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TAE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT.
Bat "the sword of the Spirit” has richer workmanship and has been much longer in the making. The Spirit of God has had it in hand hundreds of years, employing the best workmen He could find. Moses worked at it in the Pentateuch-David in the Psalms, helped to fashion it—Isaiah toiled at it in his prophecy—the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John helped to deck it with richest gems--and the apostles Peter and Paul, whetted its edge to glittering keenness; but they all wrought under the direction of the Holy Spirit, for those "holy men of God spake as they were mored by the Holy Ghost."
Having been fashioned so well, all you need do is to take it. It is quite ready to Foar hand, polished and keen. But you will need much practice before you can use it well. Soilders handle their weapons, and go through their drill every day, over and over and over again, till use becomes second nature, and at the word of command, or at the thought of danger, the hand flies to the sword instinctively. Reading the Scriptures is “Spord-exercise," and if you mean to be good soldiers you must be fond of doing that; for there is room for great skill in the use of the sword, and nothing bat practice will give that skill.
SWORD AGAINST RIFLE AND BAYONET. I once went to see a military display at the Royal Albert Hall. There were a good many sham fights between one soldier and another, but that which pleased me most was a contest between two men, one armed with a bayonet fixed at the end of a long rifle, and the other having in his hand nothing but a sword. I made sure that the man with the longest weapon would win. Indeed I thought it absurd to expect a man with nothing but an ordinary sword to engage in such an unequal contest. But after they had begun it did not seem so unequal. The man with the sword bent forward as low as he could to make his arm and sword stretch as far as possible, and to make his adversary keep his bayonet near the ground. After a while, the man with the bayonet made a forward thrust to pin his antagonist, but quick as lightning the swordsman struck the bayonet on one side, sprang forward, and seized his enemy's rifle by the barrel, and if it had been a real fight he would have cut off his head with the sword. I almost jumped from my seat with astonishment to think that a man with a sword could overcome a man with a much longer weapon.
If you learn to use "the sword of the pirit” as skilfully as that man used his sword, you will make many a man who can use longer words, and longer arguments, bite the dust.
THE STORY OF A LITTLE OLD MAN. Let me tell you how a little old man who looked anything but a soldier, once gave a very clever stroke with “ the sword of the Spirit.” He was resting in an inn after a long journey, when he was very much hurt to find a sceptic abusing the Bible before all the people in the room. Among other things, he said “there was not a Ford of truth in the Bible from beginning to end.” “Landlord," said the little old man,“ bring me a pair of pincers." The pincers were brought, but nobody know what he wanted with them. Some thought that perhaps there was a nail in the table which bad torn his clothes. But when the sceptic had finished speaking, the man with the pincers went up to him, and said, “I have heard theo say, There is not a word of truth in the Bible." “Yes, and I mean to stick to it.” “Very well,” said the old man, who knew the word of God; “It says in the book of Proverbs, surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood;' we will try the last if you like;" and he tried to get hold of the scoptic's nose with the pincers. But no, thank you! he declined the test amid the laughter and derision of the company. One skilful stroke of the sword of the Spirit " settled him. Pat your trust in this sword. Jesus was very fond of it.
JESUS FIGHTING SATAN, He fought the devil with this weapon, so that the foul spirit was obliged to run. If you read the 4th chapter of Matthew, you will see how the devil made an onslaught on Jesus. He assailed Him with the fiery darts of temptation, hurling one after another right at His head and heart; but do you know how Jesus stopped him? Ho had “the sword of the Spirit” in His hand, and just as the darts were about to pierce Him, He struck them aside with His sword, saying “ It is written." Three times over did the devil try, and three times over did Jesus defeat him with “ It is written." With such a sword, if we only have courage, we can defeat overy foo.
THE TRAINING OF THE MODERN PASTOR. To the Editor of “ The General Baptist Magazine”
SIR,—Will you allow me a corner in the organ of our own little denomina. tion to treat, from a layman's standpoint, the above important topic ?
