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SWORD AND THE TROWEL.
Acta non Verba.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
CHURCH, in the United States, lately advertised for a minister, and stated that, having been for some years overdone with eloquence, they desired a pastor who would preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ: there are churches on this side the Atlantic, sickened with essays and "intellectual treats," whose aspirations are much of the same kind. Fine language amuses the ear, as the tinkling of their little bells pleases the continental coach-horses, but it cannot satisfy the soul any more than the aforesaid tintinabulations can supply the place of corn and hay. The art of arranging words, and balancing sentences, is a mental jugglery, as astonishing when perfectly practised, as the feats of the Chinese or Japanese artistes who just lately have charmed vast audiences at the Crystal Palace; but cui bono? what is the good of it, and who is the better for it? Who was ever convinced of sin by an oratorical flourish? What heart was led to Jesus, and to joy and peace in believing, by a fine passage resplendent with all the graces of diction? What chaff is to the wheat, and dross to gold, that is the excellence of human speech to the simplicity of the word of God. For awhile fascinated by the siren voice of vain philosophy and affected culture, many of the churches have drawn perilously near to the rocks of heresy and doubt, but divine grace is visiting them, and they will shake off the spell. Everywhere there is a cry for the gospel, for men who will preach it in the love of it, for ministers who will live it, and innoculate others with its life: the church is growing sick of
essayists, and asks for men of God. She is weary of word-spinners, and pretenders to deep thought, and she cries for men full of the Holy Spirit, who are lovers of the word and not speakers only. Soul-winners will soon be in demand, and your genteel essayists will have to carry their dry goods to another market. Sane men do not need fiddlers, while the life-boat is being manned to save yonder perishing ones from the devouring deep.
The intensely practical character of Christianity might be inferred from the life of its Founder. In Jesus we see no display, no aiming at effect, nothing spoken or done to decorate or ornament the simplicity of his daily life. True, he was a prophet, mighty in words as well as in deeds; but his words were downright and direct, winged with a purpose, and never uttered for speaking's sake. Nobody ever looks at Jesus as an orator to be compared with Cicero. "Never man spake like this man." He was not of the schools. No graver's tool had passed over his eloquence. In his presence Demosthenes is seen to be a statue, carved with great skill, and the very counterfeit of life; but Jesus is life itself, not art's sublimest fac simile of nature, but the living truth. Jesus, whether speaking or acting, was still practical. His words were but the wings of his deeds. He went about, not discoursing upon benevolence, but "doing good;" he itinerated not to stir up a missionary spirit, but "to preach glad tidings to the poor." Where others theorized he wrought, where they planned he achieved, where they despaired he triumphed! Compared with him, our existence is a mere windbag; his life was solid essential action, and ours a hazy dream, an unsubstantial would-be which yet is not. Most blessed Son of the Highest, thou who workest evermore, teach us also how to begin to live, ere we have stumbled into our graves while prating about purposes and resolves!
The first champions of the cross were also men in whom the truth displayed itself in deeds rather than in words. Paul's roll of labours and of sufferings, would contrast strangely with the diary of a reader of pretty little sermonettes; or, for the matter of that, with the biography of the most zealous among us. The apostles were intensely active, rather than intellectually refined; they made no pretence to be philosophers, but thought it sufficient to be servants of Jesus Christ. Their hearers remembered them, not because they had melodiously warbled sweet nothings into their ears; but because they spoke in the demonstration of the Spirit and in the power of God. They were not mystics, but workmen; not elocutionists, but labourers. We track them by the cities which they evangelised, the churches which they founded, the tribes which they converted to Christ. By some means or other, they came to grapple with the world hand to hand, whereas the good men of these times do anything but that: they tell us what was done of old, what should be done now, and what will be done in the millenium, but they themselves mingle not in the fray. Where are the heroic combats of the first ages of the faith? Where hear we the din of real fighting? We see shaking of fists, feints, and challengings in abundance, but of downright blows there is a lamentable scarcity; the modern battle of church and world is too frequently a mere stage imitation, a sham fight of the most wretched order. See the combatants of those days-a whole-souled fight was