NOT A DOUBT OF IT! NOT A DOUBT OF IT!
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
OUR friend, Dr. William Graham, of Bonn, has lately departed this life, and we are told that on his death-bed one said to him, “He hath said, ‘ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’” To which the good man replied, with his dying breath, “Not a doubt of it! Not a doubt of it! ” It were a dreadful thing indeed if there were a doubt of it. If ,Jehovah could leave or forsake his own it were an evil day for us. If God began a good work, and did not carry it on; if his love accepted a soul, and then rejected it; if Jesus paid the purchase-price, and did not completely effect the redemption; if the Holy Spirit produced the new birth, and yet did not continue to breathe eternal life into the soul, it were a horrible thing indeed.
Take away the doctrine of the final perseverance of divine love from the Bible, and what have you left by way of comfort and sustenance for the tried people of God? Because God perseveres in grace, therefore saints persevere in faith. The future grows dark, the sun is withdrawn, the moon refuses to shine, and every star dies out, if once eternal love is proved to be evanescent, and grace is shown to be a temporary gift. If there be a doubt of God’s faithfulness, our whole being is smothered in a gloom intolerable.
For my part, I should neither care to preach the gospel, nor to believe it, if it were transient, unstable, uncertain. It were worth while to go to prison and to death for the doctrine of everlasting life; but for a fitful gleam of life, with intermingled intervals of death, making up an existence whose end must ultimately be blackness of darkness for ever, it were not worth while to exert one single atom of our strength. We have “Not a doubt of it!
Not a doubt of it, ’” On that matter we are fully assured, as we confess and pray in the same breath — “ The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy; O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” “God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by 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.” “He will never fail us, He will not forsake; His eternal covenant He will never break!
Resting on his promise, Fear is far away; God is ever with you, Children of the Day! ” The consolations afforded by a doctrine must depend upon the measure of faith with which it is received. “According to thy faith be it unto thee” is the rule of the kingdom. No soul can know the exceeding greatness of God’s power in any teaching of his word until it can say, “Not a doubt of it! Not a doubt of it! ” Unbelief is a great disturber of quiet. He that would feel the deep peace brought by the stoning sacrifice must have no doubt about its acceptance before God. He that would know the joy of sonship must repel with energy the Satanic suggestion — “if thou be the Son of God.” He that would know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and thereby triumph over death, must have no doubt about the well-attested fact that “the Lord is risen indeed.” As a tiny stone in the shoe will make the traveler limp painfully, so will the least suspicion mar the walk of faith. We have seen an almost invisible grain of red coloring matter tinge a great quantity of water, till it all seemed turned, as by the miracle of Moses, into blood; and so the least particle of mistrust within the soul may transform a sparkling, crystalline truth into a wearisome and nauseous disputation.
Faith finds truth to be meat indeed and drink indeed; but unbelief abhors all manner of meat, unless it be some loathsome carrion, for its appetite is depraved. “He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside.”
Truth lives in men as they believe it, but its power expires as they question it. Such are the opposite influences of faith and doubt within the individual, and they are the same on a wider scale among the many. Preach truth with the accent of conviction, and it will produce conversion as its result; but utter it with bated breath, or sputter it forth with skeptical lip, and it will work no miracle in the hearts of the hearers. Oh, preacher, before thou goest into the pulpit, say within thy soul, “Not a doubt of it! Not a doubt of it!” If the viper of skepticism be nestling within thy heart, keep thou silence before the Lord; or pour forth thy soul’s secret groans and prayers to God that he would cause thee to believe what thou hast to proclaim, that afterwards thou mayest say, “I believed, therefore have I spoken.” It is our solemn conviction, that open deniers of truth are not capable of doing a hundredth part of the damage which is done by the secret doubters of it.
The infidel’s envenomed blasphemies and ferocious sarcasms are arrows which fly by day, and the mass of our people shield themselves from them: but the covert suggestion, the scarcely uttered insinuation, and the apparently candid question, are as the pestilence which walketh in darkness, from whisk few can escape. There are names of unbelievers which we can scarcely pronounce without horror, and yet, perchance, there is infinitely less to fear from them than from certain professedly Christian ministers, who have entered by stealth into pulpits once occupied by good men and true, and from that vantage-ground are promulgating errors which their predecessors abhorred. We need act go far to find Universalism of the most pernicious kind taught within the boundaries of evangelical dissent, Socinianism defended by men who are included among the orthodox, and a scoff made of the inspiration of Holy Scripture by those who are called pastors of Protestant churches, it being meanwhile declared that “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants.” This is wretched; but even this, we take it, is less baneful than teaching Scriptural truth and coupling it with a sort of undertone of questioning as to whether a word of it is matter of fact. We have seen the upper current running in an orthodox direction, but have soon perceived underneath a stronger flood rushing towards infidelity. This is despicable.
Professional preaching, ex-officio creed-repeating,—this is the devil’s most effectual method of propagating falsehood and defeating truth. Full assurance of the certainty of what we preach in the name of the Most High God is absolutely necessary to making fall proof of our ministry; in fact, it is questionable whether it is ministry for God at all ‘if it is not the ministry of faith. If whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and men are forbidden to do that about which they have any scruple; much more, in sacred things, must a preaching that is not of faith be sin; and how can sin promote the righteousness of God? If Jesus the Son of God be not really and truly God to any man; if that man shall dare to assert the doctrine of the Redeemer’s Deity, he will but do the truth dishonor. We may not forbid his preaching, but if the Master were here he would as surely silence him as he did the devils when they loudly attested that he was the Son of God. If the Bible be not believed to be a supernatural book, infallibly teaching the things which make for our eternal salvation, he who, with deliberate falsehood of unbelief, yet uses it as his text-book, and refers to it as his authority, is a trifler with truth, and a mocker of sacred things. If a man believes that there is no such thing as regeneration, or that men do not need it, his attempt to preach concerning the new birth will only scatter among the multitudes doubts as to its reality. Whatever is held forth in the palsied hand of unbelief is itself made to quiver. Skepticism is a smoking lamp, which, while it gives no light, loads the atmosphere with a thick darkness, if not with a stench. If we are ever to see men brought down under the power of the law to a condition of true repentance, if we are ever to see them converted by the Holy Ghost through the gospel of Christ Jesus, if we are ever to see the converted ones sanctified, and marching forth to the Master’s battles as an army with banners, we must preach the truth boldly, as we ought to preach it, and we must say of every jot and tittle of it, “Not a doubt of it! Not a doubt of it: ” It seems to be assumed by many men that there is no sin in doubting God’s word; indeed, they count it one of the highest attainments of their intellect that they dare coolly give the lie to the glorious Jehovah. To us it seems that there is no impiety greater than to quibble and question with our Creator. To fancy the Holy Spirit to be ignorant, or mistaken, or a false witness, must very nearly verge upon the sin which is unto death.
Everywhere throughout the Scriptures faith is magnified as the chief root of virtue, and unbelief is stamped with infamy as a soul-destroying evil.
Error in doctrine is as truly a crime as adultery or theft. Who is he that has set man’s intellect free from the dominion of the Most High? Men of old said, “Our tongues are our own”; and now they say, “Our minds are our own”: the spirit of rebellion dictates both defiant speeches. The first and great commandment bids us love the Lord our God, not only with all our heart. but also with all our mind. The intellect is a part of the creature, and is therefore bound to be subservient to the Creator. In a redeemed man his intellect is not his own, for it is bought with a price; he counts it an essential of his discipleship that he should receive Christ’s word as a little child. Pride reviews the acts of God, and censures his utterances, criticizes infinite wisdom, picks and chooses, and commends or censures the teachings of the Lord. This daring presumption makes human reason the last Arbiter, and sets man upon the throne as though he were the god of God. To all this the apostle Paul deigns no reply but this — “ Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?”
Quitting this chaos of doubt, flying from this Stygian bog of skepticism, we pray’ the Lord to maintain our sure confidence in eternal verities, and to enable the minds of his people to get so firm a grip of what he has revealed that they may all cry, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Then shall we feel in our own hearts the power of truth, then shall we see in the consciences and minds of others the same power working supernaturally to their conversion and sanctification: but not till then. As yet the Lord cannot do many mighty works among us because of our unbelief. The multiplying skepticism’s of the hour are hindering the operations of grace. If we will not believe we shall not be established. We shall see no age of gold until it is the custom of all Christians to say of every promise or threatening of the Most High, “Not a doubt of it! Not a doubt of it! ” Incredulity is absurdity where God is concerned; nay, worse, it is constructive blasphemy. Doubt of revealed truth is death to communion with him who has revealed it.
