A MEMORABLE HYMN.
A SACRAMENTAL DISCOURSE.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.” — -Matthew 26:30.
THE occasion on which these words were spoken, was the last meal of which Jesus partook in company with his disciples before he went from them to his shameful trial and his ignominious death. It was his farewell supper before a bitter parting, and yet they needs must sing. He -was on the brink of that great depth of misery into which he was about to plunge, and yet he would have them sing “an hymn.” It is wonderful that HE sang, and in a second degree it is remarkable that THEY sang. We will consider both singular facts.
Let us dwell awhile on THE FACT THAT JESUS SANG AT SUCH AASTHIS.
What does he teach us by it? Does he not say to each of us, his followers, “My religion is one of happiness and joy; I, your Master, by my example would instruct you to sing even when the last solemn hour is come, and all the glooms of death are gathering around you. Here, at the table, I am your singing-master, and set you lessons in music, in which my dying voice shall lead you: notwithstanding all the griefs which overwhelm my heart, I will play the chief musician, and be to you the sweet singer of Israel”? If ever there was a time when it would have been natural and consistent with the solemnities of the occasion for the Savior to have bowed his head upon the table, bursting into a flood of tears; or, if ever there was a season when he might have fittingly retired from all company, and have bewailed his coming convict in sighs and groans, it was just then. But no, that brave heart will slug an hymn. Our glorious Jesus plays the man beyond all other men! Boldest of the sons of men, he quails not in the hour of battle, but tunes his voice to loftiest psalmody. The genius of that Christianity of which Jesus is the head and founder, its object, spirit, and design, are happiness and joy, and they who receive it sing in the very jaws of death.
This remark, however, is quite a secondary one to the next: our Lord’s complete fulfillment of the law is even more worthy of our attention. It was customary when the passover was held, to sing, and this is the main reason why the Savior did so. During the passover, it was usual to sing the hundred and thirteenth, and five following psalms, which were called the “Hallel .” They commence, you will observe, in our version, with “Praise ye the Lord!” or, “Hallelujah!” The hundred and fifteenth, and the three following, were usually sung as the closing song of the passover. Now, our Savior would not diminish the splendor of the great Jewish rite, although it was the last time that he would celebrate it. No; there shall be the holy beauty and delight of psalmody; none of it shall be stinted; the “Hallel” shall be full and complete. We may safely believe that the Savior sang through, or probably chanted, the whole of these six psalms; and my heart tells me that there was no one at the table who sang more devoutly or more cheerfully than did our blessed Lord. There are some parts of the hundred and eighteenth psalm, especially, which strike us as having sounded singularly grand, as they flowed from his blessed lips. Note verses 22, 23, 24. Especially observe those words, near the end of the psalm, and think you hear the Lord himself singing them, “God is the Lord, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Because, then, it was the settled custom of Israel to recite these psalms, our Lord Jesus Christ did the same; for he would leave nothing unfinished. Just as when he went down into the waters of baptism, he said, “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,” so he seemed to say when sitting at the table, “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness; therefore let us sing unto the Lord, as God’s people in past ages have done.” Beloved, let us view with holy wonder the strictness of the Savior’s obedience to his Father’s will, and let us endeavor to follow in his steps, in all things, seeking to be obedient to the Lord’s word in the little as well as in the great.
May we not venture to suggest another and deeper reason? Did. not this singing of “an hymn” at the supper, show the holy absorption of the Savior’s soul in his Father’s will? If, beloved, you knew that at — say ten o’clock to-night — you would be led away to be mocked, and despised, and scourged, and that to-morrow’s sun would see you falsely accused, hanging, a convicted criminal, to die upon a cross, do you think that you could sing to-night, after your last meal? I am sure you could not, unless with more than earthborn courage and resignation your soul could say, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” You would sing if your spirit were like the Savior’s spirit; if, like him, you could exclaim, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt;” but if there should remain in you any selfishness, any desire to be spared the bitterness of death, you would not be able to chant the “Hallel” with the Master. Blessed Jesus, how wholly wert thou given up! how perfectly consecrated! so that whereas other men stag when they are marching to them joys, thou didst sing on the way to death; whereas other men lift up their cheerful voices when honor awaits them, thou hadst a brave and holy sonnet on thy lips when shame, and spitting, and death were to be thy portion.
