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  • CHARLES SPURGEON -
    THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL - MARCH, 1875.


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    NOTES FROM “THE DIARY OF JAMES CALDER.”

    WITH REMARKS BY C. H. SPURGEON.

    IN years gone by we were frequently assailed by brethren who insisted upon it that a deep and continual sense of the corruption of the heart was the main token of a child of God. To be tempted was to them the index of spiritual life. They looked upon strong faith as questionable, and upon full assurance as presumption; joy in the Lord they were afraid of, and abiding peace they dreaded as “a treacherous calm.” We remember well the croaking of a brother of this school, whose looks were black as a raven, and whose tones were mournful as the cry of the bittern. His was a deep experience, rumor also added that it was an unclean one; he knew the plague of his own heart, and the hell which lurks within the breast, and being thus made wise by experimental teaching, he was able to sweep away the whole race of professors with the bosom of destruction, for he viewed them all as rotten at the core, “dead-letter men at best,” and utter strangers to the essential experience of the tried children of God. Of this we have had enough and more than enough, and we feel some consolation in the belief that this peculiar phase of thought is passing away: but we have had little space for congratulating ourselves, for the peculiarities of one party have only vanished to give room for those of another. The pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction, and the watchword of “Corruption deplored” is now exchanged for “Perfection attained.” We do not judge the teaching which has led up to it, the disciples may misrepresent their masters; but we now hear of brethren who are “pure as the driven snow,” whose experience is victory unbroken and conflict closed, and from whom doubt and sin are utterly banished. If we believed these good people’s descriptions of their own characters and attainments we should rejoice; but being always dubious of a man’s recommendation of himself, and being painfully aware that we personally have nothing whereof to glory, we hesitate to accept, we question, and in some cases we utterly reject, the assertions of these super-excellent beings. There is abundant room in the church for very great advances in the divine life, and we do not doubt that many beloved brethren have made these advances; long may they maintain them, and still proceed from strength to strength: trot we are sure that they are not beyond the assaults of Satan, the suggestions of the flesh, and the power of original corruption. They do sin and will sin; they will be tried, and the reality of their graces will be tested, and, it may be, some of that which glitters will not turn out to be gold; they will find daily need for divine help, for flesh is frail, and the firmest resolves, like those of Peter, may not survive the appointed ordeal; they will learn that they are men of like passions with the rest of us, and that even if they daily walk in the light as God is in the light, and have constant fellowship with Him, they will still need that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son should cleanse them from all sin.

    We have frequently turned to our well-furnished library of Christian biography to discover whether those whom we have been accustomed to revere as men of God were in the habit of talking as our superior brethren are wont to do. With the exception of Fletcher of Madeley, and others of his school, we find none. On the contrary, Watts well describes the saints of other days in that verse : — Once they were mourning here below, And wet their couch with tears; They wrestled hard, as we do now, With sins and doubts and fears.” It is consolatory to see the footsteps of the flock, and to know that in the sorrows and conflicts of our inner life we are companions of those who have gone before. Though we dare not frame excuses for ourselves from the failings Of others, we may at least be preserved from despairing selfaccusations, by observing that others, who were undoubted saints, were, like ourselves, compassed with infirmity.

    These remarks were suggested by the perusal of “The Diary of James Calder of Croy,” one of those mighty apostles of the Highlands, whose spiritual power is felt to this day, though they have been with God these hundred years. Mr. William Taylor, of Stirling, has done good service to the church of God by the publication of this Diary. Its deep, rich, fresh, loving records will awaken echoes in many hearts, as they have done in ours. Eschewing both the incessant moans of the corruptionists and the immutable smiles of the perfectionists, Mr. Calder’s face, as seen in the glass of his Diary, appears to us to be the natural countenance of a spiritual man; and as in water face answereth to face, so does our inner life tally with his. We have purposely selected passages which illustrate the good man’s changeful moods and show the hills and dales over which he followed the pathway to the skies. 1763. Friday, October 27th. — This day my sore complaint of heartcoldness, heart-estrangement, heart-atheism, was awfully felt, especially in the morning, as it has been for some mornings past, to the terror and distress of my poor benighted soul. Had some little breathing of relief; through the Lord’s mercy, in secret prayer and at family worship. But, alas!

