HE who wrote this paper prays God to give it his blessing, and begs the reader to afford it a thoughtful perusal. Mr. Rothwell, surnamed by the godly of his day the Rough Hewer, from the solemn and powerful manner in which he opened up the corruptions of the human heart, and delivered the judgments of God against all iniquity, was, in his early days, a clergyman without any true sense of religion: he was brought to know the power of divine things through an admonition given to him by a godly Puritan. Clarke, in his “Lives,” says, “He was playing at bowls amongst some Papists and vain gentlemen, upon a Saturday, somewhere about Rochdale in Lancashire. There came into the green to him one Mr. Midgley, a grave and godly minister of Rochdale, whose praise is great in the gospel, though far inferior to Rothwell in points and learning. He took him aside, and fell into a large commendation of him; at length told him what a pity it was that such a man as he should be companion to Papists, and that upon a Saturday, when he should be preparing for the Sabbath.
Mr. Rothwell slighted his words, and checked him for his meddling. The good old man left him, went home, and prayed privately for him. Mr. Rothwell, when he was retired from that company could not rest, Mr. Midgley’s words stuck so deep in his thoughts. The next day he went to Rochdale Church to hear Mr. Midgley, where it pleased God so to bless the Word that he was, by that sermon, brought home to Christ,” The earnest man who was sent by his Master upon this errand of rebuke, must have felt that he was well rewarded for his holy courage in the after usefulness of Mr. Rothwell; but even had the message failed to bless the person to whom it was delivered, it would not have lacked a recompense from the Great Taskmaster. We cannot command the winds, but he who spreads the sails has the consolation that he has done his duty. Duties are ours: events are God’s. Timely, bold, kind, and wisely-directed rebuke is often used by the God of all grace as the means of awakening souls from spiritual death; this is an all-sufficient reason for our being ready to deliver it when occasion demands it. Can souls be won to God by any means? theta we will use that means, and- look to God the Holy Ghost to bless our efforts. It is frequently a hard and self-denying duty to administer admonition personally either to saints or sinners; but, if we love the souls of men, and would be clear of our brother’s blood, we must school ourselves to it, and make as much a conscience of it as of our prayers. A little drummer-boy writing home from the Crimea, after giving his mother a description of the hardships of the terrible winter, and the hunger and nakedness which the army endured, concluded his letter thus: “But, mother, it is our duty, and for our duty we will die.” The same sentiment. should reign in every Christian breast, and silence for ever all excuses which our flesh suggests for neglected service.
If men were not corrupt in heart, they would turn from sin of themselves; like life-boats, if for a time tossed out of position, they would right themselves: but, alas! their nature is so depraved that one sin is a prelude to another, and he who has begun to descend the ladder of iniquity is impelled to continue his downward career. Men’s consciences should be sufficient monitors; but, like the dogs upon the Capitol of Rome, the watchers sleep, and the foes advance. Hence it becomes essential that, by agency from without, warning should be given. Brands must be plucked from the burning, for of themselves they will never leave the fire. Sin makes men such sots — such madmen — that they are quite beside themselves, and sharp methods must be used to restrain them from selfdestruction.
An ox or an ass in a pit, will struggle to get out; but men are such silly creatures that they will not move hand or foot to escape, but rather delight in their own ruin; we music, therefore, as Jude puts it, “pull them out.”
The Word of God is very plain as to the duty of rebuking sin, although, from the neglect into which the work has fallen, one might have imagined that it was left optional, or allowed, rather than commanded. It is a most weighty observation that, according to God’s law, silence concerning sin is consent to it. “And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity:” (Leviticus 5:1.)
Trapp has pithily said, “By ill silence to leave men in sin is as bad as by ill speech to draw them to sin. Not to do good, saith our Savior, is to do evil, and not to save is to destroy” “And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” (Mark 3:4.)
To leave others in their sins unreproved is to be “partakers of other men’s sins.’ Paul teaches us this when he writes, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them “ — as much as to say if you do not reprove them, you have fellowship with them. If I see a thief breaking into a house, and give no alarm, am I not, by my silence, an accessory to the act? Without the aid of my silence the burglar could not perpetrate the robbery; if I lend him that assistance, am I not, morally, his accomplice? The same holds good in all cases; but we are not left merely to infer the fact, for the Lord has told us by the mouth of his prophet Ezekiel, “If thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” The ruin and sin of others we shall surely partake in if they perish through want of our admonition. Eli must break his neck for very grief when his sons are cut off in their sin; it was not meet that he should outlive those whom he had not endeavored to preserve from ruin by timely rebuke: had he made their ears to tingle with his upbraidings, his ears might never have tingled with the news of the terrible judgments of God. How few Christians will be able to say with Paul, “I am pure from the blood of all men”? — none of us can be in that happy case if we neglect the duty of warning our neighbors for their good. It is to be feared that in this matter we have superabundant reason for using Archbishop Usher’s dying prayer, “Lord, in special, forgive me my sins of OMISSION.”
The law and the gospel with one voice call us to the duty we are now endeavoring to enforce. The law: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” (Leviticus 19:17.) The gospel: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matthew 18:15.)
The first Christians were earnestly stirred up to this work, and were some of them well skilled in it. The Roman saints were full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14.) The Colossians were directed to teach and admonish one another; (Colossians. 3:16) and the duty is coupled with sacred song, as if the one were as needful and acceptable as the other. The believers at Thessalonica were urged to exhort one another, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words;” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) and the Hebrews were bidden to exhort one another daily, and to consider one another to pro-yoke to love and good works. (Hebrews 3:13-10:24.)
