GLORY IN TRIBULATION.
LOOKING from the little wooden bridge which passes over the brow of the beautiful waterfall of Hahdeck, on the Grimsel, one will be surprised to see a rainbow making an entire circle surrounding the fall, like a coronet of gems, or a ring set with all the brilliants of the jeweler. Every hue is there “In fair proportion, running groin the red To where the violet fades into the sky.” We saw two such bows, one within the other, and we fancied that we discovered traces of a third. We had only seen such a sight but once before, and were greatly delighted with “that arch of light, born of the spray, and colored by the sun.” It was a fair vision to gaze upon, and reminded us of the mystic rainbow, which the seer of Patmos beheld, which was round about the throne, for it strikes us that it was seen by John as a complete circle, of which we see but the half on earth; the upper arch of manifest glory we rejoice to gaze upon, but the lower and foundation arch of the eternal purpose, upon which the visible display of grace is founded, is reserved for our contemplation in another world. When we read in the first verse of the tenth chapter of Revelation, “I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head,” it greatly assists the imagination to conceive of a many-colored circlet, rather than a semicircle. We lingered long watching the flashing crystal; dashed and broken upon a hundred craggy rocks, and tossed into the air in sheets of foam, to fall in wreaths of spray; we should not have tired for hours if we could have tarried to admire the harmonious hues of that wheel within a wheel, “Of colors changing from the splendid rose, To the pale violet’s dejected hue;” but we were on a journey, and were summoned to advance. As we mounted our mule and rode silently down the pass, amid the pine forests and the over-hanging mountains, we compared the little stream to the church of God, which in peaceful times flows on like a village brook, quiet and obscure, blessed and blessing others, but yet little known or considered by the sons of men. Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, are Heater than all the waters of Israel, and the proud ones of earth despise that brook which flows “hard by the oracle of God,” because her waters go softly and in solitary places; but when the church advances over the steeps of opposition, and is dashed adown the crags of persecution, ‘then, in her hour of sorrow, her glory is revealed. Then she lifts up her voice, like the sea, and roars as a boiling torrent, quickening her pace till that mighty river, the river Kishon, sweeps not with such vehemence of power. Her sons and daughters are led to the slaughter, and her blood is cast abroad, like the foam of the waters, but onward she dashes with irresistible energy, fearing no leap of peril, and then it is that the eternal God glorifies her with the rainbow of his everlasting grace, makes the beauty of her holiness to shine forth, and, in the patience of the saints, reveals a heavenly radiance, which all men behold with astonishment. The golden age of true religion is the martyr period; war breeds heroes, and suffering unto blood in striving against sin draws forth men of whom the world is not worthy. So far from enduring loss by opposition, it is then that the cause of God receives its coronation. The rainbow of the divine presence in the fullness of majesty: encircles the chosen people when tribulation, affliction, and distress break them, as the stream is broken by the precipitous rocks adown which it boldly casts itself that its current may advance in its predestined channel.
When, at any time, our forebodings foretell the coming of evil times for the church, let us remember that before the Sprit revealed to the beloved disciple the terrible beasts, the thundering trumpets, the falling stars, and the dreadful vials, he bade him mark with attention that the covenant rainbow was round about the throne. All is well, for God is true. — C. H.SPURGEON.COMMON SENSE AND FAITH; OR, REMARKS UPON G. MULLER’S REPORT.
BY. J. A. SPURGEON.
WE have read in our youth the marvelous stories with which childhood is supposed to be amused and instructed, and mysteries and wonders not a few have come under our notice since then, but beyond them all, in point of marvel, we place the sober record of facts contained in the yearly reports of George Muller, of Bristol. No wonders of romance can rival the plain unvarnished statement of God’s dealings with his servant engaged in the Orphanage at Ashley Down. “Facts are stranger than fiction.” If we had been told that in one year 1,150 orphans would be maintained in comfort, and be educated and fitted for lives of usefulness in society, at an expense of £13,500, all of which should be raised without any endowment, subscription list, or personal application for money, we should have said, “If the Lord were to open windows in heaven, might such a thing be?” But there is the fact in all its sublime significance. Our hearts are moved with adoring gratitude to the Giver of all good as we say, “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Let us turn aside and view this great sight, for surely it will repay a careful investigation.
As we have frequently found this beneficent work seriously misunderstood, and made to conduce to evil rather than good, our present brief paper is meant to be a practical lesson in prudence for hot-headed enthusiasts, whose rashness, unless stayed in time, may involve a noble principle in much obloquy.
