TIDINGS OF MRS. BAT’S-EYES.
BY SEARCHWELL AFEW years after Christian had crossed the river, having gotten a warrant from the Lord of pilgrims, to go to the City of Destruction, and fetch thence divers of his rebellious servants, I went thither and tarried therein, dwelling in a tent by the wayside; the reason whereof being that it is forbidden the king’s messengers in any wise to become citizens of so evil a city, but they are commanded to abide as strangers and sojourners, being aliens in the town, and not burgesses of it.
Now it came into my mind that I would search out and enquire for those ancient inhabitants of this city, who lived in the days of Christian and his wife Christiana, the fame of whose pilgrimage hath gone abroad unto the ends of the earth, if perchance any of them should be yet alive. It was my hap to light upon one Mistress Talkative, the wife of him who joined company with Christian and Faithful, just before they came to Vanity Fair.
She is somewhat aged, and withered in her limbs, but in her mouth and cheeks she looketh like a young maiden, and certainly she hath lost none of her power of speech, but is withal so glib with her talk, that the selfsame which Christian said of her husband is true of her, she will beguile with her tongue twenty of them that know her not. She dwelleth still in the old house in Prating Row, and like her husband, she is something more comely at a distance than at hand. From this woman I learned the history, pedigree, age, marriage, character, health, wealth, temper, repute, and dealings of so many of her neighbors as I asked after, and many more besides; and moreover she desired to tell me of their children, their lovers, their eating, drinking, clothing, and such like; and if I could have borne to hear her, I dare affirm, she would fain have told me their very hearts, and inward and secret thoughts, for these escaped not the reach of her tongue.
She seemeth to be as the bird, which uttereth that which is spoken in the bed-chamber, but withal she is an arrant liar and twister of the truth, whensoever she hath an ill-will to any of her neighbors. From her I took words as men take apples which they pare before they eat; or as eggs, the one half of which are rotten, and therefore need testing before they be eaten; and indeed, when I had winnowed her talk, and blown away nine parts out of ten as worthless chaff, there was great plenty left, even good measure, pressed down, and running over, which if I had been so inclined, would have even smothered me in its heaps. She is a woman of some use to such a stranger to the town as I am, for she knoweth every house, and keepeth a register of every one that lodgeth in it; so that one needeth not to kneck at a peradventure at any door to seek one whom he desireth to know of, but hath only to ask of her; and let the place be in the darkest lane, or winding alley, straightway she saith, “Yea, I know it right well;” and she beginneth some history concerning the dwellers in it.
At my first sight of her she was sitting at the door of her house, taking the air in the cool of the evening with two or three gossips, whose names none need enquire after, seeing that the less that is known of them the better for the peace of one’s mind. Seeing me to be a newcomer to the town, she saluted me of her own accord, hoping to gather some new thing at my mouth; but withal in a few moments she had forgotten to seek news of me, being so pleased with the sound of her own tongue and taken up with the desire of telling me concerning her acquaintance and kinsfolk. She told me that she remembered Christiana well, and that she was a decent woman, who would take a dish of tea and be be merry with her neighbors, till she took up with the melancholy, peevish tempers of her husband, and must needs follow him in his mad pilgrimage. “One would have thought,” said she, “that one fool was enough in a family; but, no doubt it runneth in the blood, for that woman was quite crazed after her husband’s death. They tell me there is a book written concerning her, but they that lived near her, and ought to know, could tell a many things of her that for my part I should not care to utter, for I hate all backbiting and tale-bearing. This much, however, I do know, she was as unmannerly and haughty towards me as her husband was to my dear spouse who hath lately departed, who was as fair-speaking and good-natured a gentleman as ever talked; and, moreover, a very religious man, and one who could argue and dispute like the best of pilgrims. I was with her neighbors when they called in to see Christiana in her fits, and a more notable company of women cannot be found within the walls of this city, but the willful woman would have none of them, and went her ways like one bewildered, befooled with her own obstinacy.”
When Mistress Talkative waited a second to take breath, I made speed to ask her whether she knew one Mrs. Bat’s-eyes, who was of those who would have kept Christiana from seeking the Celestial City. “Ay, ay,” said she,” I know her well enough; she is as good a woman as will be met with in a day’s march, and she is a great lady too, only Bat’s-eyes is not now her name, for she is married into a rich family of great title and repute. Her first husband was so weak in the eyes as not to be able to see anything in the sunlight, and once upon a time, walking abroad at noon with the blind priest of his own parish, that is to say the parish of St. Elymas the Great, they both fell into a ditch, and the poor man perished in the mire. A very fine funeral sermon there was preached for him from the text, ‘I will give thee the treasures of darkness.’ Now it was so, that her husband being dead, the widow had many suitors, and among the rest one Sir Herod Hateligt, who was of the honorable jury that condemned that scandalous fellow, Faithful. He being a personable man, and having large estates in Blindmanshire, commended himself much to the widow, and the more so because they both agreed to love darkness rather than light, and delighted much with thick curtains and dark shutters to keep out every beam of sunshine from their chambers. She liveth at this day in the finest square of this city, and her husband is an alderman, and was not long ago mayor of the town; a. rare hater of your canting pilgrims, I warrant you, though the times are so altered that he cannot dispatch them out of the way as he once did, and the more’s the pity.”
How much more I might have heard I know not, but this sufficed me; and as I would fain learn more of Mrs. Bat’s-eyes, that is now Lady Hate-light, I first would see her husband; and therefore, in due time, I turned my feet towards the court wherein he sat as an alderman and as justice of the peace. His honor — for so they called him, for the men of the City of Destruction are very lavish in giving and taking honor one of another — had haled before him a prisoner whom I at once perceived to be in very truth a son of the famous Evangelist who, in the days of Christian, was employed by my Master in the suburbs of this city. This man, being very valiant for the truth, had dared to preach and teach such as might gather around him in the streets, having chosen out-of-the-way corners, where he did by no means hinder the lawful traffic, or molest those who passed by the way. Nevertheless, certain of the men of the city being angered that he taught the people had laid to his charge that he did obstruct the king’s highway, and bawl and shout at so lusty a rate as to disturb the quiet of the city, and create a stir and hubbub whereby the authority of the great prince Beelzebub was much endangered.
Now, because there sat upon the bench with him one Mr. Smooth-man, who thought it ill to be severe upon such fools and bedlams as he lightly judged the young man Evangelist to be, and as, moreover, the old cage for pilgrims was in a ruinous state, this Hatelight determined within himself to dismiss the prisoner at the bar with a warning and an admonition. Thus spake he, in high wrath and dudgeon, “Sirrah, thou art again brought before us, upon the charge of gathering together a company of lewd fellows of the baser sort, who stand in the ways and places of concourse, hindering those that pass by the ways, and troubling the respectable inhabitants of this ancient and loyal city. Thinkest thou that we will suffer thee to cry aloud in our streets, railing at and reviling the great lords Beelzebub and Apollyon and Legion, with their companions, who are the patrons of our fairs and markets, and by whom we get our wealth.* Thy voice is as the roaring of the bulls of Bashan, and thy speech is utterly contemptible. Thou shalt be silenced, and the town shall be in quiet, or it shall cost thee dear. I remember well when such as thou art would have been laid in the stocks, or their tongues cut out. I would that even now I could stop thy fanatical rant by the gallows. The gospel! A pretty gospel! Thou preachest hell and damnation! Who among us ever sought thee or paid thee for thy gospel?
We hate it: our old parish religion is good enough for us, and I tell thee plainly we will have none of thy hypocritical cant dinned into our ears. Go about thy business, and keep thyself quiet or I’ll teach thee and the fanatics that howl at thy heels, that the law knoweth how to shut your naughty mouths.” My Master’s young champion was fain to speak and ask a question, and after some ado they gave him audience. He said that he did in no way whatever let or stay the lawful trade of the city, that he had chosen a place wherein there was large room and but few who passed thereby. and therefore he was not guilty as his accusers had falsely witnessed.
Moreover, whereas it was alleged that the sound of his voice was so great and terrible as to molest the quiet of the householders, he affirmed that this also was a charge whereof no man could maintain just cause. For he made bold to tell the court that certain musicians who afore-time had created no small noise in Vanity Fair, had been hired to make great sound with drums, bugles, fifes, and horns in a public place of the city, and that, too, on the day which by the laws of a greater prince than Beelzebub was ordained to be a day of rest and worship And whereas these players on instruments, notwithstanding their outrageous din, were by no means seized by the officers and charged with being breakers of the peace, it seemed to be but sorry justice, and even a perverting of fair dealing, that he who used no trumpet, save only his tongue, should be said to disturb the peace of the city. To which Hatelight answered, in a towering rage, “We care nothing concerning thy Sabbath and thy gospel cant. These players on instruments of music are worthy and notable men, and by no means shall they be hindered or evil entreated. They are in the pay of honorable gentlemen, friends of mine own, who do well to spite both thee and thy Lord’s day.
They ravish the ears of the inhabitants of this city, even as did the multitude of their brethren, who served the great king Nebuchadnezzar, with their flutes, harps, sackbuts, psalteries, and all kinds of music. Knowest thou not that this ancient borough is, always hath been, and always shall be, loyal to Apollyon; and therefore both thou thyself, and thy melancholy doctrines and bedlamite discoursings are an offense to them, a very stink in their nostrils, and a grating in their ears. Sirrah, I take thee to be an arrant knave, and doubtless thou makest a fine market of thy preachments and prayings: I warrant · t thee thou art well paid, or as the proverb hath it, ‘No penny no paternoster.’ I’ll stop thy music for thee, therefore beware how thou dost defy the law a second time. I hate this gospel and thee also; stand down, and hold thine impudent tongue, or I will make thee rue the day.”
