PERIODICAL WAR MADNESS.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
AFRIEND who was some long time ago prostrated by African fever assures us that he still feels it once a year. The enemy was repulsed in its first assault, but it annually resumes the attack, and will probably do so as long as our friend survives. This curious phenomenon has its parallel in the moral world, for certain evils may be subdued and apparently driven out of a man and yet they return with great fury and resume their former sway.
The like is true of races and nations. At intervals the world goes mad and mad in the very same direction in which it had confessed its former insanity, and resolved never to rave again. England, at set seasons, runs wild with the war lunacy, foams at the mouth, bellows out “Rule Britannia,” shows her teeth, and in general behaves herself like a mad creature: then her doctors bleed her, and put her through a course of depletion until she comes to her senses, settles down to her cotton-spinning and shop-keeping, and wonders what could have ailed her. A very few months ago it would have been difficult to discover an apologist for the Crimean war, and yet in this year of grace 1878 we find ourselves surrounded by a furious crowd whose intemperate language renders it almost a miracle that peace yet continues. If they do not desire war, they are mere bullies; but if they do desire it, they certainly go the right way to bring it about.
One stands amazed at the singular change which has come over the populace, who, if they are faithfully represented by their journals, have learned nothing by experience, but long to thrust their burned hand again into the fire. The mistakes of former days should minister to the wisdom of the present generation, for history is a nation’s education; it is, therefore, to the last degree unfortunate when the people relapse into their acknowledged errors, and repeat the blunders of their sires. If our country has been fairly depicted by the advocates for war, its condition is disappointing to the believer in progress, and alarming to the patriot who gazes into the future. We are still pugnacious, still believers in brute force, still ready to shed blood, still able to contemplate ravaged lands and murdered thousands without horror, still eager to test our ability to kill our fellow men. We are persuaded that a large portion of our fellow citizens are clear of this charge, but the noisier if not the more numerous party, clamor for a warlike policy as loudly as if it involved no slaughter, and were rather a boon to mankind than an unmitigated curse. A mysterious argument, founded upon the protection of certain mythical “British interests” is set up as an excuse, but the fact is that the national bull-dog wants to fix his teeth into somebody’s leg, and growls because he does not quite see how to do it. The fighting instinct is asking to be gratified, and waxes violent because it is denied indulgence.
It is cause for gratitude that the cool heads among us are now sufficiently numerous to act as a check upon the more passionate. We are not now all mad at the same time, nor are quite so many bitten by the ban-dog. When last our people barked at the Russian bear, Messrs. Cobden and Bright and a small band of sensible men entered a protest which only enraged the fighting party; but now, thank God, the advocates of peace are heard, and even though abused, their power is felt. They may be unpopular, but they are certainly influential; their opponents have to stand upon the defensive, and exhibit some show of apologetic argument, whereas aforetime they laughed the peace-man to scorn as un-English, fanatical, and idiotic.
Though our people have not advanced as we could desire, yet there has been progress, and that of a solid kind. Statesmen are now found who forego considerations of party to obey the higher dictates of humanity; ministers of the gospel now more frequently denounce the crime of carnage and pray for peace; and among the masses there are juster ideas of the lamentable results of war. We are bound to be thankful even for small mercies, and on that ground we rejoice in the faintest sign of advance towards truthful estimates of bloodshed; but we are sorry to temper our rejoicing with a large measure of regret that our fellow countrymen, aye, and fellow Christians are still so far from being educated upon this most important subject. Many who did run well apparently, and were theoretical lovers of peace, lost their heads in the general excitement and went over to the enemy; some of them, fearful lest English prestige, alias British swagger, should suffer; others afraid that Russia, by capturing Constantinople, would block our road to India; and a third class, carried away by unreasoning sympathy with the dominant feeling around them.
Times of feverish excitement test our attachment to great principles, and are probably intended by providence to act as a gauge as to their real growth; viewing the past few months in that light, there has been cause for congratulation, but greater reason for regret.
What is the cause of these periodical outbreaks of passion? Why does a peaceful nation bluster and threaten for a few months, and even commence fighting, when in a short time it sighs for peace, and illuminates its streets as soon as peace is proclaimed? The immediate causes differ, but the abiding reason is the same — man is fallen, and belongs to a race of which infallible revelation declares “their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace they have not known.”
