THE COVENANT SERMON NO. 3261 BY C. H. SPURGEON
“He will ever be mindful of his covenant.”-Psalm 111:5.
Another Sermon by C. H. Spurgeon, upon the same text, is No. 2,681 in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, “Covenant Blessings.”
IT is a wonderful thing that God should enter into gracious covenant with men. That he should make man, and be gracious to man, is easily to be conceived; but, that he should strike hands with his nature, and put his august majesty under bored to him by his own promise, is marvelous. Once let that God has made a covenant, and I do not think it wonderful that he should be mindful of it, for he is “God that cannot lie.” “Hath he said, and shall he not do it?” Hath he once given his pledge? It is inconceivable that he should ever desert from it. The doctrine of the text commends itself to every reasonable and thoughtful man: if God has made a covenant, he will over be faithful of it. It is to that point that I would now call your attention with the desire to use it practically.
For God to make a gracious covenant with us is so great a boon that I hope every one’ here is saying within his heart, “Oh, that the Lord had entered into covenant with me!”
We shall practically look into this matter, first, by answering the question, What is this covenant? Secondly, by putting the inquiry, Have I any portion in it? And, thirdly, by bidding each one say, “If indeed I am in covenant with God, then every part of that covenant will be carried out, for God is ever mindful of it,” I. First, then,WHAT IS THIS COVENANT?
If you go to a lawyer, and inquire how a deed runs, he may reply, “I can give’ you an abstract, but I had better read it to you.” He can tell you the sum and substance, of it; but if you want to be very accurate, and it is a very important business, you will say, “I should like to hear it read.” We will now read certain parts of Scripture which contain the covenant of grace, or an abstract of it. Turn to Jeremiah 31:31-34: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house, of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; far I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Print every word of that in diamonds, for the sense is inconceivably precious. God in covenant promises to his people that, instead of writing his law upon tables of stone, he will write it an the tablets of their hearts.
Instead of the law coming on a hard, crushing command, it shall be placed within them as the object of love and delight, written on the transformed nature of the beloved objects of God’s choice: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; “what a covenant privilege this is! ‘And I will be their God.” Therefore ale that there is in God shall belong to them. “And they shall be my people.” They shall belong to me; I will love them as mine; I will keep them, bless them, honor them, and provide for the as my people. I will be their portion, and they shall be my portion. Note the next privilege. They shall all receive heavenly instruction upon the most vital point: “They shall all know me.’; There may be some beings they do not know, but “they shall all know me.” They shall know me as their Father; they shall know Jesus Christ as their Brother; they shall know the Holy Spirit as their Comforter. They shall have intercourse and fellowship with God. What a covenant privilege is this! Hence comes pardon, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” What a clean sweep of sin! God will forgive and forget; the two go together. “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” All gone,-all their transgression blotted out, never to be mentioned against thee any more, for ever. What an unutterable favor! This is the covenant of grace. I call your attention to the fact that there is no “if” in it, there is no “but” in it, there is no requirement made by it of man. It is all “I will” and “they shall.” “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is a charter written in a royal tone, and the majestic straining not marred by a “perchance” or a “may be,” but dwells always on “shall” and “will.” These are two prerogative words of the divine majesty; and in this wondrous deed of gift, in which the Lord bestows a heaven of grace upon guilty sinners, he bestows it after the sovereignty of his own will without, anything to put the gift in jeopardy, or to make the promise insecure.
Thus I have read the covenant to you in one form.
Turn over the pages a little, and you will come to a passage in Ezekiel.
There we shall have the bright-eyed prophet-he who could live among the wheels and the seraphim-telling us what the covenant grace is. In Ezekiel the eleventh chapter, nineteenth and twentieth verses, we read: “I will put a new spirit within you, and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
You will find another form of it further on in the thirty-sixth of Ezekiel, beginning at the twenty-fifth verse. How intently ought you to listen to this! It is a deal better than hearing any preaching of mortal men to listen to the very words of God’s own covenant, a covenant which saves all those who are concerned in it. Unless you have an interest in it you are indeed unhappy. Let us read it: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out, of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.... And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” This promise always come in at the close, “I will be your God.” In this form of the covenant, I call you again to witness that God demands nothing, asks no price, demands no payment, but to the people with whom he enters into covenant he makes promise after promise, all free, all unconditional, all made according to the bounty of his royal heart.