How truly is it written by the wise man of old, “Evil men and transgressors will wax worse and worse!” When men cannot act as they desire, because somewhat is abroad which hindereth them, yet their stomachs are as high as ever against the gospel, and their heart burneth like a flaming oven against the Lord and against his Anointed. Verily the time cometh in which those who labor to quench the light of Israel shall have their own candle put out for ever. “Hatelight, beware, in vain thou dost essay To quench the sun which bringeth day; For as God lives and loveth light, The hour draws nigh which endeth night.” Madame Hatelight is a meet companion and fit wife for her lord. She hateth schools and books, especially if they be cheap and teach the ways of godliness. “Why,” saith her ladyship, “nothing has gone well since every Tom, Dick, and Harry, hath learned his letters and set up for a scholar. The lower orders respect not their betters as they used to do, and they talk even to admiration, concerning their rights and their souls. The world is at a sorry pass indeed when men prate of their souls; and will not leave such things to their clergy and the gentlefolk, who have understanding and learning. A parcel of noisy fellows set themselves to entice away the people from the old religion, and cry up what they call education. I cannot endure their prating. A set of ploughmen and servants pretend to know better than the parish priests, and say that the common herd are to judge for themselves. Not one single crown will I give to their schools, and their classes, and their missions. By these cometh all manner of evil, for they set men by the ears jangling about matters which are none of their business, and they puff up the vulgar with such conceit that they follow after men who are given to change, and they pull down the old customs, and go about to turn the world upside down.” Her ladyship waxeth very wrath if she chanceth to meet a pilgrim, but she herself is wonderfully religious and goeth to a church at the corner of the English street, which hath a door in the Roman Row, for in this church they burn candles, the light whereof suiteth her eyes. She cannot away with the word of God, but she doateth on her Prayer-book, and more especially on those places thereof which tell her that she was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven when the priest did bespatter her forehead while yet she was in the arms of her nurse. She loveth a shaven crown and a black hood, and dealeth much in all Roman wares. She weareth a cross though she hateth the religion of him that died on it. A cloud of incense charmeth her. She believeth darkness to be light and the darker the city becometh the happier she is. And truly she has much to please her at this present; for what with the smoke from Mr. Sacra-mentarian’s new forges, and the fogs from the old marshes of unbelief, and the general smother of all sorts of smiths and potters, and especially of the brewers, the city is often dark as pitch, and even at noonday one can hardly see the sun. However, my Master’s servants still find out chosen men in this City of Destruction who feel their burden of sin, and therefore are willing to go on pilgrimage, and therefore Hatelight and his spouse are ill at ease; but as for the servants of the Great King, our souls abide in patient waiting, being steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in our Lord’s work.
Much more might I have written, but it may fall to my lot to use my quill hereafter.
ON COMMENTING A LECTURE DELIVERED TO THE STUDENTS OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE.
BY C. H. SPURGEON PREACHING in the olden time consisted very much more of exposition than it does now. I suppose that the sermons of the primitive Christians were for the most part expositions of lengthy passages of the Old Testament; and when copies of the gospels, and the epistles of Paul, had become accessible to the churches, the chief work of the preacher would be to press home the apostolical teaching’s by delivering an address, the back-bone of which would be a complete passage of Scripture: there would probably be but faint traces of divisions, heads and points, such as we employ in modern discoursing, but the teacher would follow the run of the passage which was open before him, commenting as he read. I suppose this to have been the case. because some of the early Christian modes of worship were founded very much upon that of the synagogue. I say some of the modes, since I suppose that as the Lord Jesus left his disciples free from rubrics and liturgies, each church worshipped according to the working of the free Spirit among them, one with the open meeting of the Corinthians, and another with a presiding minister, and a third with a mixture of the two methods. In the synagogue, it was the rule of the Rabbis that never less than twenty-two verses of the law should be read at one time, and the preaching consisted of notes upon a passage of that length. Such a rule would be a mere superstition if we were slavishly bound by it, but I could almost wish that the custom were re-established, for the present plan of preaching from short texts, together with the great neglect of commenting publicly upon the Word is very unsatisfactory. We cannot expect to deliver much of the teaching of Holy Scripture by picking out verse by verse, and holding these up at random. The process resembles that of showing a house by exhibiting separate bricks. It would be an astounding absurdity if our friends used our private letters in this fashion, and interpreted them by short sentences disconnected and taken away from the context. Such expositors would make us out to say in every letter all we ever thought of, and a great many things besides far enough from our minds; while the real intent of our epistles would probably escape attention. Nowadays, since expository preaching is not so common as it ought to be, there is the more necessity for our commenting during the time of our reading the Scriptures. Since topical preaching, hortatory preaching, experimental preaching, and so on — all exceedingly useful in their way — have almost pushed proper expository preaching out of place, there is the more need that we should, when we read passages of Holy Writ, habitually give running comments upon them.
I support my opinion with this reason: that public reading of the abstruser parts of Scripture is of exceedingly little use to the majority of the people listening. I can recollect hearing in my younger days long passages out of Daniel, which might have been exceedingly instructive to me if I had obtained the remotest conception of what they meant. Take again, parts of the prophecy of Ezekiel, and ask yourselves what profit can arise from their perusal by the illiterate, “unless some man shall guide them?” What more edification can come from a chapter in English which is not understood, than from the same passage in Hebrew or Greek? The same argument which enforces translation demands exposition. If but a few explanatory words are thrown in by a judicious reader, it is wonderful how luminous obscure portions may be made. Two or three sentences will often reveal the drift of a whole chapter; the key of a great difficulty may be presented to the hearer in halfa- score words, and thus the public reading may be made abundantly profitable. I once saw a school of blind children among the charming ruins of York Abbey, and could not help pitying their incapacity to enjoy so much beauty: how willingly would I have opened their eyes! Are ignorant people wandering among the glories of Scripture much less to be pitied?
Who will refuse them the light?
Abundant evidence has come before me that brief comments upon Scripture in our ordinary services are most acceptable and instructive to our people. I have often heard from working men and their wives, and from merchants and their families, that my own expositions have been most helpful to them.
They testify that when they read the Bible at home in the family, the exposition makes it doubly precious to them; and the chapter which they had unprofitably read in course at family prayers, when they peruse it the next time, recollecting what their minister has said upon it, becomes a real delight to them. The mass of our hearers, in London at least, do not, to any appreciable extent, read commentaries or any other books which throw a light upon the Scriptures. They have neither the money nor the time to do so; and if they are to be instructed in the Word of God in things which they cannot find out by mere experience, and are not likely to have explained to them by their associates, they must get that instruction from us, or nowhere else; nor do I see how we are to give them such spiritual assistance except through the regular practice of exposition.
Besides, if you are in the habit of commenting, it will give you an opportunity of saying many things which are not of sufficient importance to become the theme of a whole sermon, and therefore would probably remain unnoticed, to the great loss of the Lord’s people and others. It is astounding what a range of truth, doctrinal, practical, and experimental, Holy Scripture brings before us; and equally worthy of admiration is the forcible manner in which that truth is advanced. Hints given in the way in which the word of God offers them are always wise and opportune; as, for instance, the rebukes which the Word administers might have seemed too severe had they been made by the pastor, unsustained by the Word and unsuggested by it, but arising out of the chapter they cannot be resented. You can both censure sins and encourage virtues by dilating upon the histories which you read in the inspired records, whereas you might never have touched upon them had not the chapter read brought the matter before you. If you want to make full proof of your ministry, and to leave no single point of revelation untouched, your easiest mode will be to comment upon Scripture habitually. Without this, much of the Word will be utterly unknown to many of your people. It is a very sad fact that they do not read so much as they should at home; the ungodly in England scarcely read the Bible at all; and if only that part which we preach upon be expounded to them, how little of the Bible can they ever know! If you will mark your Bibles with lines under the texts from which you have spoken, as I have always done with an old copy which I keep in my study, you will discover that in twelve or fourteen years very little of the book has been gone through; a very large proportion of it remains unmarked, like a field nnploughed. Try, then, by exposition, to give your people a fair view of the entire compass of revelation; take them as it were to the top of Nebo, and show them the, whole land from Dan to Beersheba, and prove to them that everywhere it floweth with milk and honey.
Earnestly do I advocate commenting. It is unfashionable in England, though somewhat more usual beyond the Tweed. The practice was hardly followed up anywhere in England a few years ago, and it is very uncommon still. It may be pressed upon you for one other reason, namely, that in order to execute it well, the commentbg minister will at first have to study twice as much as the mere preacher, because he will be called upon to prepare both his sermons and his expositions. As a rule, I spend much more time over the exposition than over the discourse. Once start a sermon with a great idea, and from that moment the discourse forms itself without much labor to the preacher, for truth naturally consolidates and crystallizes itself around the main subject like sweet crystals around a string hung up in syrup; but as for the exposition, you must keep to the text, you must face the difficult points, and must search into the mind of the Spirit rather than your own. You will soon reveal your ignorance as an expositor if you do not study; therefore diligent reading will be forced upon you. Anything which compels the preacher to search the grand old Book is of immense service to him. If any are jealous lest the labor should injure their constitutions, let them remember that mental work up to a certain point is most refreshing, and where the Bible is the theme, toil is delight. It is only when mental labor passes beyond the bounds of common sense that the mind becomes enfeebled by it, and this is not usually reached except by injudicious persons, or men engaged on subjects which are unrefreshing and disagreeable; but our subject is a recreative one, and to young men like ourselves the vigorous use of our faculties is a most healthy exercise.
Classics and mathematics may exhaust us, but not the volume of our Father’s grace, the charter of our joys, the treasure of our wealth.
A man to comment well should be able to read the Bible in the original. Every minister should aim at a tolerable proficiency both in the Hebrew and the Greek. These two languages will give him a library at a small expense, an inexhaustible thesaurus, a mine of spiritual wealth. Really the effort of acquiring a language is not so prodigious that brethren of moderate abilities should so frequently shrink from the attempt. A minister ought to attain enough of these tongues to be at least able to make out a passage by the aid of a lexicon, so as to be sure that he is not misrepresenting the Spirit of God in his discoursings, but is, as nearly aa he can judge, giving forth what the Lord intended to reveal by the language employed. Such knowledge would prevent his founding doctrines upon expressions in our version when nothing a; all analogous is to be found in the inspired original. This has been done by preachers time out of mind, and they have shouted over an inference drawn from a shall, or an if gathered out of the translation, with as much assurance of inh!libilitv and sense of importance as if the same hmguage had occurred in the words which the Holy Ghost used. At such times, we, have been reminded of the story told by the late beloved Henry Craik, in his book, on the Hebrew language. At one time, the Latin Vulgate was so constantly spoken of as the very word of God, that a Roman Catholic theologian thus coremcured upon Genesis 1:10: — “ The gathering’ together of the waters called he seas.” The Latin term for seas is Maria. On this ground, the writer asks, “What is the gathering together of waters but the accumulation of all the graces into one place, that is, into the Virgin Mary (Maria )? But; there is this distinction, that Maria (the seas) has the (i) short, because that which the seas contain is only of a transitory nature, while the gifts and graces of the blessed Virgin (Maria) shall endure for ever.” Such superlative` nonsense may be indulged in if we forget that translations cannot be verbally inspired, and that to the original is the last appeal.