A controversy has long raged-waxing and waning like a veritable tide of human thought-in religious, and even in semi-secular periodicals, as to whether the pulpit in this latter half of the noisy 19th century is not losing its power; whether the platform and the press are not superseding it as a force among men. The foodgates of this discussion I have no wish to reopen here. I simply refer to it as a fitting starting point for one or two very practical suggestions. If the pastor of every Christian Church is adequately equipped for his task, will take a just and many-sided view of his responsibilities, will devote himself to genuinely evangelistic work in a nobly evangelistic spirit,-this question may, I believe, safely be left to the future to solve by the exhibition of results.
Is the modern pastor adequately equipped, and equal to the onerous burden laid upon him? If not, how and on what lines shall improvement be made ? These are questions whose moment cannot well be over-estimated. Let us consider them for a little.
There are those who hold that the Christian pastor is, like the poet, “ born, not made,” who maintain that the inspired declaration that the Lord “gave gifts unto men,” is decisive in their favour, and that no academical training whatever is required for the spiritual instructor. Very many of the most successful soul-winners, they say, have at all epochs of the church's history been men of insignificant learning, men versed in few “ologies,” and concentrating their whole force and attention upon the plain delivery of a plain message. And then, very
quently they point to that grand incentive to a self-abandon. ing trust—"It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.”
All this, in its degree and with the inevitable limitations, is true, gloriously true.
And yet there is another sense in which the view of these earnest, wellmeaning friends is entirely and disastrously mistaken. Knowledge rightfully employed is a most valuable weapon. In anywise to depreciate it is to exhibit a strange lack of understanding. Just as in battle a keen sword-edge may make all the difference between a powerless stroke and an effective one, so with the ministry of the Word (" The sword of the Spirit,”) a careful, patient training may develop rude zeal into real, convincing eloquence, felt by men and blessed by the Master
At present, I will be venturesome enough to declare, there exists too much of a ministerial caste in the inner circles of our halls of learning. The delusion with regard to the needlessness of supplying any special education at all, of which I have spoken, draws a great part of its strength indirectly from this source. The truth is obvious to out-siders, and it creates à prejudice in their minds against the whole system. Take the example of one of our own ministers. The ordinary method of procedure is after the fashion that follows:-A youth of the middle-class or of intelligent artisan rank becomes convinced that it is his duty to go out into the world and preach Christ crucified. To a young man of moderate self-possession and fluency of speech, the idea is very apt indeed to occur immediately after conversion. He consults his minister, who gladly encourages him, and volunteers practical assistance. He mentions the matter to his friends, who do not make any attempt to dissuade him or to cool his árdour for the reclamation of lost souls. Formal application is made for the candidate's admission to college. He preaches a trial sermon under circumstances calculated far more to test his nerves than his ability. The verdict of the hearers is more or less favourable, and he feels that a distinct step has been taken. He has crossed the Rubicon, and, so far as he is concerned, is definitely committed to the new and noble enterprise.
A careful preliminary examination by the collegiate authorities follows. Our young friend's antecedents prove everything that could be desired; his character bears the most microscopic scrutiny of human eyes; his education has been sound and good if not elaborate. He is approved, is accepted, and enters on a term of probation. This also terminates with a decision in the young man's favour. He bas won golden opinions from every body, and steps on to the higher platform of regular student life. The years go swiftly by, and bring this halcyon period (for, despite its hard work and many trials, it is that,) to a close. The trained tyro is ready to take his place in the ranks of the actual workers. For the future he must stand or fall to his own Great Master and to his own people.
This is the established and stereotyped course. Now for what is meant by a ministerial caste. This training is almost purely academical. Certainly the young man, if found to be generally acceptable, will often be called for as a "supply" to vacant pulpits. But in these “Sundays out,”-spent amongst the elite of our churches-little will be learned or gained, except practice in elocution. The student is from beginning to end of his career immersed in an atmosphere of dry theology and letters. Good and necessary in their degree are these things, but they are not all. Over and over again we have heard the question asked, and the remark made in humble homes"What does our minister, good man as he is, know of the real battle of life, or of the problems and doubts that shake our souls? He has been to college and come out, but these things are not learned from books.” Neither are they. There is an education which a university may supplement but never supply.