Mr. Muller plies in the fore-front of his service for the Lord the clear declaration that, as it is God’s work, he expects the divine help whenever he needs it and’ asks for it. No refer of his reports can escape the clear conviction that faith in God and prayer to Him are the fundamental principles upon which the gigantic work is based: These are the two main pillars of the enterprise, but to rest satisfied with them as an answer to the question, What are the elements of success in this worker the Lord? Would be to neglect some of the vital points in the case. It is well known that many persons engage in earnest prayer for what does not succeed, and that faith of a certain kind is exercised in connection with matters which signally fail. Many cases will suggest themselves to the minds of all, illustrative of this point; indeed they am so common that Mr. Muller feels bound to say, “I add here again my solemn caution that none should act in this way for the sake of imitating me; otherwise he will learn, to his bitter cost, what it is to do such things in the way of imitation?’ We distinctly remember a tradesman who endeavored to apply this to his business. He was a well-todo butcher, but all at once conceived that a life of faith and prayer would answer behar than his old-fashioned way of plodding for a living. Our readers will anticipate the result. He was soon a bank-rapt, and his children in the streets. Such cases are beacons warning us to combine the exercise of other graces with the principles of “‘faith and prayer” if we wish for success. Any one can see that in the case we quote, nothing but a miracle could have prevented the ruin of that man’s trade; there are certain principles at work in the world which lead inevitably to that end, and there is no promise on which to rely when pleading with God to suspend laws which he has himself ordained.
What is clear, however, in this tradesman’s case, is considered doubtful when applied to the work of the Lord. We remember hearing a very excellent brother announce that he and his friends had spent all the preceding night in prayer to God that he would send them money to pay off their chapel debt of £1,500 by the end of that month. The good man came from the place of prayer to assert his full conviction that the money would come before that fixed period. We took the liberty of questioning it most decidedly, and of doubting the propriety of making the assertion. Was there any promise to that effect in the Bible? Was it necessary to God’s glory? Did it not rather savor of dictation to God to fix the time and tie him down to the exact day they had selected? Who is Lord and Master if we are thus to insist on our times and seasons being rigidly adhered to by God? If the place were to be sold away from them, and no other way of worshipping God could be found, they might appeal to God to appear for them and grant relief, but to pray for the immediate extinction of a debt simply because it was a grievous burden, was, in our opinion, a pious blunder, rather than an act of faith. We believe that the midnight prayers were not lost, for a most remarkable blessing descended upon the ministry of our most esteemed friend; and, moreover, the chapel debt will be paid in due time, by dint of persevering labor, but it was unreasonable to look for its discharge as the result of prayer alone. It is well that God does not answer our requests by doing for us what we can do for ourselves, for if we were all to live by faith without labor, all human effort would be paralyzed, since every Christian would have a right to follow the same rule; if all were to do so, it must resolve itself into a dead-lock, with everybody believing and nobody acting, or else the strange spectacle would be seen of a lazy church living on the efforts of the ungodly world, and relying upon it for all support in the form of funds — an absurd result, which no one could for one moment contemplate. No; we must go beyond the two first principles, and seek further light. We make one extract from Mr. Muller’s annual report, which contains, to our mind, the additional essential principles to which the success of his whole work may, under the divine blessing, be attributed, namely, the exercise of sound discretion, unremitting diligence, and constant vigilance: — “The signing of the contract for this fifth house having been, by agreement between the contractors and myself, made to stand over till Jan. 1, 1867, I might have signed the contract for No. 5, without having the whole amount of the money in hand, and said to myself, that the Lord would send me the means! before what I had in hand (£34,000) was actually expended on the buildings, which would be enough for about 18 months; but I adhered to the principle on which I had always acted in reference to this institution, namely, never to go in debt, even for the work of God. I had, on the contrary, always said this to myself, Just because it is the work of God, if indeed I am the person who has to do this work and if His own time is come, I may expect to be supplied with means; but if for the time being, I have not the needed means, it is plain, that I am either not the person to do the work, or the Lord’s time is not yet come on this ground I did not sign the contract for No. 5, but preferred, to the honor of the Lord, to wait yet further on Him in patient, believing, and expecting prayer, until He should be pleased to give me all I required, that thus I might honor Him in this particular. And now see, dear reader, how abundantly the Lord recompensed my quiet, patient waiting!”