Let us just go a little into detail about this. God has made a covenant with certain people that he will do all this for them, and in each case it is of pure grace. He will take away their own hearts: it is clear from the promise that, when he began with them, they had stony hearts. He will forgive their iniquities: when he began with them, they had my iniquities. He will give them a heart of flesh: when he began with them, they had not heart of flesh.
He will turn them to keep his statutes: when he began with them, they did not keep his statutes. They were a sinful, willful, wicked, degenerate people, and he called to them many times to come to him, and repent, but they would not. Here he speaks like a king, and no longer pleads, but decrees. He says, I will do this and that to you, and you shall be this and this in return. Oh, blessed covenant! Oh, mighty, sovereign, grace!
How came it about? Learn the doctrine of the two covenants.
The first covenant of which we will now speak was that of works, the covenant made with our first father, Adam. This is not first in purpose, but it was first revealed in time. It ran thus: you Adam, and your posterity shall live and be happy if you will keep my law. To test your obedience to me, there is a certain tree; if you let that alone, you shall live: if you touch it, you shall die, and they shall die whom you represent.
Our first covenant-head snatched greedily at the forbidden fruit, and fell: and what a fall was there, my brethren! There you, and I, and all of us, fell down, while it was proven once for all that, by works of law no man can be justified; for if perfect Adam broke the law so readily, depend upon it, you and I would break any law that God had ever made. There was no hope of happiness for any of us by a covenant which contained an “if” in it. That old covenant is pub away, for it has utterly failed. It brought nothing to us but a curse, and we are glad that it has waxed old and, as far as believers are concerned, has vanished away.
Then there came the second Adam. You know his name, he is the everblessed Son of the Highest. This second Adam entered into covenant with God somewhat after this fashion:—The Father says, I give thee a people; they shall be, shine: thou must die to redeem them, and when thou hast done this,—when for their sakes thou hast kept my law, and made it honorable, when for their sakes thou haste borne my wrath against their transgressions,—then I will bless them; they shall be my people; I will forgive their iniquities; I will change their natures; I will sanctify them, and make them perfect. There was an apparent “if” in this covenant at the first.
That “if” hinged upon the question whether the Lord Jesus would obey the law, and pay the ransom; a question which his faithfulness placed beyond doubt. There is no “if” in it, now. When Jesus bowed his head, and said, “It is finished,” there remained no “if” in the covenant. It stands, therefore, now as a covenant entirely of one side, a covenant, of promises, of promises which must be kept, because the other portion of the covenant having been fulfilled, the Father’s side of it must stand. He cannot, and he will not draw back from the doing of that which he covenanted with Christ to do. The Lord Jesus shall receive the joy which was set before him. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” By his knowledge shall the Christ who became God’s righteous Servant justify many, for hath he not borne their iniquities? How can it be otherwise than that they should be accepted for whom he was the Surety? Do you see why it is that the covenant, as I have read it, stands so absolutely without “ifs”, “buts”, and “peradventures”, and runs only on “shells” and “wills”? It is because the one side of it that did look uncertain was committed into the hand of Christ, who cannot fail or be discouraged. He has completed his part of it, and now it stands fast, and must stand fast for ever and ever. This is now a covenant of pure grace, and nothing else but grace: let, no man attempt to mix up works with it, or anything of human merit. God saves now because he chooses to save, and over the head of us all there comes a sound as of a martial trumpet, and yet with a deep, inner peaceful music in it: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God observes us all lost and ruined, and in his infinite mercy comes with absolute promises of grace to those whom he hath given to his Son Jesus’.
So much, then, with regard to the covenant.
II. Now comes the important question, “HAVE IANY PORTION IT?” May the Holy Ghost help us to ascertain this, truth on this point! You who are really anxious in your hearts to know, I would earnestly persuade to read the Epistle to the Galatians. Read that Epistle through if you want to know whether you have, any part or lot in the covenant of grace. Did Christ fulfill the law for me?” Are the promises of God, absolute and unconditional, made to me? You can know by answering three questions.
First, Are you in Christ? Did you not notice that I said that we were all in Adam, and in Adam we all fell? Now, “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so, by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Are you in the second Adam? You certainly were in the first; one, for so you fell. Are you in the second? Because, if you are in him, you are saved in him. He has kept the law for you. The covenant of grace made, with him was made with you if you are in him; for, as surely as Levi was in tile loins of Abraham when Melchisedek met him, so were all believers in the loins of Christ when he died upon the cross. If you are in Christ, you are a part and parcel of the seed to whom the promise was made; but there is only one seed, and the apostle tells us, “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”
If, then, you are in Christ, you are in the seed, and the covenant of grace was made with you.
