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Spurgeon on Baptists

March 9, 2010

It was a blessing to read the minutes of a meeting held on April 2nd of 1861 entitled, “Public Meeting of Our London Baptist Brethren” in the 7th Volume of New Park Street Pulpit, p. 225.  There Spurgeon was exhorting and encouraging his brethren on various issues.  Then he began to emphasise the distinction between the historic believer’s baptists, and the Reformers who came out of the Reformation: pointing out that the Baptists have always been distinct from Rome.  Here are some extracts,

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the Reformation, we were Reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor I believe any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with the government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.

It must be pointed out that there was also a wonderful ingathering of Baptists coming from the Puritan stock, who gave us the revision of the Westminster Confession in the form of the 2nd London Baptist Confession, and the many volumes of commentaries and books which concur with much of the teachings of the Reformed brethren.  We shall never forget men such as John Tombe, and Benjamine Keach, Hansard Knolly, John Bunnyan, John Gill, et al.


Government School Teachers Are the Agents of the State

February 25, 2010


As the British government becomes increasingly controlling of the public schools, it leaves very little room for creativity, or freedom by the local schools, the school governors or the teachers.  This very much affects the Christian teachers in the public schools who lovingly had tried to be a Christian witness and example in their classes.  However, now it is impossible to imply or instruct the children in issues of morality, for the State rules.  Only what is prescribed by the State in its ever-changing, and ever anti-Christian curriculum is to be taught or promoted, or the teachers face great penalties, even the loss of job.  RLDabney

This reminds me of a relevant statement of Robert Lewis Dabney, the great American Theologian of Union Seminary,

The State school teacher is her [i.e. the State’s] official and teaches by her authority. All school officials derive their authority from State laws, hence all their functions are as truly State actions as those of the sheriffs in hanging, or the judge in sentencing a murderer.

(On Secular Education, Robert L. Dabney)

Affirmation 2010

February 11, 2010

New Publication :: Affirmation 2010

 Pillar (blog)

As evangelical and reformed believers, we share core beliefs and convictions, which are at the heart of our fellowship and co-operation. Many of these are being challenged and rejected in these apostate days.

For the last two years, the Trustees of the Bible League have been working on a document that seeks to state and define the biblical doctrines and practices particularly under attack at the present time. Originally the vision of  Malcolm Watts who produced the initial draft, others have contributed various suggestions for the final form of this Affirmation. Consultation was also made with brethren in various church bodies and constituencies, whose suggestions have strengthened the document and ensured the widest possible agreement among us.

The Affirmation has been signed by twenty-five brethren, the majority of them ministers from Baptist, Congregational, Independent, and Presbyterian churches. Three major conferences in the UK have also identified with this document. It is therefore inclusive in the best sense, but also exclusive, because it also states what we do not believe, and what we deplore as departures from Holy Scripture.

It is now published in the form of a booklet of 30 pages and is available to interested friends. We strongly commend this Affirmation and urge them to obtain a copy and unite with us around this statement of belief and practice.

In addition, on its web site there is a facility to sign up to the Affirmation and thus identify with its aims. If you find yourselves in full agreement with the Affirmation, please sign up by clicking on the word "Signatories".  This will show your support for the document and it will also be an encouragement to other believers.

The times demand that we state exactly where we stand on matters of faith and conduct that are everywhere under attack. Uniting on these verities will strengthen our hand in God, and encourage others to join us in making a response to the desperate decline and departure that is gathering speed in our day.

The words of Martin Luther give the spirit of the Affirmation 2010:

martin-luther If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are attacking at that moment, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all battlefields besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Words ascribed to Martin Luther, the German Reformer

Here is the Preface to the Affirmation, which further explains its purpose and calls us to stand for God and Truth in our generation.

In view of the present violent opposition from the adversary of God and man, and the evident confusion and grave departure from Biblical Truth in the professing Church, we believe it was laid upon us to make solemn affirmation of the doctrine we seek firmly to believe and strenuously to maintain.

