SEALED BAND— A WINTER SERMON BY C. H. SPURGEON. “He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.” — Job 37:7.
WHEN the Lord seals up a man’s hand he is unable to perform his labor. the Lord has an object in this, namely, “that all men may know his work.”
When they cannot do their own work they are invited to observe the works of God. this is a fact which I fear many of us have never noticed. When the ground is hardened into iron by the frost, when the land lies deep beneath the snow, when the ox rests in the stall, and the servants warm their hands at the fire, then the husbandman’s hand is sealed up; but I fear the divine purpose is not often heeded. As you look through the frosted pane upon the driving snow do you say to yourself, God has taken me off from my own work and given me a holiday, which he would have me turn into a holy day? Let me now turn my thoughts to the Lord’s great works in nature, providence, and grace. Shut out from my calling, I am also shut in to think of my God and of his work. to the most of us it happens at sundry times that we are set aside from our ordinary service, and it is well if we improve the hour. One is never absent from his desk, another is regularly behind the counter, a third is always diligent in his traveling; but sooner or later there comes a day of pain and weakness, when the usual course of life is interrupted, and the busiest man lies still. In the sick. chamber for weeks and months God seals up the active hand, and thus he presents to the busy a quiet season for reflection.
In France they call the hospital “the house of God,” and it is well when it becomes so. the man who will not think of God if he can help it, while he is busy in the world, is by sickness blessed with time for consideration, and being set aside from turmoil he is invited to rise above his engrossing cares. the great Father seems to say, “Lie there alone: lie awake through the night-watches, and think of your past ways, and what. they lead to. Listen to the tick of the clock and mark the flight of time, till you number your days, and apply your heart unto wisdom. Your own work you cannot touch; now, therefore, think of the work of your God and Savior till you obtain the blessing which comes of it.” this is the design of sickness and inability to follow our calling: thus is our hand sealed from its occupation that our heart may be unsealed towards God, and heaven, and eternal things.
It is clear that God can easily seal up the hand of man if he uses his strength in rebellion or folly, for he has other seals besides sickness. When the wicked are determined to carry out a plan which is not according to his mind, he can baffle them. See the people gathering on the plain of Shinar, bringing together brick and slime that they may build a tower whose lofty height shall mark the center of a universal monarchy! What does God do?
Simply by confounding their language he seals every man’s hand. No storm, or flood, or earthquake could have more effectually caused the workmen to desist. Look through the loopholes of retreat to-night upon this wicked world, and see men urgent with schemes which to them appear admirable. If they are not for God’s glory, he that sits in heaven doth laugh, the Lord doth have them in derision. With a word he seals up their hand, so that it loses all its cunning, and their purpose falls to the ground.
Sometimes he closes up the hands of his inveterate enemies with the cold seal of death. Walk over the place where Sennacherib’s hosts had pitched their tents. they spread themselves upon the face of the earth and threatened to devour Judah and Jerusalem, yea, to swallow them up quick; but “the angel of death spread his wings on the blast,” and the sleepers never again rose to blaspheme Jehovah. they lie with their weapons under their heads, but they cannot grasp them: bows, and spears, and chariots remain as a spoil to the armies of the Lord. Let us never, therefore, be disturbed by the vauntings of the adversaries of Jehovah. He can seal up their hands, and then the men of might are captives. “the Lord reigneth.”
We will leave that part of the subject, and handle the text in another way.
Here is a word to Christian workers; and when we have so expounded it we shall turn to struggling believers, panting for victory; for with both these classes there are seasons when their hands are sealed. thirdly, we shall speak to such as are toiling after self-salvation; for it is a happy thing when such an hour comes to them also, and they cease from their own work, and know the work of the Lord.
I. First, then, I speak to YOU WHO ARE GOD’ S PEOPLE, and have grown into strong men in Christ Jesus.
Do not be surprised if sometimes your Master seals up your hand by a consciousness of unfitness. You may have preached for years, and yet just now you feel as if you could never preach again. Your cry is, “I am shut up, and cannot come forth.” the brain is weary and the heart is faint, and you are on the brink of saying, “I will speak no more in the name or’ the Lord.” Your seed-basket is empty, and your ploughshare is rusty; when you get to the granary it,’ seems to be locked against you. What are you to do? No message from God drops sweetly into your soul, and how can your speech among the people distill as the dew? Perhaps some of you who have lately begun to serve the Lord wonder that it Should ever be so with us older workers. You will not wonder long, for it will happen to you also.
When a farmer sows his field with a drill, the drill has no aches and pains, for it has no nerves, and nothing to prevent the seed shaking out of it with precise regularity; but our great Lord never sows his fields with iron drills.
He Uses men and women like ourselves, who are liable to headaches and heartaches, and all sorts of miseries, and therefore cannot sow as they could wish. Comrades in the Lord’s work, it is essential that we learn our own inability; it is profitable to feel that without our Lord we can do nothing, but that the Lord can do very well without us. if we cannot break the clods, his frost is doing it; if we cannot water the soft, his snow is saturating it. When man is paralyzed, God is not even hindered. When we feel our own weakness it is that we may know the Lord’s work, and comprehend that whatever understanding we have he gave us, whatever thought or utterance we have he wrought it in us, and if we have any power among men to deliver the precious gospel of Christ, he has anointed us to that end. therefore, if we have received, we may not boast as if we had not received. It is a great blessing for us to be emptied of self that God may be all in all, for then our infirmities cease to be drawbacks, and rise into qualifications through divine grace. this has a world of comfort in it.
