1 The Perils and Needs of Our Churches
The church of God should continually “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3), and in these darkening and disastrous days, our testimony should not be like muffled bells, but clear and distinct. “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle” (Ps 78:9). Was it cowardice, or expediency, or a fatal love of ease? We cannot but remember the words, “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men” (Ps12:1). “Faithful,” that is, men of truth; “Amen men,” as Luther called them. Openness, as opposed to reticency, straightforwardness, thoroughness and steadfastness are qualities absolutely needed now; courage is required to call things by their right names; but righteous judgment is rare, and deflections, slight at first, may become gigantic at last.
Are our Churches thus bearing witness? Is there deep desire for pure doctrine, gracious experience, and godly practice? Is there that tenderness of conscience and solemn and sanctified purpose which well become those upon whom the Lord has had mercy? Doctrine, without spiritual life, can never save the soul. In former years, when many churches were prosperous, there was a setting of experimental religion in the forefront, that is, a vital experience of the liberating and sanctifying effects of truth made manifest in the walk and life.
We need doctrine, crystalised in the strictest form, and preached by called and anointed men, who feel the power of it in their hearts and show its holy effects in blameless lives. Reality, vitality, power! May we have these by the gift and operation of the Holy Ghost! Then will there be a true revival. We have need to pray, personally and collectively, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23,24).
John E. Hazelton (1924) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was the son of John Hazelton (1822-1888). He was appointed the Pastor of Streatley Hall, London. In the December 1924 Issue, the Gospel Magazine wrote of him:
“For a period of fifteen years he faithfully ministered the Word of life to the Lord's people who met in Streatley Hall, London, and these are a selection of the sermons he preached there, lovingly collected together, and printed in book form. By way of introduction there is also printed A Declaration of Faith by Mr. Hazelton. This was found amongst his papers. It has never before been published. It is full of valuable teaching of such subjects as "The Peril and Needs of Our Churches," "The Holy Scriptures," "The Everlasting Covenant," "The Church," and "The Doctrine of Grace.” Mr. Hazelton was an able preacher of the everlasting Gospel, and he loved to exalt Christ and to abase the sinner. These sermons are full of rich Gospel teaching. They tell of a full and an eternal salvation, arranged and planned in the great Covenant of grace before the foundations of the world were laid. They tell of the electing love of God the Father, the redeeming work of God the Son on behalf of His Church and people, and of the regenerating and sanctifying work of God the Holy Ghost. They tell of the blood and righteousness of the Divine Surety of the everlasting Covenant. They are marked by fulness of Gospel truth and by tender and loving words to seeking and penitent sinners. They display a considerable knowledge and much care in preparation. They are the words of a true man of God who in dependence on the aid of the Divine Spirit earnestly proclaimed the Gospel of Divine grace in the prayerful hope that God the Holy Ghost would use the message as the means of regenerating the sinful objects of His eternal mercy. Space will not allow us to quote from these pages, but we strongly advise our readers at once to get the book and make it point of reading one of the sermons every week. Mr. Hazelton was called home on May 8th last. His last sermons were preached on April 6th and 13th, and they form the concluding sermons of this volume. A beautiful portrait of the beloved author forms the frontispiece. By these sermons, and by his valuable Declaration of Faith, he being dead, yet speaketh.”