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  • CHARLES SPURGEON -
    THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL - JANUARY, 1876.


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    WELCOME TO 1876.

    As we say farewell to the old year, we cheerfully salute the new. As penitence drops her tears for the sins of twelve months gone, faith smiles in expectation of the mercies of twelve months now begun. We welcome the coming year with cheerful hope. It seems but an hour or two ago that we did the same to its predecessor, whose death was knelled by the very peal which announced its successor’s birth. They will fly — these years, there is no stopping them, even while we speak of their flight their wings are in full motion: our one sole wisdom is to make use of them while we have them. We know what the year 1875 was. It was by no means all we could have wished. It was a year of considerable religious stir, but on looking back it appears to us to have been a mere surface motion, and not a deep groundswell of grace. Crowds flocked to hear the Word, and professed converts were many, but the churches of London, at least, have been but slightly increased, and in some respects the tone of religious feeling has fallen rather than risen. Under some aspects things look hopeful, but none except the very sanguine can discover any great remaining results from all the extra effort of the year. From our point of view, taking London as our point of outlook, the year which has just gone is disappointing: a year of revival which did not revive the churches, and of mass meetings which have left the masses very much as they were. There is one redeeming point, — the gospel was preached in all simplicity and faithfulness, and be the results manward what they may, God has been glorified. Yet had a tithe of what was looked for been obtained, had a hundredth part of what has been proclaimed with flourish of trumpets turned out to be true, we should have commenced this new year in very different circumstances from those which now surround us. What will 1876 be? We reply: it will be what the divine purpose has ordained; and with equal truth we assert, that it will also be what the church of God shall resolve to make it. We do not attempt to reconcile these two answers, — they are both true, and therefore do agree, whether we think so or no. In the year 1876 God has not appointed a blessing; for an idle, prayerless, insensible church: be sure of that. Neither will he in 1876 use agencies which will east a slur upon the servants whom he has already sent upon his business, fling discredit upon his church, and dishearten his persevering and believing people. He will work as he has always done, in his own way, by the preaching of his gospel, accompanied by the prayers of his saints. He will neither change the seed nor give us a harvest without sowing, nor excuse us from breaking up the fallow ground and ploughing the soil with diligent labor. It is quite clear that nations are not to be enlightened with a flash, nor cities sensationalized into religion in a month. We shall have to teach? and teach, and teach, right on. Work must be done in the vineyard still, bread must be cast on the waters, sowing with tears must still go on; and the end is not by-and-by. Those enthusiastic brethren who have had their gas pipes arranged for a general illumination to celebrate the instantaneous victory of the gospel had better defer the jubilation, strip to their shirt-sleeves, and take their places among [hose who bear the burden and heat of the day. They reckoned upon taking all the fish in Gennesaret at one tremendous haul, but they will do well, once for all, to abandon the idea, and go on quietly fishing after the manner of those whom they once despised, because they had toiled all the night and taken nothing. A little while ago it was beyond all things needful to call off the minds of men from reliance upon mere organizations and instrumentality’s, and urge them to look to the Holy Spirit; and now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, and many good people are looking for results without means, or for a maximum of effect with a minimum of effort. According to the notions of some, the thousands of good men who faithfully preach and teach Jesus from Sabbath to Sabbath may almost as well be gathered to their lathers, for a passing evangelist or two can accomplish in a few days all that the most laborious ministry can hope for, and more. Facts have already proved that this is the reverse of the truth. One soweth and another reapeth, but had there been no sowing there had been no reaping; and if the tearful sowers come to be depreciated, the large proportion of tares which certain reapers bring into the garner may yet prove a chastisement for the wrong done to the faithful workers.

