A Biography of John Hazelton, by William Styles (Complete),  William Styles, A Memoir Of John Hazelton (Complete)

Chapter 13


I would describe him simple, grave, sincere,
In doctrine uncorrupt; in language plain,
And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste,
And natural in gesture; much impressed
Himself, as conscious of his awful charge.
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds
May feel it too; affectionate in look,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.—Cowper.

Nothing was further from the character of John Hazelton than the common ambition to figure as “an all-round man.”

He had thoughts on politics, and deemed it right for a Christian to vote according to his convictions, but he attended no meetings that were not distinctly religious or philanthropical, and he was always silent in public on the questions of the day. He was well read: but he never delivered lectures or wrote articles on social or literary subjects. He possessed many of the qualifications of a commentator, but he penned no expositions, nor were any critical or exegetical notes found among his papers. Assured of his vocation, he made it the sole business of his life to preach the gospel to the utmost of his ability. “This one thing I do,” as his friend, William Houghton, of Ipswich, observed—was the characteristic motto of his entire life.

Considerable popular misapprehension as to the tenets of the Strict and Particular Baptists prevails. It may therefore be well to give some hints as to the doctrines which John Hazelton promulgated.

Substantially they were evangelical, corresponding (with some important divergences) with the teachings of the Assembly’s Catechism and the majority of the Puritans—but no one term is current with which to describe them.

By unthinking outsiders he was styled a hyper-Calvinist, but the designation was as unhappy as it was incorrect. He indeed held the doctrines of grace to which such prominence is given in the writings of the great reformer—but if the word is employed to describe one who presses these principles beyond their logical and legitimate issues, it would be altogether misleading. Calvin, for example, broadly taught the doctrine of reprobation—yet at the same time enforced the sentiment that grace is offered to the ungodly—positions to which our friend was resolutely opposed. Moreover Calvin, while he insisted on the peerless value of the sacrifice of Christ, held that “God (first) becomes propitiated to men when they repose confidence in the blood of Christ,” and thus assigned to faith a function in relation to salvation which our friend with all energy denied it to sustain.

It is no reflection on the memory of one of the greatest of men that in an age so dark he erred on matters on which light has subsequently broken out from the Sacred Volume, and that a devout and diligent student of the Bible in the nineteenth century should be clear on points which are confused in his writings.

Moreover, an acerbity and harshness are popularly (but unjustly) attributed to Calvinism, from which our friend’s divinity was entirely free.

Singular as it may seem, he held a creed to which theologians have given no name. “The author of the ensuing pages,” wrote John Stevens, “is neither a Calvinist, an Arminian, nor a Baxterian, though he holds many things in common with each; while he claims the liberty of dissenting from them all, where in his apprehension they severally deviate from the straight line of inspired truth.” Much the same may be advanced of our friend to whose memory these pages are dedicated.

We shall make no attempt to present his views in extenso;[1] but his convictions on one or two leading branches of truth may be considered with interest.

His ministry very eminently honoured the character and work of each person in the Sacred Three—though perhaps his forte was the presentation in a copious and wonderful variety of ways of the glory and the grace of Emmanuel and the perfection of His sacrifice and intercession.

Of God out of Christ he professed to know nothing, and often dwelt on the unprofitableness of attempting to meditate upon the abstract or unmediated Deity.

The doctrines of distinguishing grace he advanced with unflinching boldness—but presented each in its harmonious relation to the whole of revealed truth.

On the Justification of a sinner through sovereign mercy and redeeming blood he loved to expatiate; but his utterances on the correlative doctrine of Sanctification were equally emphatic.

On the points that distinguish our section of the Church from other denominations he was most emphatic. He did not hold that Christ died to augment the punishment of the lost; or that the preaching of the Gospel will increase the intensity of the hell of all who do not receive it. He denied that the act of a heaven-born faith adds validity to the Atonement, and gives an elect sinner an interest in Christ, which he did not possess by the determination of ancient grace. The term progressive Sanctification he eschewed, and very firmly opposed the view of the great subject ordinarily associated with the popular phrase. He accepted the holy law of God in the hands of the great Mediator as the Christian’s rule of life—and somewhat energetically opposed the contrary view which the great William Huntington so warmly espoused. “I loathe Antinomianism, both practical and doctrinal,” he once exclaimed with unwonted fire.

These and similar statements are easily verified by consulting his published sermons; but it is remarkable how seldom he referred to views to which he stood opposed. Negative testimony—the denunciation of error—heated and bitter remarks upon views that he reputed erroneous, he evidently deemed of little profit to sinner or to saint.

He was a most practical preacher, but he was careful to base all a Christian’s obligation to exemplify his religion in a holy life, on the sacred and tender relationship which exists between him and his beloved Lord. “If the love of Christ,” he once observed, “does not constrain men to do what is right; long and loud exhortations to duty will assuredly fail to do so.

He aimed to be instructive, and believed that no style of preaching was so useful as the full and faithful presentation of the truth of God. The phrase “dry doctrines” he much disliked. “All Scripture,” he knew, “was given by inspiration of God,” and every succinct presentation of its teachings, he was assured, must be profitable to heaven-born sinners. “The dryness,” he contended, “is not in the doctrines of grace, but in the persons themselves who speak of them in this flippant and unbecoming manner.”