How can a man commune with another man till he has given him his fullest confidence? We can have no fellowship with those whom we distrust; the unbeliever can have no fellowship with God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God ;” therefore the spirit of doubt which is now abroad must be greatly displeasing to him; and if God be displeased how is the church to prosper? Our work will be hindered, our joy will be damped, our strength will be weakened, our triumph will be delayed till we can say — “NOT ADOUBT OR IT!NOT ADOUBT OF IT!”
BOTH-HANDED MEN BY THOMASSPURGEON.
AMONGST themighty men who gathered to David at Ziklag was a band of archers who “could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow.” These men, the chronicle distinctly states, “were of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.” Let them be as famous for their fidelity to the cause of right and truth as for their dexterity in the use of sling and bowl Saul was one of themselves, and yet each Benjamite scorned to be one of his when he departed from uprightness. When the son of Kish was crowned king he was doubtless approved by Benjamin more than by any other tribe. None shouted more loudly than they, “God save the King”; yet when by tyranny and malice he disgraced himself and the noble house from which he sprang, they would not be tied to him by mere kinship. So long as royalty was worthy of their loyalty their homage was cheerfully accorded; but when the crown tarnished itself they no longer recognized its claims. These Benjamites evidently were no believers in “The right divine of kings to govern wrong.” These men were, doubtless, amongst those “whose hearts God had touched,” who went with Saul to Gibeah, and in proof that God had touched them, rather than mere fancy and friendship, they are found on the side of right when might seems in the ascendant. The pride and perfidy of the jealous king found no response in their hearts. They threw in their lot with David, the persecuted fugitive, though flesh and blood were thereby forsaken. These were mighty men indeed! None were worthier amongst all of David’s worthies, and no act Of theirs ranks higher than this deed of self-denial and moral courage.
Every one knows that it is easier to smite a foe than to run the risk of angering a friend. “The greatest vict ’ry of which brave men boast, Is to abstain from ill when pleasing most. ” Swift as the arrows sped in after days from their full-bent bows, and surely as they hit the foe, these children of Benjamin never aimed at so good a target, nor aimed so well, as when they determined without fear or favor to uphold the cause of the oppressed and persecuted. Regardless of the pangs which must have pierced their hearts, counting not the cost of incurring the wrath of their royal kinsman, bursting ties of birth and blood, they grasp the standard of righteousness, prepared, if need be, to whirl their stones and point their arrows even at their brethren. Esteeming the reproach of David greater riches than the treasures of Saul, they found a home amongst the caves, and a service with the outlaw.
It would appear that they were the first openly and as a body to espouse the cause of the fugitive. Boldly did they announce their fealty—” Thine we are, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thy helpers, for thy God helpeth thee.” Even when the tide turned in David’s favor, and great hosts gathered to make him king in Hebron, there were but 3,000 Benjamites among them, as compared, for instance, with 40,000 of Asher, and 50,000 of Zebulun. True to the cry of nature rather than to the call of grace, “the greatest part of them kept the ward of the house of Saul,” and when Saul himself was slain they played an important part in crowning Ish-bosheth, his son, King of Israel. All this goes to prove how great the demand must have been up. on the self-denial and moral courage of the “faithful few” of Benjamin who were with David.
They could set a noble example, even if there was but little hope that, it would be largely followed. They were as fearless of public opinion as they were of Philistines and Amalekites. All honor to the Benjamites who, although left-handed, were manifestly right-hearted! Imitation is the sincerest flattery, so we will strive to do as they have done, according them meanwhile the praise that they deserve for noblesse and rectitude, as rare in those days, perhaps, as in our own. Every right-hearted man will say,” Well done, noble three thousand!” “Brave conquerors! for so you are, That war against your own affections, And the huge army of the world ’s desires. ” Seeing that so good a lesson can be learned from these men in the grand act which distinguished their military career, we may hope to gain some other teachings from their character and conduct.
The first that suggests itself is as follows—It is manifestly unfair to judge of a man at first sight and on short acquaintance. We do not know what we ourselves can do till we try, and we cannot gauge what our fellows can do till we try them. Had we seen one of these Benjamites using his left hand, we should, most probably, have put him down as a left-handed man; and soon after another observer would have catalogued him amongst the right-handed because he happened just then to be using his right hand.
Both reporters would have told the truth, but neither of them the whole truth. It might even happen that a quarrel would ensue, and like the dispute concerning the color of the chameleon, it might remain unsettled till some savant pointed out that just as that reptile could assume different colors at pleasure, so the Benjamite warrior could use right or left hand as he desired. You say he is left-handed, and I declare he is right-handed. Are you, therefore, wrong? Not at all: for the judge that ends the strife affirms that the man is ambidextrous, or both-handed. Now, besides the undoubted evil of quarreling, the subject of dispute had an injustice done to him in that he was not recognized till late to possess such powers as were really his.
Beings, like things, are not always all they seem, nor do they always seem, at first sight, all they are. First impressions are not so valuable as some would have us believe. Men, not to say women, are such fickle, changing creatures, that it is hardly to he expected that a brief interview can afford even the shrewdest character-reader a fair criterion of the man himself. One page of a book may serve as a specimen of the type, but the tenor of the whole volume may be of quite a different type from that of the single leaf.
There will, of course, be some characteristics running throughout, but all cannot be discovered except in the whole. A individual who is remarkable for the even tenor of his life may be more correctly judged from a short intercourse than one whose lifetime includes all the notes in the gamut; but there is no man whose existence is purely monotone. Our opinion of places and things is often wrongly built on the slender foundation of a fortnight’s stay, marred, possibly, by an unfortunate episode. The weather was unpropitious, friends were busy, or some untoward event happened which altogether nullified charms of scenery and society which Would otherwise have been enjoyed. On the other hand, many a place unattractive in itself is little short of a paradise because of its circumstances and surroundings, just as home is “sweet home,” be it ever so humble.
One who lately traveled round the coast of New Zealand, tarrying at its chief ports but a few days, or a week at most, met, of course, with a great variety of scene and weather; but wherever he wandered he could not but be struck with the fact that there was something about the weather in each place, according to the residents, that was “quite exceptional.” If this was really so, the traveler failed to get a correct, because not a complete, idea of the climate of each stopping-place. Certainly it is so with people, whether or no. You meet Mr. So-and-So at an evening gathering, and form your conclusions of him. But he was not himself. His manner was “quite exceptional.” One hears a preacher, and judges of him by his discourse. But it. was not a fair specimen — no one sermon is—and this one was “quite exceptional.” Another goes to a church and happens to get a bad seat, and no hymn-book, and straightway stigmatizes that community as churlish and inhospitable. But the conclusion is erroneous. You were unfortunate; such treatment is “quite exceptional.” It is most unfair to judge by single sights and cursory acquaintance. Neither persons nor parsons should be so criticized.
True, the minister ‘ gave it them hot,” as the saying is, at night, far too hot for the gentry whose standard is the banner of love; but you should have heard him in the morning, when the other side of that same gospel was unfolded. They who saw Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazarus did not know the Master till they also beheld him rejoicing in spirit. Jeremiah was not all lamentations. Even he could stag in the midst of a wail, like a rainbow shining through a shower, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him.” ‘The loving and loved disciple John could be stern and even vengeful, as when he asked leave to call fire from heaven on the Christ-rejecting Samaritans; and Peter, fiery and impetuous as a rule, could write sweet tender words, such as, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you.”
What a difference between Peter, with pen in hand, writing this entreaty, and Peter, sword in hand, smiting Malthus on the ear! We know neither a man’s graces nor his disgraces till we have lived long with him. Let · us be careful, then, in our conclusions. Painters, and builders, and ,others, put on their sign-boards, “Estimates given gratis;” and if ‘those who are determined to act similarly as to persons’ characters would only” signify the same in the usual manner,” we would be glad; for we would be careful to shun their company, and not give them half a chance to estimate us and to tender for our improvement. The tender mercies of such are cruel.
Here follow the lamentations of the both-handed men. Set their words to the music of your acts as you determine to judge not that ye be not judged Each constitutes himself a judge, and that at single sight, So one entirely leaves our left, and straightway writes us right.
Another sees the sinister, and thinks it only deft, And fancies he has judged aright — the left is all we ’ve left.
But look again, you critics sweet, and let your looks be candid, Then will you both discover all — for we are all both-handed.
No one knew so well as the Benjamites themselves what an immense advantage was theirs in being able to use both hands. Perhaps the Philistines knew second best, for I cannot but believe that the latter had learned to their cost in combating these Benjamites wherein their great strength lay. Two-handed men could do well nigh twice the execution of ordinary mortals. If one hand grew weary it might rest a while, for its mate was as able as itself. It was not with these men as it is with many, that the right hand was serviceable only for certain purposes, and the left for others; but each hand was as skillful as the other for every work and warfare.