Wars and fightings arise from the inward lusts of the corrupt heart, and so long as human nature is unrenewed, battles and sieges, wars and rumors of wars will make up the history of nations. Civilized man is the same creature as the savage; he is washed and clothed, but intrinsically he is the same being. As beneath the Russian’s skin you find the Tartar, so the Englishman is the savage Briton, or plundering Saxon, wearing broadcloth made from the wool of the sheep, but with a wild fierce heart within his breast. A prizefight a few years ago excited universal interest, and would do so again if it exhibited gameness and pluck, endurance and mettle. As a race we have these qualities and admire them, and it is idle to deny that if we were unrestrained by education and unrenewed by grace, there is not a man among us but would delight to see, or at least to read of, a fair stand-up fight, whether between fighting men or fighting cocks. We are not cruel, and therefore the brutal contests of Roman gladiators, or the disgusting scenes of Spanish bull-fights, would never be tolerated among us; but we are a fighting nation, and are never better pleased than when we see an exhibition of spirit and courage. Doubtless some good runs side by side with this characteristic of our countrymen, and we are far from wishing to depreciate bravery and valor, but at the same time this is one of the difficulties which the peace advocate must not fail to recognize. A tamer people might more readily adopt our tenets, not from conviction, but from force of circumstances; we find a warrior race slow to learn the doctrine of “peace on earth, good will toward men’: nor may this discourage us, for such a race is worth instructing, and when thoroughly indoctrinated will be mighty to spread abroad the glorious truth. Rome covets England because she knows it to be the center and pivot of the world, and we covet it also for the self-same reason: let Great Britain once declare from her heart that her empire is peace, and the whole earth shall be in a fair way to sit still and be at rest. We are far from this consummation at present, nor need we wonder when we remember the hearts of men and the passions which rage therein, and especially when we note the peculiarly warlike constituents of which our nation is composed. Observe the bold dash of the Irish, the stern valor of the Scotch, the fierce fire of the Welsh, and the dogged resolution of the English, and you see before you stormy elements ready at any time to brew a tempest.
What, then, is to be done? Shall we unite with the clamorous patriots of the hour and sacrifice peace to political selfishness? Or shall we in silence maintain our own views, and despair of their ever being received by our own countrymen? There is no need to take either course: let us believe in our principles, and wait till the present mania comes to an end. We would persuade all lovers of peace to labor perseveringly to spread the spirit of love and gentleness, which is indeed the spirit of Christ, and to give a practical bearing to what else may become mere theory. The fight-spirit must be battled with in all its forms, and the genius of gentleness must be cultivated. Cruelty to animals, the lust for destroying living things, the desire for revenge, the indulgence of anger — all these we must war against by manifesting and inculcating pity, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and goodness in the fear of the Lord. Children must be trained with meekness and not with passion, and our dealings with our fellow-men must manifest our readiness to suffer wrong rather than to inflict it upon others. Nor is this all: the truth as to war must be more and more insisted, on: the loss of time, labor, treasure, and life must be shown, and the satanic crimes to which it leads must be laid bare. It is the sum of all villainies, and ought to be stripped of its flaunting colors, and to have its bloody horrors revealed; its music should be hushed, that men may hear the moans and groans, the cries and shrieks of dying men and ravished women. War brings out the devil in man, wakes up the hellish legion within his fallen nature, and binds his better faculties hand and foot. Its natural tendency is to hurl nations back into barbarism, and retard the growth of everything good and holy. When undertaken from a dire necessity, as the last resource of an oppressed people, it may become heroic, and its after results may compensate for its immediate evils; but war wantonly undertaken, for selfinterest, ambition, or wounded pride is evil, only evil, and that continually.