Consciously guilty sinners; saints in soul trouble, tempted, harassed, perplexed, and almost ready to resign all hope, found in his sympathetic and Scriptural words the most valuable help. He did not shrink from allusions to himself, his conversion, early spiritual happiness, and the subsequent vicissitudes of his spiritual life, but such references were always made deferentially and in good taste, and were often prefaced by the words, “You will forgive me for referring to myself.” (See page 19).

The only specimen of his composition on a purely theological subject which, has come to hand consists of a reply to the following letter:—

DEAR MR. HAZELTON,—You will remember our conversation on your sermon on Isaiah 33:16, in which you introduced the exposition of “dwelling with everlasting burning’s,” which you said I should find in Owen. I have failed to turn up the passage. Can you kindly supply it? and also tell me if you think I have accurately reported the passage in which your remarks occur.

With ever grateful regards, etc.

EXTRACT from Sermon by Mr. Hazelton on Isaiah 33:16—THE NATURE OF THE PUNISHMENT OF HELL:—

“It has been asserted that the punishment of hell will be material fire, and the idea has been supported by the words, ‘Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with (not in) everlasting burnings?’ This, however, arises from a mistaken view of the text. The Lord is not here speaking of ‘sinners in Zion, and hypocrites,’ but of His own people; and the ‘fire and burnings’ do not refer to future punishment, but to God Himself. He is ‘a consuming fire.’ His perfections will burn for ever, but such will be the perfection of our salvation through Christ that we shall be enabled to dwell in the awful presence of this majestically holy God. Pure gold can abide in the heart of the fiercest furnace uninjured; and the saints will dwell with the fire and burnings of the infinite holiness of God. Moreover, that hell-fire will not be literal and material, is evident from the circumstances of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On that solemn occasion the moral government of God found its fullest exemplification and manifestation. Whatever the dread word ‘damnation’ may express and involve was endured by the forsaken and broken-hearted Saviour when He was made a curse for us. Terrors, indeed, took hold of Him, but there were no literal flames blazing around the cross, neither will physical fire form the punishment of the lost hereafter.”

This evoked the following thoughtful answer:—

MY DEAR SIR,—I have not found the passage in Owen[2] referred to, but I feel certain I have read it somewhere in his works. If you have Trapp or Pool, turn to them; you will find they do not much differ from the view of the “Everlasting burnings ” in Isaiah.

I cannot recollect delivering the thoughts expressed in the extract you sent; but if you took them down from my lips, of course I did so, and, slightly corrected, I still adhere to the sentiments they express.

I hope you are not thinking of making any public use of them, as I much dislike controversy, and I am sure the publication of them would provoke it.

Trapp says, “So might we dwell with ‘everlasting burnings,’ that is, with the knowledge of God’s terrible presence and sight of His great judgments, whereof the hypocrites of the world are afraid, because this fire melteth off their paint and threateneth to wash off their varnish with terrors of brimstone.” Pool says, “The generality of the people were filled with horrors and expectation of utter destructions. Plow shall we be able to abide the presence, and endure or avoid the wrath of that God who is a consuming fire; who is now about to destroy us by the Assyrians? And who shall dwell for us, etc., i.e., in our stead? Who shall interpose himself between God’s anger and us? “He says that “This is the sense of this question may be gathered from the answer given to it in the following verse,” etc.

Trusting you and yours are well.

I remain, yours fraternally,

P.S.—The post is a very convenient arrangement for friends at a great distance to communicate with each other.[3] ——————-

Like all preachers of his persuasion, he was from time to time accused of not preaching the Gospel to the unconverted, but the charge was exceedingly baseless. He did not, indeed, believe that “the ministry of reconciliation” includes regeneration, which he regarded as a Divine operation effected by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of chosen and blood-bought sinners, apart from all instrumentality. The Gospel he therefore viewed as a gracious provision for divinely-infused life, and he aimed at ministerially meeting the needs of those who had been born anew. “Feed My sheep,” he once observed, “defines our commission. We are neither to form them nor find them. These the Good Shepherd will do; but when they are brought within the range of our influence, our business is to endeavour to feed them.”

It was said of John Foreman that he had a keen ear for the bleating of Christ’s lambs. The same may be said of our friend. He directed his remarks to character, and applied the words of divine encouragement to those for whom they are evidently designed. He did not offer Christ to the unregenerate, or implore them to believe as the only condition of their salvation. He regarded natural men as spiritually nonexistent, and all his references or remarks to them were consistent with this conviction. His view of Revelation 3:20 prevented his entreating them to listen to the knocks of Jesus at the doors of their hearts, or beg them to admit Him before He abandoned His attempts to save them. In preaching faith he was careful to exhibit its glorious Object, as well as to delineate its important act.

He did not hold that moral accountability includes the obligation to be saved, and accordingly did not urge spiritual belief upon natural men. It was his conviction that the doctrine of duty-faith darkens and disfigures the whole scheme of the gospel. He, however, described the terrible condition and position of lost sinners with great solemnity, and presented, in their simplest form, the consolations of the Gospel to the anxious inquirer.

It should be added that he was very successful in this department of his ministry, and that many traced the beginning of their hope and comfort to his holy and earnest words.

He gave great attention to the structure as well as to the substance of his sermons. Common-place or slovenly divisions he deemed detrimental to the value even of a thoughtful discourse; and when a text attracted him he spared no pains to put his ideas into a logical and attractive form. He also endeavoured to avoid monotony in method; and aimed at variety in his ways of preaching the Gospel. Far too attached to the old road to deviate from it, he endeavoured to avoid the old ruts; and sought to present the truth of God in a fresh and un- conventional manner.

