G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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the habits of the teacher, ' My teacher wants to do me good,' the
impression of that child will naturally lead to confidence in that
teacher. It is said of Mr. Whitefield, that individuals went to hear



324 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

him preach, who were careless about the doctrines which he preached ;
but every one that went to hear him seemed to go away with the im-
pression — That man wants to do me good. Display the exercise of
authority, and it will not teach the children to comply ; but only let
them know, that you pray and watch over them, and delight in the
work, and that it will be a happiness and an honor to see them saved
with yourselves, and God shall crown these eflforts. It will be the
readiest way to win their souls.

Oh ! what an opening this gives to win them ! They are easily led,
by those in whom they confide ; just as we are, if we have confidence
in our friends' wisdom or kindness. They may say anything to us,
and it is almost an oracle to us ; we are led on almost by what they
say. And children of larger growth feel this efiect unconsciously.

Fifthly, if you would win their souls, you must win their habits. I
do not know whether you have been as much impressed, as the preacher
has been, with the word which Solomon uses, with respect to instruc-
tion : " Train up a child in the way he should go." Not only instruct
a child, because an officer in the army may instruct a recruit to no
purpose ; but training that recruit is drilling him to habits of exercise.
Now this is the difference.

It is very hard work to enforce those habits, which are proper for
children ; for as soon as they leave you, where, perhaps, they have
only two hours' instruction, on a Sunday afternoon, they probably go
home to their wicked parents and friends, and the impression of the
Sabbath's instruction is soon swept away. And how httle power the
Sunday School Teacher has, in the time which is allotted for instruc-
tion, if he use even the best means in his power, to train these minds
into proper and suitable habits !

Yet you must aim constantly, at training them to habits of obedience
to yourself, and of obedience and regard to parents ; and repeatedly
must these be insisted upon. Train them to a fondness for God's
house, or places whei-e they hear the truths of the gospel delivered ;
train them to forethought, and to prudence in their general habits, and
to economy in life. I think that in the South, we are very much be-
hind the North, in some societies which they have, arising, probably,
from children being there, in factories, in much larger numbers
than we can find them in London or its suburbs. Among them,
little societies, of various kinds, are established ; such, for instance,
as a little subscription for funerals, for so much to be allowed
them a week, when they are sick, or for so much to be given, when
one of them dies. And this breeds a social disposition among the
children, and takes away a great portion of that selfishness, which



WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS. 325

easts in a very large proportion in all our hearts, and teaches them to
care for one another, as well as provide for themselves, to a very great
. extent.

Habits of this kind have, I think, a wonderful effect upon then*
minds, as thej grow up in life ; the children perceive the temporal, as
well as the spiritual interest, which the teacher took in them, while he
was among them. And just now, when societies are rising up almost
everywhere, one would be delighted to see a society for the promotion
of provident habits in children. I hope the teachers will endeavor to
inculcate the habits I have mentioned on their children, if they would
effectually win souls.

2. But I have been too long upon this portion of my subject. I
said, however, I would look at it in another aspect ; and that is, the
result of winning a soul.

A soul won, is won for Christ. It is a reward for his toil ; it is a
fruit of the application of his redemption. He

" looks down and sees



The purchase of his agonies."

Formerly, it belonged to Satan, and was guided and ruled by him ;
but now it is Christ's, and now it loves its master, and does his work.
Oh ! how the master rejoices when the first tear of sincere repentance
falls from their eyes ! " There is joy in the presence of the angels of
God," (that is, Christ rejoicing, while the angels surround him,) " over
one sinner, that repenteth." Every soul won, then, is an addition to
Christ's friends, and a loss, of course, to the kingdom of Satan. Who
that loves Christ, would not aim at this ?

