“Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me.”—Psalm 101:6
This and the following chapters are designed to give a sketch of some of the most noteworthy and useful of the exponents of the doctrines of grace during the nineteenth century; a few named did most of their work during the latter part of the preceding century, but, as they did not pass away till the earlier years of the nineteenth, they are included in these chapters.
John Newton (1725-1807) claims the first place.
He was Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth Church, Lombard Street, to which benefice he was appointed by his friend Mr. Thornton. He at first resided in Charles Square, Hoxton; afterwards he removed to Coleman Street Buildings. His epitaph, written by himself, may be read on a mural tablet in the Church, as follows:—
JOHN NEWTON, Clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a Servant of Slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long laboured to destroy. He ministered near sixteen years as Curate and Vicar of Olney, in Bucks, and twenty-eight years as Rector of these united Parishes.
On February the 1st, 1750, he married MARY, daughter of the late GEORGE CATLETT, of Chatham, Kent, whom he resigned to the Lord who gave her, on December 15th, 1790.
The above epitaph was written by the Deceased, who directed it to be inscribed on a plain marble tablet. He died on December 21st, 1807, aged 82 years, and his mortal remains are deposited in the vault beneath this church.
On January 25th, 1893, the remains of John Newton and his wife were re-interred in the Churchyard of Olney, the vaults of St. Mary Woolnoth having to be cleared. There they rest until the resurrection morn, in that peaceful spot of which Cowper writes:—”A safe retreat, Beneath the turf that I have often trod.”
As a preacher, John Newton was concise and clear; but it is by his hymns and his letters, and as the friend of William Cowper, that his memory will live.
He had a praying mother, but she died when he was seven years old. At the age of 11, after two years’ schooling, during which he learned the rudiments of Latin, he went to sea with his father and grew up an abandoned and godless sailor, steeped in infidelity. He was sometimes pierced with convictions, and a dream was made very useful to him. He says:—”The scene presented to my imagination was the harbour of Venice, where we had lately been. I thought it was night, and my watch upon the deck; and that, as I was walking to and fro by myself, a person came to me (I do not remember from whence) and brought me a ring, with an express charge to keep it carefully, assuring me that while I preserved that ring I should be happy and suecessful; but, if I lost or parted with it, I must expect nothing but trouble and misery. I accepted the present and the terms willingly, not in the least doubting my own care to preserve it and highly satisfied to have my happiness in my own keeping. I was engaged in these thoughts when a second person came to me and, observing the ring on my finger, took occasion to ask me some questions concerning it. I readily told him its virtues, and his answer expressed a surprise at my weakness in expecting such effects from a ring. I think he reasoned with me some time upon the impossibility of the thing, and at length urged me in direct terms to throw it away. At first I was shocked at the proposal, but his insinuations prevailed. I began to reason and doubt, and at last plucked it off my finger and dropped it over the ship’s side into the water, which it had no sooner touched than I saw, at the same instant, a terrible fire burst out from a range of mountains (a part of the Alps), which appeared at some distance behind the city of Venice. I saw the hills as distinct as if awake, and they were all in flames. I perceived too late my folly, and my tempter, with an air of insult, informed me that all the mercy God had in reserve for me was comprised in that ring which I had wilfully thrown away. I understood that I must now go with him to the burning mountains, and that all the flames I saw were kindled on my account. I trembled and was in a great agony, so that it was surprising I did not then awake; but my dream continued, and when I thought myself upon the point of a constrained departure and stood self-condemned, without plea or hope, suddenly either a third person, or the same who brought the ring at first (I am not certain which), came to me and demanded the cause of my grief. I told him the plain case, confessing that I had ruined myself wilfully and deserved no pity. He blamed my rashness, and asked if I should be wiser, supposing I had my ring again. I could hardly answer to this, for I thought it was gone beyond recall. I believe, indeed, I had not time to answer before I saw this unexpected friend go down under the water, just in the spot where I had dropped it, and he soon returned, bringing the ring with him. The moment he came on board the flames in the mountains were extinguished and my seducer left me. Then was ‘the prey taken from the hand of the mighty and the lawful captive delivered.’ My fears were at an end, and with joy and gratitude I approached my kind deliverer to receive the ring, but he refused to return it and spoke to this effect: ‘If you should be intrusted with this ring again, you would very soon bring yourself into the same distress; you are not able to keep it, but I will preserve it for you and, whenever it is needful, will produce it in your behalf.’ “How full of beautiful Gospel is this dream! Forgotten for a season, it recurred to his mind years afterwards, when he was rejoicing in the liberty of the Gospel.
John Newton’s conversation effected much; his correspondence accomplished more. His narrative is wonderful; his hymns are immortal, but his letters make him eminent; they are unique, fresh and various, rich in experimental religion and in gracious vivacity. The whole collection is a “Cardiphonia”—the utterance of the heart. Except those of William Cowper, no letters of that century have preserved the writer’s heart so well. Let us go to 8, Coleman Street Buildings, to one of his breakfasts open to friends by invitation. They were, perhaps, the most edifying of his private gatherings, for the good old man in his velvet cap and damask dressing gown was then fresh and communicative—always instructive and always benevolent. Here are one or two sentences taken down by friends:—”I have many books that I cannot sit down to read; they are indeed good and sound, but, like halfpence, there goes a great quantity to a little amount. There are silver books and a very few golden books, but I have one book worth more than all, called the Bible, and that is a book of banknotes.” “Satan is a footpad; a footpad will not attack a man in going to the bank, but in returning with his pocket full of money.” “When we first enter into the Divine life, we propose to grow rich; God’s plan is to make us feel poor.”