He thus cultivated the happy art of presenting well-worn texts in new and attractive lights.

He disliked the way of sermonising that close students of Dr. Gill’s Commentary so frequently adopt[4] as mechanical and uninteresting.

Of the two chief methods of dividing a subject, the textual and the topical,[5] he inclined to the latter as giving greater scope for thought. Many of his discourses of this kind were exceedingly happy. The following is a specimen:—

If any man sin ire have an advocate with the Father. (1 John 2:1).

I. This implies the terrible character of sin; inferred from the dignity of the Saviour’s Person and the elaborate perfection of His work.

II. The text indicates God’s high estimate of His people; inferred from the gift of His Son.

III. We learn the individuality of Christ’s intercession while in heaven. “If any man.”

IV . We gather that godliness is intercourse with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

V. We notice the perpetuity of Christ’s advocacy.

VI. We infer that the court of heaven is favourable to the sinner. Christ has not to implore God to love us, or beg Him to establish a relationship between Him and us, but pleads that we may know His grace.[6] ——————-

His textual divisions were neat and comprehensive. The following embrace every thought advanced in the portion chosen.

Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? (James 2:7).

The text presents the name of Jesus in three relations:—

I. To Himself it is “that worthy name.”

II. To His followers: they are called by it.”

III. To His enemies: “they blaspheme it.”

He was wont to say that when younger he was fond of forced and fanciful expositions of Holy Writ. Martin Luther also confessed that in his early days he was in like manner addicted to allegorical interpretations. “Now,” he adds, “I have shaken them off, and my best heart is to deliver the Scriptures in their simple sense; the same doeth the deed; therein is life, strength, and doctrine. In the other is nothing but foolishness, let it lustre and shine how it will.” Thus was it with our friend.

As his judgment matured, his pleasure in basing his discourses on thoughts which a fertile mind can deduce from the histories and figures of the Bible declined. Often in later years have we heard him remark from the pulpit, “I will not, as it is called, spiritualise this portion of the Word of God, but direct your attention to a few plain and obvious thoughts which have occurred to my mind.”

It is related that when at Guyhern he once preached from the words, “And the child sneezed seven times” (2 Kings 4:35). The lady he afterwards married was present and judiciously remarked “that while she had no exception to take to the sermon, she thought that he might have chosen a better text.”

Great was the contrast that his later years presented. Samuel Milner was wont to observe that he disliked sermons in which all the stuff was carted to the text instead of dug out of it. It may be noticed that the portions of Scripture on which our friend’s published sermons are based, are almost without exception, treated in their natural and evident sense, the whole of the matter being derived from the truths they manifestly embody or suggest.

He, nevertheless, excelled in the art of presenting from the figures of the Bible the thoughts that were couched in them. This he often did in a most instructive and suggestive manner. The following is an example:—

As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, etc. (Cant. 2:3). The Saviour is here set forth; and the words being inspired by the Holy Ghost, the figures are appropriate and significant.

I. THE ROOT being hidden from view, suggests the Deity of the Saviour, “No man knoweth the Son but the Father.”

II. THE VISIBLE STEM, growing forth from the root, denotes the incarnation and manifestation of the Son of God.

III. THE BRANCHES, arising from both root and stem, denote Christ’s official relationships.

IV. THE FRUIT, the precious and delightful results of His mediation: pardon, peace, joy, assurance, anticipation of glory, &c.

This fruit is not gathered by our standing on tip-toe and reaching forth an arm. It comes to us independently of effort. The Heavenly Dove, who rests in the branches of this tree, lets the precious fruit fall into the laps of those who sit down under its shadow.

This sermon was preached soon after he came to the metropolis. We doubt whether the bold but graceful fancy of the Dove would have been introduced in his latter years.

In May, 1875, he dealt with a somewhat similar subject at Ebenezer Chapel, Hornsey-rise; his text being, I am the true vine (John 15:1). This wonderful sermon was not reported, and a few thoughts only are remembered.

He likened the vine to Jesus, as the “Mediator of the new covenant.”

The richness of the earth he compared to the ”fulness of God.”

The richness of the earth is the source of all human nourishment. Whatever the form of our food, it originates in the fertility of the soil.

So the fulness of God is the source of all spiritual blessings. Whether we contemplate it in the form of pardon, or peace, or assurance, all flow from the grace and greatness of God.

But no one can suck nourishment out of the earth itself. Its moisture is not adapted to the human palate, nor can its fatness feed us.

So no one can approach God in His absolute and unmediated glory, which is not adapted to solace and strengthen lost sinners.

The vine comes between the earth and human beings, and transmutes the moisture of the soil into luscious grapes, which cool, refresh, and delight thirsty lips.

So Jesus the Mediator comes between God and the sinner, and presents all the glory of the Divine majesty in a form that assuages the poor trembler’s fear, relieves his burning conscience, and fills him with joy.

The whole of God’s character appears in salvation, but in a form that imparts peace and compels love to Him.[7] ——————-

One of his favourite methods of treating a text was to consider its leading truth in relation to the principle facts and truths of the Gospel.

Of this character were the divisions of a discourse preached in Islington Green Chapel in November, 1872.

Thou hast a mighty arm; strong is Thy hand, and high is Thy right hand (Ps 89:13).

