OUR LORD’S PREACHING.
A FRAGMENT BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted” — Isaiah 61:1.
OUR Lord’s anointing was with a special view to his preaching. Such honor does the Lord of heaven and earth put upon the ministry of the Word that, as one of the old Puritans said, “God had only one Son, and he made a preacher of him.” it should greatly encourage the weakest amongst men, who are preachers of righteousness, to think that the Son of God, that blessed and eternal Word, came into this world that he might preach the same glad tidings which we are called to proclaim.
We may profitably note how earnestly our Lord kept to his work. It was his business to preach, and he did preach, he was always preaching “What,” say you, “did he not work miracles?” Yes, but his miracles were sermons; they were acted discourses, full of instruction He preached when he was on the mountain, he equally preached when he sat at table in the Pharisee’s house. All his actions were significant; he preached by every movement. He preached when he did not speak; his silence was as eloquent as his words. He preached when he gave, and he preached when he received; he was preaching sermon when he lent his feet to the woman that she might wash them with her tears and wipe them with the hairs of her head, quite as much as when he was dividing the loaves and the fishes and feeding the multitude. He preached by his patience before Pilate, for there he witnessed a good confession. He preached from the bloody tree; with hands and feet fastened there, he delivered the most wonderful discourse of justice and of love, of vengeance and of grace, of death and of life, that was ever preached in this poor world. Oh, yes, he preached wondrously, he was always preaching; with all his heart and soul he preached. He prayed that he might obtain strength to preach. He wept in secret that he might the more compassionately speak the word which wipes men’s tears away.
Always a preacher, he was always ready in season and out of season, with a good word. As he walked the streets he preached as he went along; and if he sought retirement, and the people thronged him, he sent them not away without a gracious word. This was his one calling, and his one calling he pursued in the power of the eternal Spirit; and he liked it so well, and thought so much of it, that he trained his eleven friends to the same work, and sent them out. to preach as he had done; and then he chose seventy more for the same errand, saying, “As ye go, preach the gospel.” Did he shave the head of one of them to make him a priest? Did he decorate one of them with a gown, or a chasuble, or a biretta? Did he teach one of them to say mass — to swing a censer to elevate the host? Did he instruct one of them to regenerate children by baptism? Did he bring them up to chant in simplices and march in processions? No, those things he never thought of, and neither will we. If he had thought of them it would only have been with utter contempt, for what is there in such childish things? The preaching of the cross — this it is which is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us who are saved it is the wisdom of God, and the power of God; for it pleaseth God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Nor at the close of his career had our Lord lowered his estimation of preaching, for just before he ascended he said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” His last charge in brief was — preach, preach even as I have done before you. He lived the Prince of preachers, he died and became the theme of preachers, he lives again and is the Lord of preachers. What an honorable work is that to which his servants are called!
Now, as you have seen that our Savior came to preach, now notice his subject. “The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek.”
And what good tidings did he preach? Pardon, pardon given to the chief of sinners, pardon for prodigal sons pressed to their father’s bosom.
Restoration from their lost estate as the piece of money was restored again into the treasury, and the lost sheep back to the fold. How encouragingly he preached of a life given to men dead in sin, life through the living water which becomes a fountain within the soul. You know how sweetly he would say, “He that believeth in me hath everlasting life.” “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” “Like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He preached a change of heart, and the need of a new creation. He said, “Ye must be born again,” and he taught those truths by which the Holy Ghost works in us and makes all things new. He preached glad tidings concerning resurrection, and bade men look for endless bliss by faith in him. He cried, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” He gave forth precepts, too, and threatenings in their place, — some of them very searching and terrible, but they were only used as accessories to the good news. He made men feel that they were poor, that they might be willing to be made rich by his grace. He made them feel weary and burdened, that they might come to him for rest; but the sum and substance of what he preached was the gospel — the good spell — the glad news.
Brethren, our divine Lord always preached upon that subject, and did not stoop to secular themes. If you notice, though he would sometimes debate with Pharisees, Herodians, and others, as needs must be, yet he was soon away from them and back to his one theme. He baffled them with his wisdom, and then returned to the work he loved, namely, preaching where the publicans and sinners drew near together “for to hear him.” Our business, since the Spirit of God is upon us, is not to teach politics, save only in so far as these immediately touch the kingdom of Christ, and there the gospel is the best weapon. Nor is it our business to be preaching mere morals, and rules of duty; our ethics must be drawn from the cross, and begin and end here. We have not so much to declare what men ought to do, as to preach the good news of what God has done for them. Nor must we always be preaching certain doctrines, as doctrines, apart from Christ.