    We earnestly trust that we shall not see during the year upon which we have entered a repetition of the fanaticism which led so many to claim participation in one of the attributes of Deity. “There is none holy as the Lord,” but we heard many silly women and yet more silly men, talking as if they were no longer sinners or liable to sin. What was an amiable delusion will soon become a blasphemous imposition, unless the real Christian people who have countenanced it will become wiser, and stay the mischief by clearer statements of their aims and beliefs. If all be true that we have heard, presumption has received an awful rebuke already, and will receive more of the like deadly wounds if it be persisted in. It will be an ill day when our brethren take to bragging and boasting, and call it “testimony to the higher life.” We trust that holiness will be more than ever the aim of believers, but not the boastful holiness which has deluded some of the excellent of the earth into vainglory, and made their firmest friends shudder for them.

    Our motto for the year is, “Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” We believe in the Holy Ghost. We know that we can do nothing without his power, and we are also well persuaded that all things are possible to Him; but judging by his past operations we expect him to work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, and we look to see the Lord’s work done by earnest hearts and laborious hands. Bound to the service of God by ten thousand ties, we are not weary of it, neither do we hope to be released from it by the discovery of some new and quicker method of extending his kingdom. For us still the daily testimony of the old, old gospel, the hourly watchfulness for souls, the constant agony and travail in birth; for our brethren still the gathering of the children and instructing them in Holy Scripture, the warning of every man, the entreaty and the prayer for friend and neighbor: these are the modes of service our fathers followed, and they are ours. With the neck bowed to the yoke, and the shoulder to the burden, we must make full proof of our love to Jesus.

    Let others try the flash and the rush; ours be the steady glow and the ceaseless march. Neither to-day nor to-morrow shall we bind our brows with laurel; better far to gird up the loins of our mind and wait upon our Lord, doing his bidding. Very prosaic and commonplace such conduct may appear, but it is the only sure and successful method. O for grace to keep to it throughout the live-long year. Plodding and pleading, working and waiting, doing over and over the same things, only with more faith in God, and more singleness of eye to his glory. As the grass on the house-tops wherewith the mower never fills his arm is the hurried result of eager fanaticism; but as the sheaves many and golden which load the wain are the quiet rewards of patient endurance. We therefore dedicate the year of our Lord 1876 to perseverance, patience, and prayer.

    A FEW PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF MR.

    BROCK.

    BY C. H. SPURGEON.

    IT will be the duty of abler pens to give details of the life of our deceased friend, Dr. Brock, of Bloomsbury. We are at this moment in a foreign land, far away from books, papers, and the possibility of an interview with his surviving relatives, or we might attempt a more ambitious article, and venture upon an effort at biography. As it is we must be content to jot down one or two trifles which our own memory retains, and at this moment presents to our mind. Our last earthly fellowship with our departed friend was at the hospitable house of the son of Mr. Horton, of Devonport. We went down together from the Baptist Union Meeting, to see the venerable old Baptist pastor of Devonport, and to dine with him. It was very pleasant to hear the brotherly salutations of the two aged men, and their joy as they talked together of former times, and the way in which the Lord had led them. Theirs was certainly not a gloomy view of life, but one bright with gratitude; they neither regarded the present as inferior to the past, nor the future as likely to be less happy than the present. Both viewed matters around them in the clear light of faith, and expressed themselves with cheerfulness, thankfulness, and hope. Little did we think that the younger of the two fellow-soldiers would be in heaven so soon.

    The loving words with which they endeavored to cheer on their younger brother, and the gratitude to God which they expressed for his past usefulness, were wonderfully hearty and fervent, and such as bring tears to our eyes as we think of them. Aged men are tempted to decry their successors, or at least to be very chary of encouragement, but it was not so with these two veterans, who were more generous in their kindly utterances than it would become us to repeat.

    We had heard of Dr. Brock a story of his youth, and we at dinner time inquired as to its truthfulness, and he replied, “Oh, yes, that’s right enough.” It seems that John Angell James, of Birmingham, remarked in company that the longest sermon he had ever preached was in a town in Devonshire, where he had held forth for more than two hours, but he added, “I never could make out how it was, for I had no intention of being so long; it seemed as if the time would not go, and yet, when I came to look at my watch, it had gone, and I had actually preached two hours.” Dr. Brock remarked that he could explain the riddle, for, being a lad at the time mentioned, and wishing to hear as much as possible of the good divine, he had taken a key with him, and sitting at the back of the clock had managed to stop it every now and then, and so decrease the speed of time, and lengthen the sermon. “Ah, William Brock,” said Mr. James, “you were full of fun, then, and I fear it is not all gone out of you now. I dare say you would do the same again if you had the opportunity.” The company were not a little amused when William Brock replied most decidedly that he would do nothing of the kind; that the production of a long sermon was. the act of his youth and inexperience, and that now with the key in his hand he would be far more likely to put on the hand and cut the sermon We pay honor to the men concerned in the matter, but chief of all we ascribe glory to God.