David was fortunate indeed in having such a corps in his army. Each man carried, as it were, a double-barreled revolver. These are the sort of men great David’s greater Son requires: men whose hearts God has touched in such a fashion that their overflowing love takes two hands to express itself in deeds of daring and acts of prowess. The hand is often an index of the heart. The hearty grip is from a true friend; and you may with much certainty conclude that, he whose hand in yours feels like a dead fish is a cold-blooded creature. When Jehu met Jehonadab he said to him,” Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand: and he took him up to him into the chariot.” Now, if one hand so plainly indicates the condition of the heart, two hands must speak with double tongue. Often have we seen friends at purling or meeting shake with both hands. Ay, and they would have used three if they had possessed them! One is not strong enough to express deep interest and intense affection. Our love to King Jesus should be of this two-handed sort. Two hands are none too many to serve him with.
The use of both hands is an evident sign of earnestness. He who rows with one hand will soon rest entirely on his oars. Little Jack intends to make short work of his hunk of bread and jam — he holds it with both hands, and if he only had two mouths the meal would soon be over. His action, though a breach of good manners, is, at least, a proof of energy and earnestness. While so many continue to “do evil with both hands earnestly,” be it ours to bring every finger of each hand into full work for the cause of good, and God, and truth. Dear Master, take my hands, both left and right, and use them in thy blessed service. “Take my hands, and let them move At the impulse of thy love. ” Again, it ,is possible lo be both-handed in another sense, not however so advantageous. Indeed, I do not know that it is any benefit. I refer to those who are compelled to use one hand for one thing and the other for another.
He who can cut the bread with his left hand only, but must use his right to spread the butter, is not one whit advantaged. Another drives nails with his left hand, and turns the gimlet with his right. Do such persons need to pause while they remember which hand they must employ for the special work before them? Perhaps not; but still it seems to me preferable to have either the right hand or the left ready for every kind of work. Better still, if each hand is equally handy. The disadvantage is when a change of members is needed for a variety of occupations. I suppose it must needs be that some of our talents develop more than others; but how glorious it would be if each and all were A 1, and working at full pressure. To be an expert with one hand is no mean gift; to be deft with two is a consummation devoutly to be wished. My readers have probably heard of the artist who painted a picture of a youth sitting beside a basket of grapes. So true to nature were the purple clusters, so real the bloom and fresh the vine-leaves, that when the picture stood one day in the open-air a bird pecked at the grapes, and, much to his disappointment, found no luscious juice. So strange an occurrence was likely to make the artist’s fame and fortune, for everybody trumpeted the praise of him who could with pencil and color deceive ‘the very birds. But he was not elated. The incident brought him no encouragement, “For,” said he, “if I had painted the boy half as well as I did the fruit the birds would never have ventured near!” Success in one department instead of satisfying should spur us on to attain the same in every other.
If each hand may be a right hand, and every talent be employed, we shall prove workmen and warriors that need not to be ashamed. Although it is good to be distinguished for some special grace, it would be better to possess all graces to a marked degree. A good “catch,” and an effective bowler, and a sharp wicket-keeper, and a certain scorer, are indispensable on the cricket-field; but the “all-round men” are most useful after all. In the best Master’s service I would like to be good at everything, and have left hand as well as right hand ready for anything he assigns. May every string in the harp be tuned and ready for his hand who brings the music forth. “Take myself, and I will be, Ever, only, all for thee. ” The worst sort of ” both-handed mere ” are those who undo with their left what they do with their right. I spoke, on one occasion, with a young man who was engaged in building a wooden house. Noticing that he drove the nails with a hammer in his left hand, I asked him if he ever used his right. “Yes, for some things,” he answered. “Well, did you never find it awkward, and wonder which hand to use?” said I. “Never! — never but once, for I remember trying to play at whipping-top, and how I failed because while I spun the top right-handed I held the whip in my left, and as a natural consequence unwound it at every stroke.” Such was his reply, and it struck me there and then that many folks do just the same in every-day life. One hour’s inconsistency will undo a week’s holy conversation. How many spin the top right-handed on the Sunday, and whip it left-handed through the week!
Others there are whose words are the spinning, but their actions are the whipping; one counteracts the other.
Serving God with one hand and the devil with the other is a style of bothhandedness from which we may well pray to be saved. To yoke our talk to the Lord’s chariot and our conduct to Satan’s car will never do. When Christ bade the healed demoniac go home to his friends, he told him to “tell how great things the Lord had done for him “ — so Mark has it. But Luke informs us that Jesus said,” Return to thine own house and show how great things God hath done unto thee.” He was to express both by his lip and life the Lord’s corn.. passion — to show and to tell. Each would be eloquent, the two would prove irresistible. But if the one contradicted the other! If he still raved in the tombs and ranged the mountains, all his telling would go for naught. He was to be a both-handed man! Faith without works is dead. See to it, dear reader, that both faith and works are yours.
As Hannah More puts it:— “If faith produce no works, I see That faith is not a living tree.
Thus faith and works together grow, No separate life they e ’er can know; They ’re soul and body, hand and heart:
What God hath joined let no man part. ” EVERY FOOL MUST FALL IHAVE read a story of a devout man who, amongst other gifts, had the gift of healing, and many persons resorted to him for cure. Among the rest one Chromatius, who, being sick, sent for him, and told him of his sickness, and desired that he might have the benefit of cure, as others had before him.
The devout man replied, “I cannot do it till thou hast beaten all the images in thy house to pieces.” “Oh! that shall be done,” said Chromatius. “Here, take my keys, and where you find any images break them in pieces;” which accordingly was done. Upon this the devout man went to prayer, but no cure was wrought; whereupon the sick man cried out, “Oh, I am as sick as ever! Oh, I am very weak and sick still! ‘ It cannot be otherwise,” replied the devout person, neither can I help it; for there is, doubtless, one idol yet in your house undiscovered, and that must be defaced, too.” “True,” saith Chromatius, “it is so, indeed; it is all of beaten gold; it cost £200. I would fain have saved it; but here, take my keys again, —you shall find it fast locked up in my chest — break it also in pieces;” which, being done, the devout man prayed, and Chromatius was healed. The moral of it is good; the sin-sick soul must break, not some, but all its idols in pieces, before a cure will follow. — Thomas Brooks.
NIGHT-CAPS RECOMMENDED ACERTAIN Dr. J. Mortimer Granville gives a word of advice about dreams. He says: “Many persons who are not by habit ‘dreamers,’ are dreaming a great deal just now, and wondering why they do so. The answer is very simple. When cold weather sets in suddenly, and is much felt; at night, the head, which is uncovered, has the blood supplied to it driven from the surface to the deep parts, notably the brain, the organ of the mind. The results are light sleep and dreams. The obvious remedy is to wear a nightcap, or wrap the head warmly, at least while the cold weather lasts. It is a ‘faculty’ idea that we of this generation suffer more from braintroubles than our predecessors because we leave the head exposed at night, and the blood-vessels of our cerebral organs are seldom unloaded.”
This paragraph is affectionately commended to certain Expounders of Prophecy, Fasbloners of New Theology, and Propounders of Theories concerning Perfection in the Flesh. We are getting a little overdone with their dreamings. Let the brethren try night-caps during the present wintry weather. Dr. Granville is quite right about the fact that people are dreaming a great deal just now; we can hardly take up a pamphlet or a religious newspaper without saying to ourselves, “Here’s another dreamer!” This is a great pity; for there are people about who accept these visions as gospel, and we are in a fair way to be driven away from solid truth into a dreamland of either fanaticism or unbelief. The remedy suggested by the worthy physician might at least be tried. Our fathers were wont to encrown themselves with a tasseled triangle, which was enough to frighten any burglar out of his senses; but then they did not dream as our rising generation is doing & red bandanna was a very picturesque head-protector.
Could such a thing be bought in these degenerate days? At any rate, let something be done to stop this dreaming. Our philosophical youths, who wear the cap of Liberty by day, have only to keep it on by night, and their cerebral organs, being delivered from the rush of blood, will be unloaded, and enjoy a little rest. The worst of it is that, if some of our theologians give up their dreams, they will have nothing else left. —C. H.S. A WISE ANSWER TO A DIFFICULT QUESTION AUGUSTINE was once asked what he would say of a wicked man who had lived loosely, but died penitently. He replied,” What would you have me to say? That he is damned? I will not; for I have nothing to do to judge him.
Shall I say that he is saved? I dare act; for I would not deceive thee. What then? Why, this. Repent, thou, out of hand, and thou art safe, whatever is become of him. ” CONCERNING GOING TO HEAVEN BY C. H.SPURGEON.
