Funeral Sermon Cover for Annie Brown (Tuesday, May 5, 1874)

by Frank Jones


Here is the poem on that funeral cover.

My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I tremble when trials are near?
Be hush’d my dark spirit, the worst that can come
But shortens thy journey, and hastens thee home.

It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,
Or building my hopes in a region like this;
I look for a city that hands have not piled,
I pant for a country by sin undefiled.

Afflictions may press me, they cannot destroy,
One glimpse of His love turns them all into joy;
And the bitterest tears, if He smile but on them,
Like dew in the sunshine, grow diamond and gem.

Let doubt, then, and danger my progress oppose:
They only make heaven more sweet at the close:
Come joy or come sorrow, whate’er may befall,
An hour with my God will make up for them all.

A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand,
I march on in haste through an enemy’s land;
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,
And I’ll smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song.
— (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 90)

Death of Annie Brown (May 5, 1874)

by Frank Jones


"As many of you know, for the last three years and a half [Annie] suffered with intermittent agony, which came on more constantly as time progressed, until at last there came three months of anguish almost without a pause. If ever one went a rough road to glory; if ever one passed through a burning furnace into heaven, she did. She had fellowship with the Master in one respect -- she knew what tears and groans and piteous cries meant. But now she is at rest. As I marked the anguish that she suffered, I often felt, 'Lord, though it will make an unutterable blank, and though it means the breaking up of the happiest home that mortal man ever had, yet I could thank three if thou wouldst take her into thine arms, and ease her of her frightful agonies.' She fell asleep in Jesus, as you know, at half-past four on Tuesday morning, the 5th of May. Well do I remember her last words to me as, coming to consciousness at half-past ten on Monday night-after you had been praying for her-and taking me by the hand, she said, 'Well, Archie, we have had a happy life, haven't we?' I said, 'Yes, darling, that we have!' 'Ah!' she said, 'a few years at most, and you and I will see each other again. To me it will seem only like a minute or two, but I am dreadfully afraid it will seem a long time to you. Now I can sing a verse I could never sing before.' I asked, 'What is that?' She answered --

I have no cares, O blessed Lord,

For all my cares are Thine.

I marvelled, as I saw not only the conflict, but the complete victory. No cares! Leaving six little ones, and the youngest but seven weeks old, and yet no cares! None! For he whom she had loved many a year had come and put all cares to flight. So there fell asleep in Jesus, the gentlest, the most loving and most self-denying character, that I believe the Lord ever called home. The alabaster box of her poor frame was shivered to pieces with many and many a blow; but the sweet saviour of her name this morning fills all the house." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 96-97)


Ministry Danger!

by Frank Jones


"A man was much annoyed because his wife had professed conversion, and decided that he would shoot Mr Brown. It seemed to him that the best plan would be to do this during the second prayer at a Sunday evening service; so he came with a loaded revolver, and sat in the gallery near the platform. That evening the reading was Isaiah 53, and there was the usual commenting, which went right home to the man. The result was that the would-be murderer came into the vestry after the service, told the story, and handed the revolver to Mr. Brown." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 77)


What Do We have, not Received

by Frank Jones


"These prayer meetings were long to be remembered. Some thirty years later, about 1910, when Brown was no longer serving in East London, he came back to preach one Sunday, and recorded the following:

I was preaching in East London last Sunday morning, and I walked from London Bridge, and as I got a little way past the Mile End Gate, I saw a workman leaning against the wall. He touched his cap and said, 'Good morning, Mr Brown, glad to see you in this neighborhood again. Going to the old Tabernacle?' I said, 'Yes', and he then went on, 'May I walk with you?' Going along he said, 'Are not things changed Sir? I have been thinking of thirty years ago. Do you remember how there was a prayer meeting every Sunday morning, and we used to walk there sometimes up to our knees in snow; yet there used to be two or three hundred there; now you cannot get people out of bed at 10:30 on Sunday morning.'

As he spoke of those old days how well I remembered them! At 7 o'clock on Sunday morning there were hundreds met for prayer. Rain, hail or snow made no difference. They were all in dead earnest.

In preaching on December 6, 1868, he said:

I cannot but look back through the two years so nearly gone with wonder and thankfulness that defy language. God has been pleased to give us as a church such prosperity as is given to few, he has permitted us to reap with one hand while we have sown with the other. The converts are not numbered by tens only but by hundreds. In no spirit of pride do we say this; for what have we that we have not received? It is his work and his only, and at his feet we delight to cast all the glory. But while rejoicing in manifest success, we cannot but remember that there are hosts of God's servants, far holier and far more able, who have been called to toil and labor on with but little encouragement. They are preparing the soil for others, and perhaps long after they have gone to their reward, someone else will 'enter into their labors'. (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 61-62)


Groaning over Christian's Sinfulness

by Frank Jones


“Rather, while fully pardoned, [Archibald Brown] did not cease to be a sinner, and his sense of unworthiness only grew with his experience. ‘Our own unworthiness will appear great in proportion as we have communion with Christ.’ Thirty years after he first knew the Savior, he said, ‘If God says to me, “What is thy name?” I have to say from the very depth of my heart, “My sinful name is Archibald Brown.”’ So Paul, many years an apostle, says that of sinners ‘I am chief’. Not, ‘I was’. It is such self-knowledge that finds rest in the sovereign and eternal love of God.