I must ask you another question, Have you faith? By this question you will be helped to answer the previous one, for believers are in Christ. In the Epistle to the Galatians, you will find that the mark of those who are in Christ is that they believe in Christ. The mark of all that are saved is not, confidence in work, but faith in Christ. In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul insists upon it, “The just shall live by faith,” and the law is not of faith.
Over and over again he puts it so. Come, then, do you believe in Jesus Christ with all your heart? Is he your sole hope for heaven? Do you lean your whole weight, the entire stress of your salvation, on Jesus? Then you are, in him, and the covenant is yours; and there, is not a blessing which God hath decreed to give but what he will give to you. There is not a boon which, out of the grandeur of his heart, he has determined to bestow upon his elect, but what he will bestow it upon you. You have the mark, the seal, the badge of his chosen if you believe in Christ Jesus.
Another question should help you; it is this, Have you been born again? I refer you again to the Epistle to the Galatians, which I would like every anxious person to read through very carefully. There you will see that Abraham had two sons: one of them was born according to the flesh; he was Ishmael, the child of the bondwoman. Though he was the firstborn son, he was not the heir, for Sarah said to Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall net be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” He who was born after the flesh did not inherit the covenant promise. Is your hope of heaven fixed on the fact that you had a good mother and father? Then your hope is born after the flesh, and you are not in the covenant. I am constantly hearing it said that children of godly parents do not want converting. Let me denounce that wicked falsehood. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and nothing better. They that are born after the flesh, those are not the children of God.
Do not trust in gracious descent, or in holy ancestors. Ye must be born again, every one of you, or you will perish for ever, whoever your parents may be. Abraham had another son, even Isaac: he was not born of the strength of his father, nor after the flesh at all, for we are told that both Abraham and Sarah had become old; but Isaac was born by God’s power, according to promise. He was the child given by grace. Now, have you ever been born like that,—not by human strength but by power divine? Is the life that is in you a life given by God? The true life is not of the will of man, nor of blood, nor of natural excellence; but it comes by the working of the eternal Spirit, and is of God. If you have this life, you are in the covenant, for it is written, “in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” The children of the promise, these are counted for the seed. God said to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” and that was because he meant to justify the Gentiles by faith, that the blessing given to believing Abraham might come on all believers. Abraham is the father of the faithful, or the father of all them that believe in God, and with such is the covenant established.
Here, then, are the test questions:—Am I in Christ? Am I believing in Jesus? Am I born by the power of the Spirit of God according to the promise, and not by the fleshly birth, or according to works? Then I am in the covenant; my name stands in the eternal record. Before the stars began to shine the Lord had covenanted be bless me. Or ever evening and morning made the first day, my name was in his book. Christ before the world’s foundation struck hands with the Father in the council chamber of eternity, and pledged himself to redeem me, and be bring me and multitudes of others into his eternal glory; and he will do it, too, for he never breaks his suretyship engagements any more than the Father breaks his covenant engagements. I want you to get quite sure upon these points, for, oh, what peace it will breed in your soul, what a restfulness of heart to understand the covenant, and to know that your name is in it!
III. This is our last point. If indeed we can believe, upon the good evidence of Gods Word, that we! are of the seed with whom the covenant was made in Christ Jesus, then EVERY BLESSING OF THE COVENANT WILL COME TO US. I will put, it a. Little more personally,—every blessing of the covenant will come to you.
The devil says, “No, it, won’t.” Why not, Satan? “Why,” saith he, “you are not able to do this or that.” Refer the devil to tile text; tell him to read those passages which I read to you, and ask him if he, can spy an “if” or a “but”; for I cannot. “Oh!” says he, “but, but, but, but, but you cannot do enough, you can’t feel enough.” Does it say anything about feeling there?
It only says, “I will give them a heart of flesh.” They will feel enough then. “Oh, but!” the devil says, “you cannot soften: your hard heart.” Does it say that you are to do so? Does it not say “I will take the stony heart out of their flesh”? The tenor of it is,—I will do it; I will do it. The devil dares not say that God cannot do it, he knows that God can enable, us to tread him under our feet. “Oh, but!” says he, “you will never hold on your way if you begin to be a Christian.” Does it say anything about that in the covenant further than this, “they shall walk in my statutes”? What if we have not power in and of ourselves continue in God’s statutes; yet he has power to make us continue in them. He can work in us obedience and final perseverance in holiness; his covenant virtually promises these blessings to us. To came back to what we said before; God does not ask of us, but he gives to us. He sees us dead, and he loves us even when we are dead in trespasses and sins. He sees us feeble, and unable to help ourselves; and he, comes in, and works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, and then we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. The bottom of it, the very foundation of it, is himself; and he finds nothing in us to help him.