IHAVE heardpersons express their unwillingness to go to heaven if it is to be all psalm-singing and holy talking. Surely, there was no need for them to decline to enter until they had been asked to do so. Holy Scripture invites all men to holiness, but I know of no passage in ,which it presses any ungodly man to enter heaven: there will be time enough to invite men to glory when they have accepted grace. Yet the refusal of the heavenly inheritance is sometimes heard, coupled with reasons for it. Thomas Brooks mentions a woman who lived near Jews, in Sussex, who was ill, and therefore was visited by one of her neighbors, who to cheer her told her that if she died she would go to heaven, and be with God, and Jesus Christ, and the saints and angels. To this the sick woman in all simplicity replied, “Ah, mistress, I have no relations there I Nay, not so much as a gossip or acquaintance; and as I know nobody,! had a great deal sooner stop with you and the other neighbors than go and live among strangers.”
It is to be feared that if a good many were to speak their thoughts they would say much the same. One said to me only the other day, “What a dreadful thing it is to die and go ‘ you know not where’ I” To whom I answered, “Yes, indeed; but to a Christian it is not so; he knows well enough where he is going.” “That may be,” said the person who addressed me, “but still it is even to a Christian an unknown land.” Her surprise was great when I demurred to this, and said that dying was going home to our own Father, to our Elder Brother, to our Husband, to our friends, and to the place where our life already is. This is the truth, and those who commune with God understand that it is so; but to the uninstructed in divine things the glory-land is a place as unknown as the dark continent of Africa used to be.
There is a story floating about of a farmer in his last days being visited by the ‘clergyman of the parish, who discoursed to him very sweetly concerning the happy land, and the celestial city, with its gates of pearl and its streets of gold. “Thank you, Sir,” said the farmer, “it is a fine country, no doubt, but Old England for me! Old England for me!” He would probably have been better pleased with some English edition of a Mahometan Paradise, where roast beef and foaming tankards would abound on every side. He was not, however, the only true Briton who would make the same choice if he thought himself at all likely to get it.
We do not know that this true son of John Bull was much more out of the running than a certain popular authoress, who dreamed some time ago about “Gates Ajar.” Her maunderings are far more wild in her later book, where she pictures a soul “Beyond the Gates.” Therein the glorified one is represented as saying, “The grass was sorer than elder of the lower world; and lighter than snow-flakes the leaves that fell from low-hanging boughs about me. Distantly I heard moving water; and more near, sleepy birds I felt infinite security. I had the blessedness of a weariness which knew it could not miss of sleep. Dreams stole upon me with motion and touch so exquisite that I thought, ‘ Sleep itself is a new joy; what we had below was only a hint of the real thing,’ as I sank into deep and deeper rest.” “When I waked, I was still alone. There seemed to have been showers, for the leaves and grass about me were wet; yet I felt no chill or dampness, or any kind of injury from this fact. Rather I had a certain refreshment, as if my sleeping senses had drunk of the peace and power of the dew, which flashed far and near about me. The intense excite-merit under which I had labored since coming to this place was calmed. All the fevers of feeling were laid. I could not have said whether there had been what below we called night, or how the passage of time had marked itself; I only knew that I had experienced the recuperation of night, and that! sprang to the next duty or delight of existence with the rigor of recurring day. As I rose from the grass, I noticed a four-leafed clover, and remembering the pretty little superstition we used to have about it, I plucked it, and held it to my face, and so learned that: the raindrop in this new land had perfume, an exquisite scent, as if into the essence of brown earth, and spicy roots, and aromatic green things, such as summer rain distills with us from out a fresh-washed world, there were mingled an inconceivable odor drawn out of the heart of the sky. Metaphysicians used to tell us that no man ever imagined a new perfume, even in his dreams. I could see that they were right, for anything like the perfume of clover after a rain in heaven had never entered into my sense or soul before. I saved the clover ‘ for good luck,’ as I used to do.”
It is clear that multitudes have no preparation for abiding with God for ever, for they are not yet capable of forming even a faint conception of it.
Because eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, therefore these people conclude that nothing of heaven can be known, and truly by them it cannot be; but to the spiritual, heaven is revealed by the Spirit of God, its life is already commenced in them, its King already reigns over them, its Light has already shone upon them: its worship they have commenced, its communion, they are enjoying, its joy they have foretasted. Heaven is as suitable for a saint as a lock is fitted to receive its key; and as the fashion of a lock might be inferred from the key, so may the glorious state be guessed at from the gracious man. He has, moreover, sips of sweetness, which give him no merely fanciful notion of the hill-country, and he knows somewhat of what the full-blown flower must be as he gazes at the beauty of the bud; but he looks not that in the revelation of the glory the invisible should be only a reproduction of the visible; for he knows that the spiritual exceeds the natural even as the heaven is above the earth.
I sat once at the bedside of one who had caught the true idea that the future will bear a distinct relation to the present, for she said to me, “Sir, I think I shall be allowed to share in the holy worship of God, for it was ever my delight. I do not think I shall be shut up with the wicked, for I was always weary of ungodly society. I hope I shall be gathered with the people of God, for these many years to be with them has been my chief delight.
Dear Sir, I feel sure that the Lord will let us go with our own company.” I was quite of her mind. The fact is, men depart from God in this life, and their future is to continue moving in that direction, for the Judge will say:, “Depart”; but as for those who have been coming to the Lord, their future will be a continued advance in the same course, for their Lord will say, “Come, ye blessed.”
THE PRODIGAL SON.
A SERMON BY CHRISTMAS EVANS.
This was one of Christmas Evans’s most noteworthy sermons. He preached it on his last tour in South Wales, on which tour he died.
The only departure from the Welsh is the substitution of a few verses of English poetry for Welsh. — E.M. These notes are very welcome, but we judge them to be only notes.
We beg our ponders to peruse them carefully, and by the use of a little imagination they can fill up the gaps, and form some idea of how the glorious Welshman carried all before him. We have altered a word or two to make the sense clear. The sermon contains some of the finest touches which have ever come before us. It is grand even in this fragmentary state. — C. H. S. THE description of the prodigal shows how soon, how easily and completely, man, when competent to act, departs from God. Impressed by the portraiture, lo! I see him seeking a traveling-car to take away his goods and chattels. He finds horses and chariots, men and maid-servants, for he is about to leave his father’s hearth, and bid him farewell. The elder brother was standing by, neatly dressed, with a staff in his hand; but the younger was very showily arrayed, had on a pair of yellow-topped boots, looked a grand gentleman, and held out one finger to bid his father Good-bye. This is the description of one who has lost his reason, and follows his wicked inclinations The “wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God,” will not pray to him, or depend on his wisdom and love, but in his insanity will set up for himself. While thus he was, as regards his father’s house, dead and lost, “He went into a far country.” Profligacy is indeed a far country, far from God, without faith, or the fear of God, or solemnity, or sacred song; a land where dead souls dwell, a land through which runs the broad road which leads to destruction. The ungodly “go astray from the womb,” even before reading the heavenly book that tells of the far country, that describes how it was once drowned with water, and at another time how part of it was burned up with sulphureous fire from heaven. Besides, its climate is so fiercely hot that it destroys and burns up its produce; and sometimes so cold that it buries its population under mountains of frost and eternal snow. Its language was the language of hell, its customs were the lusts of Satan, who was its gigantic god. Its chief merchandise was in the exchange of the bodies and souls of men; these were the principal articles of commerce that passed through its ports, and it received from hell foolish and hurtful desires in their place The system of slave traffic flourished very richly there. The young man was insane to waste his substance in a land so scarce of provision, and so utterly barren of happiness. “His understanding was darkened.” His mouth was a sepulcher, in which godliness and all holy things were buried. There was joined to the root of his tongue a bag, containing the poison of asps, so that he poisoned men by his tongue in his evil communications; and there was a flame at the point of his tongue, that set “the course of nature on fire,” even with the life of hell His hands wrought mischief, and his feet were swift to shed blood. He was insane to direct his course to a land called “the far country,” far from God, happiness, and heaven. It was so far that no one of himself has ever found the way back to his Father’s house; but it was not: so far but the Father could send famine and distress into it, and even run there to embrace the prodigal. Has no one ever returned? Oh, yes; millions, millions! but not without the Father drawing them. In order to open a new way from this far country, God sent his Son to assure the nature of its inhabitants, and by virtue of the sacrifice that he gave on the tree in this very country he opened a way through the evil that shut men out from their Father’s house. The young man “spent his substance in riotous living.” He devoted the strength of his body, and all his mental faculties, and possessions, to enliven Vanity Fair — that is, he gave himself up to the vices of the age; drunkenness, uncleanness, fighting, and Sabbath desecration.
Then the law, as a mighty famine, goes forth to lay hold of the sinner.