Sometimes the Christian worker’s hand is sealed, not by his own incompetence, but by the hardness of the hearts he has to deal with. Do we not often cry, “I cannot make any impression upon that man. I have tried him several ways, but I cannot find a vulnerable place in him. I cannot get the sword of truth to strike at him”? Have you never mourned that you could not touch those children, they were so volatile and frivolous? Have you not been ready to weep because so many men are so coarse, so drunken, and so reckless? Have you not groaned, “Lord, I cannot get at those wealthy people: they are educated, and sneer at my mistakes, and they are so eaten up with the conceit of their own position that they will not come to thee as the poor do, and receive thy salvation. truly my hand is sealed “? this is all meant to drive you to your God in prayer, crying, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work.” Oh, for that word which is like a hammer, breaking the rock in pieces! Oh that the fire would melt and save the sinner!
Another thing which often seals the hand of the worker, and leaves it maimed and bleeding, is the apostasy of any who were thought to be converts. Oh, how we rejoiced over them! Perhaps just a little, behind the door, We thought how wonderfully well we labored to have such converts.
AS we saw them at worship, and remembered that they · were once drunkards and swearers, we almost whispered that a notable miracle had been wrought by us. Ah me, how light-fingered we are!
How ready to rob God of his glory to clothe self with it! What did the Lord do? He let our precious convert go reeling home, and he that prayed at the prayer-meeting was heard cursing: thus all our weaving was unraveled. then we wept and cried, “We have accomplished nothing at all! We have only bred a generation of hypocrites! they only need to be tempted and they go back again! Alas for us!” We shall return to our work with more tenderness and humility, with more prayer and faith, and looking alone to God we shall see his hand outstretched to save. We shall wonder that we have not gone back ourselves, and shall be prepared to sing Jude’s doxology: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” When the Lord seals up your hand in any way, then, dear Christian worker, consider God’s work, and call him into the field.
Some think the text teaches that when God seals up a man’s hand it is that he may know his own work — that is, that he may perceive what poor imperfect work it is; that he may form a correct estimate of it, and not glory in it; that he may observe the scantiness of the sphere of human action, and mourn hoar ineffective, how despicable, how feeble man’s efforts are apart from God’s power. It is a great blessing to know our own work and to be humble, but still it is a higher blessing to know the Lord’s work and to be confident in him.
Oh, brothers and sisters, we must be nothing, or the Lord will not use us. If the ax vaunteth itself against him that felleth therewith he will fling that ax away. If we sacrifice to our own net, the great Fisherman will never drag the sea with us again till he has made us more fit for use. Oh to be nothing! to lie at his feet! And then, full of his power, because emptied of our own, to move forward to victory. May the Lord work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, then shall we work out a glorious destiny to his praise.
II. this Scripture equally applies to THE CASE or THE STRUGGLING BELIEVER. the man is earnestly striving. See him! He is seeking to Fray., I sometimes ask young people, “Do you pray?” they answer, could not live without prayer.” “Can you always pray alike?” I thank God that I usually receive the answer, “No, sir. I wish I could always be earnest.” Just so. A steam-engine can always do its work with equal force, but a living man cannot always pray. A mere actor can perform the externals of devotion at any time, but the real suppliant has his variations. We have all read of the preacher who while preaching used to cry most unaccountably when others were untouched. the reason was that he had put in the margin of his manuscript, “Cry here,” and this he had done in the quiet of his study, without considering whether the passage would really produce tears. A man of genuine emotion cannot make himself cry at, say, half-past seven in the morning and ten at night. Mighty prevailing prayer is an effect of the inward impulses of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit bloweth where he listeth. We cannot command his influence. We ought always to pray most when We think we cannot pray at all. Mark that paradox. When you feel disinclined to pray let it be a sign unto you that prayer is doubly needful.
Pray for prayer. Yet there are times with me, and I suppose with you, when at the throne of grace I mourn because I cannot mourn, and feel wretched because all feeling has fled. the Lord has sealed up my hand; that is that I may learn anew how his Spirit helpeth my infirmities, and that I am powerless in supplication till he quickens me. We could as easily create a world as present a fervent prayer without the Spirit of God. We need to have this written upon our hearts, for only so shall we offer those enwrought supplications which the Lord hears with delight.
See the struggling believer, next, when he tries to learn the truth of God.
For instance, in reading the Scriptures he pants to know the meaning of them. Did you never try to dig into a passage and find yourself unable to make headway? Fetch a commentary! Do you find that it leaves your difficulty untouched? Have you not begun at the wrong end? ‘Would it not be better to pray your way into the text, and when you have got somewhat through the rind of it, will it not be well to imitate a mouse when he meets with a cheese and eats his way to the center? Work away at the passage by prayer and experience, and you will tunnel into the secret. Yet you will at times find yourself lost among grand truths, and quite unable to cut your way through the forest of doctrines, because your understanding seems to have lost its edge. God has sealed up your hand that now you may go to him for instruction, and clearly see that not in books nor in teachers, but in his Holy Spirit, is the light by which the word of truth is to be understood by the soul. He seals up our hand that we may sit at his feet.