Those who forget this duty cannot plead that they are not sufficiently reminded of it, for the Word is very full and clear upon the point; and yet the most of us are so negligent in it that one might imagine we respected the foolish and cruel law of the Spartans, that none should tell his neighbor of any calamity which had befallen him, but every one should be left, by process of time, to find out his own troubles for himself. Alas! that sinners should hardly hear of hell until they come there!
The great usefulness of prudent reproof can be proved by a thousand instances. Scriptural testimony will have the most force with us; and what saith it? — “The rod and reproof give wisdom.” (Proverbs 29:15.) “Reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:25.) “Let the righteous smite me,” saith David, “it shall be a kindness.”
He calls it “an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.” (Psalm 141:4.)
Christ styles it “a pear and a holy thing.” (Matthew 7:6.) Solomon prefers it before silver, gold; and rubies; it is the merchandise of wisdom which is better than precious treasures. (Proverbs 3:14,15.) He describes it “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold.” (Proverbs 25:12.)
Our Savior encourages us to this much-forgotten service by the prospect of success, “Thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matthew 18:15.)
To gain a soul is better than to win the world, as he has assured us who knew the worth of souls better than any of us. Holy John Bradford was the means of preserving both Bishop Farrar and Bishop Ridley sound in their testimony for Christ by means of letters which he wrote them while they were lying in prison, and were willing to have made some compromise with their persecutors. How grateful was David to Abigail for her timely interposition! she saved his character from a great blot; and how much he reverenced Nathan whose faithful parable restored him to the paths of holiness! You cannot do your friend a greater kindness than to admonish him in the Lord, nor can you wish your enemy a greater injury than to go unrebuked.
On all sides there is need for the mutual exercise of exhortation. Good men need it; the royal preacher bids us “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee;” and “Reprove one that hath understanding.” Abimelech had just ground for rebuking the friend of God when he suppressed the truth and almost suffered the king to sin through Ignorance. Peter needed that Paul should withstand him to the face, for he deserved to be blamed. “The best of men must sometimes be warned against the worst of faults.” The greatest are not too high to need an honest rebuke. John dealt very plainly with Herod; and Nehemiah spared not the nobles and rulers who oppressed the poor. Naaman’s servants were not so overpowered by the greatness of their master as to be silent concerning his foolish pride; he would never have washed in Jordan had it not been for them. Ministers sometimes require this, stimulus. Paul writes to the brethren at Colosse — “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” (Colossians 4:17.)
To the ungodly our lives should be a standing testimony for God against all unrighteousness; and, as to the godly, we should constantly watch over one another, and deal freely, tenderly, and faithfully, one with another, laboring to amend faults and foster graces. Have we not been guilty here? When we remember our many opportunities, must we not blush to think how we have wasted them? Ministers of the gospel, are you clear? The most of us are not. It is a very solemn word which we remember to have met with in J. A. James’ works;” The scrutiny which Christ will make at the last day will not only be into the manner in which we have dealt with the congregation as a whole, but with the individuals of which it is composed.
It is an alarming idea that our responsibility extends to every single soul.”
Who can receive this truth without a shiver as he remembers his own omission? Holy Mr. Hieron, who labored most faithfully in his day, when he lay on his death bed was. heard to say, “I confess that in public I have been somewhat full in reproof, admonition, instruction — but in private, my backwardness, my bashfulness, my dastardliness, have been intolerable, ,red I may truly say, that if anything lie as a burden upon my conscience, this it is.” This acknowledgment full many a pastor might make. O for grace to feel the sin as a real load upon the heart, and to be rid of it, through Jesus Christ our Lord. An ancient pastor made this one of his memoranda — “ I desire to account the commandment of not suffering sin to lie upon my neighbor, to lie principally upon me; and, therefore, if public reproof of all, in presence of the offender’ will not affect him, to reckon a wise and particular reproof in private to be a debt of love I owe him, and to defer the payment of it no longer than till the providence of God hath made him fit to receive it: bat specially not to let slip the season of sickness or remorse for sin upon any other ground; because then he hath both more need of it, and it is like to do him more good.”
It were well if people, as well as ministers, would lay to heart the duty of speaking often one to another by way of admonition. “Exhort one another daily,” says the apostle, “while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” We should not then have to revive the complaint of Bernard concerning the talk of professors — “ not a word of t, he Scriptures — nothing of the salvation of the soul; but trifles, and toys, and laughter, and words light as the wind, ‘ eat up the time.’“ If we were frequently to warn the unconverted, how much good might we be doing! whereas now we are adding one sin of omission to another by our unconcern about immortal souls. How many a Naaman might have been washed from his leprosy if his Christian servants had been earnest enough to speak with him on soul matters! But, alas! bloodguiltiness is heart felt to be a sin in these days! Soul-murder is scarcely ever wept over! A poor wretch dies of starvation, and men cry out because bread was not given him; but when souls sink into damnation for lack of knowledge, they who withhold the bread of heaven will not allow their consciences to trouble them. May the Lord give us tenderness of heart to repent the neglect of the past, and holy resolution to labor more heartily in the future.
Do you, earnest reader, feel that you would rush at once into this work?
Stay awhile, and hear another word or two; for it is well for you to know that it is no child’s play which is before you. Wisdom must guide you, or you will play the fool. A busy-body who is for ever babbling, is like a yelping cur which is no more esteemed than a dumb dog that cannot bark, and is thought to be a far greater nuisance. It has been said that “If a man were to set out calling everything by its right; name, he would be knocked down before he got to the corner of the street;” and he who sets himself up as a general reformer of every other man’s follies, will likely enough receive the same treatment, and will have nothing to blame but his own impertinence. Casting pearls before swine has often led to the simpleton’s discovering the truth of the Savior’s warning, “lest they turn again and rend you.” Sin may be foolishly rebuked, and so encouraged; it may be sinfully rebuked, and so multiplied. Much spirituality of mind is needed to speak for God: hence Paul puts it, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.”
