20 April 2008

Quotable: Urgency

If you want to understand Christianity, do not shut your Bible—open it, read it! Read the books of Moses, the prophets, the Psalms; they all point to Him. Study your Bible. It is ignorance that blinds men and women of this generation and keeps them outside of Christ. So do not have a hurried service at nine o’clock so you can go out and play golf and bathe in the sea—listen for your life! Here is the only message of hope for you.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity

19 April 2008

Under Construction

The Manse is receiving a new kitchen, which is exciting (track the progress here). But it is also consuming some of my time, leaving me unable to post the Sword and Trowel excerpts as speedily as desired. Soon I'll add more.

Laid to Rest

What's that smell?

A gift from the Continent.

Commit this Quote to Memory

Do not forget the culture of the inner man—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

Robert Murray McCheyne

12 April 2008

Silly Sign Sighting

While travelling about recently, I noticed a couple silly signs that amused me.

Seen in East Sussex:

"Toads on the Road"

Seen outside an Italian restaurant across from Charing Cross Hospital:

"15% discount for medical students, nurses and patients with 45 stitches."

11 April 2008

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones now on Oneplace.com

Here's some news I am quite excited to share. The MLJ Recordings Trust, with a dedicated North American website and the original UK website, has made agreements with OnePlace.com to carry a new weekly broadcast of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, titled Living Grace.

I'm confident you will appreciate hearing MLJ preach; perhaps even more than you've appreciated reading him. There's even an option to subscribe to the podcast--I've just put mine into iTunes so I don't miss a single broadcast.

If you have a blog, would you take a moment and post a notice of this news so others can take in the treasure of preaching now available?

If you don't know much about MLJ, here's a short paragraph about him, taken from the OnePlace.com website:

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Living Grace

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 – 1981) has been described as 'a great pillar of the 20th century Evangelical Church'. Born in Wales, and educated in London, he was a brilliant student who embarked upon a short, but successful, career as a medical doctor at the famous St Bartholemew's Hospital. However, the call of Gospel ministry was so strong that he left medicine in order to become minister of a mission hall in Port Talbot, South Wales. Eventually he was called to Westminster Chapel in London, where thousands flocked to hear his 'full-blooded' Gospel preaching, described by one hearer as 'logic on fire'.

With some 1600 of his sermons recorded and digitally restored, this has left a legacy which is now available for the blessing of another generation of Christians around the world – 'Though being dead he still speaks'.

03 April 2008

Gleanings from an 1894 Sword and Trowel: Spurgeon at a Wedding (part one).

I now introduce to you one of my favourite selections from the 1894 Sword and Trowel—Mr. Spurgeon at a Wedding. The article is doubly sweet; it first gives an account by a Pastors’ College man of Spurgeon conducting his marriage ceremony, and then is followed by a recording of the sermon by the one of the editors of the magazine. (The editing of The Sword and the Trowel was a collaborative effort after Spurgeon died, so I am unsure of who authored the piece.) I’ll include the editor’s introduction and the groom’s account in this post, and will provide the sermon in another.

Here’s the article:

Among the reminiscences of the late beloved President, sent to us, two years ago, by brethren trained in the Pastors’ College, was one which we thought it well to retain until we could give a report of the special service to which the writer alludes. The right time for its publication appears now to have arrived; and the present article will appropriately follow the touching address printed in the last month’s Magazine under the title, Mr. Spurgeon at a Funeral. [I plan to publish that article soon to TheLifeWord.] There, we saw our late dear Editor sympathizing with the sorrowing; here, we think of him as increasing the joy of those who had reached the happiest hour of their lives. Pastor E.A. Hobby of Macclesfield, is the minister referred to, and his note concerning the memorable event is as follows:—

“How well do I remember my last interview with our beloved President! It was on a bright spring morning, in the month of May, 1890, when he came down from ‘Westwood’ to Thornton Heath, to conduct our marriage service in Beulah Baptist Chapel. Having arrived a few minutes before time, we waited for him in the vestry. Presently the door opened, and he entered, with a bright, happy smile upon his face. After a pleasant greeting, in a few kind words he presented my wife with Morning by Morning, in which he had written ‘To Mrs. Hobby, on her wedding day, May 6th, 1890, with best wishes and prayers of C. H. Spurgeon,’ and Evening by Evening, containing the inscription, ‘The Lord bless thee and keep thee!’ He also gave me a morocco-bound Revised New Testament, inscribed, ‘With the Christian love of C.H. Spurgeon.’