The struggling believer may have set himself to watch against a certain sin. Possibly he has enjoyed his morning’s devotion, and he goes downstairs resolved to be patient, whatever provocation may occur, for he wept last night over the evil done by a quick temper. He converses cheerfully, and yet before the breakfast is over the lion is roused, and he is in the wars again. the poor man murmurs to himself, “What will become of me? this hot temper runs away with me.” Do not excuse yourself, but still learn from your own folly. Would not the Lord thus let you see your own weakness more and more till you gird on his strength and overcome it.
Remember, it must be conquered. You must not dare to be the slave of a fierce temper, or indeed of any sin. If the Son make you free you shall be free indeed, and it is his emancipating hand that you need within.
Sanctification is the work of the Spirit of God, and only he can accomplish it; and it is yours to cry unto the strong for strength.
Perhaps the struggle is of yet another kind. You long to grow in grace. t his is a -matter worthy of the utmost desire and labor, and yet as a matter of fact neither plants nor souls do actually grow through conscious effort. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” Children of God, when they grow, grow up into Christ, not by agonies and excitements, but by the quiet force of the inward life renewed from day to day by the Holy Ghost. We have heard some true saints complain that they felt as if they were rather growing downward than upward, for they feel worse instead of better. thus do many of the plants of our garden grow, and we are joyful that it is so, for we want not the useless top growth, but we prize the root. To grow downward in humility may be the best possible growth: the hand sealed may be bringing us more spiritual profit than the hand at work.
III. I might thus enlarge, but it would come to the same thing; and therefore I leave the struggling Christians, just to lend a hand to THE SELFRIGHTEOUS, whom I would gladly help into a ditch, and leave there till the Mighty One shall come to pull them out.
If we believe their own statements, there are a great many very good people in this world. true, the Bible says, “there is none that doeth good; no, not one”; but that is an old-fashioned sort of book. Good men are plentiful as blackberries.! hear certain of them bearing witness that they are quite as good as those who make a profession of religion, and, in fact, rather better. they are so good that they do not even profess to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, you excessively good people, I am right glad when the Lord seals up your hands so that you cannot persevere in your fine doings, and are compelled to try the true way of getting to heaven. Sometimes that sealing up comes by a discovery that the law of God ,is spiritual, and that the service of God is a matter of the heart, Here is a good woman! She says, “I never stole a penny. I always pay my debts. I am sober, kind, and industrious. I thank God I am not a gossip, or proud, or idle, as so many are.” Is she not a superior person? But observe a change!
She hears a sermon, or reads the Bible, and finds that external goodness is nothing unless there is goodness in the heart, unless there is love to God and love to men, unless there is the new birth, and a consequent total and radical change of nature, manifested by a simple reliance upon Christ. Is this the same woman? How different her manner! How changed the tone of her talk! Hear her exclaim, “I am utterly lost! I had no idea that God required the heart, and judged our thoughts and desires. What searching truths! A look can make me guilty of adultery. Anger without a cause is murder.” If this fact comes with power to the heart, the hand is sealed, and all hope of salvation by works is gone. Oh, that this would happen to all self-justifiers! Oh, that the Lord would wean them from self, that they might know his work — the work of Christ, who satisfied the law for all his people, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him! Sometimes an actual sin has let in light upon the sinfulness of the heart! I knew a young man who, in his own esteem, was as fine a fellow as ever worked in a shop. He prided himself that he had never told a lie, nor been dishonest, nor a drunkard, nor loose in his life; and if the Savior had said to him that he must keep the commandments, he would have replied, “All t hese have I kept from my youth up.” In pushing a fellow-workman he upset an oil-can. It happened to have been upset before, and the master had spoken strongly about the careless waste. the master, coming along on this occasion, called out, “Who upset that can?” the young man said that he did not know, though he himself was the offender. that passed away. No farther question was asked, but in a moment he said to himself, “I have told a lie.! never would have believed myself capable of such meanness.” His beautiful card-house tumbled down; the bubble of his reputation burst, and he said to himself, “Now I understand what Mr. Spurgeon means by the depravity of the heart. I am a good-for-nothing creature: what must I do to be saved?” No doubt outward sin has often revealed the secret power of evil in the heart. the leprosy has come out upon the skin, and so it has been seen to be in the system. thus is pride hidden from man, and his hand is sealed up that he may look for mercy from God and live.
Yes, I have known God seal up some men’s hands by a sense of spiritual inability; so that they have said, “I cannot pray. I thought I prayed every morning and night, but I now see that it is not prayer at all. I cannot now praise God: I used to sit in the choir, and sing as sweetly as any of them, but I was singing to my own glory, and not unto the Lord.! fear I have been deceiving myself and setting up my righteousness instead of Christ’s; and that is the worst form of idolatry. I have dishonored God, and I have crucified Christ, by arrogating to myself the-power of self-salvation. I have un-Christed Christ, and counted his blood to be a superfluous thing.” When a man has come to that, then he- “Casts his deadly doing down, Down at Jesu ’s feet, to stand in him, in him alone, Gloriously complete! ” “What,” cries yonder friend, “would you not have us do good works?”