During Newton’s residence at Olney, William Cowper went there to reside, and the Vicar’s friendship was made a great blessing. It has been commonly said that Newton’s “gloomy Calvinistic creed” had much to do with the poet’s melancholia. The contrary is the case; Cowper’s mental malady, induced by constitutional causes, had long before this been acute. Enjoying Newton’s friendship and ministry, he had peace for several successive years, during which his genius bore its consummate fruits, and in the Olney hymns both men of God left a precious legacy to the Church of Christ.
In view of the present increase of Popery and the indifference of vast numbers of people to the national peril arising therefrom, the following noble lines by Cowper should be quoted. Only a few copies were struck off; they were, no doubt, cancelled through Roman Catholic influence:—
“Hast thou admitted, with a blind, fond trust,
The lie that burned thy fathers’ bones to dust,
That first adjudged them heretics, then sent
Their souls to heaven, and cursed them as they went?
The lie that Scripture strips of its disguise,
And execrates above all other lies—
The lie that claps a lock on mercy’s plan
And gives the key to yon infirm old man,
Who, once ensconced in apostolic chair,
Is deified and sits omniscient there;
The lie that knows no kindred, owns no friend,
But him that makes its progress his chief end,
That, having spilt much blood, makes that a boast
And canonizes him that sheds the most?
Away with charity that soothes a lie
And thrusts the truth with scorn and anger by;
Shame on the candour and the gracious smile
Bestowed on them that light the martyr’s pile,
While insolent disdain in frowns expressed
Attends the tenets that endured the test!
Grant them the rights of men, and, while they cease
To vex the peace of others, grant them peace;
But trusting bigots, whose false zeal has made
Treachery their duty, thou art self-betrayed!”
East Dereham Church, Norfolk, In Which The Mortal Remains Of William Cowper Rest.
Robert Hawker, D.D., Vicar of Charles, Plymouth (1753-1827) has in his “Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions,” left a work which retains its spiritual fragrance and is still the book of its kind for all who value covenant truth.
Interior Of Charles Church, Plymouth, With Bus Of Dr. Hawker.
Whilst the office and work of the Holy Ghost were the prominent features of William Huntington’s ministry, the pre-eminent trait in Robert Hawker’s testimony—delivered as it was at the same period—was the Person of Christ. This was also the fundamental feature of Dr. Thomas Goodwin’s writings, and was again strikingly reproduced in two men whose minds were much imbued with his teaching—namely, Robert Hawker and Samuel Eyles Pierce. Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as “My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor’s writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as “the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely.” Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: “To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ.” He paused and asked, “Who first trusted in Christ?” And then made this answer: “It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ.”
Watts Wilkinson (1755-1840) in the earlier period of his spiritual life knew much of John Newton, whose advice and counsel, during several long vacations which he spent with him at Olney, were of great value in directing and moulding his mind. He commenced his ministry at St. Ann’s, Blackfriars; for thirty-seven years he was “Golden Lecturer” at St. Bartholomew’s, by the Royal Exchange, where on Tuesday mornings crowds of worshippers assembled, often including Joseph Irons, the Earl of Roden and other eminent servants of God. His last sermon was delivered at St. Mary Aldermary, in September, 1840. The day alone will declare the honour God put upon his faithful and loving declaration of discriminating and vital truth in the heart of the City of London. In his last hours he said, “How delightful to look back upon all the way the Lord has led me these twice forty years in the wilderness.” And, again, “When I recollect how many thousands in the course of my long ministry I have had to speak to, I am quite overwhelmed! I trust I have led them right; and now I desire to depart and be with Chris—
‘O let me catch one glimpse of Thee,
Then drop into eternity.'”
We now come to two ministers of the Gospel who loved and preached the truths dear to the hearts of those who have been named, and who, in their day and generation, exercised a wide influence for good, effectually disproving the libel that the doctrines of grace produce supineness and indifference to the needs of men. Alfred Hewlett, D.D. (1804-1885), was during the greater part of his long life Vicar of Astley, near Manchester. It was a neglected place when he first went there; brutal sports and practical heathenism abounded. In the course of time schools were erected and institutions formed for the benefit of the people; he founded and edited “The Christian Cottagers’ Magazine,” and gave lectures on temperance and other topics, besides taking an active part in the movement against Papal and Ritualistic aggression. Few could get through the work he was able to accomplish; for many years he rose between five and six in the morning to pursue his studies and correspondence, and then to visit or preach throughout a long day with scarcely any semblance of weariness. Many young men were trained under his roof for the Christian ministry, some still continuing with us, and their revered friend is ever spoken of by them in affectionate terms. Preaching the Gospel was, however, the work of his life, and in 450 Churches and elsewhere he proclaimed “the present truth.” His own words as to his faith are, “Love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost and is the hand of faith, for faith worketh by love.” “Christ, then, is to be preached, the food, raiment, strength, life, all and in all, of a believer, and thus through the invisible agency of the Holy Ghost he is strengthened in faith to rely on God in Christ for eternal salvation and present comfort and to bring forth fruit to the praise and glory of God. This is the uniform tenor of my preaching; and, ignorant though I am in many things, I hope ere I cease so to preach I shall cease to be numbered with the living.”
