REV. GEORGE ROGERS PRINCIPAL OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE.
WE presume that the accompanying portrait of Mr. Rogers, the Tutor of our College. will not be unacceptable to most of our readers. For many years he has been our valued coadjutor, and there is no man living who more thoroughly deserves the respectful love of all who are connected with our church and its work. The principal incidents of his life, we believe, have been overruled to guide him to his present position, and to qualify him for it. This we know to be his own conviction, and that he attributes all the good which others may have received through hint to the grace of God which has been bestowed upon him, and has wrought him for the selfsame thing. Never did we hear him utter a sentence savoring of self-glorification, on the contrary he is the most modest and unassuming of men, a pattern to us all for the quiet-ness in which he possesses his soul.
He was born at Ardleigh Hall, in the county of Essex, hard by the spot where the zealous Puritan who was called Roaring Rogers, from his earnestness, exercised a mighty ministry. He had religious impressions at an early age, and was trained up in circumstances favorable to their life and growth. His desire for the Christian ministry was also manifested at an early period, and an education was given him in harmony with that design.
His parents were of the Independent, denomination, to which the whole family, thirteen in number, resolutely adhered, at a period when Nonconformity was in less repute than at the present time. This may account for the fact that, when at the age of sixteen an exhibition to Cambridge of a gratuitous education there was offered to the hopeful George, it was on principle decline,]. After that date, Mr. Rogers was for two years under the private tuition of a minister of considerable classical attainments in Northampton-shire, from whence he entered a college at Rotherham, in Yorkshire. His ministry was commenced in Manchester, where he founded what bas since become a flourishing interest,. He then became assistant to Mr. Clayton, senior, at the Weigh House, upon whose retirement to Upminster, in Essex, he became the minister of a congregation at that place. His next remove was to Camberwell, where he founded the church and congregation at Albany chapel, of which he remained the pastor for thirty-six years. It was towards the close of this period, when he was nearly sixty years of age, that he was brought under our notice, and that in connection with him the foundation of our College was laid. How much of joy and delight we have had in working with him eternity alone will reveal.
Mr. Rogers, from the time he left the college at Rotherham, not only persevered in his first studies, but added many others to them, seeking and intermeddling with all wisdom. Had he foreseen his present, position he could not have conducted his studies more directly to that end. He was a fine instance of the result of a precept which we have heard him press upon our students, namely, “do not be so anxious to find a position as to be fitted for a position when it presents itself.” The Biblical and historical investigation required for his work on the Apocalypse, his unpublished commentaries, and numerous contributions to periodical literature, were eminently preparative for future service. From this course he was not to be diverted by the offer of secular or ecclesiastical preferment. Neither did he suffer the disappointment of a considerable fortune which was left him, but alienated through the document not being duly sinned, to interfere with the pursuit of his studies or of his ministerial duties, but was rather reanimated by it, in the hope that spiritual blessings would be more largely bestowed upon himself and his household.
Amidst all the changes that have been going on in theological views during his lifetime, and particularly in his own denomination, Mr. Rogers has faithfully adhered to the old evangelical truth; he has been a Puritan from his childhood, and is a Puritan still. He has a well-defined creed, and is not ashamed to own it. In all points, except upon the matter of baptism, we are heartily agreed, and in spirit and temper he is a man with whom our communion is perfect. Though ]e will be seventy-five years of age next month, his eyes are not dim, nor his natural force abated. He preserves the joyousness and geniality of his youth, and exhibits a measure of dry wit and sanctified humor sufficient to make the severest study a pleasure to his young disciples. “Long may the veteran live among us” is not only our prayer but that of the hundreds whom he has trained and is training to fight the Lord’s battles. The greatest issues are bound up with this most precious life. In his continued health and vigor, as in the whole course of his life, we are assured that our friend’s only feeling is that the grace of God has been exceeding abundant; and our own feeling is one of adoring gratitude that our venerable friend has been spared to us so long, and kept so faithful to his trust. C.H.S.
SIGHTS WHICH I SHALL NEVER FORGET.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
IENTERED the town of Mentone just as the sun was going down, and I was struck by the number of persons who were congregated upon the beach, and along the road which skirts the sea. They were all gazing intently at a boat which was moving slowly, although rowed by several men. Evidently they were dragging a dead weight behind the boat, and one which needed to be tenderly towed along. Upon making inquiry, we learned that the corpse of a sailor had just been met with, and they were bringing it on shore for burial. This information did not tempt us to remain a spectator, but hastened us into our hotel, wondering at the morbid curiosity which could be attracted by corruption, and find a desirable sensation in gazing upon a putrid corpse. From our window we saw a coffin carried down to the shore, and felt greatly relieved with the hope that now the poor drowned one would be quietly and decently laid asleep in the lap of mother earth.
As this occurred, as we have before said, just as we entered the place where we hoped to rest and recruit our health, it made a deep impression upon us. We are not in the least degree superstitious, and do not regard events as omens one way or another, but the incident was a sad one, and we were pensive, and therefore it cast a natural gloom over us, and at the same time engraved itself upon our memory. Unknown victim of the sea, thou hast a memorial in our heart!
The reflections which rushed upon our mind we have committed to paper, and here they are. Is not the church of God like that boat, and is she not encumbered by a mass of dead professors of religion who draw upon her strength, impede her progress, and spread around her an ill savor? Yes, it is even so, and our heart is heavy because we see it under our own eye every day. Persons have united themselves with the church who have neither part nor lot in vital godliness; they lead no assistance, they can lend none, for they have no spiritual strength, but they are a drag upon our energies, for we have to keep them in something like decent motion, and must carry them with us till they are laid in the grave. The case is worse in reality than our picture represents, for the dead are in the boat with the living, and are thus able to cause greater grief of heart to the true saints of God. We are blamed for the actions of all our fellow-members; their offensive worldliness both annoys us and renders us unsavory to others. It is a terrible thing to see one-half of a church praying and the other half trifling.
We cannot soon forget our horror at hearing that while the Holy Ghost was visiting a church with revival, there were members in that very church who were engaged till far into the morning in worldly amusements. We did not believe our own ears; we should as soon have thought of hearing that the apostles sang profane songs at the moment of the Pentecost. It was not that the season was untimely, we care little for that, but the act itself betrayed a taste which is not consistent with true religion. Of course, the world laid this to the door of the church, and really devout people had to suffer for the sins of others, and God’s Holy Spirit was grieved by such offenses, which he saw, though the godly ones saw it not. The sincere and humble followers of Jesus in that church would hardly have believed such conduct possible had it come under their own eyes, and those who had the sorrow of knowing it to be true felt a depression of heart worse than any bodily sickness could inflict. If the church were unmixed and pure her growth would be far more rapid, for the tares which we cannot uproot weaken the wheat among which they live. The tone of spirituality is lowered throughout the whole body by the worldliness of the few. Sin outside the church is comparatively little harmful to her; she sees it and battles with it, but when the traitor is within her own gates the mischief which it works is terrible. Troy could not be taken by open assault, but the crafty scheme of the wooden horse filled with armed men worked the will of the Greeks; once dragged within the walls, the warriors concealed within were able to open the city gates, and the foes soon swarmed in every street, and Troy fell to rise no more. Almighty watchfulness will avert such ruin from the church of God, but apart from the divine keeping the danger is quite as imminent.
We wish that every church member would recognize the fact that he either helps or hinders the church to which he belongs. He becomes a part of the impedimenta of the army, rendering its march the more laborious, unless he adds to her actual fighting force. He who prays, labors, and lives consistently with his profession, is an accession to her real power; he may be an obscure individual, endowed with but one talent, and most at home in the rear rank, and yet he may be of the utmost value to the whole host, and when the war is over he will share in the rewards of victory which will fall to the lot of the armies of the living God. On the other hand, if he be prayerless, idle, and worldly, no matter how rich, how well educated, or how respected he may be, he is a dead weight, a mere piece of baggage, a cause of non-success, an Achan in the camp of Israel. Which, dear reader, are you at this moment?
The second memorable sight which now rises before us was seen from the garden of that right worthy and renowned physician, Dr. Bennett, to whom Mentone owes its present prosperity. Looking out to sea beyond a headland, we saw, when the doctor had pointed it out to us, a circle of commotion in the waters, as if a stream were boiling and bubbling from the bottom of the ocean. It was a spring of fresh water rising from the depths of the sea to the surface. There is a similar spring off the coast of Spezzia, which sends up an immense volume of sweet water, despite the overlying floods of brine. Such a phenomenon may appear to be impossible, but there it was before our own eyes, and at any time the traveler may see it for himself — a fountain of fresh water in the midst of the salt sea!
Have we not here a suggestive image of the power of divine grace?
Coming down from the inexhaustible reservoir in which all fullness dwells, which is placed in the highest heavens, the blessed stream of grace has a forceful current which seeks to rise towards its own level, and therefore it wells up with matchless energy. It may be that the possessor of this inward spring has a thousand memories of sin, acquired habits of evil, and a dense mass of ignorance and prejudice overwhelming him; yet the new life must and will reveal itself; it forces its way, it rises to the surface, it clears an area for its own energies, it will not be choked up or repressed. Or the illustration may refer to true religion in a neighborhood where everything is opposed to it, or in an age when the spirit of the many. is in deadly hostility to it. Did not Christianity rise up like a spring from the dark floor of some lone ocean cave, far. down below the bottom of the mountains? Did it not appear certain that the floods of heathenism would utterly swallow up a power so insignificant? How could it rise to the surface of human history?
It might bubble on where obscure inferior creatures would be its sole observers, but the great sea would utterly ignore its existence, its sweet waters would not even alleviate the saltiness of the brine. But what is the truth of the matter? Our holy faith burst through Judaism, philosophy and idolatry, came into public notice, blessed the nations, and claimed for itself an ever widening sphere. Its fountain has risen through the ocean’s salt waves, and rises still, yea, it is transforming the waters and healing them; and through its influence there shall come a day in which there shall be no sea of sin and sorrow, for this “fount of every blessing” shall have made of it a reservoir of the water of life.
A good man placed in a London court, or any of the slums of a huge city, labors under terrible disadvantages. All around him sin and ignorance abound. His religion is no sooner perceived than it is ridiculed, he becomes the butt of drunken jokes, the theme of riotous songs. Will he yield the point and cease from the fear of the Lord? lie will if he be a hypocrite; on the other hand, if he be indeed a partaker of the living water which Jesus gives, it will be in him a well of water, springing up, and despite all opposition it must and will flow forth. At first in patience he will possess his soul and hold his own, by and by he will win respect and silence slander, next he will influence a few less evil than their neighbors, and in the end his vital godliness will subdue all things unto itself. One of the most cheering results of our ministry is the consistency of the extremely poor, whose testimony is borne in places which it is almost unsafe to traverse at night. Their honesty, sobriety, and simple faith are sermons to the poor around them, which are not forgotten. Men are astonished when they see godliness under such circumstances, their attention is aroused, their wonder is excited, and in the presence of the strange sight they confess that this is the finger of God. The unconquerable energy of faith and love are the abiding miracles of the church, by which the candid are convinced and gainsayers are silenced.
Just now, what with ritualism and rationalism it might have been feared that gospel life was smothered in Great Britain. The outbreak of the revival in many parts of the land has effectually banished all the fears of believers, and in a great measure stayed the boastings of skeptics. The living water is welling up. Behold it yonder in Scotland troubling the once calm surface of society. See how it boils and bubbles up in Edinburgh and Glasgow! It makes the sea to boil like a pot. It pierces the overwhelming mass of sin, it clears its own channel, it rejoices to bless the sons of men. Spring up, O well! Sing ye unto it!
