“Patient continuance in well-doing.”—Romans 2:7
The inevitable result of the Norwich Chapel case, was to widen the already existing breach between the Strict and Particular Baptists, and the rest of their denomination. By the latter the issue of the celebrated suit was almost universally regarded as a victory of charity and candour over narrowness and bigotry. Nearly all the public references to the men who had dared the desperate venture expressed the utmost exultation that they had been worsted in the unequal fight. Few appeared to regard their self-denying heroism with any other sentiment than pitying contempt. Men who had secretly desired to introduce a similar innovation in other quarters, but had hitherto lacked the courage of their convictions, now began to wax bolder; and many hazarded the prediction, that before many years had expired, the practice of strict communion would be unknown in the Baptist Churches of England.
It was therefore impossible for Strict and Particular Baptists to regard, with warm cordiality, a body of Christians whose principles were so opposed to their own, and who commended, in no measured terms, what they considered an act of grave injustice. Hence it was felt imperative that their status should be more definitely maintained. “We cannot,” wrote William Palmer, “continue a section of the Baptist Body. We must, henceforth, exist as a Denomination. It is of no use to seek amalgamation with General, Fullerite, or Mixed Communion Baptists. The iron and clay will not cleave together. There is nothing homogeneous in them; and without sameness of nature, with likeness of parts, there can be no abiding union.”
These were the sentiments of nearly all who took the unpopular side on the vexed questions of doctrine and fellowship; and their public conduct was regulated in accordance with their convictions.
Strict Baptists became more and more an isolated people. The majority of religious professors ignored them, and “they dwelt alone, and were not reckoned among the nations.” Up to this time there had been some little fraternisation between them and their brethren; and their ministers had occasionally interchanged pulpits with others who did not, in all points, agree with them. Henceforth, however, all was changed, and men who were subject to the laws of Christ in their integrity and entirety, felt compelled to eschew association with other professed Christians altogether.
Whether their attitude and action were, in all respects, advisable, may be open to question; but it is claimed, without fear of contradiction, that their motive was unimpeachable. They had the profoundest love for the truth of God, and regarded everything else as secondary to its maintenance and defence. “For the truth’s sake” was, incontestably, their unchanging watchword. For this cause they accepted poverty and reproach; and the censure, which their supposed lack of charity and public feeling, has sometimes evoked, should surely be silenced by the godliness, earnestness, and activity which characterised their entire careers.
A typical minister of this school was the subject of this memoir. His habitual reticence and caution, indeed, enabled him to avoid the extravagance in utterance and conduct that some of his brethren manifested. No rash invectives escaped his lips. He did not, we believe, consider it wise to describe the Christians with whom he was connected, as a separate Denomination, but he claimed that they only were true Baptists, while the rest had widely deviated from the primitive and Scriptural principles.
He loved them sincerely—”counted it a high honour to belong to them”—and invariably spoke well of them, as the very best of the best of all people in the world.
Realising the responsibilities of their now very clearly defined position, certain earnest men among them, about this time, made strenuous efforts to maintain and disseminate their distinctive principles by concerted action, hoping to enlist the sympathies and secure the support of the majority of Christians to whom these principles were dear.
The Strict Baptist Sunday-school Union, the Strict Baptist Library, the Baptist Evangelical Society, and the Strict Communion Baptist Society, were accordingly instituted. Little practical good, however, resulted from them, and all, ere long, collapsed. With none of them had John Hazelton any connection.
One institution, however, that was founded at this juncture of our Denominational history, survives, and pursues its unpretending course under the manifest blessing of God.
John Hazelton does not appear to have been consulted at the formation of the Strict Baptist Mission, nor is he recorded to have advocated its claims until June 27, 1865, on the occasion of its fourth anniversary, which was celebrated in Keppel-street Chapel. He then—in moving the adoption of the Report—dwelt, at some length, on his reasons for deeming this missionary effort worthy of support. “He regarded it,” he averred, “not as an innovation, but as a return to the primitive method of seeking to extend a knowledge of the Gospel in the world. Large Missionary Societies were, in his opinion, deviations from the original plan, which was assuredly that of direct communication with the mission-field, and direct management of the work, on the part of the Churches themselves.”
He concluded by observing that his advocacy should not end in words, for he himself would become a subscriber to its funds.
Thus cautiously, but earnestly, he identified himself with an effort which has not only effected much positive good, but has also, by its reflex influence, proved an unspeakable boon to the body of Christians by whom it is maintained.
In spite of some hopeful signs, the condition of the Strict and Particular Baptists, at this period, was extremely critical, and their public men required almost preternatural wisdom to know what line of conduct to adopt for the best.
Five or six magazines were in existence, each giving prominence to some feature of religious faith and practice, and all claiming to represent their section of the Baptist Denomination; and several parties were in existence, each of which professed to adhere exclusively to the whole truth.
To no magazine, however, did John Hazelton (with two remote exceptions) ever contribute a single line. He attached himself to no party, nor did he give prominence to the views which were especially favoured by any of them. His sympathies, it can hardly be doubted, inclined to the Gospel Herald and its supporters, many of whom were his chosen associates and friends; but he determined to be “the Lord’s free-man,” unfettered by the precedents and unbiassed by the prejudices that are inseparable from sectarianism. One was his “Master, even Christ,” and he repudiated all authority but His; deferred to no lower rules than His laws; and continued to serve Him in the way that his conscience dictated as right.
He sedulously avoided controversy, not from pusillanimity, but because to him had been given “a spirit of power and love, and discipline” (2 Tim 1:7). While the promulgation of heresy stimulated such men as William Palmer to rush into print like a war-horse stirred by the sound of the trumpet; he preferred to enter in his chamber, and shut the doors about him, to “hide himself as it were for a little moment,” till the strife of tongues and pens had ceased.
Accordingly, in 1860, when different theories concerning the Sonship of Christ were so fiercely assailed and defended—and pamphlets were flying in all directions, affecting so many hearts to bitterness and barrenness, and moving holy lips to utter such angry words; he continued preaching the Gospel in his own way and held his peace. His “strength was to sit still.”
Accustomed as he was “to try to think” (his own expression) on every branch of Salvation, he had doubtless his private convictions on the mysterious question of the rationale of the relationship of the Son of God to His Heavenly Father; but he was never known, in public or private, to express a quotable opinion on the subject.