The subject indicated is the power of God. Consider it:—

I. In relation to the atonement. God’s hand grasped “all the sins of all the elect.”

II. In relation to the resurrection of Christ, “Him being by the right hand of God exalted.”

III. In relation to the gathering of redeemed sinners to Himself. They are where He can grasp them; He is able to. Their conversion is not contingent on their willingness to accept Christ; His arm is as long as His heart is large.

IV. In relation to the government of the world. All occurs as He pleases; Satan restrained: all things work together for good.

V. In relation to the progress of the Church. He is not baffled, though we are often distressed.

VI. In relation to the resurrection of the saints. “All our rising bones shall say, Lord, who is like to Thee?”

VII. In relation to the great final judgment. He will then destroy all His enemies.

His manner in the pulpit was exceedingly quiet. He has been known to stand on a hassock during the delivery of a long sermon without apparent inconvenience. He used but little gesture, rarely elevating his hands, though at times, especially when describing a Scriptural scene, he would uplift or extend his right arm with really effective art. His attractiveness, however, lay rather in the excellence of his sermons than in his delivery, which, especially of late years, was marred by his increasing infirmities. He always began quietly, often in a constrained and hesitating manner, and generally, when from home, commenced by excuses for the poverty of the discourse which he was prepared to deliver, and apologetic references to his feeble health and many engagements. These, when they preceded a full and masterly sermon, created wonder in many minds. We are persuaded, however, that he assumed no diffidence that he did not really feel, and that he often endured agonies of anxiety in prospect of his pulpit engagements.

Sometimes, on returning to the vestry after preaching, he would say in a dejected manner, “Did you not hear my chains clanking?’’ “No,” would his good deacon Burrell reply; “we have heard the music of the Gospel sounding.”

When fairly under way, however, there was a dignity in his carriage, a grandeur in his steady flow of appropriate language, and a majesty in his thoughts that commanded close attention. At times his heart caught fire, and he rose to nights of eloquence of no common order. We never knew him embarrassed for want of a thought, or at a loss for the very word he required. He used no notes, but was wont to write a few words with his pencil on the margin or the page on which his text occurred. He, however, regretted having contracted this habit, and was wont to advise his younger brethren to have full confidence in the mummies, which, he assured them, might safely be trusted.

Some things were very noticeable in all his sermons.

He never appealed to mere human emotion, or sought to excite sentimental feelings in the hearts of his hearers. Affrighted nature he well knew would never lead men to act graciously; nor would terror[8] bring a sinner to Christ. It is not difficult to draw tears from the eyes of persons who have not the least true religion. He therefore rather sought by exhibiting the Saviour to draw out the affections of those who had felt the power of His grace.

He never closed his discourses with & peroration, or elaborate rhetorical conclusion—his closing observations being always simple and unaffected. The old-fashioned application he also eschewed—leaving it for the Holy G-host to carry the message home to the hearts of all whom it was His sovereign purpose to bless.

We have remarked how tardily the Christian public awoke to the conviction that his sermons were worthy of preservation. Many of his best, we are assured, are thus altogether lost, while some that must have been unusually excellent survive only in the dim recollections of those that heard them.

Very remarkable must have been the discourse which he delivered one week-night at his own place from the words, “God requireth that which is past.” This he did not understand to mean that the Lord will hereafter require of mankind an account of their past opportunities, privileges, sins, etc., but that He needs the past for the carrying out of His providential and saving plans. The ink with which the Bible is written has long been dry; its composition is a thing of the past; but He requires it every clay for His saving acts. The cross of Jesus is past, but God requires it as the foundation of every manifestation of His grace, etc.

Another, on “Which things the angels desire to look into,” produced a great effect in Suffolk. Rather unusually for him, he personated the angels by stooping over the Bible and gazing intently at the open page.

The following is a sketch of a sermon which one who knew him well, considered to be among the best he was ever known to deliver:—

Text,—”The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38).

Introduction.—A short running comment on Canticles 5:9-16. His month is most sweet. Consider this in relation to His early words for His people before the foundation of the world—to what He says to them as their Intercessor in heaven—and to His seven utterances from His cross.

Divisions.—Contemplate the fact stated in the text; and make it the basis of some reflections.


(1). The veil, its situation, size, etc., described. The officiating priest was standing at the golden altar—for it was the proper time for the evening sacrifice. This man must have been startled: for the rending of the veil was a wonder. The day of Christ’s death more full of marvels than (will be) the day of judgment.

1. Fixing our thoughts on the fact that Jesus died at the time of evening sacrifice. This may signify:

(1) The extensiveness of Christ’s sacrifice, reaching from the morning to the evening of the world’s history, (a), He was offered in the morning of time in the purpose and promise of God. (b), In the divinely ordained typical sacrifices, (c), In the faith of His people, who from the first looked to God through Him alone for the remission of sins. He expired at the time of the evening sacrifice.

(2) at the termination of the Jewish Dispensation. “Now once in the end of the world hath He appeared” (Heb 9:26).

(3) His sacrifice was final. “He hath obtained eternal redemption for us.” His blood hath continued efficacy to “cleanse from all sin.” Levitical sacrifices had often to be repeated, but—

2. The general signification of this wonderful fact:

“The blood, of Christ shall still remain
Sufficient and alone.”

(1) It indicated ABOLITION. The veil was not rolled or drawn up—or pulled aside—or removed and replaced, but rent. The Jewish high priest, when he annually entered the most holy place, held up the veil by a corner and passed it—dared not rend it. It was rent by an invisible hand—not from the bottom, as though devils had done it—but from top ; by God Himself as He sat on His throne. This denoted the “end of that which was abolished “— that God was about to leave the House in which He had dwelt so long—was about to give up house-keeping with that Church.

