself upon the child, but Elisha was content with it. Even so, if you and I have really agonized in prayer for souls, we shall be very quick of eye to catch the first sign of grace, and shall be thankful to God if the token be but a sneeze.
Then the child opened its eye, and we will venture to say Elisha thought he had never seen such lovely eyes before. I know not what kind of eyes they were, the hazel or the blue, but this I know, that any eye which God helps you to open will be a beautiful eye to you. 1 heard a teacher talking the other day about “a fine lad” who had been saved in his class, and another spoke of “a dear girl” in her class who loved the Lord. No doubt of it would be a wonder if they were not “fine” and “dear” in the eyes of you who have brought them to Jesus, for to Jesus Christ they are finer and clearer still. Beloved friends, may you often gaze into opened eyes which, but for divine grace owning your teaching, would have been dark with the film of spiritual death. Then will you be favored indeed.
One word of caution. In this meeting is there a Gehazi? If there be among this host of Sunday School Teachers one who can do no more than carry the staff, I pity him. Ah! my friend, may God in his mercy give you life, for how else can you expect to be the means of quickening others? If Elisha had been a corpse himself it would have been a hopeless task to expect life to be communicated through placing one corpse upon another. It is vain for that little class of dead souls to gather around another dead soul such as you are. A dead mother frostbitten and cold cannot cherish her little one.
What warmth, what comfort can come to those who shiver before an empty grate? And such are you. May you have a work of grace in your own soul first, and then may the blessed and Eternal Spirit, who alone can quicken souls, make you to be the means of quickening many to the glory of his grace.
Accept, dear friends, my fraternal salutations, and believe that my fervent prayers are with you that you may be blessed and be made a blessing.
THERE BE SOME THAT TROUBLE YOU THE early history of the Christian church bears a remarkable witness to the profound reverence with which Gentile believers honored the names of the venerable fathers of the Jewish people. These grafts from an alien stock into the true vine felt peculiarly sensitive on the question of pedigree. The argument so plentifully employed by the apostle Paul to prove that in Christ Jesus; there is no difference, sufficed not to disabuse their minds of inferiority. Just as we can now suppose that generations must elapse before the, negro, not only liberated, but enfranchised, will cease to feel that his sable skin betrays a debased ancestry; so then, there was; a sense of shame when, reflecting on themselves, and a sense of envy when regarding their Jewish brethren, which prompted the converts of the gospel—whether Greeks or barbarians—to seek out and establish some points of alliance with the blessed patriarchs and prophets of the Israelitish faith. Their very credulity is instructive. You might easily persuade them to submit in ripe years to the ordinance of circumcision; they would willingly observe any fasts or feasts, undertake long and tedious journeys to Jerusalem, or conform to any Judaical usages, lured by the tempting bait of association with the favored race “to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”
The epistle to the Galatians was -written with an express purpose to check the Judaizing tendencies of those churches. In prosecuting this object, the apostle used extraordinary severity while denouncing the false teachers.
But his tender sympathy towards the weak consciences of disciples is no less conspicuous. He gives and repeats assurance after assurance that their apprehensions of disability were’ groundless. They possessed an indefeasible title to all patrimonial and federal blessings. This was sealed by the Spirit of God, and would rather be compromised than confirmed by any carnal acts. “IF YE.BE.CHRIST’S,THEN ARE YE ABRAHAM’ S SEED,AND HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE?’
An error of an opposite kind has attained some notoriety in our day. The Gentile element is predominant almost to exclusiveness in the Christian Church. Occupying a place of privilege which our forefathers knew not, there have arisen among us certain brethren who stealthily at first, and afterwards more boldly, have disparaged the Jewish patriarchs, and vaunted for themselves a superior claim to the love of God, and a higher place in the destinies of. heaven than they deem it possible for the saints of the pre-Christian era to inherit. Profane rivalry! not more pretentious than unwarranted; not more audacious than unscriptural. Does the proposition admit of debate, or is it necessary to do more; than refer every inquirer to the plain, unequivocal testimony of the New Testament? So we thought at first, as our spiritual instincts revolted at the heresy. In obedience to the divine counsel—” foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife “—we would have contented ourselves with warning the flock we delight to feed. For divers reasons, the obligation of another article is forced upon us. We give place to no one in the intense sympathy we feel with the honest scruples of every soul that conscientiously seeks the light of truth. It’ he be a penitent who has stumbled on the very threshold of revelation, or if he be a believer who has fallen into the hands of unsafe guides, and become embarrassed in the effort to find his way into the deeper mysteries of its inner courts, we would offer our prayer to God for the Spirit of wisdom that shall enable us to direct him aright.
From the tenor of the correspondence we have received, we infer that there are not a few such sincere believers in Christ, who have had their minds unhinged by the various tracts and publications which have been, for the most part, anonymously put into circulation. Their question is—” In view of the various dispensations under which it has pleased God to gather an elect and faithful people out of the world, has it not been reserved to the Christian dispensation to furnish the privileged company which, in their unity, is called · the Church,’ ‘ the bride of Jesus,’ the Lamb’s wife?’“ We have already refuted this notion. Still it appears that stumbling-blocks have been laid in the path of those who diligently search the Scriptures, which, by the grace of God, we will endeavor to remove.
And first of all, do not, we beseech you, be cajoled by any appeal to “God’s dispensational arrangements,” knowing that, however various they may have been, his covenant has endured the same through them all. It is a mere trust- that Abel was not circumcised, that Noah did not observe the passover, and Abraham was not baptized.
Difference of dispensation does not involve a difference of covenant; and it is according to the covenant; of grace that all spiritual blessings are bestowed. So far as dispensations reach they indicate degrees of knowledge, degrees of privilege, and variety in the ordinances of worship.
The unity of the faith is not affected by these, as we are taught in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. The faithful of every age concur in looking for one city, and that city is identically- the same with the New Jerusalem described in the Apocalypse as “a bride adorned for her husband.” Surely, beloved brethren, you ought not. to stumble at the anachronism of comprising Abraham, David, and others, in the fellowship of the Church! If you can understand how we, who live under the present economy, and unlike those Jews have never been circumcised, are nevertheless accounted the true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and not in the flesh—you Can have very little difficulty in perceiving that those Old Testament saints, who were participators in ;he faith of Christ’s death and resurrection, were verily baptized into him according to the Spirit. Neither time nor circumstance bounded the faith of Abraham. ‘He rejoiced to see Messiah’s day; and he saw it, and was glad. He believed in God who “called those things that be not as though they were.”
It were well for us to walk in the footsteps of this same faith. Dispensations are not like individuals, the day of whose birth and the day of whose death can be accurately chronicled; they are rather like generations which are gradually dissolved; they do not terminate abruptly, but one melts and fuses into another. Would you tell us when the Abrahamic dispensation began and when it closed?—we had rather you did not attempt to guess for fear of a fresh strife. If you were to say it began on the day that Abraham received the sign in h;-s flesh, we should remind you that it was not imposed on Lot, though he was a believer. Or would you tell us when that same dispensation closed, equal differences of opinion might arise? Only one dispensation was like a walled city; and our Lord Jesus Christ broke down the partition-wall of that, in order to unite Jews and. Gentiles in one body.
It was doubtless with an advance of knowledge, privilege and worship, beyond measure bright, that the Christian dispensation, like the kingdom of heaven upon earth, was ushered in. We may regard it as inaugurated by the personal ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, attested by his resurrection, and unfolded by the Spirit of God. But who among us will venture to think that this economy, under which we are called, in contrast with the economies that preceded it is perfect? Perfect in what? Are we perfect in knowledge? We know in part, we prophesy in part; when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. Are we perfect in privilege? Alas! the great majority of believers walk in bondage, failing to enjoy, a clear assurance of their pardon, a thorough immunity from the fear of death, or a joyful anticipation c f the glory that is yet to be revealed. Would you dream that we are perfect in organization?
In how few instances are all the component offices of fellowship filled by men who are moved and actuated by the Holy Spirit! Is there in any one of the churches, that claim allegiance to the commandment of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, such a complete presence of true believers and such a complete exclusion of all unholy persons, as to warrant our supposing that that particular church represents the bride of Christ? Was it anticipated in the parables of “the kingdom of heaven,” that there ever would be?
Let the Plymouth Brethren define “the church” from which, by injunction or consent of their leaders, Abraham, Moses, David, and others, “as individual servants,” are to be kept aloof. Their “plain papers” will tell us, “it is the actual living unity with Christ and with each other of those who, since Christ’s resurrection, are formed into this unity by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven.” Turn aside now and see this great sight. Where is it to be beheld? In the oecumenical church of Rome! In the Episcopal church of England, by law established! In the sections of Presbyterianism!
Among the Methodist societies! Among the Congregationalists! Or is it, after all, among the Plymouth Brethren themselves, whose diversities and disunion are so notorious? We venture to suggest that the church, which is the bride, has not her counterpart on this earth. While Christ who is our life is: absent, the life of the saints is hidden—hid with Christ in God. The new Jerusalem is out of sight The Epiphany of the church is a feast yet to be celebrated. That fair damsel has not yet (in the language Of courtly fashion) come out. She has not been introduced. Her appearance will be the signal for nuptial festivities Not all who claim to be church-members on earth, because they live under this dispensation, will be acknowledged in the day of the Lord. Nor will the accident or circumstance of having lived before this dispensation, preclude the recognition of any saints in living unity with Christ at his appearing.
Who hath bewitched you, ye simple-hearted Christians, that ye should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits? There be some that trouble you. Do not these crudities proceed from individual professors of an unincorporated society, which has not at present sufficient development to be reckoned in law, in equity, or in reason among the sects or sections of the: visible church? If they have any organization, is. it not of the lowest type—based upon the incipient pre-Pentecostal model of discipleship? Had they received the gifts of the Spirit, would they not fill those offices in the body which they not only neglect but ignore?
It is high time we asked these specious agitators to declare themselves. Are they phantoms flirting across our path? They come in such a questionable share. In simplicity and godly sincerity, let a statement of their principles, and, if need be, a register of their individual names. and acknowledged communities, be published. For their own welfare. it should be done without delay, Why do they not say with the apostle, “We write none other things unto you than what ye read or acknowledge, and I trust ye shall acknowledge even unto the end?” A “so-called brother,” is an untangable style of subscription; it savors neither of flesh nor spirit. Yet the folly of some in this matter does not pertain to all who have, attempted to foist this novelty upon our churches. We extract the following note from the January number of “Things New and Old,” the editor of whom is a gentleman to be easily recognized by his initials as well as his name :— ‘M. G.’ Your kind communication did not reach us in time for our December issue. The difficulty of your friend arises, very much, we should say, from not seeing that the church, as such, is not before the apostle’s mind in Galatians or Romans. He is speaking of believers, and the ground on which they are individually justified before God. They are justified by faith, as Abraham was, and, hence, are morally the children of Abraham.
And, further, though Abraham did not and could not belong to a body which had no existence, save in the purpose of God, until, the Head ascended into the heavens, still, most assuredly, Abraham and all the Old Testament saints will share in the heavenly glory. Very many, we doubt not, are perplexed as to this point, because, they make it a question of comparing individuals one with another If it be a question of personal worthiness, holiness, or devotedness, Abraham might stand above the most holy and devoted amongst us. But it is not so at all, but simply’ a question of God’s disensational arrangements; and if any be disposed to find fault with these, we are not at all disposed to argue with them. Some, now-adays, have a way of turning the subject into ridicule, which savors far more of wit than of spirituality or acquaintance with the Word of God. But we trust that we shall never surrender the truth of God in order to escape the shafts of human ridicule.” Here is the very gist of the matter. But as for the remark that the apostle Paul was handling “simply a question of God’s dispensational arrangements,” this view is so contrary to that which he has himself put forth in his “Notes on Genesis,” that we need only refer out’ readers to his own commentary on the sixteenth and twenty-second chapters of Genesis for a candid admission that Paul’s allegory drawn from the history of Hagar and Sarah referred to the covenants, and not the dispensations. We may, however, still be allowed to express our profound astonishment at the declaration that the church is not before the apostle’s mind in either the epistle to the Galatians or that; to the Romans. If “Jerusalem which is above which is free,” does not mean “the church,” what does it mean? We are aware that some annotators have interpreted it of the church militant, and others of the church triumphant. The news had yet to. reach us that “individuals justified before God” were alluded to in this maternity. Supposing that ‘“ the church” is not the mother of us all, the inference stands transparently forth, “Abraham is the father of the faithful, but each justified man is his own mother :” q. e . ducens ad absurdum.
Let this suffice. We have no intention to open the pages of this magazine to vain jangling. An earnest study of those Scriptures which disclose “the everlasting covenant” as it was gradually but distinctly-revealed, will do more than any arguments of ours to dissipate the mist of those strange doctrines we have referred to. That covenant was declared to Noah; it was still further opened to Abraham and Isaac; it was confirmed to David; Isaiah rejoiced, in its sure mercies; Jeremiah was privileged to relate many of its special provisions; and Paul avers in his epistle to the Hebrews that this is the covenant, under the provisions of which the precious blood of Christ; was shed: it is the blood of the-new covenant. The priesthood of Christ is declared to be after the order of Melchizedec; it was, therefore, revealed in the days of Abraham. The word of the oath by which he was consecrated is communicated to us in the 110th Psalm; and so it was well known to David. In like manner, the gift of the Holy Spirit, though not bestowed till after the ascension of Christ, was explained by the apostle Peter, on the day of Pentecost, to be a fulfillment of prophecy that was spoken before the incarnation. The dispensational succession of events does not affect the covenant. If it did, then Abraham could have no more interest in the Jewish than in the-Christian economy, Canaan not having come into possession of his posterity till centuries after the patriarch’s sojourn on earth had terminated. Had none of those believers any interest in the death of Christ, they must have died in their sins; but if they were interested in his death, why not in all the blessings that ensued? Is it pretended that though their welfare was deeply involved in the fact that “Jesus should die for-that nation, and not for that nation only,” they are wittingly excluded from participating in the immediate consequence—-” that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad”? According to the terms of the everlasting covenant, and not according: to the law, nor yet according to the tenor of any transient dispensations, the Old Testament saints were justified by faith and accepted of God.