Yes, a host of them, but not to save yourselves thereby. You must do them because you are saved. You know what children do when they are little and silly: they go into their father’s garden, and pick handfuls of flowers, and make a garden: “A pretty, pretty garden,” so they say. Wait till tomorrow morning, and every flower will be withered, and there will be no pretty garden at all, for their flowers have no roots. that is what you do when you cultivate good works before faith; it is a foolish, fruitless business. Repent of sin, and believe in Jesus, for these are the roots of good works; and, though at first they look like black bulbs, with no beauty in them, yet out of them shall come the rarest flowers in the garden of holiness. Get away with your good works. Get away with your salvation of yourself. this is all proud fancy and falsehood. Why did God send a Savior if you need no saving? What need of the cross, if you can be saved by your own works? Why did Jesus bleed and die if your own merits are sufficient?
Come, ye guilty; come, ye weary; come, ye whose hands are sealed, so that ye can do nothing more; take the work of Christ, and be saved by it at once. A young sister, whom I saw just now, told me how a friend helped her to see the way of salvation. She could not believe in Jesus Christ because she did not feel herself to be all that she wanted to be; but the friend said to her, “Suppose I were to give you this Bible for a present.” “Yes.” “Would it not be yours as soon as you took it? It would not depend upon whether you were good or not: would it?” “No.” “Well, then,” the friend replied, “the Lord God has given Jesus Christ to you as a free gift, and if you take him by faith, he is yours immediately, whoever you may be.” the case stands just so. Accept Jesus as the free gift of God to you, and you are saved; and being saved you will work with all your might’ to show your gratitude to God your Savior.
A HISTORY OF SPURGEON’S TABERNACLE ERIE W, HAYDEN IN 1856 a young preacher in London was faced with a problem that had arisen because of the success of his own ministry. Within two years of his arrival from Waterbeach. Cambridge, Charles Haddon Spurgeon had tilled his church in New Park Street, Southwark, to capacity. Considerably enlarged it was still found to be too small. the only solution was to erect a building big enough to accommodate the crowds who wished to hear him. the Rev. Eric W. Hayden describes this “mammoth undertaking”, the erection of Spurgeon’s tabernacle, and traces the religious, educational, and social influence of Spurgeon and his church upon the nineteenth century Metropolis.
Dr. Wilbur M. Smith: “It is just good solid factual material, put together with real warmth, and I have been refreshed by reading these pages.”
FREE GRACE RECORD:
“It is a veritable mine of information. It is more than just the history of Spurgeon’s tabernacle. there is a sense in which it is the history of evangelicalism in England during the past hundred years. It is a book which must be consulted by those wishing to trace the decline of evangelicalism in the last hundred years in England.”
THE SOUTH AFRICAN BAPTIST:
“A masterly chronicle, made vivid by many little-known incidents which are woven into a fascinating story.”
THE AUSTRALIAN BAPTIST:
“the Rev. E. W. Hayden has given us some new details about this great Man, which shows great research. ”
THE LONDON CITY MISSION MAGAZINE:
“A useful piece of church history which will stir memories of a great preacher, and of his legacy to the ‘world.”
Rev. D P. Kingdon (Principal of the Irish Baptist College): “Mr. Hayden rightly fixes attention on the real issue in any assessment of the Down Grade Controversy, and a particularly valuable feature of the book is an evaluation of the religious, educational and social influence of the church upon the life of London.”
THE EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE:
“It is both fascinating and also holds valuable lessons for present-day evangelicals. there are new insights into the work of Spurgeon and the influence of this great church.”
THE BAPTIST TIMES:
“this history is welcome. It is the result of research into, records and minutes by Mr. Hayden who is to be commended upon the volume.”
Rev. D. H. Pascoe (former Pastor of Spurgeon’s Tabernacle): “I have read this book with interest and profit, and wish to recommend it. It is informative and its style is pleasing; it reveals the industry and especially the devotion which our former pastor brought to his task. It should be in the possession of all lovers of the tabernacle.”
THE TABERNACLE TWO THOUSAND BY ELDER G. E. ELVIN.
SOME would think they were more than two thousand. It is, avowedly, very difficult to estimate the number of persons in a congregation, and it is specially difficult at the tabernacle to count them. Not that they are a number whom no man can number, but they are only to be seen together when a certain preacher is addressing them; and if anyone should begin to count, he will find this certain preacher sure to say something startling or sparkling before he has got half through his task, and his attention will be drawn to the preacher from the congregation, so that his counting will be broken off, and very likely not resumed.