    Our deceased friend was above all things genial and warm-hearted. He looked like a man of war from his youth, but there was no war in his heart; his face and head of late used to remind us of a weather-beaten old bluff, but forth from that craggy rock were hurled no bolts of fiery wrath. Many who heard his bold, decided utterances may have supposed force to have been his characteristic, but we have not found it so; obstinacy was not in him, nor any preponderance of the sterner qualities; he was a companionable man, almost too fearful of offending, and ready at all times rather to side with you than against you. He must have been a noble husband and father, he could not have been happy without loving and being loved. One could see at a glance that everybody in the house studied him because he studied everybody. He made you feel at home at once, and for a pleasant and withal gracious hour he was the man above almost all the choice spirits in the circle of our acquaintance, and they are not a few. We remember when, being somewhat indisposed, as is, alas, too often our lot, we went to spend a quiet day or two at a beloved friend’s mansion in Regent’s Park. We were dining, and Dr. Brock was one of our little company. Mention was made that the Stockwell Orphanage was building, and that cash for the builder would be needed in a day or two, but was not yet in hand. We declared our confidence in God that the need would be supplied, and that we should never owe any man a pound for the Lord’s work. Our friend agreed that in the review of the past such confidence was natural, and was due to our ever faithful Lord. As we closed the meal a servant entered with a telegram from bur secretary to the effect that A B, an unknown donor, had sent £l,000 for the Orphanage. No sooner had we read the words than the doctor rose from the table and poured out his utterances of gratitude in the most joyful matter, closing with the suggestion that the very least thing we could do was to fall upon our knees at once and magnify the Lord. The prayer and praise which he then poured out we shall never forget; he seemed a psalmist, while with full heart and grandeur both of words and sound, singularly suitable to the occasion, he addressed the ever faithful One. He knew our feebleness at the time, and while he looked upon the gift of God as a great tenderness to us in our infirmity, he also seemed to feel such perfect oneness with us in our delight that he took the duty of expressing it quite out of our hands, and spoke in our name as well as his own. If a fortune had been left him he could not have been more delighted than he was at the liberal supply of our wants in the Lord’s work. We sat and talked together of the goodness of God around the fire, and our heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord.

    Among the very last things we spoke of together when we last met on earth was the evening at Mr. Krell’s, and the great goodness of the Lord in response to our faith. While we write the record our heart wells up with new gratitude for the choice benefit. Surely if in heaven the saints shall converse together of the things of earth, this will be one of the subjects upon which two comrades of twenty years may be expected to commune.

    Dr. Brock was a man of no resentments, so far as we can judge. In years gone by we once came into collision with him upon a matter in which we had no object but the good of the denomination. We, with — out the shadow of disrespect to him, felt compelled to say several things which must have pained him at the time. We counted the cost of our action, and reckoned among the losses the failure of his friend. ship. We did him no injustice when we so calculated, for in nine cases out of ten it would have been so; but we were in error, for the good soul, though evidently somewhat hurt, took occasion to say, “Don’t you go home with the idea that I love you any the less. For the most part what you have said was quite right, and where you were too hard upon me I am sure you honestly said what you thought, so give me your hand.” The hand was both given and shaken with hearty affection, and never once did Mr. Brock show the slightest sign of lessened love or esteem; on the contrary, from that hour we were far more intimate than we had ever been before.

    It was in Dr. Brock’s parlor that a few brethren met to form the London Baptist Association; a holy union, which has been of more service to the ministers united in it than can be easily estimated. Coolness has been banished, jealousy has been slain, love has been created, and union fostered by this association. Dr. Brock himself was all the better for taking so prominent a part in the movement, and he benefited us all thereby.