Again ; a soul won, is won for the church. The church is a body
of behevers, who meet to worship their Lord, to imitate his conduct
and example, and to uphold his kingdom in the world. A soul, for-
merly full of cursing, or bitterness, or indifference, or irreligion, now
full of praise to his divine master ; a spirit, previously " earthly, sen-
sual, devilish," now " set on things which are above " — his habits
sinful, now righteous — once " darkness," now " light in the Lord "

— once far from God, now "brought nigh, by the blood of Christ"

— once, a " stranger and a foreigner," now a " fellow-citizen with the
saints, and of the household of God " — now, perhaps, teaches in the
same school with you. Now he walks with God, and the church has
gained a friend, when the soul is won. Oh ! glorious object !

A soul won, is won for the world. Why, when a child is converted,
it is like taking a handful of salt, and casting it into the world, to pre-



326 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

serve it from putrefaction ; it is like setting up a new liglithouse, on a
dangerous shore, to warn mariners to keep off; it is like " a city set
upon a hill, which cannot be hid," that others may gaze upon it ; it is
like dew, falling from heaven, in the midst of many people, to bless
them, and make them happy ; it is a peace-maker, cast among the
wranglers and contentionists of the world ; it is a guide, for wanderers
to the celestial city ; it is a watchman, to warn men away from the
danger, which is hurrying them to perdition, and to give them notice
of the fires of wrath to come, which are to devour the Lord's adver-
saries ; it is a winner of souls to God. You yourselves have won him,
and out he goes into the world, to win others.

Again : a soul won, is won for yourself. Is not this a rich reward
for the nights you have sat up, for the candles you have burnt, for the
sleep you have lost, for the recreation you have given up, to study
God's book, and to prepare yourself in order that you might infuse
good principles into that mind ? Will it not be a blessed reward, when
they are gathered to Christ ? " Ye are our glory and our joy," says
the apostle ; and he says elsewhere — " Ye are our crown of rejoicing,
in the day of the Lord." Yes, and Jesus Christ counts those precious
souls, that honor him, worthy of better honor — those who are aiming
at, and are successful in his blessed work. " They that turn many to
righteousness, shall shine as the stars, for ever and ever." When
you, in robes of glory, present them in your Master's presence, and
say — " Here am I, Lord, and the children whom thou hast given me,'*
for whom I prayed, and toiled, and labored, and sacrificed, from love
to thy precious self, who had saved my soul ; to see him smile upon
you, and say, " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," — they will be the
words that will enter into your very soul, the joy of which you shall
never lose, while eternity itself lasts.

III. And now I am brought to the third part of my discourse, upon
which I must be very brief ; the estimate which God forms of such
efforts for souls, " He that winneth souls is wise." And this term
seems peculiarly appropriate to such efforts as these.

1. First, observe, that winning souls corresponds with the conduct
of God himself. You are doing the very thing, which God himself is
doing, when you are living for this purpose. God the Father is con-
stantly engaged in this work of winning souls. All his providences,
all his ordinances, all prosperous and all afflictive dispensations are
intended to draw men to himself. " No man can come unto me, unless
the Father, which hath sent me, draw him." God the Son, by the



WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS. 327

preaching of his gospel, the exhibition of his work, and the influence
of his love, is always at the same work. " I, if I be lifted up, will
draw all men unto me." God the Spirit, bj impressions, by convic-
tions, and by instructions, aims perpetually at the same work. ", Draw
me ; I will run after thee." " Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith,
to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

Here is infinite wisdom engaged in winning souls, and having for
its object, in all its plans and purposes, the winning of precious souls ;
and you, beloved, are coadjutors with God, and co-workers with the
Deity, in winning souls. Behold how he strives, and bears with men,
repeating his instructions to them, and giving them stroke upon stroke,
to endeavor to recover their hearts, and win them back unto himself!
Lo ! you go forth with the same object. Oh ! you are wise indeed,
if you are a worker with him in this.

2. It furnishes these souls with real happiness and usefulness ; and
therefore they must be wise, that attempt it. " This is life eternal,
to believe on thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou
hast sent." Pardon, peace, joy, salvation, you are giving to those
children — things which no wealth could buy, which nothing could
compensate for the loss of, and which they must have or perish. By
it they are brought into God's family : this is bliss. Why, you could
do nothing more wise, as patriots, than to introduce men into happi-
ness.