The true knowledge of Himself had hitherto been confined to His national people; but the wall of partition was then broken down; the ceremonial law which distinguished and divided Jew from Gentile was thereby abolished; and the knowledge of the Lord was progressively to cover “the earth as the waters cover the sea.” Thus all that distinctly appertained to that dispensation was abolished. Old things passed away; all became new. The ministry of priests of the race of Aaron will nevermore be needed, nor will such sacrifices as they offered be required.

“For Christ the Heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.”

(2) It indicated REVELATION. The veil concealed the contents of the holy of holies—the ark of the covenant—the mercy seat—the cherubim—but these were now disclosed. So the death of Christ revealed many marvellous facts.

(i) It revealed God Himself. In the atonement we see the heart of God; the bosom of Deity; the loving mind of Jehovah. It afforded a revelation of all His attributes—and these are displayed in the most harmonious relations to each other. Mercy and truth, righteousness and love, appear in the work and wounds of Incarnate God. What a revelation! “Here the whole Deity is writ.” Such a revelation we have nowhere else.

Man cannot exhibit both justice and mercy in the same transaction. One must give way—but here we behold Mercy putting the blood of Christ into the hands of Justice—and these once conflicting attributes of God “kiss each other.”

(ii) The mercy seat was revealed—God’s throne was disclosed when Christ died—and it is a throne of grace (Heb 4:16). The divine Monarch seated thereon holds no sword—but rather exclaims, “I will not be wroth with thee or rebuke thee.” No barrier keeps the suppliants back.

(iii) The cherubim were revealed—the fact was made known that they are ministering spirits for the King’s children (Heb 1:14).

(iv) The interior of the holiest of all was revealed. Heaven was opened: and its glories made known to faith: (amplified by a reference to John 1:50: “Thou shalt see greater things than these.”)

(3)—It indicated COMMUNICATION. Through the rent veil of Christ’s person, God comes out to meet His people and impart grace.

(i) He communicates life—a new life—that brings sinners into sympathy with Himself and prepares them for heaven.

(ii) He communicates light—the light of His countenance—in which He first “sets our sins” (Ps 90:8); and we tremble as we view the enormity—and afterwards He gives us help from His sanctuary, by revealing His countenance in the glory of His pitying grace (Ps 42:5-11: 43:5).

(iii) Through the rent veil, He dispenses pardon to His people. The forgiveness of sin always emanates from the throne. It is not the act of a judge to forgive: nor does the Lord pardon in His judicial character. It is for the King to forgive—and as our royal Father, God says, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” (The white stone of Rev 2:17 was here used as an illustration).

(iv) Through the rent veil the promises are spoken, and reach the hearts of God’s people, etc.

(v) Through the rent veil, all spiritual blessings proceed. When Christ died, He opened the heart of God, and set them flowing, and they still, etc.

(4) It indicated ACCESS. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil—that is to say, His flesh.

There is away into heaven for the praises and prayers of God’s people now, as there will be for their persons hereafter. What varied companies draw nigh to God now, as (i) those who have recently been convinced of sin, and are crying, “God be merciful unto me,” (ii) tempted saints, weary and wounded with fiery darts, (iii) perplexed, bewildered, and baffled ones, who exclaim, “Lord, I am oppressed, undertake Thou for me.” (iv) All who come arereceived inside, forthe living way is not tobutinto theholiest.

(5)—A peculiar CONNECTION is indicated. The holy and the most holy places were severed and disconnected b y the veil—at its rending they were, one. Earth is connected with heaven by the atonement of Christ. Earth is the ground-floor of heaven—and a living way connects them together. Heaven will be sweet—but there are some delightful spots on the ground-floor, “This is the gate of Heaven” (Gen 28:17).

(6)—The PERFECT EQUALITY of all God’s people is also indicated. None but the high priest might pass the veil, and that but once in the circuit of each year.

Now, all Christians are priests—all may enter into the holiest who plead the blood of Christ; nor do their circumstances affect their official standing in grace. They may be needy, poor, cast-down, and tried—but each h as a priest’s right to approach the throne of grace.

(7)—The PERFECTION OF CHRIST’S WORK is intimated. All that He had undertaken to do was accomplished; all types fulfilled; all covenant engagements met. The veil therefore was not simply torn, but rent in twain.


1.—The marvellous power of the cross of Christ. “Oh, the sweet wonders of that cross,” etc.

2.—When the power of the cross of Christ reaches the heart, it will rend other veils—ignorance, prejudice, unbelief, hatred to God, and the love and tyranny of sin. Every obstacle will yield to the matchless power of the blood of Christ.

3.—The subject suggests that the death of Jesus has introduced a dispensation in which God is not to be approached by elaborate ceremonials, but in spirit and in truth. He supersedes all that is material and carnally attractive in worship.

4. The true dwelling-place of God’s people is suggested.

They live in the world, but they dwell in the Church, where God is found. “One thing have I desired” (Ps 27:4). What a man desires, he will seek after.

They live in the world, but they dwell in Christ.

Moses prayed, “Show me Thy glory;” I, too, want to see the glory of God in the gospel. “I will put thee in the cleft of the rock”—was God’s gracious reply to Moses: and He puts the sinner in His Son. We dwell in that rock, and there see His glory.

They live in the world, but dwell in heaven; from whence also they look for Him the second time.