When God would subdue a proud city, he does it by sending the sword, the famine, or the plague. The gospel has its sword, fire, and famine, which even Saul of Tarsus cannot withstand. The law raises the famine, and gradually increases it., until the sinner goes seeking through the far country for the bread of hope. He is described as setting out like a gentleman, then he becomes indigent, and. seeks bread; but he had to know that the region of the law was a poor place in which to beg, because “it hath dominion over a man till he is dead.” He: could not sing for a living, like some poor English in our towns; nor sell matches from door to door. The law was, “He that will not work neither shall he eat.” Every door was shut against him. He offered to work for a citizen of that country, that is, the preacher of the law as a covenant of works; but the law followed him, and no bread could be had for works of the law unless perfect; and the law would have written out his notice of removal to the House of Correction, in the parish of Sinai, where thousands of these wandering wretches have been sent, since the days of Cain, who was the first to die there. Now every hope of the bread of life was gone, he was almost distracted through his sin, seeing nothing but perdition in his heart, life, and conduct, while without any means of making an atonement for his sins. Lively conviction, produced by the Spirit of God, brings a man into a state of utter despair. Beer and spirits cannot drown such convictions. There was a famine of every article necessary to support a godless life. Conviction of sin is likened to the pangs of childbirths and why? Because the termination of it is a matter of either death or life. But he would break his hunger by the deeds of the law; he would, in other words, get a living by work. It was not to a citizen of the towns where he had been spending his money, and his life, he repaired, but to the cities of strict morality, where the Scribes and Pharisees, and rulers of the parish church, lived in the days of Christ. Though the city he visited feigned to be a godly place, yet it belonged to the “far country.’
The certain citizen to whom he applied was a figure of the legal preacher, the swine are the figure of his disciples: they tread the pearl of great price under their feet, and slight the doctrines of grace, and the atoning work of Christ, and the strength and life contained in them. Methinks I see him standing by the swine troughs! Others filled themselves, he could not. The husks would not do for him. He was a perfect picture of misery. An old shoe and stocking on his foot, an old cap on his head, like the turban of a Turk, recently picked from the dunghill, and a ragged one-armed coat on his back. While he stood there, death and starvation were depicted in his countenance. Nothing was to be heard but the munching of the swine as they ate their food, when lo! a letter from his father, borne as with the wind, came into his bosom. His father told him he was still alive, and rich.
When this letter came it brought to mind many familiar circumstances; and trembling, he feared to venture to open it, lest his father should be found to swear in his wrath, that he should never come back. Some have feared to read a chapter, or pray, lest some evidence should start up that they have been rejected, or have committed the unpardonable sin.
With tears he ventured to open it in the dark pass of death, when the sun of hope was setting, and there was no prospect of its ever rising again. At this juncture the gospel gave forth its commanding voice in demonstration of the Spirit and power, which brought to mind with irresistible force the thought that his Father was alive, and that there was bread at home, “enough and to spare.” Now the sun of hope rose upon his soul, for by faith his Father’s house drew nearer to him, with its amplitude of stores and open bounty. Faith in his Father wrought in his soul a feeble hope, and the fountains of repentance welled up in his mind, and streamed forth in the spirit of prayer. His faith in the bread and the sufficiency of it caused him to resolve that he would arise, and begin his journey home. The entreaty to his Father leaped to his lips at every step he took In his prayer he confessed his sin and unworthiness, and petitioned for the humblest place among the servants. He went from home a haughty, domineering.. gentleman; but he came back truly humbled. The gospel, by killing and making alive, taught him a valuable lesson. It is a poor sign when a man would come into the church as rich and great, not as a poor sinner out of the dust.
Now we behold him on his journey home, through faith in his Father clemency and bounty. “When he was yet a great way off,” he had no hope in himself, and was very much ashamed of his riven and tattered garments, and his unprotected feet. His feeling of his lost estate was very intense and heavy. But, lo! all the riches of the grace, power, and mercy resident in the Father come forth to meet his faith, hope, and flickering love. The eye of mercy saw him through the thick mist, the heart of mercy pitied him, the feet of power and might ran to meet him, the arms of mercy embraced him, and the face of a reconciled God bestowed the kiss of peace. They brought him in — not to the dining room, but to the robing-apartment.
Oh! what a touching sight to behold the God of all grace embracing the unworthy sinner, and he in the dust; his Father extending to him the blessing of forgiveness, without any upbraiding. Conviction having ended in restoration, the sinner has the blessings of redemption applied, to his understanding. and conscience. Lo! I see him in the chamber on his knees, his face bent to the earth, hateful in his own sight on account of his filth and his poverty; yet stung with pain by the fear of death. The Father named the blessings — the robe, the ring, the shoes, and the fatted calf. They were provided by his royal bounty. The. rotten robe of the prodigal was not worth turning, washing, or mending; his shoes were good for nothing but to be east away. You cannot save a man by reforming him: that is not what has to be done; he is too bad for reformation, he must be formed anew, clad in an entire change of raiment. The Father gave order for the robe. It corresponded to the requirements of the law, and was wrought out by the Son of God during his abode on earth. His holiness was the frame where it was worked. His love, obedience, and sufferings were the warp, woof, and substance of which it was spun and woven. It was “through righteousness.”
This robe was the “one obedience of Christ.” In him were found beam, frame, material, weaver, and shuttle; and he finished it upon the cross. The order was not to put on the shoes first, but the robe. The gospel does not bring a man first to walk with God, or possess a filial spirit, and then justify him; but there is an appropriate order — first, the Father gives the robe; then he will have the ring put upon the hand, as a sign of filial union; and then will see the shoes placed on the feet of him who wears the robe. The voice of the Father is heard in the servants, and they urge those who believe, that they should be careful “to maintain good works,” and “follow God as dear children.’ Here are the four commands of the Father to the servants, that is, to ministers of the gospel, apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers, to the end of the world. “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him,” — that is, explain red preach the glorious, divine, justifying righteousness of the Son of God, in comparison of which the righteousness of angels, and of Adam before the fall, fit once lose all their beauty. As a robe there is none like it in heaven or earth. “Put a ring on his hand” and “shoes on his feet.” Set forth the nature of adoption and Christian conversation, in demonstration of the Spirit, with an ardor that will impress the mind. Now he comes forth from the dress-chamber to the royal diningroom.
Oh, what grace! This is grace after grace, gift after gift, treasure after treasure, patrimony after patrimony. There was no need to hunt shops or stalls, for a ring, or shoes, or the farted calf; they were all there, so plentiful were the provisions of the Father’s house. Now the sinner is brought to taste the love of God shed abroad in his heart, and feeds on the flesh and blood of the Redeemer, and relishes joy in the Holy Ghost. “Being justified by faith we have hope of the glory of God.” “He rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
The fourth royal command to the servants is, “Bring forth the farted calf, and kill it,” i e., sacrifice it. Preach Christ as a fiery sacrifice to justice in the room and stead of prodigals, and also as a meat and drink-offering to starving souls. Only one calf, so there is but one sacrifice, once offered in the end of the world. It will remain to form a feast to welcome all the prodigals, and there is a fresh glory bestowed upon the sacrifice of the cross whenever a famishing sinner comes into the church of God.
The Master of the feast was the Father: all was at his sole expense. He sent the famine, and ran to meet the wanderer, and gave the robe, ring, and shoes, and now sets the farted calf on the festal board.
The feast itself contains all the blessings of the gospel, the soul being brought to the enjoyment of an interest in the death of the Son of God.
One no less dignified, no less rich and powerful, than the Lord of Hosts made the feast was made for “all people,” for the entire family, even for the angels.
This is one of the heirs of eternal life, who has now been born again. How did the Father, the Lord of Hosts, sustain his position as head of the feast, and while feasting with the prodigal?. He rejoiced over him with singing, till the whole apartment exchanged glory and beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for heaviness, and the Father said, “Let us eat and be merry.” A bountiful supply had been set before the prodigal, and the first morsels were swallowed with avidity and great relish, for they were sweeter than the honeycomb. Then, looking in his Father’s face, as tears streamed from both his eyes, he said, “Father.” “What now, my son?” “I do not deserve this feast;.” “There is no necessity, my son, all is of grace.” “I remember my disobedience in the far country, Father.” “It is all forgiven; eat, my son.” “Oh, my Father, shall I remain with you for ever? Who said otherwise to thee, child? Did I promise thee less?” “But, Father, will you keep me here by the power of thy covenant, and maintain that covenant, and never let it be broken?” “Well, I will promise, and never alter what has gone out of my mouth. The saints fear backsliding very much, but the Lord has promised, “I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me, saith the Lord.” Did all rejoice? Yes, all but the elder brother; he would not come near. The Father, the servants the whole catholic church, the angels in the room beyond the veil, all rejoiced, their minds feasting on the dainties of heavenly grace, and lost in admiration of the riches of divine mercy, and the memory of it was sweeter than wine from Lebanon. How high did the joy run? how far extend? I assure you it was not weak, nor feeble, nor groveling, nor silent, for the elder brother heard far away beyond the house “music and dancing,” two words to set forth the strength and elevation of the joy. The joy in the Holy Ghost, was so great that it drove the fear of want and the fear of death far away. Then four harps were brought forth from the four corners of the earth, to be played upon. The great harp of the north began, and the musicians sang the joyful lay — “Great God of wonders! all thy ways Are matchless, God-like, and divine; But the fair glories of thy grace More God-like and unrivall ’d shine:
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free? ” Then the strings of the southern harp were touched — “Oh, for this love let: rocks and hills, Their lasting silence break, And all harmonious human tongues The Savior ’s praises speak. “Yes, we will praise thee, dearest Lord, Our souls are all on flame; Hosanna round the spacious earth To thine adored name. ” Then the sweet harp of Judah, the harp of the rising sun, sounded forth sweet and loud notes of joy because of pardon and peace to dying men— “We were lost. but we are found, Dead, but now alive are we; We were sore in bondage bound, But our Jesus sets us free.