    I still carry about this sore and awful plague — the want of heart-felt love to Christ, and soul-solacing complacency in God. Ah.! I fear that rye somehow provoked the Lord to hide his blessed face from me and to withdraw the benign influences of his Holy Spirit. O blessed Lord! show me wherefore is it that thou contendest with me; and oh! may I be helped to look up, and sigh, and pray, and wait for the dawning of the day and the cheering beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Saturday, 26th. — In yesterday’s memorandum it was my petition that the Lord would let me see why he contended with me and hid his face from me. This day I perceive that the Lord, by the present heavy dispensation, is rebuking me in my solitude for the little care [took to keep near him and to solace my soul with his presence, his countenance and his love, while my children were about me. This I saw in a light that was very affecting and humbling; and, glory to his name! while I was confessing my spiritual idolatries, shameful departures, and backslidings, and attempting to betake myself to the blood and righteousness of Christ with all my sins, and follies, and deadness, and coldness, and darkness, he was pleased of his infinite mercy to receive me graciously, and to manifest somewhat of his love and glory, and his reconciled countenance to my poor soul. This was a sweet reviving cordial. My darkness vanished, my cold heart began to warm, and my weary soul found rest under the shadow of Emmanuel’s wings, and was blessed with some little delightful experiences of what I was earnestly praying for several days past, and that is, a heart-felt complacency in the ever-blessed God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks! eternal thanks, to the God of all grace for this seasonable savor and revival. O for a clearer display of his glory shining in the face of Christ — for richer and sweeter experiences of his loving-kindness that’s better than life! May I be thankful for this sweet dawning, and may I take it as an earnest of the rising sun and the perfect day. 1768. Jan, 11th. — Saturday, Sabbath-day, and tills day, my soul has been (except the time I was lecturing and preaching in the house of God) involved in darkness, distress, and awful desertion, which was most sensibly felt at the midnight hours, when mine eyes were kept waking and my soul meditated terror. On Sabbath night especially I had a clear, distinct, and most humbling and alarming view of the atheism and vileness of my heart and nature — of the pride and vanity and formality which mingled with duties and my sacred administrations. The sight filled me for a moment with trembling and horror, and “unless the Lord had been my help, almost my soul had dwelt in silence; when I said, My foot slippeth, my soul sinketh, thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.” I was held up a little, yea, sustained, by these words, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth;” and these other comfortable words, “The Son of man came to seek and to save that which is lost;” and many other passages and promises of the Word of God came to view in this sore emergence, which removed a great deal of that terror and slavish fear that had seized on my soul. Nevertheless a perfect cure was not yet effected; my sore still ran in the night. I remembered the happy time when I had my songs in the night; but now! thought the Comforter was at a distance, and my silent harp hung on the mournful willows. But blessed be his name, though weeping endureth for a night, on the morn joy ariseth! The clouds began to scatter in the morning by some comfortable beams of the Sun of Righteousness that darted in from his blessed Word on my benighted, disconsolate soul; and at family worship in the morning I had uncommon liberty and enlargement. At night my discouragements recurred — the clouds began to gather again; but in time of the evening sacrifice they were happily dispelled.

    Two things I observed as to this dispensation: one is, that at this precise time, when! was in greater distress of soul than I had experienced for twenty years past, providence (and a noted providence it was) put into my hand the Memoirs of the great and venerable Mr. Thomas Shepherd, in which I found exercises and distresses of soul very much resembling my own, for which he blessed God as an infinite mercy to him; and glory to his name, I hope I can join my note of praise to his! I had infinite need of these humbling views of ‘myself; and I think I see more need of Christ this day for my poor soul than I have seen for twenty years past; and I see enough in Christ — glorious, precious Christ, the adorable Redeemer — to justify, to sanctify, to save, to solace, and glorify a poor castaway like me, a mass of guilt and corruption like me, to the eternal praise and glory of free, free grace! May heaven and earth praise him! Amen.