The testimony to the bride is not peculiar to the New Testament. Her praise and her destiny were sung by those who went before. And it does appear to us that the whole discussion that has been raised should excite a sigh deep and solemn in our breasts. Where has humility fled? Has it ceased to be a cardinal virtue among the followers of the Lamb?
When our readers lay down this magazine, let them take. up the gospel of Matthew and read at the eighth chapter, and the eleventh verse: “And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Mark the words “kingdom of heaven” so often used by Christ to signify the gospel dispensation. The next words make this construct, ion more obvious: “But the children of the kingdom shall be east out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Let us implore you. to invert the question you have propounded to us.
Those blessed patriarchs are undoubtedly heirs of the promises. Christ has acknowledged them. You need not ask whether they shall sit down with you, but your inquiry may well be whether you shall sit down with them in the kingdom of heaven.
THE PASTOR’S ALMSHOUSES AND SCHOOLS BY the good providence of God one of the schemes laid before our readers a few months ago is now fairly on the way to actual execution. About l,000 more is wanted, and the buildings can be completed without debt.
Provision will be made in the buildings, of which we give an engraving in this number, for 18 alms women, poor members of our church, above the age of 60. May the last days of many of the Lord’s poor be happily spent in these little rooms. We have not the means to endow them all, but doubt not that Christian friends will be found in the course of time who will do so.
The schools on the right will be large airy rooms for two hundred or more children, and will be used as day schools and Sabbath schools; the house on the left is for the schoolmaster; and there are small playgrounds behind.
May the rising race be here instructed in heavenly wisdom. Mr. Thomas Olney, our venerable deacon, will soon lay the first stone, and we expect that the works will proceed at once; the contract being accepted for £4,500. It is no small joy to the pastor to see such, an institution springing up, which, will remain to bless the church when we have long dent with our fathers: it is our only regret that we cannot make it as large again’.
May the eyes and heart of God be towards the place.
MR. NEWTON AND THE “BRETHREN” TO THE EDITOR OF THE “SWORD AND TROWEL.”
DEAR SIR,—I have read with much satisfaction, your able remarks in the February number of the” Sword and Trowel,” on the dastardly attack which has been made upon you by some of the “Brethren.” They richly deserve the castigation you have given to them. It will, I hope, have the effect of putting a stop, in some measure, to the false charges and unfounded accusations which they have been in the habit of making against those who faithfully expose the dangerous tendency of their peculiar and novel doctrines. No one has ‘done this more effectually than Mr. Newton, and, consequently, no one has suffered as he has from their systematic persecution and unprincipled statements. They have, to a great extent, succeeded in getting the brand-mark of heresy attached to his name and writings. In one of their widely circulated and calumnious pamphlets his views are described as “deep, damnable, fundamental denial of Christ;” “strange and poisonous doctrine about our Lord;” “blasphemous and “and he is stigmatized as “the here in, “teacher of heretical statements; blasphemy;” “the false teacher;” “the evil doer.” The Darbyites have been for the past eighteen years zealously engaged in carrying out a decree of their leader, in accordance with which, they labor to oppose Mr. Newton in every possible way, and perpetuate the false charges of heresy and blasphemy which have been maliciously brought against him. The case is, I believe, without a parallel. One who has recently left the Darbyites says, that his heart ‘has been withered in this work, and that he cannot any longer pursue it.
Any one who reads Mr. Newton’s writings, soon discovers how grossly he has been misrepresented and maligned, but many implicitly believe the false statements, and are prejudiced against him and his work. Unfortunately, too, for Mr. Newton, he is generally supposed still to belong to the “Brethren,” but this is altogether a mistake. Nearly twenty years ago he entirely disconnected himself from them, in consequence of the introduction of the novel views and doctrines which now peculiarly characterize them, and against which he has always strongly protested.
I have thus referred to Mr. Newton. because you have mentioned his name in your remarks in such a way as may lead to the impression that he is a leader of one party of the “Brethren.” The fact is, that on almost every important point, he is altogether opposed to their views and practices.
Your love of truth and righteousness will, I feel sure, readily lead you to correct the wrong impression which may thus have been formed in the minds of many of your readers.
I remain, dear Sir, yours faithfully, JOHN COX,JUN. 17, Palace Gardens Villas, Kensington, 24th January, 1867.
SLIPPERY PLACES BY C. H. SPURGEON.
IT was as much as we could do to keep our feet upon the splendid mosaic floor of the Palace Giovanelli, at Venice: we found no such difficulty in the cottage of the poor glassblower in the rear. Is it one of the advantages of wealth to have one’s abode polished till all comfort vanishes, and the very floor is as smooth and dangerous as a sheet of ice, or is this merely an accidental circumstance typical of the dangers of abundance? Observation shows us that there is a fascination in wealth which renders it extremely difficult for the possessors of it to maintain their equilibrium; and this is more especially the case where money is suddenly acquired; then, unless grace prevent, pride, affectation, and other mean vices stupefy the brain with their sickening fumes, and he who was respectable in poverty, becomes despicable in prosperity. Pride may lurk under a threadbare cloak, but it prefers the comely broadcloth of the merchant’s coat: moths will eat any of our garments but they seem to fly first to the costly furs. It is so much the easier for men to fall when walking on wealth sea of glass, because all men aid them to do so. Flatterers haunt not cottages: the poor may hear an honest word from his neighbor, but etiquette forbids that the rich man should enjoy the like privilege; for is it not a maxim in Babylon, that rich men have no faults, or only such as their money like charity covereth with a mantle? What man can help slipping when every body is intent upon greasing his ways, so that the smallest chance of standing may be denied him? The world’s proverb is, “God help the poor, for the rich can help themselves;” but to our mind, it is just the rich who have most need of heaven’s help. Dives in scarlet is worse off than Lazarus in rags, unless divine love shall uphold him.
Nor is wealth the only slippery pathway—the road to honor is quite as dangerous, if not more so. Ambition, a good enough thing within reasonable bounds, is a very Apollyon among men, when it gets the mastery over them. Have you ever seen boys climbing a greasy pole to reach a hat or a handkerchief? If so, you will have noticed that the aspiring youths for the most part adopt; plans and tricks quite as slimy as the pole one covers his hands with sand, another twists a knotted cord, and scarcely one climbs fairly, and he is the one boy whose chance is smallest, How plainly see we the politician’s course in these young rascals; the Right Honorable Member for the town of Corruption vies with the equally Right Honorable representative for the county of Bribery; the most noble Conservative place-hunter will not be outdone by the Liberal office-lover; a man must have clone a world of planing and shaving, chopping and chiseling, before he can reach the Treasury Bench. Nor less so is it in the path of trade. Small dealers and great contractors eager to rise are each in their measure to Satan what a covey of partridges are to a sportsman, fair game if he can but reach them. The hasty desire to rise is the cause of many a fall. Those who see the glittering heaps of gold before them are frequently in so much haste to thrust their arms in up to the elbow among the treasure that they take short cuts, leave the beaten road of honest labor, break through hedges, and find themselves ere long in a ditch. It is hard to keep great riches without sin, and we have heard that it is harder still to get them. Walk warily, successful friend! Growing wealth will prove no blessing to thee unless thou gettest growing grace. Prosperity destroys a fool and endangers a wise man; be on thy guard, good friend, for whether thou be the one or the other, thy testing hour is come.
After crossing the Grimsel, on the way down towards Handeck, the traveler traverses a road cut in red marble, so smoothly polished that, even when it is divested of its usual thin coating of snow, it is dangerous in the extreme. Notwithstanding that steps are hewn, and rough marks made across the granite, he would be foolhardy who should try to ride along the slippery way, which is called Helle Platte, or Hell Place, for reasons ‘which glisten on its surface. “Dismount,” is the word, and none are slow to obey it. There are many such Hell Places on the road to the celestial city— smooth places of pleasure, ease, flattery, solar, content, and the like; and it will be the wisest course if any pilgrim has been fond of riding the high horse, for him to dismount at once and walk humbly with his God. That enchanted ground of which Bunsan tells us that the air naturally tended to make one drowsy, is just the spot to which we refer; men had need be watchful whose path lies through that deceitful country.
It has been said that in a calm sea every man is a pilot, but we take leave to doubt it; calms have dangers quite unknown to storms, and rocks and quicksands are none the less perilous because the deceitful sea which covers them smiles softly on the mariner. Not to be tempted is a great temptation. Safety breeds carelessness, and carelessness is the mother of ruin. When Mansoul was at peace, Mr. Carnal-security invited her citizens to his fatal feasts, and the Prince Immanuel withdrew himself; let the result warn us against a repetition of the evil.
When cast by providence among sinful persons who respect us, we ought to be peculiarly watchful. The hatred of the ungodly when poured upon Christians in the form of persecution, is seldom harmful to their spiritual nature, but the friendship of the world is always to be suspected. When the servants of the high priest allowed Peter to warm his hands at the fire, had Peter been a wise man, he would have been afraid that evil would come of it. We are disarmed by kindness, but it is never safe to be disarmed in an enemy’s country. “Who,” saith the old proverb, “could live in Rome and yet be at war with the Pope?” Who can have much to do with sinners and not have something to do with their sins? The smiling daughters of Moab did more mischief to Israel than all Balak’s frowning warriors. All Philistia could not have blinded Samson if Delilah’s charms had not deluded him.
Our worst foes will be found among our ungodly friends, for they who are false to God, are not likely to be true to us. Walk carefully, believer, if thy way lie by the sinner’s door, and especially if that sinner hath acted a friendly part to thee.
Yet should such smooth places lie directly in the road to our eternal mansions, we have no cause to be timid at the prospect of passing over them—caution we must cultivate, but courage we must cherish. We have a guide who is well able to secure us from fatal slips: with him for our companion the way grows safe; should he conduct us over mountains of ice, he will cut steps for our feet, and give us his stout arm to lean upon; and he who leans on that never falls. We have the alpenstock of faith shod with never-failing promises, Which will often give us a hold and a stay in the most slippery places. He who knows how to use this staff aright, shall walk uprightly where others fall. Looking to the road immediately beneath us, satisfied with the sufficient evil of the present day, we need not make our heads to swim by gazing down terrific precipices, or enormous crevasses, but may advance step by step, until we reach our journey’s end.
Hundreds have trodden the way before us—from the celestial hills we may hear them singing; let us press forward till we gain their blissful seats. “Search the Scriptures.”
PRIESTISM BROUGHT TO THE TOUCHSTONE 1. No person in the Christian church, whether he be an apostle, an elder, or an evangelist, is ever spoken of in the New Testament as a priest; nor do we find the most distant allusion to the appointment of an order of priesthood. 2. For the work of the. ministry, Christ “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers ;” but never do we read of his giving priests. 3. The apostle wrote Timothy and Titus particular directions relative to the appointment of bishops, deacons, etc.; but no mention is made of priests. 4. And why this silence of Scripture? Simply because the office of priests was unknown in the primitive church; and, moreover, in no way needed, for the weakest and humblest believer may now enter with boldness, even into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus. 5. Having so great a High Priest as Jesus the Son of God, who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” and “ever liveth to make intercession for us,” what; need we, of any earthly priest? 6. Priestly confession is not needed; for if we confess our sins to the Lord, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. 7. Priestly absolution is not needed; because the blood of Jesus Christ, red that alone, “cleanseth us from all sin.” 8. Priestly intercession is not needed; for “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 9. “No me an taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron;” but this cannot be said of any humanly-appointed priest. 10. Every priest under the law was ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin, and. “without shedding of blood is no remission;” but no such sacrifices are now offered, nor are they needed, Christ “hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” and “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” 11. But the Scriptures distinctly teach, that all believers, by virtue of their union with the Lord Jesus Christ, are made kings and priests unto God, a holy and a royal priesthood, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6. 12. From all this it; clearly follows, that a humanly-appointed order of priesthood is a deceptive invention of man, and directly opposed to the teaching of Holy Scripture. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.
THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH (NEHEMIAH 8:10.)
JOY in our labor, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, is the best guarantee that all the available powers we possess will be cheerfully thrown into our labor, and joy thus becomes one of the chief elements of success in work of any kind. The world, which is wise in its generation, knows perfectly well the power of this element, and it has become a proverb, that it is useless to put a boy to an occupation he dislikes; and the great aim is first to impress youth With the necessity of labor, and then find the occupation which is most likely to be agreeable to his tastes, and therefore the one which is best calculated to enlist all his energy and secure success. Experience teaches us the same thing, for often with a light and cheerful heart we have been able to perform, with ease and comfort, what, at other times, with a sad and heavy heart, we have not dared to attempt.
Of all laborers, he who labors in the spiritual field stands in the greatest need of joy in his work, because of all labor it is that which brings the greatest amount of care, disappointment, trial and suffering. He who labors in the merely intellectual field finds little to retard, his steady progress; his is certainly an ascending path requiring patience and hard toil to master its difficulties, but it is a decidedly pleasant path, and free from ruggedness and pitfalls, and every ascent gives a more extended view, and stimulates to further progress; and he who travels it, generally meets with encouragement from fellow-laborers and applause from the world, and the higher he ascends the more honorable and distinguished does his position become. But it is very different with the laborer in the spiritual field— disappointment, opposition, trial and persecution from without, and temptations, weakness, fears, doubts and troubles from within, are what is expected by him who labors earnestly in the Lord’s vineyard; but as the sufferings of Christ abound in him, so his consolations also abound by Christ, so that after all, the Christian laborer ought to be the most joyful in the whole world. The joy of the spiritual man in the exercise of the power of the Spirit which has been imparted by God, is far higher and diviner than that which results from the acquisition and exercise of intellectual knowledge and power, even as that is superior to the joy (if it may be called such), which is produced in some minds by the display of mere brute force; for as the soul is the highest and noblest part of man’s being, and that which is destined to live for ever, he only who has been raised to spiritual life, knows the joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, for he only knows what it is to live in the highest and noblest sense of that term.