This singing of the Savior also teaches us the whole-heartedness of the Master in the work which ha was about to do. The patriot warrior sings as he hastens to battle; to the strains of martial music he advances to meet the foreman; and even thus the heart of our all-glorious champion supplies him with song even in the dreadful hour of his solitary agony. He views the battle, but he dreads it not; though in the contest his soul will be “exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” yet before it he is like Job’s warhorse, “He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off.” He has “a baptism to be baptized with, and he is straitened until it be accomplished.” The Master does not go forth to the agony in the garden with a cowed and trembling spirit, all bowed and crushed in the dust; but he advances to the conflict like a man who has his full strength about him — taken out to be a victim (if I may use such a figure) not as a worn-out ox that has long borne the yoke, but as the firstling of the bullock, in the fullness of his strength. He goes forth to the slaughter, with his glorious undaunted spirit fast and firm within him, glad to suffer for his people’s sake, and for his Father’s glory. “For as at first thine all-pervading look Saw from thy Father’s bosom to th’ abyss, Measuring in calm presage The infinite descent; So to the end, though now of mortal pangs Made heir, and emptied of thy glory awhile, With unaverted eye Thou meetest all the storm.” Let us, O fellow heirs of salvation, learn to sing when our suffering time comes, when our season for stern labor approaches; ay, let us pour forth a canticle of deep mysterious melody of bliss, when our dying hour is near at hand. Courage, brother! The waters are chilly; but fear will not by any means diminish the terrors of the river. Courage, brother! Death is solemn work; but playing the coward will not make it less so. Bring hither the harp; let thy lips remember the long-loved music, and let the notes be clear and shrill as thou dippest thy feet in the Jordan: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Dear friends, let the remembrance of the melodies of that upper room go with you to-morrow into business; and if you expect a great trial, and are afraid you will not be able to sing after it, then sing before it comes. Get your holy praise-work done before affliction mars the tune. Fill the air with music while you can.
While yet there is bread upon the table, sing, though famine may threaten; while yet the child runs laughing about the house, while yet the flush of health is in your own cheek, while yet your goods are spared, while yet your heart is whole and sound, lift up your song of praise to the Most High God; and let your Master, the singing Savior, be in this your goodly and comfortable example.
There is much more that might be said concerning our Lord’s sweet swansong, but there is no need to crowd one thought out with another; your leisure will be well spent in mediation upon so fruitful a theme. We will now consider THE SINGING OF THE DISCIPLES.
They united in the “Hallel” — like true Jews, they joined in the national song. Israel had good cause to sing at the passover, for God had wrought for his people what he had done for no other nation on the face of the earth. Every Hebrew must have felt his soul elevated and rejoiced on the paschal night. He was “a citizen of no mean city,” and the pedigree which he could look Back upon was one, compared with which kings and princes were but of yesterday.
Remembering the fact commemorated by the Supper, well might Israel rejoice. They sang of their nation in bondage, trodden beneath the tyrannical foot of Pharaoh; they began the psalm right sorrowfully, as they thought of the bricks made without straw, and of the iron furnace; but the strain soon mounted from the deep bass, and began to climb the scale, as they sang of Hoses the servant of God, and of the Lord appearing to him in the burning bush; they remembered the mystic rod, which became a serpent, and which swallowed up the rods of the magicians; their music told of the plagues and wonders which God had wrought upon Zoan; and of that dread night when the firstborn of Egypt fell Before the avenging sword of the angel of death, while they themselves, feeding on the lamb which had been slain for them, and whose Blood was sprinkled upon the lintel and upon the side-posts of the door, had Been graciously preserved.