Such are fit to be soul-surgeons whose tenderness and faithfulness give them a lady’s hand and a lion’s heart. “The art of reproving,” says Rayner,” is like the husbandman’s skill which his God doth teach him, in respect of the several kinds of grain, as to beat out cummin and fitches with a staff or little rod, and to bruise out the bread corn as wheat and rye by the force of the flail or the cartwheel. So God doth teach the spiritual man whom to touch with a twig of reproof, whom to smite wit, h a rod, and whom to thrash with a flail of reproof:” We must consider both the offense and the offender, the sin and the sinner, so that our words may be fitly spoken, and prove effectual. It is written of Andrew Fuller, that he could rarely be faithful without being severe; and, in giving reproof, he was often betrayed into intemperate zeal. Once, at a meeting of ministers, he took occasion to correct an erroneous opinion delivered by one of his brethren, and he laid on his censure so heavily that Ryland called out vehemently, in his own peculiar tone of voice, “Brother Fuller! brother Fuller! you can never admonish a mistaken friend, but you must take up a sledge hammer and knock his brains out.” Gentleness and affection should be evident in all our remonstrances: if a nail be dipped in oil it will drive the more readily. There is a medium in our vehemence which discretion will readily suggest: we must not drown a child in washing it, nor cut off a man’s foot to cure a corn. Perhaps it will be less tedious to the reader if, instead of a long enumeration of the qualities required in a successful reprover, we instance the case of Dr. Waugh. There are two or three anecdotes which are eminently characteristic of his power: — “At one of the half-yearly examinations at the Protestant Dissenters’ Grammar School, Mill Hill, the head master informed the examiners that he had been exceedingly tried by the misconduct and perverseness of a boy who had done something very wrong, and who, though he acknowledged the fact, could not be brought to acknowledge the magnitude of the offense. The examiners were requested to expostulate with the boy, and try if he could be brought to feel and deplore it. Dr. Waugh was solicited to undertake the task; and the boy was, in consequence, brought before him. ‘How long have you been in the school, my boy?’ asked the doctor. ‘Four months, sir.’ ‘When did you hear from your father last?’ ‘My father’s dead, sir.’ ‘Ah! alas the day! ‘tis a great loss, a great loss, that of a father; but God can make it up to you, by giving you a tender, affectionate mother.’ On this the boy, who had previously seemed as hard as a flint, began to soften. The doctor proceeded: ‘Well, laddie, where is your mother?’ ‘On her voyage home from India, sir.’ ‘Ay! good news for you, my boy: do you love your mother?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘And do you expect to see her soon? ‘ Yes, sir.’ ‘Do you think she loves you?’ ‘ Yes, sir, I am sure of it.’ ‘ Then think, my dear laddie, think of her feelings when she comes home, and finds that, instead of your being in favor with everyone, you are in such deep disgrace as to run the risk of expulsion, and yet are too hardened to acknowledge that, you have done wrong. Winna ye break your poor mother’s heart, think ye?
Just think o’ that, my lad.’ The little culprit burst into a flood of tears, acknowledged his fault, and promised amendment. On one occasion, a young minister having animaverted, in the presence of Dr. Waugh, on the talents of another minister, in a manner which the doctor thought might leave an unfavorable impression on the minds of some of the company, Dr. W. observed, ‘I have known Mr.___ many years, and I never knew him speak disrespectfully of a brother in my life.’ At another time, in a company of nearly forty gentlemen, a student for the ministry entertained those around him with some ungenerous remarks on a popular preacher in London. Dr. Waugh looked at him for some time, with pity and grief depicted in his countenance, and when he had thus arrested the attention of the speaker, he mildly remarked, ‘My friend, there is a saying in a good old book which I would recommend to your consideration: — The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.’“ Such rare powers of wise remonstrance may not be easy to acquire, but they are very precious, and should be greatly coveted.
We have no room to notice particularly more than two out of many practical suggestions which are now upon our hear. Personal character is of the utmost moment in the work of admonition.
We must not try to remove motes from the eyes of others while we have beams in our own. Quarles reminds us that “He who cleanses a blot with blurred fingers, makes a greater blot.
Even the candle-snuffers of the sanctuary were of pure gold.” (Exodus 37:23.)
We may not urge others to activity, and lie still like logs ourselves. A quaint old preacher of the sixteenth century has put this truth into homely, pungent words: “Beloved in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is a very monstrous thing that any man should have more tongues than hands. For God hath given us two hands and but one tongue, that we might do much and say but little. Yet many say so much and do so little, as though they had two tongues and but, one hand; nay, three tongues and never a hand.
Such as these (which do either worse than they teach, or else less than they teach teaching others to do well and to do much, but doing no whir themselves) may be resembled to divers things. To a whetstone, which being blunt itself, makes a knife sharp. To a painter, which being deformed himself, makes a fair picture. To a sign, which being weather-beaten, and hanging without, itself, directs passengers into the inn. To a bell, which being deaf and hearing not itself, calls the people into the Church to hear.
To a goldsmith, which being beggarly, and having not one piece of plate to use himself, hath store for others which he shows and sells in his shop.
