GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY
An address given by Mr. J. A. Saarberg at the services held at Stamford on December 9th.
Of course, coming from Holland to speak to you in what is for me a foreign language, it is not so very easy for me, and I hope you will understand me. Perhaps I will use sometimes the wrong word, but you will forgive me.
I am very glad to be here this day as Mr. Philpot is remembered. It was so wonderful, when more than a hundred years ago a Dutch person, Mr. Nieuwiand, visited England and found there the sermons of Mr. Philpot. He did not know Mr. Philpot personally, but he took some sermons home and translated them into Dutch in the years 1854/56. In a short time more than 50 sermons were published in Holland. And as I said already, it was wonderful, for they found a very good demand. When we read the history of Mr. Philpot, we see that it was very dark in the Church of England. But in those days it was very dark in the Church in Holland too, though circumstances were not quite the same. Many people, loving the Word, were not going to the churches or chapels, but were reading sermons at home. They were glad to have in Holland sermons of godly ministers from the 17th and 18th century. But when the sermons of Mr. Philpot were published in Dutch, they bought them and read them, though they had never heard of him before. And when they were reading those sermons, they found that Mr. Philpot was telling them all that was in their own hearts. For in Holland there was still a people, still men and women, going through the same things of which Mr. Philpot was speaking. They knew them in their own soul by the teachings of the Holy Ghost: their sins, their folly, their guilt, their vileness, their iniquities. Truly, in the sermons of Mr. Philpot they found their own experience explained. It was the same sound that was sounding in their own hearts. And so the sermons of Mr. Philpot were loved, and in a short time they were read in many chapels. And still now, after more than hundred years, we can say that there are in Holland many chapels, when there is not a minister, where from time to time the sermons of Mr. Philpot are read. There are several hundred chapels, so there will not be a Sunday in Holland where the sermons of Mr. Philpot will not be read somewhere. For in our land there are still men and women that know in their own life, in their own soul, in their own person what Mr. Philpot explains in his sermons. He is speaking of the iniquities of men, their fallen state, their impossibility to return to God again by themselves. So the Lord is humbling them, and He makes them hungering and thirsting for the Lord, for Him that is the Son of God, the Saviour of lost sinners, for He has a righteousness that is acceptable for God. And consequently the ministrations of Mr. Philpot were loved very much.
I remember my own father, when I was a little boy at home. His chair was always standing in the comer of the living room, and near his chair there was always a book with sermons of Mr. Philpot, and he was reading them nearly every day. He died more than twenty years ago now and I still have my father’s book. He did not know who Mr. Philpot was at all. He did not know of his life, but it was the truth in the sermons, the experience therein, he loved very much.
So we are glad to be able to say that in all the darkness;
there are in Holland, still now, pilgrimsÂ—as Mr. Phipot says in one of his sermonsÂ—”peculiar people”. Peculiar in every way, because God placed them in the world, where there are so many people, but these are placed aside, they are taught by the Holy Ghost in His holy waysÂ—peculiar. Really, they are a peculiar people. They are made peculiar by the Lord Himself. They are peculiarly taught by Him, and so they understand other things than the world does.
I must say that our people, taught in that way, find living very difficult, but they are dying very well. And these people I have seen several times also in our congregation in Holland. They are living in difficulty and in much darkness, but on the other hand, they are dying very well. I remember, a fortnight ago now, a friend went home. I had known him for nearly forty years, from when I was a boy. He also was a humble person. Being ill, he was speaking on his bed, of things that the Lord had taught him Himself. But mostly he was in darkness, and as we say ‘bearing the light on his back’. A fortnight ago he was very ill and dying, and he spoke to his children his last words. He said that they should make haste and seek the Lord, and seek to know the forgiveness of their sins and their iniquities. And then he lay dying and said again: “Hasten, hasten”. Then his daughter asked him: “Are you again saying that we should make haste?” But then he answered: “No, I don’t. I now see the Saviour, and now I make haste to be with Him, I can not wait any longer”. And so he passed away rejoicing.
For such people Mr. Philpot has written his sermons. Perhaps a hundred years ago they were expressed in other words than would be used now. So many things we should say now in a shorter way. If we should read in Holland today sermons preached more than two hundred years ago, perhaps of more than two hours long, it would not be convenient, it would not be possible. And so likewise the sermons of Mr. Philpot, several of them as they stand are too long to read allÂ—too many wordsÂ—but they are really filled with living experience, the experience of the elected people of the Lord, the family of God, always this.
We hope, in this county and in our country, this will be continued till our Lord Jesus Christ comes on the clouds: and that many people here in England and also in this congregation, will know these living teachings, these holy teachings and this living experience and revelationÂ—without this we are dead. In Holland
and also in England, may the same things as were preached by Mr. Philpot and all true preachers before him and after him, be known and loved.
And now a hundred years ago today our much loved Mr. Philpot went home. We cannot honour Mr. Philpot in person. We can only say: “Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord”. And we render to the Lord thanks for all that He has done. For He has given His church so much in one humble person He is still speaking over a hundred years after, and may that sound, those words, that doctrine, be heard, be preached in this country, and for you all that are here now, and in my own country too. So I give you now the Christian love of many of the family of God in Holland. They asked me to give you their love and their desire that God would bless you all. And this our love we will give you now, and with that I close my words.