Dear reader, is there life of this order in you, or are you dead in sin? Look on this picture and on that: we have put before you death and life; which is most like your own condition? If compelled to condemn yourself, remember there is one near at hand of whom it is written, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
WE have to rejoice before the Lord because of his abundant grace to us at the Tabernacle, for the word is with power, and sinners are made to feel its might. As soon as the pastor returned the church-officers invited those to meet him who had found the Lord during his absence. One hundred and eight persons, to whom tickets had been given, came to tea. Some of the converts narrated their call by grace, among them being it sister who had been a Roman Catholic, and had dropped into the Tabernacle out of curiosity, but was found out by sovereign grace and led to believe in Jesus.
The clearness of their knowledge, and their holy courage, were most conspicuous in all those who were present, and we have every reason to believe that nearly all will be found such as the church can receive. The pastors and elders have at this moment their hands full with the pleasing but most responsible work of personally conversing with each one and investigating their cases by visiting their homes. To these must be added about as many more who have professed to be converted, and have, therefore, desired to be baptized, and have come forward since the Pastor’s return. Every day fresh instances of saving grace are before us, and on all sides there is unusual tenderness and anxiety about divine things. May the name of the Lord be magnified!
The meetings for young people have been exceedingly well attended. It is most pleasing to see the number of children who listen with deep attention, and are as devout as the eldest believer. Prayers and addresses by young en and youths are peculiarly suitable on these occasions, and have the best effect upon these assembled. From these meetings we expect hundreds of conversions, and we shall surely see them. We now begin at six on Mondays in the Tabernacle, and keeping the first hour for the young we allow the meeting without a pause to glide into the general prayer-meeting at seven.
Of inquirers’ meetings en masse we have had two, of which we can speak with great confidence, for we know that they were owned of God; but we have suspended them for a while, lest they should become a matter of routine, and in the meantime hold similar meetings at the close of other gatherings; as, for instance, after the Thursday lecture. Inquirers are apt to look for a great deal of personal attention and humoring, and they must not have it when it is seen to be a sort of sweetmeat to them, comforting them while in unbelief. Faith is the way to obtain peace, and while they remain in unbelief all the promises in the Bible will fail to console them, and all the loving words of a whole church would be lost upon them. Immediate trust in the Lord Jesus is the demand of the gospel, and it is dangerous to allow the anxious to look to meetings and conversations as a means of gaining what is even now to be had by an act of faith.
Many churches in London are enjoying times of refreshing, and our earnest hope is that the blessing will cover the whole land.
The members of the Tabernacle who banded together to maintain a preaching station in St. Ann’s Hall, Brixton, have succeeded well, and have now emigrated to an iron chapel lately occupied by Mr. W. Carter, in the Wynne Road, Brixton, where they hope to found a new church under the pastorate of Mr. Edwards.
Our friend Mr. Leach has become the minister of the church in Berkely Road, Chalk Farm. We lost his valuable aid in connection with this magazine by reason of other engagements, but he will always occupy a high place in our esteem. The church needs much help, for the debt upon the chapel is very heavy.
The College annual meeting was a glorious season. Friends welcomed the returning Pastor very heartily, and were kind enough to find in his lecture upon the New Forest much of interest. The College enjoys its share of the present blessing, and is enriched thereby. The funds are at this time much lower than they have been for a long time previously, and we beg to call the attention of the Lord’s stewards to the fact. The annual conference will be held on the 13th of April and four following days. We beg the prayers of the churches that the Spirit of God may rest upon that large gathering of ministers educated at our College. May the season overflow with benedictions. The reports of increase in the churches during the past twelvemonths are most encouraging.
The Orphanage is now complete and full. Places are needed for boys who are ready to go out. Employers will do well to apply to Mr. Charlesworth, Head Master, Orphanage, Stockwell. Our barrel has some meal in it, indeed we have about thirty days’ supply. Friends will please remember that we need £10 every time the sun rises to keep our young charge in food and raiment.
The College buildings are roofed in, and will be ready for occupation at Midsummer. Our total scheme will need £3000 more to perfect it, and we should like to see it finished off in a style worthy of the cause, and of those great principles which we seek to propagate. For this amount we are looking up to our divine Treasurer, and we doubt not he will move his servants to send it.
The Jubilee Singers had a marvelous success at the Tabernacle; the house was crowded to its utmost capacity, and the strange, sweet, weird music of the singers charmed the whole company. We are glad to hear that they have earned during their tour £10,000 clear of all expenses, and so the University for the colored people will be built and paid for. May it send out an army of preachers and teachers for poor Africa. Mr. Moffat was present at the singing, and it was grand to see him come forward, and with deep excitement speak of “Dear Africa.” He looked like a patriarch and apostle in one.
It may interest our readers to know that John Ploughman’s Talk has now attained the enormous circulation of two hundred thousand, and still more editions will be called for. John thinks “the more the merrier.”
The recognition service of Mr. J. Ray-. mend, from the Pastors’ College, as pastor of the East Street Baptist Church, St. Neet’s, was held on Friday, the 20th of February, on which occasion the Rev. J. Perkins presided. Mr. Rogers delivered the charge to the minister, and Mr. Millard, of Huntingdon, to the church. Mr. Stuttard, Independent minister, of St.
Neots, and Mr. R. Middleton, of Canton, also took part in the services. In May, of 1872, Mr. Raymond, during an early part of his college course, commenced preaching at St. Neots. Since that period under his ministry a new chapel has been erected at the cost of £1,000. The whole cost has been met with the exception of £140. Much good has been done, and the church and congregation are still in a flourishing state.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by J. A. Spurgeon : — Feb. 26, twenty-two.
By earnest request we add others of the letters written from Mentone by the Pastor. To the Boys of Stockwell Orphanage. “Mentone, Saturday Evening, January 24th, 1874. “Dear Boys, — I have been much impressed by hearing that death has been to the Orphanage. I wonder who will be the next! Are you all prepared if he should sheet another arrow into one of the houses and lay another low?
Dear boys, would you go to heaven if you were now at once to die? Wait a bit, and let each one answer for himself. You know you must be born again, you must repent of sin, you must believe in Jesus. How is it with you? If you are not saved you are in great danger, fearful danger! Be warned, I pray you I I cannot bear to think of one boy going from the Orphanage to hell, that would be terrible indeed. But to rise to heaven, to be with Jesus for ever! Why, this makes it worth while even to die a hundred deaths. I hope my dear friend Mr. Charlesworth, and all the teachers, and matrons, and nurses are well, and I send them all my kindest regards. I often think about you all. I want to see you all happy here and hereafter. May you grow up to be honorable Christian men, and if God should take any of you away, may we all meet in heaven. Will you pray a special prayer just now that the death of one boy may bring all of you to Jesus to find eternal life? Be diligent in school, be very kind in the houses.
Don’t cause us pain, but give us all joy, for we all love you and desire your good. Mr. Charlesworth will, on my behalf, give you a couple of oranges all round, and I will pay him when I come home. “Your loving friend, “C. H.SPURGEON.”
For Mrs. Bartlett’s Class. “Mentone, Saturday Evening. “Beloved Friends, — I write to salute you all, and especially your beloved mother in the gospel, my dear friend Mrs. Bartlett. I hope you are enjoying times of power such as have been so usual with the class. The Lord’s own daughters among you, each one a princess, not in her own right, but by marriage to King Jesus will, I trust, be living in the enjoyment of their high privileges. Why do the children of a king go mourning all their days? Yours it is to wear a girdle of joy, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. See to it that your lives are consistent with your high calling, for it ill becomes the daughters of Zion to be mean themselves like the children of earth, ‘Let your conversation be such as becometh the gospel of Christ.’ Be earnest for the souls of others, and support by your prayers the earnest effort of your beloved leader, Mrs. Bartlett. “To those of you who are unsaved I have this word — holy long halt ye between two opinions? Years roll on, and each one spent in alienation from God swells your dreadful account. Have you not sinned enough? Have you not run risks enough that you must still imperil your souls? An hour even of the toothache is too much, but what is that compared with the disease of sin and the anger of God? Yet these you bear as if they were mere trifles.
Will the hour of decision never come, or will you linger till you perish in your sin? Remember Lot’s wife, she is a monument of salt, take a little of that salt and season your thoughts with it. Your graves are yawning for you, hell also enlargeth itself. Flee from the wrath to come. Start up like those who have been asleep upon the brink of death, and strive to enter in at the strait gate. “Yours lovingly for Christ’s sake, “C. H.SPURGEON.” To the. College. “Mentone, Saturday Evening. “Beloved Brethren, — In my absence I never cease to remember you, because I have you all in my heart, as the hope of the church, and the future benefactors of the world I trust every man is conscientiously laboring at his studies, never wasting an hour. Your time for study is so short, and so much will be required and expected of you, that I beseech you quit yourselves like men. Every moment with you is worth a Jew’s eye, and its profiting will be a hundred-fold in the future. We have to cope with no mean adversaries. Our antagonists are well armed and well trained.
Our trust is in the Lord alone, and we go forth armed only with a sling and a stone, but we must practice slinging, till we can throw to a hair’s breadth and not miss. It was no unpracticed hand which smote so small a target as Goliath’s brow. Do not let the devil make fools of you by suggesting that because the Lord works you may be idle. I do not believe it of the least among you. “Brethren, for our Lord’s sake, maintain a high degree of spirituality; may the Holy Spirit enable you so to do. Live in God that you rosy live for God. Let the church see that her students are her picked men.
I rely upon you in my absence to help in all meetings for prayer or revival to the utmost of your ability. Nothing would give me greater joy than to hear that in my absence the Lord was moving some of you to make up for my lack of service. “I am much better. ‘ Here everlasting spring abides,’ and though flowers wither, there are always fresh ones to fill their places.
The balmy summer air is as oil to my bones. “I send my sincere love to you all, and especially to your honored tutors, and the venerable Principal, to whom be long life, and the same to you all. My dear brother will be to you all that I could have been, and you will pray for him, and also for your Loving friend, “C. H.SPURGEON.” The Classes of Messrs Perkins and Bowker . “Mentone, Feb. 5. “Beloved Brethren, — Peace be to you and the dear friends who conduct your meetings. I am hoping to see a great revival of religion throughout our church and all its agencies, and I want your two classes not only to partake in it, but to lead the way in promoting it. ‘ I write unto you, young men, for ye are strong.’ the influence which a choice band of young believers may have upon our church and congregation and the outlying neighborhood is exceedingly great. Being yourselves soundly instructed in the faith you are to aid in building up others, and especially in quarrying new stones from the pit of nature. The Spirit of God will rest upon you in answer to prayer, and then you will become vessels fit for the Master’s use.
This you cannot be without personal holiness and individual consecration, let not these be lacking among you, and then you will not be barren or unprofitable. Begin by doubling your own numbers, which I believe would be done if you laid it to heart, and resolved each one to introduce at the least one new comer. Make each meeting full of life, power, prayer, love and zeal. I confess I am sorry that the catechism is not still the text-book, for I believe it is a good groundwork, and keeps you near the most important subjects. Discussions upon the new theories of the day drive away the Spirit of God; the old wine is the best. “Your leaders are men of experience, and have my fullest confidence, and, what is more, my most sincere love. Always support them and back them up; and then let your motto be ‘advance.’ Push into the unconquered regions. There ought to be more work done close at home around the Tabernacle. The time for outdoor services will soon be upon us; see what you can do beyond what is yet done. Sunday schools in many places are pining for want of teachers, and ragged schools still more so. Where there is a gap fill it. “The Lord be with you. Please pray for me, that I may return strengthened in spirit, and soul, and body. “With Christian love, yours very heartily, “C. H.SPURGEON.” “FORWARD.”