David Alfred Doudney, D.D. (1811-1893), for fifty-three years editor of “The Gospel Magazine, many respects one of the most useful ministers of the century.
To an enormous capacity for work, he united great literary ability, business aptitude, and a winning personality. We would magnify the grace of God in him, and many of the Lord’s people in all parts of the world to-day can testify to the fragrance of his memory and the savour and power of his sermons and writings. He was firm in his adherence to the distinctive truth of God, and at the same time manifested a kind and brotherly spirit. The Church of God owes him a great debt for his wonderful edition of “Dr. Gill’s Commentary,” completed in January, 1853, and followed by reprints of Gill on “The Canticles,” Hawker’s “Morning and Evening Portions,” Hart’s “Hymns,” Rutherford’s “Letters,” and other choice works. In 1858 he left Ireland, and was soon after appointed to St. Luke’s, Bedminster, Bristol, where he lived and worked till near the close of his strenuous life. He was an admirable writer of gospel literature for the young and the poor, as “Try, Try Again,” and his monthly publication, “Old Jonathan,” brightly testify. He loved little children, and was never happier than when in the midst of his large schools. One writes: “O those capacious, well-filled pockets! I used to tell him I should like to have the pattern of them! Yes, who would not wish for his generous spirit and warm heart, ever ready with ‘Old Jonathan,’ or booklets, or some pretty present? I possess—and I have heard many others make the same grateful assertion—quite a little library of the doctor’s kind gifts. Foremost a Bagster’s Bible; and another book which was a valued treasure of his and ever will be also of mine—Toplady’s Hymn Book. I know that in giving me this he bestowed the highest token of personal friendship. When on his dying bed and unable to speak much he asked that the following verse might be written out, and then he dated and signed it as his experience:—
‘Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are;
While on His breast I lean my bead
And breathe my life out sweetly there.'”
One of his highly valued friends—John O. Martin, M.A., of the Circus Church, Portsea—conducted the funeral service in Southsea Cemetery. Mr. Martin, who has since followed him to his heavenly home, was a member of an old and highly esteemed family in the Isle of Ely, and for many years exercised a powerful free grace ministry in Portsmouth.
Fragrant memories cluster around the name of George D. Doudney, brother-in-law of Dr. Doudney, and incumbent of Charles Episcopal Chapel, Plymouth, and well-known by his two volumes of “Cottage Lectures.” He was called early to be a partaker of Divine grace, and under the ministry of Gadsby, Nunn and Triggs, was nourished in word and doctrine. His mortal remains sleep in the beautiful churchyard of Egg Buckland, Devon, and Dr. Doudney preached his funeral sermon from the words, “Thy brother shall rise again.”
The eight or nine volumes of sermons and lectures by William H. Krause, M.A. (1797-1852), of Dublin, published after his death, are most valuable. They are models of expository preaching and there is running through them a deep and rich vein of spiritual experience. Would that there were more such preaching to-day and that his books could be read and re-read. A somewhat extended reference to him and the sphere of his work must be given.
God’s ways are unsearchable: He takes up a useless worldling out of the mass of his fellow-sinners, arrests him in his course towards “the lion’s den,” and turns him suddenly into the footsteps of the flock. “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;” and, when the Lord has some great work to accomplish for His Church, He often employs means the least expected (Joshua 6:4).
About 150 years ago, there lived a rich and worldly woman who was extremely anxious to see Garrick perform before he retired from the stage, and she prevailed on her husband to take her to London for that purpose. They both went and saw the great actor. But during their visit, the wife was told there was another individual, followed as much as was Garrick, by a curious crowd every Sabbath—a man who set forth strange doctrines! an enthusiast! a new light! a wonderful man! So, attracted by everything new, the lady thought she would hear the one as well as the other—Romaine as well as Garrick; for the former it was whose preaching drew such numbers to hear him. She was caught in the Gospel net; the message of salvation reached her soul, and she became a now creature in Christ Jesus. Her husband had returned to Ireland, when such strange tidings of his wife reached him, that, thinking she had gone mad, he went to London to fetch her home; but the good news reached him also. At her request he went to hear Romaine, and the word came to him in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. They returned to Ireland, and the first act of the renewed man was to lay himself out for the Lord, and the Bethesda Episcopal Chapel was founded by him; it became the birthplace of many souls, and in it the candlestick of free grace shone brightly for years. During a hurricane in 1839, Bethesda was burnt down, but speedily rebuilt for Mr. Krause, who for thirteen years proclaimed the doctrines of sovereign grace from that favoured spot.
Mr. Krause, with an only sister, was brought by his parents, when a child, from St. Croix, in the West Indies, where he had been born. Grace appears to have been possessed by his father, mother, and grandmother, whose memory made a deep impression on his young mind. His mother died on their arrival in England, and William was placed at school, at Fulham and afterwards at Richmond. By choice he entered the army, and was at the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815, and then it was an intimacy was formed between himself and a brother officer, Captain Dyas—one of those links in the chain of Divine providence from which many spiritual blessings were to proceed. To this friend, in 1821, he went on a visit to Kildare in Ireland; he was then a well-educated, fashionable, worldly man, untainted, indeed, by anything of positive infidelity, but a stranger to real religion, and in total ignorance of the distinctive doctrines of the Gospel. Introduced at once into the society of believers sound in truth, it was a new scene to him.