On the one hand the phrase “eternal generation” never escaped his lips; on the other, the “early complexity of the glorious Mediator,” or “Christ before all things,” were expressions which he carefully eschewed. Thus no party was able to claim him as its champion.
In the course of a sermon on Ephesians 1:8, he is remembered to have adverted to the expression: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He, however, remarked that “he would make no critical or controversial observations on the subject which these words indicated. The Lord was Christ’s Father, in the same sense that He was His God,” and so he passed on.
On another occasion, many years after, he had preached from Titus 1:2, when an attached hearer who held the views of the late John Stevens on the pre-existence of the human soul of Christ, propounded a question which he felt must elicit his pastor’s opinion on this debatable subject.
“If God, that cannot lie, promised eternal life before the world began,” to whom was that promise given? The answer was hardly what he expected. “Well, friend H—, I have no doubt but that you know already, without my telling you.”
In a word he contented himself with preaching the complex person, and true and everlasting sonship of Christ, without attempting to define, explain, or simplify what must ever be above human comprehension. He regarded this and all other mysteries as objects for faith to receive and rejoice in, and not for reason to investigate and comprehend.
In 1865, for the first and only time, he suffered himself to be drawn into a controversial matter.
Sixteen years have elapsed since the earth closed over all that was mortal of James Wells, and we can perhaps form a more accurate estimate, both of him and his work, than was possible during his lifetime.
We have elsewhere (p. 75) referred to his transparent godliness his varied and versatile gifts, and the high position he deservedly occupied among the Strict and Particular Baptists.
The manliest of men, he dared not equivocate or disguise his opinions. His convictions were the fruit of patient and prolonged study, and he stated them in the boldest and most emphatic manner. In private life, however, he was gentle and considerate, and commanded universal esteem and affection.
An orator has been defined as one who is roused to his best by the presence of a multitude, and the sight of a congregation fired our brother Wells with eager enthusiasm. His heart grew warm; thoughts never previously conceived rushed into his mind; a torrent of words leapt from his lips; and his whole frame quivered with his passionate earnestness.
To a minister of this character there was, of course, the perpetual danger of unwise utterance. His exuberance called for a repression not always manifested, and we think that many of his statements, though substantially true, were advanced in a form of which his own mature judgment could hardly have approved, and which too often led to their being severely criticised by others.
It does not devolve on us to express our personal view of his sermon, “The Faith of Rahab the Harlot.”
Public opinion was about equally divided, some contending for the truthfulness of the celebrated discourse, others charging it with containing unscriptural errors, among whom were the ministers of the Gospel who published their Protest against its teachings, John Hazelton being one of them.
Candour surely demands that these brethren should be acquitted of the unfounded charge of ministerial jealousy, and have the credit of doing as they did from commendable motives and love to the truth. On the other hand, we cannot but think that their action was marked by undue precipitation, that they manifested far too little consideration for the godly and gifted brother whose convictions they assailed with such unwonted vigour, and that they to an extent ignored considerations which perhaps might have been wisely urged on the other side.
John Hazelton’s character, however, was such that we cannot question but that he acted on this occasion in perfect consistency with his avowed principles, in the fear of God, and in defence of the important branch of truth, which, as he conscientiously thought, had been assailed.
During this period (I860 to 1872) the cause at Chadwell-street Chapel continued to make satisfactory progress. The ministry still proved attractive and profitable. As friend after friend was called away, others were raised to fill their places. The congregations were good, and sittings were difficult to obtain.
For the long period of fifteen years their engagement with the Building Society was honourably met. At the expiration of that time they had the pleasure of seeing the whole debt liquidated; a social tea and Church meeting being held on Friday, July 10th, 1868, to celebrate the event. Thus, as he was wont to say, the Chapel was bought by faith, and paid for by works.
Meanwhile, the popularity of their pastor steadily increased. His services began to be eagerly sought on public occasions, and his ministry was highly prized by thoughtful and spiritually minded Christians. His “seals” were many, and he was regarded with esteem and affection in various parts of the kingdom.
Very few sketches of his sermons at this time have been preserved. The following outline of one that was delivered in July, 1861, is doubtless a fair specimen of his work at this time.
WHAT IS MAN?
“Lord, what is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him; or the son of man, that Thou makest account of him.” (Ps 144:3)
It appears that when David wrote this Psalm, he was looking behind him as it were on the field of battle, through which God, in His infinite mercy, had brought him; and reviewing his past life, which had been one of unparalleled progress, from the sheepfold to the throne, he was led to exclaim, as in the first verse of this Psalm, “Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” David was delivered, and he knew whence his deliverance came, and he ascribed all that he was and had done—to the power and goodness of his God: he then contrasted himself with God in the language of our text, ”Lord, what is man?”
I will direct your attention to two particulars suggested by the words—viz., first, the infinite condescension of Jehovah; secondly, the twofold form in which it is expressed.
I.—THE INFINITE CONDESCENSION OF JEHOVAH.—”Lord, what is man?”
Naturally. Can you answer that question? I cannot, especially when I contrast him with his Maker—insignificant man with the infinite God. David looked up to the visible firmament, and in its celestial grandeur and beauty, he traced the finger of God; he contemplated the high and glorious works of nature, and struck by the contrast, he exclaimed, ”What is man?” It is not wonderful that one man should take notice of another; the rich and the poor; and not so wonderful that angels look at men; but when the infinite majesty of God is contemplated, what is there about man that he should take knowledge of him? Man naturally, then, is a worm formed out of the dust, he exists by the will of God, and by that will he is what he is. Many people attach great importance to what they denominate the dignity of human nature, but the dignity of human nature soon falls under great grace. Let us look at Abraham. He was great; great grace made him so with his Master. Listen to the confession of that truly great and good man, Abraham, engaged in intercession for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, “I have taken upon me to speak to the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.” The great grace that Abraham had was reigning grace, and what did it do for him? Did it cause him to feel himself great? Did the great grace Paul had lift him up above his brethren? We know it did not, but to the honour and glory of that grace, he confessed himself the least of the apostles, and less than the least of all saints (1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8). Great grace will always humble the heart, trample on self, and exalt the Saviour.
What is man intellectually? Man intellectually is a glow-worm. What is a glow-worm to the mighty sun? What is the ocean to a small reservoir? Infinitely wider is the contrast between the mind of God and the mind of man! Man spends a lifetime to know a trifle. A philosopher takes up a stone, and spends a life-time in describing and writing spacious volumes upon it; but God, with one piercing glance, sees through all, comprehends all, contains all! If there be one sin in the sight of heaven more abhorrent than another, it must be that of the man, who, possessing a smattering of knowledge, lifts his proud head above the people of God and the Bible of God.