It may be taken for granted, however, that, as a rule, the Thursday congregation will number about two thousand, year in and year out, and may fairly be described as the tabernacle two thousand. It meets · under somewhat different conditions from those of the five or six thousand who gather under the same roof at each service every Lord’s-day; and they have a remarkable method of proclaiming this; for many of item have a habit of very unnecessarily announcing their arrival by dropping sticks and umbrellas on the floor, and of repeating the performance at uncertain intervals. But on Sundays there is no room in the tabernacle for this solemn diversion. then the aisles, as well as the seats, are ell occupied by earnest worshippers; and if an individual has the awkward knack of knocking over his umbrella, it only falls on the head or the back of some person sitting in the aisle. It has no room to fall on the ground, and consequently it makes no sound; at all events, none to be noticed, except by persons in the immediate vicinity. this latter fact accounts for the friends attending the tabernacle not being well-skilled in the art of minding their umbrellas, so that on the occasions when there are only two thousand present, these useful articles fall about in all directions, and proclaim aloud, as they reach the floor, that the five thousand are not present. It would be well if these worthy chapel-goers brought to the large meeting-house the larger umbrellas Which their ancestors carried to the house of prayer, for these would fall upon their capacious gingham much more decorously and silently than the tiny appendages now carried by their descendants, which, coming down on their handles upon the ground, without their fall being broken by the silk so tightly bound around them, proclaim by their sudden raps upon the floor, that “there are not the five thousand, but only the two thousand at the tabernacle.”
Is there any reason why these “two thousand” gatherings of a Thursday evening should not be five thousand? the well-lighted tabernacle is so homely and comfortable, and the well-known preacher is so remarkably fresh and spiritual, that it is a pity there should not be the larger this article is taken from Saturday Night, No. 2, and we have appropriated it ‘because of the accuracy and vividness of the description. Mr. Elvin, the leader of the Evangelists Association, has evidently a graphic pen, as we all know that he has a warm heart towards his Pastor and the tabernacle. Saturday Night itself is a lively monthly of a very superior order, but we fear that its constituency is hardly large enough to sustain a self-supporting sale. If its sale could be measured by its quality, it. would be a remunerative property.—ED. number to listen to and profit by the brilliant discourses which are delivered on these occasions. the tabernacle ought to be as full on the Thursday evening as it is on the Sunday. What are the three thousand about who absent themselves? the two thousand who do come are the happiest two thousand people to be met with anywhere. they find a Sabbath in the middle of the week, and they are so well fed, upon the richest of spiritual food, that they are nourished and strengthened for Christian work and warfare in a remarkable degree. they are a very mixed assemblage; but for the most part they seem to be business-men. the very conformation of the congregation augurs this; for the side nearest to the busy City is sure to be fuller than the other. the businessmen coming from the City have no time to go to the further door, but must take the first entrance they come to, so as to get inside as quickly as they can, that they may not heedlessly lose a single word; for these City men do not. leave their business all at the same time, and they come dropping in, one at a time, until the preacher has got well into his sermon, and then the two thousand are complete. Among the two thousand are always to be seen many ministers of the Gospel, who are deeply appreciative of the provisions of the house, and of the masterly way in which they are dealt, out to the delighted guests. Many a matron also is present, snatching an hour of restful quiet from her restless life of household care; many a true working-man, rejoicing with a joy unspeakable as he hears of that brother Working-man, his Savior; many a young disciple learning to equip himself with the whole armor of God, that he may fight the good fight, and withstand the fiery darts of the evil one; many a young Lydia, whose heart the Lord is opening to receive the words which are spoken unto her; and many an aged disciple, coming yet once more (it may be for the last time) to hear the old, old story which he has heard so often and loved so long.
The two thousand at the tabernacle are not one of the congregations which Mrs. Grundy has engaged to keep together. In fact, there may be one or two persons who occasionally drop in who feel that they owe an apology to her for coming. Her congregations are easily distinguished. Her slaves are always very restless, and they ever employ their time in looking at the clock with a longing desire for the hour at which her ladyship allows them to depart. Not so at the tabernacle. there they have no fear of Mrs. Grundy before their eyes. Hence there is probably no audience in the world which manifests more unmistakable signs of unconscious patience and true delight than this Thursday evening two thousand, and it may be doubted whether a similar number of persons could be gathered together anywhere else to whom old time could be made to pass on his way at once so speedily, agreeably, and profitably.
Although the two thousand are not five, it is nevertheless a remarkable fact that there should be so many congregated in one place on a week-night to listen to the gospel of the ever-blessed God. Noted as the city of London is for pressing business and gay frivolity, yet there are to be seen at least two thousand assembled in one place to wait upon God and to hear his word; and when it is remembered that there are scores of other places opened for the same purpose, on the same evening, surely there is still hope for London. the salt of the earth is to be found in the midst of her, and she is not yet wholly as Sodom and Gomorrah.
The nucleus of the two thousand is formed at six o’clock, when a few choice spirits meet with the Pastor in a lower room to pray together for a blessing to rest upon the coming service. there would be many more attending to this privilege could it be enjoyed at a more convenient hour.
AS it is, however, it is a meeting quite unique in char-utter, in the metropolis or elsewhere; for is there any other place of worship where the Pastor and even a few of his church-members meet for an hour to pray before the commencement of the week-night service? From this prayermeeting the Pastor ascends to the tabernacle, evidently greatly refreshed, and as much in the Spirit as on the Lord’s-day; and it is no wonder that the two thousand find it good to be there, to say “Amen” to the Pastor’s fervent prayers in the sanctuary, to listen to his marvelous exposition of the Scriptures, and to contemplate with him the wonders of redeeming love, as he is sure to discover them in some passage taken from God’s Holy Word.
What manner of men and women ought the two thousand to be, in business and at home! they surely cannot fail to carry the savor of the sanctuary with them into everyday life, and London must be the better for having them in her midst.