We are only theologians as far as theology enshrines the gospel. We have one thing to do, and to that one thing we must keep. The old proverb says, “Cobbler, stick to your last,” and, depend upon it, it is good advice to the Christian minister to stick to the gospel and make no move from it. I hope I have always kept to my theme; but I take no credit for it, for I know nothing else. I have “determined to know nothing among men, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Indeed, necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel. I would fain have but one eye, and that eye capable of seeing nothing from the pulpit but lost men and the gospel of their salvation: to all else one may well be blind, so that the entire force of the mind may center on the great essential subject. There is, certainly, enough in the gospel for any one man, enough to fill any one life, to absorb all our thought, emotion, desire, and energy, yea, infinitely more than the most experienced Christian and the most intelligent teach, or will ever be able to bring forth. If our Master kept to his one topic, we may wisely do the same, and if any say that we are narrow, let us delight in that blessed narrowness which brings men into the narrow way. If any denounce us as cramped in our ideas, and shut up to one set of truths, let us rejoice to be shut up with Christ, and count it the truest enlargement of our minds. It were well to be bound with cords to his altar, to lose all hearing but for his voice, all seeing but for his light, all life but in his life, all glorying save in his cross. If he who knew all things taught only the one thing needful, his servants may rightly enough do the same. “The Lord hath anointed me,” saith he, “to preach good tidings”: in this anointing let us abide.
But now notice the persons to whom he especially addressed the good tidings They were the meek. Just look to the fourth of Luke, and you will read there, “The Lord hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor”: the poor, then, are among the persons intended by the meek. I noticed when I was looking through this passage that the Syriac renders it “the humble,” and I think the Vulgate renders it “the gentle.” Calvin translates it “the afflicted.” It all comes to one thing. The meek, a people who are not lofty in their thoughts, for they have been broken down; a people who are not proud and lifted up, but low in their own esteem; a people who are often much troubled and tossed about in their thoughts; a people who have lost proud hopes and self-conceited joys; a people who seek no high things, crave for no honors, desire no praises, but bow before the Lord in humility.
They are fain to creep into any hole to hide themselves, because they have such a sense of insignificance and worthlessness and sin. They are a people who are often desponding, and are apt to be driven to despair. The meek, the poor: — meek because they are poor: they would be as bold as others if they had as much as others, or as others think they have; but God has emptied them, and so they have nothing to boast of. They feel the iniquity of their nature, the plague of their hearts; they mourn that in them there dwells no good thing, and oftentimes they think themselves to be the offscouring of all things. They imagine themselves to be more brutish than any man, and quite beneath the Lord’s regard; sin weighs them down, and yet they accuse themselves of insensibility and impenitence. Now, the Lord has anointed the Lord Jesus on purpose to preach the gospel to such as these. If any of you are good and deserving, the gospel is not for you. If any of you are keeping God’s laws perfectly, and hope to be saved by your works; the whole have no need of a physician, and the Lord Jesus did not come upon so needless an errand as that of healing men who have no wounds or diseases. But the sick need a doctor, and Jesus has come in great compassion to remove their sicknesses. The more diseased you are, the more sure you may be that the Savior came to heal such as you are.
The more poor you are, the more certain you may be that Christ came to enrich you; the more sad and sorrowful you are, the more sure you may be that Christ came to comfort you. You nobodies, you who have been turned upside down and emptied right out, you who are bankrupts and beggar’s, you who feel yourselves to be clothed with rags and covered with wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores, you who are utterly bad through and through, and know it, and mourn it, and are humbled about it, you may know that God has poured the holy oil without measure upon Christ on purpose that he might deal out mercy to such poor creatures as you are.
What a blessing this is! How we ought to rejoice in the anointing, since it benefits such despicable objects. We who feel that we are such objects ought to cry, “Hosannah, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
We must now consider our Lord ’s design and object in thus preaching the gospel to the poor and the meek.