It was this realistic conviction about sin remaining in all believers that kept Brown from supporting the ‘Higher Life’ movement that gained much popularity in the 1870’s. Seven thousand, including his friend Arthur Blackwood,  attended a Convention at Brighton in 1875, where Hannah Pearsall Smith ‘was a herald of the evangel’. At the heart of her message and that of her husband was a consecration that would take the Christian ‘out of Romans 7’. This became a key-note at the Keswick Convention which followed Brighton, and the idea spread far in Mrs Pearsall Smith’s book, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Christians, it was said, by a simple step of faith could leave the ‘defeat’ of Romans 7 for all ‘the joy and victory of Romans 8’. On the contrary, Brown believed that at regeneration the Christian already knew the greatest change and thereafter there is no one experience necessary to take the believer to new heights. He warned his people: ‘I am afraid lest some of you should be drifting into this heighty-flightly balloonist that is getting so wonderfully popular at the present day—the frothy spiritual life that has not any deep sense of personal sin about it.’ ‘Living in a state of ecstasy is not all the good that we imagine it to be. I think that at the present time there are many indications abroad of the subtle evil of mistaking an experience for Christ himself. It is said perhaps, “Oh, if you could only go to a certain little town in the north of England, you will get such a blessing.” Ay, but if I am going to allow “Keswick” to enter into partnership with Jesus Christ himself, or if I am going to allow any delightful feeling that I may have here and there to take the place of the ordinary Jesus Christ who walks with me day by day, I am, I believe on the brink of a very terrible precipice … May. God give you many a season of ecstasy; but ecstasy is not good everyday diet. Jesus Christ himself, the everyday Savior, is the simple diet of life.’

‘The more holy a saint becomes, the more he will loathe and mourn over the remains of indwelling sin.’ The words are Spurgeon’s and they were AGB’s experience. Humility is the consequence of right belief about God and self.” (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 339-341)

For further study on the Higher Life movement, I would refer you to Dr. Andrew Naselli's two works (Let Go and Let God, Logos Software format and his latest book,  No Quick Fix).

 


to Calvary with Weeping

by Frank Jones


"Suspicion about superficial evangelism was common in the north of Scotland at this date. In the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 1923, one of the denomination's leading preachers, George Mackay of Fearn, warned that the absence of conviction of sin and true repentance was too common among professed converts in the country. Then he went on, as reads a report of his address,

To quote a dictum of that greatly-blessed servant of the Lord, the Rev. A. Douglas Brown [ed. Brown's son], whose name is a household word in all our fishing villages on the north-east of Scotland-'Revival', says he, 'is not going down the street with a big drum, it is going back to Calvary with a big sob.'" (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 331-332)

In our day of salvation by man's will, this is also the church of Christ's great absence and affliction. The publican standing afar off could not even "raise his hand for salvation" for sorrow of sin. He beat his breast. It was the pharisee that was still standing and could still "walk an aisle" and "raise his hand" (Luke 18:9-17). While, I can admit no certain degree of sorrow over sin, I can also admit to no sorrow at all. A man crying in his heart for mercy in Christ carries with him a weakness that can only be removed by being the joy of being born from above.


The Race of Suffering, Death, & Resurrection

by Frank Jones


"Some words of Brown's testimony spoken in the 1890's well sum up his personal experience. He was preaching from the words, 'But the God of all grace ... after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.' (1 Peter 5:10-11):

Thirty odd years ago I listened and I heard the call of God, and Oh, it called me into such sorrow for sin; but I found that the call did not end there. The call came from further away, and I went on, until I came to 'a place called Calvary', and I thought, 'Surely, the call has come from here'. But after I had looked and gazed upon Christ and entered into peace I found that the call still sounded far ahead. it had brought me to Calvary, but it came from beyond there. It came from the throne in glory. And then I found that when God called me as a sinner, he did not call me simply to repent and believe. He called me unto his eternal glory, and that is the purpose of his call ... The call comes, but the glory does not come immediately after the call. When I found peace I wished that the Lord would take me to glory then and there. But God says, the glory is quite safe. You shall have it, but it shall come to you 'after that you have suffered a while'. Suffering is part of the call, as well as the glory. It is not a haphazard thing that comes in. It is all part of the plan. You say, 'But why can I not go to heaven at once? Why should there be this interlude of suffering between grace and the glory?' The answer is found in the last line of our text, he himself will 'make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you'. There is not here, today, a child of God who is not the richer and the holier for the little bit of suffering. If I am saved from sin and called to eternal bliss, all I can no during 'the little while' is to look up and say, 'Unto him be all the glory and dominion, age upon age, throughout all eternity. Amen and amen.'" (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 170-171)

AMEN.