MR.GATTY, in his book on Bells, gives the following anecdote, on the credit of Cardinal Baronius: “When Charles II., King of France, A.D. 615, was at Sens, in Burgundy, he heard a bell in the church of St. Stephen, the sound of which pleased him so much that he ordered it to be transported to Paris. the Bishop of Sens, however, was greatly displeased at this; and the bell so sympathized with him, that it turned dumb on the road, and lost all its sound. When the king heard of this, he commanded that the bell should be carried back to its old quarters; when, strange to relate, as it approached the town, it recovered its original tone, and began to ring so as to be heard at Sens, whilst yet about four leagues distant from it.”
The true preacher grows silent if forced to any other service than his Lord’s. If he attempts to speak on any other topic than that which concerns his Lord and the gospel, he misses his former force; he is not at home, he is glad to end his speech, and sit down. If the moderns command us to preach their gospel, which was born but yesterday, we cannot de, it, for we should find no pleasure in it: it has nothing in it to move our heart, or stir our enthusiasm. Our bell is dumb if it does not ring out for Jesus and the doctrines of grace. the world would soon dismiss us if it had hired us to be its orator, for our heart is elsewhere, and only upon the one dear, familiar theme can we be eloquent. No doubt the merely nominal minister could change his theme, and be all the more fluent; but not so the ordained of the Lord: he has a tongue for the truth, and for that alone; with him it is ant Caesar ant mullus, either Christ or nothing, gospel preaching or silence. — C. H.S.NOTES.
PROPERLY speaking, the Editor has very little to place under this head on the present occasion; and he would drop this part of the magazine were it not that so many kind friends will have personal information about him, and think themselves injured if it is not given. Our relations with our readers are of a peculiarly fraternal kind, and therefore we are obliged to write matters which else might seem egotistical.
Brain-weariness has driven the Pastor to take his accustomed ‘rest. If this had not been delayed, a. painful attack would not, in all probability, have overtaken him. No disease remained, in his system, but there was a general, weariness, and hence a crash, which is now over.
December 17th, on which this paragraph is penned, is at Mentone; a balmy day of clear sunshine and summer warmth. One may sit out of doors all day, and drink in the healing influences of sun, and sea, and air. there is nothing like it for an invalid, to whom the cold and the dam are killing By God’s grace the lame man finds such rapid restoration that he hopes soon to be on his feet, and the overworked brain enters into such rest, that it anticipates, with strong hope, the bliss of being in full work again.
Among the debris of the elections, which need to be swept away, is the statement made by several divines, that Mr. Spurgeon has acknowledged the Church of England to be the only bulwark of the faith. t his we have neither thought nor said. We are glad to see so many faithful preachers of the gospel in the Episcopalian body, and we are happy to acknowledge all the good which they accomplish; but there are, alas! many in the Church who are as far from being like them as the east is from the west. The Establishment is, as we believe, itself an error; and it ‘works for error rather than for truth; it does the Episcopalian church great harm to be endowed and established, and renders it less a bulwark of truth than it might be. Witness the Rome-ward tendency of many officials, and the sacramentarianism preached from so many pulpits, and judge whether a Protestant Dissenter can think the Anglican Establishment a bulwark of the faith. A cause is hard driven which needs to twist the admissions of candor into such a statement.
If we were to pretend to answer all the mis-statements, to. which our name has been tacked during the heated contest of the past few weeks, we should need all the magazine for several months; and, therefore, with one or two exceptions, we have let them pass, trusting that they will come to an end with the excitement which produced them. God grant that out of these storms some. good result may yet come, though one sees not as yet how it is to be! the battle upon the subject of a favored church will be long and fierce, and will tax all the Christian temper of men on both sides; for it is a question upon which we each feel very deeply, and are solemnly resolved never to give way, because we believe we are right. the sooner we give each other credit for intensely sincere convictions the better, for thus we may prevent a thousand needless blunders. thirty-one volumes of sermons are now completed, and we feel that we have overflowing reason for blessing God for his gracious help. Our publishers are commencing the work of reissuing the first volumes in the larger type, so as to make the whole set uniform. It must be a work of time, as we hope to look them all through.
Very gratefully do we acknowledge Mrs. Paxton Hood’s dedication of her husband’s last work — The throne of Eloquence. It is no small honor to have a second homiletical volume dedicated to us by such a racy writer.
We have just completed this month’s book notices, and therefore can only say that we look forward to a banquet when we come to the reading of this work.
Have our friends forgotten that we have a large collection of engravings, etc., illustrative of the Reformation, which we are happy to lend for exhibition at bazaars, etc.? All particulars as to space required, and conditions on which they are lent, can be obtained of Mr. H. Hibbert, Metropolitan tabernacle.
Our Constantinople friend, who is arranging for the translation of Noreott’s “Baptism Discovered,” reports that the Armenian version is ready for publication. We have, therefore, sent him the £15 contributed for this object at the tabernacle prayer-meeting; and we have promised to forward the £30 when the other translations are completed. We need a few pounds before we shall have the required amount; but, doubtless, the necessary amount will be made up in one way or another. We have also had further evidence of the usefulness of the little book in leading Bulgarian believers to see what the Scriptures teach upon baptism; and in response to an earnest request from Peru, we have sent some copies to that country for the guidance of Christians who desire to know the will of the Lord upon this matter. It would seem that believers in many places are exercised, upon this subject; and it is well that they should be.