Tell me, my brethren, what happiness your soul has, when it once
comes into this blessed state I have mentioned ; when it knows that its
sins are forgiven, when it comes into the presence of God, and enjoys
the fellowship of God, your Savior. Is not this happiness ? And
suppose every child in a class, or in a Sunday school, throughout the
world, were converted ; suppose all the talents of these children were
employed for the Savior, — how useful, as well as how happy, would
the world be !

Conversion gives a child sympathy, power of utterance, new and
well directed zeal, diligence, and devotion to his Master's interest.
Then what a change would be produced in our world, if these little
missionaries, thus converted by the faith of Christ, were to go forth,
and, as in apostolic days, " enter into every house, teaching and
preaching Jesus Christ ! " This is what you have to do. Can you
manifest greater wisdom ? That must be wisdom indeed, which would
brino; them into such a state of advantaore to themselves and to others.

3. Again : it ranks you with the wise and the good of all ages. It
is here, that Satan labors to win souls, but not to win them to happi-
ness and salvation ; hke the fowler, he endeavors to win them, to



328 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

destroy them. As the king of Sodom said to Abraham, after his return
from the war, You take the goods, and let me have the persons ; you
may have all the spoil of the war, but let me have the persons you
have taken captive and I shall be satisfied ; so Satan says. You may
take every thing but their souls. What they are, and however sit-
uated in the world, I care not ; only let me have their souls ; that is
my object. You must be engaged, then, in opposition to all his pur-
poses, in winning these souls from him.

All good and wise men have labored in the same way, before you.
" Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied " to all the profligate
sinners of his days, and told them that Christ was coming, to take
vengeance on their sins. For a hundred and twenty years, Noah,
though he had not a single convert, kept preaching righteousness to
the people. Lot " vexed his righteous soul every day with the filthy
conversation of the wicked." Elijah prayed and protested against the
priests of Baal, and instructed the people in the way to heaven.
Isaiah and the prophets labored, and gave their whole lives, to " turn
many to righteousness." The seventy, by Christ's commands, went
out, two and two, and beheld the devils subject to them, and the power
of Satan destroyed, in the conversion of souls. The primitive Chris-
tians went every day into the temple, and into every house, teaching
the people ; and they not only did this, but they had their representa-
tives going every where, over all parts of the earth, telling men how
to be saved. Paul, "from Jerusalem, round about, into Illiricum,"
did not fail to preach the gospel of Christ ; and when one good man,
full of zeal and love, took a girdle, and bound him round, he said, —
" What ! mean ye to weep and to break mine heart ? for I am ready
not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the
Lord Jesus."

Now you are associated with this company ; God puts you among
these dear people, who are thus striving to enlist souls in his army, to
fight his battles. Never yet was there a good man, who did not aim
to win souls. Ilis religion is vain, who would keep these benefits
wholly to himself ; it does not belong to the religion of Christ, and is
not a part of " the wisdom that cometh from above." " The fear of
the Lord, that is wisdom ; " and therefore, to make others fear him as
well, shows much greater wisdom.

4. Again : it gains for you the present and future approbation of
God ; and therefore is the manifestation of the truest wisdom. He
was so pleased with Enoch, and he became such a proficient in his
school, that he did not suffer him to pass through death, in the ordi-
nary course, but transferred him from the lower form on earth, to the



WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS. 329

upper form in heaven. He was so pleased with Elijah's zeal, that he
exercised his miraculous agency, and made ravens feed him, rather
than devour him. Stephen spake boldly of him before the Sanhedrim ;
and before he died, he opened heaven to liim, and showed him Jesut.
standing at the right hand of God, ready to receive him. Did John
go about saying, " Little children, keep yourselves from idols " —
" Little children, love one another ; " and incorporating in these the
spirit of love ? John shall be taken to an island, all the purposes of
Jehovah shall be opened to his vision, and he shall then see what God
is soon to do upon the earth. Does Paul serve him ? lie shall be
" caught up to the third heavens," and hear words Avhich it was not
lawful for him to repeat.