The Lord made the doctrines of grace quick and powerful to his soul. A lady gave him a Bible with copious marginal references, and it became his constant study, so that he could say with the prophet, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” A serious illness at this period was another means of establishing him in the faith, and after his recovery a strong desire arose in his heart to enter the ministry; it was doubtless created by Him whose love now reigned within, but it lay there ungratified for a long period; fifteen years were to pass before it was accomplished, yet he waited patiently the Lord’s time; it was a preparatory period of wholesome training, so that when, in the providence of God, he commenced to preach, he did so as one fully equipped and thoroughly furnished for the work he had to do.
At this period he commenced a more regular plan of studying the Bible. He rose at six for two hours’ reading and prayer. In the middle of the day two hours more were similarly occupied. In the evening he took up other reading, such as Ambrose Serle’s “Church of God,” or Abraham Booth’s “Reign of Grace.”
Our best lessons are got by heart in the school of affliction, and there he was now to become a scholar, and to learn lessons from his Divine Teacher in a pathway of tribulation. In 1823 he had married Miss Ridgeway, a young lady of great grace, who in a year and a half after her happy marriage was called to join her Heavenly Bridegroom. During her illness of some months Mrs. Krause was kept in peace and often rejoicing. Just before her death she said, “Lord take me! Oh, take me! Come, Lord Jesus!” And her husband writes: “After this she remained with her eyes closed, breathing in the most easy manner, as if falling asleep. She then suddenly opened her eyes, and with a countenance expressive of joy, said hastily, ‘Call everybody.’ I asked her if she wished for anything. She repeated quickly, ‘Call everybody to me! Call all the house, that I may magnify the Lord.’ These were the last words she spoke.” Her death left a void which another never filled. Yet a blessing remained behind in the little daughter who survived her mother, and who was to become the future sunshine of his home, and at last soothe his dying pillow.
In 1824 he left Ireland, but no door was opened for his ordination, and he remained studying for some time at Wakefield. He had been appointed to the curacy of Elvington, but tells us, “My papers have been objected to in consequence of my having been so short a time in this diocese. Now is the time to look into the heart. Disappointments often give us the clearest knowledge of ourselves and our motives. What has been my chief end in this business? Have I been seeking the Lord’s glory or only myself? If the Lord’s glory, now is the time to glorify Him and to submit in thankfulness to His will.” Still waiting, he took the entire care of the schools established by Lord Farnham, for the children of his peasantry, at Farnham, County Cavan. It is said of him, “He was distinguished by a holy sobriety, a quiet cheerfulness, and evenness of temperament; the expressions of the peace that reigned within. Large and comprehensive in his apprehensions of divine truth, the doctrines of grace suffered no mutilation at his hand, nor did he shun with holy boldness to declare the whole council of God.”
Having graduated in the University of Dublin, he was at length ordained to the curacy of Cavan, in 1838. He preached his first sermon at Bethesda from 2 Cor. 4:1; he writes, “The Lord kept me from embarrassment in the pulpit, but I had been much tried previously. I hear of ‘man,’ ‘man’ continually and what the people wish and say; I find it hard to rise above all fear of public opinion. The Lord enable me to see nothing but the glory of Christ!” Thus, with lowly views of his own powers, which were of no common order, Mr. Krause entered upon his great work in Dublin. The doctrines he proclaimed were those of free grace, which from the first he had received, and to the last maintained. There was no withholding what he knew for expediency’s sake; no fear or shame of what are termed “high doctrines,” or of the danger of proclaiming them before the unconverted. He never, as it were, kept back part of the price, and therefore the Lord signally favoured His servant. He honoured the work of the Holy Ghost and never left it as if the sinner could “come to Jesus,” but set forth the Spirit’s work to draw and apply. Few laboured with greater diligence; an hour every Friday was given to the Orphan School; his evening class for young men was productive of much edification, also his class for the young. The Monday morning prayer- meetings were seasons of rich refreshment. One who attended them wrote: “Our beloved minister entered exactly at half-past ten o’clock; and, doubtless, many can recall the peaceful countenance and quiet step with which he made his way, through the generally-crowded entrance, to the little table set by the open folding door by which the two rooms communicated, the laying his watch upon the table, and the few moments of private prayer.”
In 1849 Mr. Krause became seriously ill, and his work was never after entirely renewed. It was then he said, “Bethesda can do without me, but Christ cannot.” Yet he was spared to his loving people for three years longer, and then the Lord called him to be present with Himself. His last two sermons were delivered on Sunday, February 22, 1852; the first from 2 Corinthians 3:18, the last from Galatians 5:25; and on his return home he observed to a friend, “I hope I am acquiring that lesson I find it so hard to learn, that I am nothing, and that Christ is all.” Before leaving the pulpit he appeared to have a presentiment of preaching there no more; he did not seem willing to close, and at last said, “May the Lord keep a Gospel view of this subject before our minds; may the Lord impress His Gospel more and more upon all our hearts to the glory of Christ’s name. Amen.” His illness lasted but two days, and his sufferings were of short duration; of them he said, “Oh, we must remember it is all of the Lord; it does not happen by chance; I am so restless, I can hardly think, but the Lord’s hand is not shortened.” Just after this, spasms of the heart came on; but before further aid could be procured he had fallen asleep in Jesus.