It ought not to be smiled upon as a brilliant spectacle, nor talked of with a light heart; it is a fitter theme for tears and intercessions. To see a soldier a Christian is a joy; to see a Christian a soldier is another matter. We may not judge another man, but we may discourage thoughtless inclinations in the young and ignorant. A sweeping condemnation would arouse antagonism, and possibly provoke the very spirit we would allay; while quiet and holy influence may sober and ultimately overcome misdirected tendencies. Many of our bravest soldiers are on the side of peace, and in the present crisis have spoken out more boldly on the right side than we might reasonably have expected of them. This must be duly acknowledged and taken into account, and we must speak accordingly, Rash advocates mar the cause they love, and this also is not to be wondered at, since a portion of the same fighting nature is in them also, and leads them to be furious for peace, and warlike on behalf of love. The temptation to fight Christ’s battles with the devil’s weapons comes upon us all at times, and it is not marvelous that men speak of “fighting Quakers,” and “bigots for liberality.” We must guard our own spirits, and not lend ourselves to the service of strife by bitter contentions for peace; this, we fear, has not always been remembered, and the consequences have been more lamentable than would at first sight appear: opponents have been needlessly created, and prejudices have been foolishly confirmed. Let us profit by all the mistakes of zealots, and at the same time let us not become so extremely prudent as to lose all earnestness. The cause is a good one, let us urge it onward with blended rigor and discretion.
Seeing that the war-spirit is not slain, and only at the best wounded, we must in quiet times industriously inculcate the doctrines of peace. The work begun must be deepened and made more real, and where nothing has been taught we must begin in real earnest. It is wise to keep the evil spirit down when it is down. We had better shear its locks while it sleeps, for if once the giant awakes it snaps all arguments as Samson broke the new ropes. As a drunkard should be reasoned with in his sober intervals, and not when he is in liquor, so must our nation be instructed in peace when its fit of passion is over, and not when it is enraged. Have we well and wisely used the period since the last great war? Perhaps not: and it may be that the late ebullition has come to warn us, lest we beguile ourselves into the false notion that a millennium has commenced, and dream that men are about to beat their spears into pruning-hooks. Peace teaching, which is but another name for practical gospel teaching, must be incessant, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” must resound from our pulpits, and be practiced in our homes. “Let us love one another, for love is of God,” must be more in our hearts and lives. Above all we must evangelize the masses, carry the truth of the loving God to their homes, preach Jesus and his undying love in their streets, and gather men to his fold. All soul-saying work is a blow at the war-spirit. Make a man a Christian and he becomes a lover of his race; instruct him, and he becomes ashamed of blows and battles; sanctify him, and he sweetens into an embodiment of love. May the Holy Ghost do such work on all sides among our countrymen, and we shall see their outbursts of rage become less frequent and less violent, for there will be a strong counteracting influence to keep down the evil, and to restrain it when in a measure it breaks loose.
TOO TRUE IT is to be feared that an immense amount of time and money is wasted in these days upon mere schemes. The clergy are ready to rely upon everything rather than upon the substantial claims of their message. One party takes to new dresses, banners, and processions; another to penny readings, political lectures, and concerts. They change from one thing to another day by day, and the result is only a weary waste of their own time and the creation of a certain amount of social feeling, which might equally be produced without the supernatural influence of the church and religion.
Religious truths, if they are what they are believed to be, cannot need all this trivial machinery to recommend them; and religious convictions, which are to be of any value, must be produced and maintained by more simple and permanent means, If we may judge by the history of the church, both in early and modern times, a man of true religious feeling needs nothing but a room and a Bible, in order to produce the greatest results. The one thing essential is not new plans, new experiments, and daily changes, but a belief in the power of the permanent truths of the Christian religion, and a devotion to these and to these alone. — The Times.
THE GREAT BUILDER AND HIS WORK SPEAKING of that enormous mountain peak known as the Matterhorn, which is the universal admiration of Alpine travelers, a writer says that the materials of which it is composed are remarkable, and he goes on to give us the following description: “Few architects would like to build with them.
The slope of the rocks to the north-west is covered two feet deep with their ruins, a mass of loose and slaty shale, of a dull red brick color, which yields beneath the feet like ashes, so that, in running down, you step one yard and slide three. The rock is indeed hard beneath, but still disposed in thin coarses of these cloven shales, so timely laid that they look in places more like a heap of crushed autumn leaves titan a rock, and the first sensation is one of un-mitigated surprise, as if the mountain were upheld by miracle; but surprise becomes more intelligent reverence for the Great Builder when we find, in the middle of the mass of these dead leaves, a course of living rock, of quartz as white as the snow that encircles it, and harder than a bed of steel. It is only one of a thousand iron bands that knit the strength of the mighty mountain. Through the buttress and the wall alike the courses of its varied masonry are seen in their successive order, smooth and true as if laid by line and plummet, but of thickness and strength continually varying, and with silver cornices glittering along the edge of each, laid by the snowy winds and carved by the sunshine.”