It is understood that this Affirmation does not cover every tenet of the Faith once delivered to us, but statement is herein made, and emphasis given, to the doctrine particularly assailed at the present time.

Aware, as we certainly are, of our own great weakness, and depending as always upon the support and strength of our faithful God, we unitedly make solemn and public testimony to vitally important truth, while at the same time firmly rejecting the errors and novelties which are contrary to them. We call upon all who love the Truth to join with us in making this formal affirmation of Faith, and we pray God to use it to the overthrow of false doctrine and practice.

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19

Web site:

C. H. Spurgeon – Too Rigid?

December 31, 2009

spurgeon young

WE HAVE GREAT reason to bless God for the rich mercies we have enjoyed as a church and people for many years, in the unity of the brotherhood, the zeal of the workers, the number of conversions, the success of all our enterprises, and the growth of the whole body.

It is on my heart to say a word upon another subject—a subject which presses heavily upon my heart. I beseech you, by the mercies of God, and by the love of Christ Jesus your Lord, that as members of this church you do nothing which would grieve the Spirit of God, and cause Him to depart from among us.

Remember how Israel suffered defeat because of Achan. One man only, and one family only, had broken the Divine rule, but that sufficed to trouble the whole camp. Achan had taken of the accursed thing and hidden it in his tent, and so all Israel had to suffer defeat. Churches, too, will suffer if sin becomes general among them and is allowed to go unrebuked. At this time many a church is suffering grievously from the sin of its own members—sin in its ranks.

As I look abroad, I am grieved and have great heaviness of spirit at what I see among professing Christians. A very serious matter concerns the amusements engaged in by professing Christians. I see it publicly stated, by some who call themselves Christians, that it is good for Christians to attend the theatre, so that the tone and character of the productions may be improved. The suggestion is about as sensible as if we were bidden to pour a bottle of lavender water into the main sewer to improve its aroma.

"Touch not…!"

If the church is now supposed to raise the tone of the world by imitating it, things have strangely altered since the day when our Lord said, "Come out from among them…and touch not the unclean thing." Is Heaven to descend to the infernal lake to raise its tone? Such has been the moral condition of the theatre for many a year that it has become too bad for mending. And even if it were mended it would soon become corrupt again. Pass by it with averted gaze, for the house of the strange woman is there.

It has not been my lot ever to enter a theatre during the performance of a play, but I have seen enough when I have come home from journeys at night, while riding past the theatres, to make me pray that our sons and daughters may never go within their doors. It must be a strange school for virtue which attracts the harlot and the debauchee. It is no place for a Christian if it is best appreciated by the irreligious and worldly.


A step to degeneration

If our church members fall into the habit of frequenting the theatre, we shall soon have them going much further in the direction of vice, and they will lose all relish for the ways of God. If theatre-going became general among professing Christians, it would be the death of piety. Yet one finds the taste for such things increasing on every hand.

We cannot even enter places once dedicated to science and art without finding ourselves in the presence of something like a theatrical performance. Such gimmickry, though in itself harmless enough, has helped foster the taste which leads ultimately to the theatre and its surroundings.

Who can suppose amusements surrounded with the seductions of vice to be fit recreation for a pure mind? Who could draw near to God after sitting to admire the performances of the debauched (and I am told that some who have dazzled London society are such)?

When behaviour is growing every day more lax and licentious, shall believers lower the standard of their lives? If they do so their spiritual power will depart, and their reason for existence will be over. If there ever could be a time when Christians might relax their rigidity, it surely is not now when the very air is tainted with pollution, and when our streets ring with the newsboys’ cries vending filthy papers.

It is profoundly saddening to hear how people talk about acts of sin nowadays; how young men and women without blushing talk of deeds which deprave and destroy, as though they were trifles, or themes for joking. It is a great pity that the ends of justice should require the publishing of unsavoury details. As for those who not only commit lewdness, but who take pleasure in those who do it—"O my soul, come not thou into their secret." My heart often cries, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."