BEING THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE COLLEGE CONFERENCE, ON TUESDAY MORNING, APRIL 14, 1874.
Brethren, the substance of my address this morning will be found in the words of God to his servant Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” “Forward” is the watchword of our Conference, let it ring through your ranks. Onward, ye elect of God! victory is before you your very safety lies in that direction. To retreat is to perish. You have most of you read the story of the boy in an American village who climbed the wall of the famous Natural Bridge, and cut his name in the rock above the initials of his fellows, and then became suddenly aware of the impossibility of descending. Voices shouted, “Do not look down, try and reach the top.” His only hope was to go right up, up, up, till he landed on the top. Upward. was terrible, but downward was destruction. Now, we, dear brethren, are all of us in a like condition. By the help of God we have cut our way to positions of usefulness, and to descend is death. To us forward means upward; and therefore forward and upward let us go. While we prayed this morning we committed ourselves beyond all recall. We did that most heartily when we first preached the gospel, and publicly declared, “I am my Lord’s, and he is mine.” We put our hand to the plough: thank God, we have not looked back yet, and we must never do so. The only way open to us is to plough right, on to the end of the furrow, and never think of leaving the field till the Master shall call us home. But this morning you committed yourselves again to the Lord’s work; you did not deliberate, and consult with flesh and blood, but you plunged right in, renouncing all for Jesus, and except ye be reprobates ye have enlisted for life in the service of Jesus. You are the branded servants of Christ, bearing in your bodies his mark. You have now no liberty to serve another, you are the sworn soldiers of the Crucified. Forward is your only way; you are shut up to it. You have no armor for your backs, and whatever dangers lie in front there are ten thousand times as many be, hind. It is onward, or nothing; nay, onward or dishonor; onward, or death We were compared last night, in the eloquent address of our friend Mr. Gange, to the little army of Sir Garnet Wolseley marching to Coomassie; and the parallel was very beautifully worked out in all respects. Fellowsoldiers! we are few, and we have a desperate fight in the bush before us, therefore it is needful that every man should be made the most of, and nerved to his highest point of strength. It is desirable that you should be the picked men of the church, yea, of the entire universe, for such the age demands, therefore it is as to yourselves that I am most concerned that you should go forward. You must go forward in personal attainments, growing in gifts and in grace, in fitness for the work of God, and conformity to the image of Jesus. The points I shall speak upon begin at the bottom, and ascend. 1. First, dear brethren, I think it necessary to say to myself and to you that we must go forward in our menial acquirements. It will never do for us to continually present; ourselves to God at our worst. We are not worth his having at our best; but at any rate let not the offering be maimed and blemished by our idleness. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” is, perhaps, more easy to comply with than to love him with all our mind; yet we must give him our mind as well as our affections, and that mind should be well furnished, that we may not, offer him an empty casket.
Our ministry demands mind. I shall not insist upon “the enlightenment of the age,” still it is quite certain that there is a great educational advance among all classes, and that there will be much more of it. The time is passed when ungrammatical speech will suffice for a preacher. Even in a country village, where, according to tradition, “nobody knows nothing,” the schoolmaster is now abroad, and want of education will hinder usefulness more than it once did, for, when the speaker wishes his audience to remember the gospel, they on the other hand will remember his ungrammatical expressions, and will repeat them as a theme of jest, when we could have wished they had rehearsed the gospel of Jesus Christ one to another in solemn earnest. Dear brethren, we must cultivate ourselves to the highest possible point, and do this first by gathering in knowledge that we may fill the barn, then by acquiring discrimination that we may winnow the heap, and lastly by a firm retentiveness of mind, which lays up the winnowed grain in the storehouse. The three points may not be equally important, but they are necessary to a complete man.
We must, I say, make great; efforts to acquire information, especially of a Biblical kind. We must not confine ourselves to one topic of study, or we shall not exercise our whole mental manhood. God made the world for man, and made man with a mind intended to occupy and use all the world; he is the tenant, and nature is for a while his house; why should he shut himself out of any of its rooms? Why refuse to taste any of the cleansed meats the great Father has put upon the table? Still, our main business is to study the Scriptures. The smith’s main business is to shoe horses; let him see that he knows how to do it, for should he be able to belt an angel with a girdle of gold he will fail as a, smith if he cannot make and fix a horseshoe.
It is a small matter that you should be able to write the most brilliant poetry, as possibly you could, unless you can preach a good and telling sermon, which will have the effect of comforting saints and convincing sinners. Study the Bible, dear brethren, through and through, with all helps that you can possibly obtain: remember that the appliances now within the reach of ordinary Christians are much more extensive than they were in our father’s days, and therefore you must be greater Biblical scholars if you would keep in front of your hearers. Intermeddle with all knowledge, but above all things meditate day and night in the law of the Lord.
Be well instructed in theology, and do not regard the sneers of those who rail at it because they are ignorant of it. Many preachers are not theologians, and hence the mistakes which they make. It cannot do any hurt to the most lively evangelist to be also a sound theologian, and it may often be the means of saving him from gross blunders. Now-a-days we hear men tear a single sentence of Scripture from its connection, and cry “Eureka! Eureka!” as if they had found a new truth; and yet they have not discovered a diamond, but a piece of broken glass. Had they been able to compare spiritual things with spiritual, had they understood the analogy of the faith, and had they been acquainted with the holy learning of the great Bible students of ages past, they would not have been quite so fast, in vaunting their marvelous knowledge. Let us be thoroughly well acquainted with the great doctrines of the Word of God, and let us be mighty in expounding Scripture. I am sure that no preaching will last so long, or build up a church so well, as the expository. To renounce altogether the hortatory discourse for the expository would be running to a preposterous extreme; but I cannot too earnestly assure you that if your ministries are to be lastingly useful you must be expositors. For this you must understand the Word yourselves, and be able so to comment upon it that the people may be built up by the Word. Be masters of your Bibles,, brethren; whatever other works you have not searched, be at home with the ‘writings of the prophets and apostles. “Let the word of God dwell in you richly.” Having given that the precedence, neglect no field of knowledge.
The presence of Jesus on the earth has sanctified the realms of nature, and what he has cleansed call not you common. All that your Father has made is yours, and you should learn from it. You may read a naturalist’s journal, or a traveler’s voyage, and find profit in it. Yes, and even. an old herbal, or a manual of alchemy may, like Samson’s dead lion, yield you honey. There are pearls ill oyster shells, and[fruits on thorny boughs. The paths of true science, especially natural history and botany, drop fatness. Geology, so far as it is fact, and not fiction, is full of treasures. History — wonderful are the visions which it makes to pass before you — is eminently instructive; indeed, every portion of God’s dominion in nature teems with precious teachings. Intermeddle with all knowledge, according as you have the time, the opportunity, and the peculiar faculty; and do not hesitate to do so because of any apprehension that you will educate yourselves up to too high a point. When grace abounds, learning will not puff you up, or injure your simplicity in the gospel. Serve God with such education as you have, and thank him for blowing through you if you are a ram’s horn, but if there be a possibility of your becoming a silver trumpet, choose it rather.
I have said that we must learn always to discriminate, and at this particular time this point needs insisting on. Many run after novelties, charmed with every new thing; learn to judge between truth and its counterfeits, and you will not be led astray. Others adhere like limpets to old teachings, and yet these may only be ancient errors: prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. The use of the sieve, and the winnowing fan, is much to be commended. Dear brethren, a man who has asked of the Lord to give him clear eyes by which he shall see the truth and discern its bearings, and who, by reason of the constant exercise of his faculties, has obtained an accurate judgment, is one fit to be a leader of the Lord’s host, but all are not such. It is painful to observe how many embrace anything if it be but earnestly brought before them. They swallow the medicine of every spiritual quack who has enough of brazen assurance to appear to be sincere. Be not children in understanding, test that which claims your faith. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the faculty of discerning, so shall you conduct your flocks far from poisonous meadows, and lead them into safe pasturage.
But then, if you have the power to acquire knowledge, and also to discriminate, seek next for ability to retain and hold firmly what you have learned. Alas, in these times certain men glory in being weathercocks, they hold fast nothing, they have, in fact, nothing worth the holding. They believed yesterday, but not that which they believe today, nor that which they will believe tomorrow; and he would be a greater prophet than Isaiah who should be able to tell what they will believe when next the moon doth fill her horns, for they are constantly changing, and seem to be born under that said moon, and to partake of her changing moods. These men may be as honest as they claim to be, but of what use are they? Like good trees oftentimes transplanted, they may be of a noble nature, but they bring forth nothing; their strength goes out in rooting and rerooting, they have no sap to spare for fruit. Be sure you have the truth, and then be sure you hold it.
Be ready for fresh truth, if it be truth, but be very chary how you subscribe to the belief that a better light has been found than that of the sun. Those who hawk new truth about the street, as the boys do a new edition of the evening paper, are usually no better than they should be. The fair maid of truth does not paint her cheeks and tire her head like Jezebel, following every new philosophic fashion; she is content with her own native beauty, and in her aspect she is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. When men change often they generally need to be changed in the most; emphatic sense. Our “modern thought” gentry are doing incalculable mischief to the souls of men, and resemble Nero fiddling upon the top of a tower, with Rome burning at his feet. Souls are being damned, and yet these men are spinning theories. Hell gapes wide, and with her open mouth swallows up myriads, and those who should spread the tidings of salvation are “pursuing fresh lines of thought.” Highly cultured soul-murderers will find their boasted “culture” to be no excuse in the day of judgment. For God’s sake, let us know how men are to be saved and get to the work; to be for ever deliberating as to the proper mode of making bread while a nation dies of famine is detestable trifling. It is time we knew what to teach, or else renounced our office. “For ever learning and never coming to the truth” is the motto of the worst rather than the best of men. I saw in Rome a statue of a boy extracting a thorn from his foot; I went my way, and returned in a year’s time, and there sat the, selfsame boy extracting the intruder still. Is this to be our model? “I shape my creed every week” was the confession of one of these divines to me. Whereunto shall I liken such unsettled ones?
Are they not like those birds which frequent the Golden Horn, and are to be seen from Constantinople, of which it is said that they are always on the wing, and never rest? No one ever saw them alight on the water or on the land, they are for ever poised in mid-air. The natives call them “lost souls,” seeking rest and finding none. And, methinks, men who have no personal rest in the truth, if they are not unsaved themselves, are, at least, very unlikely to save others. He who has no assured truth to tell must not wonder if his hearers set small store by him. We must know the truth, understand it, and hold it with firm grip, or we cannot be of service amongst the sons of men. Brethren, I charge you, seek to know, and, knowing, to discriminate; having discriminated, I charge you “hold fast that which is good.” Keep in full operation the processes of filling the barn, winnowing the grain:, and storing it in granaries, so shall you mentally “Go forward.” 2. We need to go forward in oratorical qualifications. I am beginning at the bottom, but even this is important, for it is a pity that even the feet of this image should be of clay. Nothing is trifling which can be of any service to our grand design. Only for want of a nail the horse lost its shoe, and so became unfit for the battle; that shoe was only a trifling rim of iron which smote the ground, and vet the neck clothed with thunder was of no avail when the shoe was gone. A man may be irretrievably ruined for spiritual usefulness, not because he fails either in character or spirit, but because he breaks down mentally or oratorically, and, therefore, I have begun with these points, and again remark that we must improve in utterance. It, is not every one of us who can speak as some can do, and even these men cannot speak up to their own ideal. If there be any brother here who thinks he can preach as well as he should, I would advise him to leave off altogether. If he did so he would be acting as wisely as the great painter who broke his palette, and, turning to his wife, said, “My painting days are over, for I have satisfied myself, and therefore I am sure my power is gone.”