    The second thing I remarked with respect to this distressful exercise is, that whereas there are several young people at this time under my ministry, and under my particular inspection and care, though few of them are of this poor parish, who are in great distress of soul under a deep law-work and spirit of bondage, as some of them have been for a year or two; and though they are daily on my heart at a throne of grace in my poor way, and though I have visited several of them at their distant habitations, and spent many hours in conference and prayer with them in my house; yet it is now a very long time since my soul was in the case of their souls, I thought, and I still think, that my fellow-feeling and sympathy with their sore and agonizing distress and soul-anguish, was not, and is not, so very tender and affectionate as it ought to be; and therefore I thought that the Lord saw it meet to hold this bitter cup for two or three nights and days to my mouth, to give me a new taste of the wormwood and the gall of their anguish and distress, which I long since experienced; to awaken in my soul more tender and deep sympathy towards them, and more fervent prayers for them than ever. — This I hope is, and will be, one of the happy effects of my sore exercise . . . O how loudly am! called now from my late experience to be more concerned for them than I have ever been! Lord Jesus, hear the sighs and groans of these precious prisoners of hope, and turn them to songs of praise and joy! Amen. 12th. — From morn till eve there were here with me one after another a number of exercised souls, some of them in great soul-distress, but under a most promising work, which I believe on solid grounds will terminate happily in glory to God and the Redeemer, and eternal salvation to them!

    This resort of exercised souls to my house, seeking Jesus who was crucified, I take for my delightful New-year’s gift from my infinitely liberal Master; and glory to his name, some such inestimable New-year’s gift he was pleased to give me for some years past. Glory to his name. Amen. 17th, Sabbath .Eve. — The Lord was singularly kind to-day, especially in the second exercise. Sweet, satisfying, and glorious were the views I had of the mystery of redemption through Christ, and great was the liberty I had in declaring to the great congregation the views I then had of Christ and of God in Christ, and the great and solacing truths of the gospel. I observed several of my auditory as much affected as I was, and some of the gallery bathed in tears. Lord, follow with a remarkable blessing! Amen. 1768. Feb. 3rd. — Would wish to be retired to-day. Many are my calls, great are my errands to a throne of grace, outward troubles and inward distress, without are rightings, within are fears, afflicted, tossed with tempests and not comforted, the knell of death ringing in my ears, and the Comforter that should relieve my soul at a distance ; — mourning without the sun. O my God; my soul is cast down in me; depth called unto depth, thy waves and billows going over me. Nevertheless, I trust that the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day, and that yet his song will be with me in the night, as it sometimes has been, and my prayer to the God of my life. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God, for I trust I shall yet praise him? Amen! Besides, I have a great and solemn work in view, and the time is drawing nigh. Let me be helped, O Lord, by thy blessed Spirit this day, to plead and wrestle at a throne of grace for thy most gracious countenance, and most favorable and special presence on that occasion, if I am spared to set about it. Six o’clock afternoon. — Adored for ever be the Lord for his marvelous lovingkindness shown to my poor distressed soul to-day! It well becomes me to say and sing with the psalmist, “I was brought low and he helped me.” He brought me out of a horrible pit and out of the miry clay, and established my feet on a rock, and put a new song in my mouth, even praises to my God and Redeemer. O! let heaven and earth praise him; for I cannot do it enough. It is now some years since I had such near access, such humble confidence, and such holy joy in the Lord as he vouchsafed me this day. He helped me to read clearly his special paternal love in a long train of merciful dispensations, signal interpositions, gracious vouchsafements, seasonable chastisements, remarkable deliverances, wonderful manifestations, sweet satisfying consolations and sealings of the Spirit, surprising assistances in duties — out of weakness bringing strength, and his frequent and merciful acceptation of my poor oblations in and through Christ, and giving many answers to my poor prayers, and many, many a time turning my heaviest groans into the sweetest songs.

    And shall I not now say and cry out with humble joy, “My Father, my Father, thou hast been the guide of my youth, and the strength of my age”?

    I then was led to see what an undutiful, untowardly, prodigal, disobedient child I was; which I was made to bewail bitterly before him for some time, with vows and resolutions, in the strength of grace, of a more filial temper and conduct for the future. As to some sore external trials, I was likewise eased by being helped to plead his fatherly power, wisdom, love, and faithfulness, as to their having a happy issue — plead likewise as to the other points, and specially the solemnity in view; and I hope, unworthy as I am, for an answer of peace in due time, for the sake of our adorable Jesus, to whom, with the Father and Spirit, be eternal praise and glory. Amen!