We begin to think more of Heaven than ever.

From this very fragmentary sketch we can form but a faint idea of a sermon which must have been no ordinary one. Many of the preacher’s characteristics are, however, manifest. The expository introduction: the pictorial and realistic touches, such as the surprise of the high priest: the revolution of several ideas round one central and prominent fact: the tender allusions to the weak and weary of the Lord’s people: the group of thoughts on the revelation of the glory of God at Christ’s death (which were expressed, we are told, with extraordinary fire and energy): and the delicate fancy of Mercy’s putting the blood of the Redeemer in the hands of Justice—admirably exemplify his method and style; while the ground covered, and the amount of truth advanced in the brief space of a single sermon are very noteworthy.

The following, which is extracted from a suburban journal, is also a good example of his peculiar way of handling a text. It is thoroughly characteristic, and as no sermon in his published series so fully treats on the work of the Holy Spirit, it will doubtless (like that on page 173) be regarded with interest as embodying his views on this momentous subject,

“I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”—(John 14:16).

A knowledge of the Triune God of Israel is essential to salvation. One must know not only the Father’s love but the love and the blood of the Son, and the saving and sanctifying power of the Spirit. The Three are one in essence, will, operation, and in the great affair of salvation; and these three persons are indivisibly one in the experience of every saint of God.

It is not, perhaps, for me to make any sharp or severe remarks on any particular section of the professing Church; but I have never been able to learn where a conscientious Unitarian obtains his comfort; for he who denies the divinity of Christ and the personality and divinity of the Spirit of God, denies the eternal God Himself. For these three are essentially one; and if God had never made the world, He would have existed as the Triune God for ever. He did not become such because He made the world or because He saved sinners. He is essentially the Triune Being. There always was, and ever will be, three great and glorious Persons in the Godhead. God did not constitute Himself a Triune God by an act of His sovereignty or will. He is so essentially, necessarily, and eternally. These three great Persons in the adorable Godhead occupy various positions in the economy of grace and covenant of mercy. The Father occupies a position peculiar to Himself; the Son, as man and mediator; and the Spirit, working in connection with the salvation of the Church. It was not the Father’s work to suffer, to assume human nature, to bleed and die, and rise again; that was the work of the second Person. It was the work of the Spirit, not to assume our nature, but to take the things of Christ and show them unto the beloved of the Father and the redeemed of the Son. Do not say I am severely doctrinal; for these doctrines, if I understand the Scriptures at all, are some of the deep well-springs of salvation out of which God’s people shall draw water with joy, through the power of the Spirit, who is called the Comforter.

Let us consider the Person and Operations of the Spirit of God:—

1. In relation to Himself: “The Comforter.”
2. As to His Father: “He shall give you another Comforter.”
3. As to the mediation and intercession of Christ: “I will pray the Father.”
4. In relation to the poor sinner and the Church: “He shall abide with you for ever.”

1. IN RELATION TO HIMSELF: “Another Comforter.” He is a Guide; for H e shall guide you into all truth; the unction, that rests upon the Church, the “unction from the Holy One;” and the Comforter. The phraseology of the text, “Another Comforter,” seems to say, “You have had one Comforter, who has been with you three years; He is about to leave you, but He will not surrender His title or give up His right to comfort His dear people, but there is another whom ye have not fully received yet. H e shall give you another Comforter.” So that we have two Comforters; one a redeeming, the other a sanctifying Comforter; one a bleeding Comforter, the other comforting by applying the oil; one a suffering Comforter, Christ; the other bringing us into connection with the suffering of the first Comforter. The Father is the Father of all comfort, for it all comes from Him; Christ is the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost is the Comforter; so that the Father is the source of comfort, Christ is the matter of comfort, and the Holy Spirit is the great applier of comfort. Hence the words: “Another Comforter.” We have first of all a Comforter under the law fulfilling it for us; and that is a comforting fact; we have a Comforter at the end of the law, for Jesus is “the end of the law for righteousness to all that believe;” we have a Comforter to travail under the broken law, comforting as He travails; and we have another Comforter on the throne, for the first Comforter ever liveth to make intercession, and we feel in our bosoms His influence, cheering us with the fact: “He shall abide with you for ever.”

The comfort of God’s people is a most momentous fact. “I will pray the Father, that He shall give you another Comforter.” The comfort of the child of God is so much so, that one of the Persons of the Trinity came down from heaven to bring it, and it is the official business of another of the Persons of the Trinity to give such miserable wretches as we are, Divine and heavenly comfort.

This was important, else God would have sent two or three angels down from heaven, or Gabriel himself; but it was too important for this, and therefore the Father sent us a special Comforter. So important is this blessing that the Holy Ghost has assumed a special title expressive of His work and of the nature of His communication to the heart: “The Comforter.” This was arranged infinite years before the heavens began to roll that it should be the personal and official work of the Spirit to communicate comfort from the heart of the Father and the wounds of the Son.

To whom is this comfort important? To Christ Himself. Methinks our dear Lord would be unhappy on His heavenly throne if comfort could not flow from His work of mediation. He procured it, He demands it, and He requires the Holy Spirit to communicate it to the hearts of His ransomed and redeemed people. It is also important to the believer. Some of you have much sorrow; you shed many tears in your pilgrimage; and comfort is most necessary to you. Grace breaks the heart and wounds the conscience; other trials attend the beloved of God; and comfort is the most important thing to you. Some preach as if sorrow and pain were absolutely essential to salvation. We do weep and are cast down at times ; but there is a harp belonging to every saint, whether in his hand or on the willow tree; and there are times when he can take it up to the praise of God, when the Comforter comes with His rich comforts, and testifies that he is a child of God, and that the Spirit has fulfilled the great purpose for which He came. Comfort is important in relation to Satan:—

“Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.”