But while we assert that of all men the ‘Christian should be the most joyful, we feel there is ground for the charge often brought against us, that we are the most melancholy, It is too often the case that when we come together for worship, for prayer, or for breaking of bread, there is very little joy and rejoicing amongst us; thankfulness, gratitude, and a certain degree of joy no doubt; exist, but our meetings are rarely joyful meetings; there is more generally’ a mourning the absence of the Lord, rather than a rejoicing at his presence. That God would not have his children destitute of this joy ‘of the purest, highest and most invigorating kind, we are assured by his Word; and being such an important element in the success of those who labor for him, we do well to ascertain from the scriptures; how we may each strive to promote this joy in the hearts of our fellow-believers, and especially in the hearts of those who watch for our souls, that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that, is unprofitable for us, for the joy of the Lord is their strength.
There was once a marriage-feast where they wanted wine which maketh glad the heart of man, and we nave an account of the manner in which that want was supplied. Christ was there, and we have his promise “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” The mother of Jesus was there, who could claim a closer relationship to Christ than any other being, yet he says, “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother ;” so that where there is a company of believers with but one thoroughly earnest soul who lives near’ to God and enjoys much communion with Christ, there is hope for that church, for it is in no worse condition than the company at Cana of Galilee. The mother of Jesus evidently believed in the power of Christ to supply the want of the assembled, guests and she as evidently believed in his. willingness. for when he said, “My hour is not yet come,” she did what she could to hasten the hour; and as she felt she could not go. to the governor of the feast nor to the guests, she went to the servants and exhorted them to look to Christ, and not to look only, but “whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Too much stress cannot be laid on the points contained in this exhortation, it is a perfect model for our guidance and imitation,” Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” The eyes of the servants ‘were then directed to Christ, and they had not to wait long for instructions; they being desirous to learn, his hour was come to teach; and his telling them first to fill the waterpots with water, teaches us the necessity of first seeking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The picture given us of the servants (most likely their number was very small), in obedience to Christ, filling the waterpots with water, is a great encouragement to God’s people to meet together, if they be but few and of humble position, to seek the outpouring of the Spirit into their own souls, that they may have faith to pray prevailingly that the blessing of God might descend on the preacher and the preaching of the Word, that in God’s own appointed way, the whole company of believers might be blessed and made to rejoice. Perhaps when God often blesses the preaching of the Word, to the astonishment of the preacher himself, the last day will reveal the fact, that two or three humble disciples, having faith in God’s promises, had long met together for prayer and supplication—and although the ruler of the feast knew not whence the good wine came, the servants who drew the water knew-and so did they know and rejoice in the fact that God had answered their prayer, and revealed himself to them as a faithful and promise-keeping God, and perhaps it will be said of such as it was of the poor widow, “Verily I say unto you, this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.”
There is encouragement here for every believer, who feels that the hearts of God’s people are too much set on worldly things, and that God’s cause, therefore, is in a low and feeble state; for until believers are led to joy and rejoice in Christ and in doing his will, work for Christ and for his church will never be done in a manner either pleasing to God or profitable to men; for God loveth a cheerful giver and cheerfully-rendered service, and that can never proceed from a divided heart. As the company at Cana had good wine ministered to them through the instrumentality of one individual, the Word of God teaches us how by faith in Christ, we may one and all seek to do the same service to the church, however poor and humble we may be in this world’s goods, and this world’s estimation.
OUR FEBRUARY MEETINGS IN our last number, we promised to give an account of the remarkable Meetings which were held at the Tabernacle during the month of February.
The Lord God of Israel be praised that; we have such a record to present to our readers. The meetings commenced on the 8th of that month, when the pastor, deacons, and elders, spent the evening together in prayer and conference, and many earnest supplications were offered for the bestowment of the Divine blessing upon the special services that were about to be held. An interesting feature of this gathering was the presentation by Mr. Olney, sent, to the pastor, of a handsome time-piece, which had been subscribed for by the deacons and elders. The pastor, who had no idea that such a presentation was intended, was deeply affected by this generous token of the affection of his fellow-laborers, of whom he said, “No man had a better staff of helpers or a firmer band of friends.”
May other churches be blessed with officers as affectionate and devoted as these brethren.
On the 11th, the church officers met the pastor for supplication to God, preparatory to the special prayer-meeting. Two deacons from the church at Waterbeach were also with the brethren, and the presence and power of the Holy Ghost were felt in the little assembly. As we announced last month, the Tabernacle was well attended at the prayer-meeting, and the prayers offered by Mr. Spurgeon and the various brethren, were most fervent and solemn. Many ‘were savingly ‘impressed on that solemn occasion.
On the following day (Tuesday), the deacons and elders, having previously met for one hour’s prayer, assembled with the undecided of the congregation. Many persons were moved to tears during this solemn service, and the deacons devoted one hour to personal conversation with those who remained behind. Mrs. Bartlett, with her usual holy zeal, was occupied with a room full of trembling seekers. Much fruit was seen on this occasion. On Wednesday, the young people of the congregation met Mr. Spurgeon and the officers for tea, after which, the lecture-hall was filled with a most attentive audience of young people, who were deeply impressed with the remarks made; some have since come forward and offered themselves to the church. It is pleasing to record that the deacons and elders have had a blessing upon their own families. On Sunday, the 17th, deputations from the church officers visited the classes presided over by Mrs. Bartlett, Mr. McGregor, and Mr. Croker. The addresses at these prosperous classes, were marked by great earnestness and pointedness, and it is hoped that the: good done on this occasion will be recorded in heaven.
Monday, the 18th, was set apart for fasting and prayer. From seven in the morning: till nine at night;, the flame of devotion burned on steadily and vehemently. There was no pause, no breaking up for meals, no idle talk, but a whole day of prayer; a blessed day indeed! Those who shared its deep convulsions of sorrow, and bursts of joy, will never forget it while memory holds her place. There were of course comers and goers all day long, but this created no disturbance; and those who came in but for one hour were so in tune with the rest, that it was evident that all the members, whether in the meeting or at their several callings, were in a spirit of prayer Throughout the day it was felt that the presence of the Lord God of Hosts overshadowed the place. The evening meeting in the Tabernacle was a most remarkable one. The prayers for the conversion of souls were unusually fervent, and the Lord was pleased to grant the request of his servants, even as he always does listen to the desires of believing hearts, in the salvation of precious souls. Of this there were happy proofs on the succeeding night, when the unconverted were invited to meet the officers for exhortation. The marked, devout, and eager attention of those present was very gratifying, and the tears that were visible told the tale of soulsorrow and soul-joy. Broken-hearted ones were led to the Lamb c f God, who taketh away the sin of the world, and Mr. Spurgeon has seen several who are anxious to find peace, and others who wish to join the church.
There was an interesting gathering of the parents of Sabbath-school children on the 20th, when the pastor and deacons, with the teachers, gave special addresses in the lecture-hall, which were well calculated to arrest the attention and impress the hearts of those present. The tutors and students had tea with the pastor on the 22nd, when addresses were given by a number of friends, the object being to excite in the college the same zeal which glows in all the other branches of the church. On the following Sabbath, two deacons visited Mr. Hanks’s classes, and also the senior classes of the Sabbath-school, with the view of arousing souls and urging an immediate decision for Christ. On the 25th, the ordinary prayer-meeting assumed a very solemn character, all the addresses being directed to the unconverted, and being delivered by our elders, were more novel and interesting than if they had come from ministers.
On the 26th, the Evangelists, Lean Tract Distributors, Missionaries, and Bible-women, connected with the church, took tea together. After tea, about 250 assembled in the lecture-room. The pastor presided, and expressed the pleasure he felt in seeing so many of the members of his church voluntarily engaged in evangelistic work:. He hoped that wherever they pushed the gospel-plough, they would make deep furrows in the hard soil; and that they would sow nothing else but the seed of divine truth. He was delighted to find that many of the present members of the church had been converted through the instrumentality of the evangelists, lie believed the Metropolitan Tabernacle owed much of its prosperity to the selfdenying efforts of its. members who were engaged in carrying the gospel to the poor in the streets and byways of this great metropolis. He hoped that those who were not in earnest in their work would follow Mr. Orsman’s example, in his noble mission which his friend Mr. Leach had aptly denominated “A Golden Work in Golden Lane.” Addresses of an encouraging and stimulating character were then delivered by Mr. W.J. Orsman, lion. Sec. of the Evangelists’. Association; Mr. Stringer Mr. Carpenter City Missionary, Mr. Cooper, elder, Mr. W. Olney, Mr. Aldbury, who related some rough encounters he had had with the bargemen at his open air services by the river’s-side, and a gentleman from New York.
On the; 1st elm arch, the Sunday-school and Ragged-school teachers assembled together at tea, when most encouraging addresses were delivered by the pastor and others. The meetings were concluded on Monday, the 4th, by breaking of bread and thanksgiving, and those who were present found the opportunity one of great spiritual enjoyment. The king himself was there, and we said in our hearts, “He brought me into the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
We feel thankful at the remembrance of the various joyful and refreshing influences which clustered around the above gatherings. The blessing which has already attended these special efforts is but a foretaste of what we may expect. We know and are persuaded that a mighty blessing is in reserve for a praying people.
MR. SPURGEON AMONG THE COSTERMONGERS ON Tuesday, the 12th of March, Mr. Spurgeon preached a sermon to the street vendors of Golden-lane and its vicinity, in the Evangelists’ Tabernacle, where Mr. Orsman conducts his mission. On the previous Sunday morning, tickets of admission were distributed among the street dealers of Whitecross-street, and the result was, that by far the majority of those who attended were of this class. A goodly number of the regular attendants at the Mission-hall were absent, as they denied themselves for the sake of others. Some of the dealers came with unwashed faces and uncombed hair, but the majority were dressed in their best clothes; and those who could not recognize them, would hardly think that some were costermongers’ wives. There were several in “the fried fish line,” two or three “pickled whelks” merchants, a number of cabbage and vegetable dealers, coke sellers, wood-choppers, picture dealers, etc, and some representatives of street-sweepers. The bell was rung as usual to let the neighbor’s know that the time for service was come; for Golden-lane Tabernacle has its bell with a fine clear throat, and rivals the parish church in this respect; this seemed much to amuse Mr. Spurgeon, who said in the vestry that he had no idea that he was among such aristocratic people, who made so much noise in the world. At seven o’clock, Mr. Spurgeon ascended the platform and opened with prayer. Then a hymn was heartily sung, and a chapter read and expounded. The preacher’s prayer was frequently responded to; and when reference was made to the bodily aches and pains which so many suffered, and the poverty experienced by others, there were many deep sighs. Of course, Mr. Spurgeon arrested their attention, nor did he find any difficulty in making his audience understand what he had to tell them. Street vendors are very much like other people, only’ they are more acute than most persons will give them credit for. Our honored friend’s easy delivery, rapid flow of words, masculine thought, earnestness and directness, were thoroughly appreciated; and the little anecdotes, homely illustrations, and forcible “hits,” were much enjoyed:.
The text was St. John’s Gospel, 4:15; and having briefly and plainly stated what the gospel was, the preacher showed how it might be compared to water. Water satisfied the thirst of man; often saved his life; took away filth; put out fire—the fire of temper, lust, etc.; it softened things, etc. He then encouraged them to believe that if they desired this grace, they would have it, and lastly, concluded by showing how he himself had found this “living water.” One or two illustrations were evidently much liked.
Referring to the satisfaction which the soul felt when convinced that all its sins were atoned for, Mr. Spurgeon remarked that he saw a long the of bills at home the other day, but when he was told they were all paid ones, he did not care how many they were. Again, there was a certain fire that was felt early in the morning in the throats of some persons, who had to go to a neighboring fire-shop to get it quenched, and that fire seemed to burn most furiously on Saturday nights when the wages were just received—an allusion to their social habits which made many laugh. Sacramental efficacy had a blow. Water could go up as high as the source from whence it came, and so could God’s grace; but any grace they fancied they might get from a priest or minister, could only go up as high ms its source—which was the height of the priest and a number of other illustrations were so much admired as to make many give a friendly nod of approbation to those sitting by their side. The appeal to their consciences made a deep impression. After Mr. Spurgeon had concluded, over two hundred remained for the purpose of prayer. For an hour and, a quarter earnest supplications were offered. Some begged that the brethren would pray especially for them, others, who had never made supplication in their lives before, expressed their wants in deep sighs; or in gentle, solemn responses.
It is believed that several were convinced of sin during the services, and certainly Mr. Spurgeon’s appeals will never be forgotten by many who had been unaccustomed to sympathetic, earnest entreaty.
One curious bit of criticism we heard from several costermongers. A coster’s living depends largely upon his “woice.” He, therefore, knows the value of good lungs, and is a connoisseur in voices. The preacher’s voice was eulogized as “wonderful,” “Stunning,” “I never,” and other equally significant phrases. One coster had lost his voice, and probably he envied the preacher’s gift. Another poor fellow—a follower of Joanna Southcott—retired from the hall expressing great disappointment because no reference had been made to his own people—the Jews; and nothing had been said about the millennium, the teaching, of which, he declared with much earnestness, always led the way to conversion!
The writer takes the present opportunity of personally thanking those readers who so generously responded to his appeal in the February number of this Magazine, on behalf’ of Mr. Orsman’s mission. He hopes that other friends may be led to assist Mr. O. in carrying on and extending this noble and much-needed work.
THE LORD’S WORK IN CANADA WE have been much refreshed by reading the various reports of those of our Baptist brethren in Canada who are devotedly, and with great selfdenial, laboring in home missionary spheres. The church’s work in Canada is essentially of an aggressive Character. Although highly favored as the land where the gospel is faithfully preached, Canada is yet a wide field for missionary effort. Tens of thousands are living without God, while, as the “Canadian Baptist Register” states, “We have rationalists and skeptics here; infidels from France, and neologists from Germany; priest-ridden Papists and worshippers of Mammon; heretics of almost every name, and even within a day’s sail from Owen Sound, Indians on the Great Mountain Island, who are the sincere and devout worshippers of the Devil.” Our Baptist brethren are fully alive to their responsibilities, and are increasingly desirous of entering the mission-field with greater zeal than ever. While they feel pain arising from the want of greater results, and pleasure because the work of the Lord has prospered during a year of unusual religious drought, they are not content to rest upon past successes—and this alone is an omen for good in any living church. The Baptist Missionary Convention of Canada West has 28 missionaries, who have preached the gospel at, stations, to congregations averaging in all, 5,994 persons. The missionaries report having made 5,320 pastoral visits to the families connected with ‘the mission churches and congregations; and, it is to be understood, that by a pastoral visit is meant a visit during which the missionary bus conversed with the family on religious subjects, read the Word of God to the family, and offered prayer to God on its behalf—not a mere call. In the discharge of their various duties they have traveled 31,308 miles, to a very great; extent, too, over very rough roads and amidst the darkness of the night, exposed to those storms which all have seen and felt the effects of, to some extent at least, during the past year. The number of persons baptized into the fellowship of the churches, on a credible profession of faith, during the year, has been one hundred and thirteen.