Now, all this suggests a parable. The church of God, that glorious mountain of his habitation, is apparently built of very frail materials. The saints are, to all appearance more like “a heap of crushed autumn leaves than a rock,” and beneath the feet of tyrants and persecutors they seem to yield like ashes; and yet the church defies the storm and towers aloft, the obelisk of the truth, the eternal pillar of almighty grace. Faith, with eagle gaze perceives the thousand iron bands which prevent the disintegration of the mass, and the central foundation harder than a bed of steel upon which the colossal fabric rests. The church abideth for ever: infinite love, faithfulness, and power sustain her, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. C. H.S. NOTES A CERTAIN growling critic affirms that we make too much of the Tabernacle and its affairs. This is a sin which we fear he is never likely to commit towards any good work. It may suffice us to say that our pages from month to month prove that our sympathies extend to every form of holy service in all Christian denominations. Those notes are specially intended to set forth our own portion of the work which is done for our Lord, and we cannot see any objection to their being so occupied. Other agencies and communities have their own organs and reports, and this is ours; and if we keep very much to home affairs, our friends are, we find, all the better pleased. The Lord is making much of our work, and though we have passed through, great personal trial he is blessing us mere than ever and raising n p princely friends to help us; therefore the growler may growl on.
The weekly religious papers have already given full accounts of the remarkable work of grace which has been going on at the Tabernacle during the pastor’s absence, and therefore we will not repeat stale news; but we must at least declare our grateful praise and cry, “What hath God wrought?” A very gracious influence is upon our church and people. The believers around us are, evidently greatly quickened, which is a most important point; and all are on the lock out for souls, which is equally a matter to rejoice in. Love and unity are conspicuous, as will as joyful energy. Our evangelists, Messrs. Clarke and Smith, have done a noble work among us; and let the Lord be glorified for it. They have gone to Newcastle-under-Lyne, and are having marvelous times. Everywhere we trust they will now find open doors, for they are worthy. On our return the crowds were almost terrible; two Tabernacles might have been readily filled on the first Sabbath. The eagerness to hear was remarkable, even for a place where crowding is constant. We have always been heartily welcomed when returning from a vacation, but never so warmly as on this occasion. Every outward token showed that the people were joyous not because of mere natural feeling, but because they had been aroused and awakened, and were hungering to hear the Word of Life from the lips which have fed them in former times.
On Monday evening, March 18, the new converts, more than four hundred in number, were invited to tea together with the evangelistic choir and the singers. What a happy meeting it was! We were all overjoyed. Then came the great prayer-meeting at 7. The Tabernacle was almost entirely filled, and both praying and singing were carried on with a spirit and enthusiasm such as, even among our naturally warm-hearted people, we have never seen excelled. Eighty-four had been added to the church on the previous Sabbath, and this encouraged us to look for greater things.
The College has largely shared in the visitation of grace with which the Lord has favored us. A whole day of prayer was kept by the men in preparation for the services, and then all threw themselves into the work with the utmost zest. Many of the students had the great privilege of leading individuals to Jesus by personal conversation, and nothing can better conduce to joyful encouragement than such blessed success. To be in union with a living church is a great part if a young minister’s training, and to be actually engaged with inquirers is a splendid preparation for after service. All goes well with the College; and those friends who have helped us in this our well-beloved work would be rewarded a thousand times could they hear a tenth part of the good news which often gladdens our heart. We do not make too much of this work; we have never spoken of it as we might have done, for we prefer to leave it to speak for itself. We do have failures, and some men who were very hopeful turn out to be weak; but can it be otherwise while we have to deal with imperfect beings? Those who are mighty soul-winners, and these are not a few, shall be our advocates. Our only desire is to send out men who will hold to the old faith, and preach it with some measure of intelligence, and above all with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. How far the Lord has made the effort a success eternity will reveal, and we await the verdict without fear.