Lastly, to a ridiculous actor in the city of Smyrna, who pronouncing’ O coelum,’ O heaven, pointed with his finger Coward the ground. Such are all they which talk one thing and do another; which teach well and do ill.” Direction and grace from the Spirit of God must be esteemed as of paramount importance. So much may depend upon our temper, manner, and words, that we should never dare to rebuke others until we have sought divine aid. Take God into your counsel and you will be wise; enlist his power on your side and you will be strong. A heart full of love to Jesus will be blessed with an instinctive wisdom with which the cold-hearted cannot intermeddle. The man who pants to be useful and is a soul-gatherer by profession, will not need to be informed of opportunities, for he will never miss them. Does a miser ever forget his moneybags? Will he who loves souls be unmindful of them? The disciples could not cast out the demoniac, for they had not exercised the prayer and fasting which were needful. If we attempt to exorcise the evil spirit in our own strength, he will laugh at our efforts and cry, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?” If we dwell in the mount as Moses did, then shall we be able to break the golden calves which others worship, and with shining face to vindicate the cause of God.
Possibly the reader may feel so disheartened by the difficulties which we have, hinted at, that he may half resolve to let the matter go by default. If so, we commend to him the speech of a negro preacher, with which we conclude: “Brethren,” he said, in his broken way,” “whateber de good God tell me to do in dis blessed book,” holding up at the same time an old and evidently much-used Bible, I’m gwine to do. If I see in it dat I must jump troo a stone wall, I’m gwine to jump at it. Going troo it belongs to God — jumpin at it longs to me.”
C. H.SPURGEON, FALL OF JERICHO BY C. H. SPURGEON, 1852.
THE day is come, the seventh morn Is usher’d in with blast of horn, Tremble, ye tow’rs of giant height, This is the day of Israel’s might.
Six days ye mock’d the silent band, This hour their shout shall shake your land.
Old Jordan’s floods shall hear the sound, Yon circling hills with fear shall bound.
Thou palm-tree’d city, at thy gates, Death in grim form this moment waits; See, hurrying on the howling blast, That dreaded hour, thy last, thy last.
Lo at the leader’s well known sign The tribes their mighty voices join, With thund’ring noise the heavens are rent, Down fails the crumbling battlement; Straight to the prey each soldier goes, The sword devours his helpless foes.
Now impious! on your idols call; Prostrate at Baal’s altar fall In vain your rampart and your pride Which once ,Jehovah’s pow’r defied.
Now Israel, spare not, strike the blade In heart of man and breast of maid; Spare not the old, nor young, nor gay, Spare not, for justice bids you slay.
Who shall describe that dreadful cry, These ears shall hear it till they die.
Pale terror shrieks her hideous note, War bellows from his brazen throat, Death tears, his prey with many a groan.
Nor earth itself restrains a moan. Ho! vultures to the banquet, haste, Here ye may feast, and glut your taste; Ho! monsters of the gloomy wood, Here cool your tongues in seas of blood.
But no; the flames demand the whole, In blazing sheets they upward roll; They fire the heavens, and cast their light Where Gibeon pales with sad affright; A lurid glare o’er earth is cast, The nations stand with dread, aghast.
The shepherd on the distant plain Thinks of old Sodom’s fiery rain; tie flies a sheltering hill to find, Nor casts one lingering look behind.
The magian scans his mystic lore, Fortells the curse on Egypt’s shore; The Arab checks his frighted horse, Bends his wild knee, and turns his course.
E’en remote behold the glarer And hardy sailors raise their prayer.
Now in dim smoke the flames expire That lit the city’s funeral fire, The glowing embers cease to burn:
Haste, patriot, fill the golden urn!
In crystal tears her dust embalm.
In distant lands, in strife or calm, Still press the relic to thy heart, And in the rapture lose the smart! It must not be; her sons are dead, They with their mother burned or bled; Not one survives: the vip’rish race Have perish’d with their lodging-place.
No more lascivious maidens dance, No youths with lustful step advance, No drunkard’s bowl, no rite unclean, No idol mysteries are seen.
A warrior stands in martial state, And thus proclaims her changeless fate. “Accursed city, blot her name “From mind of man, from lip of fame, “Curs’d be the mail, and curs’d him race, “Who dares his house on thee to place; “He founds it on his firstborn’s tomb, “And crowns it with the brother’s doom.”
Thus God rewards the haughty foe, Great in their sin and overthrow.
He ever reigns immortal King; With Israel’s song the mountains ring.
Yet ‘mid the justice dread severe, Where pity sheds no silv’ry tear, A gleam of golden mercy strays, And lights the scene with pleasing rays.
One house escapes, by faith secure, The scarlet thread a token sure, Rahab, whose seed in future time Should bear the virgin’s Son sublime.
Thus when the thund’rer grasps his arms, And fills our earth with just alarms, His hand still shields the chosen race, And ‘midst his wrath remembers grace.
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE STATISTICS AS one object of this Magazine is to give information upon all matters of general interest connected with the Church and Congregation of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, it may be needful first of all to give a statistic outline of their present position. This is not done in a spirit of boasting but of thankfulness and praise to God that giveth the increase. If it be a duty individually, it is the duty of a Church collectively, ‘to declare what God hath done for ‘their souls. When Peter informed the Christian Jews of the spiritual effects ‘which had accompanied his preaching in ‘the house of Cornelius, “they glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” ‘Soon as Paul and Barnabas had returned from their first preaching tour in Asia Minor to Antioch, they rehearsed all ‘that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the ,Gentiles. Paul calls upon the Christians at Corinth to show before the Churches the proof of their love and of his boasting on their behalf. “Your zeal,” he adds, “hath provoked very many.” Writing to the Colossians from Rome he says of Tychicus and Onestraus; They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.” What God is doing for good in one Church ought therefore to be made known to other Churches, that thanks may be given by many on its behalf and others may be provoked to love and good works.