It will certainly be disastrous for the church of God if her members should become impure. In these days we must be doubly strict, lest any looseness of conduct should come in among us. Actual sin must be repressed with a strong hand, but even the appearance of evil must be avoided.

My dear brethren and sisters, whatever your deficiencies, be pure in heart and lip and life. Never indulge an evil imagination, or speak about things which are unclean. Let them not once be named among you, as becometh saints. A lascivious glance, a doubtful word, a questionable act must be strenuously avoided. Anything and everything that verges upon the unchaste must be rejected.

Only the pure in heart shall see God. We are all subject to human passions, and this wretched flesh of ours is too easily fascinated by those who would pander to its indulgences. In seconds the soul may be led into captivity. Watch unto prayer, especially in these evil days. Cry, "Lead us not into temptation," and if the prayer is sincere, you will also keep far from doubtful places. Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not look upon that which pollutes, and stop your ears from hearing about it. Watch your lips lest they spread corruption when speaking of sin. I am not afraid that you will step directly into gross sin, but that you may take a very small step on the road that leads to it. Then it will only be a matter of time.


Augustine tells a story of a young friend of his who had the greatest horror of everything connected with the Roman amphitheatre. A heathen friend tried to persuade him to enter the Colosseum, and as he was very hard pressed and was under some obligation to that friend, he agreed to go just once, but determined to keep his eyes and ears closed all the time. It would seem to be a very small risk to sit there as one who was blind and deaf, but in the middle of the sports the people so loudly applauded a certain gladiator who had pleased them that he opened his eyes and ears to discover what it was all about. From that moment he was spellbound; he looked on, and enjoyed the sight, and though before he could not bear the very mention of it, he came at last to be a regular frequenter of the cruel sports, and a defender of them, and after a short time he abandoned his profession of Christianity.

Beware of the leaven of worldly pleasure, for its working is silent but sure, and a little of it will leaven the whole lump. Keep up the distinction between a Christian and an unbeliever and make it clearer every day.

Have you heard of the minister who complained to the devil for running off with one of his church members? The fiend replied, "I found him on my premises, and therefore I claimed him." I, also, may say, "Stop!" to the arch-deceiver, but it will be of no use if he finds you on his territory. Every fowler claims the bird which he finds in his own net. This is the argument: "I caught him in my net, and therefore he is mine." We shall in vain try to dispute this right of property with the arch-enemy, for possession is nine points of the law.

Too rigid?

Avoid the appearance of evil. "But we must not be too rigid," says one. There is no fear of that in these days. You will never go too far in holiness, nor become too like your Lord Jesus. If anybody accuses you of being too strict and precise, do not grieve but try to deserve the charge. I cannot suppose that at the last great day our Lord Jesus Christ will say to anyone, "You were not worldly enough. You were too jealous over your conduct, and did not sufficiently conform to the world." No, my brethren, such a wrong is impossible. He Who said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," has set before you a standard beyond which you can never go.

"Well, but," says one, "are we to have no enjoyments?" My dear friend, the enjoyments which are prepared for Christians are many and great, but they never include sin and folly. Do you call vice and folly amusements?

When I go down into the country, I see farmers carrying out great pails of hogwash for the swine, and I never grudge them their dainty meal. I do not protest against their having a full trough twice over. But do I partake with them? Certainly not! I have no taste for that. Do I therefore deny myself? Certainly not! It never struck me that there was anything desirable in their rich mixture. I have no doubt that it has a fine flavour to the creatures for whom it is prepared. It certainly seems to be appreciated.

If worldlings enjoy the pleasures of the world and sin, let them have them, poor souls. They have nothing else to enjoy. They have no paradise for the everlasting future. They have no Christ and Saviour to lean their heads upon. Let them have that which makes them happy while they can be happy. But when I am talking to the children of God I adopt another tone, since for you these things have no charms if you have truly tasted the high delights of fellowship with God.