“In a nook in the North, not far from Manchester, is the village of Openshaw, in the Parish Church of which the certain sound of a full, free, finished and eternal salvation issued for about twenty-four years. Much modern Evangelicalism has dwindled into a sort of negative theology; hence the honest testimony of hungry souls is on this wise: I do not find so much fault with what he said, as with what he did not say. ‘So they wrap it up’ was the lamentation of an ancient prophet that applies with force to the present time.” Thus wrote the Authoress of “Light in Openshaw,” referring to one of the clearest and most powerful preachers of his day—William Parks, B.A. (1810-1867), rector of Openshaw. “I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God” was the motto of his ministry. His acute discernment between truth and error, his vigorous opposition to the ensnaring divinity of the day, his fearless declaration of all that God had revealed to his soul, his unwearied diligence in the use of his pen, all combined to make his loss severely felt. He feared no frown, he courted no smile, he employed but little religious machinery to “work the parish;” but he was instant in season and out of season, preaching the Word, visiting the sick, and warning the ungodly, whether rich or poor. He was respected by the world as an honest and consistent man, and valued by the lovers of grace as a faithful teacher and fearless advocate of the truth. He was a terror to Arminians as a vehement opposer of error, and he was obnoxious to professors who, whatever might be their degree of knowledge, were destitute of life. An extract from “A Brief Review of My Ministry,” his last publication, will show in his own words what manner of man he was—
“Martin Luther said long ago—’It takes three things to make a divine, viz., ‘READING, MEDITATION, AND TEMPTATION.’
“Paul exhorted Timothy to give attendance to reading and meditation, 1 Timothy 4:13-15. What sort of reading this was we may readily imagine. It could not have been the works of the rabbis and doctors of the law, for these were utterly ignorant of the true meaning of God’s Word, but the reading insisted upon must have been the prayerful perusal of the Word itself, seeking out the meaning through the teaching of the Holy Ghost.
“This is the sort of reading ministers ought to devote themselves to, and not the study of commentators, who are often fanciful.
“God grants salvation, not of works, but by grace—sheer, gratuitous sovereign grace—and this He gives according to the good pleasure of His will!
“Brethren in the Lord, thus was I delivered! The work was done by God the Holy Ghost quickening me—me who never sought Him; secondly, by inciting me to give diligence to reading the Word. ‘Ah,’ say many, ‘we don’t like those extreme views!’ Like them or dislike them, I reply, I am going to heaven with them in the full assurance of understanding! How common is this objection to the doctrines of distinguishing grace! ‘Extreme!—Extreme!’ the enemy cries, ‘let us have something more in accordance with man’s notions of right and wrong!’
“I answer, that what the Word teaches, and what man wishes, are two different things. The Word distinctly declares that God’s thoughts are not as man’s thoughts, and the whole tenor of God’s dealings with man proves that His ways are diametrically opposed to man’s. ‘Who by searching can find out God?’ But let us have a word upon ‘extreme views’ What folly and inconsistency lie at the bottom of this objection!
“What greater extreme than the eternal love of God for His poor sinning Church? (Jeremiah 31:3).
“What greater extreme than the assumption on the part of Jehovah Jesus of the form of sinful man? (Philippians 2:6-8).
“What greater extreme than Jesus becoming poor that His Church might be rich? (2 Corinthians 6:10).
“What greater extreme than the Creator of the universe submitting to be maltreated by His own creatures? (John 1:3, 19:18).
“What greater extreme than God in redemption work passing by angels, and rescuing and saving men, who by nature are lost and ruined? (Hebrews 2:16; James 2:19).
“What greater extreme than God giving grace to His Church in Christ Jesus before the world began, to save it irrespective of all sorts of works whatever? (2 Timothy 1:9).
“These are truths so amazing as to nonplus the highest intellectual power of man! Yet we have preachers professing to hold them, hesitating, parleying, shifting, shirking, and evading in connection with other truths as clearly revealed, such as predestination, election, particular redemption, and final perseverance!
“General Redemption, to me, is a figment of the father of lies to take men’s minds off thinking and lull them to sleep. If it secures nothing, what’s the use of it? Christ’s work on earth was a STUPENDOUS work, a work that must produce what it was intended to produce, otherwise it would have been an unwise work. No wise man wastes his strength, or beats the air; but this ‘man Christ Jesus’ did evidently waste His strength and beat the air, all to no purpose, if He redeemed every one of the human family, and the majority be lost. ‘To make redemption larger than electing love is to overlay the foundation, which is a very momentous error in building.’
“Elisha Coles on the Sovereignty of God, combating the folly of the popular thought of Redemption, well observes—’Redemption may be said to be general in this sense, viz.:—It obtains a general reprieve extensive to all the sons of Adam; the sin of the world was so far expiated that vengeance was not presently executed, which must have been had not the Son of God interposed Himself. His being slain from the foundation of the world was the foundation of the world’s standing, and of all the good things of which the world in general is a partaker.’ The men who hold general redemption, except in this sense, are certainly most confused thinkers, and very unsound divines. Being muddy in their own heads, they lead their poor hearers into all sorts of puzzles and perplexities. Bad logic in the pulpit produces mental confusion in the pew, and hence it is we have whole congregations like blind men groping for the wall, and, as the Saviour has said, as a natural consequence, both ministers and people fall into the ditch.