    Together with Dr. Landels, W. G. Lewis, Francis Tucker, and others, William Brock was a tower of strength to the association. His presence meant a good meeting. He was generally quite at home among us, and when in such a condition, it was fine to hear him pile up his massive sentences, interspersed with playful allusions, and consecrated by a devout and earnest spirit. His letter to us when he was on one occasion stretched upon a sick bed was of such a kind that the whole association felt its power, and the meetings rose to a tone of fervency seldom equaled. He enjoyed the loving respect of all the London pastors, and consequently his word was with power. We shall miss his towering stature from among us, there will be a great gap in our ranks, and it will tax the energies of all of us completely to fill it. Happily we have in Mr. Chown, his successor at Bloomsbury, a man of like mind, but our heart still clings to Brock. We would fain have had Brock and Chown too, but the Lord has appointed otherwise. It seemed that the good man could not be laid to his rest till he had looked upon the man who wears his mantle, but Elisha having been found, Elijah was soon taken up.

    Adieu, dear brother, with regrets unbounded! We shall not soon forget thee, nor would we wish to do so, for, take thee for all in all, we shall not look upon thy like again. May the Lord multiply in his church the number of such men as thou wast in thy day: so shall his hosts be led forth to victory, and his flocks be fed with discretion.

    Perhaps the best address that Dr. Brock ever delivered was his charge to the missionaries at our last Union Meeting at Plymouth. It was grand, nay, sublime, lie stood aloft upon that rostrum, and spake as a true father in Israel to the youthful heralds of the cross in words which in no case could they ever forget, but which now will sound in their ears like a voice from another world, and call them to valiant deeds, as if an angel spake. We could not have dreamed that it was our beloved friend’s swan-song, yet was it such, and worthy to be such. It was an address so wise, so faithful, so full of the Spirit of God, that had he known that he should never meet his brethren again, it was such a valedictory as he might have chosen to deliver. To us it seemed all it should be, no more, no less. Characteristic, massive, ornate, rich in words too ponderous for our tongue, and in tones which would have suited none but himself; but withal homely, hearty, intense, overwhelming-as nearly perfect as can come of mortal man. It did our inmost soul good, mainly because of the soul within it, and we shall ever associate Dr. Brock with missions and union meetings. Can we do better?

    Our denomination has lost a leader, and the church of God at large a zealous worker. He rests in Abney Park among the honored dead who cluster around the ashes of the great poet of the sanctuary, not less honored than they. Poor is our tribute, but it is deeply sincere. We condole with his bereaved children, but we also congratulate them that he was spared to finish his work, and left no thread of life’s web unwoven, nor tangle to be undone. Resting in the grace of God through the atoning blood, he has proved the truth and the glory of the gospel, which it was his joy to preach. We follow. Brother in Immanuel’s land, we salute thee in parting from thee. Au revoir.

    FAITH IN THE BLESSED GOD

    BY REV WILLIAM TAIT, A.N.WHITAKER AND CO., AVE MARIA LANE.

    A Very readable book, and far above the average pulpit productions of clergymen. We agree with the author that it is blood-shedding unto death that makes atonement. We hold Canon Liddon to be utterly wrong if he seeks, to maintain that “one sigh from the Redeemer’s heart, one lash on his sacred person, would have redeemed a world.” It is the dignity of the person, not the amount of the suffering, which is most to be regarded; yet the victim must die, or no sacrifice able to remove the demerit of sin has been offered, and no atonement such as the violated law of God requires.

    YANIM; OR, THE BIBLE WINE QUESTION: TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE, OF THE RABBIS, AND OF BIBLE LANDS AGAINST RECENT SACRAMENTARIAN INNOVATIONS BY PROFESSORS WATTS, WALLACE, AND MURPHY, BELFAST; AND REV. WILLIAM WRIGHT, B.A., DAMASCUS..EDITED BY PROFESSOR WATTS. BELFAST: WILLIAM MULLAN. 6D.

