Sermons: Selected from the Papers of the Late Rev. Clement Bailhache

Sermons: Selected from the Papers of the Late Rev. Clement Bailhache

Author:
Clement Bailhache
Author:
Clement Bailhache
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Bailhache, Clement
Sermons
Sermons: Selected from the Papers of the Late Rev. Clement Bailhache
WORK TOO FAIR TO DIE.

SERMONS
SELECTED FROM THE PAPERS
OF THE LATE REV.
CLEMENT BAILHACHE.

EDITED BY THE
REV. J. P. BARNETT.

THE HOLY CAUTIONS THAT HE GAVE,
THE PRAYERS HE BREATHED, THE TEARS HE WEPT,
YET LINGER HERE, THOUGH IN THE GRAVE,
THROUGH MANY A YEAR THE SAINT HAS SLEPT.

London:
ELLIOT STOCK, 62, PATERNOSTER ROW.
MDCCCLXXX.

Photographed by S. S. Priestley, Huddersfield.

CONTENTS.

Introduction by the Editor vii
SERMON PAGE
I. Salvation.Titus i. 11-14 1
II. Propitiation.1 John ii. 2 13
III. Faith in the Saviour.Acts xvi. 31 29
IV. Sincerity of Heart Necessary to the Understanding of the Gospel.John vii. 17 41
V. The Humble Taught the Lord’s Way.Psalm xxv. 9 50
VI. The Gratitude of the Pardoned.Luke vii. 47 66
VII. Consecration.Romans xii. 1, 2 81
VIII. Christianity in our Daily Life.Colossians iii. 17 104
IX. Unconscious Influence.Matthew xii. 36, 37 117
X. Secular Anxiety.Matthew vi. 25, 31 133
XI. Contentment.Philippians iv. 11-14 151
XII. Joy.Philippians iv. 4 164
XIII. Sickness.John xi. 4 173
XIV. Jesus Only.Matthew xvii. 8 181
XV. Prayer.Matthew vii. 7, 8 189
XVI. Assurance.2 Timothy i. 12 206
XVII. Immortality.Psalm viii. 4 222
XVIII. Heaven.Revelation vii. 15 235

INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR.