Now, we can see here clearly the exercise of strong common sense in keeping clear of liabilities. No debt for the Lord even. How many of our institutions would be all the better if arrangements were made to avoid debt? I know that the answer is, it cannot be helped. We reply, it ought to be helped, and if we are not very much mistaken, there is a great fault some where whenever debt is incurred. To say the least, there is a great lack of financial ability and economy. Owe no man anything, means not only pay your debts, but have no debts to pay. To run into debt, and then talk of faith in God to get our liabilities removed, is to ask God to countenance our neglect of a very salutary law which he has himself enjoined upon us.
Nothing is likely to hinder the progress of God’s work so much as our undue haste. To go before we are sent, is as bad as going without being sent: in either case we must expect to go at our own charges. We are pained to find the work of God at Ashley Down used to countenance rash expenditure and burdensome debts in connection with our societies and churches; its weight is thrown quite into the other scale, and its example condemns debt most completely. Mr. Muller is an instance of prudent finance, not of reckless borrowing under the pretense of faith.
We would call attention to the further fact, that common sense has been used in the gradual development of the whole enterprise. 2,263 orphans have been received since April 11th, 1836; £259,089 have been given for their support, and nearly £96,000 for other objects. A truly noble sum total; but amidst it all, a firm hand has held the out-goings in check, and kept income and expenditure in proper limits. While difficulties have never daunted, success has never elated our brother, and led him on to any rash launching out, trusting, as it is called, to the course of events to make it, all square at last. This has ensured for our friend public confidence, and has contributed towards his pecuniary prosperity. Sanctified shrewdness and tact are to be seen in every item of building, internal government, and public management. The visitor, passing through the houses in which so large a number of orphans are housed, will be struck with the neatness, order, symmetry and regularity, in fact, with the almost, perfect arrangement of everything. The administrative faculty dwells so largely in the head of the institution, that he could have managed the commissariat of an army, or ruled an empire, had he been called to it. God has not chosen a fool in this case to do a work which needs profound wisdom, but he has qualified the man of his choice pro-eminently and beyond all others for the post assigned him. No other institution is carried on so cheaply; the cost of each orphan is so small that, in the Stockwell Orphanage, owing to our smaller number, we cannot hope to come anything near it. In printing forms of application, etc., for our own Orphanage, we collected specimens from five or six orphanages, but none were equal to Mr. Muller’s for cheapness, brevity, and completeness. He has more practical sagacity in his little finger than a dozen committees could muster between them. If all the bishops died we could fill their places with ease. but Mr. Muller’s death would be a national calamity; we know not Who could wear his mantle.
The man acts as calmly anal prudently as if all depended upon human judgment, and then trusts in his God as if he had done nothing. Let all workers for the Lord learn from his history to serve the Lord with understanding as well as with faith and zeal.
We have read Mr. Muller’s extracts from his diary of donations with great interest, and we are struck with the ability shown in selecting those short pithy pieces which are best adapted to stir up the friends of this charily to afford practical help: — “June 7, 1866. From Scotland, £20 from a lady, ‘as a thankoffering to the Lord for his gracious preservation of her cattle during the prevalence of the plague throughout the land.’ Aug. 16. £5 from London, with the following letter: ‘My dear Sir, I herewith send you a cheque for fire pounds, towards your building fund. On Thursday last, I went to the railway station, to see a friend off to Paris; and at parting I promised to meet him in Paris on Monday, to witness the great sights of that city during this week. On my road home from the railway [saw your report. I bought one, and on Sunday determined to forego my visit and send you the above stun which I had intended to haw .spent. It is my first donation, but I do hope and trust it will not be the last.’ Oct. 6. ‘From a farmer’s wife,’ £1, being a penny for every pound of butter sold during the last year. Oct. 8. From a shipowner, £100, with £100 for missions, instead of insuring his shins Oct 23 From Kent £100 Received also, today, 3s. 0 1/2d. from a Christian grocer, being one penny in the pound of his takings during the past week. Ever since, this grocer has continued to send me, week by week, one penny in the pound on all his taking being generally from 3s. 2d. to 3s. 6d. per week.
The 240th part of what there has been received in his shop, you would say, is a little item; and vet here, again, is another proof how much, by systematic giving, even on the smallest scale, may be accomplished; for I think I have received thus from this donor about ten times more than during any previous year.”