There is neither fire nor wood in us, much less the lamb for the burnt offering, but all is emptiness and condemnation. He comes in with “I will,” and “you shall,” like a royal helper according free aid to destitute, helpless, sinners, according to the riches of his grace. Now be sure that, having made such a covenant as this, God will ever be mindful of it.
He will do so, first, because he cannot lie. If he says he will, he will. His very name is “God that, cannot lie.” If I am in Christ, I must be saved: none can prevent it. If I am a believer in Christ, I must be saved; all the devils in hell cannot stop it, for God has said, “He that believeth in him is not condemned.” “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” God’s word is not yea and nay. He knew what he said when he spake the covenant, and he has never changed it, nor contradicted it. If, then, I am a believer, I must be saved, for I am in Christ to whom the promise is made; if I have the new life in me, I must be saved, for is not this spiritual life the living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever? Did not Jesus say, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”? I have drunk the water Christ gave me, and it, must spring up into everlasting life. It is not possible for death to kill the life that God has given me, nor for all the fallen spirits to tread out the divine fire which Christ’s own Spirit, has cast into my bosom. I must be saved, for God cannot deny himself.
Next, God made the covenant freely. If he had not meant to keep it, he would not have made it. When a man is driven up into a corner by someone who, says, “Now you must pay me,” then he is apt to promise more than he can perform. He solemnly declares, “I will pay you this day fortnight.” Poor fellow, he has no money now, and will not have any then, but he makes a promise because he cannot help himself. No such necessity can, be imagined with our God. The Lord was under no compulsion: he might have left men to perish because of sin; there was no one to prompt him be make the covenant of grace, or even to suggest the idea. “With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him?” He made the covenant of his own royal will, and having made it, rest you sure that he will never run back from it. A covenant so freely made must be fully carried out.
Moreover, on the covenant document there is a seal. Did you see the seal?
The grand thing in a deed of gift is the signature or seal. What is this,—this red splash at the bottom, of it? It is blood! Yes; it is blood. Whose blood?
It is the blood of the Son of God. This his ratified and sealed the covenant.
Jesus died. Jesus’ death, has made the covenant sure’. Can God forget the blood of his dear Son, or do despite to his sacrifice, Impossible. All for whom he died as a covenant Substitute he will save. His redeemed shall not be left in captivity, as if the ransom price had effected nothing. Hath he not said, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”? That covenant stands secure, though earth’s old columns bow, for despite to the blood can never be possible on the part of the Father.
Again, God delights in the covenant, and so we are sure he will not run back from it. It is the very joy of his holy heart. He delights to do his people good. To pass by transgression, iniquity, and sin is the recreation of Jehovah. Did you ever hear of God singing? It is singular that the Divine One should solace himself with song; but yet a prophet has thus revealed the Lord to us, “He will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing.”
The covenant is the heart of God written out in the blood of Jesus; and since the whole nature of God runs parallel with the tenor of the everlasting covenant. you may rest assured that even its jots and its tittles stand secure.
And then, last of all, O thou who art in the covenant, thou dost not doubt but that God will save thee, keep thee, bless thee, seeing thou hast believed on Jesus, and art in Jesus, and art quickened into newness of life! Thou darest not doubt if I tell thee one thing more: if your father, if your brother, if your dearest friend had solemnly stated a fact, would you bear for anybody to say that he lied? I know you would be indignant at such a charge; but suppose your father in the most solemn manner had taken an oath, would you for a minute think that he had perjured himself, and had sworn a lie? Now turn to the Word of God, and you will find that God, because he knew that an oath among men is the end of strife, has been pleased to seal the covenant with an oath. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” God has lifted his hand to heaven, and sworn that Christ shall have the reward of his passion, that his purchased ones shall be brought under his sway, that having borne sin, and put it away, it never shall be a second time charged on his redeemed.
There is all of it. Dost thou believe in Christ? Then God will work in thee to will and do of his good pleasure; God will conquer thy sin; God will sanctify the; God will save thee; God will keep thee; God will bring thee to himself at last. Rest thou on that covenant, and then moved by intense gratitude, go forward to serve thy Lord with all thy head, and soul and strength. Being saved, live to praise him. Work not that you may be saved, but because you are saved,—the covenant his secured your safety.