Then the song went up concerning the hour in which all Egypt was humbled at the feet of Jehovah, whilst as for his people, “He led them forth like sheep,” by the hands of Hoses and Aaron, and they went by the way of the sea, even of the Red Sea. The strain rose higher still as they tuned the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb. Jubilantly they sang of the Red Sea, and of the chariots of Pharaoh which went down into the midst thereof, and the depths covered them till there was not one of them left. It was a glorious chant indeed when they sang of Rahab cut in pieces, and of the dragon wounded at the sea, by the right hand of the Host High, for the deliverance of the chosen people!
But, beloved, if I have said that Israel could so properly sing, what shall I say of those of us who are the Lord’s spiritualist redeemed? We have been emancipated from a slavery worse than that of Egypt: “ With a high hand and with an outstretched arm” hath God delivered us. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God’s passover, has been sprinkled on our hearts and consciences. By faith we keep the passover, for we have been spared; we have been brought out of Egypt — and though our sins did once oppose us, they have all been drowned in the Red Sea of the atoning Blood of Jesus: “the depths have covered them, there is not one of them left.” If the Jew could sing a “great Hallel,” our “Hallel” ought to be more glowing still; and if every house in “Judea’s happy land” was full of music when the people ate the paschal feast, much more reason have we for filling every heart with sacred harmony to-night, while we feast upon Jesus Christ, who was slain, and has redeemed us to God by his blood.
The time has now come for me to say HOW EARNESTLY IDESIRE YOU TO “SING AN HYMN.” I do not mean to ask you to use your voices just now, but let your hearts be brimming with the essence of praise. Whenever we repair to the Lord’s table, which represents to us the passover, we ought not to come to it as to a funeral. Let us select solemn hymns, but not dirges. Let us sing softly, but none the less joyfully. These are no burial feasts; those are not funeral cakes which lie upon this table, and yonder fair white linen cloth is no winding sheet. “This is my body,” said Jesus, but the Body so represented was no corpse; we feed upon a living Christ. The blood set forth by yonder wine is the fresh life-blood of our immortal King.
We view not our Lord’s body as clay-cold flesh, pierced with wounds but as glorified at the right hand of the Father. We hold a happy festival when we break bread on the first day of the week. We come not hither trembling. like bondsmen, cringing on our knees as wrenched serfs condemned to eat on their knees; we approach as freemen, to our Lord banquet, like his apostles, to recline at length or sit at ease; not merely to eat bread which may belong to the most sorrowful, but to drink wine which belongs to men whose souls are glad. Let us recognize the rightness, yea, the duty of cheerfulness at this commemorative Supper; and, therefore, let us “sing an hymn.”
Being satisfied on this point, perhaps you ask, “What hymn shall too sing?”
Many sorts of hymns were sung in the olden time: look down the list, and you will scarce find one which may not suit us now.
One of the earliest of earthly songs was the war-song. They sang of old a song to the conqueror, when he returned from the battle. “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Women took their timbrels and rejoiced in the dance when the hero returned from the war. Even thus of old did the people of God extol him for his mighty acts, singing aloud with the high-sounding cymbals: “Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.” My brethren, let us lift up a war-song to-night! Why not? “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Come, let us praise our Emanuel, as we see the head of our foe in his right hand; as we behold him “leading captivity captive,” ascending up on high, with trumpets’ joyful sound. Let us chant the paean; let us shout the war-song, “To Triumphs!” Behold, he comes, all glorious from the war: as we gather at the table, let us salute him with a psalm of gladsome triumph.
Another early form of song was the pastoral. When the shepherds sat down amongst the sheep, they tuned their pipes, and warbled forth molt and sweet airs in harmony with rustic quietude. All around was calm and still; the sun was brightly shining, and the birds were making melody among the leafy branches. Shall I seem fanciful if I say, let us unite in a pastoral tonight?