The history of the Church at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, from the time that Mr. Spurgeon became its Pastor, needs not to be repeated here. It may suffice to observe that at the commencement of his Pastorate, in Park Street Chapel, in January, 1854, both the Church and congregation were in a low and scattered state. The Chapel, which is capable of accommodating about 1200, was soon filled to overflowing, and Exeter Hall, or the Surrey Music Hall was engaged for the Sabbath evenings, to meet the increasing desire for hearing. The continual overflow of these extensive buildings, led to the erection of a Tabernacle, as large as could be constructed within the natural compass of the voice of the preacher. This, which seats 5,500, and holds 6500, has been filled from the day it was first opened, unto the present time.
These are encouraging circumstances, but that which gives them their highest interest is, that the Church has proportionately increased. It. has not been the wisdom of preaching that gratifies the natural man, but the foolishness of preaching that saves them. that believe. This work has not been of man, but of God, and therefore it has not been overthrown. The work has been so much of God, that it has taken away the thoughts from man. The man appears only as Paul rejoiced, he had been recognized, when he says, “They glorified God in me.”
The number of members, when Church removed from Park Street was 1,178. The number at the present time is 2,881. The number of admissions during the present pastorate, including removals from all causes, is 3,569.
Of these, 47 have become Christian ministers,7 City missionaries, and Bible women. The officers of the Church consist of an Assistant Teacher, Deacons, and Elders. There are ten Deacons who are chosen for life, and whose duty is to attend to the temporal interests of the Church. There are twenty-three Elders who are annually elected, and whose duty is to attend to spiritual affairs only. Candidates for Church-membership have an interview with one of the Elders, some of whom attend at the Tabernacle for that purpose every Wednesday. evening. A record is made by the Elder of the result of that interview in what is called the Inquirers’ Book. If satisfied with the candidate, he gives a card, which qualifies for direct intercourse with Mr. Spurgeon, who devotes a fixed portion of his time to that office. If Mr. Spurgeon thinks favorably of the individual, the name is announced at. a Church meeting, and visitors are appointed to make the most careful inquiries into the whole circumstances connected with the application. If this investigation is satisfactory, the candidate appears at a Church meeting where he is examined by the pastor, after which he retires, and the visitor gives his report upon the case. It is then proposed to the Church for its adoption, and if approved, the Pastor gives the right hand of fellowship. As soon after this as convenient, the candidate is baptized, and on the next first Sabbath in the month ensuring, unites in the Communion Service, having first been recognized before the whole Church by again receiving from the Pastor the right hand of fellowship. Each member on admission, and at the beginning of each year, receives a ticket corresponding with the periods of communion. These tickets are collected by the Deacons just before the communion service commences. The numbers and dates of the tickets correspond with their names in the Church books, so that absentees are known and inquiry in due time is made respecting them.
This form of Church-government has risen out of the peculiar circumstances of a rapid increase, and is, we believe, in harmony with that which in similar circumstances existed in the primitive Churches. It has resulted spontaneously from the influence of the same truths, and the gratification of the same desires. It answers at least all the ends of communion, and discipline, and cooperation contemplated by a Christian Church. It enables a Church of nearly three thousand members to observe all its ordinances with order, solemnity, and profit, with entire freedom from those prodigious evils which have resulted from Churches founded upon totally different principles, and from those even which have attended smaller Churches of their own order. The principle here has been to follow, and not to precede the guidance of Providence, and of the Spirit of God; and to this principle we hope to show we owe our College and other institutions which are sustained amongst us. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of Ms knowledge by us in every place.”
BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED IT is by the grace of God that ungodly men are preserved From instant death. The sharp ax of justice would soon fell the barren tree if the interceding voice of Jesus did not cry, “Spare him yet a little.” Many sinners, when converted to God, have gratefully acknowledged that it was of the Lord’s mercy that they were not consumed. John Bunyan had three memorable escapes before his conversion, and mentions them in his “Grace Abounding” as illustrious instances of long-suffering mercy. Occasionally such deliverances are made the means of affecting the heart with tender emotions of love to God, and grief for having offended him. Should it not be so? Ought we not to account that the longsuffering of God is salvation? (2 Peter 3:15.) An officer during a battle was struck by a nearly spent ball near his waistcoat pocket, but he remained uninjured, for a piece of silver stopped the progress of the deadly missile. The coin. was marked at the words DEI GRATIA (by the grace of God). This providential circumstance deeply impressed his mind, and led him to read a tract which a godly sister had given him when leaving home. God blessed the reading of the tract; and he became, through the rich :Face of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus.
Reader, are you unsaved? Have you experienced any noteworthy deliverances? Then adore and admire the free grace of God, and pray that it may lead you to repentance! Are you inquiring for the way of life.
Remember the words DEI GRATIA, and never forget that by grace we are saved. Grace always pre-supposes unworthiness in its object. The province of grace ceases where merit begins: what a cheering word is this to those of you who have no worth, no merit, no goodness whatever! Crimes are forgiven, and follies are cured by our Redeemer out of mere free favor.
The word grace has the same meaning as our common term gratis:
Wickliffe’s prayer was, “Lord save me gratis.” No works can purchase or procure salvation, but the heavenly Father giveth freely, and upbraideth not.
Grace comes to us through faith in Jesus. Whosoever believeth on Him is not condemned. O, sinner, may God give thee grace to look to Jesus and live. Look now, for to-day is the accepted time!