For the work of the evangelist, as distinct from that of pastor and teacher, this training is especially insufficient. For the travelling preacher of the Word, the quarryman, so to speak, of the gospel, a keen touch of the popular moods is required. To be all things to all men with anything like the success of the great apostle of the Gentiles, he must understand them. He must comprehend in some degree their temptations, their trials, their distresses, their questionings and blind desires, their not infrequent despairs. You cannot mould a man’s life, or change the whole sinful bent of his fallen nature, by standing on a serene height above and lecturing him. You must step on to the very same level, work with as well as for him. How are drunkards permanently reclaimed by the emissaries of the Blue Ribbon Army, and other prospering temperance organizations ? By mere eloquence, by simple platform addresses ? Not usually Valuable impressions may be, and frequently are, made in this way upon their benumbed brains. But the lasting, convincing, most arduous part of the task comes in the gentle, discriminating sympathy which takes each, individually, by the hand, shows him that he is still considered a man and a brother, and encourages him altogether to break with his evil courses and companions, and to travel along a safer and a brighter road.
We want in the church and in the ministry to-day men who, in every honourable sense, are willing and able to go down into the trenches of a lowly experience, and to render help and consolation there. How shall we obtain them?
The first suggestion I would beg leave to earnestly offer is, that the college training of our students shall cease to be, as now, strictly and entirely academical. The Institution has now been removed to Nottingham, and the time would seem favourable for something of a new departure. Why should not a system of active and energetic participation in genuine evangelistic work be linked on to the merely intellectual side of the tuition ? In this way the first ardour of the young preacher for the salvation of perishing men and women would be preserved and deepened, and what (if, indeed, anything) chanced to be lost in mere technical skill in stringing together flowery passages of pulpit eloquence, would be more than regained in that quickened insight into human life and human suffering which is POWER. The young pastor would not then step out into the battlefield at the end of his college career the “trained tyro” I have dared to picture him. He would possess personal grappling hooks to fasten upon the sympathies of those to whom he delivers his Master's message.
There may be difficulties—these go without saying in any and every reformbut the scheme is worth trying. Nottingham is a town of some 200,000 inhabitants, with (in town and suburbs,) à considerable sprinkling of General Baptist churches. Why should not each G. B. college student spend a certain portion of his time weekly in visiting the homes of the working people attached to these congregations—and beyond them—under the supervision and care of the ministers in charge. It would help the churches, their often over-worked pastors, and, fifty-fold more, the young men themselves. This will be real, practical mission-work, and as different from the present system of formal pulpit supplying on Sundays only as a child's toy house construction is different from the solid-sometimes grimy and unpleasant-work of the mason.
And, Sir, in saying not only that a reform of the kind is urgently needed but is practicable I am not speaking at random. In this same town of Nottingham a scheme conducted on these lines has been tested by the experience of twenty years. In connection with the Nottingham Congregational Institute a large amount of highly successful evangelization labour has been achieved. Their students see the seamy as well as the bright side of Christian effort; they go amongst the masses and learn at first hand how religion and religious teachers are regarded by men whose whole life is one long struggle against tremendous odds. The conductors of the Institute are well satisfied with the results. And with reason; for, in addition to the great gain to the spirituality of the students and the increase of the true missionary ardour, I understand that the Institute students have been the direct means of founding at least six Congregational churches in Nottingham and the neighbourhood. Sir, Is it not time for us as a denomination to be up and doing likewise ?
Not to trespass too much upon your courteous grant of space, I must ask you to allow me to defer a second and a closely connected suggestion to next month's issue of the Magazine.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM J. LACEY.
The Question Box.
No. 1 Compartment; for the young people.
(1) Dr. James Hamilton somewhere says that there are in the New Testament two Epistles to the Ephesians; where are they to be found ?
(2) The same writer states that there are two Epistles to the Hebrews. Some think there are three. Which are they?
(3) Were Joab and Abishai related to King David ? if so, what was the relation ?
N.B.–Our young friends are invited to send answers to these and similar queries which will appear in successive numbers of the Magazine. A record will be kept of their replies, and in January, 1885, it is proposed to announce (unless specially requested otherwise) the names of the three who have answered correctly the greatest number of questions in the course of the year. They are at liberty to obtain information either from books or from friends not ministers. But let all try first to do the best they can themselves.