“We will now pass on to MEDITATION. ‘Give thyself to meditation,’ says Paul. ‘Meditation helps to make a divine,’ says Martin Luther. Ay, and true it is, for without meditation the reading is not mellowed, and the teaching is not edifying.
“What hours, and days, and nights have I meditated upon what the Word has taught me! I don’t think that ten minutes of my life have passed for the last twenty-four years, except in sleep, during which I have not thought upon the Lord. I make no boast of this. I was forced to it. I wanted to make things plain to my own soul, and also to you, my dear hearers, in my preaching. It is for want of meditation on the deep things of God that we are to attribute the painful prosiness, or self-stultification, of many professed preachers of the Gospel. They don’t read the Word; they consequently don’t meditate upon it. But the man of God is compelled to meditate, and this makes him profitable, humble, and honest, throughly furnished for every good work (1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:15).
“And here am I plucked as a brand out of the burning, sought out by the Lord, a monument of mercy permitted and privileged to proclaim the glorious gospel of the grace of God! Surely there must be a cause! The cause, I tell you, was not in me, for I hated God and religion, but in the Sovereign choice of Jehovah, who will have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Romans 9:15).
“TEMPTATION has now to be dealt with. Some years ago an old Christian man whom I never saw wrote to me thus:—’My dear brother in the Lord Jesus, you have need of many prayers, for I am certain you are the object of fierce attack on the part of Satan, whose cause you have much injured.’ Never was a truer word written! Every man who will speak the truth as it is in Jesus is sure to be fiercely opposed by the father of lies. The reason why preachers and professors in general spend such quiet and apparently happy lives is, they never oppose Satan. Poor deluded souls! They eat, and drink, and are merry with their fellows, never for a moment alluding to serious things, but speaking of the news of the day, and are ‘hail fellows, well met,’ with the world at large! Why should such suffer persecution? They oppose nothing, therefore Satan leaves them unmolested. But it is not so with a truth-speaking minister. He must identify himself with God, and consequently he is shunned, and hated, and tempted.”
We have quoted somewhat largely from Mr. Parks, because his remarks so closely and searchingly deal with the condition of many Churches and preachers to-day.
Bishop Samuel Waldegrave, of Carlisle (1817-1869), was a powerful exponent of the Gospel, and a few godly clergymen still living can speak of him as their father and instructor in Christ.
There was no vacillation in Dr. Waldegrave and his sermons and charges are rich in spiritual truth. By his death the Church of England suffered a great loss; office did not spoil him or cause him to lower the tone of his testimony; in diocesan activities he was equal to any member of the Bench and the needs of districts destitute of the Gospel were for the first time supplied through him. Whether arm-in-arm with the late George Cowell, the well-known “Wayside Notes” writer of the “Gospel Magazine,” conversing upon their experience of Divine things, or in assemblies far from congenial to him, he was ever the same faithful servant of God.
Ennobled by birth, his dignified presence and gentle address were so sanctified by grace that no Christian could converse with him for many minutes and fail to realize an atmosphere of godliness, which left long after a singular fragrance in the soul. Samuel Waldegrave was the second son of Admiral the Earl of Waldegrave, C.B. His preparatory education was conducted at Cheam, under Dr. Mayo, whose favourite pupil he was. He entered Baliol College, Oxford, in 1836, and took double first-class honours in 1839. He was ordained in 1842, his first curacy being St. Ebbe’s, Oxford—a parish intimately associated with the names of faithful Evangelical witnesses. A clever organizer, he succeeded in consolidating a new ecclesiastical district in St. Ebbe’s, and in building for it a church, of which he was appointed the first incumbent by Sir Robert Peel. In 1839 he was elected Fellow of All Souls’, but six years later be vacated that position by his marriage with Jane Anne, eldest daughter of Francis Pym, Esq., of the Hazells, Bedfordshire. About this time he became Rector of Barford St. Martin, near Salisbury. In 1816 he was appointed Public Examiner to the University; and four Vice-Chancellors named him as Select Preacher. He was also chosen Bampton Lecturer, and, in 1853, delivered a series of discourses, which afterwards appeared under the title of “New Testament Millenarianism.” Probably no work in the English language advocates the historic interpretation of prophecy more learnedly and exhaustively than do these Bampton Lectures. In 1857, the Lord Chancellor appointed him a Canon of Salisbury, and on the translation of Bishop Villiers from the See of Carlisle to that of Durham, Lord Palmerston preferred Dr. Waldegrave to the former.