Fail not to be expert in the use of your Concordance. Every day I live I thank God more and more for ,hat poor half-crazy Alexanter Cruden. Of course you have read his life, which is prefixed to the concordance; it exhibits him as a man of diseased mind, once or twice the inmate of a lunatic asylum, but yet, for all that, successfully devoting his energies to producing a work of absolutely priceless value; which never has been improved upon, and probably never will be; a volume which must ever yield the greatest possible assistance to a Christian minister, being as necessary to him as a plane to the carpenter, or a plough to the husbandman. Be sure you buy a genuine unabridged Crnden, and none of the modern substitutes; good as riley may be at the price, they are a delusion and a snare to ministers, and should never be tolerated in the manse library. To consider cheapness in purchasing a Concordance is folly.
You need only one; have none but the best. At the head of each notable word, Cruden gives you its meaning, and very often all its particular shades of meaning, so that he even helps you in sermonizing. When you have read his headings, by following out the concordance you will observe connections in which the word occurs, which most advantageously and correctly fix its meaning. Thus will the Word of God be its own key. A good textuary is a good theologian; be then well skilled in using Crnden.
I make but small account of most reference Bibles; they would be very useful if they were good for anything; but it is extremely easy to bring out; a reference Bible which has verbal and apparent references, and nothing more. You will often turn to a reference, and will have to say, “Well, it is a reference, certainly, in a way; for it contains the same word, but it contains no reference in the sense that the one text will explain the other.” The useful reference cuts the diamond with a diamond, comparing spiritual things with spiritual; it is a *bought-reference, and not a word-reference. If you meet with a really valuable reference Bible, it ‘will be to you what I once heard a countrynlan call “a reverence Bible,” for it will lead you to prize more and morc the sacred volume. The best reference Bible is a thoroughly good concordance. Get the best, keep it always on the table, use it hourly, and you will have found your best companion.
Need I, after my previous lectures, commend to you the judicious reading of commentaries! These are called “dead men’s brains” by certain, knowing people, who claim to give us nothing in their sexmons but what they pretend the Lord reveals direct to themselves. Yet these men are by no means original, and often their supposed inspiration is but borrowed wit.
They get a peep at Gill on the sly. The remarks which they give forth as the Spirit’s mind are very inferior in all respects to what they affect to despise, namely, the mind of good and learned men. A batch of poems was sent to me some time ago for The Sword and the Trowel, which were written by a person claiming to be under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit. He informed me that he was passive, and that what was enclosed was written under the direct physical and mental influence of the Spirit upon his mind and hand. My bookshelves can show many poems as much superior to these pretended inspirations as angels are to bluebottles; the miserable doggerel bore on its face the evidence of imposture. So when I listen to the senseless twaddle of certain wise gentlemen who are always boasting that they alone are ministers of the Spirit, I am ashamed of their pretensions and of them. No, my dear friends, you may take it as a rule that the Spirit of God does not usually do for us what we can do for ourselves, find that if religious knowledge is printed in a book, and we can read it, there is no necessity for the Holy Ghost to make a fresh revelation of it to us, in order to screen our laziness. Read, then, the admirable commentaries which I have already introduced to you. Yet be sure you use your own minds too, or the expounding will lack interest. Here I call to mind two wells in the courtyard of the Doge’s palace at Venice, upon which I looked with much interest. One is filled artificially by water brought in barges from a distance, and few care for its insipid water, the other is a refreshing natural well, cool and delicious, and the people contend for every drop of it. Freshness, naturalness, life, will always attract; whereas mere borrowed learning is fiat and insipid. Mr. Cecil says his plan was, when he laid hold of a Scripture, to pray over it, and get his own thoughts on it, and then, after he had so done, to take up the ablest divines who wrote upon the subject, and see what their thoughts were. If you do not think, and think much, you will become slaves and mere copyists. The exercise of your own mind is most healthful to you, and by perseverance, with divine help, you may expect to get at the meaning of every understandable passage. So to rely upon your own abilities as to be unwilling to learn from others is clearly folly; so to study others as not to judge for yourself is imbecility. What should be the manner of your public commenting? One rule should be always to out very carefully wherever a word bears a special’ sense; for rest assured, in Holy Scripture the same word does not always mean the same thing. Tim Bible is a book meant for human beings,. and therefore it is written in human language; and in human language the same word may signify two or three things. For instance, “a pear fell from a tree;” “a man fell into drunken habits.” There the meaning of the second word “fell,” is evidently different from the first, since it is not literal, but metaphorical.
Again, “the cabman mounted the box; the child was pleased with his Christmas box;” “his lordship is staying at his shooting box.” In each case there is the same word, but who does not see that there is a great difference of meaning? So it is in the Word of God. You must explain the difference between a word used in a peculiar sense, and the ordinary meaning of the word, and thus you will prevent your people falling into mistakes. If people will say that the same word in Scripture always means the same thing, as I have heard some assert publicly, they will make nonsense of the Word of God, and fall into error through their own irrational maxims. To set up canons of interpretation for the Book of God which would be absurd if applied to other writings is egregious folly: it has a show of accuracy, but inevitably leads to confusion.
The obvious literal meaning of a Scripture is not always the true one, and ignorant persons are apt enough to hll into the most singular misconceptions: a judicious remark from the pulpit will be of signal service.
Many persons have accustomed themselves to misunderstand certain texts; they have learned wrong interpretations in their youth, and will never know better unless the correct meaning be indicated to them.
We must make sure in our public expositions that obscure and involved sentences are explained. To overleap difficulties, and only expound what is already clear, is to make commenting ridiculous. When we speak of obscure sentences, we mean such as are mostly to be found in the prophets, and are rendered dark through the translation, or the Orientalism of their structure, or through their intrinsic weight of meaning. Involved sentences most abound in the writings of Paul, whose luxuriant mind was not to be restrained to any one line of argument. He begins a sentence, and does not finish it, perhaps, until eight verses further on, and all the interstices between the commencement and the end of the sentence are packed full of compressed truth, which it is not always easy to separate from the general argument. Hints consisting of but two or three words will let your hearers know where the reasoning breaks off, and where it is taken up again. In many poetical parts of the Old Testament the speakers change; as in Solomon’s Song, which is mostly a dialogue. Here perfect nonsense is often made by reading the passage as if it were all spoken by the same person. In Isaiah the strain often varies most suddenly; and while one verse is addressed to the Jews, the next may be spoken to the Messiah or to the Gentiles. Is it not always well to notify this to the congregation? If the chapters and verses had been divided with a little common sense, this might be of less importance, but as our version is so clumsily chopped into fragments, the preacher must insert the proper paragraphs and divisions as he reads aloud. In fine, your business is to make the Word plain. In Lombardy I observed great heaps of huge stones in the fields, which had been gathered out from the soil by diligent hands to make room for the crops; your duty is to “gather out the stones,” and leave the fruitful field of Scripture for your people to till. There are Orientalisms, metaphors, peculiar expressions, idioms, and other verbal memorabilia which arise from the Bible having been written in the East; all these you will do well to explain. To this end be diligent students of Oriental life. Let the geography of Palestine, its natural history, its fauna and its flora, be as familiar to you as those of your own native village. Then as you read you will interpret the Word, and your flock will be fed thereby.
The chief part of your commenting, however, should consist in applying the truth to the hearts of your hearers, for he who merely understands the meaning of the letter without understanding how it bears upon the hearts and consciences of men, is like a man who causes the bellows of an organ to be blown, and then fails to place his fingers on the keys; it is of little service to supply men with information unless we urge upon them the practical inferences therefrom. Look, my brethren, straight down into the secret chambers of the human soul, and let fall the divine teaching through the window, and thus light will be carried to the heart and conscience, make remarks suitable to the occasion, and applicable to the cases of those present. Show how a truth which was first heard in the days of David is still forcible and pertinent in:these modern times, and you will thus endear the Scriptures to the minds of your people, who prize your remarks much more than you imagine. Clean the grand old pictures of the divine masters; hang them up in new frames; fix them on the walls of your people’s memories; and their well-instructed hearts shall bless you.
Is a caution needed amongst intelligent men? Yes, it must be given. Be sure to avoid prosiness. Avoid it everywhere, but especially in this. Do not be long in your notes. If you are supremely gifted, do not be long; people do not appreciate too much of a good thing; and if your comments are only second-rate, why, then be shorter still, for men soon weary of inferior talking. Very little time in the service can be afforded for reading the lessons; do not rob the prayer and the sermon for the sake of commenting.
This robbing Peter to pay Paul is senseless. Do not repeat incessantly commonplace things which must have occurred even to a Sunday-school child. Do not remind your hearers of what they could not possibly have forgotten. Give them something weighty if not new, so that an intelligent listener may feel when the service is over that he has learned at least a little.
Again, avoid all pedantry. As a general rule, it may be observed that those gentlemen who know the least Greek are the most sure to air their rags of learning in the pulpit; they miss no chance of saying, “The Greek is so-andso.”
It makes a man an inch and a-half taller by a foolometer, if he everlastingly lets fall bits of Greek and Hebrew, and even tells the people the tense of the verb and the case of the noun, as I have known some do.