"But," you say, "I would greatly enjoy a little of the pleasures of sin." Judge yourselves, then, to be falsely called children of God. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin," by which is not meant that he does not fall into sin through weakness, but that it is not his desire or plan or delight to commit sin. It is not his way, because he is a new creature, and he finds his joy and pleasure in living as near to God as possible.

"How far may we go in conformity to the world?" is a question that is frequently asked. Have you never heard the story of a lady who wanted a coachman? Two or three called to see her about the post, and, in answer to her enquiries, the first applicant said, "Yes, madam, you could not have a better coachman than myself." She replied, "How near do you think you could drive to danger without an accident?" "Madam, I could go within a yard of it, and yet you would be perfectly safe." "Very well," she said, "you will not suit me."

coach driver

Care or confidence?

The second applicant had heard the question upon which the other had been rejected, and therefore he was ready with his answer, "Danger! Madam, why I could drive within a hair’s breadth, and yet be perfectly safe." "Then you will not suit me at all." When number three came in, he was asked, "Are you a good driver?" "Well," he replied, "I am careful and have never met with an accident." "But how near do you think you could drive to danger?" "Madam," he said, "that is a thing I never tried; I always drive as far away from danger as ever I can." The lady at once replied, "You are the kind of coachman I want, and I will engage you at once."

Get such a coachman as that yourself to guide your own heart and lead your own character. Do not see how near you can go to sin, but see how far you can keep away from it. If you do not take that advice, and if the Spirit of God does not produce in you purity of life, by and by the church will have to hold up its hands and say, "Who would have thought it? These were the nice young people of whom so much was expected; these were the good people who used to say, ‘You must not be too strict,’ and where are they now?" To avoid the worst keep clear of the bad.

As for your Lord’s work, be bound to the altar of Christ and be united for ever to Him, and I am sure you will not find that you are losers by giving up worldly pleasures. The Lord’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. There is a safe and sweet pleasantness in holy living, and the pleasantness lies very much in the fact that an abounding peace springs from it. God grant us grace to keep in these peaceful paths, even though others should call us Puritans and ridicule our holy fear of sin.

Better Position To Be In – On the Side of Scripture

December 23, 2009


Our object should not be to have scripture on our side but to be on the side of scripture; and however dear any sentiment may have become by being long entertained, so soon as it is seen to be contrary to the Bible, we must be prepared to abandon it without hesitation.

William Symington

Tozer on Modern Unbiblical Views of Faith

November 2, 2009


“My fear is that the modern conception of faith is not the biblical one, that when the teachers of our day use the word they do not mean what the Bible writers meant when they used it. The causes of my uneasiness are these:

1. The lack of spiritual fruit in the lives of so many who claim to have faith.

2. The rarity of a radical change in the conduct and general outlook of persons professing their new faith in Christ as their personal Savior.

3. The failure of our teachers to define or even describe the thing to which the word ‘faith’ is supposed to refer.

4. The heartbreaking failure of multitudes of seekers, be they ever so earnest, to make anything out of the doctrine [of faith] or to receive any satisfying experience through it.

5. The real danger that a doctrine that is parroted so widely and received so uncritically by so many is false as understood by them.

6. I have seen faith put forward as a substitute for obedience, an escape from reality, a refuge from the necessity of hard thinking, a hiding place for weak character. I have known people to miscall by the name of faith high animal spirits, natural optimism, emotional thrills and nervous tics.

7. Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life.”

A. W. Tozer, “Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine,” in Man the Dwelling Place of God, pages 30-31.
Please note that we do not endorse all the teaching of Dr. Tozer, but highly value the discernment of this godly man from a bygone generation.

The Devil’s Mission of Amusement

August 31, 2009

The Church’s Task – Entertainment or Evangelization?