What is man morally? Naturally a worm, intellectually a glowworm, morally a worm in corruption and filth, a worm in the mud. I do not libel man physically or mentally; I am speaking of man as a sinner, far from God by wicked works; nor can I set forth in sufficiently expressive language the depths of degradation and sin in his heart; his mind is the residence of the filthiest evils, the offspring of Satan lurk there, and thanks to restraining providence, and reigning grace which keeps them back. Is it true that man, morally, is fit fuel for hell, that he is in darkness and disgrace, capable of poisoning God’s very gifts, and of lifting up head, heart, and hand, against his Maker? It is. Then what is there about man that He should notice him with complacency and delight? In himself He could not, but He sees him through mediation. Let me illustrate this point. Take a piece of stained glass, and hold it between the eye and an object: the glass imparts its colour to the object. So God has taken this lovely medium, His dear Son, with the blood and merit of Calvary upon Him, and holds Him between His holy eye and His people, and thus we are “accepted in Him” (Eph 1:6.), notwithstanding our moral deficiency and delinquency. Beautiful medium for both God and the sinner; God can look approvingly at us through Him, and we through Him behold the blazing sunlight of Deity.
What is man efficiently? With respect to providence, God could do without Him. All the majesty of God is in His grace, and wherever grace is, it is reigning, invincible, conquering. Grace will not be otherwise than conquering. Divest grace of its majesty and it ceases to be grace. They cannot be separated. And will God have His majesty and grace co-efficient with man? Shall he be efficient in the great matters of Divine government?
It is to be feared that too high an estimation is sometimes placed upon one particular minister by people of God, a feeling of excessive approbation, as if the presence of man were indispensable. Think not that the grace given, talents, and abilities of ministers are efficient. The foundation of God standeth more sure; God’s eternal purpose, Christ’s eternal merit, with the Holy Spirit’s eternal power, are the sure foundation, while the talents and abilities of ministers form only a part of the “scaffolding” (if you will allow the term) of the building of mercy, and these will be unnecessary in glory, and divested of every semblance of mortality, the structure will stand an imperishable monument of Divine power. What is man, then, in creation, in providence, or in salvation? “The inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers.”
But once more. What is man religiously? Elsewhere, David says, “Man in his best estate is vanity,” and religion is the best estate of man. Then what is man religiously? If left to himself he falls. And what are we, my hearers? What fickleness, changes, murmurings, and rebellion, are we the subjects of!
Lastly, here, what is man as to his existence? A creature of a day, a meteor with a momentary flash. “But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end.”
II.—THE TWO-FOLD GRACIOUS FORM IN WHICH IT IS EXPRESSED.—”God takes knowledge of him,” and “makes account of him.”
I might dwell on creation. Has not God taken a knowledge of him in all His works by adapting them to his comfort, requirements, and pleasure? My God takes knowledge of that which is my pleasure. At this season of the year, in most parts of the country, the very air is laden with fragrance, there is pleasant perfume for the sense of smelling; loveliness of landscape for the sense of seeing; beautiful sounds for the sense of hearing; and a prospect of plenty for the sense of tasting—for both man and beast. Does not all proclaim the fact announced in the text?
As the God of providence He takes knowledge of man. There is a general providence which governs all things, from the successive velocity of the mightiest star, to the motion of the most minute particle that floats in space, and a special providential knowledge which God takes of the interest of His Church and people, a wheel working as it were within a wheel, and all things working together for good. This passage upon consideration you will find to be wonderfully comprehensive. All things. There is not a time—all times; nor a place—all places; or a position—all positions, how disordered soever they may seem, or naturally opposed, God will gather the disconnected links, and connect them—the diversified circumstances, and arrange them—the confused periods, and reconcile them—and will shew that ALL things work together for good under His guiding mind.
But eminently, and pre-eminently as the God of Grace, He takes knowledge of man.
He took knowledge of his person in electing love and grace; not for His own happiness, for the infinite God requires nothing of man to insure that. If we were to do in accordance with what man has done, He could sweep all things from creation, and yet be happy. Our God took knowledge of man’s salvation in mediation, by the constitution of the person of Christ, and He took knowledge of our sins, that they should not damn us by laying on Him the iniquities of us all.
“The Lord in the day of His anger did lay
Our sins on the Lamb, and He bore them away.”
Very particular, too, was He; He took knowledge of all their number, and thus salvation is an absolute certainty.
What moved Him to die? His great love, “For He loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Nor can Satan find a foothold here, for the covenant of grace is sealed eternally, sealed by the blood of Christ.
Is the Holy Ghost at work in our hearts? He will take knowledge of our meetness for heaven; therefore let us never undervalue the work of the Spirit, since it is He that reveals our names written, and slew our enmity by regeneration and sanctification. Moreover we are told that the covenant is “ordered.” It is not an unpremeditated speculation, but wisdom’s well-laid plan; a Trinity in Unity concurs in it, and a Unity in Trinity.
I consider it to be, therefore, the duty of every minister to preach Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “You preach Christ fully and freely,” a good man once said to Joseph Swaine, “but be sure you honour the Holy Ghost.” And so much importance did he attach to this, that he had it printed and placed in his study, “Be sure you honour the Holy Ghost,” without whom we shall know nothing of election, redemption, or regeneration. He takes knowledge of our broken petitions at the throne of grace. He took notice of that faintly articulated prayer which I should not have wished my fellow man to hear. It is thus with many a child of God; he goes to the throne with such poor, feeble, broken petitions as he would not like his brother to hear, and yet he is not ashamed to take them to God. What is man, with his muddy tears and broken petitions, that there should be beauty in a tear, and music in a groan?
He takes knowledge of life’s minutest circumstances, of all my wants. Many of the children of God are sadly troubled about these things. They can trust their eternal all in their great Benefactor’s hands, but cannot trust Him for temporal supplies. Blessed be His name, say you, I can trust Him for the bread and water of eternal life, but how shall I get to-morrow’s loaf? I can trust Him for a spotless and eternal robe that will fit me to appear in His presence for ever, but how shall I manage to get another coat? Hearken! Has He not said that the very hairs of your head are all numbered? Then if He has numbered your hairs, will He not number your wants, and if so He will number your days, your steps, and your enemies. He makes account of him.