The Living Christ Hears

by Frank Jones


"Although generous help from Christians was often forthcoming, there were occasions of need at the orphanage that Brown did not have the means at hand to meet. One such occasion occurred soon after the orphanage was opened. Brown believed in God's daily providential care, and the fact that it was not his habit to emphasize the extraordinary makes the following words the more impressive:

The first of October set in very cold, and the matron said, 'The boys ought to have some greatcoats, Mr Brown.' I said, 'Go and ask the Lord to give us some.' She looked and said, 'Do you mean that?' I said, 'Yes.' So we just knelt down and said. 'Lord, please send us some greatcoats for these boys. They are thine, not ours.' Now then, scoffer, account for it if you can. That was at three o'clock. At five o'clock that afternoon a messenger came over from the orphan home, saying, 'You are wanted at once.' I went and saw a cab in front of No. 2, Harley Street, and in my unbelief I said, 'Dear me! Is anybody ill, and has the doctor been fetched?' When I went in there was such a scene. There were Scotch tweed coats all over the place. A whole cab-full had been sent. I said to the gentlemen who had brought them, 'I have not ordered these. Isn't there some mistake?' He said, 'No, a gentleman came into our place two hours ago (that is the time the matron and I were praying) and said that we were to bring down as many greatcoats as were necessary to rig out all your boys, and they were to be of the best Scotch tweed.'" (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 112-113)

In short, O' Lord who answers prayer, to you all flesh shall come.


Who Bears the Pillars?

by Frank Jones


Unfortunately, this dawn is descending (and has been descending) upon us in this so-called "modern era". This was spoken in a sermon by Brown on May 15, 1892.

"The Church does not rest on man or on any number of men. And if the day should come--and personally I believe that some of the younger people here may see it--when a faithful man will be so scarce that you will have to hunt for him, and there shall be apostasy on the right hand and on the left, and the pillars of the Churches (not of the Church) give way on every hand, and it seems dark beyond all power of exaggeration, even in that day the Lord will say unto his people, 'I bear up the pillars of it. My Church is not dependent upon man. I live eternally and my eternal life is her eternal guarantee.'" (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 153)


Christ Jesus! Not the Building

by Frank Jones


“Nothing at all is recorded of Archie Brown’s pleasure in the fabric of the new building. His great interest lay elsewhere as is illustrated from an incident from about this time, which he has recorded in his own words:

Some little while since, preaching in the country, a good brother said he should like to show us over the chapel before preaching. He took us up in the gallery and asked us to look at it from there. Then he took us into the pulpit, that we might view it from that position. Then he asked us to note that every pew was cushioned with a cushion of the same color; and he also drew our attention to the fact that there were such nice brass rings and rails at the end of the pew for umbrellas. I stood it as long as I could, and said to him, ‘Well, brother, I have seen a few chapels in my time. Now you have pointed out the beauties of your sanctuary, may I ask you one or two questions which really I am more interested in? How many drunkards did you have saved here last year?’ Oh, my dear Mr Brown, we are a most respectable people.’ I said, ‘Have you had many harlots gathered in here?’ I thought he would have fainted. ‘Do you get many outsiders, ragged customers, in here?’ He said, ‘My dear Mr Brown, again I can assure you we have a most respectable congregation.’ I said, ‘My dear brother, I say in all love, I think my Master cares far more for drunkards and harlots and outsiders being saved in this chapel than he cares about your red cushions and brass rails.’ The glory of a place of worship, after all, is just this -- the ingathering of the outcasts to Jesus Christ.” (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 66-67)


The Gospel is Christ

by Frank Jones


The gospel is a fact, therefore tell it simply; it is a joyful fact, therefore tell it cheerfully; it is an entrusted fact, therefore tell it faithfully; it is a fact of infinite moment, therefore tell it earnestly; it is a fact about a Person, therefore preach Christ. (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 38)


A Church MUST Pray

by Frank Jones


One necessity of every professing New Testament churches is PRAYER. It is one of the four non-negotiables for all New Testament churches (Act 2:42). When I came to my present ministry in 2001, I asked for such commitment from its congregation. I quoted Spurgeon's acceptance at New Park Street.

"And now one thing is due to every minister, and I pray you to remind the church of it, namely, that in private, as well as public, they must all earnestly wrestle in prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I may be sustained in the great work."

I never asked anyone whether that commitment was accepted by the church (or even if they notified of my request). When Archibald Brown went to the Stepney Green Tabernacle, he took notice of their non-solicited commitment to individual and corporate prayer.

"I think of thirty years ago, when I stood on Stepney Green for the first time in my life and looked across at that chapel that was pointed out to me as Stepney Green Tabernacle, then in want of a pastor. And I think of those who gathered round me in those early days and said, 'Well, pastor, you preach, and we will pray.' They constituted a noble band." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 38)

My heart yearns for such reviving in professing Christian churches.