Delivered from, the servile fear which an Ishmael might have known, live the joyous life of an Isaac; and moved by love of the: Father, spend and be spent for his sake. If the selfish hope of winning heaven by works has moved some men to great sacrifice, much more shall the godly motive of gratitude to him who has done all this for us move us to the noblest service, and make us feel that it is no sacrifice at all. “We thus judge, that, if one died far all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died far them, and rose again.” “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” If you are saved under the covenant of grace, the mark of the covenanted ones is upon you, and the sacred character of the covenanted ones should be displayed in you. Bless and magnify your covenant God.
Take the cup of the covenant, and call upon his name. Plead the promises of the covenant, and have whatever you need. Amen.
THE TORMENTOR BAFFLED ONE would hardly have thought it worth an author’s while to compose a treatise upon “The Art of Tormenting; ” yet such a book exists and contains many ingenious instructions by which masters, husbands, wives, and friends may torture their servants, relatives, and acquaintances to an intolerable degree. To quote any of the writer’s suggestions in these pages would be useless, since none of our readers wish to learn the science of plaguing others. The ingenious writer, a lady, by the way, does not recommend the clumsy methods of Roman emperors and Popish inquisitors, by which it is possible to torment the bodies of men and allow the mind and spirit to remain at peace; but she deals with subtler arts, by which the mind can be lacerated beyond all cure while yet no wound is seen. To torture the heart and spirit of a man is far more cruel than to tear his flesh, or break his bones. One sentiment in this amusing treatise struck us as singularly instructive to those who are the victims of malicious criticism: the author says, “Be very careful daily to observe whether your patient continues in good health, and is fat and well-liken; for, if so, you may be almost certain that your whole labor is thrown away. As soon, therefore, as you perceive this to be the case, you must (to speak in the phrase of surgeons when they hack and hew a human body) immediately choose another subject. All the pleasure of tormenting is lost as soon as your subject becomes insensible to your strokes.” We are almost reconciled to being corpulent as we read these lines. Herein is wisdom. Patience baffles malice: the malicious themselves confess their defeat; what can we do better than to offer the passive resistance which is seen to be so effective? Let us no longer gratify our enemies by taking notice of their cruel observations and venomous insinuations. If we are callous we at once defeat them: there can be no virtue in cultivating a sensitiveness which makes us vulnerable. The more we smart, the more they will scourge; but a back of leather laughs at the cat-o’-nine-tails. By doing our best at all times we shall be able to defy all the criticisms of onlookers, who, doing nothing themselves, have all the more leisure to find fault with our honest endeavors. In all probability we shall never succeed in any one instance in pleasing all who call themselves our friends; and as to our enemies, they will never be gratified unless they see us guilty of gross folly; therefore our wisest course is to make sure of being right in the sight of God, and then to proceed in a straight line with firm tread, whether we offend or please. The desire to inflict pain is ingrained in some natures, and against these there is no defense except a manly insensibility. As chemists plunge a fabric in a solution of alum and thus enable it to defy the flames, so should we immerse ourselves into the consciousness of desiring to do right before God, and we shall be superior to the fires of slander. We are not able to abate the fury of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace; but if we can walk in the midst of it unharmed the result will be equally harmless and far more sublime.
Over against the art of tormenting let us set the philosophy of enduring; our bane and antidote are both before us.
C. H. S.
A HORSE WHICH CARRIES A HALTER IS SOON CAUGHT. (Inserted as a specimen of Mr. Spurgeon’s new volume, “John Ploughman’s Pictures,” price One Shilling.)
WITH a few oats in a sieve the nag is tempted, and the groom soon catches him if he has his halter on; but the other horse, who has no rope dangling from his head, gives master Bob a sight of his heels, and away he scampers.
To my mind, a man who drinks a glass or two, and goes now and then to the tap-room, is a horse with his bridle on, and stands a fair chance of being locked up in Sir John Barleycorn’s stables, and made to carry Madame Drink and her habit. There’s nothing like coming out fair and square, and standing free as the air. Plenty will saddle you if they can catch you; don’t give them the ghost of a chance. A bird has not got away as long as there is even a thread tied to its leg. “I’ve taken the pledge and I will not falter:
I’m out in the field and I carry no halter; I’m a lively nag that likes plenty of room, So I’m not going down to the ‘Horse and Groom.’“ In other concerns it is much the same: you can’t get out of a bad way without leaving it altogether, bag and baggage. Half-way will never pay.