We might multiply these express at great length, but they would all tend to prove the sound judgment which has been brought to bear on the whole selection contained in this report. We venture to say that Mr. Muller had to wade through acres of prosy matter during the year, but he does not inflict this weariness upon the readers of his annual report; to this, it seems to us, is to be traced no little of the success which has attended the issue of these yearly narratives of facts and figures. It is quite a means of grace to read through the book now before us, and any careful and intelligent Christian reader will rise from its perusal, refreshed and strengthened for future service and faith in the Lord. It is one of the best sermons we know, on faith and works, on common sense and Christian principle combined in active operation.
We add to these suggestions the further considerations, that in the ease of the Bristol Orphanage, any one can see that the work is not only God’s work, but one which is imperatively called for. That Mr. Muller is the best man to do it, and that he is doing it well With these facts before us, we see the side which appeals to man as well as to God; and we at once comprehend the causes of success. We believe that God blesses, but we believe in divine methods of action, and they are always on the side of sanctified prudence and common sense.
THE SILVER INHORN; OR TAKING NOTES ON SERMONS.
THOUSANDS have been greatly edited by the sermons of holy Mr. M’Cheyne, which we have had the great pleasure of inserting in this magazine; they are real gems of priceless worth. We trust the kind friend who has given us the use of them will see it right to issue them in a volume when he has increased the number. Now, it will be observed that some of these precious things are from the notes of a hearer — a diligent, appreciating, instructed hearer we may be sure. What a benefit has that hearer with his note book conferred upon hundreds! Thanks, good sir, most hearty thanks. Might not other hearers, whose privilege it is to hear good and great men do equally efficient service by taking careful and judicious notes? To attempt to take very much, spoils the present result of the ministry, and is an injury to spiritually profitable hearing, but to jot down outlines, main thought, and remarkable illustrations, is rather an assistance than otherwise to that holy act of worship, the devout hearing of the word. If such sketches and jottings are filled up upon returning home, the exercise will assist sacred meditation, which is the true digestion of truth; and if such completed notes be preserved, they will frequently revive in the mind the savor of truth heard in years gone by. Mere writing for the sake of it is useless, but we can see many good ends which may be served if the more intelligent of our hearers made memoranda of the sermons addressed to them. Of course, in cases where everything spoken is issued from the press, the rule may not apply; but these are exceedingly few. The good custom of bidding the children take notes of the sermon, will be followed by all parents who would have their children wise unto salvation; the youngsters should be pleasantly questioned as to what they remember, and encouraged to treasure up the good things in their memories. It should be the aim of the preacher to assist the memories of both young and old, and to this end he shoed arrange his thoughts in a portable manner, that they may be carried away, and season them with so much suit that they will be preserved in the recollection. Philip Henry would often contrive the heads of his sermon, to begin with the same letter; or oftener two and two of a letter. This he did not out of affectation, but from condescension to the younger sort. He would say, that his chief reason for doing it was because frequently the method is followed in the Scriptures, particularly in the book of Psalms in the original. “This,” said he, “is my plea. If it be not a fashionable ornament, it is a scriptural ornament, and this is sufficient to recommend it, at least to justify it against the imputation of childishness.”
Of some of his subjects when he had finished them, he made short memoranda in rhyme, a verse or two to record each Sabbath’s work, and these he gave out to the young people, who wrote them, and leaned them, and profited by them. All preachers may not see fit to use the same methods, but all should drive towards the same end, and parents should help them by stimulating the attrition of their families.
Should it be objected, “our children cannot comprehend our minister,” our reply is, the more is the pity, hear another minister as soon as you can; for a gospel preacher who does not speak plainly enough to be for the most part understood by children of ten or twelve, had better go to school to learn what gospel simplicity means. Try it, parents, and you will find John and Ellen understanding much more than you thought; and if it be not so, there is all the more reason for you to make it clear to them by an hour’s conversation and explanation.
In most respects, we cannot do better than follow our grand old predecessors the Puritans, who were so much given to the habit of notetaking, that a scurrillous writer in a lampoon, entitled, “The Loyal Satirist; or, Hudibras in prose,” finds mater for ridicule in it. He writes afar this fashion,” Oh! what a gracious sight is a silver inkhorn. How blessed a gift is it to write short-hand! What necessary implements for a saint are cotton wool and blotting paper! These dabblers turn the church into a scrivener’s shop. A country fellow, last term mistook it for the Six Courts’ Office. The parson looks like an offender upon the scaffold, and they penning his confession, or a spirit conjured up by their uncouth characters.” In a squib upon the expenditure of the committee of safety, during the Commonwealth, among the items wittily charged to Lord Fleetwood’s use, is one “for a silver inkhorn, and ten gilt paper books, covered with green plush and Turkey leather, for his lady to write in at church — seven pounds, three shilings, and three pence.” These godly people could well afford to be laughed at while they were enriching themselves with the choice jewels which the preachers of their age scattered so plenteously.
