While the demands of the Christian platform are constantly increasing, and, indeed, almost rival those of the Christian pulpit, it is remarkable that helpful books for speakers are exceedingly rare. The present volume is an attempt to supply a great and obvious blank. It contains speeches by the most eminent Christian orators of the present and recent times, and a selection of fresh, pithy, and sometimes humorous illustrations. The speeches are taken from reports in the Church of England Temperance Chronicle, the Christian World, and other journals, local allusions being, so far as possible, omitted.
By Dr. W. Morley Punshon.
I rejoice in the operations of this Society because it affords one of those opportunities which are none too many in this age of ours, that tend to show how in our work for Christ all Evangelical Churches have a substantial unity about them which is the unity of the spirit kept in the bond of peace, I rejoice in the operations of the Society, moreover, because it is a sort of moral telephone that makes men heard at a distance from those to whom they are speaking, annihilating all distance, and, as Winter Hamilton said, "treading continents into contiguities, and making a neighbourhood of the world." I rejoice further, because it beats the telephone, inasmuch as the telephone can only reproduce the living voice; but by the operations of this Society the worthies of the former time, being dead, yet speak. I rejoice, too, because it asserts Christ's right to reign in the realm of literature. I wish it all success in its battle with impurity and evil for the supremacy of the literature of the world. I rejoice again because it seems to me to issue those publications which are exactly suited to the wants of this busy, bustling age. I am afraid that the remark made has a great deal of truth in it, that the age of ponderous tomes is gone. Men want something sharp and incisive—something that a wayfaring man can read as he runs; for running seems to be characteristic of the fast life which now-a-days most of us have to lead. It seems to me as though there were an exaggeration in the love of sharpness, and incisiveness, and earnestness, which is rapidly growing into an evil. Earnestness, especially, is the God of this age's reverence. It does not matter what a man may be; earnestness, like charity, is made to cover a multitude of sins. But it is necessary to take hold of this, seeing that it exists, and endeavour to meet the popular hunger for something short, and sharp, and decisive, by the presentation of truth in a compressed yet attractive form. I fully coincided in a remark about the effects which in former times have been produced by these short treatises. 1, thought of Peter Waldo, for example; how he set to work with his cargo of tracts among the Piedmontese valleys; and how, from his evangelical and tractarian (in the proper sense of the word) labours, there sprang those Waldensian Churches which, through thirty-five persecutions, held fast the pure truth of Christ, although gashed by the spear of Savoy and scorched by the fagot of Rome. Then I thought of John Wycliffe, the grand tract-writer and distributor. And, my lord, I suppose you know that it is five hundred years this very year, almost this very month, since he was summoned by Bishop Courtenay to the Convocation at St. Paul's when good John of Gaunt stood by his side, and the controversy waxed so high as to whether he was to stand or sit during the trial that the assembly broke up in disorder. I thought of John Wycliffe as a tract-writer and distributor, and I saw in vision one of his tracts carried in the pocket of a Bohemian nobleman, into Bohemia, and lent by him to a man whose name was John Huss, bringing him to the knowledge of the purity and power of the truth as it is in Jesus. Then I came a little further down, and I thought how the early champions of the Reformation prized this form of usefulness; and how Farrell, the first French Reformer, first formed a Tract Society in Basle, in order that he might thus gain a hold upon the understandings and consciences of men. And then I thought of Martin Luther, and of that remarkable incident when, in one of his melancholy moods, he thought the Author of Evil was present in bodily shape when he was confined in Wurtemberg Fortress, and how he vanquished the devil by flinging an inkstand at his head. I thought of the power of a sanctified inkstand in the hand of such a man as that, and although Luther's work will live as long as the world lives, and although some of his greater works are yet in the hands of students who know how to praise them, yet I remember that God has honoured some of his lighter and similar works for the advancement of His kingdom in the world. Why, he wrote about the most uninteresting thing that could be written in all the world, surely, though it is a necessary sort of thing; he wrote prefaces to a great many of the works that he published; he wrote a preface to his comment upon the Epistle to the Galatians, and that preface found its way to the heart of a good Bedfordshire tinker, named John Bunyan. And he wrote a preface to his comment upon the Epistle to the Romans, and it was while reading that preface in Aldersgate Street that John Wesley became arrested. By the way, I had sent me at our Wesleyan Mission House last week a translation of "Pilgrim's Progress" into Chinese, with illustrations. There was Christian, and Christiana, and Mercy, and the rest all represented as Chinamen and Chinawomen, with the customary pigtails, and all. Then I thought again of that wonderful and bright succession which is noticed in your "Jubilee Memorial." Here I rather want the opportunity of saying that John Wesley was a zealous tract-writer, and an efficient tract distributor, fifty years before the Tract Society was born. Yet, strangely enough, the "Jubilee Memorial" does not mention his name—please in the next edition to put it in. I say I thought how an old Puritan doctor wrote a book