By Archibald G. Brown

Dr Archibald Geikie Brown (July 18 1844 – April 2 1922) was a Baptist minister and a student of the noted Victorian era preacher Charles Spurgeon. He became the Pastor at the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, the church formerly pastored by Spurgeon and other notable preachers. In 1887 he and Spurgeon withdrew from the Baptist Union because of the "down grade controversy". In 1897 he preached at Cooper Union in Manhattan in the United States. He published several books of sermons, including ‘The Devil’s Mission of Amusement’ (1889).


Different days demand their own special testimony. The watchman who would be faithful to his Lord and the city of his God has need to carefully note the signs of the times and emphasize his witness accordingly. Concerning the testimony needed now, there can be little, if any, doubt. An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross, so brazen in its impudence, that the most shortsighted of spiritual men can hardly fail to notice it.

During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, ever for evil. It has worked like leaven until now the whole lump ferments. Look which way you may, its presence makes itself manifest. There is little if anything, to choose between Church, Chapel, or Mission hall. However they may differ in some respects, they bear a striking likeness in the posters that figure upon and disfigure their notice boards. Amusement for the people is the leading article advertised by each. If any of my readers doubt my statement, or think my utterance too sweeping, let them take a tour of inspection and study "the announcements for the week" at the doors of the sanctuaries of the neighbourhood; or let them read the religious advertisements in their local papers. I have done this again and again, until the hideous fact has been proved up to the hilt, that "amusement" is ousting "the preaching of the Gospel" as the great attraction. "Concerts," "Entertainments," "Fancy Fairs," "Smoking Conferences," "Dramatic Performances," are the words honoured with biggest type and most startling colours. The Concert is fast becoming as much a recognized part of church life as the Prayer Meeting, and is already, in most places, far better attended.

"Providing recreation for the people" will soon be looked upon as a necessary part of Christian Work and as binding upon the Church of God, as though it were a Divine command, unless some strong voice be raised which will make themselves heard. I do not presume to possess such a voice, but I do entertain the hope that I may awaken some louder echoes. Anyway, the burden of the Lord is upon me in this matter, and I leave it with Him to give my testimony ringing tone, or to let it die away in silence. I shall have delivered my soul in either case. Yet the conviction fills my mind that in all parts of the country there are faithful men and women who see the danger and deplore it and will endorse my witness and my warning.

It is only during the past few years that "amusement" has become a recognized weapon of our warfare and developed into a mission. There has been a steady "down grade" in this respect. From "speaking out," as the Puritans did the Church has gradually toned down her testimony; then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she has tolerated them in her borders, and now she has adopted them and provided a home for them under the plea of "reaching the masses and getting the ear of the people." The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church of Christ that part of her mission is to provide entertainment for the people with a view to winning them into her ranks. The human nature that lies in every heart has risen to the bait. Here, now, is an opportunity of gratifying the flesh and yet retaining a comfortable conscience. We can now please ourselves in order to do good to others. The rough old cross can be exchanged for a "costume," and the exchange can be made with the benevolent purpose of elevating the people.christian rock

All this is terribly sad, and the more so because truly gracious souls are being led away by the specious pretext that it is a form of Christian work. They forget that a seemingly beautiful angel may be the devil himself, " . . . for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14).


Not Supported By Scripture

I. – My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is no where spoken of in Holy Scripture as one of the functions of the church. What her duties are will come under our notice later on. At present it is the negative side of the question that we are dealing with. Now, surely, if our Lord had intended His Church to be the caterer of entertainment, and so counteract the god of this world He would hardly have left so important a branch of service unmentioned. If it is Christian work, why did not Christ at least hint it? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," is clear enough. So would it have been if He had added, "And provide amusement for those who do not relish the Gospel." No such addendum, however, is to be found, nor even an equivalent for such, in any one of our Lords utterances. this style of work did not seem to occur to His mind. Then again, Christ, as an ascended Lord, gives to His Church specially qualified men for the carrying on of His work, but no mention of any gift for this branch of service occurs in the list. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Where do the "public entertainers" come in? The Holy Ghost is silent concerning them, and his silence is eloquence.