This, with the expression, “Son of man,” I take to be but a repetition of the first. But it is highly probable that when David uttered these words, his mind was dwelling on “original sin.” Adam was not the son of man. May we not, therefore, interpret the passage thus—”Lord, what was Adam, that Thou should’st take knowledge of him? and what are we, the sinning sons of Adam, that Thou makest account of us?”
He makes account of man, then, by raising his nature into union with His own. Was not this making account of him? Talk about the dignity of human nature—here, and here only, is it found, in the glorious complex Person of Christ, who substituted Himself for us, thus dignifying and saving our nature, which He did not do for angels, “For He took not on Him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham.” Here, in this mysterious and glorious Person, is the wisdom of God in a mystery—in a mystery of condescension—in a mystery of love—and in a mystery of suffering.
God makes so much of His people that He has destroyed nations for their sakes.
“I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee, therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life” (Is 43:4).
Assyria, a great and mighty empire, was not too much for God to destroy for His people’s sake. And are not the people of God the glory and defence of England?—notwithstanding her boasted wooden walls.
Thousands and thousands are continually ascending to heaven. God makes account of man by receiving him into His own residence. And if we have laid up for us treasures which time’s rust cannot touch; if we have been led to throw our whole interests upon the merits of Christ, then
“A few more rolling suns at most,
Will land us on fair Canaan’s coast.”
God will then put His glory upon us, and raise us to greater dignity than we lost in Eden.
May the review of such condescension, fraught with so much lovingkindness, buoy us above every distressing circumstance, create in our hearts a deep feeling of gratitude, and love, and reanimate us for further conflicts,
” Until we reach that peaceful shore,
Where winds, and waves, distress no more.”
‘The echo from eternal hills
Will speak the Conqueror’s joy.”
The following is the substance of a sermon delivered ten years subsequently, on Thursday, Feb 16, 1871:—
“The love of the Spirit.”—Rom 15:30
It is very easy to demonstrate that the Father and the Son have manifested sovereign and saving love to the people of God; but the love of the Spirit is too often overlooked. Yet so precious and important is the latter, that we might well sing:—
“O for such love, let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break;
And all harmonious human tongues
The Spirit’s praises speak!”
We shall notice some of the many forms in which His love is displayed, the extent of its operations, and the ends accomplished by it.
I.—SOME OF THE MANY EXPRESSIONS OF “THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT.”
1. It is the love of a Divine person; and therefore eternal; and our conceptions of the covenant of grace must include the Spirit, as well as the Father and the Son. He was a contracting Party in the solemn engagements that ensured our salvation before the foundation of the world. He pledged His great name, and honour, and glory, to perform His essential work in the salvation of the Church. Conjointly with the Father, He gave Christ His great commission to come into the world, and hence the Redeemer is represented as saying: “The Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent Me” (Is 48:16).
2. It appears in the miraculous conception of the human nature of Christ, by which it was saved from all contamination—filled with all grace—so that “He, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb 9:14).
3. In the inspiration of the Bible. Holy men of God wrote as they were moved by Him. His love, personal and official, appears in every line.
4. In His descent at Pentecost. We meditate on the advent of Jesus. Should we not on His also, which was as real and as important? He came to manifest His love by abiding here while time shall last—not to supersede the ministry of the Redeemer, but to reveal Him, apply His blood, and expound, endear, and apply His word to all for whom He died.
5. He is continually showing His love by quickening God’s family. His word does not create Divine relationship, or give sinners an interest in God’s love. Love was before blood, and redemption precedes regeneration. “Because we are sons,” the Spirit is sent forth into our hearts, and He then manifests His love by imparting spiritual life to those who were “dead in trespasses and sins.”
6. His love appears in His making our bodies His shrines, and constantly abiding therein.
“His bless’d renovation begun,
He dwells in the hearts of the saints.
Abandons His temple to none,
Or e’er of His calling repents.”
7. It further appears in His helping us to realise the great facts on which our salvation depends. He finds us in the dark, but does not leave us there. He finds us ignorant of the Redeemer, but takes of the things of Christ, and shows them unto us. He persuades us that they are facts, and not cunningly-devised fables; and when His time of love comes, He reveals “that our sins, which are many, are all forgiven.”
8. It appears in His leading us to our final home. Through Him we pray our way to heaven. As we need to know further truth, He leads us progressively into it, and, step by step, guides us continually till faith is changed to sight.
9. The Holy Spirit will take part in the future glorification of the whole mystical body of Christ. “He that raiseth up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” This is a grand Gospel fact. If He dwells in me now—if His love has sanctified my soul—He will, on the last day, enter my body and bones—purge, purify and make the whole transparent and beautiful, assimilated to that of Jesus Christ.
Two characteristics of “the love of the Spirit” maybe noticed. It is a sovereign love. No creature can coerce or impede it. Neither the will of Gabriel, nor of ministers of the Gospel, nor of fond and affectionate parents controls its operations. “He divides to every man severally as He will.”
I do not understand what is meant by the favourite expression “freewill.” Is there such a thing save in God Himself? The devil’s will is not free, and I am deeply grateful for the fact. The sinner’s is not—as is evident. The Christian’s will is bound by soft and silken cords and held in blessed captivity to the law of Christ. It is common to talk of a sinner’s accepting Christ. What is this but making the love of the Spirit devolve on the will of man?
A minister may be spiritual and savoury, but he cannot command “the love of the Spirit” which flows or is withheld in connection with his ministrations as the Holy Ghost pleases. How often I wish that I could open the flood-gates of blessing, and if the matter were left in my hands I should do so. But I have learned—I hope I have—that the Spirit acts in pure sovereignty in communicating the blessings of His love.
Parents long for the salvation of their offspring, but though it is a very tender point, they cannot (and the fact is solemn), control His operations. This is one of the things we must leave with God.
“The love of the Spirit” is an efficient love, and hence (Zech 4:6), Jehovah says that all real spiritual blessing comes “not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit.” We hear of revivals resulting from a company of ministers, and deacons, and other Christians who have worked themselves up into a state of excitement. I do not believe that such a condition of things is the result of the operations of the Spirit at all. Heavily laden vessels sail slowly. The operations of the Spirit are secret, silent, and deep; and the more a believer has of the Holy Spirit, the more retiring he is—the more he loves his Bible and the dear Redeemer—the more he hates religious parade, and noise, and observation and excitement.