The preparation of this volume for the press, whilst it has necessarily entailed considerable labour, has happily been attended with little difficulty. None of these sermons were prepared for the pulpit with any idea of publication, and only a few of them, which need not be specified, should be taken as finished compositions. Their author, however, never allowed himself to think superficially or to write carelessly. His MSS. are easily read, and are in such a state as to leave almost nothing to be done in the way of revision.
Many other sermons equal to these in power and interest might have been included, if space had served. I ought, perhaps, to say that the selection has been determined by a wish to place before the reader, in the order of a series, Mr. Bailhache’s thoughts on Christian Doctrine, Faith, Duty, Privilege, Experience, and Hope. I trust that the collection, as it stands, will give as comprehensive an idea, as any posthumous publication could give, of the character and style of a ministry to which, under God, many souls—some in heaven, and some still on earth—owe their truest spiritual light and their best spiritual strength.
It must have been a privilege of no ordinary value to listen Sabbath after Sabbath to preaching such as this. No one could read, as I have had to read, the whole mass of sermons entrusted to me, without perceiving that he who wrote and spoke them was “a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” He was penetrated to the very centre of his being with a sense of the grandeur of the Bible as a Divine Revelation, and of the glory of the Gospel as a Divine remedy for the sin and sorrow of the world. He had his own way of developing religious truth, and of applying it to the mind, the conscience, and the heart. He preserved his individuality of thought and of method in every part of every discourse. But he was no theological speculatist. With all needful fearlessness in his thinking and reading, his constant endeavour was to ascertain “the mind of the Spirit,” and to present that, in its enlightening and sanctifying power, to his hearers in all their manifold spiritual conditions. He was familiar with the forms of scepticism prevalent in our time, and with the reasonings which give to them more or less of plausibility. “The riddle of the world” had its saddening aspects for him, as it has for all earnest souls. But the anxieties which spring from such sources found in his mind an all-sufficient solace in the beautiful adaptations and the splendid triumphs of the truth as it is in Jesus. He could see clearly enough that, by the Gospel, God was filling the world’s darkness with light, and turning its curse into a blessing. Science might advance, and in its advance might seem to set itself against Biblical facts, and against the principles founded upon them; but he was all along calmly and intelligently assured that Science rightly so called, and Revelation rightly interpreted, so far from meeting in antagonism, must meet in cordial and comely agreement, and take their place side by side for the higher instruction of mankind. He did not preach on these matters controversially, but contented himself with the quiet announcement, on all appropriate occasions, of the results of his own studies; and those results were always on the side of an implicit faith in Evangelical Christianity. One of the most marked characteristics of his ministry was the uninterrupted and profound reverence he paid to what he believed, on honest and mature investigation, to be the Divine authority of Scripture teaching. He knew, of course, that a conscientious and enlightened criticism has its work to do upon the Book; but his comprehensive and careful reading only strengthened his conviction that such criticism, so far from invalidating its authority, must render the nature of that authority increasingly transparent, and its basis increasingly firm. Thus he could draw forth from the Book the teaching contained in it, and could present it to the reverent faith of his congregation, without misgiving. His ministry was eminently evangelical, in the broadest and best sense of the word. It was this all-pervading quality which gave to it its special beauty and impressiveness. He wanted to be wise, and to make his people wise, up to what is written; above that he did not attempt to soar.
Mr. Bailhache was an able Biblical Expositor. I find amongst the papers before me, expositions of the Decalogue, the First Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the Messages to the Seven Churches, and the Epistles to the Galatians and the Philippians. These comprise eighty discourses, and many of them are so good that they ought not to remain in seclusion. Possibly some channel of publicity may yet be found for them.
The estimate in which Mr. Bailhache was held as a Christian teacher by those best fitted to judge, is fitly expressed in the following extract from the Address which was presented to him by the Congregation at Islington, on his retirement from the pastorate there in the autumn of 1870:—“During a period of six years and a half, you have ministered to us in holy things, and, as the servant of the Lord Jesus, you have sought our highest spiritual good. In all your ministerial work in our midst, you have so impressed us with the conviction of your entire devotedness to our interests, and to the exaltation and glory of Christ, that our minds have been the more easily constrained to give heed to your instructions, and we have the more deeply felt the force of your influence and your example. The thought has often occurred to us (and it has been often expressed), that if we were not becoming better Christians—more conformed to the image of Christ—our shame was the greater, considering how constantly you have been the faithful and able exponent of the mind of the Spirit, and with what freshness, variety, and power, you have been enabled to set before us things new and old out of the treasury of the Lord’s word. Nor have you ever permitted us to feel that you occupied a region remote from ourselves, or that the isolation of the study and of your official character, made you self-absorbed or unsympathetic. The very contrary of this has been our happy experience. With an almost surprising power of appropriation, you have made our doubts and difficulties, our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, all your own, and, with a whole-hearted sympathy that has entered into all the experiences of the Christian life, you have, in the pulpit and in the class, and in the more private opportunities of the family and of friendship, been made eminently useful in the communication of help and strength. To not a few your ministrations have been made the savour of life unto life, who will be your crown and rejoicing one day, since through your word they have been reconciled to God by Jesus Christ. We magnify the grace of God in you, and none the less when we declare that your life and labours in our midst have placed us under lasting obligations of gratitude and love.”
I regret that I have not space for a few pages of pithy, condensed jottings extracted from the Author’s “Diary,” and written by him during hours of private devotion. They would testify, in common with every other part of the volume, to the atmosphere of piety in which our beloved friend habitually lived. In social life, he was playful and jocose; and many who have thought that they knew him well, knew him almost exclusively as he was in such moods as these. He was however emphatically a man who “walked with God.” Many others knew him only in connection with his official work, and gave to him their unstinted admiration for his plodding, almost pertinacious industry. He had “a mind to work,” but he sanctified and ennobled all his work by prayer. I have often had, as, no doubt, many more have had, the privilege of his society in the lone hours of the night, when he could talk with the unreserved frankness of a confiding friend; and I never left him after such hallowed times as these without feeling that I had been drawn nearer to him, and through him, nearer to the Saviour, by the modest, holy, Christian beauty of his spirit.
Alas, that so comely and benignant a life should have closed so early! He died at forty-eight years of age. We have no right, nor have we any disposition, to repine; but we cannot refrain from mourning.
He began life well, sacrificing fair interests as a member of the legal profession in Jersey, with the Island Bar in view, and was soon preparing for the Christian ministry at Stepney College. His preaching was attractive, and at the termination of his academic course, he became the pastor of the influential church at South Parade Chapel, Leeds. Four years later, he removed to Watford, and from thence, in 1864, to Cross Street, Islington, where his ministry may be said to have approached, if it did not actually reach, its maturity. In 1870 he relinquished the pastorate for Secretarial work at the Baptist Mission House, into which he threw all the steady, quenchless enthusiasm of his nature, and upon which the blessing of God conspicuously rested. Discharging his duties with a fidelity and a skill which were as effective as they were modest, he was equally beloved by the Missionaries abroad, and by his colleagues and the constituencies at home; and he had the satisfaction of knowing that, notwithstanding many difficulties, he was contributing in various ways to the advancement of the great enterprize. The toil and anxiety entailed upon him were onerous in the extreme, and after a time it became obvious to his friends that his multifarious exertions were undermining his strength. He went to the Baptist Union meetings in Leeds in the October of 1878, when he ought to have been taking repose; and, though seriously ill, he there preached what proved to be his last Sermon, in the chapel of his first pastorate—the Sermon on “Immortality” in this volume—and read his last paper, on “Our Missionary Principles and Motives.” It is remarkable that he should thus have finished his public course in the town of his first ministerial settlement, and that he should have there spoken his last public words on behalf of that great department of Christian work which had engaged his best thoughts and his warmest sympathies for many years, and to his holy zeal for which it may be truly said that he sacrificed his life. At those Leeds meetings, he was “already within the shadow of death,” and returned home to sink gradually but surely beneath the distressing malady which took him to heaven on the 13th of the following December.
To his widowed companion and helpmeet, whose faithful affection he prized as his most precious earthly treasure—to his children and kindred, who so fondly loved him, and so deeply revere his memory—to the churches which he so wisely and so zealously served in the work of the Gospel—to the Missionary Society in the sacred interests of which he lived and died—and to the numberless personal friends to whom he was so dear, and who will ever thank God that they were permitted to enjoy his genial confidence and sympathy—these productions of his brain and heart are dedicated, with the grateful assurance that, through them, he, being dead, will yet continue to speak, and, speaking thus, will still be the helper of many in “the way everlasting.”
J. P. BARNETT.
Oxford, August, 1880.