Those who have no learning usually make a point of displaying the pegs on which learning ought to hang. Brethren, the whole process of interpretation is to be carried on in your study; you are not to show your congregation the process, but to give them the result; like a good cook, who would never think of bringing up dishes, and pans, and rolling-pin, and spice box into the dining hall, but without ostentation sends up the feast. Never strain passages when you are expounding. Be thoroughly honest with the Word: even if the Scriptures were the writing of mere men, conscience would demand fairness of you; but when it is the Lord’s own Word, be careful not to pervert it even in the smallest degree. Let it be said of you, as I have heard a venerable hearer of Mr. Simeon say of him, “Sir, he was very Calvinistic when the text was so, and people thought him an Arminian when the text was that way, for he always stuck to its plain sense.” A very sound neighbor of ours once said, by way of depreciating the grand old Reformer, “John Calvin was not half a Calvinist,” and the remark was correct as to his expositions, for in them, as we have seen, he always gave his Lord’s mind and not his own. In the church of St. Zeno, in Verona, I saw ancient frescoes which had been plastered over, and then covered with other designs; I fear many do this with Scripture, daubing the text with their own glosses, and laying on their own conceits. There are enough of these plasterers abroad, let us leave the evil trade to them and follow an honest calling. Use your judgment more than your fancy. Flowers are well enough, but hungry souls prefer bread. To allegorize with Origen may make men stare at you, but your work is to fill men’s mouths with truth, not to open them with wonder. Do not be carried away with new meanings. Plymouth Brethren delight to fish up some hitherto undiscovered tadpole of interpretation and cry it round the town as a rare dainty. Let us be content with more ordinary and more wholesome fishery. No one text is to be exalted above the plain analogy of faith, and no solitary expression is to shape our theology for us. Other men and wiser men have expounded before us, and anything undiscovered by them it were well to put to test and trial before we boast too loudly of the treasure-trove. Do not needlessly amend our authorized version. It is faulty in many places, but still it is a grand work, taking it for all in all; and it is unwise to be making every old lady distrust the only Bible she can get, or what is more likely, mistrust you for falling out with her cherished treasure. Correct where correction must be for truth’s sake, but never for the vainglorious display of your critical ability.
If I were bound to deliver a sermon upon the subject in hand I could not desire a better text than Nehemiah 8:8: “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Here is a hint for the reader as to his leading. Let it always be distinct. Aim to be good readers, and be the more anxious about it because few men are so, and all preachers ought to be so. It is as good as a sermon to hear our best men read the Scriptures, they bring out the meaning by their correct emphasis and tone. Never fall into the idea that the mere utterance of the words before you is all that is required of you in reading; good reading is a high, but rare attainment. Even if you do not comment, yet read the chapter previously, and become familiar with it; it is inexcusable for a man to betray the fact that he is out of his latitude in the reading, traversing untrodden ground, floundering and picking his way across country, like a huntsman who has lost his bearings. Never open the Bible in the pulpit to read the chapter for the first time, but go to the familiar page after many rehearsals. You will be doubly useful if, in addition to this, you “gh,e the sense.” You will then, by God’s blessing, be the pastor of an intelligent, Bible-loving people. You will hear in your meeting-house that delightful rustle of Bible leaves which is so dear to the lover of the Word; your people will open their Bibles looking for a feast.
The Word will become increasingly precious to yourself, your knowledge will enlarge, and your aptness to teach will become every day more apparent. Try it, my brethren; for even if you should see cause to discontinue it, at least no harm will come of the attempt.
SPRINGS UNCOVERED STANDING near the remarkable spring at Ewell, in Sarrev, and watching the uprising of the waters, one sees at the boa;ore’of the pool innumerable circles with smaller circles within them, from which extremely fine sand is continually being upheaved by the force of the rising water. Tiny geysers upheave their little founts, and from a myriad openings bubble up with the clear crystal. The perpetual motion of the water, and the leaping of the sand are most interesting. It is not like the spring-head in the field, where the cooling liquid pours forth perpetually from a spout, all unseen, till it plunges into its channel; nor like the river head where the stream weeps from a mass of mossy rock; but here are the fountains of earth’s hidden deeps all unveiled and laid bare, the very veins of nature opened to the public gaze. How would it amaze us if we could in this fashion peer into the springs of human character and see whence words and actions flow!
What man would wish to have his designs and aims exposed to every onlooker? But why this aversion to being known and read of all men? The Christian’s motives and springs of action should be so honest and pure that he might safely defy inspection. He who has nothing to be ashamed of has nothing to conceal. Sincerity can afford, like our first parents in Paradise, to be naked and not ashamed.
If other men cannot read our motives we ought at least to examine them carefully for ourselves. Day by day with extreme rigor must we search into our hearts. Motive is vital to the goodness of an action. He who should give his body to be burned might yet lose his soul if his ruling passion were obstinacy, and not desire for God’s glory. Self may be sought under many disguises, and the man may be utterly unaware that thus he is losing all acceptance with God. We must not impute ill motives to others, but we must be equally clear of another more fascinating habit, namely, that of imputing good motives to ourselves. Severity in estimating our own personal character very seldom becomes excessive; our partiality is usually more or less blinding to our judgment. We will not suspect ourselves if we can help it; evidence must be very powerful before it can convince us of being governed by sordid aims. The stream of generosity does not always spring from gratitude to God. Zeal is not at all times the offspring of deepseated faith. Even devotional habits may be fostered by other than holy affections. The highest wisdom suggests that we spend much patient and impartial consideration upon a matter so fundamental as the heart’s intent in the actions which it directs. “If thine bye be single, thine whole body shall be full of light.” Dear reader, stand by thine inner springs and watch, and make faithful notes of what thou seest, lest thou be deceived.
THE “DARBY BRETHREN.”
From one of the most earnest workers in London we have received the following letter. We only withhold the name at our own discretion, the author was quite willing that his signature should be printed with his letter. We have also received an explanatory letter from Mr. W. Kelly, denying many of the statements of Mr. Grant, but such a disclaimer has first of all a bearing ,upon Mr. Grant, and only secondarily/ upon us, and we must leave him to corroborate his own evidence, or to withdraw it. Little that is done, are can only say that our own experience leads us to believe that all alleged may very well be tmte; for match else of like nature we have seen and feit.]
DEAR SIR, — If any more testimony were needed in confirmation of the admirable and truthful article in this month’s Sword and Trowel, I could give much from personal experience, and the more so that I had a narrow or rather providential escape from fidling into the meshes of this truly Jesuitical system, which would probably have dried up .every loving feeling in my heart, and sapped away every earnest desire for winning perishing souls for Jesus. I can endorse from personal observation almost every sentence in your article as to the effect of Darbyism on personal character, though I was not aware before of the extent of the unscripturalness of their doctrines. It would be well if your article could be put into the hands of every Darbyite not too deeply inoculated with the pernicious principles of Darbyism, and circulated far and wide in every evangelical congregation of Christians.
The following story illustrating the principles and effects of Darbyism, and which I fear is only a sample of many others, I can vouch for: — Some years ago I attended an evening meeting for studying the word of God where believers of various denominations met, and for some time it went on very happily. In an evil hour an old Darbyite joined our meeting, and by his winning ways, gained a considerable influence, invited several of the brethren to his own house, to instruct them more fully in the new doctrines.
The result was, they left the various churches in which they had been earnestly working for God, not to become unsectarian, but to unite with a sect more exclusive than any save the church of Rome. Three were members of the Tabernacle; one was a fellow worker with myself, one of the most loving spirits, my own son, in the Gospel, with a conscience so tender that he could not rest at night without doing something for his Lord.
Those among them whom I still know personally have become the most selfish,’ unfeeling, and censorious of any Christians I know. Darbyism has so changed them as to quench every earnest purpose, to make them live only for the mutual edification of their narrow clique, and render them oblivious to the claim of the perishing millions around them. From being successful workers in the Master’s cause, they have settled down at their ease in Zion, only to make a spasmodic effort when the Spirit moves them, which is very seldom. Were these brethren to allow the same liberty to others that they claim for themselves, we should not complain, but ‘this they refuse — “They are the people,” every other Christian is wrong; no matter how earnestly a man is working, or how many souls are added to the Lord by his ministry, if he cannot utter the Shibboleth of Darbyism, he is counted the veriet heretic. The scriptural text, “every tree is known by ifs Fruit,” is utterly ignored; and while compelled to recognize the paucity of converts to the gospel through their preaching, and the mighty results through unorthodox laborers, it all goes for nothing: they tell you, with the greatest calmness, God is sovereign, and works as he wills, though it is certainly strange that God refuses to bless the select company to whom alone he has revealed the true interpretation of his will. Two other thoughts concerning them might be added, in addition to Mr. Grant’s evidence. First, preaching the gospel to sinners is but a secondary consideration, their main thought being “breaking bread on Lord’s-day morning;” and though this precious ordinance is called by them by so simple a name, it is exalted to almost the same position and importance as the lying Romish sacrifice. The Christian brethren who are not actually taking a share in the preaching, by their own testimony, seldom attend the “gospel preaching,” not needing to hear a reiteration of such simple principles, but remain at home on Sunday afternoon and evenings “studying the word,” gaining more and more light while shutting it out from a dying world. Secondly, the Lord’s-day is utterly ignored; about its claim they have literally no conscience. One of the most intelligent of them assured me he would as soon buy and sell on that day as any other except so far as it hindered worship; and dose weak minded believers who are abolish as to testify against the desecration of the day of rest, are looked upon with supreme contempt. Much might also be added of the guiltiness of the Darby brethren in neglecting missionary and benevolent works; unlike him they call their Master, they cannot descend to the earthly wants of poor sinners, but leave them to the tender mercies of their fellow sinners; and such . man of God as George Muller, before whose mighty faith they might well shrink, comes ht for a fair share of their execration. To any earnest workers for Jesus who want to take ease without compunction, to shut their hearts and pockets to the cries of those who seek their compassion, to shirk the responsibilities God has laid upon them as Christian men and citizens, to shut up the genial sympathy they now feel to all who love the Savior, and to sneak into heaven without having a jewel to deck their crown — I would say join the Darbyites.
Yours very truly in the Lord, _______SPLINTERS. WHAT a mistake to imagine that, by hearing first one preacher and then another, we can derive benefit to our souls! More is wanted than such hearing. A raven may fly from cage to cage, but it is not thereby changed into a dove. Go from room to room of the royal feast, and the sight of the tables will never stay thy hunger. Reader, the main thing is to have and hold. the truth personally and inwardly; if this be not seen to thou wilt die in thy sins, though ten thousand voices should direct thee to the way of salvation. Pkv indeed is it that the bulk of hearers are hearers only, and are no more likely to go to heaven than the seats they sit on in the assembly of the saints.