Whatever other perfection may be reachable, I am certain that he who thinks he has gained perfection in oratory mistakes volubility for eloquence, and verbiage for argument. Whatever you may know, you cannot be truly efficient ministers if you are not “apt to teach.” You know ministers who have mistaken their calling, and evidently have no gifts for it: make sure that none think the same of you. There are brethren in the ministry whose speech is intolerable; either they dun you to death, or else they send you to sleep. No chloral can ever equal their discourse in sleepgiving properties. No human being, unless gifted with infinite patience, could long endure to listen to them, and nature does well to give the victim deliverance through sleep. I heard one say the other day that a certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in my own judgment this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve shows great discretion in his openings, and knows when to close. If some men were sentenced to hear their own sermons it would be a righteous judgment upon them, but they would soon cry out with Cain, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” Let us not fall under the same condemnation.
Brethren, we should cultivate a clear style. When a man does not make me understand what he means, it is because he does not himself know what he means. An average hearer, who is unable to follow the course of thought of the preacher, ought; not to worry himself, but to blame the preacher, whose business it is to make the matter clear. If you look down into a well, if it be empty it will appear to be very deep, but if there be water in it you will see its brightness. I believe that. many “deep” preachers are simply so because they are like dry wells with nothing whatever in them, except decaying leaves, a few stones, and perhaps a dead cat or two. If there be living water in your preaching it may be very deep, but the light of the truth will give, clearness to it. At any rate labor to be plain, so that the truths you teach may be easily received by your hearers.
We must cultivate a cogent as well as a clear style; we must be forceful.
Some imagine that this consists in speaking loudly, but I can assure them they are, in error. Nonsense does not improve by being bellowed. God does not require us to shout as if we were speaking to three millions when we are only addressing three hundred. Let us be forcible by reason of the excellence of our matter, and the energy of spirit which we throw into the delivery of it. In a word, let our speaking be natural and living. I hope we have forsworn the tricks of professional orators, the strain for effect, the studied climax, the pre-arranged pause, the theatric strut, the mouthing of words, and I know not what besides, which you may see in certain pompous divines who still survive upon the face of the earth. May such become extinct; animals ere long, and may a living, natural, simple way of talking out the gospel be learned by us all; for I am persuaded that such a style is one which God is likely to bless.
Among many other things, we must cultivate persuasiveness. Some of our brethren have great influence over men, and yet others with greater gifts are devoid of it; these last do not appear to get near to the people, they cannot grip them and make them feel. There are preachers who in their sermons seem to take their hearers one by one by the button-hole, and drive the truth right into their souls, while others generalize so much, and are so cold withal, that one would think they were speaking of dwellers in some remote planet, whose affairs did not much concern them. Learn the art of pleading with men. You will do this well if you often see the Lord. If I remember rightly, the old classic story tells us that, when a soldier was about to kill Darius, his son, who had been dumb from his childhood, suddenly cried out in surprise. Know you not that he is the king?” His silent tongue was unloosed by love to his father, and well may ours find earnest speech when the Lord is seen by us crucified for sin. If there be any speech in us, this will rouse it. The knowledge of the terrors of the Lord should also bestir us to persuade men. We cannot do other than plead with: them to be reconciled to God. Brethren, mark those who woo sinners to Jesus, find out their secret, and never rest till you obtain the. same power.
If you find them very simple and homely yet. if you see them really useful, say to yourself, “That will do for me;” but if on the other hand you listen to a preacher who is much admired, and on inquiry find that no souls are savingly converted, say to yourself; “This is not the thing for me, for I am not seeking to be great, but to be really useful.”
Let your oratory, therefore, constantly improve in clearness, cogency, naturalness, and persuasiveness. Try, dear brethren, to get such a style of speaking that you suit yourselves to your audiences. Much lies in that. The preacher who should address an educated congregation in the language which he would use in speaking to a company of costermongers would prove himself a fool: and on the other hand he who goes. down amongst miners and colliers, with technical theological terms and drawing-room phrases, acts like an idiot. The confusion of tongues at Babel was more thorough than we imagine. It did not; merely give different languages to great nations, but it made the speech of each class to vary from that of others. A fellow of Billingsgate cannot understand a fellow of Brazenose.
Now as the costermonger cannot learn the language of the college, let the college learn the language of the costermonger. “We use the language of the market,” said Whitfield, and this was much to his honor; yet when he stood in the drawing-room of the Countess of Huntingdon, and his speech entranced the infidel noblemen whom she brought to hear him, he adopted another style. His language was equally plain in each ease, because it was equally familiar to the audience: he did not use the ipsissima verba, else his language would have lost its plainness in the one case or the other, and would either have been slang to the nobility or Greek to the crowd. In. our modes of speech we should aim at being “all things to all men.” He is the greatest master of oratory who is able to address any class of people in a manner suitable to their condition, and likely to touch their hearts..
Brethren, let none excel us in power of speech: let none surpass us in the mastery of our mother-tongue. Beloved fellow-soldiers, our tongues are the swords which God has given us to use for him, even as it is said of our Lord, “Out of his mouth went a two-edged sword.” Let these swords be sharp. Cultivate your powers of speech, and be amongst the foremost, in the land for utterance. I do not exhort you to this because you are remarkably deficient; far from it, for everybody says to me, “We know the college men by their plain, bold speech.” This leads me to believe that you have the gift largely in you, and I beseech you to take pains to perfect it. 3. Brethren, we must be even more earnest to go forward in moral qualities. Let the points. I shall mention here come home to those who shall require them, but I assure you I have no special persons among you in my mind’s eye. We desire to rise to the highest style of ministry, and if so, even if we obtain the mental and oratorical qualifications, we shall fail, unless we also possess high moral qualities.
There are evils which we must shake off, as Paul shook the viper from his hand, and there are virtues which we must gain at any cost.
Self-indulgence has slain its thousands. Let us tremble lest we perish by the hands of this Delilah. Let ins have every passion and habit under due restraint: if we are not masters of ourselves we are not fit to be leaders in the church.
We must put away all notion of. self-importance. God will not bless the man who thinks himself great. To glory even in the work of God the Holy Spirit in yourself, is to tread dangerously near to self. adulation. “Let, another praise thee, and not thine own lips,” and be very glad when that other has sense enough to hold his tongue.
We must also have our tempers well under restraint. A vigorous temper is not altogether an evil. Men who are as easy as an old shoe are generally of as little worth. I would not say to you, “Dear brethren, have a temper,” but I do say, “If you have it, control it carefully.” I thank God when I see a minister have temper enough to be indignant at wrong, and to be firm for the right; still, temper is an edged tool, and often cuts the man who handles it. “Gentle, easy to be entreated,” preferring to bear evil rather than inflict it, this is to be our spirit. If any brother here naturally boils over too soon, let him mind that when he does do so, he scalds nobody but the devil, and then let him boil away.
We must conquer — some of us especially — our tendency to levity. A great distinction exists between holy cheerfulness, which is a virtue, and that general levity, which is a vice. There is a levity which has not enough heart to laugh, but trifles with everything; it is flippant, hollow, unreal. A hearty laugh is no more levity than a hearty cry. I speak of that religious veneering which is pretentious, but thin, superficial, insincere about the weightiest matters. Godliness is no jest, nor is it a mere form. Beware of being actors. Never give earnest men the impression that you do not mean what you say, and are mere professionals, To be burning at the lip and freezing at the soul is a mark of reprobation. God deliver us from being superfine and superficial may we never be the butterflies of the garden of God.
At the same time, we should avoid everything like the ferocity of bigotry.
There are religious people about, who, I have no doubt, were born of a woman, but appear to have been suckled by a wolf. I have done them no dishonor: were not; Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome, so fed? Some warlike men of this order have had power to found dynasties of thought; but human kindness and brotherly love consort better with the kingdom of Christ. We are not to be always going about the world searching out heresies, like terrier dogs sniffing for rats, and to be always so confident of one’s own infallibility, that; we erect ecclesiastical stakes at which to roast all who differ from us, not, ‘tis true, with fagots of wood, but with those coals of juniper, which consist of strong prejudice and cruel, suspicion.
In addition to all this, there are mannerisms, and moods, and ways which I cannot now describe, against which we must, struggle, for little faults may often be the source of failure, and to get rid of them may be the secret of success. Count nothing little which makes you even a little more useful; cleanse out from the temple of your soul the seats of them that sell doves as well as the traffickers in sheep and oxen.
And, dear brethren, we must acquire certain moral faculties and habits, as well as put aside their opposites. He will never do much for God who has not integrity of spirit. If we be guided by policy, if there be any mode of action for us but, that which is straightforward, we shall make shipwreck before long. Resolve, Clear brethren, that you can be poor, that you can be despised, that you can lose life itself, but thin; you cannot do a crooked, thing. For you, let the only policy be honestly.
May you also possess the grand moral characteristic of courage. By this we do not mean impertinence, impatience, or self-conceit; but real courage to do and say calmly the right thing, and to go straight on at all hazards, though there should be none to give you a good word. I am astonished at the number of Christians who are afraid to speak the truth to their brethren.
I thank God I cart say this, there is no member of my church, no officer of the church, and no man in the world to whom I am afraid to say before his face what I would say behind his back. Under God. I owe my position in my own church to the absence of all policy, and the habit of saying what I mean. The plan of making things pleasant all round is a perilous as well as a wicked one. If you say one thing to one man, and another to another, they will one day compare notes and find you out, and then you will be despised. The man of two faces will sooner or later be the object of contempt, and justly so. Now, above all things, avoid that. If you have anything that; you feel you ought to say about a man, let the measure of what you say be this — “How much dare I say to his face?” We must not allow ourselves a word more in censure of any man living. If that be your rule, your courage will save you from a thousand difficulties, and win you lasting respect.
Having the integrity and the courage, dear brethren, may you be gifted with an indomitable zeal. Zeal — what is it? How shall I describe it? Possess it, and you will know what it is. Be consumed with love for Christ, and let the flame burn continuously, not flaming up at public meetings and dying out in the routine work of every day. We need indomitable perseverance, dogged zeal, and a combination of sacred obstinacy, self-denial, holy gentleness, and invincible courage.
Excel also in one power, which is both mental and moral, namely, the power of concentrating all your forces upon the work to which you are called. Collect your thoughts, rally all your faculties, mass your energies, focus your capacities. Turn all the springs of your soul into one channel, causing it to flow onward in an undivided stream. Some men lack this quality. They scatter themselves and fail. Mass your battalions, and hurl them upon the enemy. Do not try to be great at this and great at that — to be “everything by turns, and nothing long,” but suffer your entire nature to be led in captivity by Jesus Christ, and lay everything at his dear feet who bled and died for you. 4. Above all these, we need spiritual qualifications, graces which must be wrought in us by the Lord himself. This is the main matter, I am sure.
Other things are precious, but this is priceless; we must be rich towards God.