If "providing recreation" be a part of the Church’s work, surely we may look for some promise to encourage her in the toilsome task. Where is it? There is a promise for "My Word"; it "shall not return unto Me void." There is a heart-rejoicing declaration concerning the Gospel: "It is the power of God." There is a sweet assurance for the preacher of Christ that, whether he be successful or no – as the world judges success – he is a "sweet savour unto God." There is the glorious benediction for those whose testimony, so far from amusing the world, rouses its wrath; "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they refused to? The Gospel of amusement has no martyrology. In vain does one look for a promise from God for providing recreation for a godless world. That which has no authority from Christ, no provision made for it by the Spirit, no promise attached to it by God, can only be a lying hypocrite when it lays claim to be "a branch of the work of the Lord."

Not Taught By The SaviourOpen Bible_small

II. – But again, providing amusement for the people is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What is to be the attitude of the Church towards the world according to our Lord’s teaching? Strict separation and uncompromising hostility. While no hint ever passes His lips of winning the world by pleasing it, or accommodating methods to its taste, His demand for unworldliness was constant and emphatic. He sets forth in one short sentence what He would have His disciples to be: "Ye are the salt of the earth." Yes, salt not the sugar-candy nor a "lump of delight." Something the world will be more inclined to spit out than swallow with a smile. Something more calculated to bring water to the eye than laughter to the lip.

Short and sharp is the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." "In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." "I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world,even as I am not of the world." "My kingdom is not of this world."

These passages are hard to reconcile with the modern idea of the Church providing recreation for those who have no taste for more serious things – in other words, of conciliating the world. If they teach anything at all, it is that fidelity to Christ will bring down the world’s wrath, and that Christ intended His disciples to share with Him the world’s scorn and rejection. How did Jesus act? What were the methods of the only perfectly "faithful witness" the Father ever had?

As none will question that He is to be the worker’s model, let us gaze upon Him. How significant the introductory account given by Mark, " Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." And again, in the same chapter, I find Him saying, in answer to the announcement of His disciples that all men were seeking for Him, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth." Matthew tells us, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities." In answer to John’s question, "Art thou He that should come?" He replies, "Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." There is no item in the catalogue after this sort. "And the careless are amazed, and the perishing are provided with innocent recreation."

We are not left in doubt as to the matter of His preaching, for when "many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to received them, no, not so much as about the door, He preached the Word unto them." There was no change of method adopted by the Lord during His course of ministry; no learning by experience of a better plan. His first word of command to His evangelists was, "As ye go, preach." His last, "Preach the Gospel to every creature." Not an evangelist suggests that at any time during His ministry He turned aside from preaching to entertain, and so attract the people. He was in awful earnestness, and his ministry was like Himself. Had He been less uncompromising, and introduced more of the "bright and pleasant" element into His mission, He would have been more popular.

Yet, when many of His disciples went back, because of the searching nature of His preaching, I do not find there was any attempt to increase a diminished congregation by resorting to something more pleasant to the flesh. I do not hear Him saying, "We must keep up the gatherings anyway: so run after those friends, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow. Something very short and attractive, with little, if any, preaching. To-day was a service for God, but to-morrow we will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it, and have a happy hour. Be quick, Peter; we must get the public somehow; if not by the Gospel, then by nonsense." No, this was not how He argued. Gazing in sorrow on those who would not hear the Word, He simply turns to the twelve, and asks, "Will ye also go away?"

Jesus pitied sinners, pleaded with them, sighed over them, warned them, and wept over them; but never sought to amuse them. When the evening shadows of His consecrated life were deepening into the night of death, He reviewed His holy ministry, and found comfort and sweet solace in the thought, "I have given them Thy Word." As with the Master, so with His apostles — their teaching is the echo of His. In vain will the epistles be searched to discover any trace of a gospel of amusement. The same call for separation from the world rings in everyone. "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed," is the Romans. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing." It is the trumpet call in the Corinthians. In other words it is come out — keep out — keep clean out — for "what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?"