    Tatar ministers whose churches are tormented by the unfermented wine question will here find much help in keeping to the old paths. The document signed by Dr. Thomson of” The Land and the Book,” and by others of the more eminent missionaries in Syria and the Holy Land, ought to settle the question for ever. They bear witness that they have never met with unfermented wine in the East, nor are there any records, or traditions, that such wine was ever known there. The fact is — there is not, and there never was, and never can be such a thing as unfermented wine, though it suits some men to call their messes by that name. At the same time it should be observed that much which is called wine in this country is not worthy of the name, and it is a shame to remember our Lord’s death by drinking such vile decoctions. Let it be really wine, as pure and good as can be had, and no communicant has then any Scriptural right to object. As the slightest word on this subject generally brings a flood of angry letters, we beg to intimate that our columns are not open to discussion, and that our own mind is made up. We are at one with those temperate temperance friends who forbear to divide churches, and mar the unity of the saints upon this point: to them we wish God speed, and we hope ever to cooperate with them. They have their own sphere of action, and a very important one it is; and when pursued in subservience to the gospel, for the noble object of preventing and curing the great and crying sin of drunkenness, their work is philanthropic in the highest degree; nay, more, it is Christlike, and tends to benefit the souls as well as the bodies of men. To make men sober is one thing, to make them quarrelsome is another:: we are content with the former. JESUS IN THE MIDST.

    BY GEORGE CROSS. THOMASD.MORRISON, GLASGOW.

    THE incident of the nameless and Silent woman who washed our Lord’s feet with her tears is here dealt with, and we have greatly enjoyed the perusal of the meditations thereon. The author needs to condense his words, which dilute as well as express his thought; but the book is one we prize, as dealing with a touching and instructive event in a fresh, thoughtful, and attractive manner. AN OLD STORY.

    BY S.C. HALL. VIRTUE, SPALDING, AND CO., 26, IVYLANE.

    A TEMPERANCE tale in verse, and very well told, the illustrations are above the average, and the matter (if exaggerated) is still, alas, too true: We heartily bid our temperance friends God speed. If we cannot agree with all they say, we see so much room for work amidst abounding drunkenness that we hail with joy all efforts which come to our help in seeking to remove this curse.

    THE BOOK OF PRAISE FOR CHILDREN. H. K. LEWIS, 136, GOWER STREET, LONDON.

    AVERY good collection of children’s hymns. Most of our old friends are here, and a few new ones. The rank popery of a cross printed on the brow of the baby in baptism sadly disfigures the book. The only certain effect of such a superstitious piece of foolery is to make the temper of the child cross. If that is what is meant, we see force in it.

    THOUGHTS FOR HEART AND LIFE. BY THEODORE L.CUYLER, D.D. Hodder and Houghton.

    LIVELY little sketches, which all aim at doing good. There is nothing very deep or excessively striking, but the tales are prettily told and the pious observations neatly put. A half hour might be every now and again very happily whiled away with these “thoughts,” and profit would be sure to come of it as well as amusement. The story of Old Johnson is too good to leave unquoted. “Johnson was a Virginia negro, who died in Michigan at the almost incredible age of one hundred and twenty? He never would have lasted so long if he had not — like Father Cleveland, of Boston — carried about him that cheerful heart that doeth good like medicine. One day, when he was at work in his garden, singing and shouting, his pastor looked over the fence, and said: ‘Uncle, you seem very happy to-day.’ ‘Yes, massa, I’se just tinking.’ ‘What are you thinking about?’ ‘ Oh! I’se just tinking’ (and the tears rolled down his black face) — ‘ I’se tinking dat if de crumbs of joy dat fall from de Massa’s table in dis world is so good, what will de great loaf in glory be! I tells ye, sir, dar will be enuf and to spare up dar.’