A neighbor near my study persists in practicing upon the flute. He bores my ears as with an auger, and renders it almost an impossibility to think.
Up and down his scale he runs remorselessly, until even the calamity of temporary deafness would almost be welcome to me. Yet he teaches me that I must, practice if I would be perfect; must exercise myself unto godliness if I would be skillful, must, in fact, make myself familiar with the word of God, with holy living, and saintly dying. Such practice moreover will be as charming as my neighbor’s flute is intolerable.
HINDHEAD ON one of the hottest days of a sultry July, two of us, weary and worn from a long and dusty tramp along the Portsmouth road, reached at length the top of Hindhead. Not a tree or a’shrub within hail, and the sun pouring down remorselessly a flood of fire, there was no sign of shadow except from a large stone cross which garnished Hindhead’s summit. That cross was elaborately adorned with Latin inscriptions, and in form was accurate and classical; but its shadow was too narrow to furnish perfect shade even for one, much less for two. The shadow was most refreshing, but there was not enough of it, and one traveler must, parched as he was, stand or lie down beneath Sol’s blazing beams, for there was no room for him within the cooling shade. Thus may it be with the gospel of Jesus as set forth by some ministries. Jesus is eloquently talked of, but the freeness of his grace and the abundant power of his blood are not enforced; or it may be systematic theology is the preacher’s idol, and Christ is nan’owed down to the creed; accuracy of doctrine is fostered, but the Christ who is set forth has no breadth of love, no vastness of shade for the refreshment of weary sinners. At the same time too many take away the solid character of the atonement altogether, and, while aiming at breadth, give us instead of a granite cross a mere gauze with no shade at all. The true scriptural idea of the atonement is “The shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” The motto of the gospel of Jesus is, “And yet there is room.”
Oh, the blessed shadow of Christ’s cross! All the flocks of the Lord lie down under it, and rest in peace; millions of souls are delivered by it from the heat of vengeance, and myriads more shall find a covert within it from the wrath to come. Dear reader, are you within the shadow of the Crucified? Does he stand between God and your soul to ward off from you the burning beams of justice, which your sins so richly deserve, by bearing them himself . If you perish from want of shelter it will not be because there was no room for you in Christ, for no sinner was ever sent away for that reason, and none ever will be. If you die in the fierce heat of divine wrath, you will have yourself alone to blame, for there is the shadow of the groat propitiation, cool and refreshing, and it is at every moment accessible to simple faith. If you refuse to believe, and count yourself unworthy of salvation, your blood must lie at your own door. Come, now, into the sure and blessed shelter, lest the sunstroke of despair should wither thee. Once beneath the shadow of Jesus, the sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night; thou shalt abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.” He who would fain find the shelter of the cross, let him sing and pray with all his heart. “Where is the shadow of that rock Which from the sun defends thy flock!
Fain would I feed among thy sheep, Among them rest, among them sleep.”
From My Note Book. —
AN ADDRESS BY C, H. SPUEGEON.
IN Deuteronomy 22:8, we meet with an interesting law which in its letter was binding on the Jewish people, and in its spirit furnishes an admirable rule for us upon whom the ends of the earth are come. “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shall make a battlement for thy roof, that shall bring not blood upon to because, if any man fall from then.” It is not necessary to inform this audience that the roofs of Eastern dwellings were flat, and that the inhabitants were accustomed to spend much of their time upon the tops of their houses, not only conversing there during the day, but sleeping there at night. If the roofs were without any fencing or protection around their edge, it might often happen that little children would fall over, and not infrequently grown .up. persons might inadvertently make a false step and suffer serious injury, if not death itself.
Where there were no railings or low walls around the roof, accidents frequently occurred, but God commanded his people, while they were yet in the wilderness, that when they came into the promised land, and proceeded to build houses, they should take care in every case to build a sufficient battlement that it might not be lost through preventable casualty, for in that case the guilt of blood would lie upon them. This careful command clearly shows us that God holds life to be very valuable, and that as he would not permit us to kilt by malice, so he would not allow us to kill by negligence, but would have us most tender of human life. Such rules as the one before us are precedents for sanitary laws, and give the weight of divine sanction to every wise sanitary arrangement. No man has a right to be filthy in his person, or his house, or his trade, for even if’ he himself may flourish amid unhealthy accumulations of dirt, he has no right by his unclean habits to foster a deadly typhus, or afford a nest for cholera. Those whose houses are foul, whose rooms are unventilated, whose persons are disgusting, cannot be said to love their neighbor; and those who create nuisances in our crowded cities .are guilty of wholesale murder. No man has a right to do anything which must inevitably lead to the death or to the injury of those by whom he is surrounded, but he is bound to do all in his power to prevent any harm coming to his fellow men. That seems to be the moral teaching of this ordinance of making battlements around the housetops — teaching, mark you, which I should like all housewives, working-men, manufacturers, and vestrymen, to take practical note of.
But, if ordinary life be precious, much more is the life of the soul, and, therefore, it is our Christian duty never to do that which imperils either our own or other men’s souls. To us there is an imperative call from the great Master that we care for the eternal interests of others, and that we, so far as we can, prevent their exposure to temptations which might lead to their fatal falling into sin.
We shall now lead you to a few meditations which have, in our mind gathered around the text.
GOD HAS BATTLEMENTED HIS OWN HOUSE.
Let this serve as a great truth with which to begin our contemplations.
God takes care that all his children are safe. There are high places in his house, and he does not deny his children the enjoyment of these high places, but he makes sure that they shall not be in danger there. He sets bulwarks round about them lest they should suffer evil when in a state of exaltation.
God in his house has given us many high and sublime doctrines. Timid minds are afraid of these, but the highest doctrine in Scripture is safe enough because God has battlemented it; and as no mall need be afraid in the East to walk on the roof of his house when the battlement is there, so no man need hesitate to believe the doctrine of election, the doctrine of eternal and immutable love, or any of the divine teachings which circle around the covenant of grace, if he will at the same time see that God has guarded those truths so that none may fall from them to their own destruction.
Take, for instance, the doctrine of election. What a high and glorious truth this is, that God hath from the beginning chosen his people unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the truth! Yet that doctrine has turned many simpletons dizzy through looking at it apart from kindred teachings. Some, I do not doubt, have willfully leaped over the battlement which God has set about this doctrine, and have turned it into Antinomianism, degrading it into an excuse for evil living, and reaping just damnation for their willful perversion. But God has been pleased to set around that doctrine other truths which shield it from misuse. It is true he has a chosen people, but “by their fruits ye shall know them.” “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Though he has chosen his people, yet he has chosen them unto holiness; he has ordained them to be zealous for good works. His intention is not that they should be saved in their sins, but saved from their sins, not that they should be carried to heaven as they are, but that they should be cleansed and purged from all iniquities, and so made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
Then there is the sublime truth of the final perseverance of the saints. What a noble height is that! A housetop doctrine indeed. What a Pisgah view is to be had from the summit of it! “The Lord will keep the feet of his saints.” “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stouter.” It will be a great loss to us if we are unable to enjoy the comfort of this truth. There is no reason for fearing presumption through a firm conviction of the true believer’s safety. Mark well the battlements which God has builded around the edge of this truth!
He has declared that if these shall fall away, it is impossible “to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” If those who are true saints should altogether lose the life of God that is within their souls, there would remain no other salvation; if the first salvation could have spent itself unwillingly, there would be no alternative, but a certain looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation. When we read warnings such as, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” and others of that kind, we see how God has made a parapet around this tower-like truth, so that saints may ascend to its very summit, and look abroad upon the land that floweth with milk and honey, and yet their brains need not whirl, nor shall they fall into presumption and perish. That wonderful doctrine of justification by faith, which we all hold to be a vital truth, not only of Protestantism but of Christianity itself, is quite as dangerous by itself as the doctrine of election, or the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints; in fact, if a man means to sin, he can break down every bulwark and turn any doctrine into an apology for transgression. Even the doctrine that God is merciful, simple as that is, may be made into an excuse for sin. To return to the doctrine that we are justified by faith, and not by the works of the law:
Luther put it very grandly, very boldly, and for him very properly; but there are some who use his phrases, not in Luther’s way, and without Luther’s reasons for unguarded speaking, and such persons have sometimes done serious damage to men’s souls by not mentioning another truth which is meant to be the battlement to the doctrine of faith, namely, the necessity of sanctification. Where faith is genuine, through the Holy Spirit’s power, it works a cleansing from sin, a hatred of evil, an anxious desire after holiness, and it leads the soul to aspire after the image of God. Faith and holiness are inseparable. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”
Good works are to be insisted on, for they have their necessary uses. James never contradicts Paul after all; it is only that we do not understand him.
Both the doctrinal Paul and the practical James spake as they were moved of the Holy Ghost. Paul builds the tower, and James puts the battlement around it; Paul conducts us to the summit of God’s house and bids us rejoice in what we see there, and then James points us to the balustrade that is built up to keep. us from overleaping the truth to our own destruction. Thus is each doctrine balanced, bulwarked, and guarded, but time would fail us to enter into detail, suffice it for us to know that the palace of truth is battlemented with wisdom and prudence.
Take another view of the same thought. The Lord has guarded the position, of his saints if endowed with wealth. Some of God’s servants are, in his providence, called to very prosperous conditions in life, and prosperity is fruitful in dangers. It is hard to carry a full cup without a spill. A man may travel on the ground well enough, and yet find it hard work to walk on a high rope. A man may be an excellent servant who would make a bad master; and one may be a good tradesman in a small way who makes a terrible failure of it as a merchant. Yet be well assured that, if God shall call any of you to be prosperous, and give you much of this world’s goods, and place you in an eminent position, he will see to it that grace is given suitable for your station, and affliction needful for your elevation. The Lord will put battlements round about you, and it is most probable that these will not commend themselves to your carnal nature. You are going on right joyously; everything is “merry as a marriage bell,” but on a sudden you are brought to a dead stand. You kick against this hindering disappointment, but it will not move out of your way. You are vexed with it, but there it is.