We find that there are in all 183 pastors of regular Baptist churches in Canada; 275 churches, and 15,091 church members, while there are of course a number of ministers without pastoral charges. Still, there is a great dearth of pastors, owing, it is believed, mainly to the rapid increase of the churches. Few ministers go to Canada from Great Britain; and the churches are therefore desirous of raising up a native Canadian ministry. It is pleasant to find in looking over the reports of the missionaries, that most of the churches, even the most youthful, are struggling to become selfsupporting, and that efforts are made in many stations to enlarge their borders. We regret, however, to observe that so many ministers find it necessary to change their spheres of labor, and that consequently the churches suffer from the want of a settled ministry. Judging from our brethren’s own testimony, we should say that the present crisis in the history of the Baptist denomination in Canada West, is an important one — since “one year’s faithful labor now expended upon the population of our rising towns and villages, and rural districts, will accomplish more for the establishment of churches formed after the primitive and apostolic model, than could be accomplished by five years’ labor in the same localities ten years hence.” We are glad to see this fact recognized, and that a spirit of zeal for the Lord of Hosts is animating the Lord’s people in the province.
Our readers will be glad to learn that the “Sword and Trowel” is being. circulated in Canada, and that already there is a growing demand for our Magazine.
MISSIONARY WORK IN CHINA.
CHINA has at length become familiar to Europeans. No longer does it wear the hue of mystery!it wore before the eyes of the world of the Caesars when its silks were purchased for their weight in gold by the noble matrons of Rome. Descriptions of its wide provinces, their products, and their people, no longer wield the power to amaze possessed by the recital of Marco Polo’s travels in the thirteenth century. Yet at no former period has China exhibited features of greater interest to the world at large and especially to the friends of Jesus than at present. Rents and fissures may be detected here and there in the old policy of isolation pursued by the natives towards foreigners. The ports have been thrown open to merchants, and missionaries have traveled far into the interior. The good seed of the kingdom, long sown with but scanty signs of fruit, is now beginning to yield a cheering harvest to the later laborers in the field. The “Narrative of the Mission to China of the English Presbyterian Church might be brought forward as a striking example of this, whilst it reveals also a scale of economy perhaps without a parallel in the management of modern missions. It may be as well to at once give the figures. In the year 1854, with an income of 3,748, the society maintained nine European missionaries and twenty native. Evangelists, defrayed expenses for gospel boats, traveling, and chapels, besides £101 of home charges, and had in hand at the close of the year. Twenty years have elapsed since William C. Burns, the first missionary of the society, set sail for China. His name will be well remembered by many from his zealous labors during the revival at Kilsyth, and other parts ‘of Scot- land. The island of Amoy was ultimately fixed upon as the basis of his operations. For seven years he preached the Word of Life incessantly, and only “the blossoms and buddings of the spiritual vintage” were seen. Then the Spirit of God began manifestly to work. “What I see here,” he writes, “makes me call to mind former days of the Lord’s power in my native land. In my own circle, I have hardly seen the same promising appearance of the coming of God’s kingdom since I carne to China.” These remarkable awakenings took place at Pechuia and Baypay. “The meetings were crowded, and the desire to hear the Word not easily satisfied.” “Yesterday,” again he writes, “we had a good day here. It was one of the market days.. and the people came in, as usual, in numbers to hear. Most of those interested in the truth were also present The work of preaching all devolved on myself, and I felt supported more than usually. In the afternoon, I went alone to visit a village in the neighborhood; and in my absence a number of the inquirers, etc, met. here for worship of their own accord. When I returned, they were joyfully engaged in singing hymns, studying the Scriptures, etc, and continued so during the most of the evening. I have not witnessed the same state of things in China before. It is said among the people that we have some mode of enchanting those who come to us. In no other way can the blind world account for the impressions made on some of those who are receiving the truth.” Several young persons were brought to the Savior at this time. One was a youth of twenty, named Lain San, who afterwards became a medical missionary. “On the occasion of the birthday of the god of the furnace, he took the god and put it; in a pot boiling on the fire. The idol having been thus defaced was afterwards found by his mother, and both parents beat their son unmercifully for his conduct. Some of the other inquirers going to comfort the son under this treatment, so reasoned with the parents, showing that if the idol could not take care of itself, it surely did not deserve their protection, that their views underwent a sudden and entire change, and in a day or two afterwards they, with their four sons, brought all their idols and ancestral tablets, and publicly destroyed them in the view of the people.” “Another family, consisting of an old father, the mother, He-Se, and their three sons, Gongdo, Kwai-a, and Som-a, all became Christians. Even before their conversion, there was much real union and affection between then. When the old father was going to Amoy to be baptized, Son a asked to be allowed to accompany him for the same purpose. He was told lie was too young, and that he might fall back if he made a profession when tie was only a little boy. To this he made the touching reply, ‘Jesus has promised to carry the lambs in his arms. As I am only a little boy, it will be easier for Jesus to carry me.’“ In four months after this awakening, twenty persons were baptized. The new converts carried the knowledge of the One Mediator wherever they went, and spread in their simple way the doctrines of salvation. A singular instance is given by Mr. Douglas of the way in which the Lord sends his truth to find out his people. “We found,” he says, “also another old man, a cloth peddler, who heard the gospel in a very singular manner. He heard it not from a Christian, but from one of the vegetarian Buddhists, and that man also had not heard it from a Christian, but; only from a strolling storyteller —a class of men who make a living: by reading old stories, or telling exciting stories in the streets— who had been going to the chapel at Amoy.
These two men, through the return of whom the account of God’s truth had reached the peddler, were never even specially interested, and cared nothing about the gospel But he from the time he heard it, about ten years ago, had been endeavoring to pray to the living God. At last, a few weeks ago, he met with the men of the river gospel-boat, who instructed him more thoroughly. All the Sabbaths that we were there, he spent with us. He seems quite decided.”
These simple extracts may be taken as outlines of the leading phases of the results of evangelistic labors in China; perhaps if a few glimpses of. the Converts’ faith in its trials, and triumphs were introduced, it would make the outlines more complete. These, however, must be passed by. It will have been noticed that progress has been represented as very gradual. The pace of the gospel in China has been uniformly slow; seldom has it run; seldom has it taken long strides; but seldom has it retraced its footsteps.
From the days that Zavier breathed his last sigh from Sanclan towards the Chinese coast and then expired to the days of Morrison and Milne, and Medhurst, and to the days of Burns. the glad tidings of salvation have been steadily winning their way, and piercing the very foundations of the superstitions and idolatries of the proud Chinese. Still, little progress, you say, has been made. Little progress! There can be no little progress of the gospel in China; any progress there is great. Look at the perplexities and impediments, of a kind peculiarly their own, that crowd around and fain would paralyze the efforts of the missionary.
Glance at the character of the Chinaman, comprising traits seemingly destructive of each other. To a civilization more refined than that of Greece or Rome, he unites the stolidity of the Esquimaux; capable as the South Sea Islanders, of violence and plunder, he is complete master of his passions; professing a religious creed the purest of heathen nations, he is found the victim of vices the foulest of depraved humanity. Viewed at a distance, his careful training, his love of order, his reverence for virtue appear as so many shining inlets to the light of truth; but examined more closely, they shine with the brightness of the brazen door that repels, and not with the transparency of the crystal that admits, the doctrine of the cross. He listens to high moral precepts, but in nothing is their spirit akin to the spirit of the gospel. He is educated, but his education enchains instead of liberating the mind; it fixes finality upon the intellect; instead of sowing the seeds of independent thought. He lives in a land where men are mere embodiments of custom, the frigid impersonations of technicality and rule; ‘where the religion of the present generation consists in extolling and worshipping the worthies of the past; where antiquity is the only ruling god, on whose altar mental and material treasures are alike laid; where, instead of the Athenian thirst for something new, the cry ever is, who will show us some old thing; where precedents petrified by thirty centuries defy innovations, and laugh at change,; in a word, the Chinaman is yoked to the machinery of a society so cumbrous that to move it onward means to break it. I say, then, that to make any headway against such gigantic powers of resistance and repulsion as Chinese manners and customs present, is to achieve a great success; and it appears all the greater, when we bear in mind that but a handful of men labor amongst a population verging on four hundred millions. It is a token for good that the missionary band increases.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, who sailed for Ningpolis May last, with their family ‘red their fifteen male and female missionary helpers, are still fresh in our memories. Are there no others whose hearts the Lord has touched with a similar desire to win the Chinese for our Savior God? To bring about the prediction, “Behold these shall come from tar; and, lo, these from the north, and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim?”
There can be no sin offering where there is no imputation of sin. Had not sin been charged upon the ‘Victim, it would have been an act of wanton cruelty to put it to death; there would have been no reason for it. True justice can no more punish one who ‘is legally innocent, than it can acquit one who is legally :,guilty.
If there is one truth more precious than another, it is this—The unpurchased and the unpurchaseable love of God.—Vintage Gleanings. the aforesaid days the penitent ought to fast, and to abstain from communion and celebration. However, when the circumstances of the fault and person have been weighed, the aforesaid penance can be diminished or increased according to the judgment of a discreet confessor. But this is to be observed, that wherever the species of the sacrament are found in their integrity, they are severally to be consumed; but it’ this cannot be done without risk, they are still to be reserved for relics.” * There is more of the same order, but I forbear. Is this, I ask you, a true Christianity, or a degrading superstition?’ Where shall we find its parallel?
Not in the minutest directions of the Levitical Rubric, far less in the simple worship of the New Testament. Some parallel may be found to it in that intolerable pharisaism on which our Lord pronounced His severest anathema. But a complete parallel to it is to be found only in the lowest superstitions of the middle ages. It is in fact but a reproduction of these superstitions. No wonder that the men who do these things yearn for reunion with Rome. Their proper place is in the Church of Rome, and not in the Church of England. May God deliver our country from their evil influence, and from what their own Articles call “blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.”
THE COLLEGE ANNUAL FESTIVAL THE annual supper, so generously provided by one of the deacons, Mr.T. Phillips, was held on the 19th of March, in the Lecture-hall of the Tabernacle. There was a large company of the friends of the College present, and the meeting held prior to the supper was of a most enthusiastic description. Mr. Samuel Morley (we wish we could add M.P.), presided. Mr. H. Varley, of Nottinghill, offered up prayer, and Mr. Spurgeon followed with an interesting address. Mr. Rogers, the theological tutor, referred to his connection with the College during the past ten years, expressed his intense satisfaction with its present mode of working, and gave an interesting and cheering account of the work done by those students who had settled in various spheres of use-fullness. Mr. J.A. Spurgeon, as one of the tutors, spoke to the same effect. Mr. C. B. Sawday gave an account of his work at Vernon Chapel, Pentonville. The chapel which, three years and a half ago, was almost empty, was now overcrowded, and more accommodation was greatly required. He did not think a single week, or a single service passed away without its conversions: persons had applied for membership since he commenced his labors, and the conversions were found to be genuine. Mr. Wright, of Brabourne, followed with an equally interesting account of the progress of the work in his chapel; and Mr. Cuff gave a racy description of the way in which he becarne a minister and the pastor of the church at Ridgmount; Mr. Crouch, of Paisley, and Mr. Griffin, of Sandhurst, followed. The chairman then expressed his thankfulness for the invitation which had been sent him to take the chair on the present occasion. He congratulated Mr. Spurgeon on the work that had been done by the College, and said he felt that Mr. S. had discovered, to some extent at least, the solution to one of the most important but difficult problems of the day; namely, how to get at the masses. Mr. Fowler, of the Society of Friends, also expressed his gratification at being present, and rejoiced in the work of the College. After an interesting speech by Mr. Spurgeon, the company adjourned to the Lecture-hall, where the cloth was laid for 400 persons. After supper, Mr. W. Landels made an interesting speech, and addresses were given by Mr. Morley, Mr. W. Lewis, of Bayswater, and Mr. Henry Allon, of Union Chapel, Islington. The collecting papers showed that the large sum of over £1,100 had been collected during the evening.
MR. SPURGEON AT THE AGRICULTURAL HALL ON Sunday, March 24th, the first of the five special services to be held at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, during the rep. airs of. the Tabernacle, took place. I he area of the large building was provided with seats for about ten thousand persons, and there were between eleven and twelve thousand persons present—a number far greater than has ever listened to a Christian minister under one roof. The sight was, we need hardly say, most imposing. The arrangement of seats was admirable, and the ease with which everything was managed was creditable to all concerned. There was no collision between the public and the friends who conducted them to their seats; and when the great crowd surged in at ten minutes to eleven o’clock, the anxiety for first places did not manifest itself in a disorderly manner. An orchestra for the singers had been fitted up in the center of the baildine, at the north side. and the singing throughout was almost perfect.
Upon the entrance of Mr. Spurgeon, the buzz of excitement was immediately hushed, hats were doffed, seats were occupied, umbrellas that had been ‘up to shield the owners from the rays of the sun which we, re streaming in at the glass roof were shut up, coughing suppressed, and when the words were emphatically pronounced, “Let us pray,” the dropping of a pin might almost have been heard. Throughout the attention was kept up, and we believe that nearly every word was distinctly heard in all parts of the building. Mr. Spurgeon’s delivery was of course slow, measured, and emphatic; but nothing seemed labored, nor did the voice lose any of its accustomed music. It was clear as a bell, and from where we sat, which was three parts of the way down the building, it sounded: with peculiar mellowness and sweetness. The 103rd Psalm was read, and suitable comments were made. The prayer which followed the reading of the lesson, was peculiarly fervent and solemn, and at the time Mr. Spurgeon was earnestly pleading for a blessing upon the neighboring ministers, most of them were engaged in praying that strength might be given him who was addressing so mighty a concourse close by. The text was taken from the 21st chapter of Matthew, 28 th -31st verses, and the discourse, which was of a most impressive character, was specially addressed to the un-converted. The Sermon has been published by Messrs.