TWO learned doctors are angrily discussing the nature of food, and allowing their meal to lie untasted, while a simple countryman is eating as heartily as he can of that which is set before him. The religious world is fall of quibblers, critics, and skeptics, who, like the doctors, fight over Christianity without profit either to themselves or others; those are far happier who imitate the farmer and feed upon the Word of God, which is the true food of the soul. Luther’s prayer was, “From nice questions the Lord deliver us.” Questioning with honesty and candor is not to be condemned, when the object is to “prove all things:, and hold fast that which is good ;” but to treat revelation as if it were a football to be kicked from man to man is irreverence, if not worse. Seek the true faith, by all manner of means, but do not spend a whole life in finding it, lest you be like a workman who wastes the whole day in looking for his tools. Hear the true Word of God; lay hold upon it, and spend your day’s not in raising hard questions, but in feasting upon precious truth.
It is, no doubt, very important to settle the point of General or Particular Redemption; but for unconverted men, the chief matter is to look to the Redeemer on the cross with the eye of faith. Election is a doctrine about which there is much discussion, but he who has made his election sure, finds it a very sweet, morsel. Final perseverance has been fought about in all time; but he who by grace continues to rest in Jesus to the end, knows the true enjoyment of it. Reader, argue, if you please, but remember that belching in the Lord Jesus gives infinitely more enjoyment than disputing can ever afford you. If you are unsaved, your only business is with the great command, “Believe!” and even if you have passed from death unto life, it is better to commune with Jesus than to discuss doubtful questions.
When Melancthon’s mother asked him what she must believe amidst so many disputes, he, knowing her to be trusting to Jesus in a simple-hearted manner, replied, “Go on, mother, to believe and pray as you have done, and do not trouble yourself about controversy.” So say we to all troubled souls, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”
OUR UNITED MEETINGS DURING THE WEEK OF PRAYER BY ONE WHO WAS PRESENT.
AWEEK of prayer. The best possible beginning for a new year. So thought the ministers associated for prayer and mutual edification, and therefore they agreed to call their people together for united prayer.
The Central Meeting of the Churches was held at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on Monday, January 2nd. The pastors met at three for prayer and consultation; and they were joined, at five, by about one hundred elders and deacons, who continued in prayer to God until the hour for the public meeting. The spirit pervading these devotions gave promise of a blessed gathering in the evening.
At seven about six thousand persons were assembled in the Tabernacle probably the largest number of believers ever found together under one roof for prayer. Fully to characterize this meeting would be impossible. No pen could express the deep-thrilling power which pervaded the assembly.
We can only present a brief outline of the proceedings.
The meeting was conducted by C. H. Spurgeon. The; guiding hand of the Holy Ghost was manifest in the wisdom shown in the brief and suggest there remarks made in reference to the subjects and manner of the prayers.
This must have been evident to all. The brethren, Varley and F. White, pleaded with deep. and fervent earnestness for blessings to be then and there vouchsafed by the God of all grace to his people; and for a genuine revival of all the Churches of God in the land. Simple, direct, earnest, reiterated, were the desires of these servants of Jesus; and most fervent was the response of the thousands of Christian hearts, which united, as the heart of one man, to bear up those desires to the throne of grace.
Two elders (W. Olney and Bridge) then pleaded with God on behalf of the pastors and students; the lowly, loving, touching breathings of these brethren, moved and bowed down the hearts of all the pastors around them. Old and young alike felt that blessing must descend upon them in answer to such heartfelt Spirit-wrought desires as those which were being poured forth on their behalf. Would to God that all elders and deacons might thus ever deeply feel, and earnestly plead, for the pastors of the churches that the full power of the Holy Ghost may rest upon them. Those brethren who were present can testify that they never, felt more solemnly the need and the value of such intercession. The responsibility, the trials, the necessities of God’s servants, were made the subjects of most sincere supplication. Next came a confession of sin, through Brother Offord, the oldest minister on the platform. For this solemn act the whole assembly was prepared by the blessing already granted and felt; for all hearts and spirits were bowed down in deep repentance. Many details of the failures and sins of ministers were spread before the face of God!in the most solemn manner. Sins of omission and commission, neglect, and shortcomings, were acknowledged Solemn, simple, earnest appeal was made to the eye of the heart-searching God, that his servants might wish to hide nothing from that all the evil in them might in his sight. And when the it is I! it is I!” were uttered, many broke forth saying, “It is I! it is I” The beloved pastor of the Tabernacle Church wept like a child, and sobbed aloud, while the brethren around could not restrain their weeping and groaning before God. Nor were the assembled elders less moved when their sins and shortcomings were solemnly and affectionately confessed unto the Lord, and when they, as men of like passions with their brethren, and of like necessities too, were borne into the presence of God, before the mercy seat, Jesus. But it was when the people, the worldliness, the deadness, the lack of love to brethren and to souls, and especially the want of love to Jesus and the consequent grieving of the Holy Ghost; it was when these were in lowly, broken sentences, named before the great Father of All, that hearts seemed to be melted into one universal feeling of grief, and to bow in the dust in one solemn act of self-abasement. It was wont to be said of old time, that he had never seen sorrow who had not beheld the sorrow of Israel on the great day of atonement; and, verily, many who were present on that night, felt that they had never before seen such real, awful, general grief as that which rolled over the spirits of that vast assembly. God, the Holy God, was there, and his people had a sight of themselves, and of their ways, in the very light of his holiness; and each took the place of the patriarch, saying, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes It was a solemn moment when the voice ceased, and all bowed in the silence of their souls’ agony before the holy God.
Great, indeed, was the relief and calm the peace which followed the sweet words uttered by Mr. Spurgeon : — “There is a fountain filled with blood.” Never were the first two verses of this sung with more genuine and feeling, or by more grateful hearts. Never were the words, “I do believe, I will believe, That Jesus died for me” more sincerely and earnestly spoken by a multitude of mortal men, than on that occasion.