Meanwhile, we are having such sweet letters from our men in foreign lands that we brush the tears from our eyes to see how they love us, and how they love the gospel, for which we would live and die. There are some four hundred of the men preaching now; God bless every one.
The following account from our former student, Mr. Gammon, now an agent of the Baptist Missionary Society, will interest our readers, and show that our College men are doing a good work in foreign lands. “Puerto Plata, San Domingo, West Indies, Feb. 22, 1878. “My dear President, — My report for last year, whilst being very far from what I could wish, is a slight improvement on the previous one; we have baptized forty-nine persons, on a profession of their faith in Christ, at the different stations, and there have been but few cases calling for exclusion from the church. “With regard to my new work in San Domingo, so far, it has been very rough and discouraging; however, the small church we have formed has given us some encouragement, and the few members we have are very faithful to their duties; several months of the short period during which we have been resident in Peurto Plata, have been taken up by revolutions. “On Sunday, January 13th, we opened our new Iron Chapel, seating four hundred persons, but that very morning fighting commenced in town, and since then — five weeks — very little has been done besides visiting the sick and wounded. I have keen obliged to send my wife and child away, for from the beginning of the year we have been surrounded by the rebels; and often just as one sits down to write or study the firing will commence. and all work is over for the time being. When it will end we cannot tell, for both the Government and the rebels seem determined to hold out.
We are in a very unpleasant position, for our houses are of wood, and the Remington rifle balls go through them like paper. Many rencombatants have thus been wounded and killed by stray balls.
There are about forty wounded soldiers in the hospital now, and they very eagerly received the Spanish tracts and books which we give them. I should be very glad if some kind friend at the Tabernacle would send me a supply of tracts, but especially of your sermons, both in English and Spanish for distribution among the people; my poor, weak voice cannot be heard everywhere, but these silent messengers of the gospel may prepare the way for me, and even do the work I am unable personally to accomplish; any parcel of books sent to the Baptist Mission House, under care of Mr. Baynes, will be forwarded to me by him. This is the port from which most of the people from the interior ship their tobacco, mahogany, etc., which is brought in by them on horses so that it is plain what an amount of good might be done by giving them
SPANISH tracts, gospels, and Testaments. “Hoping to be able to give you a much better and more detailed account next year, “I remain, my dear President Yours very sincerely, R. E.GAMMON.”
The news from our son, Thomas Spurgeon, in Australia, continues to be of the most delightful character. The exciting kindness of friends is almost more than we dare to think upon; we thank the brethren in the various colonies, one and all. Brightest of all to our heart is the fact, that from various quarters we hear of conversions which probably our dear son has not been informed of. Christians at home tell us of sons and brothers abroad who write to say that they have been brought to the Savior by hearing our son’s sermons. A grand presentation at Adelaide has evidently touched Tom’s heart as it has done ours. Mixed with it all the father and mother at home get their share of loving remembrance from friends. Things of this sort come to us, and as they are genuine words, though we do not feed worthy of them we must give a specimen: — “Ballarat Ministers’ Association, November, 1877. “Resolved unaminously, — That in giving a hearty welcome to Mr. Thomas Spurgeon, on the occasion of his visit to Ballarat, the Association would avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded of putting on record their deep sense of the services rendered by his father, the Rev,C. H. Spurgeon, to the cause of Christ throughout the world, and not least to Victoria, through the influence of his printed sermons: their hope that the father may be long spared as a watchman on the towers of Zion: and their earnest; prayer that the son may prove worthy of so noble a sire, and may be increasingly blessed as a worker for God” We have had so many of these kind messages that we might appear to be indifferent to them if we did not take some public notice of them. We have needed them all, and each one has come opportunely. In times of sickness and depression of spirit the Lord often employs human sympathy as a cordial and restorative, and we have found it so. Generous aid to our work, and affectionate words of thanks, have often made labor light and suffering endurable.