Passmore and Alabaster.
In the evening, two services were conducted in the lecture hall and schoolrooms of the Tabernacle:, by Mr. George Rogers, and Mr. Wildon Carr, of Newcastle. Through the kindness of Mr. Newman Hall, Surrey Chapel has been opened for the use of the congregation on Thursday evenings.
MASTER HENRY SMITH BY C. H. SPURGEON.
THE noble army of Smiths may almost be likened to the company of Criesrials, whom no man cart number. Smith is not the name of a person, but of a clan, a nation, a race. Ever since Tubal Cain first smote the anvil, Smiths have swarmed in every quarter; and though many of them have been ashamed of the honest title, and have twisted it into Smythe and Smithers, and other transparent degradation of the fine old name, yet Smiths there are and Smiths there will be till the world’s axle-tree breaks down for ever — blacksmiths and white-smiths, silver smiths and goldsmiths, a host able to hold their own against all comers. The Henry Smith of whom we now write was a workman that needed not to be ashamed, a master of assemblies whose hammer fastened many nails, and dashed to pieces many brittle wares, tie lived in the golden age of religion in England, that is to say, the Puritanic. Scarcely to be numbered with the Puritans in one respect, he was in others not a whir behind the very chiefest of them; and, in a peculiar vein of eloquence, he was richer than any one of that goodly fellowship, lie was not so much a. theologian as the preacher of his day. Fuller says of him, “He was commonly called the Silver. tongued preacher, and that was but one metal below St. Chrysostom himself. His church was so crowded with auditors, that persons of good quality brought their own pews with them,! mean their legs, to stand thereupon in the alleys. Their ears did so attend to his lips, their hearts to their ears, that he held the rudder of their affections in his hands, so that he could steer them whither he was pleased; and he was pleased to steer them only to God’s glory and their own good.”
His sermons appear to have been surreptitiously issues from the press from notes taken by his hearers; and as these unauthorized productions were full of errors, the preacher was compelled to issue his own true copy, a necessity for which thousands have been grateful. Had we been among his hearers, we would certainly have preserved all that we could have taken down, and have published them if the law permitted; for such sermons were, never intended by God to be monopolized by any one generation. As well allow the harvest to rot unhoused, as such marvelous discourses to remain unprinted. They were sermons, sermons of the highest order, gems of the first water, rare jewels, fit for kings. When preached, they crowded the churches, and when issued from the press, they cheered many a household; in fact, they were so relished, that some whose manner it was to forsake the assembling of themselves together, pleaded as an excuse- “Smith’s dainty sermons have in plenty storm me With better stuff than pulpits can afford me.” Henry Smith, except in his public capacity ass preacher, has no history; the pulpit is his entrance and his exit. Having borne his testimony like another Elijah, ‘he is taken up, but leaves no mantle behind him, or no, Elisha to inherit it. No stirring incidents of patient suffering or heroic service are recorded of him: like Thomas Adams, he is a great unknown; his sermons are at once his portrait and his life. “He being dead, yet speaketh;” and speaketh none the less powerfully because his personal self is so little known to us. One or two of the great painters have left the world their own likenesses, and we have thought that we could see Smith and his congregation too, sketched by himself as with Hogarth’s pencil, in his second sermon upon the art of hearing: “As the little birds perk up their heads when t-heir dam comes with meat, and prepare their beaks to take it, striving who shall catch most (now this looks to be served, and now that looks for a bit, so every mouth is open till it be filled); so you are here like birds, and we the dam, and the word the food; therefore you must prepare a mouth to take it.”
He must have been a very diligent student, for no extemporaneous or unstudied effusions could have been so sententious, so accurate, so complete as these peerless discourses. He was a simple preacher even to homeliness, but he was no ranting ‘declaimer trying to make up for emptiness by giving forth all the loutlet sound. Smith was not like those untrained dogs which give most tongue when there is least game, but when he bayed you might be sure there was good reason for it. His own advice on this point we commend to those who confound the foolishness of preaching, which God honors, with foolish preaching, which is to be abhorred. “If you must take heed how you hear, then we must take heed how we preach; for you hear that which we preach. Therefore Paul putteth none among the number of preachers, but they which ‘ cut the word aright,’ 2 Timothy 2:15; that is, in right words, in right sense, and in right method; and because none can do this without study and meditation, therefore he teacheth Timothy to ‘ give attendance to doctrine; that is, to make a study and labor of it; for as Saint Peter saith, that in Paul’s epistles, ‘there be many things hard to understand,’ 2 Peter in. 16; so in Peter’s epistles, and John’s epistles, and James’s epistle, there be many things too which David before called, ‘ the wonders of the law,’ Psalm 119:18, and Paul calleth, ‘ the mystery of salvation,’ Ephesians 3:8, and Christ calleth, ‘ a treasure hid in the ground.’ Therefore Solomon confesseth that he studied for his doctrines, Ecclesiastes 12:10. Although he was the wisest and learndest man that ever was, yet he thought that without study he could not do so much good. Daniel was a prophet, and yet he desired respite to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel 3:16. Is the Scripture lighter than a dream, that we should interpret it without meditation? It seems that Solomon and Daniel would not count them sermons which come forth, like untimely births, from uncircumcised lips, and unwashen hands, as though they had the Spirit at commandment. Wheat is good, but they which sell the refuse thereof are reproved, Amos 8:6. So preaching is good, but this refuse of preaching is but like swearing; for one takes the name of God in vain, and the other takes the word of God in vain. As every sound is not music, so every sermon is not preaching, but worse than if he should read an homily. For if James would have us consider what we ask before we come to pray, much more should we consider before we come to preach; for it is harder to speak God’s word, than to speak to God; yet there are preachers risen lately up, which shroud every absurd sermon under the name of the simple kind of teaching, like the popish priests, which made ignorance the mother of devotion: but, indeed, to preach simply, is not to preach unlearnedly, nor confusedly, but plainly and perspicuously, that the simplest which doth hear, may understand what is taught, as if he did hear his name.”
Our author was lecturer for awhile at St. Clement Danes, without Temple Bar, but being by repute an unsound churchmen as to subscription to the Book of Common Prayer, he was a lecturer rather by sufferance than otherwise; indeed, at one time, he was suspended altogether, but the influence of some powerful relative seems to have screened him from the storm. ‘We have sometimes thought that both Henry Smith and Adams have been denied a history because they were not more decided against the abominations of the Anglican Establishment. They evidently endured much sorrow of heart, and found out probably that when the Master calls his servants to go without the camp, it is sorry policy to try to stay within. No doubt they had their reasons, but it might have been better for them if those reasons had made room for more ,complete avowal of truth by a bolder Noncomformity. Master Henry Smith had one mark said to belong to many of those whom God loves, for he died young, and so entered early into his rest.
Mr. Nichol has just issued in two handsome and cheap volumes a full edition of the works of Henry Smith; and although we trust the pre sent article may be interesting in itself, we must confess that we were led to write it very much with the view of inducing our readers to procure the treasure for themselves. No minister can fail, with God’s blessing, to be improved as a preacher by carefully reading these renowned productions.
He will learn at. the least this one thing, namely, our need of having something to say when we preach, for Smith always gives us weight of matter, and therefore (strange freak of language.) is never heavy. Ode admirable quality which Smith pre-eminently displays is that of using Scriptural illustrations, a practice which cannot be too much commended.
He is not so apt in quoting ancient history as Master Brooks, neither is he so rich in figures culled from nature as Gurnal or Charnook, but his baskets of silver, in which he places his apples of gold, are mainly of Scriptural workmanship. Take, as an admirable instance, his proofs that many make most deceivable shows of holiness who are yet strangers to it. “You have Pilate washing his hands in hypocrisy, as well as you have David washing his hands in innocency. You have the Shechemites with their circumcision, as well as the Israelites with their circumcision. You have the Sadducees with their doctrine, as well as the apostles with their doctrine. You have the Pharisee with his prayer, as well as the publican with his prayer. You have the Pythonist with her confession, as well as Peter with his confession. You have the exorcists with their Jesus, Acts 19:13, as well as Paul with his ,Jesus. You have Satan with his Scripture, Matthew iv, as well as Christ with his Scripture. You have Judas with his kiss, as well as Jonathan with his kiss. You have Cain with his sacrifice, as well as Abel with his sacrifice. You have :Esau with his tears, as well as Mary with her tears. You have Ahithophel with his wisdom, as well as Solomon with his wisdom. You have Zedekiah with his spirit, as well as Elijah with his spirit.
You have Jezebel with her fasts, as well as Anna with her fasts. You have the harlot; with her vows, as well as Jacob with his vow.” Master Smith was so full of the Word of God that his hearers could scarcely have failed to become good biblical scholars; his very divisions and lines of thought appear to have been suggested by the Scriptures which he brought to bear upon his topic. We were greatly struck with this in his sermon upon the wedding garment; his text is, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ;” and in the course of his exposition, he pours forth the following flood of scriptural allusions — “ There be many fashions of apparel, but they are too light, or too heavy, or too coarse, or too stale, and all wear out. At last the apostle found a fashion that su rpassed them all; it is never out of fashion, meet for all seasons, fit for all persons, and such a profitable weed, that the more it is worn the fresher it is. What fashion have you seen comparable to this? It is not like the clothes of David’s ambassadors, which covered their upper parts, 2 Samuel 10:4; nor like Saul’s armor, which tired David when he should fight with it, 1 Samuel 17:39; nor like the counterfeit Jeroboam’s wigs, which disguised herself to go unknown, 1 Kings 14:2; nor like the old rags of the Gibeonites, which deceived Joshua, Joshua 9:4,5; nor like the paltry suit of Micah, which he gave once a year to his Levite, Judges 21;10; nor like the glutton’s flaunt, which jetted in purple every day; nor like the light clothes which Christ said are in kings’ courts, and make them lighter that wear them, Matthew 11:8. But it is like the garment of the high priest, which had all the names of the tribes of Israel written upon his breast, Exodus 28:21; so all the names of the faithful are written in the breast of Christ, and registered in the book of his merits, Malachi 3:16. It is like Elias’s mantle, which divided the waters, 2 Kings 2:8: so he divided our sins and punishments, that they which are clothed with Christ, are armed both against sin and death. It is like the garments of the Israelites in the wilderness, which did not wear out; forty years together they wandered in the desert, and yet, saith Moses, their shoes were not worn, but their apparel was as when they came out of Egypt:. Deuteronomy 29:5; so the righteousness of Christ doth last for ever, and his merits are never worn out. As Mordecai shined in the king’s robes before the people, Esther 6:11; so and more glorious are the faithful in the robes of Christ before God.
When Christ was transfigured upon the mount, Matthew earth that his face shined like the sun, and his clothes were as white as the light:, Matthew 17:2; so when we are transfigured into the image of Christ, we shall shine before other men like lights! and therefore Christ’s disciples are called lights, because they, were clothed with light, and shined to the world, Matthew 5:14. Solomon was not so glorious in all his royalty, nor the lilies, which are braver than Solomon, Matthew 6:29, as he which is clothed with Christ, because the apparel upon him is better than all the world about him.
There fore, if David said,’ Weep, ye daughters of Israel, for Saul which clothed you in purple,’ 2 Samuel 1:24; I may say,’ Rejoice, ye daughters of Israel, for Christ which hath clothed you with righteousness, as it were with a vesture, before you come to the banquet.’“ Would that all ministers would after this fashion familiarize their hearers with the holy histories of the inspired volume, there would then be such an esteem for the sacred records that the attacks of skeptics upon the historical books would be harmless. Show the people the true use of the historical books, and they will laugh to scorn the sneering flippancies of superficial critics. If the pulpit does not honor Scripture more, the day will come when the people will honor it less, and that may God forbid. With all the earnestness of our heart we would press it upon all young preachers to be biblical preachers, gathering not only their doctrine but their illustrations from the inexhaustible mines of the Word of God. “I adore the plenitude of Scripture,” said one of the fathers: he who complains of any lack of variety and interest in the inspired Book, may rest assured that if he had something to draw with, he would not find the well to be dry.
Henry Smith was not led away by the whimsies of Fifth Monarchy men as to the millennium and the prophetic beasts, neither did he waste the time of dying men by fiddling the tune of sublapsarian, or supralapsarian controversy, to set men’s wits a dancing; but he went straight to the conscience, and dealt with it upon plain matters of duty and important gospel doctrine. If our crotchety Plymouthites, and others who are almost insane upon points of which they know nothing, could but ‘be persuaded to take an hour a week with some such preacher as the silver-tongued lecturer at Temple Bar, little as they would relish it, the medicine might be of good service to them. Let those who need reforming in this respect stand awhile before his “Looking-glass for Christians,” and see if there be not a few blots to remove from their faces. He is advising his hearers not to be curious in searching mysteries, and he remarks, “The star, when it came to Christ, stood still, and went no farther; so when we come to the knowledge of Christ, we should stand still, and go no farther; for Paul was content ‘to know nothing but Christ crucified.’ It is not necessary to know that which God hath not revealed; and the well of God’s secrets is so deep that no bucket of man can sound it; therefore we must row in shallow waters, because our boats are light, and small, and soon overturned. They which have such crotchets and circumstances in their brain, I have marked this in them, that they seldom find any room for that which they should know, but go to and fro, seeking and seeking, like them which sought Elias’s body, and found it not. Let men desire knowledge of God as Solomon did; but not desire knowledge as Eve did. For these aspiring wits fall again like Babel, and run into doubts, while they seek for resolutions. As the Jews,* when they heard the apostle preach, burnt their curious books, and had no more delight to study such toys: so when men come to the truth, they are content to leave these fancies, and say with Paul, ‘ I know nothing but Christ crucified.’ Curious questions and vain speculations are like a plume of feathers, which some will give anything for, and some will give nothing for. Paul rebuked them which troubled their heads about genealogies; how would he reprove men and women of our days, if he did see how they busy their heads about vain questions, tracing upon the pinnacles, where they may fall, while they might walk upon the pavement without danger! Some have a great, deal more desire to learn where hell is, than to know any way how they may escape it; to hear what God did purpose before the world began, rather than to learn what he will do when the, world is ended; to understand whether they shall know one another in heaven, than to know whether they belong to heaven. This rock hath made many shipwrecks, that men search mysteries before they know principles; like the Bethshemites, which were not content to see the ark, but they must pry into it, and finger ‘it. Commonly the simplest men busy their heads about the highest matters; so that if they meet with a rough and crabbed question like a knob in the tree, and while they hack and hew at it with their own wits to make it plain, their saw sticks fast in the cleft, and cannot get out again; at last in wrath they become like malcontents with God, as though the Scripture were not perfect, and either fall into despair, or into contempt of all. Therefore it is good to leave off learning where God hath left off teaching; for they which have an ear where God hath no tongue, hearken not unto God, but to the tempter, as Eve did to the serpent.” This age needs just such a warning; but who shall utter it so that it may be noticed? It is difficult, if not impossible, to reach the heart of men who are besotted with the intoxication of curious questions, for foolish as they are, and plain as their folly is to all the world besides, they are, in their own conceit, wiser than seven men that can render a reason. If one of the old Fifth Monarchy fanatics should rise from the dead, he would find himself among brethren in many quarters. In those days, when swords and pikes gave ugly cracks to men’s craniums, this nonsense was excusable to old soldiers who had fought the Philistines at Naseby and Edgehill, and had returned from the fray with huge gashes across their foreheads; but nowadays our madmen are born, not made; or, if made, are manufactured by idleness rather than by warfare, and deserve less patience than those who came by their madness in honorable battle.