Henry Smith has a good passage in his sermon on the “Art of Hearing,” with which this word to the wise shall close. “But before this you must use another help, that is, record every note in thy mind, as the preacher goeth; and after, before thou dost eat, or drink, or talk, or do anything else, repeat all to thyself. I do know some in the university, which did never hear a good sermon, but as soon as they were gone they rehearsed it thus, and learned more by this (as they said) than by their reading and study; for recording that which they had heard when it was fresh, they could remember all, and hereby got a better facility in preaching than they could learn in books. The like profit I remember gained, when I was a scholar, by the like practice.
The philosophers and orators that have written such volumes, have left in their writings, that this was the keeper of their learning, like the bag which beareth the treasures. Therefore I may say with Christ, that the wicked are wiser than Christians; for the orators and philosophers used this help in hearing of earthly things, and we;;’ill not use it in hearing of heavenly things. The only case why you forget so fast as you hear, and of all the sermons which you have heard, have scarce the substance of one in your heart, to comfort or counsel you when you have need, is because you went from sermon to dinner, and never thought any more of the matter; as though it were enough to hear, like sieves which hold water no longer than they are in a river.
What a shame is this, to remember every clause in your lease, and every point in your father’s will; nay. to remember an old tale as long as you live, though it be long since you heard it; and the lessons which ye hear now will be gone within this hour, that you may ask, What hath stolen my sermon from me? Therefore, that you may not hear us in vain, as you have heard others, my exhortation to you is, to record when you are gone that which you have heard. If I could each you a better way, I would; but Christ’s disciples used this way when their thoughts ran upon his speech, and made them come again to him to ask the meaning; the virgin, his mother, used this way when she pondered his sayings, and laid them up in her heart; the good hearers of Berea used this way, when they carried Paul’s sermon home with them, that they might examine it by the Scripture. This difference is noted between Jacob and his sons: when Joseph uttered his dream, his brethren gave no regard to it; but it is said that father Jacob noted the saying, Genesis 37:11. Therefore this must needs be an excellent way. For if Joseph and Mary, and Christ’s disciples, should speak unto you as I do, and show you a way to hear, they would show you the same way that they used themselves. You cannot tell how much it will profit you until you practice it; do you try it one month, and if you love knowledge, I am sure you will use it while you live; but if you will not use it for all that can be said, truly you shall be like the old women which St. Paul speaks of, which were ‘always learning and never the wiser.’ 2 Timothy 2:7.”
CHURCHIANITY VERSUS CHRISTIANITY WHEN a genuine Christian happens to find himself settled down as a clergyman of the church of England in addition to the troublesome memories of the inconvenient declarations by which he reached his position, he must frequently be the victim of mental nausea at the sight of the motley squadron in which he is enrolled. There is good Mr. Ryle, an indefatigable Tractarian, who hates Romish Tractarianism, and preaches the gospel thoroughly and there are many like him the excellent of the earth, distinguished for piety who would be an honor to any denomination of Christians: a believer in Jesus feels much comfort in such company; but who are those spirits in red, white, and blue? Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, in their dress at any rate. Their voice is Babylonian even as their apparel; they hail from Rome, and are affectionately attached to the Mother of Harlots. Can the lover of truth go with these? Can the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ’s pure gospel sit in the same congress with these priests? Bow at the same altar? Unite in church fellowship with them? Surely the more gracious a man is the more irksome must such fellowship become. That searching question, “What concord hath Christ with Belial?” if it ever intrudes itself into rectories, must torture any evangelical clergyman who keeps a tender conscience.