II.—THE EXTENT OF THE OPERATIONS OF “THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT.”
Do not be offended if I speak of the limitations of His operations, and please remember that these are not of my assigning: I simply state what I believe to be revealed facts.
His saving operations do not touch the devil or extend to fallen angels. Christ did not interpose any form of grace to rescue these—He did not assume their nature—and they are reserved “in chains of darkness to the judgment day.”
The operations of His love are limited to God’s chosen people, and do not extend to the whole human race. I loath the diabolical doctrine of universalism, that God will finally empty hell—that the water of life flows unto the world of eternal woe—and that all men will eventually be saved.
The love of the Spirit (like that of Christ), possesses “length, depth, and height,” terms which suggest its wide and wonderful dimensions, but it has also “breadth,” which though conveying the idea of extent involves also the thought of “limitation.”
1.—The operations of “the love of the Spirit” are limited by the terms and conditions of the covenant of grace. Redemption was limited by election, regeneration is limited by redemption. The Spirit works within the confines of the love of God—within the lines of grace and blood—under the shadow of the cross. The river of the water of life flows within the kingdom of God. The voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Do not think that when I speak of limitation, my conceptions of the extent of the salvation of God are meagre and contracted. While I am perfectly reconciled to God’s way of saving sinners, I do not pretend to set bounds to His grace, or attempt to number the people.
2.—The extent of the atonement defines the extent of the Spirit’s word. Hence in the book of Leviticus, 14:28, we read in the account of the ceremonial cleansing of the leper, that the priest “put of the oil on the place of the blood.” The blood of the trespass offering had first to be put on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand and the toe of the right foot of him that was to be cleansed; then oil had afterwards to be applied to all the places that had before been touched with blood. Oil, as you know, is the emblem of the grace of the Holy Ghost, and this teaches that the extent of the atonement defines the manifestation of “the love of the Spirit.” Blood was followed by oil; and there was no oil where there was no blood. There is beautiful order here. The eternal love of God determined the number of those for whom the sacrifice was offered, and also governs or limits the operations of the Spirit. He is bound to regenerate every blood-bought sinner. Saul of Tarsus was a blasphemer and a persecutor, but Jesus loved him. He had shed His blood for him. Hence he was arrested in his course of sin; his career, as a Pharisee, was brought to an end; he was made alive to God, and anointed with heavenly oil. What was the result? “Behold he prayeth”.
We are often deeply anxious to know whether the dear Redeemer died for us. Let us enquire whether “the love ofthe Spirit” has affected our hearts. Have we holy desires, do we spontaneously fall on our knees and seek the Lord’s face, do we feel that our souls are united to the truth of the Gospel, that there is a correspondence between what is written in the Bible, and what we have felt in our own souls. These experiences proceed from the operations of the love of the Spirit, and are only known to those who are within the limits of atoning blood.
3.—The “love of the Spirit “flows on what I will call graying ground—the premises occupied by God’s suppliants. One poor thing cannot lift up his head, and is sighing out his distress. It is because the Holy Spirit is making intercession with his spirit, “with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Another is pouring out a connected prayer; it is because the Spirit is pouring oil into his heart. Another has his heart full of love and his arms loaded with benefits. “He has sown in tears and is reaping in joy,” and the Holy Spirit inspired both his supplications and his songs of thanksgiving.
Two things, are certain, if I am a spiritual petitioner—if on praying-ground—I am in the atmosphere of the Spirit and within the lines of atoning blood.
4.—”The love of the Spirit” flows everywhere in the believer’s appointed way home. Our course to the grave is appointed and marked: it may include deep valleys and rugged mountains, yet “He will never leave us or forsake us.” “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.” Thus it is a life-long love. We may listen to lust and embrace sin—but as He is immutable in His purpose as a person in the Trinity, so however else He may act He will never desert the sinner that He has claimed in Christ’s name.
5.—The expressions of His love are connected with the means of grace, and in a sense limited by them. He ever respects the arrangements which Jehovah has made for the welfare of the Church. God has His meeting-places, “In all places where He records His name, He will come unto us, and He will bless us.” The ordinances of God’s house are channels cut by the mediation of Christ, and “the love of the Spirit” flows in them. People complain that they are cold, and barren, and parched—yet they neglect the institutions of God. How can it be otherwise? Let us then walk beside the still waters that flow in God’s sanctuary, and expect a blessing.
Let us also maintain the ordinances of the Gospel in their simplicity and integrity. If that which is human is introduced, I believe the Spirit withholds the tokens of His love.
My hearers, is it not solemn to contemplate a sinner’s lying eternally beyond the limits which sovereignty has assigned to the love of the Spirit of God—for beyond them is everlasting darkness, ruin and woe.
III.—SOME OF THE ENDS ACCOMPLISHED BY “THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT.”
Passing over His ultimate end—the glory of Jehovah—His great present purpose is the exaltation of Christ as the supreme Object of His peoples’ confidence, admiration, and love. He ever attracts men to Christ, unfolds Christ, convinces the sinner of His perfect adaptability to the need of one so broken and ruined as he. We notice that:—
1.—He produces all the gifts which are useful in the Church. Natural powers and attainments are of no profit of themselves, so He qualifies spiritual men for spiritual offices. Every useful minister is the fruit of His love—and not less so every good and holy and spiritually minded deacon and useful Church Member.
2.—The love of the Spirit results in the means so cheerfully contributed by Christians to the cause of God. The Church is under Christ’s care. It cannot, humanly speaking, be perpetuated without money, and the Spirit inspires a spirit of liberality.
No extravagant admiration is claimed for the ministry of which these are average samples. The diction was simple, but appropriate. There was no straining after effect, and the preacher evidently trusted more to his subject than to his rhetoric to interest his hearers. The charm lay in the truth so firmly stated; and in the fulness of Scriptural exposition, which made them so instructive. The result of such a work, maintained with uniform excellence through a long series of years, could not fail to lead to good results. Persistent painstaking achieves what spasmodic and transient efforts never accomplish—and here, while there was nothing that flashed or glittered, there was the steady forth shining of the light of the everlasting gospel.
No unimportant branch of the service rendered by John Hazelton, to the body of Christians to whom he was attached, was the improvement to which he so largely contributed in the character of their public meetings. These had been too often spoiled by the frivolity of the addresses, and speaker vied with speaker as to who should best succeed in making the audience laugh aloud.
