Dream word – SPEND
2 Corinthians 12:15
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” NKJV
Dare you taste some of Robertson’s most generous jam
I was walking down a street in Brighton not too long ago, when I came across another historical plaque fixed to an old house. It read “Robertson of Brighton – Philosopher and Preacher.” Certainly this great Anglican preacher of the later Regency period, knew exactly what pugnacious preaching was, for he loved the Word, he loved the public publishing of the truth and proclaimed it well, at great personal cost.
In his pugnaciousness however, Robertson was not given to the gross denunciation of others who were not in full agreement with his beliefs. Neither was he given to the dissemination of his own pet doctrines either but was rather, in great love and practicality, given over to the proclamation of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Robertson was a man of eloquence, of fire and of compassionate understanding. Preaching on The Tongue on April 28th 1850, he remarks in this magnificent sermon that, “The Church of Rome hurls her thunders against Protestants of every denomination: the Calvinist scarcely recognises the Arminian as a Christian: he who considers himself as the true Anglican, excludes from the Church of Christ all but the adherents of his own orthodoxy; every minister and congregation has its small circle, beyond which all are heretics.” Yes, Robertson was concerned about the composite flower of both truth and grace breaking forth from the seeds of practicality and goodness. His style of pugnacious preaching was the Gospel style of proclaiming revealed truth, rather than that of pushing party denunciation. Robertson’s zeal for this kind of preaching and all its arduous demands and consequences, in the end, cost him his life.
Born to an Evangelic army officer, Robertson entered the ministry with a soldier’s zeal and much self discipline. While at Oxford for example, he memorised the New Testament in both Greek and Hebrew, and had already broken his health in service and study prior to his arrival in Brighton. In the final six years of his life and ministry here, he filled his church each time he preached, appealing to both the rich and especially the working class, yes especially the poor and was monumental in helping found the Brighton Working Men’s Institute. His practical political views led him to be ostracised from many of his colleagues and his earnest zeal and ardent duties led him to be worn out with his work. At last, sick, in pain, lonely and depressed, thinking his short life’s work wasted and futile, he died, aged just 37. Nevertheless, around 1,500 people, mainly from those well helped poor, formed a column nearly half a mile long to walk behind his coffin as it went to the cemetery and nearly all the shops en-route, closed as a mark of respect.
As I write these thoughts tonight, Holy Trinity, the church this great preacher ministered from in Ship Street Brighton, has long since closed its doors as a sacred place and is now a curious contemporary art gallery. A couple of plaques and a double decker bus bearing Robertson’s once respected and revered name and driving around these Godless streets, are the only remains of all the great preaching and good works this man did in the now gay capital of this far fallen Kingdom of ours.
We need to encourage and challenge our preachers to preach the truth in all its fullness. Then we need to stand with them shoulder to shoulder in all its arduous demands and subsequent consequences. Tell me tonight, are you ready to do just that? Are you ready to pay that price? Are you ready to taste of real Robertson’s jam?
I wonder if a few more preachers of similar substance and courage, might step off that bus one day, clothed with the spirit of Robinson, settle down, serve six years and save the day at last.
Go, labour on: spend, and be spent,
Thy joy to do the Father’s will:
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?
Go, labour on! ’Tis not for naught
Thine earthly loss is heav’nly gain;
Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not;
The Master praises: what are men?
Go, labour on! Enough, while here,
If He shall praise thee, if He deign
The willing heart to mark and cheer:
No toil for Him shall be in vain.
Go, labour on! Your hands are weak,
Your knees are faint, your soul cast down;
Yet falter not; the prize you seek
Is near—a kingdom and a crown.
Go, labour on while it is day:
The world’s dark night is hast’ning on;
Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away;
It is not thus that souls are won.
Men die in darkness at thy side,
Without a hope to cheer the tomb;
Take up the torch and wave it wide—
The torch that lights time’s thickest gloom.
Toil on, faint not, keep watch and pray,
Be wise the erring soul to win;
Go forth into the world’s highway,
Compel the wand’rer to come in.
Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice!
For toil comes rest, for exile home;
Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,
The midnight peal, “Behold, I come!”
Pray: So strengthen me tonight and even so, come Lord Jesus, amen.
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