It was, you observe, that he might bind up the broken-hearted. “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Carefully give heed, that you may see whether this belongs to you. Are you broken-hearted because of sin; because you have sinned often, foully, grievously? Are you broken-hearted because your heart will not break as you would desire it should break; broken-hearted because you repent that you cannot repent as you would, and grieved because you cannot grieve enough? Are you broken-hearted because you have not such a sense of sin that you ought to have, and such a deep loathing of it as you perceive that others have? Are you brokenhearted with despair as to self-salvation; broken-hearted because you cannot keep the law; broken-hearted because you cannot find comfort in ceremonies; brokenhearted because the things which looked best have turned out to be deceptions; broken-hearted because all the world over you have found nothing but broken cisterns which hold no water, which have mocked your heart when you have gone to them; broken-hearted with longing after peace with God; broken-hearted because prayer does not seem to be answered; broken-hearted because when you come to hear the gospel you fear that it is not applied to you with power; broken-hearted because you had a little light and yet slipped back into darkness; brokenhearted because you are afraid you have committed the unpardonable sin; broken-hearted because of blasphemous thoughts which horrify your mind and yet will not leave it? I care not why or wherefore you are brokenhearted, but Jesus Christ came into the world, sent of God with this object — to bind up the broken-hearted. It is a beautiful figure, this binding up — as though the Crucified One took the liniment and the strapping and put it around the broken heart, and with his own dear gentle hand proceeded to close up the wound and make it cease to bleed. Luke doesn’t tell us that he came to bind up the broken-hearted: if you examine his version of the text, you will read that he came to cure them. That is going still further, because you may bind a wound up and yet fail to cure it, but Jesus never fails in his surgery. He whose own heart was broken knows how to cure broken hearts. I have heard of people dying of a broken heart, but I always bless God when I meet with those who live with a broken heart because it is written, “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” If you have that broken heart within you, beloved, Christ came to cure you; and he wilt do it, for he never came in vain: “he shall not fail nor be discouraged.” With sovereign power anointed from on high he watches for the worst ,f cases. Heart disease, incurable by man, is his specialty! His gospel touches the root of the soul’s ill, the mischief which dwells in that place from whence are the issues of life. With pity, wisdom, power, and condescension he bends over our broken bones, and ere he has done with them he makes them all rejoice and sing glory to his name. Come then, ye troubled ones, and rely upon your Savior’s healing power. Give yourselves up to his care, confide in his skill, rest in his love. What joy you shall have if you will do this at once! What joy shall I have in knowing that you do so! Above all, what joy will fill the heart of Jesus, the beloved Physician, as he sees you healed by his stripes! “GREAT CRY AND LITTLE WOOL.”
AS THE MAN SAID WHO CLIPPED THE SOW.
OUR friend Hodge does not seem to be making much of an out at shearing.
It will take him all his time to gel wool enough for a blanket and his neighbors are telling him so. But he gets plenty of music of a sort; Hullah’s system is nothing to it, and even Nebuchadnezzar’s flutes, harps, sackbuts, and dulcimers could not make more din. He gets “cry” enough to stock a Babylon of babies, but not wool enough to stop his ears with.
Now is not this very like the world with its notions of pleasure? There is noise enough; laughter, and shouting, and boasting; but where is the comfort which can warm the heart, and give peace to the spirit? Thousands have had to weep over their mistake, and yet it seems that every man must have a clip at his own particular pig, and cannot be made to believe that like all the rest it will yield him nothing but bristles. One shears the publican’s hog, which is so fond of the swill tub, and he reckons upon bringing home a wonderful lot of wool; but everybody knows that he who goes there for wool will come home shorn himself: the “Blue Boar” is an uncommonly ugly animal to shear. Better sheer off as far as you can.
Another tries greediness, and expects to be happy by being a miser. That’s a very clean hog to clip at. Some try wickedness, and run into bad company, and give way to vice. I warrant you, they may shear the whole styful of filthy creatures, and never find a morsel of wool on the whole lot of them. Loose characters, silly amusements, gambling, wantonness, and such like, are swine that none but a fool will try his hand on. I don’t deny that there’s plenty of pig music, — who ever expected that there would be silence in a piggery? But then noise is not enough to fill the heart or cheer the soul.
John Ploughman has tried for himself, and he knows by experience that all the world is nothing but a hog that is not worth the shearing: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” But yet there is wool to be had; there are real joys to be got for the asking, if we ask aright. Below, all things deceive us, but, above us there is a true friend. This is John Ploughman’s verdict, which he wishes all his readers to take note of — “‘Tis religion that can give Sweetest pleasures while we live; ‘Tis religion must supply Solid comfort when we die.”
From John Ploughman ’s Sheet Almanack.
WE rejoice to hear on all hands that the meetings of the Baptist Union at Newport, Monmouthshire, have been among the best that have ever been held. An infusion of Welsh enthusiasm set the whole thing on fire, and the meetings were crowded throughout. Our heart was with our brethren, and we rejoice to hear of all that was done. If brotherly love continues and increases; if evangelistic truth has universal sway, and it humble dependence upon God is maintained, there is a future for the Baptists which shall well repay all the waiting and the watching of the centuries.
The Church Congress at Croydon was a model of quietness, but all lovers of divine truth must mourn to see her delivered into the hands of her enemies. The evangelicals seem eager to sell their birthright, so long as they may but continue to eat of the pottage. Surely there will be some protesting voices! Is the cry of “Peace, peace, where is there no peace” to be taken up by all the professed lovers of the Protestant faith? We are pleased to note a line or two in the “Hand and Heart” indicating that Mr. Bullock sees no possibility of united action with the Romanizing party, and we are even more glad to see brave old Hugh McNeile sounding a vigorous alarm in the Times. But what ailed the evangelicals at the congress? It is the fear of disestablishment through internal strife which has hushed honest protest, and produced a hollow truce. May the great God of truth save his weak children from the ensnaring influences which now entangle them, and make them prefer honest poverty to their present false position.