I.
SALVATION.

“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”—Titus ii. 11-14.
Briefly stated, the consequences of the Fall were these—that man became unholy in point of character, and guilty in point of law. The first covenant God made with man was a covenant of law, and the two “trees” shadowed forth, the one the condition, the other the benefit, of such a covenant. “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil” points to obedience as the condition; and “the tree of life” points to life, in its fullest and most spiritual sense, as the benefit. Man disobeyed. He failed to fulfil the condition, and thus he lost the blessing. Henceforth, if there is to be any blessing for him, it must come on some other ground, and from some higher source. Having forfeited all hope from law, his only possible hope must come, if it come at all, from mercy.
We thus perceive that when the great salvation wrought by Christ is announced to us, we have to do at the outset with what on God’s part is
1. An act of pure sovereignty. Condemnation was the righteous award of a just law to a creature who had broken it, and who could not plead any admissible excuse for his sin. The law might, therefore, have been allowed to take its course, thus receiving honour before the whole intelligent universe. Only one Will in the universe was free to interfere; the will of the Lawgiver and Creator Himself. Interference on His part, however, could not be under the pressure of legal obligation, but must be in the exercise of a sovereign right. Hence, the key-note of the gospel is “the Grace of God.”
2. An act of boundless love. It is obvious that salvation cannot have proceeded from any other motive in the Divine Mind. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Bible has no other solution of the origin of salvation to offer than this.
Now, that which proceeds from sovereignty and love on the part of God must absolutely preclude all claim or thought of merit on the part of man. Merit leaves no room, no occasion for grace. Grace begins where merit ends, if grace be given at all.—What, then, is the “great salvation”?
Man, being unholy and guilty, needed a salvation which would include his justification or his forgiveness, and one which would culminate in his sanctification by the restoration to him of his lost spiritual power. In other words, he needed a deliverance from the curse of sin, and also from sin itself.
This deliverance, man cannot find within his own nature. He cannot save himself from the curse of sin; for inasmuch as the law righteously demanded a perfect and constant obedience, he could never blot out the guilt of former sins by acts of obedience at a later period of life. Moreover, such later acts of a perfect obedience are impossible to him, for holiness does not proceed from a sinful nature. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Men do not “gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles.” Man is as depraved and as weak as he is guilty. Self-salvation is impossible; salvation is of the Lord alone. The gospel is the announcement of the fact that God saves, and of the method in which the great work of salvation is done by Him.
I. The Word of God, both in the Old and in the New Testament, proclaims a dispensation of Divine mercy. So unexpected and so cheering is this proclamation that it has given the gospel the name it bears. It is emphatically “good news”—good news from God to man. This good news announces that the first deliverance which man requires is provided for. God remits the penalty of sin. But how?
He does this in such a way that, so far from weakening law, or invalidating the condemnation of sin, He shows more clearly than ever, how holy is the law, and how just the condemnation. Hence, though this forgiveness is an act of pure mercy, it is mercy exercised in a righteous way through the wonderful sacrifice of Christ. This was the meaning of the promise that accompanied the curse; and so clear was it that it was apprehended in the first sacrifices men ever offered. The Jewish sacrifices shadowed it forth. The Scriptures teach this method of Divine forgiveness in the plainest terms. I quote two or three passages in proof: Rom. iii. 23-26; John i. 29; 1 John ii. 1, 2;

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