years and years ago called the "Bruised Reed," which fell just at the right time into the hands of Richard Baxter, and brought him under the influence of the enlightening power of the Spirit of God; and then Baxter's ministry was like the sun in his strength, and he wrote a book called "The Call to the Unconverted," which continued to speak long after Baxter himself had ceased to speak with human tongue. That "Call to the Unconverted" went preaching on until it got into the hands of Philip Doddridge (prepared by his pious mother's teaching) from the Dutch tiles of a mantel-piece, with very quaint Scriptural stories; and it was the means of enlightening him to a broader knowledge, and a richer, faith, and a deeper experience of the things of God. And then I thought how Doddridge wrote a book called "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul," which, just at a critical period in his history, fell into the hands of William Wilberforce, who wrote a book called "Practical Christianity," which far down in the sunny Isle of Wight fired the heart of a clergyman, who has attained perhaps in connection with this Society, the broadest and widest reputation of all—for who has not heard of Legh Richmond? He wrote the simple annal of a Methodist girl, and published it under the title of "The Dairyman's Daughter;" and I should like to know into how many languages that has been translated, and been made of God a power for the spread of truth? Thus far the analogy and the sequence of the "Jubilee Memorial." But there is another sequence. The same book on "Practical Christianity" went right down into a secluded parish in Scotland, and it found there a young clergyman who was preaching a Gospel that he did not know, and it instructed him in the way of God more perfectly, and he came forth a champion valiant for the truth upon the earth until all Scotland rang with the eloquence of Thomas Chalmers. Look at it Not a flaw in the chain. Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Philip Doddridge, William Wilberforce, Legh Richmond, Thomas Chalmers—is not that apostolical succession? Then going abroad. I do not know whether we are sufficiently acquainted with some of the facts in the history of French Protestantism. Admiral Coligny was wounded dangerously at the siege of St. Quentin, and during the tedium of a long convalescence his brother brought him some tracts, and it was by tract-reading that he was made acquainted with the truth of the Gospel, of which he became a Huguenot champion. Then some of these tracts went off and got somehow or other into a convent, where the Lady Abbess was converted by reading one of them, and, that so thoroughly, that she had to flee from France and take refuge at Heidelberg, in the Court of Frederick III., of the Palatinate. And, by-and-by, she did as all good ladies do—she married, and her husband was Prince William of Orange. Who knows how much of the sturdy glorious stubbornness, so to speak, of William of Orange of the Revolution came from the blood of his ancestress, who was thus marvellously converted? Oh, my lord, God has various ways of working! "The wind bloweth where it listeth; we hear the sound thereof; we cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth;" but it is bearing seed upon its wings, and lo! ripening grain there where sower never trod, and lo! waving harvests ingathered where plough was never driven. The bird sometimes, scared by the tramp of feet, or by the hum of men, drops from its beak something that it is carrying to its young; the seed is lodged in the fissures of a wall, but, by-and-by, the inherent life becomes stronger than the incumbent masonry, and upon the ruins of a dismantled temple a noble tree arises. It seems to me the need is just as great as it ever was. The ark of God was never carried out into a hotter battle—it was never surrounded by fiercer antagonism than it is today. And these still small voices in which the Lord has so often revealed His presence are just as necessary for the peoples today as in any former age of the world. And, my lord, there is hunger of heart for them. We have not to complain that the people do not like these things; the language is, "Evermore give us this bread." I wonder that anybody should be so foolish as to try to satisfy hungry people by anything else than the Gospel. Why flourish the weapons of the nursery when we have the sword of the Spirit in our hands? I do believe there never was more than at the present time a growing hunger for this Word of Life. I wish it were as true of us now as it used to be when one of the supporters of the Romish Church in the Reformation period said, rather growlingly, "The Gospellers of these days do fill the realm with so many of their noisome little books that they be like swarms of locusts which did infest the land of Egypt." I do not think we can do better than earn that reputation now, and therefore it is that I wish all possible success and blessing to the operations of the Religious Tract Society. Let me say one word upon individual duty at this crisis. We want more personal service. There is a growing tendency, perhaps, in some quarters to condone for the lack of personal service by the willingness to direct, or to criticise, or to subscribe, as if a coin—the noblest that was ever minted with the image of its Cæsar—could ever be an equivalent for a living man—a man with a soul, a conscience, and a will. No; we want the Lord's freemen to work in the Lord's service; everything around us seems to tell us of the importance of this sense of personal responsibility. The more we have of it the more we find that responsibility is not dependent upon the riches or upon the poverty of a man's moral capital. Some men are royal both in opportunities and in resources; to oilier men chances only come seldom of successful teaching; but it is demanded of all that the use which they make of what they have is the wisest; just as the life of an animalcule while its hour lasts may be