If he trembles when a saint prays, I am quite sure he is filled with rage and fury when the happy saint is singing before the throne. The devil hates to see the sinner’s heart healed, his wounds bound up, and the tears wiped from his eyes.

The children of God have as much comfort on earth as they had when Christ’s personal presence was here: “I will not leave you comfortless.” Is this other Comforter less great than the first one? or less able to comfort us than Jesus Christ? It seems to me that we are just as well off as we should be with Christ’s personal presence with us. Some good people say they would be happy if Christ lived here personally. Thus to talk is unscriptural; for is not the Spirit as great as the Son, and as capable of comforting? Did He bring comforts and blessings less important than those He brought Himself? We dim the glory of the Triune God by thus making Christ greater than the Spirit. It is best as it is: the Father on His throne; our Intercessor before that throne; and the Holy Ghost in our hearts, guiding, guarding, directing us day by day to our eternal rest.

How does the Spirit comfort? By revelation. “He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” He opens the eye of the mind; He gives light to the conscience, to the eye that is opened. An open eye and a clear daylight are great blessings. He who irradiates the mind with heavenly light, brings Christ before the eye of the sinner, who sees not only his own guilt, but the Saviour, as the Peace-maker, the Substitute, the Surety; and the sight affects the heart. Here is revelation. Having had the sufficiency of Christ revealed to him, he begins to look to the Crucified One, and this kindles a hope as to his eternal salvation. He is, as yet, unable to appropriate the blessing, and the intervention and operation of the Spirit are necessary to apply the blood of Christ to the guilty spirit. This is the first act of consolation. There is the balm, and there is the wounded sinner; and there is the Comforter between the two, who takes the wounded Christ and lays Him on the wounded heart, and thus makes the wounded whole, for “by His stripes are we healed.”

Then He comforts by application. We take too limited a view of the blood of sprinkling. It is sprinkled on two objects, and there are two Sprinklers. Christ’s blood was sprinkled on the Father’s throne by Christ Himself; He entered by His own blood into the holiest, having obtained redemption for us; and if the blood had not been sprinkled there, it would never have been sprinkled on the sinner’s conscience. Then it is sprinkled by the Holy Spirit on the heart of the poor lost and ruined sinner; and it extracts guilt from his smarting conscience, and imparts peace, and heals its aching wounds.

Then the Spirit comforts by the increase of grace. Nothing can be stationary in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, except the foundation on which it is based. Everything is progressive. We have infinity before us. The Triune God in all His majesty is before us, and our knowledge of Him is to go on progressing for ever. What must it be to be in heaven? It is sweet to sit on heaven’s threshold now, but what must it be to enter into the glory of the Lord, and be immersed in that glory for ever and ever? He giveth more grace to the young believer that he may see superlative beauty in the Saviour.

He comforts, too, by suggestion. The devil is a suggester to the mind; for he put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ. But the Holy Ghost is also a suggester. He can inject thoughts into the heart. Now, are His suggestions accidental matters? The Holy Spirit is the Lord of mind, and you are His temples; and He often comforts His people by suggesting spiritual ideas. I will now tell you a secret about text-finding. It is a difficult task; but those texts which occur to me in prayer are jotted down, and are most likely the next I take in the pulpit; and such texts as are thus suggested, I find, always work well. O, it is blessed to get our texts from God, to have them suggested by the Holy Ghost.

He comforts also by witnessing: “The Spirit witnesses that we are the children of God.” He is the credible Witness, who gives corroborative evidence to our Divine sonship. Also by preparation. He imparts a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light; He places the title deeds in the Christian’s hands; and enables him, like “Christian,” in Bunyan, to “read his title clear to mansions in the skies.”

II.—IN RELATION TO THE FATHER—”He shall give.” This expresses love. The gift of the Spirit is an expression of God’s love. Nothing is thought too good, or great, or important for the objects of Christ’s love. His arm is as strong as His heart, and He will ever fulfil the dictates of His affection. “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.” The parental gifts of God are three. Blessed be God for the unspeakable gift of His dear Son, for that of the Holy Spirit, and for the sweet fact: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” See what your riches are, and leave not this place, still moping in melancholy over your poverty. As a sinner you are poor, it is true; but when you come upon the ground of sonship and saintship, talk no more about poverty. A poor child of God! Never. For when once you have received the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter, you are rich indeed.

III.—IN RELATION TO CHRIST, more particularly His intercession: “I will pray the Father.” See the confidence with which He anticipated the accomplishment of His purposes by His death. He knew His resources. His work was before Him. His mediation was not an experiment; but He came to fulfil the Divine purpose.