We need to know ourselves. The preacher should be great in the science of the heart, the philosophy of inward experience. There are two schools of experience, and neither is content to learn from the other; let us be content, however, to learn from both. The one school speaks of the child of God as one who knows the deep depravity of his heart, who understands the loathsomeness of his nature, and daily feels that in his flesh there dwelleth no good thing. “That man has not the life of ‘God in his soul,” say they, “who does act know and feel this, and feel it by bitter and painful experience from day to day.” It’s in vain to talk to them about liberty, and joy in the Holy Ghost; they will not have it. Let us learn from these onesided brethren. They know much that should be known, and woe to that minister who ignores their set of truths. Martin Luther used to say that temptation is the best teacher for a minister. There is truth on that side of the question. Another school of believers dwell much upon the glorious work of the Spirit of God, and rightly and blessedly so. They believe in the Spirit of God as a cleansing power, sweeping the Augean stable of the soul, and making it into a temple for God. But frequently they talk as if they had ceased to sin, or to be annoyed by temptation, they glory as if the battle were already fought, and the victory won. Let us learn from these brethren. All the truth they can teach us let us know. Let us become familiar with the hill-tops and the glory that shines thereon, the Hermons and the Tabors, where we may be transfigured with our Lord. Do not be afraid of ever growing too holy. Do not be afraid of being too full of the Holy Spirit. I would have you wise on all sides, and able to deal with man both in his conflicts and in his joys, as one familiar with both. Know where Adam left you; know where the Spirit of God. has placed you. Do not know either of these so exclusively as to forget the other. I believe that if any men are likely to cry, “O wretched man that I am.! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” it will always be the ministers, because we need to be tempted in all points, so that we may be able to comfort others. In a railway carriage last week I saw a poor man with his leg placed upon the seat. An official happening to see him in this posture, remarked! “Those cushions were not made for you to put your dirty boots on.” As soon as the guard was gone the man put up his leg again, and said to me, “He never broke his leg in two places, I am sure, or he would not be so sharp with me.” When I have heard brethren who have lived at ease, enjoying good incomes, condemning others who are much 1tried, because they could not rejoice in their fashion, I have felt that they knew nothing of the broken bones which others have to carry throughout the whole of their pilgrimage.
Brethren, know man, in Christ and out of Christ;. Study him at his best, and study him at his worst; know his anatomy, his secrets, and his passions.
You cannot do this by books; you must have personal spiritual, experience; God alone can give you that.
Among’ spiritual acquirements, it is beyond all other things needful to know him. who is the sure remedy for all human diseases. Know Jesus. Sit at his feet. Consider his nature, his work, his sufferings, his glory. Rejoice in his presence: commune with him from day today. To know Christ is to understand the most excellent of sciences. You cannot fail to be wise if you commune with wisdom; you cannot miss of strength if you have fellowship with the mighty Son of God. I saw the other day in a grotto a little fern, which grew where its leaves continually glistened and danced in the spray of a fountain. It was always green, and neither summer’s drought nor winter’s cold affected it. So let us for ever abide under the sweet influence of Jesus’ love. Dwell in God, brethren; not sometimes go to him, but abide in him. They say in Italy that where the sun does not. enter the physician must. Where Jesus does not shine the soul is sick. Bask in his beams and you shall be vigorous in the service of the Lord. Last Sunday night I had a text which mastered me: — “No man knoweth the Son but the Father.” I told the people that poor sinners who had gone to Jesus and trusted him, thought they knew him, but that they knew only a little of him. Saints of sixty years’ experience, who have walked with him every day, think they know him; but they are only beginners yet. The perfect spirits before the throne, who have been for five thousand years perpetually adoring him, perhaps think they know him. but they do not to the full. “No man knoweth the Son but the Father.” He is so glorious, that only the infinite God has full knowledge of him, therefore there will be no limit to our study, or narrowness in our line of thought, if we make our Lord the great object of all our thoughts.
Brethren, as the outcome of this, if we are to be strong men, we must be conformed to our Lord. Oh, to be like him! Blessed be that cross on which we shall suffer, if we suffer for being made like unto the Lord Jesus. If we obtain conformity to Christ, we shall have a wondrous unction upon our ministry, and without that, what is a ministry worth?
In a word, we must labor for holiness of character. What is holiness? Is it not wholeness of character? a balanced condition in which there is neither lack nor redundance. It is not morality, that is a cold. lifeless statue: holiness is life. You must have holiness; and, dear brethren, if you should fail in mental qualifications (as I hope you will not), and if you should have a slender measure of the oratorical faculty (as I trust you will not), yet, depend upon it, a holy life is, in itself, a wonderful power, and will make up for many deficiencies; it is, in fact, the best sermon the best man. can deliver. Let us resolve that all the purity which can be had we will have, that all the sanctity which can be reached we will obtain, and that all the likeness to Christ that is possible in this world of sin shall certainly be in us through the work of the Spirit of God. The Lord lift us all as a college, right up to a higher platform, and he shall have the glory! 5. Still I have not done, dear brethren. I have to say to you, go forward in actual work, for, after all, we shall be known by what we have done. Like the apostles, I hope our memorial will be our acts. There are good brethren in the world who are impractical. The grand doctrine of the second advent makes them stand with open mouths, peering into the skies, so that I am ready to say, “Ye men of Plymouth, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?” The fact that Jesus Christ is to come is not a reason to stargazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Ghost. Be not so taken up with speculations as to prefer a Bible reading over a dark passage in the Revelation to teaching in a ragged-school or discoursing to the poor concerning Jesus. We must have done with day dreams, and get to work. I believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them. I do not mind. how big your egg is; it may be an ostrich’s egg if you like, but if there is nothing in it, pray clear away the shells. If something comes of it, God bless your speculations, and even if you should go a little further than I think it wise to venture, still, if you are more useful, God be praised for it. We want facts — deeds done, souls saved. It is all very well to write essays, but what souls have you saved from going down to hell? Your excellent management of your school interests me, but how many children have been brought into the church by it? We are glad to hear of those special meetings, but how many have really been born to God in them? Are saints edified? Are sinners converted? To swing to and fro on a five — barred gate is not progress, yet some seem to think so. I see them in perpetual Elysium, humming over to themselves and their friends, “We are very comfortable.” God save us from living in comfort while sinners are sinking into hell. In traveling along the mountain roads in Switzerland you will continually see marks of the boring-rod; and in every minister’s life there should be traces of stern labor. Brethren, do something; do something; do something. While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While Societies and Unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, and Satan laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning and sought something to plan. I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suwarrow’s idea of war is mine: Forward and strike! No theory!
Attack! Form column! Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy.” Our one aim is to save sinners, and this we are not to talk about but to do in the power of God. 6. Lastly, and here I am going to deliver a message which weighs upon me, go forward in the matter of the choice of your sphere of action. I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this? Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish? Can we go to our beds and sleep while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim upon us? We ought to put it on this footing not “Can I prove that I ought to go?” but “Can I prove that I ought not to go?” When a man can prove honestly that he ought not to go then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man. I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt that if some of our leading ministers would go forth it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and. I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go. After balancing the whole thing I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the, judgment of most Christians would be the same; but I hope I would readily and cheerfully and willingly go if I did not so feel. Brethren, put yourselves through the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of his elect among them, we must go and search for them somehow or other. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is annihilated. True, we have not the Pentecostal gift of tongues, but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost, gift. The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go? The men who ought to go are young brethren of good abilities who have not yet taken upon themselves family cares.
Each student entering the college should consider this matter, and surrender himself to the work unless there are conclusive reasons for his not doing so. It is a fact that even for the colonies it is very difficult to find men, for I have had openings in Australia which I have been obliged to decline. It ought not to be so. Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us are willing to be exiled for Jesus. The Mission languishes for want of men. If the men were forthcoming the liberality of the church would supply their needs, and, in fact, the liberality of the church has made the supply, end yet there are not the men to go. I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of the conflict. I believe that if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great feature of your work, and that. is God’s sure way of power. I wish that our churches would imitate that of Pastor Harms, in Germany, where every member was consecrated to God in deed and of a truth. The farmers have the produce of their lands, the working-men their labor; one gave a large house to be used as a missionary college, and Pastor Harms obtained money for a ship which he fitted out, to make voyages to Africa, and then he sent missionaries, and little companies of his people with them, to form Christian communities among the Bushmen. When will our churches be equally self-denying and energetic? Look at the Moravians! how every man and woman becomes a. missionary, and how much they do in consequence.
Let us catch their spirit. Is it a right spirit? Then it is right for us to have it.
It is not enough for us to say, “Those Moravians are very wonderful people!” We ought to be wonderful people too. Christ did not purchase the Moravians and more than he purchased us; they are under no more obligation to make sacrifices than we are. Why then this backwardness?
When we read of heroic men who gave up all for Jesus, we are not merely to admire, but to imitate them. Who will imitate them now? Come to the point. Are there not some among you willing to consecrate yourselves to the Lord? “Forward” is the watchword today! Are there no bold spirits to lead the van? Pray all of you that during this Pentecost the Spirit may say, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work.”
Brethren, on wings of love mount upward, and fly forward. Amen.
NOTICES OF BOOKS
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. The Prophecies of Jeremiah.
By C. F. KEIL, D.D. T. T. Clark, Edinburgh.
OUR ministerial brethren and more learned readers will be glad to hear of the issue of the second volume of Keil on Jeremiah. The scholarship of these commentaries is of the highest order, and of course they are therefore only useful to the few, but by that few the many are instructed, so that really a boon is conferred upon the entire church by their publication.
Messrs. Clark have now published 120 volumes of their Foreign Theological Library, — a vast undertaking indeed; many societies have attempted far less, and have failed. The whole series can be purchased for £31 10s., a princely present for a minister, and by the way a very opportune gift to the library of our new College should anybody feel moved to present it. We earnestly request that two persons will not insist upon doing it; to prevent any contest about the matter we shall be happy to act as referee. From Darkness to ,Light. By FREDERICK WAGSTAFF.
Kempster and Co., 9 and 10, St. Bride’s Avenue.
Tins is one of a series called the Home Library, each of which is marked price sixpence, post free. This is an amusing temperance and Templar tale, and is sure to be widely circulated among abstainers. The engravings are about as bad as any we have ever seen, but a book in a strong stiff cover for sixpence cannot be expected to contain works of art. Another book of this series is, “Recitations in Verse,” by Harriet A. Glazebrook. Here we have water, water, everywhere. One of the songs upon water in Paradise, and water from the smitten rock asks questions which we should have thought could never have occurred to a temperance poet and a reverend! Would Eden thus have smiled Had wine to Eden come?
Would Horeb’s parching wild Have been refreshed with rum?
And had Eve’s hair Been dressed in gin Would she have been reflected fair?
Had Moses built a still, And dealt out to that host To every man a gill, And pledged him in a toast, How large a band Of Israel’s sons Had laid their bones in Canaan’s land!
We hope that this is meant to be funny, and that there is some mysterious sense in it, which we are unable to discern. We heard a brother defend total abstinence the other evening upon this ground among many others — that when dead, teetotalers’ bodies would keep longer than other people’s.
That may have been an argument of weight with some people, but it produced a roar of laughter in the quarter under our notice. Is it not a pity to make a cause ridiculous by a silly advocacy of it? Review Exercises in the Sunday School: their value and methods. By Rev. H. C.TRUMBULL.
Sunday School Union.TRUTH is fastened upon youthful minds only by frequent repetition. We must tell children the same thing twenty times, because nineteen times won’t do. “Tell me the story often, For I forget so soon:
The early dew of the morning Has pass’d away at noon.” It is both grievous and startling’ to find how little some children know, who, nevertheless, have been to the Sabbath-school for years; either there are many inefficient teachers abroad, or else their modes of teaching need amendment. This little book advocates frequent rehearsals of the same lessons, and regular examinations of the classes, and we like it so well that we would have all our teachers read it, and practice its suggestions. The Banner Unfurled. Choice Selections from Christian Writers. Edited by E. A.H. Partridge and Co. “THE profits arising from the sale of this book will be devoted to the purpose of training a missionary for China.” This object speaks for itself, and stays our critical knife. The extracts have been made with opened eyes and spiritual taste. The Pictorial Dictionary of the Bible. New Edition, profusely Illustrated with Biblical Maps and Chromolithograph Engravings, etc. W.R. M’Phun and Co., Glasgow and London.