    Amen! 1774. Sabbath, Jan, 9th. — Some sweet liberty in the first discourse; much confusion and formality in the second. Lord forgive, for Jesus’ sake! I brought this darkness, formality, and confusion on myself by setting out in a proud and blind dependence on myself, on what I had lately received, and often received. Lord, make me wise to my own salvation, and that of others! Amen. Monday, 10th. — Glory and praise for ever be to God in Christ, for the sweet and blessed liberty he has afforded me this morning. My clouds of yesterday, yea, all my clouds, are scattered, all my bonds are loosed; my soul is established on the Rock laid in Zion. I stand accepted with unspeakable .joy in the perfect and most glorious righteousness of my redeeming God. I have access, with humble boldness, to a throne of grace, to a mercy-seat, and there I am at once blessed with pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace! What shall I render to the Lord? Heaven and earth praise him! Amen, amen! — Visited worthy E — th G — t on a bed of languishing. Great sweetness, light, and liberty in conference and prayer with this dear, blessed, handmaid in Jesus! Conference with sundries. This was a blessed day to my soul — the best, upon the whole, I had for seven, I may say for twenty years back. I was never more sweetly and solidly established on my Rock, my Center, my Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Blessings, blessings, blessings to Him for evermore! Amen. “SPURGEON’S ABSENCE FROM THE TABERNACLE.”

    ACASUAL visitor, with a fixed idea in his mind, sees, or thinks he sees, what would never be thought of by those who are constantly on the spot.

    Proverbially lookers on at chess see more than players, and the same remark applies to other matters. A writer in the Christian World has visited the Tabernacle during the Pastor’s absence, and has made observations which have excited more indignation among our friends than anything which has appeared in print for many a day. All who have called upon us in our sick chamber have, without exception, denounced the article as a comedy of errors, and have marveled that such things could have been concocted. We felt that if the writer’s remarks were well deserved our lifework had been a very poor one: if our people can only receive their spiritual food from one hand, and will only hold together because of the presence of one man, they are individually childish and collectively a rope of sand. We could not think so badly of them, but we were saddened to read that any outward signs had led an evidently friendly writer to form such an estimate of them. One thing we knew, namely, that the pretty anecdote given in the article was utterly without foundation. The writer says, “We have heard that there are seatholders frequenting the Tabernacle who will rudely walk away on seeing a stranger in Mr. Spurgeon’s place; and these selfish souls are said to have been scathingly rebuked by a smart American brother who could flourish a little mother-wit when occasion demanded. Casting his eyes round the sanctuary, and instantly divining the reason why one and another were leaving their seats, the Rev. Mr. Jonathan gave a parting blessing to those who usually frequented that place for the purpose of worshipping Mr. Spurgeon. By-and-by he hoped that they who were there to worship God would have it nice and quiet to themselves. Such a speech was terribly severe, but it was well deserved.’

    Now, to our knowledge, nothing of this kind ever occurred, The tale is old and hackneyed and was worn threadbare in the days of Rowland Hill, it is scandalous to plaster it upon the Tabernacle walls.

    NOTICES OF BOOKS ISRAEL’S IRON AGE; OR SKETCHES FROM THE PERIOD OF THE JUDGES. BY MARCUS DODS, D.D. HODDER &STOUGHTON. DR.DODS seems to think that to find in Samson and other judges types of our Lord Jesus is “mere fancy” and that he has got hold of a “rational principle of interpretation.” He tells us that “if you merely wish to find analogies and figures for New Testament truth, it is very easy and very profitless work.” So he may think, but Paul was of another mind when he found in the story of Sarah and Hagar such admirable illustrations of the two covenants. Mr. Dods “rational principle” makes his book very dry and savorless to spiritual minds, and deprives it of much of the value it might otherwise have had. He is, moreover, a dangerous teacher when he says so much n defense of speculative minds whose border runs very close to heathenism; he compares such to the tribe of Zebulon, who feel “the irrepressible longing of the born seaman, who must lift the misty veil of the horizon, and penetrate its mystery.” Had he likened them to pirates we should have endorsed his metaphor.