His devotion to the spiritual interests of his responsible charge was intense and unwearying. He was first and foremost a preacher of the Word. His acquaintance with the Hebrew and Greek originals of Holy Scripture was exceptionally deep and thorough. Few men could approach him in ability as a critic of the mis-called “Higher Critics,” while his pulpit expositions of the sacred text were characterized by a simplicity and lucidity which ever commanded the intelligence of the keenest of his educated hearers, and the attention of the humblest members of the congregations he addressed. Whether preaching before the cultured members of his University, or a small assemblage of Cumberland or Westmoreland dalesmen, his style was attractively fervent, and his tones persuasively sympathetic, while his proclamation of such unpopular doctrines as the Divine sovereignty, election by grace, the special redemption of the Church, and the utter perversion of the will of man—as fallen—were enunciated without respect of persons. It was one of the many kindly features in Dr. Waldegrave’s character to feel and show practical sympathy for the need of others, especially when they belonged to the household of faith. Few things were more to his mind than to make a tour of the remote and small parishes in his scattered diocese, and to liberate for a few weeks the parochial clergy by occupying their pulpits during their absence. His Lordship on one occasion visited the parish of Bassenthwaite under such conditions, and in the course of an exposition of John 3:14,15, the preacher did not hesitate to affirm, in so many words, “My friends, Christ endured the hell of His people!” What an epitome of sound divinity! How rarely heard from any preacher’s lips to-day—indeed, is there a living Bishop on the Bench who ever ventured to make that unqualified, truly Gospel, soul-satisfying proclamation?
His last illness was of an acutely painful and distressing character. No murmur was ever heard from him, but only expressions of thankfulness at the relief which he was able to obtain from the soothing remedies employed. One of his loved clergy, now also in glory, visited the dying Bishop, and heard from his lips a touching sentiment to the following effect: “I thank God more and more for that little word ‘thick’ in the Scripture, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins; return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee.'” He had a deep sense of sin and personal unworthiness. His views of the freeness of redeeming grace were high and adoring. His spirit was thus chastened, lowly, and tender. Never were the tones of his softly-breathed words in the pulpit so affecting as when he spoke of the “poor sinner!”
The dying Bishop evinced the deepest concern for the flock whom the Lord had committed to his trust, one of his plaintive sayings being “I can leave my wife, I can leave my children; but oh, my people, my people!”
Henry Cole, D.D., of Clare Hall, Cambridge (1792-1858), was a scholar and a preacher of an entirely different type to any of those who have been named.
He sometimes occupied the University Pulpit at Cambridge and his sermons delivered there are fearless and experimental expositions of the Gospel of the grace of God. In his later years he was proprietor and head master of a boarding-school at Highbury Place; Sunday evening Lecturer at St. Mary Somerset, Upper Thames Street; and subsequently he preached in the building in Providence Place, Upper Street, afterwards known as Providence Chapel. His translations of some of Luther’s books and of “Calvin’s Calvinism” are of permanent value, and his work upon the humanity of our blessed Lord is eminently scriptural and is commended by Mr. Philpot in a review.
Dr. Cole was a great sufferer during the last year or two of his life; his dying testimony was confirming to the faith of those who ministered to him. “All power is given unto Me” was a passage that was powerfully applied to his soul. Among his last utterances were “What a glorious Book! It contains a word for every state and every trial. He has set my feet upon a rock.”
James J. West, M.A., Rector of Winchelsea, was a bold and faithful servant of God. For years he preached a monthly sermon on Tuesday evenings at St. Barnabas Church, King’s Square, Goswell Road, where many a poor sinner was met with by the God of all grace and the Lord’s family were built up in their most holy faith.
His successor in this service, which had been transferred to St. George’s Church, Borough, was James Battersby (1823-1899), Vicar of St. James’, Sheffield. Like many faithful exponents of the Gospel he was a Lancashire man, and the strength of character which is seen in some north countrymen was sanctified in his case by Divine grace. Many of his London sermons have been published and they are manifestly the utterances of one profoundly versed in Scripture and endowed with an experience of its power. They are direct and fearless and were attended by large congregations. In his earlier years Mr. Battersby was much engaged in open-air preaching; he was a man of splendid energy, frequently returning to Sheffield late at night after his London sermon. “Abiding resting places in the Covenant Three” is an expression occurring in one of his later discourses, and indicative of the tone and trend of his ministry.
The memory of Samuel Abraham Walker, M.A., Rector of St. Mary-le-Port, Bristol, and founder of the Clifton Conference in 1862, is gratefully cherished He was a man of spiritual force, a doughty champion on Protestant platforms and never ashamed of the creature-humbling doctrines of grace. His hand and his heart were ever with those who were one with him in Christ. The Clifton Conference continues, under the Rev. James Ormiston, as the October annual gathering of many of the Lord’s people of various sections of the one Church who assemble in the name of “the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely.”‘ A similar Conference was held at Aylestone, Leicestershire, under the auspices of George W. Straton, M.A., the rector; but upon his death it was discontinued. William Lancelot Rolleston, M.A., vicar of Scraptoft and Great Dalby in the same county, was a warm supporter of this Conference and a preacher of much acceptance; his experimental discourses were heard with delight by God’s people in the metropolis and elsewhere.
Charles Rolfe, B.A. (1802-1877), was a man little known, but one of those saints whose character exercises a wide influence. The greater portion of his life was spent in a remote part of the Weald of Kent. He was an accurate classic with a remarkably tenacious memory, and had the Greek Testament quite at his finger ends. Among his warmest friends were two clergymen of kindred spirits, Thomas W. Weston, LL.B., vicar of St. John’s, Tunbridge Wells, and Edward Wilkinson, M.A., Ph.D., of Christ Church, Leamington.