Do not expect miracles to be performed in your case, or displayed
in your behalf; but beheve it, teachers, that if you aim to win precious
souls to God, he will manifest himself to you, as he does not, ordinarily,
to the world. " To him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I
shew the salvation of God."

Oh ! the comforts of his love : are they not better than life ? Oh !
to have the seal of his Spirit in my heart, that I am his ! Oh ! to see
that heaven is my own, and that when I die, I shall be with him, and
" shall be like him ! " To have this in one's spirit, what bliss does it
not impart ! And must not that be true wisdom, which will bring this
to me, and seal it in my heart ?

And by-and-by I shall stand before him : the whole world is to be at
his bar. Who will he then single out ? The people that have minis-
tered to others, and have proved the truth of their reUgion by their
actions. Lord, say they, when the repetition of their deeds is made,
when did we this ? We have forgotten it ; they were such slight
actions, that we thought but little of them. Oh ! " inasmuch as ye
have done it unto one of the least of these, my little ones, ye have
done it unto me." And then, while he recognizes the act, to see those
eyes beaming beauty and light, darting into my heart and my counte-
nance, and the voice, in the tenderest and sweetest tones that ear ever
heard, saying to me — " Come, thou blessed child of my Father, enter
into the inheritance prepared for thee : "

" Come in, thou blessed ; sit by me ;
With mine own blood I 've ransom'd thee,
Come, taste my perfect favor."

Oh ! to hear that voice ! Will it not be enough, Christian, will it not
be enough, teacher, for you ? God grant you may hear it : that you
may live to prosecute your work effectually ; and then you shall see,



330 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

that your teaching, both to others and to yourselves, has not been in
vain.

But now what shall I say ? I have already, I fear, exhausted your
strength and patience ; but I cannot part with you, without one word ;
it is to impress a thought, which I have already thrown out, the more
upon your attention : prepare much for winning souls. Souls are not
won by ignorance ; ignorant teachers are not the individuals that God
ordinarily employs to win souls. Some have winning manners, but
shallow and uninstructed minds. Now if any of you have a class
which you have brought on as far as you can, do not look black if the
superintendent should one day come and say. It is time some of these
dear children were removed from your class to another ! That teacher
has better qualifications, he knows, than yourself, for these great
objects. I sympathize with you ; I know the pang of parting with a
child, after you have had that child sometime in your class ; and yet
your feelings are not to be your guide, but that child's salvation is to
be your object ; and whether John, or Thomas, or Peter, or Andrew
is the best teacher to guide that child to heaven, let him have that
teacher so that he is best instructed in his way thither.

My beloved, I fear that many of us want a great deal of instruction,
yet, in the science of humility. Do you repeat that lesson once a-week
to yourselves — " Let each esteem others better than himself ? " That
is the first round of the ladder ; but a great many persons climb to the
upper rounds, and fall down. Begin with that round and you are
safe, and shall ascend, gently and surely, to the highest and most dis-
tinguished posts that teachers can enjoy.

Let me beseech all of you, then, as far as lies in your power, to
labor to prepare the mind for instruction. Read the Bible with notes,
and take all the means which are furnished you, for the purpose of
aiding your instruction. Study well those cheap, well-prepared, and
judicious notes, published by the Sunday School Union ; and as most
children learn the same lessons, take care that those notes, and par-
ticularly the practical reflections, with whatever other reflections occur
to your own mind, after you have been with God in prayer, are thor-
oughly impressed upon your mind, so that you shall have them when
you go to the class, ready for deUvering ; and you will find the ben-
efit of it.