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Here is the true relationship between the Church and the world according to the Epistle to the Galatians. "Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them," is the attitude enjoined in Ephesians. "Sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life," is the word in Philippians. "Dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world," says the Epistle to the Colossians. "Abstain from all appearance of evil," is the demand in Thessalonians. "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use," is the word to Timothy. "Let us go forth, therefore, unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach," is the heroic summons of the Hebrews. James, with holy severity, declares that, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Peter writes: "Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation". John writes a whole epistle, the gist of which is, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

Here are the teachings of the apostles concerning the relationship of the Church and the world. And yet, in the face of them, what do we see and hear? A friendly compromise between the two, and an insane effort to work in partnership for the good of the people? God help us, and dispel the strong delusion. How did the apostles carry on their mission work? Was it in harmony with their teaching? Let the Acts of the Apostles give the answer.

Anything approaching the worldly fooling of today is conspicuous by its absence. The early evangelists had boundless confidence in the power of the Gospel, and employed no other weapon. Pentecost followed plain preaching. When Peter and John had been locked up for the night for preaching the resurrection, the early Church had a prayer meeting directly they returned, and the petition offered for the two was, "And now, Lord, grant unto Thy servants, that will all boldness they may speak Thy word." They had not thought of praying, "Grant unto Thy servants more policy, that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation they may avoid the offense of the cross, and sweetly show this people how happy and merry a lot we are."

The charge brought against the apostles by the members of the Council was, "Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine." Not much chance of this charge being brought against modern methods. The description of their work is, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Then, if they "ceased not" from this, they had no time for arranging for entertainments; they gave themselves continually to the "ministry of the word." Scattered by persecution, the early disciples "Went everywhere preaching the word."

When Philip went to Samaria, and was the means of bringing "great joy in that city," the only recorded method is, "He preached Christ unto them." When the apostles went to visit the scene of his labours it is stated, "And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans." As they went back to Jerusalem directly they had finished their preaching, it is evident they did not think in their mission to stay and organize some "pleasant evenings" for the people who did not believe.

The congregations in those days did not expect anything but the word of the Lord, for Cornelius says to Peter, "We all are here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." The message given was, "Words whereby thou and all thine house shall be saved." Cause and effect are closely linked in the statement, "Men of Cyrene spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus; and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord." Here you have their method — they preached. Their matter — the Lord Jesus. Their power — the hand of the Lord was with them. Their success — many believed. What more does the Church of God require to-day?

When Paul and Barnabas worked together, the record is, "The Lord gave testimony unto the word of His grace." When Paul, in a vision, hears a man of Macedonia saying, "Come over and help us," he assuredly gathers that the Lord had called him to preach the Gospel unto them. Why so? How did he know but that the help needed was the brightening of their lives by a little amusement, or the refining of their manners by a collections of paintings? He never thought of such things. "Come and help us!" meant to him, "Preach the Gospel." "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures" — not about the scriptures, mark, but out of them — "opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen from the dead." That was the "manner" of evangelistic work in those days, and it seems to have been wonderfully powerful; for the verdict of the people is, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." Just now the world is turning the Church upside down; that is the only difference.

When God told Paul that He had much people in Corinth, I read, "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." Evidently then, he judged that the only way to bring them in was by the Word. A year and a half, and only one method adopted . Wonderful! We should have had a dozen in that time! But then Paul never reckoned that providing something pleasant for the ungodly was part of his ministry; for, on his way to Jerusalem and martyrdom, he says, "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." this was all the ministry he knew. The last description we have of the methods of this prince of evangelists is of a piece with all that has gone before, "He expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus." What a contrast to all the rot and nonsense now being perpetrated in the holy name of Christ! The Lord clear the Church of all the rubbish that the devil has imposed upon her, and bring us back again to apostolic methods!