Our review department occasionally gets us into hot water. We must, however, assure all good people whose views are not advocated, or are even opposed, that we cannot discuss matters with them. If they do not like our opinions they can state their own as publicly as they please, but we do not intend to enter into argument on all the topics which arise; we have neither the time nor the ability. Of course the secretary of a society, who lives to advocate the views of his associates, is fully justified in drawing his sword to defend his favorite principle, and we are very pleased to see his courage and zeal; but when he has been studying a subject all his life, it is not quite so brave a thing as it looks to challenge a busy man who has other fish to fry to come out and fight. However, if it does brethren good to be able to feel that we are afraid of them, our benevolence leads us to rejoice in their gratification. It will be quite safe for another dozen or two to challenge us.
Another matter needs a word. We deliver what we think an earnest, sober address, and lo, in some one or other of the newspapers which are rather sharp set during this hungry season, we come upon what profess to be a report of our speech. A sentence culled here and there, a tale ill told and a remark set up on the wrong end, are jumbled together and called a report, and then friends send a flight of letters asking if the report is correct. Now, once: for all, let us say “No. ” We will not be held responsible for the caricatures of what we say which are sent out to the public as our productions. In many late instances we can appeal to every man, woman, and child in the audience, except, perhaps, the penny-a-liner himself; and they will unanimously say that their impression of what they heard was as different as light from darkness from that which the so-called report was calculated to produce upon the reader.
Three members of the Tabernacle church sailed for the Indian Mission with Mr. Smith, of Delhi: — Mrs. Brown, Miss Kemp, and Mr. Blackie of our College. It is very probable, that Mr. Blackie will minister to the church in the Lal Bazaar, Calcutta. We rejoice to see the missionary spirit thus alive among us. There art more willing to go.
Our friends who have offered aid to send forth Mr. White to Japan, and to support him there, will we trust send their donations to the Baptist Mission house, Castle Street, Holborn, for the Society has generously seen fit to undertake the mission. May the Lord prosper the effort. The remark in our last number upon medical mission work will not, we trust, prejudice a single reader against medical missions. We believe most in the man who gives himself wholly to the ministry of the gospel, but the other form of usefulness is not be despised, for in some cases it is a most suitable agency.
During the month Mr. Abrahams has settled at Redruth, Mr. Hewlett at Shepton Mallett, Mr. Whetnail at Ulverstone, and Mr. D. Sharp at Bath. Our brother Winter has gone to his home above to the sorrow of us all.
Collectors Meeting will be held at the Stockwell Orphanage on Friday evening, Nov. 9. Will our young friends be sure to bring in their collecting books, and we trust they will have good amounts to pay in, for subscriptions are rather scanty at this time.
Friends who have any of the Lord’s money in hand could not expend it better than in helping our hard-working brother, Mr. Honour, of Olivet Chapel, Deptford. Some years ago we helped his friends to buy a piece of ground in the midst of a dense population. We aided them to build a schoolroom on the back of the land, leaving a good site in front for a chapel. The time has now come to build the house, but the people are poor and need help. Unless the rich help the poor, how can London be evangelized?
During the summer our students have gone forth two and two into the villages and towns around London, preaching, as the Lord gave doors of utterance, upon the green, or at the street corner. The season now forbids such labors, and we shall be glad to hear of openings for the hire of rooms, etc., under cover in and around London. In many a district a new church might be raised if those on the spot would only get together, and then send on to us. We would at least do our best for them.
— Two gentlemen, who do not wish their names mentioned, join in making the Association a very generous offer towards the support of twenty new colporteurs for one year, if the whole number is at work before the end of this year. To enable us to accept this challenge, and permanently profit by it, a large increase in the amount of yearly subscriptions to the General Fund is necessary. The committee, therefore, most earnestly appeal to the readers of the Sword and Trowel to help them by becoming annual subscribers, and will thankfully accept any amount however small. During the month of November only the committee will be glad to receive applications for the appointment of colporteurs at a reduced rate from the usual £40 a year required for the partial support of a colporteur. Application from new districts for the reduced rate should be prompt, as immediate action will be taken to start colporteurs in the whole number of districts. Earnest Christian workers who are members of some Christian church, have good physical strength, and possess tact as salesmen, can apply for employment to the secretary, 5V. Cordon Jones, Colportage Association, College Buildings, Metropolitan Tabernacle, S.E., to whom all communications should be addressed.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: Sept. 27, nineteen; Oct, 1, six; Oct. 4, twenty.