Strangers, and he takes us in, Naked, he becomes our dress, Sick, and he h ’om stain of sin Cleanses with his righteousness.
Therefore will we sing his praise Who his lost ones hath restored, Hearts and voices both shall raise Hallelujahs to the Lord. ” At the sight of the two parties sweetly reconciled to each other at the festal board, the minstrel of the western harp sounded forth his note— “The wanderer no more will roam, The lost one to the fold hath come, The prodigal is welcomed home; O Lamb of God, in thee!
Though clothed with shame, by sin defiled, The Father hath embraced his child; And I am pardon ’d, reconciled, O Lamb of God, in thee!
It is the Father ’s joy to bless, His love provides for me a dress— A robe of spotless righteousness, O Lamb of God, in thee!
Now shall my famish ’d soul be fed, A feast of love for me is spread, I feed upon the children ’s bread, O Lamb of God, in thee.
Nothing is said of the end of this feast, more than of the end of the wedding-banquet or of the return from the highway of the third servant who went out to compel the lame, and the halt, and the blind to come in. It is a feast that is spread over all the years of the Lord’s redeemed. It is going on even now.
The elder son, the figure of the legalist, was ploughing rather sulphureous land that day on the brow of the hill called Sinai. The Father sent the servant to call him in, and to invite all such to leave their trust in works, and believe in Christ. When he saw the servant, he was pausing for a moment between the handles of the plough; for he was ploughing to earn bread by his own works. So he said, “What is going on to-day, down yonder? What is all that stir within the walls?” “Oh, you are right in calling it a stir, for a stir it verily is, I assure you.” “Well, lad, what is it? The sweet odors from the flues are spreading up here; the smell resembles food being cooked for Antinomians; tell me what is going on?” “Your brother is come home poor and wretched.” “My brother? You mean that fellow that went away long since to the far country, and devoured his living with harlots.” “Ay, the same, and your Father has commanded you to come in and welcome him.” “Me I will never come. No, riot even if my Father were to come to ask me. To think of my sitting down at a banquet with publicans and the scum of sinners! l shall mention it to him. I certainly shall. He is a fine person to think of welcoming such a wretch, and to give him a fatted calf, when he never slew so much as a kid for me in return for my self. righteous works.”
By this time the Father had come up to the elder brother. He began to abuse and blame him. The Father cut the matter short by calling him in, saying, “If you wilt not come in I cannot do better than carry on the feast without you.” Election makes rejoicing necessary, and love makes it necessary, and the: divine righteousness of Christ makes it necessary. “This thy brother was dead, and is alive again ;” was afar off, and is made nigh; “and was lost and is found.” And “they began to be merry,” and of that joy there was no end.
NOTES THE Editor’s retirement has produced a little bijou book for the pocket, which is now in the printers’ hands. It will be prettily bound, and be sold for a shilling. The nature of it is somewhat out of our usual line. It is intended to be a finger leading a trembling doubter to faith. In short, pithy paragraphs the arguments for faith are condensed; and unbelief is denounced in caustic sentences. Seldom does the writer venture into the field of argument with skeptics; but so many are being led aside at this time: that it came upon him like an inspiration that he must prepare stone sort of hold-fast for candid but unsettled minds. When the little book is ready, it will be our readers’ part of the work to disseminate it. Should it meet their approbation we hope they will do so.
It has been a great relief to the Pastor’s mind to hear that in his absence all has gone well at the Tabernacle. The supplies, both on. Lord’s-days and week-nights, have preached with much acceptance and power. Without reflecting on any of the other brethren who have so ably served us, we must specially mention the help rendered to the Weekly Offering for the College by the earnest appeals of Mr. Jackson Wray. He was preaching at the Tabernacle on the last; Sabbath of 1883, and there was then needed £166 to make up the amount to £1,883, so as not to go behind the contributions of previous years; and in response to our friend’s request the whole sum required was forthcoming, for which we are devoutly thankful to the preacher, the congregation, and most of all to the Lord, who moved them thus to render valuable aid to a most important part of his work. Two or three brethren were prepared to make up any deficiency that might have remained, and we are just as thankful to them as though they had done so.
We never dreamed that we should feel grateful to Professor Huxley for an opinion upon theology; but we must confess our obligations to him for a sentence in the Agnostic Annual. “Oil the whole the ‘bosh’ of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy; because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not.”
Let those who imagine that they are pleasing the great scientists, by perpetually bowing and scraping to them, see how their lowly adorations are received. Sensible men know how to value the compliments of those who can cut and shape their creed according to the last new fad of scientific theorists.
We do not wonder that the poor, unreasonable, orthodox believer should be less offensive to any kind of honest man than the creature who knows nothing whatever of “science,” and yet has the word for ever on his tongue.
By the time that the present magazine is in the hands of most of our readers the Editor hopes to be home again at his post of duty. His season of rest was for a while interrupted by painful affliction, and he was therefore reluctantly constrained to remain in the sunny South a fortnight beyond the allotted time. Oh, that we might escape these fierce pains! But if we may not, may God be glorified by them!
We cannot refrain from making honor-able mention of the splendid liberality of the beloved brother who is Treasurer of the LONDON BAPTIST ASSOCIATION CHAPEL DEBT RELIEF FUND. He is not only the Treasurer, but he finds all the treasure himself. During the two years now completed, he has personally given £3,741 12s., and thus drawn forth the debt-paying power of the churches to the tune of £24,543 15s. 6d. Are there no other stewards of our Lord who would count it their honor to aid struggling churches by their personal liberality? Mr. Mead deserves the loving gratitude of all who would see our London churches freed from all burdens of their own, that they may the better meet the demands of London’s Bitter Cry.
It is with some relief that we notify the death of our friend, Mr. J. G. ONCKEN. He was the Baptist pioneer in Germany, and in his younger day’s Suffered for the truth’s sake, both fine and imprisonment. We remember his pointing out to us the spot upon the Alster where he baptized his converts at; dead of night, and we shall never forget; his story of. the burgomaster of Hamburg, who held up his finger and said.,” You see that finger! As long as that can more I will put you down. ” ‘“Sir,” said Oncken, “I see your finger, but I also see an arm, which you do not see, and so long as that is stretched out, you cannot put me down.” It was our privilege to preach at the opening of Mr. Oncken’s chapel in Hamburg, and to see present Some of those very city officials who had aforetime deemed it their duty to persecute him. It was a happy season: we stayed at Mr. Oncken’s home, and commenced a friendship which was continued to the end. Our venerable brother of late years suffered from the natural infirmities of age,/red Was not to be trusted for a very connected address except upon his one Subject of “the Baptist work in Germany? Upon that matter he was all. alive, and altogether engrossed. He married a lady Of our church, who has doubtless had much to do to cheer his declining years, when he has needed all her tender care as a nurse, Germany has lost in Oncken a, much greater mart than she will to-day believe. Few have been more faithful to truth, or more practically wise in that faithfulness. Will not the Lord raise up for skeptical Germany other firm believers? Surely he will not leave the land of Luther to be devoured by infidelity.
NEW BOOK FUND REPORT.
— The eighth Annual Report of Mrs. Spurgeon ’s Book Fund and its Works is now ready, and can be obtained through any bookseller for sixpence, or from Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, 4, Paternoster-buildings, London, free by post for sevenpence.
In our opinion it is the best Report that has yet been written. We have read it with wondering admiration. How our beloved can make such beautiful pages out of the slender material of our quiet life is amazing! She is an artiste in language, with a peculiar charm of manner which holds you entranced.
Here is our good wife’s account of her new work : — “Sermons FOR FOREIGN MISSIONARIES.