One thing or the other: be an out-and-outer, or else keep in altogether.
Shut up the shop and quit the trade if it is a bad one: to close the front shutters and serve customers at the back door is a silly attempt to cheat the devil, and it will never answer. Such hide-and-seek behavior shows that your conscience has just enough light for you to read your own condemnation by it. Mind what you are at, don’t dodge like a rat.
I am always afraid of the tail end of a habit. A man who is always in debt will never be cured till he has paid the last sixpence. When a clock says “tick” once, it will say the same again unless it is quite stopped. Harry Higgins says he only owes for one week at the grocer’s, and I am as sure as quarter-day that he will be over head and ears in debt before long. I tell him to clean off the old score and have done with it altogether. He says the tradespeople like to have him on their books, but I am quite sure no man in his senses dislikes ready money. I want him to give up the credit system, for if he does not he will need to outrun the constable.
Bad companions are to be left at once. There’s no use in shilly-shallying; they must be told that we would sooner have their room than their company, and if they call again we must start them off with a flea in each ear. Somehow I can’t get young fellows to come right out from the black lot; they think they can play with fire and not be burned. Scripture says, “Ye fools, when will ye be wise?” “April the first stands, mark’d by custom’s rules, A day for being, and for making, fools; But, pray, what custom, or what rule, supplies A day for making, or for being, wise?” Nobody wants to keep a little measles or a slight degree of fever. We all want to be quite quit of disease; and so let us try to be rid of every evil habit. What wrong would it be right for us to stick to? Don’t let us tempt the devil to tempt us. If we give Satan an inch, he will take a mile. As long as we carry his halter he counts us among his nags. Off with the halter!
May the grace of God set us wholly free. Does not Scripture say, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing”? “WELL STRUCK, PARSON!”
IN the middle of the last century Henry Venn was one of the most godly curates in the City of London, but during his student days at Cambridge he had been more famous for cricket-playing than for studious industry. After taking part in a well-contested game between Surrey and All-England, he stated to his disconcerted friends that he would play no more. He was about to settle in the ministry, and therefore resolved that he would never again earn the compliment, “Well struck, parson.” He kept his word, and became what he termed “a public brother in Christ.” Things harmless in themselves, if indulged in without discretion, may prove injurious to the character of a minister, who, above all things, should set forth Christ in his daily life. A good man will suspect danger when he earns the compliments of the world.
NOTES FRIENDS will please direct all letters to Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood.
Dropping the editorial “we,” I would remark that I have removed under the advice of a physician, and at the earnest desire of many friends, solely on grounds of health. If a worker, by God’s goodness, becomes stronger, he can do more, and if he is graciously permitted to escape the attacks of disease, so that he is able to continue preaching at home through the winter, it will be to himself, at least, the cause of great thankfulness. Simple as the matter of change of residence may be, it has sufficed to create all sorts of stories, among which is the statement that “Mr. Spurgeon’s people have given him a house.” My ever-generous friends would give me whatever was needful, but as I had only to sell one house and buy another, there was no necessity for their doing so. Having once accepted a noble presentation from them, and having there and then handed it over to the Almshouses, it would by no means be according to my mind to receive a second public testimonial. One friend who heard of my change of residence right generously sent help towards the expense of removal, but beyond this it is entirely my own concern, and a matter about which I should have said nothing if it had not been for this gossip. As the subject is mentioned, will friends kindly give us a house-warming by praying that myself and my dear wife may find the benefit we seek?
When the Wesleyan Conference was in full session I called at the City-road Chapel vestry upon a business errand, for I wished to see the manager of the refreshment department. The commissariat for the proposed visit of the Baptist Union was under discussion, and it seemed a practical thing to see how others attended to that matter. I hoped to steal in and out, and go home in quiet; but scores of hearty brethren pounced upon me, and in a few minutes Dr. Punshon was conducting me into the Assembly. The whole host of divines received me in a manner which melted me to tears, and bowed down my soul with a weight of love. The President spoke in chosen terms of affection, and invited me to address the Conference. I was utterly unprepared, but I cried for help to the Lord, and I trust that the word was not quite so broken and confused as it might have been. Then Dr. Osborn and Dr. Punshon spoke right warmly, and I left with a deep sense of gratitude for the generous reception. These brethren know that I differ from them in many points, but they love me none the less for speaking out plainly what I hold to be true. The remark was made that neither of us would be willing to ignore those differences, nor anxious for others to do so: but then we agree in many vital truths which are broad enough for mutual love to dwell upon and walk at large in. The whole scene was a spontaneous outburst of brotherly love in Christ Jesus — love which has a solid foundation. Both Baptists and Wesleyans believe something, and this is rather a rarity in these doubting times. We alike dread both the superstition and the rationalism of the age, and it is well that we should heartily unite in the defense of the essential doctrines of salvation through faith in the blood of Jesus, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. I thank all the brethren, and again wish them the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
The following resolution has been forwarded by the secretary of the Conference: — “That the Conference has much pleasure in receiving a fraternal visit from the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon, and tenders to him the hearty assurance of the esteem and Christian love of its members. They rejoice in his long career of extensive usefulness, and they earnestly desire for him the continuance and increase of all spiritual blessings.”