No. 2 Compartment; for the general reader.
(1) In John v. 39, it says, “ Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life." Is there some uncertainty about it?-J.F.L.
(2) We are taught to pray, "Lead us not into temptation.” How can this be reconciled with James i. 13, which says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth He any man.”—T.H.R.
The Editors will be glad to receive answers, the substance of which, if deemed suitable, will be inserted in next month's Magazine.
THE COLLEGE.- We ask the attention of the friends of our College and we trust that means the whole Connexionto the letter of a Chesham correspondent which appears in the present number of tbe Magazine. With the suggestions contained more particularly in the latter portion of the letter we are ourselves in hearty sympathy. Study and Christian work onght to go on together. Out of college young men will lose their spiritual life and fervour, if they are not employed in Christ's work, and so they will in college. And now that the Institation is removed to the suburbs of a large town, within whose municipal boundaries are no fewer than eleven General Baptist churches, it seems both the time and place in which to introduce into the curriculum something of the patare of mission-work. We know that there are ministers in Nottingham who would be pleased to have, say, two students each under their superintendence, to visit the homes of the people and condact evangelistic services. Or, the students themselves might commence and Fork a station; and we believe that there are Christian friends who would be prepared to find the needful money. Nor does it follow that much time would have to be taken from books and study: half a day a week would suffice. We have now in the College a larger number of students than at any former period, and consequently a less sbare of Sundaysupplying falls to the lot of each. Hence they have more time for the kind of work now referred to. If it be said that the season for study is all too short at present, considering the many things to be learned, let the term be lengthened. But the adoption of some plan on the lines indicated by our correspondent would, we feel suro, rosult in good alike to the churches—to the College-and above all to the young men themselves.
OUR PUBLICATIONS.—(1) The Almanack for 1884. The Editor of the Almanack no doubt feels that it would scarcely be in good taste for him to proclaim its merits. But that is no reason why his colleague in the management of this Magazine should keep silence. Without asking Mr. Fletcher's leave, then, the said colleague recommends all bis readers who have not done so already to invest a ponny in the General Baptist Almanack for the new yoar. Few things would be more helpful to the spiritual
life of our members than for them to look out morning by morning the passage of scripture from which the daily quotation is given, and then make it the subject of a few minutes' thought and prayer. Thus, as the year revolves, their souls would grow.—(2) THE SCHOOL HYMNAL -our book-is now in use in Congregational schools at Airedale, Bristol, Leamington, Southampton, and in some parts of London. Several Church of England schools—attracted, we think, by the unusual number of Miss Havergal's hymns—have also adopted it. But many General Baptist schools still prefer Sankey's “Songs and Solos.” We suppose it is the music that pleases; for many of Mr. Sankoy's hymns, however suitable for evangelistic servicos and prayer-meetings for adults, by no means oxpress the thoughts and feelings appropriate to children. But the School Hymnal Tune Book, edited by Mr. Adcock, meets the case of our musical friends. It contains not only good tunes for regular use, but a number of exquisito melodies of a higher class than Sankey's, and yet not too advanced for children if teachers will but devote to this matter & little time and trouble. Lot friends who have not seen the book order it at once, through their booksellers, from Marlborough & Co., 51, Old Bailey, London. Wo are persuaded that the more they make themselves acquainted with it the better they will like it.
As Bees Do.— The Bees belonging to Mrs. Geo. Freeman, of Chesham, have sont twenty-five shillings to the Homo Mission. How pleasantly thoy hum! J.F.
MEMORIAL SERMONS.- We have received from various publishers Books for Review, which must lie over for next month. But we cannot defer a mention of two capital sermons, just printod, by two of our own brethren, the Revs. W. Bishop, of Archdeacon Lane, Leicester, and R. Silby, of Hyson Green, Nottingham. The one by Mr. Bishop is a noble discourse on “Christ and Him crucified, the great subject of the Christian minigtry,” preached on the fourteenth anni. versary of his settlement in Leicoster. The other, by Mr. Silby, is more in the nature of an historical sketch. It is entitled “Half a century's Survey,” and was the last sermon preached by him in the old chapel at Hyson Groen, before the migration of the church to the handsome new chapel just opened. In this