He, however, was impressed with the conviction that what was undertaken in Christ’s name should be “done unto edifying;” and without betraying the unwisdom of openly censuring his senior brethren for what he could not regard with approval he quietly showed them a more excellent way. At first he failed to give public satisfaction, and his platform addresses were stigmatised as heavy and uninteresting; but in time he succeeded in convincing his section of the Denomination that an audience could be attracted and interested by Christ-exalting speeches, and that levity and nonsense, though they may provoke transient smiles, do not really commend themselves to the judgment of the wise in heart. The decorum and spirituality of such gatherings in the present day are not a little traceable to his influence a quarter of a century ago.
The following is the substance of his remarks at the New Year’s tea meeting at Homerton-row Chapel, in 1862, his subject being,—MELCHIZEDEC.
There is a good deal of mystery, to my mind, about Melchizedec. Some suppose that he was Shem; some that he was an angel; and some that Melchizedec was the Holy Ghost; and not a few believe that Melchizedec was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. I do not believe he was Shem; I do not believe he was an angel; I certainly do not think that the Holy Ghost was the Melchizedec that appeared to Abraham; and whether he was or was not the Lord Jesus Christ I confess I do not know; and as I do not know, I will not speak positively. However, the apostle Paul says, “Consider how great this man was.”
Now I shall say nothing about his person; but two or three things about his office.
The name itself means, as Paul tells us, “King of righteousness ;” he was king of Salem, perhaps of Jerusalem; and, says Paul, “he was therefore king of peace.” He was the priest of the most high God; and, therefore, an admirable, a striking, a glorious, a prominent, a remarkable type of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a kingly priest and a priestly king: a king and a priest; king of righteousness, king of peace; and the priest of the most high God, and perhaps something more—and, therefore, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a Priest upon His throne. Whether Melchizedec was a king because he was a priest or not I do not know; but he exercised the office of a high priest perfectly and gloriously. I do know that our Lord reigns because He is a Priest; He reigns because He put away sin, because He made a veritable and eternal atonement; 1 do know that He sways the sceptre, because He hung upon the cross, and thereby accomplished the mighty purpose for which He hung upon that cross:
“His cross a sure foundation laid
For glory and renown.
He passed through the regions of the dead to reach the crown. Now the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ is an office in the economy of salvation which arises, as I believe, out of relationship—it is based upon relationship—it is necessitated, so to speak, first by relationship ; and, secondly, by the lapsed state of the persons related to God.
The official character of the Lord Jesus Christ arises out of eternal relationship. Israel was God’s nation before the appointment of the Aaronic priesthood. God took them out of Egypt, reserved them for His own, brought them into covenant with Himself; and shortly after they left the land of Egypt, God instituted a certain order of things, one part of which consisted of the Jewish priesthood. And it appears to me, that that priesthood, apart from its being a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, arose out of the relation in which the Jews stood to God. And the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ arose out of the relation in which God stands to the church, and the church stands to God.
It argues the existence of eternal life; and it argues also the existence of sin. Had there been no sins committed, had there been no wrongs introduced, the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ had not been necessary; or, not that part of it which lies in His suffering, and bleeding, and dying. However, a priest appears upon the premises: and that teaches me, in the first place, that God has an interest in the people who occupy the premises; it teaches me that those people have committed wrong. Sin has been introduced, and sin exists; and so long as the Priest remains upon the premises, so long the evil remains there. Now, if the Priest be upon the earth, sin is unatoned for; if the Priest has been upon earth, and is gone to heaven, then sin has been put away. The victim was taken to Aaron; it was slain; the blood was caught; it was burnt; atonement was made; and the vessel containing the blood, and another vessel containing the incense and so on, were taken by the High Priest into the holiest of all. But Aaron was not allowed to go into the holiest of all before the victim was slain, before the blood was shed. Now the Lord Jesus Christ appears upon the earth, upon the premises upon which sin was committed; and He put it away; it was imputed to Him; He bore it in His own body on the tree; He was made sin for us; He was not a sinner naturally, nor inherently, nor objectively, nor practically; but He was constituted sin: “He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God by Him.”
When He, therefore, who was made sin died, sin itself died; sin was put away; sin, as to its woful consequences, was eternally abolished, and our great High Priest, having done His work without the vail, on the premises, is gone to heaven. He is King of righteousness, and therefore of peace; for there is no peace without righteousness; He reigns righteously—He has a right to reign, for He has fulfilled the covenant of grace, and therefore He sits upon the throne as King; and so He is a priestly King, and a Kingly Priest; and the rule by which He executes His government is a righteous rule.
Now, the apostle in speaking of the priesthood of Christ, in the fifth of the Hebrews, just introduces Melchizedec in the sixth verse. He says, “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec.” And I may just venture a supposition here. The apostle adds, “Who in the days of his flesh;” who does he mean—Melchizedec or Christ? or, does he mean both? “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared ; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” The apostle Paul is speaking of Melchizedec as the type of Christ, and may not the language apply somewhat to Melchizedec? and, if so, then it exhibits him as a very lively type of Christ. “And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedec. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.” And then in the 6th chapter, at the 20th verse, where he speaks of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven as our Forerunner, he says, “Whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec.”