as complete and as busy as the life of the patriarch of years; and just as the circle of an emmet's eye may be as perfect as the circle of the heavens. And we look to the Master's life to see how the thought of responsibility to His Father prompted Him to the most perfect consecration. Listen as in the glow of His human youth He announces His separation to a work so sacred and so constraining as to be above the claims of home. "How is it that ye wist not that I must be about My Father's business?" See the same spirit in His brief, bright ministry, burdening His manhood with a yoke which His loving oneness with the Father made it quite easy to bear. Does He heal the man that was born blind? What is the motive that makes the healing fly with swifter wings? "I must work the works of Him that sent Me; for the night cometh when no man can work." Is He at the well's mouth at Sychar ready to open up the treasures of the upper springs to His half-educated disciple? How sublimely His purpose towers above the force of prejudice and the force of passion? "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." Ay, and if we pass on to the unquiet eventide, when, instead of rest, weariness and fainting came, and when the shadows of His passion gathered around Him, and what does He say? He says, with His head bowed already for the baptism of blood, yet lifting itself for the moment in the consciousness of a fulfilled mission, "I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." That is the pattern of our consecration. We are to live and labour after His measure. Our talents are to be laid out for Him, and so laid out that in blessed using they shall double themselves in their returns, and shall bring for His blessed service the gold of holy character, and precious stones gathered out of the world's dark mine—by our hands—to sparkle in the Redeemer's crown,
By Rev. Canon Tristram.
In explaining the three-fold reasons which bound him to the Society, said: "He felt bound to it as a missionary man, as a scientific man, and as a Churchman. In the first place as a missionary man he was especially bound to the society. He could not conceive how it would be possible for the Church Missionary Society, with which he was principally connected, to carry on its work without the aid of the Bible Society and its interpreter, the Religious Tract Society. It would be the missionary without the literature. To send their missionaries without literature would be like sending workmen without tools, soldiers without a supply of arms; and to rely upon literature without the living voice of the preacher would be to send the arms and make a shipment of the military stores, but to leave the regiment behind. They must have a living voice as well as a written word. But there were places where the silent preacher could enter, where the ear was adder-deaf to the voice of the living preacher, and that was the work of this Society at home and abroad. Book-hawking and colportage had done a mighty work, and were still doing it, especially in those countries where the living voice cannot be uplifted. The work of the Society almost ranged from Pole to Pole, and it had one message everywhere. He was bound to the Society as a scientific man. He remembered hearing Dr. Arnold uttering a favourite saying of his, that what they wanted was not so much religious books as books on secular subjects written in a religious tone. He (Canon Tristram) was of opinion that they wanted both, and he was bound to say that the Tract Society had solved the problem of supplying secular literature with a religious tone. It was a different thing to avow one's belief in the Word of God among scientific sceptics, from what it was to speak before a sympathetic audience at Exeter Hall. By such publications the world is able to see that men can grasp science without losing the grand old truth. The third reason why he was bound to the Society was because he was a Churchman, for it was the grandest Church society in England. He would tell them why. It saved him much trouble. He never dreamt of reading a tract with the imprimatur of the Tract Society upon it—that was to say, he never read it to see whether it was fit to give away. He had the greatest confidence in the Society, and its imprimatur was enough. There were other societies, but he would not circulate one of their books without looking it through beforehand. They heard a good deal in their days about unsectarian teaching. They were all agreed on one thing, that Bible reading without Bible teaching was an utter farce. While they did not want to be sectarian it was impossible to teach truth and Christianity to the youngest as well as the oldest without being dogmatic. He liked every one of the books and tracts of this Society because they were saturated with dogmatic teaching. There was no sectarianism in any one of them, but they were thoroughly dogmatic. If he wanted to teach the doctrines of the Church of England, or prove anything Protestant, Evangelical, and sound, he should go to the Religious Tract Society's works. He was sure he would find no mistaking of the emotional for the devotional. He would find no substitution of sensationalism, whether that sensationalism took the form of spiritual emotion or sensational services. In fact he would find every need of a parochial minister and Cathedral minister supplied by the works of this Society. Their churches were multiplying in the land; everywhere they were rising, and they thanked God for it. These churches and chapels were as so many stationary lamp-posts, giving a bright light on one side of the road; but only let the books and tracts get into the home, and each traveller would be carrying the lamp for himself, which would guide him in his right path." Canon Tristram concluded by quoting the words of a grand old bishop who, while defending the Episcopacy, said, "'If there must be outward difference and judgment in matters of outward policy, why should not our hearts be still one?"'