Highlights from the August 1865 edition of The Sword and the Trowel, the monthly magazine edited by Spurgeon.
In this issue we have a brilliant comparison of a preacher with an Italian water-bearer (someone who carries water, bottles of essences to flavour it, and glasses to drink from) who wanders around Venice crying out “Acqua! Acqua!”
Two images stood out:
First, like the water-bearer, “the faithful preacher of the word, who, having filled his vessel at the well, wears himself out by continually bearing the burden of the Lord, and crying “Water, Water!” amid crowds of sinners, who must drink or die.”
Second, the glasses the water-bearer carries, if they are dirty can cause the water to have “an evil taste to it” and this can happen in the ministry if the one preaching by “an inconsistent life, or a bitter disposition, has marred the sweetness of the word… Men who are very thirsty will drink out of any cup, however dirty; but no conceivable advantage can arise from filth, and hundreds will turn away from the water because of it, and thus a very faulty ministry may be useful because of the truth contained in it, but its sinfulness can do no good, and may serve as an excuse to the ungodly for refusing the gospel of Christ.”
“Every promise is built upon four pillars:
God’s justice or holiness, which will not suffer him to deceive;
his grace or goodness, which will not suffer him to forget;
his truth, which will not suffer him to change;
and his power, which makes him able to accomplish.”
A common feature of The Sword and the Trowel seems to be a dig by Spurgeon at evangelicals who remain in the Church of England:
“Evangelical Churchmen, lovers of the Lord Jesus, how long will you remain in alliance with the defilements of High Churchism? You are mainly responsible for all the Popery of your Church, for you are its salt and its stay. Your brethren in Christ cannot but wonder how it is that you can remain where you are. You know better. You are children of light, and yet you aid and abet a system by which darkness is scattered all over the land. Beware, lest you be found in union with Antichrist, when the Lord cometh in his glory. What a future would be yours if you would shake yourselves from your alliance with’ Papists and semi-Papists. Come out for Christ’s sake. Be ye separate, touch not the unclean thing!”
For the first time since the magazine began, we find an appeal for support from readers.
Funds were needed in order to plant four places of worship – one in Ealing, one in Bermondsey, one in Redhill, and a fourth place unnamed.
What drove this desire?
“Millions in and round London are perishing for lack of the word, and the great want with us is places in which to preach it.”
A need was also expressed for funds for the Pastor’s College.
“Faith sees in this no discouragement, for the Lord has provided and will provide for what is proved to be his work by the manifest blessing resting upon it; but we think it right to let the Lord’s stewards know the needs of his work, that they may know when to aid it.”
One final article of note is about the baptismal regeneration controversy that came about after sermon Spurgeon preached against it, Though a little grieved that his friend Dr Campbell didn’t come out straight away with support for Spurgeon when he was being attacked for it, eventually he did when publishing his articles on the matter which appeared in the British Standard prefaced by an introduction with was printed here.
The final line put in capital letters sums up what was at stake in it nicely: “THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION BY SACRAMENTS IS A DEADLY DELUSION, THE OVERTHROW OF THE GOSPEL, THE DESTRUCTION OF SOULS, AND THE PATH TO PERDITION!”
– Planting new churches and training up pastors has always been costly. Funds are needed for this today just as it was in Spurgeon’s day. It was interesting note that these two areas were the focus of Spurgeon’s appeal to readers of The Sword and the Trowel.
– Contending for the faith is vital. There seems to be a real concern that the Church of England was going back to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. This explains why Spurgeon couldn’t understand why faithful ministers and churches could remain in such a mixed denomination.