Then in the seventh chapter, we have a very enlarged view of the official character of Melchizedec; I will not say the person, but the official character of Melchizedec; where the Apostle speaks of him first in his kingly and priestly character; and then as being without father and without mother. Now this appears to be the pinching point: one of them—if not the only one—”without father, without mother, without descent,” or genealogy, or pedigree. How easy it would have been for the apostle Paul to have said he was the Son of God—this was the place for him to say so, if he really were the Lord Jesus Christ; but he does not say so; he says he was “made like unto the Son of God ; abiding a priest continually.” Well, then, I confess I do not think much of what is said about Jesus Christ being without father with respect to His human nature; and without mother with respect to His divine nature; I do not think very much of that. I rather think the apostle Paul here simply contrasts Melchizedec with the Aaronic order of priests, with the Levitical priests; and he means to say, the priesthood to which you attach so much importance, to which you are so wedded, that priesthood has descended from generation to generation down from the time of Aaron; and you have your pedigree, your genealogy—you can trace up your existing priests, even to the first Jewish high priest, Aaron. Now, here is this great Melchizedec, who was mysteriously dropped as it were upon the scene—a great man, superior to Abraham, without any official father or mother, without any official descent; without any priestly genealogy: in these respects he was without father, without mother, without descent, without beginning of days. Your priests begin to execute their office when they are thirty years of age; and they quit the office when they are fifty. Now it is not said of this Melchizedec, that he begun at thirty and left off at fifty: “Without beginning of days, or end of life; but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.” Now this Melchizedec was a typical representation of the great High Priest of our profession; and thus the apostle Paul goes on, “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” And when you speak of the greatness of the Levitical economy, why Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedec met him returning from the slaughter of the kings, and I may say that Levi, the head of the tribe, paid tithes to Melchizedec in the loins of Abraham, our great ancestor. And so the apostle Paul goes on to speak until he comes to shew that a change of the priesthood involves a change of the dispensation, a change of the law. Why, your objection, he says, will be that if we admit another priest we must admit another law; just so, he says; and if perfection had come by the law of Moses, then there would not have been room for another dispensation, or for another institution of things: but the law made nothing perfect. I do not understand him there to mean the moral law: the law made nothing perfect, and your priests made nothing perfect; “But the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God;” and that better hope is the better altar, the better victim, the better blood, the better sacrifice, the better atonement: it is the great fact that everlastingly existed in idea, in thought, in the mind of God, realized; it is the great fact actualised; and therefore, by this hope we draw nigh unto God. And not only so, says the apostle,your priests were designated or appointed to the priesthood in the ordinary manner, by a carnal commandment; but the Lord Jesus Christ was sworn into office by an oath—made an High Priest: “The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec. Wherefore, He is able,” concludes the apostle, “to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” And as Melchizedec met Abraham (and the national church of the Jews may be said to have been in him), returning from the slaughter of the kings, with bread and wine, and blessed him; so our Priestly King and Kingly Priest meets His people with the bread and wine of eternal life: and when we come to heaven, our great Melchizedec will meet us with bread and wine; and we shall sit down and feast in His presence; and sin, and sorrow, and Satan, and the world, and death, shall be banished for ever and ever. Amen.
His own public meetings, especially those which commemorated the reopening of the Chapel, were unique. He invited only his most trusted ministerial friends, to whom special topics were generally allotted, and who, in recent years especially, felt bound to do their very best, and rose with some little trepidation when the chairman quietly said “Our brother will now, if he pleases, make some remarks on the subject which stands opposite to his name on the bill.”
His introductory observations, which were ordinarily delivered in a somewhat constrained manner, varied little year by year, and consisted of a brief resume of the past, acknowledgment of the continued kindness and consideration of his deacons, expressions of gratitude to God, and a few whimsical references to himself. “Give God the glory, the man is a sinner,” was a favourite quotation on these occasions.
His younger brethren perhaps felt a little in awe of their critical friend in the chair, who at times appended a word of comment to their addresses.
“Brother H,” he once observed, “you have stated that unregenerate sinners do not need Christ. Pardon me, we are old friends, all men need Christ, but it is only regenerated sinners who want Him.”
Occasionally, while the meeting was in progress, he would pencil a thought that occurred to him on a slip of paper torn from the bottom of the bill, and hand it to the brother next him.
One of these notes we treasure. “Christ saves us as our Prophet, Priest, and King. As our Prophet He saves by light; as our Priest, by blood; and as our King, by power.”
The period to which this chapter is devoted was closed by two interesting and important events connected with his public and private history.
In February, 1872, the Sunday-school, which so many years before had been crowded out of the Chapel by the ever-growing congregation, was reinstituted in a suitable building a few hundred yards away. This step gladdened his heart, and he promoted it in every possible way.
His opinions on the religious education of the young were far from general. While he loathed the notion, entertained by certain extreme men of his own school, that it is wrong to instruct children in the principles of Christianity because of the danger of their becoming formal professors, he entertained the strongest possible dislike to Arminianism in the Sabbath-school, and regarded the persuasion of children to become pious, give their hearts to God, get salvation, accept offered grace and the like, as extremely mischievous and delusive.
Nature he was convinced cannot rise above its own level. Creature-urging can never originate spirituality. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and a religion which owes its origin to human influence is worse than valueless. He therefore made strenuous efforts to establish the undertaking to which his people were putting their hands, on a sound and Scriptural basis. He insisted that the teachers should be true Christians, and that the subject-matter of every lesson should be the identical truths proclaimed from the pulpit, in a simplified form. Modern innovations and errors were to be eschewed. No connection was to be formed with the Sunday School Union, and the almost universal summer excursion was to be dispensed with ; though after a year or two he was compelled to concede this last point.
Whether a Sabbath School could be maintained on what many would consider these rigid and antiquated lines was a problem that few could answer. Success however crowned the enterprise. Under his wise presidency all went well. Earnest and holy teachers, mainly the fruit of his own ministry, were forthcoming, and during the last eighteen years the testimony given by the Lord to the Word of His grace, has amply demonstrated His own approval of the movement. His sovereignty has been owned and taught. All adventitious attractions have been eschewed. With no assistance from the great Society whose help is generally considered essential to such efforts, the standard of intelligent Scriptural instruction has been maintained, and the glorious doctrines of the Gospel uncompromisingly enforced.
In 1872 he completed his fiftieth year. He had never been robust, and now looked older than many men of sixty. Time had thinned and silvered his long black hair. His features bore indications of a life devoted to study and not unclouded by seasons of prostration and care. The lithographic portrait which was published about this time was considered fairly satisfactory, and gives a good general idea of his appearance at this time. His sight was beginning to fail, and he read with the assistance of eyeglasses. Severe weather tried his somewhat feeble chest, and his public delivery was at times interrupted by an irritation of the throat, which increased with future years.
On Thursday, June 6th, a meeting was held in the Chapel to celebrate his jubilee. Richard Minton, now of advanced age, presided, and delivered an address expressive of the universal esteem in which his minister was held. He dwelt on his faithful assiduity for the twenty years he had served them; adverted to his prudent and pacific policy; and eulogised his beloved wife as not only her husband’s caretaker, but as the universal peacemaker of the Church, who was always on the look-out for fallen sparks, and never rested till she had put her foot on them. A kindly reference to their son, embodying an aspiration which has been graciously fulfilled, terminated a really powerful and pathetic address, which was followed by the presentation of a gold watch and chain to his pastor, and a gold chain for his wife, together with an illuminated Address.