“After expressing our hearty thanks, we adjourned to the chapel, where the ceremony took place. After the legal part of the service was completed, and he had addressed us in some wise, cheery words, he turned to those who had witnessed the ceremony, and made a very touching appeal to the unconverted. What an appeal that was! How our hearts throbbed, and our eyes filled with tears, as the great preacher, in simple, searching, pathetic language pleaded for some soul to yield to Christ as a fitting seal to that happy covenant of love! After the address came the closing prayer,—such a prayer as he alone could offer; it was full of yearning for souls, gratitude for the Lord’s goodness, and holy unction.

“It is needless to say that we thanked our beloved President very heartily for his great kindness; but he persisted in saying that the obligation was on his side, thanking us for coming such a great distance to be married by him, and then adding, ‘Would you like an hour at “Westwood”?’ Of course we should; and time-tables were soon consulted, and later trains arranged for. So to ‘Westwood’ we went. He did not begrudge us the time, which he could ill afford to spare; but himself conducted us through the greenhouses and grounds. How those plants seemed to speak, as he described them to us! He appeared to be introducing us to friends as well as to flowers; a little tale about one, a sweet promise associated with another, and in a marvellous way he unveiled the works of God in nature. We had all the poetry of Pantheism set to the metre of the personality of God. From the greenhouses we went to the fernery, where we were shown the famous ‘mother-fern’, mentioned in The Sword and the Trowel for December, 1891.

“Last, but not least, we visited the President’s special ‘sanctum’, ‘the den.’ This seemed to us a peculiarly-consecrated room; for there, the man of God held secret communion with his Maker; there the famous Jerusalem blade was sharpened for the fray; there, the mighty warrior buckled on the breastplate of righteousness, and was shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Fain would we linger in this heavenly atmosphere; but time forbids. We must say, ‘Farewell,’ and feel thankful for the unexpected pleasure of spending an extra hour with the one we love so well. As we pass out, through the casement by which we entered, I turn for a parting glance, and breathe an almost inaudible ‘Good-bye.’ The indefatigable toiler was already at work; but his quick ear caught my words, and he responded, ‘Good-bye, dear brother, and God bless you!’ Thus ended my last interview with our beloved President.”

As soon as time allows, I will post the rest of this excellent article. The address Spurgeon gave included a most interesting charge to the wife in anticipation of her future role as the wife of a pastor. Be sure to return to read it.

02 April 2008

Gleanings from 1894 Sword and Trowel: The Sin of Uzza

We have in our day too many among us who commit the sin of Uzza, for they deem that Christianity will suffer greatly unless they bring it into conformity with the ruling taste of society. They alter its doctrines, adorn its worship artistically, overlay its simplicities with philosophy, and its plain speech with oratory, and all with the zealous but presumptuous intent to help Him who needs not such helpers, and to preserve that religion which they only insult by their unbelieving anxiety. We must beware of even imagining that our hand is needed to steady God’s ark. The thought is blasphemy.

C.H. Spurgeon in “The Interpreter.”

Thinking of Retirement? Watch this...

Coming Soon: More 1894 Sword and Trowel Posts

If you are new to my blog, the life word, welcome. The chart above reveals that I’m not accustomed to having so many show up. Phil Johnson’s kind recommendation brought a surge of visits! My dear friend's tip led you here, and I hope what you find will bring you back.