    His sketches are, however, useful in their way, and may be profitably referred to as casting a sort of moonlight radiance upon a portion of history which needs still further illumination. MOTHER’S FRIEND.

    HODDER AND STOUGHTON THE volume in paper is cheap at 1 s. 6d., and is full of useful instruction.

    NOTES.

    WE do not know how it can be managed, but it would certainly be an excellent thing if the Nonconformist bodies could organize a representative system by which they could speak for themselves. As it is, we hear of a Nonconformist committee doing this and another committee resolving that, and a third committee declaring the other. Possibly the representative authority of these gentlemen may equal, or ,even exceed, that of the nine tailors of Tooley Street; but we certainly should like to know their names and the sources of their representative power. We are now in great danger of being misrepresented by little knots of individuals who assume to speak on our behalf; and perhaps we are equally in peril of being ,dragged through the mire by a few ‘talented but headstrong leaders, who, possessed by one idea alone, rush forward blindly like so many infuriated bulls.

    Presumption might be checked and impetuosity moderated if the voices of the more temperate minority could be heard, but under present circumstances the dissidence of Dissent fails to secure a hearing. ‘Concerning certain resolutions passed of late by the great unknowns who work the Nonconformist oracle, we have said again ,and again, “Speak for yourselves, gentlemen. You do not represent the Dissenters of England.

    No, nor half of them.” A large number of Nonconformists would attend a meeting called at a particular crisis, and give their opinions upon an important question, who nevertheless will never be active members of political societies, having, as they judge, something better to do: these persons ought not to be left to be misrepresented by a handful of wirepullers, but should have some means of recording their judgments. If Nonconformity is to be a power in the land, it must grow out of its almost self-elected committees, and provide itself with legitimate representation.

    For London the board of Deputies of the three denominations offers the most available nucleus. [By those deputies the churches who choose to send their delegates are already represented, and all other Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregational churches have the same liberty.

    We venture very humbly to suggest that the Nonconformist opposition to Mr. Forster has been quite as earnest as is consistent with a Christian spirit.

    It certainly does not fall short in point of bitterness, nor do its failings lean to the side of forbearance. Mr. Forster is no enemy to Nonconformists; he has a crotchet and he sticks to it, but we believe that he has a warm side towards us. Is he to be driven from us? We are great claimants of liberty for ourselves; do we allow none to others? The noblest order of men are seldom driven by opposition, except it be in a direction the very reverse of that which was aimed at by their antagonists. This may be an infirmity of noble minds, but it is one to which we in a great measure owe Mr. Gladstone’s liberalism, — Oxford goaded him into a position in advance of his anticipations. Are the Nonconformists desirous of following the suicidal tactics of the university Tories? We believe Mr. Forster to be a most sincere and honest Christian man, open to conviction, and ready to go as far in our direction as his conscience will allow. He has made mistakes in his Educational Bill, but what mortal man could avoid doing so? The Dissenters themselves could not at one time have told him their own minds, even if he had been willing to legislate for them alone. Had any other member of the Gladstone cabinet been charged with the arduous task of preparing a School Bill he must have incurred an equal share of unpopularity from one side or another, and probably might have provoked even more opposition. The mistakes of a friend should not be viewed in the same light as the willful attacks of an enemy. The continuous concentration of Nonconformist wrath upon the head of an individual because he conscientiously differs from us upon one point may possibly be justifiable, but it is not at the first blush so manifestly Christian as to evoke admiration. Our duty is done when we add that against the perpetual hunting down of Mr. Forster we enter our personal protest, and we believe we speak the mind of multitudes of the very staunchest of Dissenters.

    On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Mr. Henry Vincent delivered a Lecture in the Tabernacle, in connection with the Liberation Society. An attempt at disturbance on the part of certain Church Defenders was very readily put down. If we are not to be allowed liberty to express our own views in our own buildings things have come to a pretty pass. Happily there are yet laws which secure us freedom of speech, and the Tabernacle is the very last place in which the breach of those laws will be tolerated. Romanists murdered Murphy for using free speech, and semi-Romanists appear to be following their example by creating riots at Nonconformist meetings, but we warn them that they mistake their times. Such tactics are out of date, and will recoil on those who use them. We accord to others the right to promulgate their views without riot and disturbance from us, and we mean to maintain the same right for ourselves. That cause which needs the aid of disorder surely be upon its last legs.