WE have before us four shilling parts of this work, and certainly there is a great deal of matter for the money. Some of the engravings would have improved the volume if they had been left out; they are executed in a style of art which deserves to become extinct, or else the plates are so worn that the beauty has long since gone. A young fellow with thirty shillings to spare could do better with his money by letting it rest till he had enough to purchase a really standard work than by taking in these numbers, but at the same time the Pictorial Dictionary contains much valuable information, and is an instructive assistant to the Bible Reader. We should greatly prefer Smith’s or Kitto’s; but if these should happen to be above our reader’s means, they will be much helped by consulting M’Phun’s Dictionary. There are to be thirty parts, issued monthly, and many will thus be able to purchase a Biblical Dictionary who otherwise would be without one, and therefore we wish the enterprise success.
THE CONFERENCE OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE FOR 1874.
IT is the custom of the ministers who were educated at the Tabernacle to come up from their several churches and meet in brotherly conference once in the year. This ministers as much to profit as to enjoyment, and a great deal of both is usually obtained. The fraternal feeling is kept up, and the union of the brotherhood is cemented by this hallowed assembling of ourselves together, while by united supplications blessings are secured, and by mutual communion benefits are obtained. This year has been the best of all our Conferences, though, indeed, we have said the same of each of the former nine in its turn. Our own heart was never more cheered, nor have we seen such a joyful expectant feeling everywhere manifest.
On Monday, April 13, the first prayer-meeting was held at the Tabernacle at three o’clock, and those who had arrived pleaded with God for his smile upon the coming meetings. At seven some of the brethren took part in the usual prayer. meeting at the Tabernacle, but a far larger number accepted the invitation of Mr. Cuff and were present at a crowded and spirited meeting at his chapel in Shore. ditch. C.H.S. took the chair, and brethren Whale of Ipswich, Inglis of Soham, Gange of Broadmead, Bristol, and Mr. Cuff himself, delivered most soul-stirring addresses. Thanks are due to the friends at Providence Chapel for providing tea so bountifully. We feel sure good results will follow both to them and to us from our visit to their abode.
Tuesday, April 14. — The Conference opened with a period of prayer of a kind seldom experienced. There was a whirlwind of devotion, and a flaming fire of importunity, and the still small voice of the divine presence was heard by all. Each one had his petition and request, and many were eager to pour forth their hearts. Several rose at a time, yet each one was ready to give way, and follow upon his fellow. To us it was a sacred bathing in a sea of sacred influence, which both overwhelmed and refreshed us. We fail to remember any season so full of life and power. It was indeed good to be there.
After business had been dispatched, we gave the address which we have printed in this month’s magazine. We had no idea it was so long, but we hope it will not weary our readers. The assembly requested that it might be issued, or otherwise we should have used it for other purposes. Our beloved brother J. A. S., the Vice-President, followed with an able address, based upon our Lord’s miraculous raising of Lazarus, and then we returned again to prayer, which is by far the best way of refreshing and invigorating the soul.
The Conference met at the Orphanage in the afternoon and evening.
Fraternal conversations among the brethren, and addresses to the orphans continued till tea, when our classical tutor, Mr. Gracey, gave us a most valuable paper upon the Holy Spirit, and was followed by our venerable Principal, Mr. Rogers, upon “Frames and Feelings in Preaching.” The old man eloquent held us spell-bound with his mingled wit and wisdom. We hope to have both these essays for the Sword and the Trowel. Mr. William Booth, of the East London Mission, gave us one of the most lively, racy, and energetic speeches conceivable; and at the close Mr. Wheeler of Birmingham, a gentleman whom we had not known before, made us a princely presentation, for which we thank him right heartily. The meeting was a great success, and the singing of certain of Mr. Sankey’s pieces gave it abundant vivacity and variety.
Wednesday, April 15. — At 11 the Conference met in full force, almost every man in his place, scarcely one behind time, and prayer again ascended to heaven as pillars of incense. Then came a delightful paper by Mr. Tarn, of Peckham, upon the kind of sermons which are most blessed to conversions; very little discussion followed, the subject did not need it. Mr. Benskin handled in an admirable manner the weighty theme, “The Necessity of Regeneration because of Human Depravity,” and his work was heartily appreciated. The third subject was taken by Mr. Compton, who gave us an exhaustive gathering up of Scriptural teaching as to Satan and his influence among men. When the sitting was over we felt that we had heard much excellent instruction, and that it had been delivered in a manner calculated to warm our hearts.
Mr. Phillips’ supper in the evening was right royal. The preceding meeting was most helpful to us, by winning the sympathy of our subscribers, and the amount promised on the occasion exceeded £1,800, for which the Lord’s name be praised. To W. McArthur, Esq., who took the chair, and gave £100, to W. Fowler, late M.P. for Cambridge, who gave a similar donation, to a brother who would rather be nameless, who gave £200, to a constant friend who gave £100, and, indeed, to all who aided in any measure or degree, we are deeply grateful, and to our host, Mr. Phillips, most of all.
Thursday, April 16. — This day began with another outburst of mighty prayer, which kept us at full flood all the day. The first of the morning papers was written and read by our esteemed brother Mr. Makin, of Sittingbourne, upon the Functions of the Ministry, and then followed Mr. Knight, of Lowestoft, who much interested us in “Prayer Meetings, and how to maintain Interest in them.” It was thought well not to have another subject brought before us, but to return to united prayer. In the evening the public meeting at the Tabernacle was attended far beyond all former years, in fact the place was filled, and a glorious enthusiasm prevailed. The meeting was good throughout, but that is speaking coldly; it was incomparably full of power. Dr. Barnardo was led to speak upon a topic singularly appropriate and telling, and his matter and manner were of the highest order. The Lord spoke to us through him. Brethren Medhurst and Silverton spoke warmly for the College, as the first and second men who left it, and Mr. Danzy Sheen, Primitive Methodist, as the Primitive man whom it has trained. Dr. Hillier showed us how, as doctor of music, he could use his abilities for Christ, and Mr. Mayers, with his singing for Jesus, delighted the whole assembly. Hearts glowed as we sung “Hold the fort, for I am coming,” and I am so glad that Jesus loves me; the walls and roof of the Tabernacle rang again as the three hundred men’s voices in a body gave force to the singing of the rest. After this meeting, Mr. Phillips entertained the ministers in the same manner as he had before dealt with the friends and subscribers. May his shadow never be less.
Friday, the last day, was not the least. It commenced with a considerable period of glowing prayer, its holy influence was sustained by Mr. Norris’ beautiful paper on Fellowship with Jesus, and Mr. W’. Olney’s practical speech. It was also rendered memorable by an invaluable address from Dr. Culross upon the exposition of the Word of God, and it finally culminated in the Communion and the joining of hands, as a pledge of continued love, while we sung — “Pray that Jerusalem may have Peace and felicity.” During the Conference the statistical reports were given in, and were greatly encouraging, the increase to the churches being more than on any former occasion. Of this more next month. Mr. Harry Brown paid in an installment from the ministers towards £1,000 for the College Buildings, which not only reached the sum promised, but exceeded it.
Looking back our heart sings, looking around we rejoice, looking forward we are full of expectation, looking upward we adore.
We write this in “a desert place” to which we have fled to recover from the wear of this exciting week, and if we omit anything we cannot help it, as we have only memory to trust to. All other notes we have forgotten, and cannot now get at them.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Hr. J. A. Spurgeon: March 19th, sixteen; 23rd, thirteen; 26th, twenty-five; 30th, nineteen. April 2nd, twentyone.
FRAGMENTS OF POPERY AMONG NONCONFORMISTS.
WE have been greatly interested by the various opinions upon the paper inserted in our April number, written by Mr. Charles-worth, the Head Master of the Stockwell Orphanage. Some have pronounced that essay upon Dissenting Ritualism as “a crazy bark,” freighted with trivialities; others have smelt a savor of Plymouthism in it, and regarded it as flavored with a kind of religious leveling, likely to lower the dignity of the ministry.
On the other hand, a far larger number have thanked us for inserting it, and praised it as “trenchant,” weighty, outspoken, and laying the ax at the root of many evils; indeed, the eulogiums upon it sent to us have been very enthusiastic, and calculated to make its author’s face crimson with a modesty unable to bear the shock of so much appreciation. Happily, neither the editor nor his esteemed correspondent are likely to perish either from being chilled with censure, or smothered with commendation. Exposure to continual criticism has somewhat hardened our frames, and in patience we possess our souls. Wherein truth has been spoken it will live; wherein mistakes have been committed we trust the Lord will graciously let them die.
We do not believe that among our Nonconformist churches there is more than a fly or two of the priestly system in the pot of ointment,, but even those flies should be purged out. Great evils have small beginnings, the little foxes are to be dreaded among the vines. Where so much is admirable, it is a pity that the specks and spots should be suffered to remain. We have a stern fight before us against Ritualistic Popery, and it is well to clear our decks of all lumber and go into the controversy with clean hands. It is a far more popular thing to find faults with other denominations than to point out follies and failings among ourselves, but this consideration should never occur to the right-minded, except to be repulsed with a “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
Confining ourselves to one branch of the subject, namely, matters concerning ministers, we shall, at the risk of fresh flagellation, pursue the same course in the same unambitious style, by asking a few questions. Whence comes the whole paraphernalia of ordination as observed .among some Dissenters? Since there is no special gift to bestow, why in any case the laying on of empty hands? Since we cannot pretend that mystic succession so vaunted by Ritualists, why are men styled “regularly ordained ministers”? A man who has preached for years is Mr. Brown, but after his ordination or recognition he develops into the Rev. Mr. Brown; what important change has he undergone? This comes before us in the form of addresses upon letters — “ Rev. Titus Smith, Mr. Spurgeon’s College,” or sometimes, “Rev. Timothy Jones, Spurgeon’s Tabernacle.” Rather odd, this! Here are reverend students of an unreverend preacher, the title being given to the one out of courtesy, and withheld from the other for the same reason. The Reverend Titus has met with a church which will insist upon an ordination, and he is ordained; but the President of his College, having never undergone such a process, nor even that imitation of it called a recognition, remains an unordained, unrecognized person to this day, and has not yet discovered the peculiar loss which he has sustained. We do not object to a recognition of the choice of the church by its neighbors and their ministers, on the contrary, we believe it to be a fraternal act, sanctioned by the very spirit of Christianity; but where it is supposed to be essential, is regarded as a ceremony, and is thought to be the crowning feature of the settlement, we demur. “The Reverend Theophilus Robinson offered up the ordination prayer” has a Babylonish sound in our ears, and it is not much improved when it takes the form of “the recognition prayer.” Is there, then, a ritual?
Are we as much bound by an unwritten extempore liturgy as others by the Common Prayer.? Must there always be “usual questions”? And why “usual”? Is there some legendary rule for the address to the church and the address to the pastor? Mark well, that we do not object to any one of these things, but we do question the propriety of stereotyping them, and speaking of the whole affair as if it were a matter to be gone about according to a certain pattern seen in the holy mount, or an order given forth in trust to the saints. We see germs of evil in the usual parlance, and therefore meet it with a Quo Warranto? Is not the divine call the real ordination to preach, and the call of the church the only ordination to the pastorate?` The church is competent under the guidance or the Holy Spirit her own work, and if she calls in her sister churches, let her tell them what she has done, in such terms that they will never infer that they are called upon to complete the work. The ordination prayer should be prayed in the church meeting, and there and then the work should be done; for other churches to recognize the act is well and fitting, but not if it be viewed as needful to the completion of the act itself. We have noticed many signs of an error in this direction.