For the next several posts, I plan to continue pulling out sections from an 1894 edition of the Sword and Trowel I acquired. I've listed below the kind of things you’ll find here over the next several weeks. I do hope you’ll return. And, if you like what you see, please bookmark my site, link me to yours and let others know too.

Here’s a sampling of posts coming soon:

Spurgeon’s sermons burned!

A cripple’s recollection of Spurgeon

Spurgeon’s charge at a wedding

Spurgeon preaching a Funeral

Excerpts from otherwise unpublished sermons preached at New Park Street Chapel

Bruised Reeds: Suffering Pastors battling the Downgrade in their Churches (several posts)

Spurgeon’s appeal for Home Mission Evangelists

Tom Spurgeon’s visit to see D.L. Moody in Chicago

Sermons from Mentone

Remembrances and other choice remarks from Mrs. Spurgeon

The Met Tab’s calling of Tom Spurgeon as pastor

01 April 2008

Gleanings from 1894 Sword and Trowel: At the Pastors' College

I’ll never forget my first visit to The Master’s Seminary, over which John MacArthur presides as president. I sat in a theology class taught by George Zemek and took in with sheer delight God’s word expressed so fully, so completely, so passionately.

What would it be like to spend time at the Pastors’ College, where Spurgeon presided as President? One of the former students, Pastor W. D. McKinney, gave this account; remembrances flavoured by the recent and bittersweet loss of President Spurgeon:

All through the week, there was, usually, plenty of hard work for the students. English Literature and Mental Philosophy were taught by the laborious Fergusson. Those who were in his classes had to work, or woe be to them! Gracey, mildly yet firmly, led his men through Greek, Latin, and Elisha Cole’s Divine Sovereignty, till their brows throbbed, and their backs ached. He smiled on the industrious and quietly marked the laggards. Then Mr. Rogers, in the general classroom, conducted us to the fountain-head of Theology. The march was over the old highway of logical and Scriptural reasoning; but, often, “the old man eloquent” would cheer our drooping spirits by rare bursts of matchless oratory. The Vice-President drilled us in Charnock on the Attributes, and then made us grub Hebrew roots till we were as weary as the Israelites in the brickfields of Egypt.

Friday afternoon came at last. The old, familiar clock pointed to three; the door opened on the stroke of the hour, the beloved President appeared, and walked up to the desk, while hands clapped, feet stamped, and voices cheered, till he had to hold up his hand, and say, “Now, gentlemen, do you not think that is enough? The floor is weak, the ceiling is not very high, and I am sure, you need all the strength you have for your labours.”

In those days, the President was in his prime. His step was firm, his eyes bright, his hair raven-black, his voice full of music, pathos, and merriment. Before him were gathered a hundred men from all parts of the United Kingdom, and not a few from beyond the seas. They were brought together by the magic of his name, and the attraction of his personal influence. His fame has gone out into all lands. His sermons were published in almost all languages. Many sitting before him were his own sons in the faith. Among his students he was at his ease, as a father in the midst of his own family. The brethren loved him, and he loved them.

Soon, the floods of his pent up wisdom poured forth; the flashes of his inimitable wit lit up every face, and his pathos brought tears to all eyes. It was an epoch in student-life to hear him deliver his Lectures to my Students. What wide discourse he gave us on the subject of preaching! How gently he corrected faults, and encouraged genuine diffidence! What withering sarcasm for all fops and pretenders! Then came those wonderful imitations of the dear brethren’s peculiar mannerisms,—one with the hot dumplings in his mouth, trying to speak; another, sweeping his hand up and down from nose to knee; a third, with his hands under his coat-tails, making the figure of a water-wagtail. Then the one with his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat showing the “penguin” style of oratory. By this means, he held the mirror before us so that we could see our faults, yet all the while we were almost convulsed with laughter. He administered the medicine with effervescing draughts.