— There has not been time enough to receive acknowledgments from far-off lands to which the sermons were sent, but letters from France, Italy, Brittany, and Newfoundland bring assurances of extreme satisfaction and delight at the proposed monthly distribution. The first reply was eagerly looked for, and read with great pleasure. The writer said, ‘ I believe that the suggestion of your missionary correspondent is from the Lord, and your carrying it out will be an immense blessing. I will pledge myself to read every sermon, and put some of Mr. Spurgeon’s thoughts into my speeches, and into the Evangelical newspaper which I am editing.’ A pastor in Brittany thinks that Mr. Spurgeon’s Sermons are about the only ones that can be read with thorough enjoyment, and without fatigue, ‘ at least,’ he says, ‘that is my experience; ‘ and he goes on to explain that, though English sermons generally turn out poor things when translated into French, he has found that the contrary is the case with these discourses, for whenever he has distributed translations, he has invariably found them understood and enjoyed, and he promises, as soon as time permits, to translate portions of those received through the Fund. “The brethren in Newfoundland are greatly pleased at the prospect before them. ‘ Ofttimes when sad at heart,’ writes one, ‘ I have been cheered by reading your dear husband’s sermons, and stimulated to work with increased zeal for the Master.’ “From a remote part of France there comes touching information that the packet of the sermons reached the missionary at the time his eldest son lay dying. ‘ They were read,’ he says, ‘ in the night-watches, near my son, and were a solace to my bruised heart.’” Friends have lovingly responded to ore’ appeal for help in this new effort, and our best thanks are given for their kindness. They will see that already a few drops of blessing have fallen on the enterprise, and they will, we hope, be encouraged by this to unite with us in earnest prayer for the “abundant rain” of God’s favor.
On Wednesday evening, January 2, the annual meeting of the
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE YOUNG CHRISTIANS’ASSOCIATION was held in the College-buildings. Mr. Spurgeon’s Reformation Pictures were hung round the room; Mr. Cheshire, the College Science Lecturer, exhibited a number of interesting objects; and the proceedings were enlivened with music and singing. The Association was formed for gathering together those scholars in the Sunday-school who profess to have been converted, and desire further instruction in divine things. Meetings are held every Wednesday evening, when expository lectures and addresses on Christian experience and practical piety are delivered by various friends. The same evening, a social and public meeting of the METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE GOSPEL TEMPERANCE SOCIETY was held in the Lecture-hall.
Mr. J. T. Dunn presided; addresses were given by Messrs. W. Stubbs, and G. Thornelee, and the Rev. W. Tickell; sacred solos and carols were sung by Mrs. Alderton and the members of the York-road Gospel Temperance Union; and a considerable number of persons signed the pledge, and “donned the blue.” This society steadily pursues its useful work, and the efforts of the members are, constantly re.-warded by reclamations from drunkenness, and conversions to Christ.
On Monday evening, January 7, the first meeting of the Week of United Prayer according to arrangements made by the South London Branch of the Evangelical Alliance, was held at the Tabernacle. By invitation of Pastor J. A. Spurteen, and the Deacons and Elders, false ministerial brethren who took part in the public service met for tea at 5.30, and then spent some time in prayer together. At the meeting in the Tabernacle Pastor J. A. Spurgeon presided, and gave an address upon “The Kingdom of Christ.” The Rev. Burman Cassin also spoke a few words of brotherly congratulation. Prayer was offered by Brethren G:. M. Murphy, Locke, Tubb, McCree, McKeuny, Senior, Telfer, and Arriehl, the secretary of the society. The congregation was somewhat small, owing to the inclemency of the weather, but manifestly the power of the Holy Spirit pervaded the, assembly.
— Mr. R. Pursey has become, pastor of the church at Beeston, Notts. Mr. T. Harley, F R.A S., late of John-street Chapel, Bedford-row, has gone to Park-road, Peektram; and Mr. W. F. Harris, of Chesterfield, is removing to Trinity Church, Green-hill, Derby. Mr. Joseph Forth has removed from East London, Ontario, to Thurso, Quebec.
Our students have been in such demand lately, both for home and foreign service, that the number remaining in the College her. ore the Christmas vacation was very small. We, therefore, accepted about a dozen applicants, who came to us when the students reassembled last month; and we hope to be able to receive several more in August. Earnest preachers of the gospel, sound in the faith, filled with love to Christ, and to persisting sinners, but needing further training for the work of the ministry, can apply at once; and as soon as we can we will ,;elect those whom we believe the Lord has called and qualified for this holy service. Men who hard any doubt upon the grand truths of free grace, the atonement, and the deity of our lord, need not apply. If they fritter away the foundation of the full inspiration of Holy Scripture, and prefer their own thoughts to the infallible revelation of the Holy Ghost, they will never be received by us. It will, in fact, be little better than a fraud for any man to attempt to enter the College who does not before God resolve to live and die preaching the old-fashioned gospel, because in his inmost soul he believes it to be the only way of salvation for perishing men. Thanks be to God, there is no failure in the succession of faithful preachers, nor will there be, for the Savior’s ascension gifts are not exhausted, and the church will still have her true teachers even in days of blasphemous error.
For a considerable time several of our friends in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, have been desirous of forming a Baptist church. Arrangements have now been made, through the Executive of the Baptist Union of South Africa, for making this desire an accomplished fact; and Mr. H. T. Peach, who has alone a good work at Rugby, during his four years’ pastorate in that town, has been selected for the post of leader of the new enterprise. We have paid the cost of his passage, and wish abundant success to the undertaking.
Pastor H. J. Batts, of Port Elizabeth, who has conducted the negotiations, says that there are other towns in Natal where churches might be formed with good hope of success if the expenses of brethren from England to the colony could be paid. He sends a very cheering account of his own work, which is in a most prosperous condition. He has already an assistant minister, who conducts services and teaches a school at the missionstation, and he hopes soon to have a second helper. South Africa needs many more faithful preachers of the gospel; who will help to send them?
Mr. C,. B.BERRY, who returned from Jamaica on account of ill-health, was requested by the church at Spanish Town to secure a successor in the pastorate, lie has selected Mr. C. Chapman, who has been for five years pastor at Malden, Essex, and who has already sailed for his new sphere of labor. He goes with our heartiest commendation and good wishes. Friends in Canada will please note that we have not sent fourteen evangelists to their cities, as stated in a circular purporting to be signed by C. H. S. We know nothing of the persons issuing the circular, but the fact of their using our name without our knowledge should act as a warning to the churches.] Annual Conference . — Although, in consequence of the President’s absence, the London Committee has not yet met to make arrangements for the next Conference, we think our brethren may take it for granted that this year’s “Feast of Tabernacles” will be held in the week commencing April 21, that is the week preceding the Baptist Union meetings in London.
— From December l to 13, Messrs. Fullerton and Smith conducted services at Cambridge, the evening meetings being held at Zion Chapel, and the afternoon Bible-readings at St. Andrew’s-street Chapel.
One friend writes, — “ If the object of the mission waste attract those who are not regular: attendants at church or chapel, then it has been eminently successful, for many such were frequently present. Especially was this the case with the Sunday afternoon meeting, for men only, when between twelve and thirteen hundred accepted the invitation to come to hear the Evangelists. On the following Wednesday a meeting for women only was held, when nearly a thousand listened with profit to the preaching and singing of the gospel by our brethren.” Another correspondent says,- “We have never had so much good done in any: meetings that I can remember.
We have had very much of the Lord’s presence, many Christians have been quickened, and many souls saved; We have heard of nearly a hundred who have been. in the inquiry-rooms, and we are every day hearing of others Who did not wait to be spoken with.” From Cambridge the Evangelists returned to London, in order that Mr. Fullerton might occupy the Pastor’s place during two of the Sabbaths that he was away at Mentone, and that he and Mr. Smith might conduct the Watch-night service, and one or two other special meetings at the Tabernacle. They began the new year by visiting Mr. Marsack Day’s new Tabernacle at; Camberwell for three days, and on the 6th ult. commenced in Leicester the mission which is to be continued for about two months. Mr. Burnham’s Second visit to Ploughfield, near Hereford, was singularly owned of God to the conversion of some who had gone far into sin. So much interest was awakened ‘by the meetings during the week that on. Sunday the Primitive Methodist Chapel had to be borrowed, and the assistance of a local friend obtained, in order that services might be held simultaneously in both places. It is well when fishers of men have so great a catch that they are obliged to beckon to their partners in another ship to come to help them drag in the gospel net.
During January Mr. But’nham has been at East Finchley; Countesthorpe; and Barton’s End, Gloucester; and this month he is; engaged for Woodford’ Melbourne, Cambs.; and Long Buckby. Mr. Russell has led successful services at Longton, Staffordshire. He has since visited Fenton and Stoke.