Oh, how anxious you are to go a step farther, and then you think you will be supremely happy; but it is just that perfect happiness so nearly within reach that God will not permit you to attain, for then you would receive your portion in this life, forget your God, and despise the better land. That bodily infirmity, that want of favor with the great, that sick child, that suffering wife, that embarrassing partnership — any one of these may be the battlements which God has built around your success, lest you should be lifted up with pride, and your soul should not be upright in you. Does not this remark east a light upon the mystery of many a painful dispensation? “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word:” that experience may be read another way, and you may confess, “Had I not been afflicted I had gone far astray, but now have I kept thy word.” ‘The like prudence is manifested by our Lord towards those whom he has seen fit to’ place in positions of eminent service. Those who express great concern for prominent ministers, because of their temptations, do well, but they will be even more in the path of duty if they have as much solicitude about themselves. I remember one whose pride was visible in his very manner, a person unknown, of little service in the church, but as proud of his little badly-ploughed, weedy half acre, as ever a man could be, who informed me very pompously on more than one occasion, that he trembled lest I should be unduly exalted and puffed up with pride. Now, from his lips, it sounded like comedy, and reminded me of Satan reproving sin. God never honors his servants with success without effectually preventing their grasping the honor of their work. If we are tempted to boast he soon lays us low. tie .always whips behind the door at home those whom he most honors in public. You may rest assured that if God honors you to win many souls, you will have many stripes to bear, and stripes you would not like to tell another of, they will be so sharp and humbling. If the Lord loves you, he will never let you be lifted up in his service. We have to feel that we are but just the pen in the Master’s hand, so that if holiness be written on men’s hearts, the credit will not be ours, but the great Spirit must have all the praise; and this our heavenly Father has effectual means of securing. Do not, therefore, start back from qualifying yourself for the most eminent position, or from occupying it when duty calls. Do not let Satan deprive God’s great cause of your best service through your unholy bashfulness and cowardly retirement. The Lord will give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. If God sets you on the housetop, he will place a battlement round about you. If he makes you to stand on the high places, he will make your feet like hinds’ feet, so that you shall not fall. If God commands you to dash against the enemy single-handed, still “as thy clay thy strength shall be.” He will uphold thee and preserve thee; on the pinnacle thou art as secure as in the valley, if Jehovah set thee there.
It is the same with regard to the high places of spiritual enjoyment. Paul was caught up to the third heavens, and he heard words unlawful for a man to utter: this was a very high, a very, very high place for Paul’s mind, mighty brain and heart as he had; but then, there was the battlement — “ Lest I should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” Paul was not in love with this drawback; he besought the Lord thrice to remove i; but still the thorn could not be taken away; for it was necessary as a battlement around the eminent revelations with which God had favored his apostle. The temptation, if we are at all happy in the Lord, is to grow secure. “My mountain standeth firm,” say we, “I shall never be moved.” Even much communion with Christ, though in itself sanctifying, may be perverted, through the folly of our flesh, into a cause of self-security; we may even dream that we are brought so near to Christ that common temptations are not likely to assail us, and by these very temptations we ,nay fall. Hence it is that as sure as ever we have high sensors of enjoyment, we shall sooner or later endure periods of deep depression. Scarcely ever is there a profound calm on the soul’s sea, but a storm is brewing. The sweet day so calm, so bright, shall have its fall, and the dew of the succeeding night shall weep over its departure. The high hill must have its following valley, and the flood-tide must retreat at ebb. Lest the soul should be beguiled to live upon itself, and feed on its frames and feelings, and by neglect of watchfulness fall into presumptuous sins, battlements are set round about all hallowed joys, for which in eternity we shall bless the name of the Lord.
Too many of the Lord’s servants feel as if they were always on the housetop — always afraid, always full of doubts and fears. They are fearful lest they shall after all perish, and of a thousand things besides. Satan sets up scare-crows to keep these timid birds from feeding upon the wheat which the great Husbandman grows on purpose for them. They scarcely ever reach the assurance of faith. They are stung by “ifs” and “buts,” like Israel by fiery serpents, and they can scarcely get beyond torturing fear, which is as an adder biting the heel. To such we say, Beloved, you shall find when your faith is weakest, when you are just about to fall, that there is a glorious battlement all around you; a glorious promise, a gentle word of the Holy Spirit shall be brought home to your soul, so that you shall not utterly despair. Have you not felt sometimes that if it had not been for a choice love-word heard in the past your faith must have given up the ghost; or if it had not been for that encouraging sermon which came with such power to your soul, your foot had almost gone, your steps had well-nigh slipped? Now, the infinite love of God, dear child of God, values you far too much to allow you to fall into despair. “‘Mid all your fear, and care, and woe, His Spirit will not let you go.” Battlemented by eternal grace shall this roof of the house be, and when you are tremblingly pacing it, you shall have no cause for alarm. “Weak as you are, you shall not faint, Or fainting, shall not die; Jesus, the strength of every saint, Will aid you from on high.” From the fact of divine carefulness we proceed by an easy step to the consideration that, as imitators of God, we should exercise the like tenderness; in a word,WE OUGET TO HAVE OUR HOUSESBATTLEMENTED. A man who had no battlement to his house might himself fall from the roof in an unguarded moment. He might be startled in his sleep, and in the dark mistake his way to the stair-head, or, while day-dreaming, his steps might slip. Those who profess to be the children of God should, for their own sakes, see that every care is used to guard themselves against the perils of this tempted life; they should see to it that their house is carefully battlemented. If any ask, “How shall we do it?” we reply: Every man ought to examine himself carefully whether he be in the faith, lest professing too much, taking too much for granted, he fall and perish. At times we should close our spiritual warehouse and take stock; a tradesman who does not like to do that is generally in a bad way. A man who does not think it wise sometimes to sit down and give half a day, or such time as he can spare, to a solemn stock-taking of his soul, may be afraid that things are not going right with him. Lest we should be after all hypocrites, or selfdeceivers; lest, after all, we should not be born again, but should be children of nature, neatly dressed, but not the living children of God, we must prove our own selves whether we be in the faith. Let us protect our souls’ interests with frequent self-examinations.
Better still, and safer by far, go often to the cross, as you think you went at first. Go every day to the cross; still with the empty hand and with the bleeding heart, go and receive everything from Christ, and seek to have your wounds bound up with the healing ointment of his atoning sacrifice.
These are the best battlements I can recommend you: sefexamination on the one side of the house, and a simple faith in Jesus on the other.
Battlement your soul about well with 2Jrayr, r. Go not out into the world to look upon the face of man till you have seen the face of God.:Never rush down from your chamber with such unseemly haste that you have not time to buckle on your helmet, and gh’d on your breastplate, and your coat of mail.
Be sure and battlement yourself about with much watchfulness, and, especially, watch most the temptation peculiar to your position and disposition.
You may not be inclined to be slothful; you may not be fascinated by the silver of Demas into covetousness, and yet you may be beguiled by pleasure. Watch, if you have a hasty temper, lest that should overthrow you; or if yours be a high and haughty spirit, set a double watch to bring that demon down. If you be inclined to indolence, or, on the other hand, if hot passions and evil desires are most likely to attack you, cry to the Strong for strength; and as he who guards well sets a double guard where the wall is weakest, so do you.
There are some respects in which every man should battlement his house by denying himself those indulgences, which might be lawful to others, but which would prove fatal to himself. The individual who knows his weakness to be an appetite for drink should resolve totally to abstain.
Every man, I believe, has a particular sin which is a sin to him but may not be a sin to another. No man’s conscience is to be a judge for another, but let no man violate his conscience. If thou canst not perform a certain act in faith, thou must not do it at all; I mean if thou dost not honestly and calmly believe it to be right, even if it be right in itself, it becomes wrong to thee.
Watch, therefore, watch at all points. Guard yourselves in company, lest you be carried away by the force of numbers: guard yourselves in solitude, lest selfishness and pride creep in. Watch yourselves in poverty, lest you fall into envy of others; and in wealth, lest you become lofty in mind. O that we may all keep our houses well battlemented, lest we fall and grieve the Spirit of God, and bring dishonor on Christ’s name.
As each man ought to battlement his house in a spiritual sense with regard to himself,SO OUGHT EACH MAN TO CARRY OUT THE RULE WITH REGARD TO HISFAMILY. Family religion was the strength of Protestanism at first. It was the glory of Puritanism and Nonconformity. In the days of Cromwell it is said that you might have walked down Cheapside at a certain hour in the morning and you would have heard the morning hymn going up from every house all along the street, and at night if you had glanced inside each home you would have seen the family gathered, and the big Bible opened, and family devotion offered. There is no fear of this land ever becoming Popish if family prayer be maintained, but if family prayer be swept away, farewell to the strength of the church. A man should battlement his house for his children’s sake, for his servants’ sake, for his own sake, by maintaining the ordinance of family prayer. I may not dictate to you whether you should sing, or read, or pray; or whether you should do this every morning or evening, or how many times a-day; I shall leave this to the free Spirit that is in you, but do maintain family religion, and never let the altar of God burn low in your habitation.
So in the matter of discipline. If the child shall do everything it chooses to do, if it do wrong and there be no admonition, if there be no chastisement, if the reins be loosely held, if the father altogether neglects to be a priest and a king in his house, how can he wonder that his children one by one grow up to break his heart? David had never chastised Absalom, nor Adonijah, and remember what they became; and Eli’s sons, who never had more than a soft word or two from their father, how were his ears made to tingle with the news of God’s judgments upon them! Battlement your houses by godly discipline, see that obedience be maintained, and that sin is not tolerated; so shall your house be holiness unto the Lord, and peace shall dwell therein.