Then there is one thing, in order to this ; and with that I close.
Prayer must be always associated with your labor ; prayer to get God's
Spirit, — the spirit of love, tenderness, and sympathy, and forbear-
ance, and zeal. If you are much with God, you cannot go among
the children without communicating something of these feelings : and



SCRIPTURAL TRUTH. 331

they soon perceive it. You need not tell a child that you have heen
Trith God in prayer ; persons belonging to a Christian Church have no
reason to talk much about having communion with God. If they
have, it is like ointment in their right hand ; it is sure to betray itself.
There is something in their manner and temper, that people tell, just
as if a delicious ointment was rubbed on a man's hand, and he goes
into a house, and endeavors to hide it ; the smell of it spreads every-
where. And if this be the case with you, my Christian friends, you
will show it to the children in your spirit and conduct, which they soon
understand.

Be assured, teachers, from the Book of God, that Divine influence
in teaching is every thing to you. You may use all means, and commu-
nicate all knowledge, but it will be in vain without this. Therefore,
hear this last sentence — " It is not by might, nor by power, but by
my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Get that, and you shall " win
souls " to your blessed Master.



SERMON XXVII.

THE TRANSMISSION OF SCRIPTURAL TRUTH TO POSTERITY.
BY REV. J. BELCHER, D. D.



" I will open my mouth in a parable ; I will utter dark sayings of old ; which we hare
heard, and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children,
showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his won-
derful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a
law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their
children ; that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should
be bom ; who should arise and declare them to their children : that they might set their
hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." — Psalms
Ixxviii. 2 — 7.

" Whatsoever was written aforetime, was written for our instruc-
tion, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might
have hope." The perpetuity of divine truth, and the enlargement of
its boundaries in our world, has ever been an important object in the
arrangements of divine providence. While the modes of its commu-
nication to the world, its constantly increasing splendor, and the
happiness it casts around it wherever its light shines, commands our
admiration, we cannot be less impressed with the fact, that notwith-



332 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

standing its opposition to our depraved nature, and in spite of the
inveterate malice borne to it, it yet maintains its standing and extends
its triumphs ; proving that the God of truth will ever assert his suprem-
acy, disappoint his enemies, and make man happy.

In contemplating the history of Scriptural truth, it is truly inter-
esting to observe how its great author can raise up instruments to make
it known. There have been periods when comparatively little attention
has been paid to it, and when ignorance and idolatry have threatened
to prevail ; but at such times, he who has the residue of the Spirit has
caused holy influence to descend on some of his servants, who have
thus been strong to do exploits. Such appears to have been the case
in connection with the psalm before us. We cannot be quite certain
either as to its author or occasion ; but the opinion of Calmet and
others appears quite probable, that it was composed by Asaph, many
years after the death of David, in the reign of Asa, the third king of
Judah. For twenty years, during the government of Jeroboam and
Abijah, had these tribes departed from God ; but when Asa, a pious
young man, came to the throne, he adopted means for the revival of
true religion, while Asaph reminds his brethren of the blessings of
divine Revelation made known to their fathers and handed down to
them, and enforces the importance of their being impressed on the
minds of the rising generation. Similar instances of the kindness of
God in reviving attention to his cause might be referred to in the
history both of the Old and New Testaments ; nor scarcely less inter-
esting are the circumstances of this kind which have passed before our
review within the last sixty years.

But the passage we have read as a text, has an especial reference to
human duty in connection with this great subject. We are fully aware
of its comprehensive character, and of the vast variety of trains of
thought which it would present to every contemplative mind ; but the
one subject, to the brief illustration of which our present attention will
be directed, is that of the transmission of Scriptural truth to posterity.
And, if we have not mistaken the whole character of our text, it pre-
sents to us four grand arguments why we should zealously devote
ourselves to this duty.

The first is derived from the peculiar character of scriptural truth.

The second arises out of the manner in which we have been put into
its possession.

The third is drawn from the divine arrangements as to its communi-
cation from one class of persons to another. And,

The fourth will be seen in connection with the great results it is
intended to produce.



SCRIPTURAL TRUTH. 333

It will be apparent to all of you, that the utmost which can be
attempted by the preacher, on this occasion, will be a very imperfect
glance at each particular of this scheme.

I. The first argument in favor of zealous exertion for the trans-



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 37 of 45)