We thank God that many other gracious preachers in the Church of England who have entered into the joy of their Lord could be named did space permit. This narrative, of necessity, can only include a few representative men, but its object will have been attained if proof has been given that clergymen who preach in accordance with their Articles, and who are animated by the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, are the true successors of our noble reformers, and those referred to have left, in this respect, a record which will stand, whilst the results of mere ecclesiastical machinery vanish.
Among eminent lay members of the Church who were “not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,” the third Earl of Roden (1788-1870), should have a conspicuous place. He was a lover of good men, and was often to be seen listening to Watts Wilkinson and Joseph Irons, and for many years he was associated with Dr. Doudney and “The Gospel Magazine.” During his long and useful life he was not only a champion of Protestantism, but a strenuous advocate and defender of discriminating truth. Toplady’s hymn, “A Debtor to Mercy Alone,” was a great favourite of his. One of the last Scriptures that fell from his lips was, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” His remains were consigned to the family vault at Bryansford Church, county Down. In the Church there is a mural tablet to the memory of Mr. Krause, an esteemed friend of the family, and whose career has already been referred to.
Henry Smith, Esq., of Wilford House, Nottingham (1794-1874), and his wife, Lady Lucy Smith (1801-1865), were both lovers of good men and noble benefactors of many efforts in connection with the cause of God. Mr. Smith always spoke of Watts Wilkinson as his spiritual father, and testified to the establishment of soul he received under his discourses upon the covenant love and covenant transactions of the Holy Trinity. He loved the doctrines of sovereign grace, but delighted to have them proclaimed in an experimental and practical way. Whilst he and his consort are included in this chapter, they can only be identified with the one Church made up of the Lord’s own people. Lady Lucy was the eldest daughter of the seventh Earl of Leslie and Melville, and was a lady of rare gifts. It was their delight to gather in their drawing-room or on their lawn and in their Chapel at Wilford, congregations to hear the Word from such preachers as George Abrahams, Septimus Sears, Thomas Hardy of Leicester, Charles Joseph Philpot, and others. The striking consistency of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is noteworthy; wherever they went they always attended places where the pure Gospel was preached, and unlike some to-day, gave no countenance to those who proclaimed a halting and uncertain message. For years the following text was to be seen in their Chapel over the family pew: “The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to Him, beside those that are gathered unto Him” (Isaiah 56:8). This sufficiently declares that in common with all grace-taught hearts their desire was predominant that through the ministry of the Word the blood-bought family might be manifested to the joy of both preacher and people.
Notwithstanding the deadly inroads of Ritualism and Infidelity, not a few ministers remain in the Church of England who are the spiritual successors of those named in this chapter—men not ashamed or afraid to preach “the whole counsel of God.” “The day” will declare their faithfulness and the approval the Lord puts upon their testimony. “Preferment” will not be theirs; they are scorned and rejected, but the honour that cometh from God will be their portion. They uphold the banner of the Reformation, and therefore of Apostolic truth, and our desire is well expressed in two verses from John Berridge’s hymn on the death of George Whitefield, which shall conclude this chapter:
“Send help, O Lord, we pray,
And Thy own gospel bless;
For godly men decay,
And faithful pastors cease;
The righteous are removed from home,
And scorners rise up in their room.
As one Elijah dies,
True prophet of the Lord,
Let some Elisha rise
To blaze the gospel Word;
And fast as sheep to Jesus go,
May lambs recruit His folds below.”
John E. Hazelton (1924) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was the son of John Hazelton (1822-1888). He was appointed the Pastor of Streatley Hall, London. In the December 1924 Issue, the Gospel Magazine wrote of him:
“For a period of fifteen years he faithfully ministered the Word of life to the Lord's people who met in Streatley Hall, London, and these are a selection of the sermons he preached there, lovingly collected together, and printed in book form. By way of introduction there is also printed A Declaration of Faith by Mr. Hazelton. This was found amongst his papers. It has never before been published. It is full of valuable teaching of such subjects as "The Peril and Needs of Our Churches," "The Holy Scriptures," "The Everlasting Covenant," "The Church," and "The Doctrine of Grace.” Mr. Hazelton was an able preacher of the everlasting Gospel, and he loved to exalt Christ and to abase the sinner. These sermons are full of rich Gospel teaching. They tell of a full and an eternal salvation, arranged and planned in the great Covenant of grace before the foundations of the world were laid. They tell of the electing love of God the Father, the redeeming work of God the Son on behalf of His Church and people, and of the regenerating and sanctifying work of God the Holy Ghost. They tell of the blood and righteousness of the Divine Surety of the everlasting Covenant. They are marked by fulness of Gospel truth and by tender and loving words to seeking and penitent sinners. They display a considerable knowledge and much care in preparation. They are the words of a true man of God who in dependence on the aid of the Divine Spirit earnestly proclaimed the Gospel of Divine grace in the prayerful hope that God the Holy Ghost would use the message as the means of regenerating the sinful objects of His eternal mercy. Space will not allow us to quote from these pages, but we strongly advise our readers at once to get the book and make it point of reading one of the sermons every week. Mr. Hazelton was called home on May 8th last. His last sermons were preached on April 6th and 13th, and they form the concluding sermons of this volume. A beautiful portrait of the beloved author forms the frontispiece. By these sermons, and by his valuable Declaration of Faith, he being dead, yet speaketh.”