Moreover, on the other side of the quadrangle of the Establishment one sees a Philistine regiment of skeptics, with a bishop to head them, and all sorts of dignitaries to make up the battalion. Can the spiritual mind find peace in an affinity with these? Can it be to the evangelical clergyman, who is truly converted, a fact to sleep quietly upon, that he is in full communion with these unbelievers? The apostolical inquiry, “What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” must surely at times ring through the manse, and startle the quiet of the vicarage library. How our brethren manage to read the burial service over ungodly men, how they can subscribe to the catechism, and many other enormities of the Book of Common Prayer, remains to us an enigma towards the solution of which we have not advanced a hair’s breadth since the day when we provoked so much indication by our sermon on “Baptismal Regeneration;” but the first bitter draught of subscription, and the subsequent doses of catchism and rubric, are not all the annoyances of conforming Purlins, for many of them are so sorely vexed with davy ecclesiastical troubles, that they might almost say with David, “All the day long have I been plied, and chastened every morning” We would pity them for being placed in so unenviable a position were they not free to get out of it whenever they please: lacking room for commiseration, we adopt another form of good wishing, and pray that their yoke may become heavier day by day, and their surroundings more and more intolerable, until they are driven forth from their self-chosen bonds.
We are the best friend of the Evangelicals, because we do not delude them into the notion that their ecclesiastical union with Puseysim and Rationalism is justifiable, but honestly urge them to quit their indefensible and dishonorable position, and come out decidedly from all communion with the monster evils of the Establishment. None will welcome them more heartily or help them more industriously than he whom they adjudged to be unkind because of his outspoken rebukes. Disapproving of Episcopacy as a form of church government, many Dissenters would nevertheless rejoice to assist a free evangelical epicopal community formed by a great secession from the state church, and freed from its glaring errors; and such a church would be vexed by no special bickerings and jealousies between itself and the other members of the great evangelical family, it would most probably enjoy a place of more than ordinary prestige, and might possibly become the largest religious community in England. A little Scotch backbone and wonders would be wrought. Alas! we fear that the Record school teaches no lessons which can educate heroes, and we are afraid the evangelicals will continue to be what the Puseyites call them, “the jellies,” to the end of the chapter.
In their work for the Lord, our Christian brethren in the Establishment of the — bolder stamp frequently find Churchianity a sad incumbrance to them. In favored regions, where the gospel has long been preached, a circle of believers has been formed, who form a church within the church, and contribute greatly to the success and comfort of the clergyman; but in other cases the Churchmen of the parish are a terrible nuisance to the Christian incumbent. Laying aside for a moment our opinion of the inconsistency of his official position, we cannot help sympathizing deeply with the minister who, hampered and bound by his ecclesiastical connections, is nevertheless struggling, as manfully as his condition allows, to preserve a gospel testimony in the land. We wish God-speed to all such, as ministers of our Lord Jesus, although we anxiously desire that their membership with the corrupt church of England may, at any cost, speedily come to an end. We know that hundreds of the excellent of the earth are preaching the pure word of truth every Sabbath within the bounds of Episcopalianism, with hearts breaking for heaviness because their parishioners loathe the gospel, and hate them for the gospel’s Sake. “Ah,” said a clergyman to us a few months ago, “your people love you, and if you are ill they are all praying to have you restored, but as for me, they would set the bells ringing in my parish if I were dead, for gospel truth is abominable in the esteem of most of them, and they hate me for keeping ritualism out of my church.” This was, probably, an extreme case, but there are many of a similar kind, though not so intense in degree. May such brethren be upheld by their great Master to war a good warfare, and to remain faithful to the faith once committed to the saints. Inconsistent as they are, we cannot deliberate for a single moment as to which side to take in the contest between them and Ritualists and worldlings; they are our brethren notwithstanding their shortcoming, their cause is the cause of truth and righteousness, so far as they preach the gospel of Jesus, and may it triumph beyond their own expectation, even to the’ destruction of the union between church and state. They deserve to be driven out of the Establishment, in which they are intruders, towards which they are Dissenters, for which they have defiled their reputations among their Nonconforming brethren, but, as men fighting in a wicked world against deadly errors, they deserve the prayers of all believers, and the best assistance that can be rendered by all Christians.