Why, in these times, men who care not for positive precepts, are downright zealots for the toes of the image, and the little horn of the beast; we have elaborate charts of the new world as it is to be after the advent of our Lord; and telegrams from futurity as to the fate of Turkey, Russia, and every other nationality. The prophetic fever is at its height, and Bedlam is expounding the Apocalypse. Oh, for a little love to the souls of men, and a grain of common sense to set professing Christians upon more profitable work than this guessing at religious conundrums, and forecasting of national nativities!
Henry Smith’s doctrine was searching and sound; he was very clear in the gospel, and in dealing with the experience of a renewed soul. Especially was he very bold in denouncing all confidence in mere reformation, in which too many often rest, and so fall short of the new birth. “As ye may read, Psalm 51:10, David prayeth the Lord to ‘ create him a new heart ;’ not to correct his old heart, but to create him a new heart; Showing that his heart was like an old garment, so rotten and tattered that he could make no good of it by patching or piecing, but even must cut it off, and take a new.
Therefore Paul saith, ‘cast off the old man ;’ not pick him and wash him till he be clean, but cast him off, and begin anew, as David did.”
Perhaps no better instance can be given of his forcible way of impressing truth upon the memory and conscience than the famous extract from “The Dialogue between Paul and Agrippa.” It is Smith at his best, simple as Bunyan, sound as Owen, interesting as Brooks, quaint as Adams, earnest as Baxter, but aptly scriptural in his illustrations as none but himself; in that one respect he appears as a bright particular star shining apart and alone.
Before we close with the extract, we must record our. ever-growing delight in this author; we read his works, some years ago, in a neat copy dated we think, 1656, and heartily agreed with Thomas Fuller’s epithet, “this useful and desired volume,” and rejoiced with him that it had not been smothered, but brought into notice through the press; since then, we have read Henry Smith very frequently, till he has become our own familiar friend, whose words of wisdom quicken meditation as iron sharpeneth iron.
We hope that the extracts we have given will whet the appetites of our readers, and that the closing piece may be blessed to the undecided. “Now if we be almost Christians, let us see what it is to be almost a Christian. Almost a son, is a bastard; almost sweet, is unsavory; almost hot, is lukewarm, which God spueth out of his mouth, Revelation 3:16; so, almost a Christian is not a Christian, but that which God spueth out of his mouth.
A Christian almost is like a woman which dieth in travail; almost she brought forth a son, but that almost killed the mother and the son too.
Almost a Christian is like Jeroboam, which said,’ It is too far to go to Jerusalem to worship,’ and therefore chose rather to worship calves at home. Almost a Christian is like Micah, which thought himself religious enough because he had gotten a priest into his house. Almost a Christian is like the Ephraimites, which could not pronounce Shibboleth, but Sibboleth.
Almost a Christian is like Ananias, which brought a part, but left a part behind. Almost a Christian is like Eli’s sons, which polled the sacrifices; like the fig-tree, which deceived Christ with leaves; like the virgins, which carried lamps without oil; like the willing and unwilling son, which said he would come and came not. What is it to be born almost? If the new man be but ‘born almost, he!is not born. What is it to be married almost unto Christ? He which is married but almost, is not married. What is it to offer sacrifice almost? The sacrifice must be killed ere ever it can be sacrificed.
He which gives almost, gives not, buff denieth. He which believeth almost, believeth not, but doubteth. Can the door which is but almost shut keep out the thief? Can the cup which is but almost whole hold any wine? Can the ship which is but almost sound keep out the water? The soldier which doth but almost fight, is a coward. The physician which doth but almost cure, is but a slubberer. The servant which doth but almost labor, is a loiterer. I can not tell. what to make of these defectives, nor where to place them, nor how to call them, nor unto what to liken them. They are like unto children which sit in the market place, where is mourning and piping, and they neither weep nor dance, but keep a note between them both; they weep almost, and dance almost. Believest thou almost? ‘ Be it unto thee,’ saith Christ, ‘as thou believest.’ Therefore if thou believest, thou shalt ‘be saved; if thou believest almost, thou shalt be saved almost. As when a pardon comes while the thief hangs upon the gallows, he is almost saved, but the pardon doth him no good; so he which is almost a Christian, almost zealous, almost righteous, Which doth almost love, almost; believe, shall be almost saved; that is, if he had been a Christian altogether, he should not be damned.”
OUT WITH TOBIAH
“And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Elijah did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household staff of Tobiah out of the chamber, — Nehemiah 13:7,8.
THE story of stern old Nehemiah, and his struggles with Sanballat’s traitorous crew, deserves our best attention. The spirit of decision met the foes of Zion at every turn, but watchfulness was always needed. Our case is very similar, let us gather wisdom from this ancient record, Our enemies will not readily renounce their hold upon our souls When Tobiah could not prevent the restoration of Jerusalem, he plotted to obtain quarters within it; and when sin can no longer have dominion over us, it artfully contrives to dwell within our flesh. Inside the wall a foe is far more dangerous than without, and thus inbred sin is much more to be dreaded than outward temptation. It behoves us to keep a strict watch, for in some secret chamber of our nature sin will find a lurking-place. They say there is a skeleton in every house, certainly, there is a body of death in every saint. Our enemies have allies within us. If it had not been for Eliasbib, the priest Tobiah had never obtained the great chamber, nor been able to introduce his household stuff. Alas! for us that our weaker passions should. so soon consent to sin, and that appetites which are in them selves but natural, should so easily become inflamed into furious, sinful passions. If traitors within did not open to enemies without, Mansoul would not so readily be taken. Our holiest dispositions need careful watching. In the’ house of the Lord, Tobiah gained a lodging, in the very chamber “where aforetime they laid the meat offerings and the frankincense.” Spiritual pride will find a hidingplace in our devotions, unbelief will lurk amid our self-examination, and anger will conceal itself under the skirts of our zeal. In seasons of the highest spiritual enjoyment, it behoves us to exercise double vigilance against our great enemy, who so often transforms himself into an angel of light. The sweet flowers blooming in our window attract the buzzing bees, and so do our sweet graces draw the notice of the enemy to us. Thieves waylay men known to have full purses, and pirates watch for loaded galleons. Nehemiah tells us, “All this time was not I at Jerusalem:” his watchful eye was gone, or Tobiah would not have dared to intrude. Watch, believer, watch always! Watch most when least in apparent need of it, It will be our wisdom to shout no quarter to our foe. “Cast forth all his goods,” was stern Nehemiah’s. order; and then, having carefully purged the chamber, he filled it anew with the Lord’s stores. He did not leave him even a chest in which to store a few trifles, but turned out the whole. It should grieve us sore if we have given allowance to sin, and in the power of the Spirit of holiness, we should strive to make a clean riddance of the evil. Woe unto us if we make provision for the flesh. have we none of the household stuff of Tobiah to cast forth from the sanctuary of our heart? Is there no vacant space to fill with frankincense for the Lord our God? This incident gives us the true history of backsliding, and of restoration from it. The process is simple and is seen in the narrative. At the outset of the evil, the heart becomes vacant, the precious stores of the Lord vanish one by one, and there is room for something else. Heavenly-mindedness is gone, and then the heart is ready to mind earthly things. Then comes the suggestion and allowance from the traitor within, and straightway the lumber of Tobiah is introduced by degrees, and the soul becomes a wholesale warehouse for the household stuff of sin. Behold the mischief when at its full: the heart, which should be the house of God, becomes a receptacle for the has gotten booty of thieves. If by God’s grace a decided sin-hating faith shall act the part of stern old Nehemiah, there will be a returning to a gracious condition, which will be reached step by step until there is a complete re-dedication of the now haunted chamber. Out will be thrown the cherished evils, out of doors and. windows with muck dust and breakage all will be hurled, and a riddance will be made as thoroughly as grace shall enable penitence to do the business. Next shall follow a cleansing, scouring, and purifying of no ordinary kind, in which, with many penitential tears and bewailings, the heart shall cry to be purged with hyssop, and cleansed from all its secret faults. To this the Holy Spirit will give an answer of peace, and the precious blood of Jesus shall purify the heart by a renewed experience of its cleansing power. Then, as the crowning mercy, the vessel of the Lord and: all the dedicated goods, shall be once again set in their places, and so by restoration to its proper use, the chamber of the heart shall be preserved from becoming again a receiving house for thieves. Emptiness and idleness of mind is a very dangerous condition; Satan never sees a vacant heart without resolving to fill it with the treasures of mischief. When the measure is full of wheat, there is no room for if; when the soul is fully occupied with Jesus, the enemy may look in yam for an entrance; but a heart usually thoughtless, indevout, and inactive, is an inn upon the devil’s highway, and shall be thronged with evil guests.
Dear reader, may this short sermon set thee Upon self-searching, and if Tobiah’s baggage be stowed away in thy heart, may thy conscience, like Nehemiah, make short work with it, and may the Lord Jesus reign alone over all the powers of thy soul. “Soon as faith the Lord can see Bleeding on a cross for me, Quick my idols all depart, Jesus gets and falls my heart.”
OUR ORPHANAGE AS we intimated in our last number, the property so generously given by one honor has been invested in trust, the number of trustees being twelve.
We have also completed the purchase of the land at Stockwell, and the orphan- age will henceforth be known as “The Stockwell Orphanage.” It is now time to commit this enterprise to the care of the Lord’s people, and to ask of them the exercise of prayer for the success of the work, and of liberality in aiding it. Our position is just this : — We did not seek this work, but it was by a most singular providence cast upon us; at first we. felt inclined to avoid its onerous responsibilities, and pressed our friend to give the money to Mr. Miller, but being, upon fuller reflection, unable to refuse her request, we have gone forward in humble dependence upon the will of God, and expect to See his mighty power revealed. To found an orphan house in London into which children should be received without requiring from their friends the labor and expense of canvassing for votes, is: an object worthy of the aid of generous persons; and that the orphans when received will be under the care of Christian persons, and directly associated with a flourishing Christian church, should commend the project to the confidence of the lovers of the Lord Jesus. If the Lord shall be pleased to bless our efforts in future years to the conversion of the boys in the school, it may so happen that ministers and missionaries will be found for our churches among these children of our care, whose souls will be our first and highest concern. We entreat the Lord our God who has for several years provided so bountifully for our College, to stretch out his hand to help us in this new and untried work; and in order that his people may be fully aware of the needs of the work, we must mention the following facts: — The sum of 20,000 transferred to the trustees is almost all!in the shape of Railway Debentures, or other forms of investment which cannot at the present time be realized without serious loss. As these: bonds nearly all mature within the next two years, we feel that it would be folly to attempt to part with them at the present juncture, and in the hope (not altogether without Fear), that these securities will be redeemed according to agreement, we must wait with patience tilt the full time shall come. Thus our Friends will see that the funds in hand are not available for present use, and that we are comparatively at a standstill. In order to complete the purchase of the ground which we thought it of the highest importance to secure, we have had to borrow £3,000 upon the security of a portion of our bonds. We confess that this necessary transaction is not to our taste, and we earnestly wish that we had the means to pay off that sum, and leave the bonds alone until they can be realized. Now the ground is in our possession, and the season is come for building operations, but we have no money to go on with unless we effect another loan, and this we do not think wise. It is true we can wait, but then the ground is lying idle, and the cause of charity will be losing, so long as we wait, £150 a year in the form of interest upon unused property; and, mean- while, many orphan children are seeking admittance for whom we can do nothing. It may be also well to mention that the law of mountain operates in our case in such a way, that should our generous friend be removed by death within the next twelve months, the heir-at-law can claim the properties which have been handed over to the trust. We firmly believe and earnestly pray, that the Lord who has spared her to see this great work commenced, will graciously preserve her for many years to come to see the growth and prosperity of the institution; but still there is the matter of fact as to the law, and it is not encouraging. What is needed, as far as shortsighted creatures can judge, is this-that the sum given by the first donor should be left altogether untouched, and remain for ever as an endowment fund, and that the Christian public should find the means to pay for the ground and erect the buildings. The fact that the gift is in a sense tied up and bound by providential circumstances, seems in some measure to indicate that this is the path which the Lord would have us pursue; and if he shall further move his people spontaneously to send the means. It will be to us a source of unutterable comfort.