— During the past month Mr. James Young has accepted the pastorate of the church at Ilford, but remains with us till his term is completed; Mr. H. W. Childs has removed from Camberwell to Sudbury, Suffolk.
On Tuesday, August 10, the summer session was commenced with a visit to Park Hill, Streatham Common, kindly lent by our generous friend and deacon, Mr. W. Higgs. The weather was all that could be desired, Mr. Murrell and his band of helpers provided abundantly and in their best manner, and the whole proceedings passed off most happily. By bringing the men together, and giving them an opportunity to enjoy intercourse with the tutors in a pleasant manner, we hope that no ice is ever allowed to form, and College life is kept pleasant and simple.
Mr. H. F. Adams sends us notes of his progress in Toronto, and we greatly rejoice therein, and in the great work achieved by our brother Dyke.
— Mr. Fullerton spent a few days with us while we were at Benmore. He went over to Dunoon, and preached with much acceptance.
In company with Mr. Smith he has paid a visit to Dublin, and also to the Isle of Man, and they are now in full work again in Scotland, where they will be occupied for the next two months at Dumfries, Galashiels, Greenock, and Paisley. In a letter recently received, Mr. Fullerton tells us that reports of the most cheering character are arriving almost daily from Birmingham. God blessed their ministry there to many souls. The names of those who professed to be converted were taken, and the lists were sent to the various pastors whom they elected to hear, with the hope that they would look after them. We want to see the corn harvested, and this plan will, we hope, succeed by God’s grace.
The Evangelistic Committee will shortly be meeting to fix our brethren’s engagements for next year. Any churches or associations that, wish to secure their services should apply at once, stating the time most convenient for a visit to them. Letters should be directed to Mr. Charles-worth, Stockwell Orphanage, who will be glad to furnish information. This Evangelistic work is doing more for our Lord’s kingdom than it would be possible for us to tell.
Mr. Burnham will shortly be visiting his old friends, the hop-pickers, in Kent. He asks for special prayer for a blessing upon the work. Help in furnishing free teas, etc., can be sent to Pastor J. J. Kendon, Goudhurst, Kent. It is a wonderful opportunity for getting at the real poor, and feeding them with the gospel, while they also get a meal of daily bread, which some of them greatly need. They will go home to London with more knowledge of the gospel than they get for years in our great city, where hundreds of thousands never enter a place of worship.
Mr. Parker seems to have had a remarkable blessing upon his labors with Mr. Mateer at Carrickfergus, Omagh, and Londonderry. Large congregations were gathered in each place, and many professed to find the Savior at the services. There is evidently a great and effectual door for evangelistic work in parts of Ireland, and indeed almost everywhere else if only the men and the means are forthcoming. Prayer should be offered daily for poor Ireland, which is rent and torn with dissension and violence, weakened by want, and ruined by the power of superstition.
— The Girls’ Orphanage Buildings are proceeding most satisfactorily. On October the 4th, at 2.30, we hope to see laid the memorial stones of the two end houses. These are to be called “The Reading House,” and “The Liverpool House,” in remembrance of the noble help received from these two towns, and we are searching for representative men to perform the happy task. Friends will, we hope, remember that about £1,000 are still needed to finish this work.
Meanwhile, the boys and girls keep on eating like caterpillars, and we must find them in food; moreover, they do not spin cocoons as silkworms do, but need raiment also. and plenty of it. Boys are rare fellows for clearing up bread and butter, and we trust kind helpers will keep the mill going.
