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creased, the fame of the preacher extended, and, greatly to the regret of his friends in Birmingham, he was, at the expiration of five years, induced to yield to the more urgent claims of the metropolis
. In 1855 Sir Morton Peto purchased the Diorama in Regent's Park, and refitted it as a chapel for the use of the Baptist denomination. The neighbourhood, notwithstanding its importancecynical critics would say because of its importance—was one in which we had been practically unrepresented, and to form in it a really prosperous church it was requisite to secure a minister of more than ordinary power both as a preacher and organiser. To find such a man willing to accept the post was no light task. The selection was honourable to all concerned in it, and the results to which it has led can be regarded with but one feeling of grateful delight.
Dr. Landels' career in London is too well known to require any detailed account. As was anticipated, his chapel soon became crowded, the congregations containing a large number of those whom we are all anxious to see intelligent young men, with a fair sprinkling of students from our own and other colleges. that the church has on its roll upwards of 600 members, and that there are in the school upwards of 1,000 scholars, is to give a very inadequate idea of the work which has been accomplished. Regent's Park is not a mere “preaching station," nor a centre of social respectability.” It is a Christian church, whose members seek to live in Christian fellowship, and to exert on the surrounding population a Christian influence. Though no mention is made of the fact in the “Baptist Handbook," we believe that several mission-rooms are occupied by members of the Church, and that strenuous efforts are made for the evangelisation of the most needy districts in the neighbourhood. Our denominational institutions—the Foreign and Home Missions—as well as general charities, are liberally supported, and in a church so well organised, we should not be surprised to know that those who lack the spirit of Christian generosity, if such there be in it, deem themselves, as their minister recently affirmed,“ well fleeced.” It should also be remembered that the 600 members now on the roll of Regent's Park are but a part of those who have been attracted by Dr. Landels' ministry, and that several other flourishing churches have been supplied with a nucleus from his congregation.
Nor is his popularity restricted to his own congregation or neighbourhood. His services have been in frequent request by Young Men's Christian Associations, both in London and the provinces. Not a few of the most eloquent Exeter Hall lectures—“'The Haldanes," “Popular Fallacies," " Lessons of the Street,” “Edward Irving," “Business,” &c.—have been delivered by him; and in Scotland he attracts audiences such as few others can secure. He is a conscientious and resolute Liberationist, and has taken a prominent part in the discussion of the great ecclesiastical question of the day. His speeches on it take the very highest rank.
How faithfully and well he has served the Baptist denomination we need not at length relate. There are those among us who remember the suspicion with which he was for some time regarded in London on account of his supposed heterodoxy. His trumpet (we heard it said by one who soon came to hold him in the highest esteem)“ gave an uncertain sound,” and he was in consequence “discountenanced." We do not know how far this enforced aloofness" was a source of trouble to Dr. Landels, but we do know that throughout it he acted a manly and straightforward part, forming his opinions and beliefs, not at the bidding or according to the authority of men, but by earnest and prayerful study of the Word of God, and boldly speaking out the thing that was in him, whether men would hear or or forbear. And amid the adverse criticisms which have been excited by his so-called “excessive denominationalism," it ought not to be forgotten that, when his sense of duty required it, he was no less unflinching in the pursuit of a course which estranged him from the sympathy of those who should have been his most trusted friends, and whose co-operation would have been on every ground desirable. Any path that Dr. Landels pursues has been decided on after careful thought. He would scorn to be false either to himself or to others, and there are few men of whom it may be more truly affirmed that they have "the courage of their convictions." The suspicion with which he was once regarded is now, happily, a memory of the past, and has given way to the fullest, frankest confidence.
