EDITED BY C. H. SPURGEON. 1867.
“They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.”--Nehemiah 4:17,18.
COURTEOUS READER, As we sit down to pen a few words of preface for another volume of “The Sword and the Trowel,” reflections upon the rapid flight of time east somber shadows over our mind,’ and fill us with an awe akin to trembling.
Like its predecessors, the year of grace, 1867, is now “with the years ‘beyond the flood, bearing its witness concerning us,” and we pilgrims of earth are one year’s journey nearer to the solemn beach of that dread ocean in which all streams of time will finally merge themselves. Whether we live well or ill, it is Certain that the one life in which we must work out our time-labor will not wait for us; even while we ponder on its responsibilities, it is flying with more than eagle wing, leaving us each moment somewhat less of space in which to work for God, if through his grace we are enlisted in the divine service-leaving us. moreover, narrower space for repentance if we are still unreconciled with heaven. Truly, it is no trifle to live in time-- what will it be to dwell in eternity? Time is not a thing to be killed as fools have dreamed, or to hang heavy on one’s hands, as idiots have maundered; it is as priceless as it is fleeting, and is alas! all too short for zeal and love, passionate and laborious, all too hurried for peace and rest, and all too uncertain for high design and lofty enterprise. If anything is to be done at all by us, we must do it now. To purpose is to play the fool, to do t. he deed of piety or charity is wisdom. Energy is true, existence, sloth is the image of death. Would to God we could snap the bonds which restrain our souls, as Samson tore asunder the green withes, or we shall have the Philistines of remorse upon us, mocking us because of our lost strength, stolen from us while we slept in the lap of ease. May the eternal God condescend to teach us the art of living, lest by’ making one failure here below we involve ourselves in an everlasting bankruptcy, all the more unmitigated in its misery because we. once hoped to be heirs of a wealth of bliss, and missed the celestial heritage. O that we who are saved, and dread no fatal shipwreck could but learn the science of spending and being spent, laying out all we have to the most profitable ends, constantly and without pause pushing right and left for room for the great salvation to work and win its way among the multitudes of the fallen; straining, toiling;, panting, sighing, wearying to answer to the utmost the end of our being by glorifying God, and making known the dear and wondrous love of the Well-beloved who was crucified. To breathe out zeal for Jesus, just as Saul of Tarsus breathed out threatenings against the saints, is a desire Which should be realized, and not doted upon as a rare attainment, to high for mortal men. By God’s grace, we do not mean to rot ignobly in a dreamy death-sleep, or to doze out a semi-torpid existence; but we intend (and may the intent become a fact) to live to the extremest bound of our capacity, looking up to him who is able to fill us with all the fullness of God. Reader, say you so? — then so be it by the love of the Spirit.
FRIENDS AND SUBSCRIBERS, Our roll of readers was never so large as now.
We have, during the last few months, perceived most encouraging accessions to the list, of our readers, for which we are truly thankful. We have done all in our power to make our magazine worthy of our constituency, and in return have been greatly gratified by expressions of generous approbation, and by a widening circulation. Nor is this all; we have aimed at doing real service to the cause of Christ, and we know that our labor has not been in vain. Never let it be forgotten that in the mysterious arrangements of providence, “The Sword and the Trowel” led to the founding of THE STOCKPILEORPHANAGE.
This is no mean result if it were all; for in that happy home we hope to house a portion of England’s orphaned for many a year to come, receiving the fatherless by an easier door than that which only opens to clamorous competition and laborious canvassing. Moreover, our magazine is the organ and foster-parent of OUR COLLEGE, and of the Colportage association, institutions which will yet bless the land with plead of benediction. As we have given publicity to good works of all kinds, we have also evidence that several of them have been greatly helped as the result. Minds have been enlightened, hearts have been quickened, and herein we rejoice. “The Sword and the Trowel” takes its share in battle and in building, and our labor is not in vain in the Lord.
We: earnestly request the assistance of our readers to extend yet more our circulation, for by this means our power for good will be much increased.
Further, with pressing entreaty we plead for practical sympathy for our works, especially the College. Of late, many have forgotten us, and although our Father who is in heaven has not failed us and never will, we have had sharp trials for our faith. Still his grace has been sufficient and ever will be. God is true. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his faithfulness, like the great mountains, stands fast for ever and ever. We have several most important fields of labor waiting to be cultivated, but we have not the pecuniary means to enable us to enter upon them. Crowded populations are perishing for lack of knowledge, large rooms are obtainable, the College is full of men equipped for service, and we are unable to go further, because many of those to whom wealth is entrusted are false to their stewardship. When will the God of Israel appear and move the hearts of his people to consecrate themselves? Our heart bleeds for perishing myriads. Come over and help us, ye who can help, for men die by hundreds every hour for whose souls no man careth.
Our space is spent, and therefore we lay down the pen, wishing you, dear readers, every blessing from the Lord our God.
Yours in thorough earnest, C.H. Spurgeon