IV.—IN RELATION TO THE SINNER AND THE CHURCH: “That He may abide with you for ever.” “Personally I am going to leave you,—it is only for a time; but I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, who shall personally dwell with you.” Is it not a marvellous thing that the Holy Ghost dwells in our breast? Our bodies are His temples. “That He may abide with you for ever.” Surely the Holy Ghost is the Secretary of State. Bunyan represents Him in his “Holy War” as always remaining in the castle. He never leaves the fortress: “He shall abide with you for ever.” When I am in the fire, He is there too. When I am in the water, “I am with thee, and it shall not overflow thee.” If we are at the end of the earth, like David, we can feel that He goes with us thither. If Jonah is cast overboard and swallowed by a fish, the Holy Ghost is there, for Jonah prayed unto the Lord in the fish, and I do know there is no real prayer without the Spirit, and the Lord delivered him. John was carried to Patmos, but he carried the Holy Ghost with him, for he was in the Spirit there on the Lord’s-day. “He shall abide with you for ever.” And by-and-bye death will come, with—

“Mortal pallor on thy cheek,
But glory in thy soul;”

and then, in the marvellous hereafter that is to follow, “He shall abide with you for ever.” Amen.

He was by no means insensible to the joy of success, and was always gratified when assured that his words had been made spiritually useful to any member of the family of God, Mere compliments he loathed, and would listen to them with a look of pain and distress.

He rarely expressed an opinion as to sermons preached by other ministers. “We do not always say all we think,” was a wise remark which he often repeated.

He did not object to candid criticism on his own efforts, and would listen thoughtfully if exception was taken to what he had advanced. In his published sermon, “The Lord a Friend in Need,” (vol. 2, No. 19), he advances the statement that David was the author of the One hundred and forty-sixth psalm. This is doubtless erroneous, and he received a conceited and impertinent letter from an obscure individual, pointing out the mistake. This he showed to us, asking what we thought he should do with it. Indignant at its spirit, we recommended him to allow it to pass unnoticed. “No,” he replied “I think I shall acknowledge it. It is important to be accurate even in small matters, and I have learned something.”

The series of his published sermons was commenced in 1874, and has been continued to the present time. From these, of course, the most complete idea of his capacities as a preacher can be obtained. The first seventy-seven are the most valuable, as they were all printed in a type which admitted of each discourse’s being given in extenso; whereas those that followed had to be considerably abbreviated—nor were they, we venture to think, as a rule, equal to many of the earlier ones.

Taken as a whole, however, the collection is a monument of deep and sanctified thought—a body of divinity of the most comprehensive character—and the record of a ministry unequalled for breadth and variety. Readers will find the five volumes a mine of theological wealth: while seekers after the truth, and weary and despondent Christians will rarely seek direction and comfort in their pages in vain.

The incidental expositions are peculiarly suggestive and helpful, and the illustrations, which are none too frequent, invariably elucidate the question in connection with which they are advanced.

We repress with reluctance our half-formed intention to introduce some critical and analytical remarks upon certain of the most characteristic discourses, into our pages—but these would be read with interest only by those who have given attention to sermon-making as an art, and as we are writing for the information of our Christian brethren at large, we forbear.

We may, however, be permitted to commend John Hazelton’s sermons to the attention of ministers. We indeed advise no one to follow the example of a good brother, who learned one by heart and presented it as his own, to a provincial congregation, but rather plead that they be read with more than common care—with pencil in hand for marginal annotations; that thoughts be indexed for future reference: and that the mechanism and sequence of thought have full consideration, as well as the truths advanced—and we promise that they will prove of the greatest service to those who have to think for others.

Many testimonies to the usefulness of these printed sermons reached our brother from persons in different parts of the world. Some traced their conversion to them; others found them the means of quickening and renewal: whilst in a few instances they found their way into lonely places in which the truth had never been proclaimed ; and cheered and solaced brethren who were entirely isolated from the public means of grace.

During the progress of the first volume, the now sainted Mrs. Mortimer—author of the “Peep of Day,” and other useful and winning religious books for the young—whose husband, Dr. Thomas Mortimer, was formerly the vicar of St. Mark’s, Myddelton-square, into which Chadwell-street runs—wrote to our dear friend, acknowledging the comfort she had experienced from reading his sermons, and tenderly invoking Heaven’s smile on the preacher—whom she did not know in the flesh.

Thus, “he that so often watered others, was himself watered”—and blessings rested on the head and heart of this faithful servant of Jesus Christ.

[1] In the author’s “Manual of Faith and Practice,” Wileman, 34, Bouverie Street, London, will he found fifty-five quotations on the prominent doctrines of the gospel, selected from his sermons.
[2] It proved to be in the works of Thomas Goodwin, Nichols’ Edition, vol. 10., pages 504, 556.
[3] The point of the kindly sarcasm of this P.S. is explained by the fact that it was addressed to a friend who lived a few streets off.
[4] A good examine of this is the following: “Ye are Christ’s”—By the Father’s donation; By the purchase of His blood; By the Spirit’s operation and indwelling; By your own voluntary surrender. This demands Gratitude, Submission, Obedience, Service. Very sound this, but slightly somnorific.
[5] In textual divisions the text is analysed, and each portion made a head of the discourse. In topical divisions the truths expressed or implied in the text are reduced to propositions, each of which forms a distinct branch of the sermon.
[6] “Gospel Herald,” 1875; page 169.
[7] This was a wholly different discourse to one preached from the same text in 1887, and published in Vol. 5, No. 20.
[8] His view of 2 Cor. 5:11: “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” was not that the apostle meant that he was in the habit of persuading men to live, to believe, and to turn to the Lord, by urging on them the terrors of future punishment; but that “he persuaded men of his sincerity, of the fact that he preached the very word of God, and could not keep back any portion thereof.” Sermons, vol. 2, page 219. The passage may be read, “Knowing the fear of the Lord.”

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”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
William Styles, A Memoir of John Hazelton (Complete)