Some of Dr. Landels' opinions have possibly undergone modification, but we imagine that they are for the most part now what they have always been (we are speaking of his ministry in London). The change in his relations with others has been effected, not by the abandonment of his conscientious creed, but by his frank and fearless honesty and his hearty concession to others of the liberty he claims for himself. We have, indeed, occasionally thought that he might, without any sacrifice of the manliness we all so highly respect, have adopted a more conciliatory tone towards his opponents, and have combined more effectively the suaviter in modo with the fortiter in re. Clearheadedness, keen logic, and the power of forcible speech, invaluable as they are, may yet be dangerous enemies to human friendship. The stronger our confidence in the validity of our cause, the more cautious and forbearing we need to be. Dr. Landels has, we imagine, in some cases given offence quite unintentionally by his "strong way of putting things.” He is possibly not sufficiently considerate of what he may deem the prejudices and conceits of others; and though we are sure he would not wield his rare powers of sarcasm unkindly, he may unwittingly have inflicted a wound. The following sentence from the preface to one of his earlier publications should not, in our opinion, have been allowed to remain:-“Should the critic be offended with the structure of his sentences, he is sincerely sorry—though more for the critic's sake than his own.” The sorrow might not be unreasonable, but we would not have given the mistaken or illnatured critic a provocation. These, however, are but superficial faults in a really noble character, and we have referred to them only for the sake of saying that of that character they form but an infinitesimal part.
For many years Dr. Landels has occupied the post of a leader in the denomination. In conjunction with Dr. Brock, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Spurgeon, he took an active part in the formation of the London Association, and was its second president. He has delivered some of the most effective missionary speeches to which we have ever listened, and his paper on “Ministerial Failures," read at the Autumnal Session of the Union at Bristol in 1868, and his Nottingham speech on “Ritualism ” in 1873, are not likely to be forgotten by any who heard them. The Nottingham speech was unquestionably a triumph of oratory, although, in general estimation, it was equalled by a speech on “Revivals” delivered at Newcastle in 1874.
How ably he has occupied the chair of the Baptist Union, to which he succeeded in 1876 our readers scarcely need to be informed. Nor are they slow to appreciate the worth of two such addresses as those on "Our Denominational Position," and "The Weapons of Our Warfare," so broad in their grasp of spiritual truth, so subtle in argumentative power, so fearlessly honest and so intensely loyal to Christ.
But perhaps few of them are aware of the extent to which Dr. Landels has devoted himself to the promotion of our denominational interests in other ways. He has worked assiduously on the Union Committee, and laboured " night and day” on behalf of the Annuity Fund. We do not know the exact proportion of the work which has fallen to him, but aided by Mr. Maclaren, Mr. Charles Williams, and other gentlemen, he has visited town after town and village after village in nearly every county in England, and before this article appears in print, he will have announced the accomplishment of the purpose on which he set his heart, and to which he has devoted his energies during his chairmanship of the Union—the raising of at least £50,000 as a Guarantee Fund to enable the Committee to increase the annuity of a minister (£15) and of his widow (£10) to £45 and £30 respectively. The Baptist Union can no longer be reproached as "a wandering voice.” Various causes have co-operated to render it a power in our denominational life, but our obligations to Mr. Birrell, Mr. Maclaren, Mr. Williams, and Dr. Landels cannot be over-estimated. Mr. Maclaren's Plymouth address created the sentiment which necessitated the formation of the Annuity Fund. After listening to his powerful appeal, the assembly would brook no delay but insisted with irresistible earnestness on immediate action. That address was, moreover, but one expression of a purpose, which Mr. Maclaren was in various other ways endeavouring to effect, and during his year of office he admirably prepared the way for his successor, who has no less admirably carried on the work to its conclusion. We have heard in different parts of the country of Dr. Landels' eagerness “ to spend and be spent” in the service of his brethren. He has attended meetings of all kinds—meetings o? ministers and deacons, drawing-room meetings, public an: semi
public meetings. He has advised local committees, called on influential men who could not be otherwise reached, and spared himself no toil which could further the end in view. And now that the £50,000 has been realised (i.e., in promises) he is, we believe, nct unwilling to continue this “labour of love until an additional £30,000 has been secured. This extra sum will certainly be required to enable the Committee to fulfil the expectations their scheme has raised, and considering the churches and districts yet unvisited we can see no reason why it should not, during the next twelve months, be obtained. Will our readers show their hearty appreciation of our ex-chairman's noble and self-denying zeal by stiil further aiding his design, and may we venture to say to him in their name “There remaineth yet much land to be possessed”? No one, we feel sure, is more capable of acquiring it than he.
Our article is concerned with Dr. Landels in his public capacity alone. But it cannot be inappropriate to remark that the interest he has shown in the Annuity Fund is the indication of a kindliness and generosity of nature with which all who know him intimately are familiar. Many of the companions of his youth still remain in their native village "obscure and unknown.” They have not, however, to ask doubtfully, “Does my old friend remember me?"