On Tuesday evening, November 24th, one on the most successful meetings ever held if, HADDON HALL resulted in raising £108 for the Benevolent Fund connected with the work the re. Although a very wet night about of the workers and congregation met, under the presidency of C.F. Allison, Esq., to hold the annual meeting of the sister societies, the tract Society and the Benevolent Fund. After addresses, encouraging the tractdistributors, a collection was taken for the Benevolent Fund. Pastor C.H. Spurgeon sent £5, and the same amount was contributed by Messrs. R.V. Barrow, J. T. Olney, T. H. Olney, and E. Bithray, and by Mrs. Bithray.
Several Bermondsey firms, and also some friends at the ‘tabernacle sent generous help; while members of the congregation contributed £30 in small sums. We recognize the good hand of our God with us in all this.
— Mr. A. Graham has accepted the pastorate of the church at Twekesbury. Mr. F. J. Aust has removed, from Willenhall, to Cradley Heath, near Dudley; Mr. J. Hollinshead, from Eye, to Ringstead, Northamptonshire; and Mr. G. H. Trapp, from West Chester, to Towanda, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Mr. E. J. Welch, of Sarratt, hopes soon to sail for Australia, where he will he glad of the assistance of any of our brethren who can guide him to a sphere of labor.
Mr. F. W. Aurathe, who has done good service in Canada, since he left the College in 1882, has been accepted by the Canadian Baptist Foreign Mission Board as a missionary to the Teloogoos, in India.
One of the brethren, who settled recently in the -United States, writes: “If we could import a thousand of the younger ministers from England, they would all be able to find work and a living in the States. Inquire in what district we may, we shall find churches wanting pastors. the National Baptist and The New York Examiner every week tell of churches vacant, and in distress for want of pastors.”
Pastor C. Chapman, of Spanish town, Jamaica:. reports that, during his eighteen months’ pastorate, 250 persons have been received into churchmembership, of whom 150 have been baptized, and 70 restored, or transferred from other churches, He greatly needs increased accommodation in different stations under his charge. At Kitson town, where a church of about 180 members has just been formed, one third of the congregation usually cannot get inside the chapel. · mission-hall is also needed at a little distance from Passage Fort, and another in a thicklypopulated part of Spanish town, where also the principal chapel requires repairs which will probably cost £200. the people are mostly very poor, and their pastor will be exceedingly grateful for any help that British Christians can send him.
EVANGELISTS. — the reports of Messrs. Fullerton and Smith ’s services at Abbey Road Chapel, St. John’s Wood, were very cheering. Pastor W. Stott and his friends expressed great gratitude for the help received through the Evangelists visit; and as a practical proof of it they sent a substantial thankoffering for the Society’s funds.
During the greater part of December our brethren have been in Norwood, where the services are still in progress at the time of: making up these” Notes.”
Friends in London may be interested in knowing that Messrs. Fullerton and Smith will conduct the Watch-night Service at the tabernacle. As December 31 comes on a, Thursday, the service will commence at seven p.m., and be continued, with perhaps a brief interval, until midnight. May the first moments of the new year be the beginning of new life or new consecration to very many ‘, On Jan, 10, the Evangelists are to commence a mission at Broadmead Chapel, Bristol, in connection with Pastor E.G. Gange; and on Feb. 7 they return to London to Mr. Charrington’s new hall in the Mile End Road. Mr. Burnham is continuing his work in Dorsetshire amid much encouragement. this mouth (Jan. 4 to 11) he goes to Bere, Regis, and Jan. 13 to 19 to Spalding; and next month to Bridport. Mr. Harmer ’s services at Little Tew, Ox-fordshire, were not without signs of the Lord’s approval, especially at the latter part of the fortnight he spent there. During December he has visited King’s Langley, Hertfordshire, and Bloxham, Oxfordshire; and this month he is engaged at Chippen-ham and Luton. Messrs. Mateer and Parker have found the way open for evangelistic services; in the United States, so they will probably remain there for the present. they have conducted missions at Brookfield and Lawrence, Massachusetts; Ansonia, Connecticut (with our brother McKinney); and Kingston, and Oneonta, New York. In every place they have been kindly received, and the hand of the Lord has been. with them. For this Evangelistic work we have received ’ very little help of late, with the exception of sums collected at the services of Messrs. Fullerton and Smith. Do our friends wish us to give up?
— We have had several exceedingly encouraging contributions during the past month, and we regret that our limited space will only permit brief references to these tokens of the Lord’s goodness to us, and of the loving interest taken by many friends in our large fatherless family at Stockwell.
In the December number of The Sword; and the Towel we mentioned the need of increased funds for the Orphanage. Before the magazine was issued a friend, till then unknown, sent £500, with a kind note expressive of his desire to give his money in the future where it would help in the spread of the old truths that many are now casting aside.
A day or two later another unknown sermon-reader came a considerable distance in order to place in the President’s hand thirty sovereigns which be had saved up for the. Girls’ Orphanage Building Fund. the venerable saint’s testimony to the blessing which had rested on the reading and distribution of the printed sermons was even more gratifying than his generous gift.