The small matter which we have mentioned leads on to another which ,is by no means small, namely, the notion in some churches that only an ordained or recognized minister should preside at the Lord’s table. Small is our patience with this unmitigated Popery, and yet it is by no means uncommon. Pulpits which are most efficiently supplied on other Sundays by men who are without pastoral charge must be vacated by them on the first Sunday of the month because the friends like a stated minister to administer the sacrament. This may not always be the language employed, but it often is and it is an unsanctified jargon, revealing the influence of priestcraft. Whence comes it? By what scripture can it be justified? “Breaking bread from house to house” does not read very like it. We suppose that the idea of a deacon leading the communion would horrify a great many, but why? If the church should request a venerable brother to conduct the service, a brother of eminent grace and prayerfulness, would the ordinance be any the less instructive or consoling because he was not in the ministry? Naturally enough the pastor, when there is one, leads the way by the respectful consent of all; but would fellowship with Jesus be more difficult, if he were out of the way, and an elder or deacon occupied his place? Our experience has never led us to bemoan, on the account of our people, that the communion was a maimed rite when a beloved deacon or elder has filled our chair. We love to have our brethren sitting with us at the table, breaking the bread as much as we do, and giving thanks aloud as we do, because we hope that by this visible sign men will see that “one is our Master, even Christ, and all we are brethren.” Are we the less respected by our church officers for this? Do they take upon themselves lordly airs? Far from it. A more beloved and loving set of men never surrounded a pastor. We magnify our office in the best manner when we do not magnify it beyond the teaching of the Lord. Who are we that our presence should render more valid, or more lawful, the remembrance of our Lord’s death until he come? All things are to be done decently and in order, but that order does not necessitate a church’s going without the Lord’s Supper because there is no pastor or regular minister to be had. At least we fail to see any support for such an idea, except in the traditions of the fathers, and the sooner these are consigned to oblivion the better. We confess we do not admire the Plymouth fashion of passing round a lump of bread for all to peck at, like so many crows, or the plan of hawking a slice from hand to hand, for each one to break on his own account, for it is not a clean or decorous practice; and as it never would be tolerated at our own tables, it certainly ill becomes the table of the Lord: but even these odd ways are better, or at least less harmful, than the practice of a slated minister administering the elements, for “stated minister” is little more than “priest writ large” in the idea of weaker brethren; or if it be not so now, it soon may be so, and the sooner it is put an end to the better for posterity. Even now we know of churches which have dispensed with the Lord’s Supper week after week because the pastor was ill, there being, of course, no other brother in the whole community who had grace enough to preside at the table, or administer the sacrament, as some of the brotherhood call it. When matters have gone so far, it is surely time to speak out against such worship of men.
By one of those whimsical freaks of superstition for which there is no accounting, the benediction is in some regions almost as sacredly reserved for the minister as the absolution for the priest in Popish churches. We heard it remarked the other day as quite a singular thing that a nonministerial brother, being in the chair at a religious meeting, had actually pronounced the benediction. We had not noticed the man’s audacity, but evidently others had. Here was a mere layman thinking himself as able to invoke a blessing upon the assembly as the clerics around him! The brethren around us expressed their pleasure that he had done so, but even this showed that it was rather an innovation, very commendable, no doubt, in these days, but still an innovation. “Will you close the meeting?” has often been whispered in a minister’s ear when some excellent Christian man has been in prayer, who might just as well as not have finished his supplication with the blessing, and so have dismissed the assembly. But that must not be, only ministers must take those sacred words upon .their polluted lips! Fiddle-de-dee is the only word which will enable us to vent our feelings. But we forbear, and change the subject.
It is very natural that our friends should desire their minister to baptize them, and yet there is no reason why he should do so on account of his office. It does not appear from the Scriptures to have been an act peculiar to preachers; in fact, at least one of them, and he by no means the least, was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel. A vigorous Christian member of the church is far more in his place in the baptismal waters than his ailing, consumptive, or rheumatic pastor. Any objection urged against this assertion is another unconscious leaning to tradition, if not a relic of superstition. The usefulness of the ordinance does not depend upon the baptizer, but upon the the gracious meditation and earnest prayer of the person baptized: the good which he will receive will depend upon how far his whole soul is receptive of the divine influence, and in no sense, manner, or degree upon the agent of the baptism. We do not know what Paedobaptists think upon their ceremony, but we fear that the most of them must have the minister to do it, and would hardly like their infants to be left to the operation of an unordained man. If it be so, we do not so very much wonder at their belief, for as it is clear that no good arises to an infant from its own prayers or meditations during the ceremony, there is a natural tendency to look for some official importance in the performer of the rite; but yet we do not and cannot believe that our Paedobaptist friends have fallen so low as that; we make no charge, and hope we shall never have cause to do so. For Baptists to attach the smallest importance to the ordinance of baptism being administered either by a minister or a private member Would be to the last degree inconsistent, and yet we. are. not sure that the inconsistency is not to be found in many quarters. It behooves ministers to break down. in time every tendency to make us into necessary adjuncts of the ordinances, for this is one step towards making us priests.
Upon the same spirit as it crops up in reference to marriages and burials we need not remark. Neither of these things are in themselves our work, although, as they furnish us with excellent occasions for doing good, it is well for us to attend to them. At the same time here are two threads for the syrup of superstition to crystallize upon, and it will do so if not prevented.
The ignorant evidently attach some importance to reading or speaking over a corpse at a funeral, and do not regard the service as meant wholly for themselves, but as having some sort of relation to the departed. To have a gracious exhortation and prayer at home, and then lay the dear remains in the tomb in solemn silence, would be regarded as barbarity by many, and yet it would be no unseemly thing. To give the minister liberty to keep to the word of God and prayer, and release him from serving sepulchers, is according to apostolic precedent, and yet our churches would be grieved if it were carried out. When one of the Lord’s disciples desired to postpone his evangelistic labors till he had buried his father, he was bidden to let the dead bury their dead; but such advice followed out now-a-days would bring down heavy censure upon the minister. Is this as it should be? Our calling is to preach the gospel, and not to marry the living or bury the dead.
By what process have these things come to be an integral part of our ministry? Are they really the business of the ministers of Christ? It is not meet that we should needlessly grieve any by refusing to attend upon either of these occasions, but we must take heed that we do not feed the sickly sentimentalism which makes the preacher necessary to them. We must all have seen how soon a superstition springs up, and therefore we must be on our guard not to water the ill weed. The duty of visiting the sick and dying is one which we do not wish to shirk, but may it not become another door for priestliness to enter? and, indeed, is it not so? The poor will hasten to our doors, and ask us to “come and Tray to their sick friends:” yes, those are the very words — “ Please, sir, would you come and pray to my husband?” Often have we heard the expression, “The clergyman has been in and prayed a prayer to him, sir.” To the London poor ministers both in church and dissent are alike parsons or clergymen, and city missionaries are almost as good, and in their distress they very frequently send for one or another of us out of sheer superstition; not because they would learn the way of salvation, but because “having a good man in to pray to them” is the right thing to do for dying people. The like, or perhaps a worse superstition, leads to a high estimate of a burial service. Rattled over as it frequently is by cemetery chaplains, who have “one on and two more a-waiting,” the burial service cannot be of any use to the living, and must surely be performed for the sake of the dead. Nobody says so among Protestants, but the idea is in the air and may by degrees condense into a belief, unless we are expressly earnest to prevent it. We shall continue to mingle with the devout men who carry our Stephens to the sepulcher, and we shall not fail to weep with them that weep, but we will not allow the ignorant to imagine that we are there to perform some mystic rite.
These few remarks touch only upon ministers, and leave other matters for another equally brief chapter; but we cannot lay down the pen without asking why so many brethren still retain the lille of Reverend? We are willing to reverence the aged pastor, and we did not hesitate to give that title to our beloved friend George Rogers, just in the same way as we use the term “the venerable Bede,” or “the judicious Hooker,” but we are not prepared to reverence every stripling who ascends the pulpit; and, moreover, if we thought it due to others to call them reverend, we should still want some reason for their calling themselves so. It seems rather odd to us that a man should print upon his visiting card the fact that he is a reverend person. Why does he not occasionally vary the term, and call himself estimable, amiable, talented, or beloved? Would this seem odd? Is there any valid objection to such a use of adjectives after the fashion is once set by employing the word reverend? If a man were to assume the title of reverend for the first time in history it would look ridiculous, if not presumptuous or profane. Why does not the Sunday-school teacher call himself “the Respectable John Jones,” or the City Missionary dub himself “the Hard-working William Evans”? Why do we not, like members of secret orders and others, go in for Worthy Masterships and Past Grands, and the like? I hope that we can reply that we do not care for such honors, and are content to leave them to men of the world, or to the use of those who think they can do some good thereby. It may be said that the title of reverend is only one of courtesy, but then so was the title of Rabbi among the Jews, yet the disciples were not to be called Rabbi. It is, at any rate, a suspicious circumstance that among mankind no class of persons should so commonly describe themselves by a pretentious title as the professed ministers of the lowly Jesus. Peter and Paul were right reverend men, but they would have been the last to have called themselves so. No sensible person does reverence us one jot the more because we assume the title. It certainly is in some cases a flagrant misnomer, and its main use seems to be the pestilent one of keeping up the unscriptural distinction of clergy and laity. A lad fresh from college, who has just been placed in a pulpit, is the Reverend Smith, while his eminently godly grandfather, who has for fifty years walked with God, and is now ripe for heaven, has no such claim to reverence. A gentleman of ability, education, and eminent piety preaches in various places with much zeal and abundant success, but he is no reverend; while a man of meager gifts, whose principal success seems to lie in scattering the flock, wears the priestly prefix, having a name to be reverenced when he commands no esteem whatever. This may be a trifle, many no doubt so regard it; why, then, are they not prepared to abstain from it? The less the value of the epithet the less reason for continuing the use of it. It would be hard to say who has a right to it, for many use it who have not been pastors for years, and have not preached a sermon for many a day; what on earth are they to be reverenced for? Other men are always preaching, and yet no one calls them reverend, but why not ‘? The distribution of this wonderful honor is not fairly arranged. We suggest that, as the wife is to see that she reverence her husband, every married man has a degree of claim to the title of Rev., and the sooner all benedicts exercise the privilege, the sooner will the present clerical use of it pass out of fashion. We wonder when men first sought out this invention, and from whose original mind did the original sin emanate. We suspect that he lived in the Roman Row of Vanity Fair, although the Rev. John Bunyan does not mention him. One thing is pretty certain, he did not flourish in the days of the Rev. Paul, or the Rev. Apollos, or the Rev. Cephas.
SKAMPFIELDING IN the Engineering and Mining Journal we read: “A rule, or custom, obtains on board Norwegian ships, known as skampfielding, which is simply this: Every morning at daylight, as soon as the decks are washed down, the officer in charge details each individual of his watch to some particular part of the ship skampfjelding; Johannis goes over the mainmast and yards, from the truck to the topmast head; Jem takes the main topsail yard and topmast; Tellog takes the main yard, top, and lower rigging, and so on. Thus the whole ship is par-celled out, each man takes a few rope yarns, or ‘ Spanish Foxes,’ and spends the next twenty minutes or halfhour in examining the part allotted to him; every seizing, splice, iron, bolt, rope, mat, even the stitching of the sails and condition of the paint, come under his consideration. A slight matter he repairs at once; anything for which he is not then prepared is, on returning to the deck, reported fully to the officer, and, if needing immediate attention, men and material are at once sent to the spot: in many cases the officer goes himself, or sends his second in command, to superintend the work. Things not requiring such immediate attention are noted; and when the other watch comes on deck, after breakfast, they are detailed to repair what has been reported, before commencing the day’s work. In this way B repairs what A reported, and gives a look for himself, in going and coming. Again, if anything breaks during the day, the captain asks, ‘ Who went there skampfjelding this morning?’ He is known, and asked why he did not report; in some cases he gets a disagreeable job as punishment, while each man feels a personal responsibility and interest in giving an accurate report, lest he lose his character for seamanship.”