In the Bucks Herald a serious complaint is laid against the zealous Vicar of Winslow, by a Churchman, which we shall use as an illustration of the quarrel between Christianity and Churchianity. The allegations appear to us to be very justly brought by the writer from his Churchianity point of view; the vicar is a Christian, and has no right in the Anglican church, and when his vestry condemns him, it is simply the voice of the church with which he has unhappily allied himself protesting against the religion of Jesus, which shines in his course of action. If an honest Englishman enlists in the French army in time of war, he must not wonder if his British manners are offensive to his Gallic connections; he should not put himself in so false a position, but range himself on the side to which, by lineage and loyalty, he belongs. It is curious to note that the great sins which the Vicar of Winslow has committed against Churchianity, are precisely the very acts which, under Christianity, are accounted as virtues. His good before the Lord of hosts is evil in the judgment of perverse men. “In Winslow,” says the Churchman, “there is a most decided church feeling. Many’ of us, with the greatest regret, leave our parish church, who have never done so before; others, who from circumstances are unable to do so, feel the want of good services, but submit to what they get. Our vicar,! believe, thinks himself sincere and right; but he forgets that other persons may (as in this instance they’ do) hold contrary views to his, to which views he will not yield in the slightest degree, although it would be for the benefit of the church of which he is a priest, and of which we are the true and loving people.” Of course he is a priest, and his own prayer book calls him so, and yet we venture to guess that he disowns the title.HIS parishioners are right enough in murmuring at his want of churchmanship, but he is more right still, though very inconsistent, in putting Christ before the church.
Now for the gross transgressions of the vicar, which are chiefly threefold. Item the first. He has been guilty of Christian love. He has committed against Churchianity the high crime and misdemeanor of loving his brethren in the faith, whereas he ought to have denounced them all as schismatics and heretics. The charge needs no comment from us, all sound judges will see that the case is parallel to that against Paul and Silas, at Philippi, “these men, being Christians, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs which it is not lawful for us to receive, being Churchmen.” Here are the very words of the accusation — “ the holding of prayer meetings, at which all denominations of Christians were invited to attend, and to offer up prayer in alphabetical order, regardless of sect, and under the presidency of the vicar.” Horrible! is it not, O bitter bigot! Lovely! is it not, disciple of Jesus? Item second. He has vindicated, as well as he could, a weak point in his teaching, and has been anxious to win over those who differ. He ‘is accused of preaching “special sermons upon such subjects as Holy Baptism, and inviting the Baptists to attend, when that denomination of Christians had just established a new place of worship.” Churchianity does not think those vile Baptists to be worth powder and shot. To preach to them is as bad as Paul preaching among the uncircumcised Gentiles. It is useless to try to convert them, and it is dangerous to ventilate the subject of Baptism, because the church is so very fond of Infant Baptism, and the matter is so exceedingly doubtful, that it is better not to stir in it. The Baptists, mark you, reader, do not complain; they are glad that every Paedobaptist should declare his own views, and they feel so safe in their own entrenchments that they look for converts whenever the subject is brought before the public mind; but the churchman complains grievously because Baptists are even bidden to come and be rectified by the vicar; let them alone, they are heretics and arch enemies of Churchianity; let them go to their own place, both here and hereafter. Item third. The vicar has had the impertinence to be faithful as a pastor. This is a very serious business, and, .we should imagine, is at the bottom of the whole complaint. He has trodden on some people’s gouty toes, and touched their besetting sins with too rough a hand. “Thus,” saith the church-scribe, “the preaching of sermons upon such subjects as balls and concerts, when such private and public entertainments were about to be given; I say that, in my belief, these things have been calculated to send church-goers elsewhere, such sermons as I have mentioned coming under the head of personal ones, which should always be avoided.” Christianity approves of. holy boldness in reproof, and integrity in declaring the whole counsel of God, but Churchianity loves gaiety and frivolity, and would have a dumb dog in the pulpit, who will not rebuke it. Whenever Churchianity has ruled, revelry and wantonness have been winked at, so long as saints’ days, sacraments, and priests have been regarded. God’s law is nothing to the high church, so long as church forms are scrupulously and ostentatiously observed. We should see maypoles erected and danced around on a Sunday afternoon within a year, if Churchianity had its way; the Book of Sports would be revived, and the evening of the Lord’s day would be dedicated to the devil. Leave the church open, observe saints’ days, decorate the altar, sing “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” put on tagrags, and all goes smoothly with Churchianity: preach the gospel, and denounce sin, and straightway .there is no small stir.
Well, good Mr. Vicar, may you be yet more vile in these men’s sight, until they cast you out of the national church as your Master was driven forth before you. May you please God more and more, and make the devil and all his allies heartily sick of you. Saving your vicarage, and professed churchmanship, about which we can see nothing desirable, we esteem you .highly, and hope that you and the like of you may evermore be sustained by the abounding mercy of the great Head of the one only true church, which is the remnant according to the election of grace: May Christianity rule and Churchianity be cast to the moles and to the bats.