The West Croydon Baptist Church, under the pastoral care of J.-A.
Spurgeon, the Vice-President of the Orphanage, has held another bazaar or sale of work, in aid of the Orphanage. through the energetic efforts of Mrs. J. A. Spurgeon and her many lady friends, and the generosity of the Croydon Baptists and other helpers, the sum of £100 has been paid to the funds of the institution, and sufficient articles have been left to furnish a stall at the next annual fete. We hereby convey our heartiest thanks to all who have in any degree helped to achieve this most desirable end. It has been suggested to us that other churches might like to provide stalls:, either at the 1866 festival, or on some future occasion. We should be indeed grateful if this idea could be carried out;, and should be glad to correspond with friends who can thus aid us in our work.
Our good friends at Reading, who last year held a home-bazaar for the Orphanage, have sent us the proceeds of this year’s sale of work. the articles have been made in odd minutes by the father, mother, two children, assistant, servant, and one or two friends; a draper has supplied material at greatly reduced prices; a portion of the shop has been devoted to the sale of the goods, for which purchasers have been forthcoming, and the result has been the addition of ten pounds to the funds of the Orphanage. May the Lord very richly reward every one of the workers, givers, and buyers! there are always in Reading many who delight in caring for the widow and the fatherless.
Mr. Charlesworth and his choir have completed their annual southern tom’, which this year has comprised Winchester, Southampton, Portsmouth, Gosport, Waterlooville, Shoreham, Brighton, ‘Lewes, and Eastbourne. We must leave till next month full particulars of the meetings; but we must mention one item which will be in.. eluded in the noble sum of £100 contributed by Portsmouth and Southsea. We have agreed with our Brother Medhurst that the following letter deserves a place in The Sword and the Trowel. ’ — “Dear Sir, — I am once again permitted to forward, through you, ,my threepenny-piece offering to the Stockwell Orphanage. During the past year I have had through my hands a considerable sum of money at different times, each threepenny piece I just made prisoner of, and kept them in durance vile: till the time came for handing them over to you which I now do with much pleasure. think there are more than last year. May our heavenly Father bless yet more abundantly the President, masters, children, and all connected with the Orphanage! “Dear sir, one request for myself, and I close: “Just at the present I am placed in very straitened circumstances. Will you kindly ask our heavenly Father, if it is his will, to move the difficulties out of the way, or to give me more faith to bear them bravely? “May God comfort you in this your hour of tidal, is the earnest prayer of “One belonging to Lake Road Chapel” We pray for a blessing upon the writer, upon our sorely-tried friend Medhurst, and upon all our kind helpers everywhere.
— Just lately, the extension of the Colportage work into new districts has been almost at a standstill; and as several of our agents have been withdrawn through the cessation of local subscriptions, the present number is reduced to seventy-four. this is a goodly staff; but surely such a valuable enterprise as Colportage should go forward instead of going backward, or remaining stationary. Impurity, skepticism, and irreligion are being thrust wholesale upon the public by an unscrupulous press, in a form to secure the notice of readers of all ages and conditions. the spread of secular education creates the ability and taste for reading generally, and vast injury is being inflicted on the minds of tens of thousands by an immense circulation of books and periodicals of evil tendency. Further, it is well known that, although there is a plentiful stock of literature of the highest possible value, and attractively got up, comparatively little is sold by the regular shopkeepers. Hence the need that it should be carried to the people in their homes, and its importance urged upon them.
This is the colporteur’s business; and how well it succeeds may be inferred from the fact that last year our Association was able to distribute over £9,000 worth of Bibles and moral and religious literature of all kinds.
Surely there are scores of districts in the land where a colporteur could be supported! the expense to the locality is only £40 a year (in quarterly installments), for which comparatively small sum the entire services are secured of a Christian worker, who is at once a traveling bookseller, sickvisitor, and evangelist. We are glad to note that a new district has been opened in the neighborhood of Bromley, Kent, under the auspices of the Congregational Church, and superintended by our esteemed friend, Pastor R. H. Lovell. Are there not at least a dozen more churches or friends who will imitate this good example ‘.: Are there not many who love our Lord who will help us in this most needful and most useful service for souls?
The Secretary, W. Corden Jones, will gladly correspond with any friends desiring information or help. the depot is in the Pastors’ College, temple Street, Southwark, where all letters should be addressed.
PERSONAL NOTES. — A friend in Scotland tells us of quite a gracious revival which has resulted., instrumentally, through the reading of our sermon on “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (No. 663).
One of our brethren in Jamaica sends us a tract entitled, “Christ the food of the soul,” containing an extract from one of our sermons. It Was given to him by a man who was about to be hanged, who said that it had been a great blessing to him in his terrible condition.
Another pastor in Jamaica writes : — “Your sermons do good in all sorts of ways. Mrs. Spurgeon sends me four every month. I read them, and then lend them to people whom they are likely to suit and help. My day-school teacher conducts service at, when I am not there (always twice a month), on which occasion he reads one of your sermons. Last Sunday he read “the Looking-Glass” (No. 1848). It will cheer you to know that our people appreciate them very much. A Christian merchant—a Wesleyan local preacher — always reads one of your sermons when it is his turn to conduct service.”
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle. — November 19, nine; December 3, six.