Our plan is to build schoolroom, chapel, and other offices in the centure of the ground, and to erect as the funds may come in, houses in which the boys may live in groups, like families. This plan is certainly convenient for our circumstances, as it will permit of our building by degrees, and we think that its practical working will be of the most useful kind. This mode of building enables us to enlist and to use the aid of all our friends, whether able to con tribute little or much. Many small, sums may build the schools, and larger gifts may erect the houses. Are there not within our circle of fellow-laborers, persons of wealth who might give enough money to build one of the dwelling-houses which, according to the size selected, might cost either £250, £S00, or £1,000? We know some who contribute very largely to orphans, would they not be investing their money profitably by enabling us to get this institution into working order? Could not many collect for the Building Fund among their friends? Might we not have a “Sword and Trowel” house built by our readers? W ill not the friends at the Tabernacle make it a point of honor to have a Tabernacle House? The workmen of one firm in the building trade have agreed to build a house in their spare time, and the head of the land has promised to give the materials. Are there no other workers of a like mind? We have, as our friends need not to be told, no personal interest to promote, and therefore we are bold to push the matter: the claims of the fatherless and the orphan will not, ‘we trust, need any very earnest pleas from us to pros them upon the followers of Jesus; and the opportunity now offered is one which must peculiarly commend itself to those whose views of divine truth are similar to our own.
It may be asked, What then is the amount which you ask for? Our answer is, that before the work can be thoroughly done, we shall need £10,000 to be laid out in building, and this amount we ask for’ it is but a small sum for God to give, and if it be his divine will he will send it. If this is not sent to us at once we must do the best with what the Lord is pleased to entrust to us, and wait upon him for more are our needs arise. Will each reader of “The Sword and Trowel” who has power in prayer, send up to the Infinite Majesty a prayer for our success in this benevolent enterprise?
— In our Review department we may be somewhat singular in our modes of procedure, but those who object to, our doings have a very simple remedy, namely, not to send us theft’ books. We say, then, very respectfully, but very plainly, that we do not intend to enter into any controversy with authors about our notices o f their works. They send their books that they may have the benefit of such publicity as our notice of them may afford; if that publicity should be attended with our censure rather than our commendation, they must put up with it, or find such other redress as may be available. Our opinion may be right or wrong, but if we give it when asked for, as far as our pages are concerned, there must be an end of the matter. Moreover, to all whom it may concern, we give information that we do not pledge ourselves to notice all the books sent to us, and especially controversial pamphlets, teeming with personalities, prophetical catch-pennies, or catch-shillings, insane maunderings, half heresy, half egotism, and rubbishing rhymes of the “poet Close” order: these may be advertised by the authors at their own expense, we shall not give them even so much encouragement as our public ridicule, unless indeed the ends of truth, or the interests of the public may be served thereby. Nor will we be drawn into privately expressing an opinion when we have been publicly silent. Her Majesty’s revenue is much increased by letters sent to us requesting our views upon matters wherein we have no views, and by abuse of us for our silence. The Post Office profit is not increased by our answers, for we send none. This is a sad want of courtesy!
Very likely, but if tiresome correspondents would be courteous enough to remember that they have no claim upon our time, we should not need to be so uncourteous as to tell them so. Courtesy or no courtesy, we give real gold instead of doubtful silver — the gold of silence instead of the silver of speech.
ON RETURNING TO THE RENOVATED TABERNACLE A MONDAY EVENING ADDRESS.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
IT strikes me that this building, so thoroughly cleansed and chastely beautified, has a lesson for us. The prophet Habakkuk spoke of stones citing out of the wall, and beams out of the timber answering thereto; surely this roof and these pillars have long enough heard the voices of our solemn assemblies, to be able to echo to us thoughts of truth and soberness. If there be indeed — “Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in e eryt rag, rest assured there is a lesson for us in the cleaning and reparation of the house in which we delight to meet for the united worship of God.
Do we not all need in our own souls, every now and then, just what this balloting required, namely, restoration and renovation? In this our smoky city the most careful housekeepers find cleanliness to be difficult; do what they will, dingyness will get the upper hand. Gilt grows dim, gloss departs, the purest whiteness is discolored, and dust and dirt are apparent everywhere, because our atmosphere is heavily laden with elements opposed to purity. Even so in this crooked and perverse generation, the best of believers will find it difficult to maintain the freshness and beauty of their piety, the closeness of their fellowship with Jesus, and the heavenliness of their conversation. Our first love all too soon grows cold, and much of its fair promise perishes, for the influence of the world is, to renewed souls, as the night wind of winter to tender plants, pinching them with biting frosts. Heavenly-mindedness is subject to secret, unceasing, and most powerful assaults; like a vessel floating in equatorial seas, it is assailed by innumerable minute enemies which seek to pierce its timbers of strength, and turn its solidity to rottenness. Holy zeal, like a sacred fire, seems burns low, unless fed by the unseen hand of our Well-beloved, for the forests of earth yield no fuel for its flame. Even under the ordinary circumstances of spiritual life, it is the easiest thing in the world to lose our first heat of love, and to decline into a lukewarm and sickly state; but under certain conditions it becomes almost inevitable. “Facilis decensus averni” — easy is the descent to hell; down, down, down. It is easy work to slide imperceptibly down; and he must be watchful to the highest degree who does not find himself descending by the mere force of fallen nature into backsliding of heart, and active departure from his God.
In order that declensions may not continue, that blessed Spirit who has been pleased to make us the temples in which he dwells, gives us, at fitting periods, seasons of complete restoration, renewing us in the spirit of our minds. I am not referring now to those daily cleansings and quickenings which are the result of his indwelling; nor do I speak of that one great and perfect purification bestowed upon us when we believed in Jesus at the first; but my mind dwells upon that mercy of which David sang: “He restoreth my soul;” “He satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s;” that been for which he pleaded in the plaintive words of the fifty-first Psalm: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Concerning such visitations of grace, let us speak in few words, drawing a comparison between this building and our souls. As soon as we left this Tabernacle, the workpeople busied themselves in unsettling everything, creating clouds of dust, dragging in timbers and ladders, and manufacturing confusion by wholesale. Scaffolds sprung up as quickly as Jonah’s gourd; and, instead of the place looking grave and sober as a place of worship should do, from top to bottom it bristled with timber, like a forest, abounded in crossbeams and yards, like a fleet of ships; and was as full of bustle and noise as a market or a factory.
They that turn the world upside down, had come hither also. Then great havoc was made of everything which seemed passeth and decent; where there was a tolerable show of paint the ruthless spoilers scrape it off, and then picked out every flaw they could find in the ceiling, and made the cracks gape twice as wide as before, till the house was stripped and peeled, and made to put on sackcloth, and to be covered with dust and ashes, because its glory had departed. You who love this house for the sake of happy hours spent within it, might well have taken up a weeping and a lamentation for it. Yet these workmen needed not to be ashamed, for their work has been executed to perfection; and had it not been for the scraping and the pulling down, the whole business would have been very badly finished in the long run. Now, herein is an analogy as to God’s dealings with the souls of his saints when he is about to bless them; for his gracious renewings frequently commence with strippings and humblings of no ordinary kind. “When thou with rebukes dost correct man for his iniquity, then makest his beauty to consume away like a moth,” and all this with a view of putting upon the humbled soul the beauty of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel. Job thus describes the dealings of the Lord when he brings down the high looks of pride: “I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death.” This is severe usage, but when viewed as a preparation for future blessedness, wisdom teaches us to see the hand of love in it all. If the current were always smooth, might it not be a token of our gliding towards the gulf of destruction? Depend upon it, the most of us cannot endure great prosperity long together. As some constitutions cannot bear certain meats, so a long run of spiritual ease is much too strong a thing for the constitution of average Christians. The pools of our heart are apt to grow stagnant unless stirred by affliction. Peace and quietness are hotbeds for shams and superficialities; but when sharp troubles and keen temptations assail us, nothing will stand but that which is real and lasting.
We should be very grateful to our gracious Lord for sending his rough providences to despoil us of our supposed excellency, and lay bare the poverty and nakedness of our natural estate. Traders with rotten establishments are afraid to have their books overhauled, but judicious men long to know their true position; and if they are shown by a wise accountant that supposed gains are real losses, they are thankful for the information, and change their mode of business at once. Soul trouble does this for our spiritual trading; it finds out the bad debts, the windy speculations, the worthless paper, the spurious securities which the soul has been: dealing in, and sets our spiritual efforts upon a less cheering, but much more certain footing.
This painful but truthful work within the heart is a preparation for manifestations of the Lord Jesus’ sweetest love. The saintly Rutherford has written, “I never find myself nearer Christ, that royal and princely One, than after a great weight and sense of deadness and gracelessness. I think that the sense of our wants when withal we have a restlessness and a sort of spiritual impatience under them, and can cry out because we want him whom our soul loveth, is that which maketh an open door for Christ. When we think we are going backward, because we feel deadness, we are going forward; for the more sense the more life, and no sense argueth no life.
There is no sweeter fellowship with Christ than to bring our wounds and our sores to him.” Our own experience, after its fashion, comes to the same result; it is only as we are brought low in self, that we are lifted up in the ways of the Lord. A harsh-faced providence, although sternly breaking up our false refuges, has proved itself to be a good friend, by constraining us to flee into the inner chambers of the Redeemer’s love, for comfort.
How sweet is the warm bosom of the Savior, when wintry blasts sweep over us and make our bones to quiver! then do we, like newborn lambs, rejoice in the Shepherd’s bosom, and cling closely to it as for life itself. For ever blessed be the hand which covers me with wonders and bruises, and so leads me to seek to the Physician of my soul. Glorious is the poverty which endows me with the riches of Christ; happy is the shipwreck which casts me helplessly upon the shore of divine love. Thus, out of the lion we gather honey, and the flinty rock drips with oil.
After all the defacing work had been done, the workpeople passed on to something more satisfactory, and first one, then another, busied him self according to his trade, until the house became fair to look upon, as we see it now. Your eye sees nothing of the scraping and the peeling, but you see the result, and are content with it; believe that it shall be so with your heart after you have fully known and felt the evil of sin. All the undoing is necessary to the renewal; all the laying bare of filthiness is necessary to the complete purification of the spirit. Farmers leave their fields fallow for a season that the earth may gather strength for a richer crop, and so we may be under the Lord’s desertions for awhile for our lasting profit; and, as after awhile the farmer returns to plough and sow and reap in that field, so will our blessed Master turn to us in mercy, and we shall know the Lord.
Our house was not deserted altogether because we left it for a season, and we had no ill will towards it when we gave it over to the workmen’s hands; and the temples of the Holy Spirit shall have no cause in the end to accuse him of forsaking his own, or turning away his love from his chosen.
In the day when all the saints shall glitter like palaces of gold, and be pure as temples of alabaster, they shall adore the infinite wisdom which defiled their fancied purity that they might be made truly holy, and stained their imaginary glory that they might shine in a splendor altogether divine. My friends, beloved of ray soul, more dear than ever as years roll on, I do not ask trouble for any of you; but if there be no other way of renovating your spirits, you may on your own account cheerfully welcome the severest trials, when sent by heaven, to visit your house. Come they will, whether we welcome them or no, for the promise is sure to all the seed, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” Let us most devoutly praise God that he does not consult our whims, or our fancies, as to how he should deal with us; we have a Father who does not spare the rod for our crying, knowing better than we do what is good for us. He does not ask us in which path we will go; he directs our steps’, according to his own wisdom, and not according to our folly. Surely we poor shortsighted creatures can even now feel that it is good for us to have infallible wisdom to direct us, and that it is our duty to give up our unbelief, and all our questionings, and submit ourselves absolutely to the will of the unerring Father. All our misery springs out of our self-will. Self-love is the nest out of which the hornets fly in their armies; would to God it were utterly destroyed. If self-will were slain, sorrow would lose its sting. The daily cross in itself is not heavy — as Jesus’ yoke, it is easy; but self-will makes our shoulders raw, and then the cross becomes very heavy to bear. Sweetly does Madame Guyon sing — Long plunged in sorrow, I resin.
My soul to that dear hand of thine, Without reserve, or fear; That hand shall wipe my streaming eyes, Or into smiles of glad surprise Transform the falling tear.” When the spirit gets into a condition of perfect acquiescence with the divine with, it flourishes equally in sunshine or shade. I pray God that we may be made willing to receive from him, with equal satisfaction, both that which seems to be evil, and that which is apparently good, and this may be an argument of which even our selfishness may feel the weight, that the time for casting away stones is followed by. a time for gathering them together, and the period of humiliation is certainly succeeded by a deep and lasting exaltation of soul, and therefore we may complacently endure the first for the sake of the second. The heart in disorder of grief shall be but a prelude for the spirit in fullness of joy and peace; therefore let us be of good courage, and trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. In our outdoor campaigns, to drown the oaths and sallies of the enemy.” You my brother,” saith he to a spiritually skillful recruit, “can serve us well by using the weapon of all-prayer.” “You, my friend,” saith he to one of bright countenance, and quick, intelligent eye, “can wield the sword of the Spirit against the furious attacks of our flocks.” In this way, he surveys his troops, keeping a sharp eye upon that slovenly, backsliding recruit, who has lost some military ardor by coming’ into too close contact with the opposite ranks, charging him to keep his regimentals in good order, lest the Great Captain should disband him from the army, or put him under sore discipline. “Valiant comrades,” saith he, cheerfully. “ours is a glorious conflict. Victory must be won, since we shall overcome in the strength of our great Warrior Master. Be firm, comrades, for our enemy goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Enlist all you can into this service. Remember the wages are good, the pay sure, the inheritance certain, and the final reward glorious. We shall be crowned by Royalty, and shall reign with our King for ever and ever.” “Ah!” addeth he, “is not all this worth working for? And there arises a responsive hearty shout, from thankful, joyous hearts, “Ay, sir, it is!” Where this earnest soldier’ of the cross discerneth an aptness for higher work, he promotes to nobler service; and thus he converts the most useful soldiers. into recruiting sergeants for Jesus. In this way, bands of men are quartered in various stations, until what were once the strongholds of Satan become garrisons of King Immanuel. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken/t.”
OUR ORPHANAGE THE Lord is beginning to appear for us in the matter of the Orphanage; but, as yet, he has not opened the windows of heaven as we desire and expect.
We wait in prayer and faith. We need not less than £10,000 to erect the buildings, and it will come, for the Lord will answer the prayer of faith.
One esteemed friend, Mr. George Moore, of Bow Church-yard, has, with spontaneous generosity, sent £250 towards one of the dwelling- houses, for which we are very grateful Perhaps other great merchants may be moved to do likewise. Three friends have offered £50 each in the hope that seventeen more will give the same, and so make up another thousand pounds; this ought not to be a very great difficulty. One of these donations is already paid. We have received one or two small sums towards a Sword and Trowel Cottage, and if others think well of the plan, one might be built for £500.
