On the first day of January, 1865, there appeared in England a new
religious monthly magazine. It was soon to become well known on the
other side of the Atlantic and in many other countries of the world.The
new venture (soon to be nicknamed \u201cThe Soap and Towel\u201d by his college
students!). The subtitle was: \u201cA Record of Combat with Sin and labor for
the Lord.\u201d Referring to Nehemiah 4:17,18, Spurgeon aimed at a magazine
that would provide material for working and ammunition for warring
(battling and building with sword and trowel).
Spurgeon saw the magazine as \u201can extension of his pulpit ministry\u201d and an
opportunity of \u201curging the claims of Christ\u2019s cause, of advocating the
revival of godliness, of denouncing error, of bearing witness for truth, and
of encouraging the laborers in the Lord\u2019s vineyard.\u201d
The magazine was used to inform interested friends of the work and
witness of The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, and also other
Spurgeonic institutions: college, orphanage, almshouse, colportage
association, and the many mission stations connected with the Tabernacle.
But primarily it was \u201cto supplement our weekly sermon.\u201d
occasions, although not in their entirety as a set as at present by Pilgrim
Publications. The Sword and the Trowel contents, however, have never been
reprinted, yet they contain a wealth of biographical material about
Spurgeon, sermons not included in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit
volumes, interesting book reviews, and many rare and choice contributions
about many subjects by Spurgeon himself. Many of his published works
first saw the light of day in his magazine: The Treasury of David, Lectures to
The extracts from these volumes will show the reader the kind of
comments on then current events, fashions, theological trends, the state of
the Baptist denomination and the Christian church at large. Some of the
book reviews are examples for reviewers today, they are so honest. No
wonder Spurgeon\u2019s son, Thomas, said that it would be \u201cbetter for the
Sword to rust in its scabbard, and the Trowel to be buried beneath a
mountain of rubbish, than. for the magazine established by C. H. Spurgeon
ever to be disloyal to him.\u201d
editorial chair of the magazine for several years while Pastor of the
Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some years later a notice appeared by his
successor to the Pastorate, declaring: \u201cIt is with much sorrow that we
announce that we are having to cease publication of The Sword and the
The magazine has been restarted by the present Pastor of the Tabernacle
but is only a shadow of its former self. It is now described as \u201ca tract for
the times\u201d and contains a sermon by the Tabernacle minister. Domestic
news of the Tabernacle is issued separately. Gone are the book reviews,
news of other Spurgeonic institutions and other articles of interest to
admirers of C. H. Spurgeon.
It is splendid that Pilgrim Publications is re-issuing the works of Spurgeon from the original volumes of The Sword and the Trowel, allowing the Christian public a view of Spurgeon as an editor for thirty-six years.
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