Well do we remember our dear friend’s rising in the soft light of that Summer evening to acknowledge these valuable expressions of his peoples’ affection. Hesitatingly, and in broken words, he told of his appreciation of their kindness, assured them that the love was reciprocal, and then, as his confidence returned, he recounted some episodes of his life, commencing with the dream by which he was awakened. He talked on, as the twilight shadows crept round, but the flight of time was unnoticed, for all felt it good to be there.
To him by whose hand these words are traced, it was a memorable incident connected with a hallowed friendship.
Useful as his ministry was, during the whole of this period, he preserved so few papers of any kind, that the following is the only one we can obtain, of the many testimonials which he doubtless received, to the blessing his sermons had proved. Fragment though it is, it is fraught with interest, exemplifying the operations of Divine grace in the heart of a little girl, and presenting our friend in the light, not of a correct theologian and thoughtful preacher, but as a gentle and affectionate man, who unconsciously to himself, secured the trust of a loving child.
“About 18 years ago, you may remember preaching from the words—’Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ The sermon was wonderfully blessed to me, showing me the hatefulness of sin in God’s sight, and myself a sinner, needing a Saviour; it deepened the conviction already received when not quite four years old. I was between seven and eight when I heard you preach the sermon mentioned. I thought that I was too young to join the Church, and never felt I could tell you, although I loved you so much, and never liked to go home without going into the vestry, with ray sister, to kiss you; as you may remember.”
With the two following letters we will bring this chapter to a close.
To a young Christian man whose father had died suddenly.
MY DEAR BROTHER,—On reaching home last evening after the church-meeting, I found your letter, informing me of the sudden—solemnly sudden—death of your beloved and universally respected father. I am sure you will receive this short note, among the many expressions of condolence which well-known friends will send, as coming from one who very highly respected the departed saint, and very sincerely loves you. My love to your departed father as a member of the denomination to which I belong—as a good and godly man—as a useful deacon of the church of Christ, and as an exemplary Christian; together with my regard for the bereaved family, induce me to trouble you with a few lines.
I weep with you because you have lost a good and Christian father, I rejoice because he is for ever with the Lord. His remains are at present with you, they are loved, purchased, and sanctified; deposit them in the grave, my beloved brother, in joyful hope, in filial gratitude to God, in thankful remembrance of what grace made your parent, and in solemn remembrance of what yourself and yours must shortly be. May He that trod the path of death to eternal life, support you under the bereavement, sanctify it to the family, and conduct you all to that rest, where death can never enter, and separation is an impossibility.
Death is mysteriously merciful, and mercifully mysterious. Of itself it is the offspring of sin and our enemy. In connection with Jesus and His reigning grace, it is a real, though solemn blessing, It is the end and the beginning of life, the end of hope, and the beginning of fruition, the end of faith and the beginning of sight, the end of toil and the beginning of rest, the end of the journey and the open and grace-guarded door of the pilgrim’s eternal home.
Your dear father has entered a world of minds, of kindred minds, of holy, happy, and perfected minds, minds gathered into sweetest harmony around that uncreated amiable and loving intellect which shines and smiles upon all, in and through the Lamb in the midst of the throne. When you think of your father’s death, and your own loss, you may sorrow, but when you think of where and what he is you must rejoice.
You know your father’s God; you know the way to Him; that way is always open to you; you are infinitely welcome; God’s love to souls departed and souls in the flesh is one and the same ; make use of your privileges, and commit your all to Him.
May God support your afflicted mother; and more than fill the gap in your family which His hand has made, and sanctify the sudden blow to all.
I am, my dear brother,
Aug. 13th, 1868.
To a lady who had written to ask his advice upon the transference of her Church membership.
DEAR SISTER,—Your letter came to hand in due order, but having many engagements to fulfil, I have not had time to write until now. I am glad you are not like some of the members of Chadwell-street, who, when removed by Providence from us, forget us, or do not think it worth their while to communicate with us. Membership with the Church of God is a sacred and an important thing, and by wishing, and writing as you have, you have shown that you feel it to be so.
I am thankful that you are spiritually alive, and that your soul is prosperous: for when one earnestly desires “to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ,” there is spiritual health and a measure of soul prosperity. In the operations and changes of Providence, the Lord does not consult us, but “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Our changes are intended to bring to pass God’s unchangeable will and purpose. Some purpose worthy of the wisdom of your heavenly Father was to be accomplished by your removal from London to R—; and time will doubtless justify the conduct of your God, and verify His word: “I will never leave thee.”
In having a cause of truth at R—, and a man and minister like Mr. P—, you are privileged as many who have been removed from us, are not.
With respect to having your dismission from us, I believe you are quite right. When persons are removed as you have been, and a church with which they can unite is at hand, it is their duty and their privilege to join it.
The will of God concerning you seems to be evident: God has cast your lot at R—, you see no probability of returning to London—you are at home with the Church, and can hear and
receive its pastor as a minister of God.
These are indications of your heavenly Father’s will, arise, therefore, respond to His call, and take the necessary steps to receive your dismission, and may God direct and bless you. What help you can render to the Church, we in London cannot have; therefore, though I am sorry to lose good and useful members, I feel in this case, that you will be in the path of duty to join the Church at R—, and we shall do right to dismiss you.
May the enriching blessings of your Father’s love fall upon you every day, that your affections may be pure and ardent, your understanding clear, your hope steady, your faith strong, and your whole soul fruitful in the ways of God; and remember me and the friends in your prayers until we shall meet in that land where prayer is unnecessary and removals are unknown.
I am, dear sister, your affectionate pastor,
Nov. 11th, 1868.
 See Gospel Herald for 1851, page 137. This was a library for the use of Strict Baptists in London. Educational classes were also contemplated.
 This Society was formed on April 21,1853; its Secretary was William Stokes, of Manchester. Its object was to protect the property of the Strict Baptist body from being alienated from its original purpose and design. It should be stated, that the Model Trust Deed, which was prepared for the Society by the Honorary Solicitor, James Mote, Esq., is most valuable.
 REVISED VERSION.—This verse strikes us as peculiarly applicable to our dear friend: “God hath not given us a spirit of fearfulness” (or timidity) “but” (not boldness or courage, which would seem to be the natural anti-thesis) “power” (real force of character) “love” (to God, His people and His truth) and “discipline or discretion” (habitual self- restraint).
William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.