Messrs. Matter and Parker report that, during the first half-year of their united labors as Evangelists, they have conducted 11 missions, and held 415 gospel meetings, at which, ht the aggregate, nearly 90,000 persons have been present, of whom more than a thousand have testified to the spiritual benefit they have derived from the services. The Evangelists closed their work of 1883 with a successful mission at Rawtenstall, where they found the converts from Mr. Parker’s previous visit standing well with their fellow-members in the church. Having just completed seventeen weeks of meetings every night, our brethren took a brief season for rest and study, and recommenced work last month at Ross.
— Notwithstanding the absence of the President, the Christmas festival was heartily enjoyed by the happy inmates of our Stockwell family, and everything was arranged on the same liberal scale as in former years. In the morning of Christmas-day several of the trustees, and about one hundred and fifty of the children, attended the service at Christ Church, West-minster-bridge-road, where an appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. Newman Hall, LL B., and a collection amounting to nearly £25, was made for the Orphanage. It is a tint worthy of grateful mention that not one boy or girl out of the four hundred in the Institution was absent from the Christmas dinner, the infirmary being without a single patient. The Vice-president, Pastor J. A. Spurgeon, was present, ant read the letter written by his brother at Mentone, who was lovingly remembered by all. We heartily thank the donors of the new shillings, figs, oranges, and all the other good things which were so bountifully bestowed upon our orphan charge.
On January 2nd, being the first visiting day in the new year, the children’s friends remained to tea with the boys and girls, and they spent a very pleasant evening together. It was a refreshing sight to witness their enjoyment. Before the company broke tip, Mr. Charlesworth gave an address on the motto text for the year—”Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face evermore.” Our Orphanage Choir.—The visits of the boys to the Provinces have made the character and claims of the Orphanage widely known. To thousands who were previously only aware of the fact of its existence, it is now something more than a name, and they are amongst its most generous supporters. As stewards of the Lord’s bounty, it was right that they should be informed, in the best possible way, of the nature and scope of the work to which they were asked to contribute, and no better method could be devised than that of inviting them to spend an evening with a few of the boys, who, by their appearance, their conduct, and their attainments, were able to illustrate the advantages they enjoy. Facts are more potent than words, and the sight of a choir of neatly-dressed boys is more convincing than a long argument.
The boys themselves profit by their excursions, for they are Brought into the society of friends, with whom they are located, and they learn a good deal concerning the local products and manufactures of various districts, and extend their knowledge of the geography of the country. A boy, who has had the advantage of moving from place to place for a year or two, is of more ‘value to his employer than one who has been cooped up in an Institution, without any experience of the outside world.
Besides, the principle is a sound one, that the talents of the recipients of charity should be utilized in augmenting the funds of the Institution to which they are so largely indebted. It is quite amusing to see how the boys are welcomed home by their schoolfellows, and how they are envied by those whose opportunity has not yet come to serve the Orphanage. The meetings, as conducted, do not merely afford an evening’s diversion: they aim at benefiting those present, and many testimonies have been received by the President to prove that this result has been attained. Local objects are not weakened by the amount obtained for the Orphanage, as no piteous pleas for help are urged, the Institution being content with the amount derived as for an ordinary concert, or lecture, and the spontaneous gifts of those whose sympathies for the work are stirred.
The recent visits of the boys to Ashford, Folkestone, Portsmouth, Gosport, Ryde, Cowes, Southampton, Godaiming, Holloway, and Greenwich, were all largely attended — in some instances hundreds of people were unable to gain admission, although the meetings were held in the largest buildings available. All sections of the church were represented, and resolutions pledging the meetings to assist the President in bearing the burden of his orphan charge, were heartily carried. At Southampton, a clergyman, on being’ asked to join the local committee for arranging the meeting, was reminded that the Institution was un-sectarian, to which he replied that his consent was not influenced by that fact, for he could conceive of no work more Christlike than that of caring for orphans.
Mr. Charlesworth hopes to pay a second visit to Cornwall in May next by invitation of the Baptist churches, and he will be glad to arrange for meetings at Bath, Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth, on the way down.
To all the friends who have assisted in promoting the success of the; meetings already held, the President Offers his most sincere and grateful thanks, and he would be glad to enlist the hearty co-operation of friends in the meetings contemplated. The sum of £10,000 per annum is required to maintain the work efficiently:, and this sum must lie increased as the remaining accommodation is filled up.
At the recent annual meeting of our Old Boys Association, a fund was commenced to which all the Old Boys will be invited to contribute, and the amount received will be handed to the President every year on his birthday for the Orphanage. The arrangement was made quite spontaneously by the “old Boys” themselves, one of whom, in sending his annual subscription, writes as follows :—” My benefits received have been large, my contributions small. However, the benefits are not to be measured by a money value; they are priceless, and no sliding scale of charges could ever be sufficient to efface the debt. It is like the National Debt, which is likely to last as long as the country lasts. I can conceive in a few years’ time that the Orphanage will derive large support from those who have been trained within its precincts. Why should it not be? It ought to be.”
— Since the last notice a new district has been opened at Fairford, in Gloucestershire, where the colporteur will assist in conducting religious services, and visit a large neighborhood hitherto untouched ‘by Colportage work. Arrangements are also nearly completed for another laborer to go forth in the district of Crosby Garrett, Westmoreland, under the auspices of the Northern Association. Local guarantees for £40 a year have been given in each case; but we need additional help to the General Fund to meet the demands created by each additional district.
PERSONAL NOTES.— A lady in Scotland, writing upon another matter, concludes her letter thus : — “She begs Mr. Spurgeon to accept her warmest thanks for his earnest and true words preached from week to week, words whose fruits he can never know in this world, How many times they have cheered the faint, encouraged the desponding, shown the true path to the inquirer, none can tell. She herself knows of many cases, and would feel very much the want of her ‘ Spurgeon’ if it did not come.
She would like to tell of an old dying soldier, in a far-off land, who, not knowing how to show his gratitude to a lady who had befriended him, drew from beneath his pillow two much-worn but treasured sermons for her acceptance; and of a dying Christian, also in that land, who wearied till the mail brought the sermons which cheered and soothed him so greatly.”
A lady, now in England, tells us that last year she and some friends went out from Cette, in France, in a small boat on the Mediterranean. A gale arose from the north, and the boatman found that, in spite of all his efforts in rowing, the boat was getting further out to sea. They were all in great danger, when a fisherman, an Italian, who was in a sailing-boat two miles off, saw their signals of distress, and came to their rescue. He after-wards paid a visit to the ladies at their hotel, and took with him his uncle, who said that they were Roman Catholics, but that he had English, French, and Italian Testaments, and that he had read Mr. Spurgeon ’s A lady from the country, who heard the sermon entitled, Take away the Frogs, published in last month’s magazine, writes that she does not think she will ever lose the impression it produced upon her, and a friend who accompanied her, who through deafness had not heard a. sermon for three years, also found it a word in season. The first-named friend has a large Bible-class, and being too ill to prepare a lesson for the Sunday after she was in London, she told the girls all she could remember of the sermon. Its repetition was blessed not only to those who listened, but in at least two instances to those to whom it was again rehearsed by members of the class.
A lady in a northern city, after walking in its public; park, sat down to rest on a seat. She had not been there long when four men arrived, looking disappointed at finding a stranger occupying the place of some one they ‘were expecting. After a while another man came, bringing one of our sermons, which he read to them, as it turned out, according to his weekly custom. When he had finished, the lady asked the listeners, who proved to be mostly Irishmen, whether they enjoyed the reading of the sermons, and they replied, “Oh, yes; we would not; miss. them on any account.” Who can tell how much good may be effected by such quiet, unobtrusive service for Christ., Mr. Matthews, of the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, is very anxious to get a fresh supply of “Sermons for Sailors.” To show how they are appreciated, he sends us the following extract from the log of the Ramsgate sailors’ missionary : — “October 20th. — This morning, when I visited the harbor, G. C—, matter of the smack ‘ L. L., ’ came to me, and had a very interesting conversation respecting Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons, stating that he had derived great spiritual benefit from reading them. He told me that he was not so much interested in reading anything sent on board his vessel as those sermons.
He said, ‘ I assure you, sir, all that you have put on board my ship have been well read; the crew read them, and I make a practice of reading them aloud to all the ship’s company every Sunday, wind and weather permitting, and they will often listen attentively to me, when I should not be able to gain their attention to any other book. I like the little blue book very much (meaning Mr. Spurgeon’s special sermon to seamen — The sea! the sea! the wide and open sea!), especially the closing part of it. I have taken care of all you have given me, and had them bound into a little book, as I value them so much. Will you be kind enough to tell me where I can get them regularly, as I wish to take them in every week? ‘ I was very pleased to give him the name of a, bookseller to whom he at once gave his order. Here is another very striking instance of the usefulness of those excellent, clear, gospel sermons of the great preacher. May God bless the reading of them by the men of the sea to the conversion of large numbers of their brethren.”