The best project of all, to be carried out upon a large scale, is probably the suggestion of a friend, that ten thousand persons should give a guinea’ each; and as we have considerably more than that number of readers of this magazine, and twice as many readers of the sermons, if the Lord do but so move his people’s hearts, there can ‘be no difficulty about it. We have received fifty guinea subscriptions at the moment of writing, though the plan hash not been made public. Cannot every reader either give or collect one guinea? We have also received £2 2s. from a Sabbath-school in a small country town, thus setting a good example to our friends in that department. What more fitting than that children should help us to provide for children? Will none cooperate in building a house to be called the Sunday-school House for the Orphans? Many poor orphan children could be comfortably housed, if every one of our friends would do his best. It is the Lord’s own work to care for the fatherless, but we do not think we are showing any distrust in his providence when we tell his own children our position and projects, for we are sure that he will provide by some means, even if our plans all fail. What, dear reader, ought you to do? Consider and act, and let your action be prompt.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF EVIL? How is it that the Almighty God permitted it to enter into the world? This perplexing question is raised by many when they are hard pressed in their consciences, and want a convenient corner in which to hide. They are ashamed of their sins but like them too well to give them up, and therefore they raise a great dust over this question, so as to hide themselves from the attacks of their conscience. Our somewhat rustic woodcut may suggest a far more profitable mode of procedure. The bullocks are in the field doing a world of mischief, and the boys are all squabbling as to how they got in, whether through a gap in the hedge, or because the gate was left open, or by crossing over the brook; but Farmer Brown is calling out to them, ‘;Come along, boys, and get them out; don’t stand talking about how they got in, while the wheat is being spoiled.”
Wisely said, friend Brown; and just so our business with evil is rather how to get it out of ourselves, than to inquire how it came to be permitted in ‘God’s world. Nice questions about specific gravity will not save a man who-is drowning, nor will doctrinal disputes save our souls.
Reader, Jesus who gave his life for sinners, has power to save us from: our sins. The blood and water which flowed from his wounded side are sin’s perfect and certain cure:; he who by faith rests in these is no longer under bondage to evil. Jesus, by his Spirit, can drive out the evil of our hearts, however deep-seated and powerful it may be; and if we seek him by prayer and faith, he will do it. Leave, then, all critical questions, and be in earnest to obtain an interest in him. This text is plain enough, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
OUR engraving represents the Hospice of St. Bernard, and the wild scenery surrounding it. The place is so cold that fish will not live in the lake, and we have seen the snow lying knee-deep at mid summer. The Hospice is a refuge from the storm in which many travelers have rested securely, who otherwise might have been lost in the snow. This noble, institution receives all passers freely, whoever they may be, without money and without price; and in this respect it is like the salvation of our Lord Jesus, for Jesus gives freely of his grace to those who have nothing to offer in return. Reader, whoever you may be, your soul is in danger unless you find rest for it in the atonement of Jesus Christ; we pray you trust in him, and enter into peace.
He asks neither money, merit, nor preparation from you. whosoever casts himself unreservedly upon the Mediator’s merits is saved, even though he may not be able to see in himself so much as a single grain of merit. Jesus gives himself gratis to every willing soul. He will not refuse himself to you, dear reader. Try him at once! Let not your pride refuse his salvation because it is free, but the rather let your heart adore the generous grace of the Redeemer.
We have met in the Hospice persons of all nations and ranks, for none are excluded who knock at its doors. O dear reader, may we have the joy of meeting you in the home of Jesus, for he casts out none that come to him.
Rich and poor, learned and uneducated, are equally welcome. May the Holy Spirit sweetly compel you to come into Christ’s Refuge. ‘Trust Jesus, and you are saved.
WE have been waiting upon the Lord in faith and prayer concerning our Orphanage, but he is’ pleased at present to try our faith by making us exercise patience; however, the work is so evidently of the Lord, that no doubts or fears have crossed our mind as to its ultimate success. As we have no object in view but the glory of God, by the instruction of fatherless boys in the ways of the Lord, having a special view to their souls’ salvation, we had hoped that many of the Lord’s people would at once have seen the usefulness and practical character of the enterprise, and have sent us substantial aid, so as to enable us to accomplish the work immediately. We felt that. the same divine power which moved one sister to give £20,000, could easily move others to contribute according to their ability, and that thus another £20,000 would readily be sent in. The Lord’s way, however, is always the best, and we rejoice in it, let it be what it may; if the work is to be one of time and. long. effort, so let it be, if so God is magnified. In all, we have received up to this hour, the sum of £650, and in the strength of this earnest of the Lord’s gracious help, believing that money will come in as need arises, we have resolved to erect two houses, each house to cost rather: more than £600, and to hold fifteen or sixteen orphans. There will necessarily be a considerable expense!involved in the drainage, which must be ,done at once, and which, from the distance to the main sewer, will be large. We have also thought it necessary at once to erect a large covered shed, in which we can occasionally hold public meetings and tea meeting? upon the spot, in aid of the Orphanage, and which will also form a play-ground for the boys in wet weather. This, our friend, Mr. Higgs, will erect for us with, all speed, that we may hold a great meeting on the ground early in the month of September, when we hope the first stone of the houses will be laid. We have also engaged a sister to receive the first four orphans into her own hired house until the Orphanages are ready. Our beloved friend, the original donor, has given her plaice to be sold for this object, and in so doing has set an example to all believers who have surplus and unused gold and silver which ought to be put to better use than lying wrapped up in a box. We shall probably take two more children, and are ready to receive aid in the form of clothing for these first -six orphans. Half-worn cloth garments will be useful to make up. Thus a first step is taken; but we lay it heavily to heart, that we have borrowed £3,000 to pay for the ground, and that thus the original endowment is burdened: we pray that this loan may not need to be renewed. No one has come forward to meet the request that three persons should give £250, and so crown the gift of Mr. G. Moore, by making it into £1,000. Two sums of £50 are also waiting until seventeen others shall give the like sum to make up another thousand, one fifty having already been paid. We have had four sums from Sabbath-schools towards a Sunday-school house, and we hope these are four drops indicating a coming shower. The school at the Tabernacle is about to move vigorously, and to ask: the cooperation of other schools: when a circular is issued to superintendent’s, we bespeak for it a kindly consideration. We purpose holding a great bazaar at Christmas, and shall be glad if friends everywhere will cooperate to make it; a success. Collecting boxes and collecting cards will be forwarded to friends who desire them. It is ours to work according to our best judgment, and then to look up in faith to our heavenly Father for his help, which we know will surely come, for he is the Father of the fatherless.
Donations of clothing or money can be sent to C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.
OURSELVES AND THE ANNEXATIONISTS THERE is no bigotry in the world equal to the bigotry of modern liberalism.
Sectarianism may be bitter, but latitudinarianism is wormwood and gall.
We have been most ferociously denounced for tersely and accurately designating the action of the Congregational Union, in reference to Union Churches, as “a little dodge.” Viewing it in connection with the party who agitated the question, a little dodge we believed it to be, and at this moment we can find no better name for it; in fact, the tall talk which our description has evoked, has showed us how exactly we managed to hit the nail on the head. We have at all times endeavored to prove our hearty brotherhood with all the people of God, not by words merely, but by deeds. Oar Independent friends know that our heart is always warm towards them, and that when it has been in our power to serve them, we have needed no pressing to make us do so; on the other hand, we have no truer friends than many among the Congregationalists, with whom we enjoy the dearest fellowship, and who have again and again practically helped us in our schemes. We hope that this brotherly love may continue and increase, and we trust there will never be any emulation between the Independent and the Baptist bodies, but that of holy desire to be foremost in promoting the cause of Christ. For either body to endeavor to increase its numbers by offering facilities for transfer to its own ranks, and inaugurating a policy, of annexation is unwise and unbrotherly. To attempt to convert men to our views is our duty, but to draft them without conversion into our body is no gain in any sense, either to truth or good fellowship. A certain company of would-be extra super- fine liberals, made up of Independents and Baptists, good enough men in their way, but thoroughly wrongheaded on this and some other points, are resolved to amalgamate the two bodies, and their first action, inoffensive and insignificant in itself,: we judge, from what we know of them, to be merely the beginning of the end, a stepping-stone to something more, getting in the thin end of the wedge — in plain Saxon, a little dodge. They would form churches and found a denomination in which Christ’s ordinance of baptism would be left optional; some of them would even haw; a font and a baptistery in each place of worship, which to our mind, is to form churches on the principle of despising the command of Christ, and counting it to be an utterly insignificant matter what the ordinance may be, and whether it be obeyed or not. “Whichever you please, dear friends; pay your money and take your choice. Sprinkle the infant or immerse the believer, our church does not care a farthing which;” this is the witness of the model Union Churches, and would be the witness of a United Baptized and Unbaptized Congregationalism. We quite understand the testimony of our friends who hold infant baptism, as they also understand ours; but to form a denomination which regards all baptisms with equal indifference, seems to us to be a scheme traitorous to Christ and his Word. ‘This is what has been for some time, more or less covertly aimed at, and is now the darling object of those who were at the bottom of the Congregational Union resolution, and of others who looked on approvingly, biding their time. There was much more aimed at by some than was meant by all; and we judge not only by what was publicly said, but by what is privately done. We tell these gentlemen who are so set upon fusing the Paedobaptists, and the Baptists, that we hope all who think with them will avail themselves of the plank so conveniently and temptingly offered to them, but we take liberty to say again that there is one Baptist at least who will never be absorbed into the projected unity, and we believe that with the exception of a score or so whom we could well spare, there are none among the Baptists who would consider for a moment the question of breaking up an ancient and useful Christian community, for the mere sake of gratifying a morbid craving for nominal union, or an ambitious desire to form a large and influential congregationalism. We call upon our honest Paedobaptist friends to give an unmistakable utterance as to their views, for we believe that the ambitious designs of those who would swallow us up alive, are foreign to the mass of the Independents. We can go on in holy unity of spirit as two denominations, but the project of annexation is a serious injury to brotherly love, and should be dropped at. once or carried, on by a public and explicit overture. What should we think of our Wesleyans if they indulged visions of annexing the. Independents, and thought those to be uncharitable who opposed such fond desires of aggrandizement? What if the Presbyterians should come to the conclusion that the Baptists should unite with them, and grow enraged because any refused to endorse their magnanimous idea?
The cases are as nearly parallel as can be, for our affinities are about the same.
Some of the letters written upon the question show a very proud and overbearing spirit; mention has even been made of the word “schism,” as though the Congregational Union is to be considered as the true church, and the Baptists are to be looked upon as a set of schismatics. We take leave to say that men would not use such language if they remembered how often it has been cast at us all in turn, and how easy it is to retort.
Such talk naturally emanates from gentlemen. who sorely long to add.
Naboth’s vineyard to their possessions, but it will cause a revulsion of feeling among the great majority of our liberty-loving brethren, the Independents, who are entirely guiltless of the present conspiracy, and have always shown the manliness to accord to others the liberty of association which they so worthily exercise on their own account. The Baptist body will never be absorbed into any other; why should it be? What an infinitesimal benefit would such an absorption be, and at what an expense would it be procured? In the interest of brotherly love, we hope we shall either have this matter fairly out, or never hear it mentioned again. The agitation of the scheme will create ill feelings, and its consummation, if it were possible, would create a new denomination, and so multiply sects.
There would be the stanch Paedobaptists, who would adhere to their own views, the true Baptists’ holding to theirs, and the Unionists, with their views or no views, vacillating to their heart’s content alone in their glory.
We frankly confess and publicly promise, that in every way we will oppose this annexation scheme, in the bud. as well as in the flower, in its first as well as its last phase; not because we love union less than other men, but love it more, and believe that the evil leaven which we see at work is as hostile to true union as it is to truth itself. Not a word have we ever said against the fullest and heartiest love to our Paedobaptist brethren, but we differ from them in a point which seems to us to be very important, and we feel that we can get on better in Christian love as we are than as it is proposed that we should be. We have as much right to Baptist Union as they have to a Congregational Union; and as we see good reason for maintaining our separate organization, surely our friends need not be angry, with us for doing, so; especially as they can at any time put an end.
To their own separate existence, and unite with us if they think their infant baptism to be so unimportant that they can give it up, and follow our view of the Lord’s command. If we should ever leave the Baptists we should quite as soon join the Free Church of Scotland, or the Quakers, as the Congregationalists; but our anchor is down, and not at all likely to be drawn up. When we mean a change, however, we hope we shall be honest enough to avow it. We should feel ashamed to be a member of the Baptist denomination, and harbor the design of carrying it over in whole, or in part, to another body. When ministers get a footing in Baptist churches, and first disown strict discipline as to baptism, and then inoculate their people with hostility to their denomination, and coquette with Paedobaptist bodies, they present to our churches a reason for inquiry into the advisability’ of the very first step in the descent; and they also raise the question as to the honesty of those who gain an inch with the covert view of getting an ell, when they know very well that no inch would be given if their ultimate design were known. We have, been open and above board in our expressions, upon this business, and we wish others would be. The anonymous letters in which we have been assailed we look upon as the weapons of cowards; we cannot write or speak without being known, and do not wish to do so; we believe the whole system of anonymous writing to be meanness itself when directed against public men who are mentioned by name. Put off your cloak sir, when your adversary wears none, or you will be scouted as one of the assassin’s breed. Our friend, Mr. Brock, who has been even more savagely assailed than ourselves, is quite able to take care of himself, and could no doubt answer most crushingly if he cared to do so; but we blush for those who dared most falsely to say that under any circumstances the Baptist denomination could be ashamed of him — of him, a man whom to know is to love, whose genial spirit makes him incapable, of returning the bitterness which has assailed him and whose personal weight far exceeds that of all his critics put together. Most heavenly Christian union, we mourn that under shelter of thy hallowed name, there should be carried on a war against truth, which is thy best ally and surest foundation! That no one may make a mistake as to the writer of this article, ‘although the editorial we is a plain enough indication of authorship, we append our name that it may be coupled with all the reproach which any may care to heap upon it for our plain speech in this matter. C. H. SPURGEON.