Our friends will have read Mr. G. D. Evans’ interesting paper as to the orphans’ visit to the west. Everyone seems to receive our orphans kindly, and we thank them. The beloved lady who founded the Orphanage should be remembered in our prayers. May she enjoy in her own heart the Lord’s gracious smile as she sees her substance accepted by him and used to his glory.
Mr. Latimer, the first youth from the Orphanage to enter the College, has passed through his course of instruction with great satisfation to us all, and now settles at Willingham, Cambs, with the unanimous and hearty vote of the church and congregation. This is a noteworthy fact in our Orphanage history. Another Orphanage student is now in the College, and very many are in positions of respectability and trust. The condition of the Orphanage is good.
Our valued friend, Mr. Vickery, who so generously presented the Orphanage with a very handsome drinking fountain, desires us to mention that it was manufactured by Messrs. W. and T. Allen & Co.. 2, Somerset Buildings, Lambeth Hill London, E.C. It certainly does great credit to the firm.
The Post Office authorities have not removed our residence but they have altered our postal description. All moneys and letters sent to us should be directed, C. H. Spurgeon, Nightingale Lane, Balham. It is more convenient to us to have letters so addressed than to have them sent to the Tabernacle.
If sums of money fail to be promptly acknowledged we should be glad if friends would write us at once, for some mistake may have occurred, and by a timely notice it may he rectified. Friends writing about matters which do not concern us, but are merely for their own information, should not expect us to pay postage: it is growing to be a heavy tax. A large part of our daily toil arises from letters which ought not to be written, but which we try to answer, and do answer, as a rule, though it makes life a slavery.
If postal labor increase, as they threaten to do, it may come to this, that, courtesy or no courtesy, we shall have to decline answering; for life is not long enough for us to be perpetually writing explanations of hard texts, giving names of books, replying to people seeking situations, refusing requests for loans of money which we cannot spare, answering questions upon degrees of affinity, church government, medicine for gout, hotels at Mentone, and so on ad infinitum. Certain people never seem happy until they have a pen in their hand with which to torture a public man. It will be needful in self-defense to declare that we will answer nobody unless they have a right to an answer, and this implies that the letter is short, sensible, about some important matter, and has a stamp enclosed. If a man asks me a question in the street, and I am to pay a penny if I reply to him, he cannot reasonably expect me to answer unless he pays the penny himself; why then should a person be expected, to pay a penny for the great privilege of giving advice gratis, for which he uses his own stationery and gets no thanks? Letters which are to the purpose shall always have a reply, but we cannot promise to answer every epistle; indeed, we do not intend to do so much as we have done in that direction.
The Secretary sends us the following report: — “The Report of the Colportage Work, which we have now to offer, is most encouraging; and will, we trust, stimulate others to help us in a still further extension of this valuable and economical agency. Since the end of December, 1877, no fewer than thirty additional agents have been added to the staff of the Association, and are now actively engaged working in new districts. Through the liberality of two most generous and tried friends of Colportage all these districts have been commenced with a lower rate of subscription from local friends than we usually require, which is £40 a year.
But this has been done in the full hope that during the first year the work will so commend itself, that Christian friends in the district will become sufficiently interested to subscribe the full amount for the second year.
About ninety of our agents are now at work in England and Wales. Will friends remember them in prayer? Ninety godly men all day long traveling from street to street, and from door to door in our towns and villages, sowing the seed of God’s word, by the printed page, by the pointed appeal, and by the daily life. More than a hundred pounds worth of Bibles and Testaments alone are sent out every month, besides Bible parts and a variety of religious periodicals and books, and sound, instructive publications. Help is much needed just now to provide the Colporteurs with a sufficient and suitable supply of Tracts for gratuitous circulation.
Many Christians have not much time to distribute tracts; here are ninety distributors at hand, whom they can supply with gospel messages. Parcels will be thankfully received and acknowledged if sent to the depot, and dressed to Mr. W. Corden Jones, Seceretary, Colportage Association, Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, S.E. Subscriptions or donations for this purpose, or for the General Fund, will be duly acknowledged in The Sword and the Trowel. The Annual Meeting will (D.V.) be held early in May, when, as usual, several of the Colporteurs will give an account of their work, and the Annual Report will be issued.”
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — March 4th, twenty-one; 7th, twelve; 11th, eleven; 14th, eighteen.