His hearty greeting assures them that he does. There are, moreover, ministers in our denomination who owe more than they can well express to his wise counsels and invaluable help, and we have heard not a few of them speak of him with feelings akin to chivalrous devotion. The highest honour which the Baptist denomination could confer upon him was worthily bestowed, and his successor in the chair receives "the laurel greener from his brow.”
Dr. Landels is not only an eloquent preacher and an indefatigable worker, he is likewise a voluminious author. The list of his works comprises some sixteen or seventeen volumes. Among them are " Seed for Spring Time," "The Gospel in Various Aspects,” “ The Unseen,” “Everyday Religion,” “The Great Cloud of Witnesses," "True Manhood,” “The Young Man in the Battle of Life,” “The True Glory of Woman,” &c. They are, for the most part, sermons and lectures, which, carefully prepared at first, have been no less carefully revised for the press. In view of their conspicuous merits, we are not surprised that they have commanded an extensive .circulation, and that in one or two instances they have reached their “seventh edition." They deserve to be still more widely-known, and for young men especially we can name no more valuable works than those which Dr. Landels has addressed to them.
An “Anglican” critic has discovered that there is “a lack of culture” about Dr. Landels. Of Anglican culture there perhaps is, but who will deplore the lack ? We can also conceive that the apostle of "sweetness and light” would see little to admire in the minister of Regent's Park. But of culture, in the true sense of the word, he is certainly not destitute. We do not claim that he is
technically speaking—a scholar. Many inferior men are far better versed in the classics and in the abstract sciences. He is, however, more than a scholar. He is a close and vigorous thinker, endowed with fine natural powers, which have been strengthened by careful and rigid discipline. His mind has been cast in the argumentative mould; he is an acute reasoner and invariably pursues his way to its legitimate end. He has a keen logical faculty, an opulent imagination, a sound judgment, and the power of expressing his thoughts in language which it is difficult to misunderstand. He has a large fund of general information from which he can draw at will.
The great masters of English literature-in history, philosophy, and poetrymust have been his constant companions, and their influence on the general style of his thought and expression can be easily traced. He has doubtless made his studies bear as directly as possible on his many-sided work. He has wisely urged that the students in our colleges should give their time and strength mainly to “the acquisition of a better acquaintance with our own language and a greater power to use it.” He does not depreciate the classics and other secular studies, he desires a knowledge of systematic theology, of ecclesiastical history and scriptural exegesis, but in addition he pleads for
An acquaintance with human nature, and of the best methods of reaching and moving it, greater prominence being given to the art of preaching and to the study of the best models, while composition and reading aloud, and speaking with a view to facility and excellence in every variety of oquence. It is surely a proof of mistaken views on these matters that the study of elocution is thought to be somewhat derogatory to the earnestness and spiritual status of the minister of Christ; and that our ministers can talk of not reading sermons as if abstention from such literature were a proof of their superiority to the need of such hints as good sermons might supply. The students of no other art are foolish enough to neglect the study of their models, or the means by which the masters attained to their eminence and fame.
From this same paper on “ Ministerial Failures," we may also extract the
following, both for its intrinsic value and for the light it throws on Dr. Landels' own ministry
Probably a still more frequent cause of failure is indolence. We cannot conceive of any Christian minister deliberately neglecting his duty, but it is not impossible that some may inadvertently fall into the habit of performing it in a perfunctory manner. Without any great amount of effort they are capable of producing weekly two or three respectable sermons. Their facility of composition and power of utterance render but little study requisite. Hence their sermons are always respectable and seldom anything more. Their fatal facility proves their greatest snare. Content with what they easily produce, they never toil and agonize at their work as men of greatly inferior talents bave done often with good result, and no intense or overpowering impression is produced by their ministry; for this is only done by sweat of heart and brain. They never rise above, as they never fall below, a respectable mediocrity, and not by that are men greatly moved. He who is to succeed must not to content to preach weli, coming constantly short of his own best; he must be ever stretching himself to the utmost, and striving to outstrip himself, aspiring after increasing excellence, and straining every nerve with