After this, came the wise advice, so kind, so grave, so gracious, so fatherly; then the prayer that lifted us to the mercy-seat, where we caught glimpses of glory, and talked face to face with the Master Himself. Afterwards, the giving-out of the appointments for the next Lord’s-day took place. The dear President read from the letters in his hand, while we listened in expectation. “Here is one from an important church in a large city. They want a brother who must be eloquent, learned, polite, and very pious. Gentlemen, you are all endowed with these qualifications, how can I make a selection? Here, Small, you can go, for you are about the smallest of the lot, and we must keep our large men for the little places; they will be sure to fill them.

“Another brother is wanted for Ireland. There they have killed one already, and made two invalids. Here, Smith, you look tough; start off for the bogs, ‘Come back with your shield, or on it.’

“An extra good brother is called for from Scotland. He must be sound in the faith, and able to live on a pound a week. My thin brother Snooks, will you try ‘the land o’ cakes and heather’? Yes, I knew you needed less than any man in the College; you lived on eighteenpence one week, before you entered. If you get any thinner, come back at once for some English beef and plum-pudding.

“Gentlemen, here is another letter from the ancient church of Puddleton. It has had sixteen men in weekly (weakly) succession. Remember that it is a ‘hyper’ church, and wants at least sixteen ounces to the pound. Who will volunteer? Black is the man. Go, my brother, but be wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove. In the meantime, hold on with both your hands; when they fail, catch hold with your teeth; if they give out, hang on with your eyebrows.

After the letters were disposed of, and the class dismissed for tea, then came the men who wanted advice. Some were in trouble, others in joy; and the President listened patiently to all their tales; anon he would laugh, and then he would weep. At last he is through, “weary in the work, but not weary of it.” His cheery voice gradually dies away as he ascends the stairs to his “Sanctum.” We did not grieve as we parted from him, for we knew that, God willing, on the next Friday afternoon, we should once more see his bright, genial face and hear his wit and wisdom again.

The present students listen in vain for the tones of that wonderful voice in the class-room; they hear only its echoes. He has gone up in the “the unseen holy,” where he awaits his sons in the faith.

Gleanings from 1894 Sword and Trowel; Pastors' College Statistics

Well, after that Fool’s Day diversion, it is time to return to better and more important things. In my reading I came across a report on the Pastor’s College that astounded me. I’ll provide the excerpt from the 1894 edition of the Sword and Trowel and then explain what captured me:

During the past thirty-eight years, nine hundred and nine men exclusive of those at present studying with us, have been received into the College, “of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some (ninety-six) are fallen asleep.” Making all deductions, there are about seven hundred and thirty brethren. Of these, six hundred and fifty-one are in our own denomination as Pastors, Missionaries, and Evangelists.

They may be thus summarized:--

Number of brethren who have been educated in the College...909
Number now in our ranks as Pastors, Missionaries and Evangelists...651
Number without Pastorates, but regularly engaged in the work of the Lord...30
Number not now engaged in the work, but useful in secular callings...28
Number educated for other Denominations...2
Number dead (Pastors, 87; Students, 9)...96
Number permanently invalided...15
Number removed from the College List for various reasons...87

To this “summary” the late beloved President in one of the Reports appended the following note: “The last were not removed from our list in all cases from causes which imply any dishonour, for many of them are doing good service to the common Lord under some other banner. We are sorry for their leaving us, and surprised that they should change their views; but this also is one of those mysteries of human life which are beyond our control.”

We ought to add, that for years past we have lost all traces of many of those referred to, and have reason to believe that several of them are dead.

I would love to hear your reaction to that little article. What amazes me is the high percentage of pastors, missionaries and evangelists that were produced in relation to the number of graduates from the Pastor’s College. I’m not versed in seminary stats, but I am astounded that well over 700 of 909 trained men went into full-time ministry.

What is your estimate of the reasons for that? Please comment.

Flying Penguins: the video

And now for something completely different...flying penguins

Love this item shown this morning on the BBC's Breakfast show. Be sure to watch the video.

Should the story be added to this list, or to this one? Please leave your comments and tell me what you think.