    We are very sorry that our esteemed friend, Dr. Kennedy, issued a pamphlet severely criticizing the labors of Messrs. Moody and Sankey, whom we judge to be sent of God to bless our land in an unusual degree.

    Dr. Bonar’s reply strikes us, as amply meeting Dr. Kennedy’s strictures, and needing no supplement. But we are sorry to read every now and then the most bitter reflections on Dr. Kennedy, as though he were an enemy of the gospel. Now, we know him to be one of the best and holiest of men, and quite undeserving of severe upbraiding. Nothing but zeal for the truth has moved him we are quite sure. He is fearful lest the doctrines of grace should be forgotten, and he is jealous for divine sovereignty. Tie is also fearful that the work owes more to music than to the force of truth, and is more the work of fleshly excitement than of the Holy Spirit, Is it altogether an unpardonable sin to feel such a sacred anxiety? We think not. At the same time we do not feel as Dr. Kennedy does. Had the revival under our American friends been what he thinks it to be, and what most similar ones have been, his remarks would have been timely and useful, although they would even in that case have been fiercely resented. As it is there are many things suggested by his pamphlet which it will be well for the people of God to ponder, and in so doing they may be saved from grievous disappointments. We feel sure that Mr. Moody does not count Dr. Kennedy an enemy, nor wish to silence him, and we trust that others will learn the same moderation of temper and speech. Convince Dr. Kennedy that the Lord’s hand is in the work, and his powerful voice and pen will be secured, and he will not be slow to issue a retraction: but to denounce him as an opposer of the Spirit’s work is unchristian, and to those who know the man it is a monstrous libel. We cannot expect all men to see alike, and we ought to admire the courage which enters an honest protest, even though it be a mistaken one. We wish that the religion of this age had more in it of the deep, heart-searching, devoted, and unflinching piety of our Highland brethren; while we also wish that some of our northern friends were more joyous in heart, and less severe in their judgment of other servants of the Lord. The matter ought to end in both sides quietly learning something from each other, and resolving that if they cannot agree in each other’s views they will at least abstain from ungenerous judgments and angry replies. The work which God is doing is so great and manifest that it cannot be injured by any man’s comments upon it; those engaged in it can afford to turn such things to profitable account.

    Our evangelist, Mr. Higgins, has wasted no time, but has from Jan. 10 — 17 been laboring in Newtown, Montgomery, in connection with the church under our friend, Mr. Thomason. Both church and congregation felt much benefit from our brother’s earnest labors. From Jan. 20 to 26 Mr. Higgins worked at Wells, Somerset, where we hope to raise a Baptist church. We have placed a student there, and also at Shepton Mallet, and in both cases we hope to get a permanent footing. The evangelist is the best pioneer. We wish that friends of the Baptist denomination living where there is no church of our faith would let us knew their need, and aid us in planting new interests.

    During the early part of February Mr. Higgins aided the special meetings at the Tabernacle, and preached in London. His engagements stand Feb. — a fortnight of services in Shoreham. March 10 — -Ilkeston, Derbyshire. for a month. May the Lord set his seal upon this work, and move his people to aid in it.

    As it is now some eight years since the Tabernacle was painted and repaired, it is resolved to perform this necessary work while the Pastor is laid aside; the building will therefore be closed on Sabbaths March 7, 14, and 21. Week evening services will be conducted as usual in the lecture hall, and the Sunday School and Classes as usual.

    It is amusing to us to read accounts of our being in Italy and hoping to return at such and such a time, the fact being that up to the morning of this day Feb. 19, the time of writing this, we are still at home, with no prospect of a holiday abroad, but some hope of a change at the seaside. If newspapers would take even the smallest care to print the truth they might be of some use, but, as it is, it is generally safest to believe very little more than half of what you see in their columns.

    The funds of the Orphanage are very low. When the tide has ebbed quite out the flood will come. Our 230 boys persist in eating and wearing out their clothes, or we would not even mention the matter of failing funds; but appetites are stubborn things, and our boys have double-barreled ones.

    Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon : — Feb. 4, twenty-two.

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