We ought strictly to battlement our houses, as to many things which in this day are tolerated. I am sometimes asked, “May not a Christian subscribe to a lottery? May not a Christian indulge in a game of cards? May not a Christian dance or attend the opera?” Now, I shall not come down to debate upon the absolute right or wrong of debatable amusements and customs. The fact is, that if professors do not stop till they are certainly in the wrong, they will stop nowhere. It is of little use to go on till you are over the edge of the roof, and then cry, “Halt.” It would be a poor affair for a house to be without a battlement, but to have a network to stop the falling person half-way down; you must stop before you get off the solid standing. There is need to draw the line somewhere, and the line had better be drawn too soon than too late; and whereas the habit of gambling is the very curse of this land — ah! during the last Derby week, what blood it has shed! how it has brought souls to hell and men to an unripe grave! — as the habit of speculating seems to run through the land, and was doubtless the true cause of the great panic which shook our nation a few years ago, there is the more need that we should not tolerate anything that looks like it. For another reason we should carefully discern between places of public amusement. Some that are perfectly harmless, recreative, and instructive — to deny these to our young people would be foolish; but certain amusements stand on the border ground, between the openly profane and the really harmless. We say, do not go to these; never darken the doors of such places. Why? Because it may be the edge of the house, and though you may not break your neck if you walk along the parapet, yet you are best on this side of the battlement. You are least likely to fall into sin by keeping away, and you cannot afford to run risks. We have all heard the old story of the good woman who required a coachman. Two or three young fellows came to seek for the situation; each of them she saw and catechized alone. The first one had this question put to him; “How near could you drive to danger?” lie said, “I do not doubt but that I could drive within a yard of danger.” “Well, well,” the lady said, “you will not do for me.” When the second came in, the good woman questioned him in like manner, “How near could you drive to danger?” “Within a hair’s breath, Madam,” said he. “Oh!” she said, “that will not suit me at all.” A third was asked the same question, and he prudently replied, “If you please, madam, that is one of the things I have never tried; I have always tried to drive as far from danger as ever I can.” “You are the coachman for me,” said she; and surely that is the kind of manager we all should have in our households. O let us not so train up our children that in all probability they will run into sin! Let us, on the central, exhibit such an example in all things that they may safely follow us. Let us so walk that they may go step by step where we go, and not be cast out of the church of God as a reproach, nor be cast away from the presence of God. Battlement your houses, then; do not be afraid of being too strict and too Puritanic; there is no fear of that in these days; there is a great deal more danger of bringing solemn judgments on our families through neglecting the worship of God in our households.
The preacher would now remind himself that this church is, as it were, his own house, and that he is bound to BATTLEMENT IT ROUNDABOUT.
Many come here, Sabbath after Sabbath, to hear the gospel; the immense number and the constancy of it surprise me. I do not know why the multitudes come and crowd these aisles. When I preached yesterday in Worcestershire, and saw the thronging crowds in every road, I could not help wondering to see them, and the more so because they listened as though I had some novel discovery to make — they listened with all their ears, and eyes, and mouths. I could but marvel and thank God. Ah! but it is a dreadful thing to remember that so many people hear the gospel, and yet perish under the sound of it. Alas! the gospel becomes to them a savor of death unto death, and there is no lot so terrible as perishing under a pulpit from which the gospel is preached.
Now, what shall I say to prevent anyone falling from this blessed gospel — falling from the house of mercy — dashing themselves from the roof of the temple to their ruin? What shall I say to you? I beseech you do not be hearers only. Do not think that when you come here Sundays, and Mondays, and Thursdays, it is all done. No, it is only begun then. Praying is the end of preaching, and to be born again is the great matter. It is very. little to occupy your seat, except you hearken diligently, with willing hearts; looked upon as an end, sitting at services is a wretched waste of time. Dear hearers, be dissatisfied with yourselves unless ye be doers of the word. Let your cry go up to God that you may be born again. Rest not till you rest in Jesus.
Remember, and I hope this will be another battlement, that if you hear the gospel and it is not blessed to you, still, it has a power. If the sun of grace does not soften you as it does wax, it will harden you as the sun does clay.
If it is not a savor of life unto life, to repeat the text I quoted just now, it will be a savor of death unto death. O do not be blind in the sunlight! Do not perish with hunger in the banqueting-house! Do not die of thirst when the water of life is before you!
Let me remind you of what the result will be of putting away the gospel. You will soon die; you cannot live for ever. In the world to come what awaits you?
What did our Lord say? “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” The righteous enter into life eternal, but the ungodly suffer punishment everlasting. We will not dwell upon the terrors of the world to come, but let me remind you that they are all wmrs except Christ is yours; death is yours, and judgment is yours, and hell will be yours, and all’ that dreadful wrath which God means when he says, “Beware, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.” O run not on in sin, lest you fall into hell! I would fain set up this battlement to stay you from a dreadful and fatal fall.
Once more. Remember the love of God in Christ Jesus. I heard the other day of a bad boy whom his father had often rebuked and chastened, but the lad grew worse. One day he had been stealing, and his father felt deeply humiliated. He talked to the boy, but his warning made no impression; and when he saw his child so callous the good man sat down in his chair and burst out crying, as if his heart would break. The boy stood very indifferent for a time, but at last as he saw the tears falling on the floor, and heard his father sobbing, he cried, “Father, don’t; father, don’t do that: what do you cry for father?” “Ah! my boy,” he said, “I cannot help thinking what will become of you, growing up as you are. You will be a lost man, and the thought of it breaks my heart.” “O father!” he said, “Pray don’t cry. I will be better. Only den’tory, and I will not vex you again.” Under God that was the means of breaking down the boy’s love of evil, and I hope it led Lo his salvation. Just that is Christ to you. He cannot bear to see you die, and he weeps over you, saying, “How often would I have blessed you, and you would not!” Oh, by the tears Of Jesus, wept over ten in effect when he wept over Jerusalem, turn to him. Let that be a battlement to keep you from ruin.
God bless you, and help you to trust in Jesus, and his shall be the praise.
THE fishermen had a good take of mackerel the other evening at Brighton, but while getting in the net it became very badly entangled among the rocks, and was sadly rent. Before that net can be used again, busy fingers must see to its mending. Records of net-mending are as old as the days of “him who trod the sea,” for he found the boats at the sea of Galilee empty, because the fishermen were gone out of them, and were mending [heir nets. The Lord’s nets, the preachers of the word, need mending too. Our mind grows jaded, and our spirit depressed, our heartbeats with diminished rigor’, and our eyes lose their brightness, if we continue, month after month, and year after year, without a rest. Mental work will as surely wear out the brain as friction will destroy the iron wheel. It is a bad policy to forego the regular vacation. There is no more saving in it than there would be in the fisherman’s continuing to fish with a rent net, because he could not afford time to sit down and mend it. The mind, like a field, ought to lie fallow every now and then; the crops will be the better for it.
Congregations are most unwise who would grudge their pastor the time and the means to enjoy a thorough change, and a season of complete relaxation. Oh, how reviving to wander in the woods, or lie down amid the pillared shade of the pine forests! The hum of bees is Elysium. Every bell of the heather silently rings out peace and goodwill. One drinks in new life as the lungs receive the sea breezes, or the pure currents which sweep the glacier and the eternal snow. To watch the flying clouds, to mark the gathering tempest, to shelter beneath the rock, or in the cotter’s hut, or even to brave out the rain — all this is .balm to the soul. Headache, melancholy, nervousness, suspicion, and all the other children of indigestion, fly before the staff or the alpertsrock. Exercise is almost a means of grace; a walk with God is altogether so. Hope, courage, vivacity, zeal, resolve, all return on the wings of the wind when the right-hearted but weary laborer has had space to relieve the overwrought brain. Many a regret for unearnest sermons and unweeping prayers might never have been needed if our minds were more themselves, and less threadbare with everpassing anxieties. How can we help losing the fish if our net is fall of holes?
We may be blamed for bad fishing, but who can help it if the net be largely rent, and yawns with gashes? Mental weariness is too often the cause of spiritual powerlessness. Deacons and wealthy stewards of the Lord’s goods should generously aid their pastors, where such aid is needed, that they may for the sake of their churches and their work mend their nets; or, to use the Master’s words, may “go into the desert and rest awhile.”
Brethren, everywhere, see ye to it.
ENGLISH SERVICES IN PARIS.
Many of our readers are interested in the little French Baptist church which formerly assembled in the upper chamber at Rue St. Roch, but now in the rather more commodious entre-sol at 19, Rue des Bens Enfans, near the Paldis Royal and the Hotel du Louvre. They will be glad to hear that the friends are in treaty for a 1ot of ground suitable for a chapel. In’the meantime, their simple and earnest services are held every Sunday afternoon at two o’clock, and for the present there is an English service in the same place at 11.30 every Sunday morning.
Psalm omitted this month from pressure of work upon the Editor.
THE delay in doing justice to Ireland, occasioned by the tyrannical action of the Lords, is precisely what we expected and desired. The country will be led to ask, how long these titled defenders of injustice are to rule a free people, and forbid the nation to fulfill its will. The bishops ought to be removed from the Upper House forthwith; let them look after their flocks, and they will have more than enough to do With one or two exceptions, they are always the friends of everything oppressive. The monstrous injustice of compelling the Dissenters to support a church with which they have no sympathy, is as great in England as in Ireland, and the present crisis will bring this question before the public mind all the earlier. How men calling themselves Christians, much less Christian bishops, can have voted for the gross wickedness of compelling a Romish population to support a church which they abhor, utterly staggers us. That they should be willing sooner to endow Popery, than to lose their own pelf, stamps the whole party consenting to such a scheme with the black brand of hypocrisy and covetousness. These forsooth are your Protestants, par excellence!
Why they would sooner endow the powers of the pit, than lose the golden fleece.
We do not intend to enter into a controversy upon the matter of Brethrenlsm. Dissentients have the same power to use the press as we have; and they have their own magazines in which to defend their creed and character. We believe most of Mr. Grant's charges to be correct, and he has sent us a long letter defending even the details of his statements, but we do not mean to insert it, as we have excluded, and probably shall exclude, the criticisms of his opponents.