The time was now come for a few solemn words to the host of believers present; and the spirit of the pastor of the Tabernacle Church could no longer restrain its pent-up feelings. An earnest, loving, impassioned appeal broke from his lips. He led the hearts of the people into the depths of God’s everlasting love, and appealed to them as to what sort of persons men so loved ought to be. He gave forth a few burning words on the precious redeeming blood of Jesus, inquiring what manner of men they ought to be who knew themselves to be so redeemed? He pressed upon every conscience the great truth, that each loved and blood-bought saint is a temple of the Holy Ghost — the in-dwelling Spirit of God; and earnestly showed how holiness became the dwelling-place of the Lord; and he directed the hearts and hopes of God’s children to the home in the Father’s house, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and asked what manner of men its denizens ought to be? And then came the searching, thrilling, humbling question, have we, have I, have any of us, ever lived as it becometh those to live who have been loved of God with a sovereign and gracious love from eternity? Have any of us ever lived as it becomes men to live, who have been in very deed redeemed from wrath by the blood of God’s own Son, as it becomes men to live, in whom the Holy Ghost doth in very deed dwell, and who are destined to dwell with God and his Christ for ever? Many hearts will never forget these questions; strong men could not restrain the audible “Never! never! have we so live;” while the deeply-moved heart of the great congregation gave forth the sit response that each and all were verily guilty before God. The power of the Almighty Spirit carried home those questions to the inner life of that great Christian gathering; and the grace of that same Holy One stirred the heavenly affections of that life with feelings of deepest humiliation before its great author.
A humble, fervent prayer, by Pastor Cole, for the up-lilting and revival of all believers, followed this appeal, the Spirit leading the speaker to dwell upon the precious truths which had been laid upon the hearts of the meeting, and to supplicate that God would enable his people thenceforth to realize them in the fullness of their power. The universal response which followed these pleadings with God told how deeply the blessings sought were desired by all.
The time had now arrived for an address to the unconverted. At the suggestion of Mr. Spurgeon, three minutes were spent in silence by believers in pleadings for their fellow sinners, and that Mr. Offord might be aided to bear God’s message to them, as directly as he had been enabled to lay their confessions before God. In answer to prayer, our beloved brother was enabled to set forth the glories of heaven in a most delightful manner, so that many who had been hitherto careless, felt a desire after that goodly land; then came the warning that no defiling thing can enter there, and the simple, earnest, instructive, and touching story of the way by which the sinner may be cleansed from all defilement and made to stand accepted in the Beloved. Every word was clothed with power, we all felt that the speaker’s lips had been touched with a living altar-coal, and we sat wondering at the power of God, and expecting great results.
All the Christians present expressed their hearty desire that their fellowmen might receive God’s mercy in Christ, by singing certain verses each ending with the words, “Come and welcome sinner come.” These words could not but fall with thrilling power upon many hearts.
The earnest work of supplication was ended by Pastors Stott and C.H. Spurgeon pleading with God for anxious and careless souls present. Each plea seemed to go straight to the throne of grace, while numbers felt that such prayer must be and was accepted. These prayers, like all the others, as well as the confession, were evidently the result of a resistless power, moving the hearts of speakers and hearers, animating them with deep and earnest desire, and working in them a simple and mighty faith, that must surely prevail with him who said. “According to thy faith be it unto thee,” and, “all things are possible to him that believeth.” This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes Who shall tell what blessing may grow out of this wonderful display of the grace of our God! May he grant us to see yet greater things than these!
After an announcement that another central meeting will be held on the first Monday in February, a number of Christians retired into a room below with many anxious ones, several of whom received peace with God through faith in the precious Savior. Many of these have since been seen by Mr. Spurgeon, who tells us that he conversed personally with no less than seventy-five inquirers, in one day subsequent to the meeting. We hope “The Sword and Trowel” will chronicle many blessed items of saving results.
On Tuesday, at Palace Gardens Chapel, Notting Hill, the results were not so marked and singular, but still “the Lord was there,” and much wrestling believing prayer was offered. To some brethren there appeared to be even more power in the meeting, than on the previous evening; but it wrought in another manner, and was felt to be rather as the descent of the dove of peace, than of the tongues of fire and rushing mighty wind. Brother Offord was again mighty in confession, and seemed to be in a state of conscious personal humiliation, which, while it may have marred his own comfort, we felt to be a needful preparation for the other and larger meetings of the week. C. H. Spurgeon was again zealous with believers, and told the story of his own conversion as a comfort to seeking sinners. The brethren pleading were not suffered to approach the Lord alone, the people evidently went with them.
The meeting, on Wednesday. evening, at Providence Chapel, Shoreditch, was very full. The prayers offered by the elders of the Churches for the revival of the Lord’s work amongst them, were most fervent and solemn.
Pastors, elders, and people, were borne upon the hearts of these earnest men into the presence of God with a lowly, reverential and confiding faith.
Great oneness of spirit, pervaded the assembly as these supplications went up to the throne of grace, while very many felt that blessing was already richly descending amongst the people.