CONVINCED that the sale of religious books in the lonely cottages of our villages and hamlets, and among the crowds of the uninstructed poor of our great cities, is one of the best methods of reaching the hearts of perishing men, about a year ago we committed to some of our young brethren at the Tabernacle the care of an enterprise of the kind, hoping that it would grow into a great society. Under the superintendence of our friends, seven men have been laboring with very considerable success in different parts of England, and have by their experience proved that the field is large and the work much needed. Nearly one thousand pounds’ worth of books have been sold, and large districts have thus been sown with the truth; but we regret to say that the work is in danger of coming to a termination for lack of funds, all our means being now exhausted. It grieves us to the heart to go back a single step; like the English trumpeter we have not learned to sound a retreat: we had far rather speak to the children of Israel that they go forward; yet backward we must go, unless the Lord shall send us funds, for debt is of all things our greatest abhorrence, and even for the truth’s sake we dare not incur it. It remains very much with our readers whether we shall discharge our colporteurs or not, for although we are willing to lead in holy activity, we cannot stand alone, and when deserted by our fellow soldiers, we have no alternative but to stay our action. Dear friends, do you know what the colporteur does, and how cheap an agent he is? If not, let us tell you a few things about him.
He must be a strong man, for he has to carry a heavy pack; he must be a patient laborer, for he has to toil most arduously; and he must be an intelligent worker, for he has to battle with all sorts of opinions. He journeys many miles in a day over hill and dale to remote country houses, and there tries to sell a Bible, or a Pilgrim’s Progress, or some other good book; he has pennyworths for the poor, elegant volumes for the rich, and picture books for the children, all full of the gospel of Jesus. When he cannot make a sale, he leaves a tract, and says a few words about the great salvation; and, if there be any sick in the house, he reads a chapter and offers prayer, and points the dying sinner to the living Savior. Wet and dry, winter and summer, he is at his work; his district is large, and he tries to go round the whole of it at least once in every month, so that he may sell the monthly periodicals; hence he has no waste time on his hands, but is at work from morning till night. Frowned upon by Popish clergy and ridiculed by ungodly men, he is sustained by zeal for his Master’s glory, and looks for his reward in heaven. He finds in many places as complete an ignorance of the gospel as if he were in India; even the name of Jesus is sometimes unknown, and that in Christian England; but, on the other hand, he sees Popish prints on the walls, which have been sold by hawkers, and bought because they were cheap and showy, and he meets with profane Songs, vile newspapers, polluting novels, and obscene literature, and has to do his best to put something better in their place. Where there is no gospel minister or missionary he is hailed as the only light which the darkened villagers have within reach, and frequently he is the herald of the preacher, and the. founder of a Christian church For all his toils, the good man only gets sixty pounds a year, the half of which, at least, he is bound to earn by the sales which he effects; he is therefore no hireling lustful for gain, but a self denying worker toiling for love of souls. To turn him adrift is cruelty to souls, and treason to truth, shall it be done! We thought that three hundred pounds a year would have been readily subscribed, instead of which, our friends hardly sent us fifty pounds during last year, and we have been greatly discouraged. The Lord knows how ardently we desire his glory, and how readily we would give our last penny to spread the gospel, but all are not of this mind, and hence our college and colportage are forgotten by the bulk of our readers. Thanks, .a thousand thanks to a loving and faithful few who bring tears of rejoicing to our eyes by their thoughtful and continual liberality; when will the Lord touch the hearts of others, and make them willing to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty?
Scotland has a noble society of colporteurs, numbering one hundred and fifty; shall England be left without such a necessary body of evangelists? If it be so, the fault is not at our door. The Lord will require the blood of souls at the hand of those who see men perish for lack of knowledge, and refuse to send them light.
Our woodcut shows the colporteur in a cold winter’s day talking with the children of a lone farmhouse, and selling them some of the many excellent magazines of the present day, for he is always the children’s friend, with a word and perhaps a little book to give them, or a hymn to teach them.
Bands of hope spring up around him in the villages, for he is usually a temperance man, and zealous in every good word and work. He is. a very welcome visitor, for he generally goes where there are no book shops, and where apart from him no good magazines and books would ever be seen.
God speed him in his labors, and God grant that so far from recalling him, we may be able to send out more. The matter is now left with the Lord and with his people: we will report progress hereafter. — C. H. Spurgeon.