The New York Examiner has the following notes upon our College : — 1. Where do the students of this College come from? Generally, as I have said, from the Tabernacle church And in this church there are two sources which seem specially fruitful in supplying them. Of these, one is the Evening Classes and the other, the Evangelists' Association. Bearing in mind that the great middle class of English society loses itself, by insensible stages, on the one hand in the aristocracy, and on the other ill the lower classes, the great mass who attend the Tabernacle, whatever may be true of exceptions, will be found in the humbler of these sections of the middle class. From this t grade of the English people immense numbers of young men flock to the preaching of Mr. Spurgeon. For such young men the evening classes are organized, and in them are taught the various branches comprised in a good English education. From these classes young men are constantly passing into the College. So too they come from the Evangelists' Association, whose members go forth to waste places with the gospel, and tinder whose labors several flourishing churches have arisen. The Bible Class of the Tabernacle might be referred to as another source. This class brings young men of the church into immediate contact with the students of the College, and from it young men pass by a natural process to the College itself. 2. How is this College supported? The provision made for the young men embraces everything which is necessary for their support — in some instances, even to clothing and pin-money. They have their residences in families, and their daily lives are under pastoral supervision. The weekly offerings in the Tabernacle, amounting to an average of more than £30 every Sabbath, are devoted exclusively to their support. All around the Tabernacle are placards inviting offerings, and these are attached notices of the amounts contributed on the last previous Sabbath. These amounts, in the two instances in which I saw them, were above £3 on each Sabbath, and one of those a rainy day. To me this method has had special significance, as a reminder that the raising up of men to preach the gospel is the first ditty of the church. These weekly offerings for the support of their own College amount to little less than £2.000 per year, the total expense being about £5,000, and the remainder being raised chiefly by donations for that object. 3. By whom are the young men taught, and what is the scope and character of the teaching? The young men are taught by tutors, under the direction and with the stated teaching of Mr. Spurgeon himself, and of Mr. James Spurgeon, who holds the position of Vice-President of the College. The studies embrace the English language. Mathematics, Logic and Natural Philosophy, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, Biblical Literature, Systematic Theology, which is always Calvimstic, and Homiletics. The studies on which special stress seem to be laid, are Mathematics, Logic, and Calvinistic Theology. Tim time of study is two years, rarely extended to three, and more frequently abridged from two, under pressing calls for service. To ore' notions of the range of these studies, particularly when it is considered that no considerable preliminary education is required, the time allotted renders any extended acquisition simply impossible. Instruction within this period can be no more than rudimentary or superficial, and it may be presumed that no more than this is attempted. The aim is not to make scholars, but preachers for a particular sphere of society, in a land where society is cast in inflexible molds.
To these summary statements it need only be added, that the young men so taught find spheres of labor,' in London itself, and in other places near and remote. One hundred and eighty-six students have gone from the College, and settled ill the ministry, of wheel one hundred and seventy-seven still remain ill the work. Forty-four new churches hare been formed by the distinct agency of the College. By the same affecting thirty new churches have been erected. In London alone, the formation of eleven churches by destitute districts, was in contemplation at the last annual meeting of the College.
No mere array of facts, however, ellables one to form an ample and satisfactory judgment in respect to au institution like that here described.
Failing to see the men, I instituted inquiries. It is, in the first place, a good deal to say, that the scheme has Mr. Spurgeon's own full confidence. He is not the man to spend his strength on unavailing labors. But I sought equally the views of brethren not connected in any wise with the Tabernacle. The opinions expressed to me were somewhat various, according to the points of view from which they were taken, but except in one or two instances they were not widely apart The sum of the testimony was ill favor of the College, and the objections urged were such as we should me oil this side of the Atlantic with even greater emphasis. The evangelical spirit, the godly earnestness of the young men, and the great usefulness of their labors of winning souls to Christ and gathering churches, were fully recognized and applauded. On these points I recall no exceptions to the common verdict. I think the esvrit du corps by which they are distinguished, sometimes takes forms which are not agreeable to outside brethren, and that while their intense zeal is recognized as the instrument of large immediate results, they are, in instances more or less frequent, regarded ms open to the criticism of lacking the intellectual discipline and culture necessary for sustained and permanent usefulness on the same fields. In other words, such of them as these are better evangelists than pastors, better fitted for itinerant than for fixed service. Instances of this kind were named to me as bringing local discredit upon the whole system, a result equally natural and illogical.
Sufficient time has not yet elapsed for judgments to be regarded as final.
Most of the men are still young — few or none have reached the full maturity of their powers. It is the belief, however, of Mr. Rogers, though I doubt whether it is greatly his ambition, that preachers and theologians destined to eminence and permanent fame will ultimately rise out of this mass of young men, as they have have always arisen out of the mass of the Dissenting ministry of England.
We tender warmest thanks to our faithful contributors, through whose generosity our work in the College hi sustained, but with about 15,000 subscribers to the Sword :and Trowel, we ought to have the means sent us to do far more. Our thanks are especially due to contributors to the Weekly Offering; the system is a sound one, and we thank them for so heartily carrying it out.
In the Orphanage all goes well; and our faith is, that the Lord will provide.
Services in connection with the settlement of Mr. A. McKinley, as pastor of the Baptist church in Zion Chapel, Chatham, were held on the 4th and 5th of last month. On Sabbath, 4th, two sermons were preached, by Mr. Rogers, of the Tabernacle College. On the following day, after a public tea meeting, which was numerously attended, the recognition service was held.
The Scriptures were read and prayer was offered by Mr. W. Harris, of St.
Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Chatham; an address, including the usual topics on such an occasion. was given by Mr. McKinley. The ordination prayer was offered by Mr. V. Down, of the Free Church, Rochester; the charge to the pastor was given by Mr. Rogers; the charge to the church and congregation by Mr. B. Broadley, one of the chaplains of the Chatham garrison; addresses by Mr. T. E. Page, ,Vesleyan minister, Brompton. by Sir. Wyle, and Mr. Ashley, deacons of the church. Mr. McKinley has had many pleasing tokens of his having been called by the Great Head of the church to our in this important sphere; in the increase of the congregation, the cordiality of his reception by other ministers in the town, and, above all, in several decided instances of direct usefulness, resulting from his ministrations.
The anniversary services of the Newhaven Tabernacle were held on Lord'sday, June 20th, when two sermons were preached by Mr. D. Gracey, classical tutorof the Pastors' College. This was the first anniversary of the opening of this place for dixine worship. During the year, this cause, which was commenced by Mr.W. Sargeant, in June, 1868, has had a share in the divine blessing; certainly the Lord has greatly faycured his people here, for the generosity of the gentlemen who built the place for us, and let it to us at so low a rental, is a proof that the Lord's hand was in it at the commencement. When no other place could be procured in the town, and every door seemed shut fast against us, this gentleman nobly offered, and that without being asked, to build the present place, and he has done so with a view to make a school-room of it when funds can be raised to erect a chapel on the ground in front. Mr. James Spurgeon opened this building on June 24th, 1868, and since that time Mr. Sargeant has labored there, for the first nine months only preaching on the Sabbath and attending college in the week, but is now settled with an earnest people, and hoping to do a good work in the town. During the year a church has been formed, now numbering twenty-five, of these Mr. Sargeant has baptized twenty-four, there having been no Baptists in the town when the caused was commenced. The greater portion of these have been brought to Christ within the last twelve months, under the ministry of Mr. Sargeant, and the Lord is still adding unto their number. A Sabbath-school of eighty children, and fourteen teachers, a Bible class of twenty two young men and women, a tract society with eight distributors, and a Missionary Society, have been commenced and are all, under God's blessing, doing good service. Outdoor services have been held for the last two months, which have been well attended by numbers, who, but for this opportunity, would not hear the gospel. There is a large field for labor in the town among the sailors and others, and also in the surrounding villages, where the joyful sound of salvation by grace is rarely heard. Two or three young men are now coming forward, who will be ready to help in the work of preaching the gospel in these villages. The recognition services in connection with the settlement of Mr. Sangeant, were held on Thursday, June 24th. Tea was provided at five o'clock, of which a good company partook. The service commenced at half-past six, and was presided over by Mr. J. Wilkins, of Brighton. Mr. W. Miller, of Lewes, read the Scriptures and offered prayer.
Mr. Upton (in the absence of the deacon, who was ill) gave the statement from the church, Mr. Sargeant then gave an account of his early days in Newhaven (being a native), of his being brought to Christ, of his call to the ministry, and of his being led to accept the pastorate of this church. The ordination prayer was offered by Mr. J. Holt, of Lewes, and the charge was given to the pastor by G. Rogers. A hymn being sung, Mr. J. Wilkins delivered the charge to the church, and Mr. W. Miller concluded with a short address to the unconverted. This service will long be remembered in this town.
The new Baptist chapel at Shooters' Hill Road, to which attention was called in the Sword ad Trowel a short time since, has just been opened. On Sunday, June 27th, Mr. George Rogers, of the Pastors' College, preached two sermons. On Sunday, July 4th, Mr. J. Teall, of Queen Street, Woolwich, preached in the morning, and Mr. H.R. Brown, minister of the church, in the evening. On Wednesday, July 7th, the series of opening services were brought to a close; Mr. C. H. Spurgeon preached in the afternoon, and presided over a public meeting in the evening. Tea was well served between the meetings. The following took part in the day's engagements : — Messrs. J. Teall, and W. Woods, of Woolwich; J.T. Wigner, New Cross; B. B. Wale, Dacre Park; B. Davies, Greenwich; W.P. Frith, Bexley Heath; A. Walker, Windlow; A. Buck, Old Kent Road; and A. E. Lamb; together with a minister from the small United States. The building was crowded at each of the meetings on Wednesday. The collections were good: upwards of £100 were realised in collections and contributions. Funds are still urgently needed, to reduce the debt on the building, which would not have been erected thus speedily had there been a suitable place for the friends to worship in. Services in connection with the settlement of Mr. C. T. Johnson as pastor of the Baptist church at Alford, in Lincolnshire, were held on the 11th and 14th of July last, Two Sermons were preached by Mr. G. Rogers, of the Pastors' College. On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 11th, Mr. Robinson, the Independent minister of Alford, commenced by reading and prayer; one of the deacons gave a statement on behalf of the church. Mr. Lauderdale of Grimsby, put the usual questions, to which answers were given by Mr. Johnson. Mr. Lauderdale offered the ordination prayer. Mr. Rogers gave the charge to the pastor; and Mr. Payne, Baptist minister at Lowth, concluded with prayer. After a public tea in the school-room, a service was held in the evening, at which an address to the church was given by Mr. Payne.
Addresses were also delivered by Mr. Lauderdale, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Johnson. Mr. The church and congregation have revived greatly under the devoted labors of Mr. Johnson. The chapel and several rooms connected with it are very neat and commodious; and there is much to encourage the hope of great usefulness in the future. Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. B. Davies, for the Pastor : — June 28th, Eleven; July 1st, Twenty-five; by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon : — July 12th, six.