Should any mistake occur in the lists this month, friends will please forgive a man who is moving, and whose secretary is out for the holidays. Many amounts came in just after the lists were closed on Aug. 14, but they will be found in next month’s magazine. Tuesday, July 27th, was a gala day with our orphan children. By the kind invitation of our friends at Reading they were taken there for the annual excursion. The visit was a long-looked-for event. The orphan boys gave a Service of Song at the town hall some two years ago, when Mr. MartinH. Sutton, who kindly took the chair upon that occasion, promised to defray the railway expenses of an excursion to that neighborhood: this summer saw the fulfillment of his generous promise. The boys and girls were accompanied by Mr. W. C. Murrell and Mr. C. F. Allison (who represented the trustees of the Orphanage). The weather proved most propitious; everyone seemed pleased, and “all went merry as a marriage bell.” The procession from the railway station, headed by the band from the Birley Farm School, and with flags and banners flying, seemed to take the town by storm. The day was spent at Erleigh Court Park, which was kindly lent by Mr. J. F. Hall. The arrangements were in the hands of Rev.W. Anderson, and Messrs. H. Hutt, P. A. Collier, and Moore, to whose exertions the success of the day is entirely due. To these gentlemen, to Mr. G. W. Palmer (who provided the children with a bag of biscuits each on their homeward journey), and to all our good friends, we are most grateful.
May the cheers of the orphans ring in their hearts.
— The present number of colporteurs actually at work in the districts supplied by the Association is 70, and intimation has been received that four or five additional ones will shortly be required in as many new districts. It is encouraging to find this steady growth in the extension of the work. For all these new districts £40 a-year has been promised over and above what the society gives, which is the least sum for which we · can undertake to appoint or maintain a colporteur in a district.
It is to be feared that some of the districts which do not contribute £40 ayear will have to be discontinued, as it is necessary that either we or local friends should find annually from £50 to £60 for each man employed over and above the profit on the sale of books. The association engages to find all beyond the £40, but the limited amount received for the General Fund precludes more extended aid to the districts.
About £150 per month is required to work the association on its present scale without drawing upon the Capital Fund, but, during the last few months, the amount received from subscriptions and donations for the General Fund has not reached this sum by about one-third. Unless a regular income can be maintained the work will have to be curtailed, and some of the most needy districts discontinued, because they cannot furnish the full £40 a-year, and we are unable to help them. In some of these districts this would be a positive calamity, as the colporteur is the only evangelist and sick visitor in the locality, and by his withdrawal many souls would be left destitute of spiritual instruction and consolation. If every reader of The Sword and the Trowel would send a contribution regularly, however small, the difficulty would disappear. Upon the work actually being accomplished much blessing is reported. Sunday newspapers and trashy books are replaced by the Word of God and good moral and religious reading, the sick and dying are visited daily, and the poor have the gospel preached to them in neglected and isolated places, and, above all, sinners are led to Christ.
Those who know the value of colportage always speak highly of it. Will our friends who only hear of the good results help us to maintain the present usefulness of the Association, and if possible to extend it?
Contributions can be sent to the Secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones, Pastors’ College, Temple Street, London, S.E., from whom last year’s Report can be had on application.
PERSONAL NOTES. — A somewhat venerable brother from the North of England called upon us recently, and told us the following pleasing story: — He said that he had a son who had greatly grieved him, and who had been like the prodigal. He derived much comfort from a sermon of ours on the return of the prodigal, in which we spoke of the joy of the prodigal, the joy of the servants, and the joy of the father; and he was stirred up to pray for the return of his boy, and sent a note to ask us to join him in prayer at our Monday evening meeting at the Tabernacle. That young man is a Christian now, and his father is so full of joy at the change that has taken place in him that he gave us a thankoffering of £5 for the College. The Missionary Herald publishes a note from Pastor W. J. White, of Japan, containing the following interesting item: — “I have just completed a translation of Mr. Spurgeon’s 1,500th sermon, and the Tokio local committee of the Religious Tract Society having accepted it, have it now in the press.”
SERMON TO SAILORS.
— Mr. Matthews, of the Sailors’ Institute, Shadwell, finds sailors most eager for our sermon on “The Sea, the Sea, the Wide and Open Sea,” and wants to give away a large quantity while the matter is fresh. He begs us to mention the work urgently, and we do so at his desire. The more sailors will read of the gospel the better for us all, but it is not every book or sermon that they will look at, and when they are in a mind for it they ought to be supplied without delay.
— We are glad to learn that Mr. Hawke, of the Bible Stand, has commenced the free distribution of the Scriptures at the Brussels Exhibition. He sends word that he wants help, and he certainly deserves it. Direct to the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: July 29th, twelve.