committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

CHAPTER 18

THE POET

Mr. Spurgeon was a man, as we have seen, who most sincerely believed in the use of printers’ ink, and he used it in many different forms, where it would catch the eye or strike the heart.

He organized the Colportage Association, for the express purpose of distributing books, tracts and sermons; and these missionaries going from house to house in prescribed districts of London, selling books if they could and giving them away if they could not make a sale; added greatly to the influence of Mr. Spurgeon’s church.

A book or a leaflet would reach into homes or shops where the spoken word could not go and touch the hearts of persons who never attended church.

In one of his sermons referring to the annual report upon the work of the Colportage Association, he gave his opinion of the value of printed matter in the furtherance of the gospel.

Mr. Spurgeon most pertinently said –

The printing-press is the mightiest agency on earth for good or evil. The position of a minister of religion standing in his pulpit is a responsible position, but it does not appear so responsible a position as that of the editor and the publisher. Men die, but the literary influences they project, go on for ever. I believe that God has made the printing-press to be a great agent in the world’s correction and evangelization, and that the great final battle of the world will be fought, not with guns and swords, but with types and presses, a gospellized and purified literature triumphing over and tramping underfoot and crushing out a corrupt literature. God speed the cylinders of an honest, intelligent, aggressive, Christian printing-press.

Many of the leaflets used by the Colportage Association contained the gospel message in verse, written by Mr. Spurgeon. Often in his sermons, but more frequently in his writings he introduced original poetry, some of which is positively beautiful, but the greater portion of which was intended directly to teach the most practical thought.

If Mr. Spurgeon had given his attention to. the composition of poetry, he might not have reached a position of one of the standard poets, but he would have produced poems that would have lived on in the pages of standard literature; but he was too intensely in earnest and in too much of a hurry to save souls to stop long enough to permit his muse to lead him into the fairy realms of poetic imagination. Yet. he fully. appreciated the value of figures, pictures, similes and poetic illumination and expressed his admiration of them in the following most remarkable manner,

The worlds of nature and of providence are full of parallels to things moral and spiritual, and serve as pictures to make the written book of inspiration more clear to the children of God. The Bible itself abounds in metaphors, types and symbols; it is a great picture-book; there is scarcely a poetical figure which may not be found in the law and the prophets, or in the words of Jesus and His apostles. The preacher is bidden to speak the oracles of God, and consequently he should imitate their illustrative method, and abound in emblems and parables. A sermon which is full of "likes" is full of windows to enlighten the mind and hands to hold it captive. Discourses decked with similes will not only give pleasure to the children, but persons of riper years will be charmed and instructed thereby.

His arrangements of the Psalms in rhyme and his composition of the hymns which were published in the hymn book used in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, showed too clearly a direct and earnest purpose to admit of much poetical ornament.

He simply used the poetical forms of expressions simply because his knowledge of human nature convinced him that it was the best form to attract the eye, yet it is clear to every reader of his literary productions that he had a natural genius for the expression of his ideas in the truest poetry. He loved the standard English poems and in his quotations generally selected the most sublime or the most touching portions of other production, yet his own compositions were like iron spears adorned with ribbons intended more for use than for aesthetic purposes, and his poetry was of great use in the salvation of many thousand people. Verses from his hymns and songs found their way into all classes of society, and many of them in the form of proverbs have become a part of the common language of the working people of London. When he was but eighteen years of age he exhibited no little poetic taste which seemed afterwards to be considerably marred by the fierce conflicts in which he was compelled, as a popular preacher, to engage.

Probably nothing has appeared in print out of his many hymns and poems, which was more sweetly devout than his composition written at eighteen, entitled "Immanuel." We will give the poem entire.

IMMANUEL.

When once I mourned a load of sin;
When conscience felt a wound within,
When all my works were thrown away;
When on my knees I knelt to pray,
Then, blissful hour, remembered well,
I learned Thy love, Immanuel.


When storms of sorrow toss my soul;
When waves of care around me roll;
When comforts sink, when joys shall flee;
When hopeless griefs shall gape for me,
0ne word the tempest’s rage shall quell–
That word, Thy name, Immanuel.


When for the truth I suffer shame
When foes pour scandal on my name;
When cruel taunts and jeers abound;
When "Bulls of Bashan" gird me round,
Secure within Thy tower I’ll dwell–
That tower, thy grace, Immanuel.

When hell enraged lifts up her roar
When Satan stops my path before;
When fiends rejoice and wait my end
When legioned hosts their arrows send,
Fear not my soul, but hurl at hell,
Thy battle cry, Immanuel.

When down the hill of life I go;
When o’er my feet death’s waters flow;
When in the deep’ning flood I sink;
When friends stand weeping on the brink,
I’ll mingle with my last farewell
Thy lovely name, Immanuel.

When tears are banished from mine eye;
When fairer worlds than these are nigh;
when heaven shall fill my ravished sight;
When I shall bathe in sweet delight,
One joy all joys shall far excel,
To see Thy face, Immanuel.

The hymn which has been most extensively used in the hymn books published by other churches and other denominations, was hastily written on one Saturday afternoon and used the next day at the celebration of the Lord’s supper. It was entitled "Jesus’ Presence Delightful," and although familiar to many of our readers, yet it does not always appear complete in the hymn books and hence we will print it here.

JESUS’ PRESENCE DELIGHTFUL.

Amidst us our Beloved stands,
And bids us view His pierced hands;
Points to His wounded feet and side,–
Blest emblems of the Crucified!
What food luxurious loads the board
When at His table sits the Lord!
The wine how rich, the bread how sweet,
When Jesus deigns the guests to meet!
If now, with eyes defiled and dim,
We see the signs, but see not Him,
Oh may His love the scales displace,
And bid us see Him face to face
Our former transports we recount
When with Him in the holy mount;
These cause our souls to thirst anew,
His marred but lovely face to view.
Thou glorious Bridegroom of our hearts,
Thy present smile a heaven imparts;
Oh lift the veil, if veil there be,
Let every saint Thy beauties see.

In his own hymn book appears a composition from his pen, which is so strikingly appropriate for the services of his church after he had been taken up into the "shining," that we can not forbear to quote it.

Lord, Thy church, without a pastor,
Cries to Thee in her distress,
Hear us, gracious Lord and Master,
And with heavenly guidance bless.
Walking midst Thy lamps all golden,
Thou preservest still the light;
Stars in thy right hand are holden,
Stars to cheer Thy’ church’s night.
Find us Lord the man appointed
Pastor of this flock to be,
One with holy oil anointed,
Meet for us and dear to Thee.
Send a man, O King of Zion,
Made according to Thine heart,
Meek as lamb, and bold as lion,
Wise to act a shepherd’s part.
Grant us now thy heavenly leading,
Over every heart preside,
Now in answer to our pleading,
All our consultations guide.

 
 
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