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Not Spiritually Fruitful

III. – Lastly: The mission of amusement utterly fails to effect the desired end among the unsaved; but it works havoc among the young converts. Were it a success, it would be none the less wrong. Success belongs to God; faithfulness to His instructions to me. Bit it is not. Test it even by this, and it is a contemptible failure. Let that be the method which is answered by fire, and the verdict will be, "The preaching of the Word, that is the power."

Let us see the converts who have been first won by amusement. Let the harlots and the drunkards to whom a dramatic entertainment has been God’s first link in the chain of their conversion stand forth. Let the careless and the scoffers who have cause to thank God that the Church has relaxed her spirit of separation and met them half-way in their worldliness, speak and testify. Let the husbands, wives, and children, who rejoice in a new and holy home through "Sunday Evening Lectures on Social Questions" tell out their joy. Let the weary, heavy-laden souls who have found peace through a concert, no longer keep silence. Let the men and women who have found Christ through the reversal of apostolic methods declare the same, and show the greatness of Paul’s blunder when he said, "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." There is neither voice nor any to answer. The failure is on a par with the folly, and as huge as the sin. Out of thousands with whom I have personally conversed, the mission of amusement has claimed no convert.

Now let the appeal be made to those who, repudiating every other method, have staked everything on The Book and The Holy Ghost. Let them be challenged to produce results. There is no need. Blazing sacrifices on every hand attest the answer by fire. Ten thousand times ten thousand voices are ready to declare that the plain preaching of the Word was, first and last, the cause of their salvation.

But how about the other side of this matter — what are the baneful effects? Are they also nil.? I will here solemnly as before the Lord give my personal testimony. Though I have never seen a sinner saved, I have seen any number of backsliders manufactured by this new departure. Over and over again have young Christians, and sometimes Christians who are not young, come to me in tears, and asked what they were to do, as they had lost all their peace and fallen into evil. Over and over again has the confession be made, "I began to go wrong by attending worldly amusements that Christians patronized." It is not very long since that a young man, in an agony of soul, said to me, "I never thought of going to the theatre until my minister put it into my heart by preaching that there was no harm in it. I went, and it has led me from bad to worse and now I am a miserable backslider, and he is responsible for it."

When young converts begin to "damp off," forsake the gatherings for prayer, and grow worldly, I almost always find that worldly Christianity is responsible for the first downward step. The mission of amusements is the devil’s half-way house to the world. It is because of what I have seen that I feel deeply, and would fain write strongly. This thing is working rottenness in the Church of God, and blasting her service for the King. In the guise of Christianity, it is accomplishing the devil’s own work. Under the pretence of going out to reach the world, it is carrying our sons and daughters into the world. With the plea of, "Do not alienate the masses with your strictness," it is seducing the young disciples from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. Professing to win the world, it is turning the garden of the Lord into a public recreation ground. To fill the temple with those who see no beauty in Christ, a grinning Dagon is put over the doorway.

It will be no wonder if the Holy Ghost, grieved and insulted, withdraws His presence; for "what concord hath Christ with Belial, and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"

"Come out!" is the call for today. Sanctify yourselves. Put away the evil from among you. Cast down the world’s altars and cut down her groves. Spurn her offered assistance. Decline her help, as your Master did the testimony of devils, for "He suffered them not to speak, because they knew Him." Renounce all the policy of the age. Trample upon Saul’s armour. Grasp the Book of God. Trust the Spirit who wrote its pages. Fight with this weapon only and always. Cease to amuse and seek to arouse. Shun the clap of a delighted audience, and listen for the sobs of a convicted one. Give up trying to "please" men who have only the thickness of their ribs between their souls and hell; and warn, and plead, and intreat, as those who feel the waters of eternity creeping upon them.

Let the Church again confront the world; testify against it; meet it only behind the cross; and, like her Lord, she shall overcome, and with Him share the victory.