Is not this an admirable custom and worthy to be imitated on board the ship of the soul? Self-examination exercised by the whole crew of mental and spiritual faculties would keep the entire craft in order, keep her tight and trim for all weathers, and preserve her when the hurricane comes on.
As it is, we too often keep an eye on the paint, and forget the timber which it covers; the deck is holystoned, but the planks are rotting; sails are stretched, but many a rope needs mending. We all need skampfjelding, although we hardly know how to pronounce the word. Memory, understanding, hope, fear, head, heart, desire, and faith should each take a department of our nature, overhaul it, and report to the captain in command, with earnest resolve that all should be set right. For want of this the soul leaks, her sails spill the wind, her timbers become worm-eaten, and her beauty departs from her. This should be the work of every morning, executed in the calm light of dawning mercies, before we are buffeted by the waves of worldly business. Is it not sadly neglected?
The like good service should be done for the church, tier membership, schools, societies, poor, sick, and ignorant should be looked over by each man that he may see what is his own department, and where he can best lend a hand. The most watchful captain cannot do everything himself, all hands must help him, every member must take his share of the work and do it. Some of those on board our vessels have never yet gone forward among the children of the Sabbath-school, indeed they never do a hand’s turn anywhere unless it is with a knife and fork. They are sure to be in the saloon when the dinner bell rings, as if they expected to be ranked as genteel passengers and not as able-bodied seamen, and they are always ready to skulk into their bunks and sleep the day out; but they never go up aloft on the look out, nor down below to see to the cargo, they neither watch, nor work, nor wrestle, but they worry and weary all around them.
Oh for more real workers. Yards and trucks, ropes and bolts, are apt to get out of order, and very soon no end of damage is done. Up, brothers all! and with open eyes look about you, and with a handful of “Spanish foxes,” or something of a more excellent texture, fix everything as straight as may be. — C. H.S.NOTES.
THE Tabernacle Colportage Society has held its annual meeting, and a thoroughly lively and earnest meeting it was. The Colporteurs who spoke of their personal adventures deeply interested the assembly, and must have convinced every candid person that there is no cheaper, better, and more efficient work in existence than that of Colportage. Beginning in 1866 with three men, our society finds itself in 1874 employing twenty-nine men. It has sold £2,000 worth of books in the year, and has received a total contribution, in subscriptions, of £1,163, so that now it is an association of considerable dimensions, and has vitality enough in it to grow. The friends in the various districts speak with great warmth in favor of the Colporteur; he is often a true pastor, missionary, lecturer, and evangelist, all in one.
Friends who can raise £40 per annum can have such a man in their own neighborhood, or, if they would wish to see some darker region enlightened, they can appoint him to any place they choose. We were greatly pleased with the style of men; they were hard-working, shrewd, sensible, earnest, godly laborers for Jesus, who need not be ashamed. We should like to be able to place such a worker in every priest-ridden district in England. We sometimes wish that those vast sums of money which are laid up to rust by worldlings and greedy professors could come within our reach, for we could make excellent use of a very considerable amount.
Those who have £40 to spare have a great luxury within their reach, for they can have a man to work for them in places to which they could not go themselves. Any remittances sent to C.H. Spurgeon, or to W. Cotden Jones, Metropolitan Tabernacle, will be most gratefully received.
The funds of the Orphanage ran completely dry on May 8th, and drove us to plead with God for replenishment. The answer was immediate and sufficient. On the very day in which supplication was made nearly £400 was sent in to the treasury, and our heart was gladdened. We need something under that amount every month. If our beloved friends would get into the habit of sending us help regularly it would be a great comfort to us, and save us from many temptations to anxiety. As all our time is freely given to conducting the College, Orphanage, Colportage, etc., we think the Lord’s people should never allow the exchequer to be bare. We have been greatly favored as to health at the Orphanage, very few boys ever being in the Infirmary, and those for small matters. There is also a general good moral and spiritual tone among the boys, and we hope to hear of many giving their hearts to Jesus. Places for lads ready to go out have been hitherto forthcoming, but we shall in a few months have quite a swarm ready for flight, and then we hope friends will be found to take them.
The time is close at hand for giving our orphan lads a holiday. They will be allowed to leave in detachments, provided that there are places for them to go to. The time allowed will be a fortnight only. Many boys have no mothers or other friends who can take them; and some mothers are too poor, or too busy, to be able to provide for their boys and look after them.
No boy will be allowed to go home unless we feel confident that he will be kept out of evil company and away from the streets. A little change does them good, and breaks the monotony of the year, but bad company undoes all our year’s work, and we cannot run so great a risk. How much we wish that friends would give a poor lad a fortnight’s ran over their farms! In 1872 Mr. W. L. Lung, editor of the Southport News, by the help of a few friends, gave nine of our boys a splendid treat. The railway company allowed us to purchase tickets at the lowest possible fare, and the boys remained three weeks in the bracing air of Southport. Last year Mr. Lung kindly took twelve boys and provided for them in his own house and an adjoining one. Everybody was kind to them, the pier, baths, steamboats, etc., were free to them; they went out into the country with every Sundayschool treat, and in fact found friends everywhere. We do not expect many helpers on so large a scale to come forward, but a number of smaller efforts would help us grandly.
Friends who would collect for the Orphanage can have cards upon application to Mr. Spurgeon; as also a picture card representing the Institution.
The new College is nearly ready for opening. We still need about £3,000.
The ladies at the Tabernacle are resolved to hold a Bazaar at Christmas, to enable the President to furnish the rooms. They will be glad of help from all quarters. Nothing has ever flagged yet of our work, and we believe that our divine Lord will not suffer it to do so now.
One of the most successful preachers sent out from our College is Mr.W. Cuff, of Providence Chapel, Shoreditch. His place of worship is surrounded not by thousands, but hundreds of thousands of working people, tradespeople, and the very poor. His ministry has proved so attractive that the chapel is quite inadequate, and the friends frequently assemble in the Shoreditch Town Hall. This, of course, has to be hired, and the friends are eager to have a house of their own. They have first of all to pay efta debt upon their present place, and then commence a fund for the new erection; thus they have a double burden to carry, and need double help. If any place in the universe needs a large church under an able pastor, it is Shore-ditch; the pastor is there, and the church is growing up around him, but they have no house in which to meet. Their present place stands well if a house or two in the front could be pulled down; and the site of its schools, chapel, and graveyard, would, if entirely covered, afford room for a very large building. What is wanted seems to be that some persons of means should take up the project in the name of the Lord and see it through. The friends on the spot are not wealthy, and cannot accomplish the work laid upon them unless they have bountiful help from outside. May the Lord accomplish this work also.
The Echo states that we have refused to undertake a lecturing tour in Opposition to the Church of England. We wonder what next. Nobody ever asked us to undertake anything of the kind, and therefore we never refused.
The idea of our leaving the ministry of the Word of God to become a lecturer has never occurred to us, nor, we should think, to any sane individual.
In reference to the present agitation among farm laborers, we cannot restrain the expression of our conviction that farmers, as a class, are being unjustly blamed. Our sympathies are altogether with those poor men who are so fearfully underpaid and so badly housed that their condition is intolerable, and we sincerely hope that their wages will be increased; but it must not be forgotten that in many districts wages are good, that even in the bad districts there are enlightened farmers who are paying a fair wage, and that in the worst eases the farmers did not create the present state of things but have inherited the evil, and the condition arising out of it. We meet with many employers who sincerely desire to see the condition of the men greatly improved, and are ready to do their best towards it, but their rent is high, their workpeople are not industrious, and their tenure of the land is an annual one, so that they are tied hand and foot. Now, let justice be done all round, and do not blame one class only for a condition of things in which others have had their share, nor pour indiscriminate censure upon a whole body of men when so many deserve praise instead of blame. The agricultural laborer’s condition in many districts is a disgrace to civilization, and must be altered; to do this the farmer may need a reduction of rent, and he may not be able to get it. What, then, is to be done? The laborer must do more in the day, and a better style of farming must be followed. The first will only be done by the right-minded, but we hope there are many such among our laborers; the second cannot be done at all unless leases are granted, and in this matter the Legislature ought to interfere. Some landlords would sooner see their land continue to be onequarter farmed year by year than give leases, thus the land is left unproductive, and all of us are made to suffer for a great man’s pride. The agricultural laborer is sure to rise, as he ought to do, but in the process let there be as little ill-feeling as possible, and as much of the give and take principle as can be. Neither farmers, nor laborers, nor landlords are all good or all bad — they all look out quite enough for themselves, and it is not unnatural that they should; but if the Christian ones among them will look not only on their own things, but also on the things of others, the troublesome business of a new adjustment will be got over very much more easily than we think. Nobody likes to be bullied, even into doing right, and there has been a little of this style of talk on both sides; it does no good, and breeds bad blood. Many a struggling farmer, who has hardly made ends meet when wages have been low, is much embittered by the prospect before him when he will have more to pay, and we must not wonder that he is so; but as he will have to pay it, as sure as eggs are eggs, it is of no use his being angry, for that will not alter it. What can’t re cured must be endured. More machinery, higher farming, and better prices may help him through, and we sincerely hope they may. The inhabitants of the Southern States of America have suffered greatly from the emancipation of the blacks, but they are getting over it, and in a short time they will be glad of the change, and we feel very confident that in the far less violent alteration which is coming over our land much less inconvenience will be felt, and with Christian feeling among all classes it may be reduced to a minimum.
We wish all classes well through the struggle, and may God defend the right.
Our American Baptist friends are continually challenging us to fight them upon the communion question, but really we feel so sure of our ground, and see so little force in their arguments, that we do not feel any inducement to enter the conflict. We would, however, advise them to be reasonable occasionally. One valiant champion says, in the Examiner and Chronicle-” When Spurgeon invites to the communion all members of Paedobaptist churches he invites men who are unconverted.” Our only reply is, “And what would he do if he invited all members of Baptist churches?” The writer must know that he misrepresents us. We cannot judge the hearts of the members of churches, whether baptized or unbaptised; we are in communion with the whole visible church of our Lord Jesus Christ as such, and if any have entered that church who are not regenerated persons, we are not able to cease from fellowship with the wheat because the tares have sprung up therewith. We will ask our opponent one question: “If among the living members of the body of Christ there be an unimmersed believer, how can he cease to have fellowship with him, seeing that all the members of one body must of necessity have fellowship with each other?” Will he deny the existence of such members?
Or will he say that he gives them the substance of fellowship, but dares not give them the sign? We should not have said even this much, but it is asked for by our pugilistic brethren, and we hope it will please them now that they have got it. We love them too well to be further provoked by them, we only want them to believe that our silence does not arise from our having nothing to say. It would answer no good end to open a controversy about communion, and, therefore, we do not intend to do it; but if we ever should show fight, it will be no fault of ours, but the responsibility must lie with those zealots across the water who are for ever shaking their fists in our face.
Baptisms at the Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon : — -April 27th, twenty-one; 30th, twenty-six.