The Sword and the Trowel began in January of 1865. Over the next 30+ years, this monthly magazine would become an effective instrument for the organization and cooperation of like-minded Baptists and evangelicals. As we have made the first five years of this magazine available on Spurgeon.org, here are a few articles to get you started. As you read through these magazines, hit us up on Twitter (@SpurgeonMBTS) if you find anything interesting!
(To jump straight to the article, click on the link, then click the “View this Resource” button. Note: Some pages are getting cut off at the bottom and we are working to fix this!)
January 1865 – What Shall Be Done for Jesus? (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1865/#flipbook/11)
In this sermon, which is not found in the Pulpit set, Spurgeon uses King’s Xerxes command to honor Mordecai as an illustration of how God has exalted His Son, Jesus Christ. After an encouraging meditation on the supremacy of Christ, he moves to a reflection on how Christians may bring honor to Christ by serving him. Of particular note is a letter that Spurgeon shares, written to him by one of the elders of his church, recommending ten ideas for pursuing “a larger outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our Church and congregation.”
August 1865 – Dr. Campbell on Mr. Spurgeon’s Baptismal Regeneration Sermons (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1865/#flipbook/351)
Alexander Campbell is known for his role in the Campbellite movement in America among Baptists, which eventually broke off to become its own denomination, the Disciples of Christ. Among other things, Campbell taught a credobaptist form of baptismal regeneration, which required baptism for salvation. Therefore, it is no surprise that during the Baptismal Regeneration controversy of 1864, Campbell spoke against Spurgeon for his condemnation of baptismal regeneration. After the controversy had somewhat settled, however, Campbell published a series of letters, presenting a more thoughtful analysis and expressing his support of Spurgeon. Spurgeon appreciated Campbell’s letters and published the introduction in The Sword & the Trowel. Because of Spurgeon’s relationship with Campbell, some Campbellites have sought to show that the two of them were not that far apart in their understanding of baptism.
August 1866 – The Holy War of the Present Hour (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1866/#flipbook/348)
In this article, published in August of 1866, Spurgeon calls all evangelical Protestants to rally against the growing influence of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England. Though this movement did not identify with the Roman Catholic Church, Spurgeon believed that this embrace of Roman Catholic liturgy and theology in the COE would eventually lead Anglicans back to Rome. And so, Spurgeon called for evangelical leaders to speak and take action against this growing movement, even at a great cost to themselves.
All great movements need the entire self-sacrifice of some one man who, careless of consequences, will throw himself upon the spears of the enemy. Providence has usually raised up such a one just when he was, needed, and we may look for such a person to come suddenly to the front now. Meanwhile, is there not a man of the sort to be found in our churches?
This article would lead to the founding of the Colportage Association, which distributed evangelical tracts and sent gifted evangelists throughout England. It would also be in response to this article that Anne Hillyard would contact Spurgeon about starting an orphanage.
January 1867 – The Pastors’ Advocate: An Epistle to the Members of the Baptized Churches of Jesus Christ (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1867/#flipbook/25)
As one devoted to pastoral training, Spurgeon saw the poor conditions under which many of his graduates labored in Baptist churches. And so, he wrote an open letter to Baptist churches calling them to remove this reproach and to better support their ministers financially.
BELOVED BRETHREN As exceedingly great and bitter cry has gone up unto heaven concerning many of us. It is not a cry from the world which hates us, nor from our fellow-members whom we may have offended, but, (alas that it should be so!)it is wrung from hundreds of poor, but faithful ministers of Christ Jesus who labor in our midst in word and doctrine, and are daily oppressed by the niggardliness of churls among us.
July 1867 – Ourselves and the Annexationists (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1867/#flipbook/334)
Alongside the decline of theology, Spurgeon noticed a trend towards the minimization of ecclesiological differences. This trend was pictured in a movement in his day working towards the annexing of Baptist and Congregational churches. While these two denominations had a long history of cooperation, their differences in baptism precluded them in the past from being one church. But now as theological convictions were declining, many were pushing for union and accusing all opponents of being schismatic and bigoted. In this article, however, Spurgeon defends the importance of ecclesiological convictions and the need to maintain those boundaries.
November 1868 – Be Just and Fear Not: A Tract for the Elections (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1868/#flipbook/520)
Outside of the pulpit, Spurgeon did not hesitate to speak up on political issues, and this tract is one example of this. While the author is not explicitly stated, it is clearly connected with Spurgeon. As the vote for the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland approached, Spurgeon wanted to provide a response for the conservatives who opposed this disestablishment. Their argument was that an established church preserved Protestantism in Ireland. Spurgeon, on the other hand, believed that any form of established religion was a form of injustice. Protestants, rather than using the coercive tools of a state church, should work towards religious liberty and grant all people religious freedom, even Catholics.
Better far to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake than to do violence to other men’s consciences under the notion of upholding the truth. In the name of our reformed faith, let no Romanist suffer injustice at our hands, lest our good cause be defiled.
February 1869 – Discipline of the Church at the Metropolitan Tabernacle (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/books/the-sword-and-the-trowel-1869/#flipbook/57)
This article, written by James Spurgeon, Charles’s brother and co-pastor, is the most complete description of the church polity of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Here, he discusses the offices of elders and deacons in the church, their membership practices, including receiving, removing, and disciplining members, and the organization of the ministries of the church. In his introduction, James makes clear that they do not present their practices as the perfect or only way to organize a church. At the same time, they observe a laxity among other evangelical churches in their discipline and have “limited confidence in letters of commendation from our churches.” Therefore, in presenting their methods, Spurgeon encourages other churches to examine their own polity. Apart from this kind of confidence in each other’s practices, any church cooperation would be ultimately ineffective.
We must have faith in each other’s intentions and integrity, or we shall loosen the pins of church action, and all will lapse into confusion and conflict.