Pastor Russell made a detailed confession of the sins of ministers, elders, teachers, parents and children, which were acknowledged in a calm, humble, and earnest spirit of self-abasement before the Lord. A watchful and holy jealousy as to the inward thoughts, feelings, and motives of the heart on the part of the ministers of God was evidenced in this heartfelt confession. No servant of the Lord could fail to lay his spirit in the dust as he listened to the simple and affecting statements of his fellow-servant, while thus pouring out the deep feelings of a stricken heart into the bosom of his God. No one could resist the conviction that he stood in the presence of the Holy One, and yet of One who was waiting to be gracious, and ready to forgive. Fervent and importunate supplication for a sense of pardoning love and the cleansing efficacy of the precious blood, followed this confession. C. H. Spurgeon earnestly exhorted those who had accepted Christ as their Savior to come forward amongst his people and avow their attachment to his person and name. Words of kindly encouragement and of loving persuasiveness, were addressed to the timid and retiring ones, who feared to avow themselves to be the Lord’s, lest they should fall back ‘into sin and dishonor his name. This was followed by an appeal to those who had confessed the name of Jesus — an appeal of so stirring and searching a nature, that many must have felt constrained to say, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” Prayer for more earnest living abiding practical godliness, followed this address. Several brethren having pleaded with God on behalf of the unconverted, with fervency seldom equaled, Mr. Offord proceeded to set before them the way of access to God through the blood of Christ. The Lord gave him the heart of love and the lip of persuasion. He told of the awful distance and of the divine method of being made nigh. Substitution and sacrifice were his delightful theme, and when he closed with a most affecting story of an aged sinner who laid his finger on the words, “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin,” and said, “I die in the kith of that verse,” there were few, if any, who could restrain the flowing tear. This assembly, in some points, exceeded all the others. It was none other than the house of God and the very gate of heaven.
The meeting at Abbey-road Chapel, St. John’s-wood, was very large, and was characterized throughout by m-tense earnestness. A spirit of ardent gratitude, and reverential adoration burst forth at the opening of the service; and most fervent were the supplications for a present and rich blessing on the meeting. The outpouring of the penitential feelings of the hearts of the people, in a strain of deep contrition and child-like simplicity was most solemn, and affecting. The prayers for a revival of spiritual power, of holy devotedness, and of true practical holiness were, marked, by intense fervor of soul, and by a genuine, humble confidence in God.
Promises were pleaded, the glory of God and of Christ urged, and the love and. faithfulness of a covenant God appealed unto, with an energy which nothing but the power of the Holy Ghost could have wrought in the heart.
These prayers were followed by an address from Mr. Spurgeon, on the need and desirableness of attaining to a higher condition of practical spiritual life. Motives, drawn from the depths of eternal love, and the principles of eternal truth, were urged upon the consciences of God’s people, to prompt them to strive after this higher life: and most sincerely did the brethren plead with the God of all grace, that all his people might be constrained to long for, and grow up into this hallowed state of true godliness.
After a season of both silent and audible pleading with God for the salvation of perishing souls, Mr. Offord urged home upon the consciences of the unsaved the importance of decision, commenting on the words, “The God that answereth by fire, let him be God.” The fire of wrath which fell upon the sinner’s substitute, was spoken of in such language as might have fallen from prophetic lips. We forgot the man, and prayerfully listened to his sublime descriptions and thrilling appeals feeling that the Lord was speaking through him.
Pastor Stott, with that superlatively passionate enthusiasm which seems to be his very element, urged upon church members the importance of a present and thorough re-consecration of themselves, and all that they were, and all that they possessed, unto God; to which an instant response was given by numbers of persons; and with equal force and fervor he implored exercised souls to take God at his word, and at once to receive Christ as their only Savior. There were in the assembly those who felt constrained to follow this counsel and who testified that God had, by his Spirit, drawn their souls to the cross of his precious Son Christ Jesus that very night.
The final meeting was held on Friday evening, at Vernon. Chapel, Bagnigge Wells Road, which was crowded to excess. Again did the spirit of praise and adoration manifest itself. Blessing already so signally vouchsafed and spoken of, stirred the hearts of the brethren with true gratitude. But not less thorough and contrite was the spirit of deep humiliation, nor less earnest the prayers and entreaties which went up to the heavenly throne for pardon and healing, for deliverance and full restoration of soul’ Mr. Spurgeon set before the people the sin of neglecting to watch for souls. Most lovingly did he seek to lay upon the hearts and consciences of the saved, the privilege and responsibility of endeavoring to bring the unsaved to Christ. With glowing thoughts and becoming words he implored the saints of God to live not unto themselves, but to him that died and rose again for them. May God, in his rich mercy, long spare this his servant, and make him yet more devoted, watchful, and successful in the work of the ministry.
It must be acknowledged that the prayers presented to God, at this meeting, for the unsaved, were the most pointed and urgent of the unusually vehement pleadings which had gone up to heaven, during these services, for lost souls. Verily, the brethren and the people agonized with strong crying and tears for the salvation of sinners. Cries went up unto God, like the cries of men who call for help when their friends are ready to sink in the boiling waves, or to perish in the devouring flame. They seemed to see their fellow-sinners standing on the verge of the fiery lake, ready to plunge into its horrible torments; and they called upon God to pluck them as brands from the fire. We do not recollect ever hearing more awfully solemn, and thrillingly earnest, and yet more tender pleadings (we had almost said reasonings) with God, that he would then and there save souls from the wrath to come.
These passionate yearnings over the deathless spirits of perishing men were followed by another of those gracious upliftings of the Savior’s cross which Mr. Offord was enabled to give during this remarkable week. The words, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith Jehovah hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger,” sounded with most weighty meaning in the ears of the crowded audience; and the loving appeal to sinners, based upon the griefs of Calvary, was, we feel sure, sealed to the hearts of many by the Divine Spirit.
We cannot, by such poor sentences as these, convey to those who were not present, even the faintest idea of what was felt and enjoyed. May the holy fire spread until all Churches shall feel its mighty power.