    Once Mr. F said to him, ‘ Uncle Johnson, why don’t you get into our meetings once in a while?’ He answered: ‘ Massa, I wants to be dere, but I can’t ‘have myself.’ ‘You can’t behave?’ ‘Well, massa, ob late years de flesh is gettin’ weak; and when dey gwin to talk and sing about Jesus, I ‘gins to fill up, and putty soon I has to holler, and den some one ‘ll say “Carry dat man out the door, he ‘sturbs de meetin.”‘ ‘But you should hold in till you get home.’ ‘O massa! I can’t hold in. I bust if I don’t holler.’ (Would it not be a blessed thing for some prayer-meet-ings that are now dying of dignity if they could have such a’ holler’ to wake them out of their slumber?) This ‘jubilant old negro lived in literal dependence on God.

    When a gift was made to him, he received it as if sent to him by Elijah’s ravens. ‘ When I wants anyting, Ijes asks de Lord, and He is sure to send it; sometimes afore I’se done askin’, and den sometimes He holds back, jus’ to see if I trust Him.’ One of the last things remembered of him was the message he gave to a minister who called to see him, when he was ‘ waitin’ for the chariot ob de Lord.’ ‘ O massa! ‘ said he, ‘if you gets home afore I do, tell ‘em to keep de table standin,’ for old Johnson is holdin’ on his way. rse bound to be dere.’” NOTES IT will probably interest our readers to know that we were detained several days at Marseilles by an attack of rheumatism in the foot and hand, but at last reached Mentone, where the genial sunshine and the kind care of Dr. Bennet soon restored us, through the divine blessing. We hope to be at home by Christmas-day, and to be in full work at once. May the Lord send us a year of great usefulness, and we shall indeed magnify his name.

    Friends are requested to note that the various reports of sermons published in certain new penny papers, unless they are inserted by our authority, must be viewed as productions ‘for which we are in no measure responsible. We are shamefully misrepresented, and our meaning wretchedly obscured, by these pirates. Some of the pretended reports of our sermons are no more ours than the Sultan’s or the Pope’s. During the excitement caused by Messrs. Moody and Sankey a swarm of wretched papers sprang up, and now that their fodder is getting scarce they are preying upon us, without even so much honesty as a thief would have if he knocked us down; for he might take away our money, but he would not turn our silver into counterfeit coin, and then pass it as our coinage. One editor has the audacity to tell us that we ought to be. gratified at having our sermons used to promote the sale of his nonsense. We suppose we ought also to be grateful for the hideous caricature of our face which so plentifully appears on notice boards, but we cannot say that we are quite overwhelmed with that emotion.

    We have met, in one of the weekly journals, with a statement about our receiving sixty Methodist students a year into our classes. We have not the slightest idea what the statement can mean. We have never said anything of the kind, nor is it true. We shall not, however, regret if it turns out to be a prophecy. If :Methodists improve into Baptists we shall not lament it, but nothing of the sort has occurred as yet, nor do we expect it. The Church of England has been flirting with the Wesleyans, but we have done nothing of the kind: we have been too busy seeking the conversion of the ungodly to have had any time to bait traps for members of other denominations. At the same time, they will be heartily welcome if they wish to make a change, especially if they are of the same sort as our friend Mr. Mark Guy Pearse. We are wondering what next we shall read about ourselves and our work? The fabrication of silly paragraphs would seem just now to be a brisk trade.

    John Ploughman respectfully intimates that he has published his sheet Almanac this year. He is quite amazed to read in the newspaper that he has not done so. Those who doubt it have only to expend a penny with Messrs.

    Passmore and Alabaster; or order the almanac of any respectable bookseller.

    On November 26th a church was formed at Wynne Road, Brixton, most of the members being drafted from the Tabernacle, and Mr. T. L. Edwards, from the Pastors’ College, elected pastor. A public recognition took place December 10th. Messrs. David Jones, of Brixton, and B. C. Etheridge, of Balham, were the chairmen of the respective meetings; and Messrs. Rogers and Gracey addressed the newly formed church. We expect great things from our young brother, Mr. Edwards, and hope to see a largo church flourishing under his ministry.

    Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by J. A. Spurgeon: — October 21st, twenty-one; 28th, twenty-five: November 4th, twenty-four; December 9th, twenty.one.

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