Sitting round the table, why should we not sing, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters”? If there be a place beneath the stars where one might feel perfectly at rest and ease, surely it is at the table of the Lord. Here, then, let us sing to our great Shepherd a pastoral of delight. Let the bleating of sheep be in our ears as we remember the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his flock.
You need not to be reminded that the ancients were very fond of festive songs. When they assembled at their great festivals, led by their chosen minstrels, they sang right joyously, with boisterous mirth. Let those who will speak to the praise of wine, my soul shall extol the precious blood of Jesus; let who will laud corn and oil, the rich produce of the harvest, my heart shall sing of the bread which came down from heaven, whereof if a man eateth, he shall never hunger. Speak ye of royal banquets, and minstrelsy fit for a monarch’s ear! ours is a nobler festival, and our song is sweeter far. Here is room at this table tonight for all earth’s poesy and music, for the place deserves songs more lustrous with delight, more sparkling with gems of holy mirth, than any of which the ancients could conceive. “Now for a tune of lofty praise To great Jehovah’s equal Son!
Awake, my voice, in heavenly lays Tell the loud wonders he hath done!”
The love-song we must not forget, for that is peculiarly the song of this evening. “Now will I sin unto my well-beloved a song” His love to us is an immortal theme; and as our love fanned by the breath of heaven, breaks into a vehement flame, we may sing, yea, and we will sing among the lilies, a song of loves.
In the Old Testament we find many psalms called by the title, “A Song of Degrees.” This “Song of Degrees” is supposed by some to have been sung as the people ascended the temple steps, or made pilgrimages to the Holy Place. The strain often changes — sometimes it is dolorous, and anon it is gladsome; at one season the notes are long drawn out and heavy, at another they are cheerful and jubilant. We will sing a “Song of Degrees” to-night. We will mourn that we pierced the Lord, and we will rejoice in pardon bought with blood. Our strain must vary as we talk of sin, feeling its bitterness and lamenting it, and then of pardon, rejoicing in its glorious fullness.
David wrote a considerable number of psalms which he entitled “Maschil,” which may be called in English, “instructive psalms.” Where, beloved, can we find richer instruction than at the table of our Lord? He who understands the mystery of incarnation and of substitution, is a master in scriptural theology. There is more teaching in the Savior’s body and in the Savior’s blood than in all the world besides. O ye who wish to learn the way to comfort, and how to tread the royal road to heavenly wisdom, come ye to the cross, and see the Savior suffer, and pour out his heart’s blood for human sin.
Some of David’s psalms are called “Michtam,” which means “golden psalms.” Surely we must sing one of these. Our psalms must be golden when we speak of the Head of the church, who is as much free gold. More precious than silver or gold is the inestimable price which he has paid for our ransom. Yes, ye sons of harmony, bring your most melodious anthems here, and let your Savior have your golden psalms.
Certain psalms in the Old Testament are entitled” Upon Shoshannim,” that is, “Upon the lilies.” O ye virgin souls, whose hearts have been washed in blood, and have been made white and pure, bring forth your instruments of song : — “Hither, then, your music bring, Strike aloud each joyful string!” Let your hearts, when they are in their best state, when they are purest, and most cleansed from earthly dross, give to Jesus their glory and their excellence.
Then there other psalms which are dedicated “To the Sons of Korah.” If the guess be right, the reason why we get the title “To the Sons of Korah “ — “a song of loves “ — must be this: that when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up, the sons of Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up too; but the sons of Korah perished not. Why they were not destroyed we cannot tell. Perhaps it was that sovereign grace spared those whom justice might have doomed; and “the sons of Korah” were ever after made the sweet singers of the sanctuary; and whenever there was a special “song of loves,” it was always dedicated to them. Ah! we will have one of those songs of love to-night, around the table, for we too are saved by distinguishing grace. We will sing of the heavenly lover, and the many waters which could not quench his love. “Love, so vast that nought can bound; Love, too deep for thought to sound; Love, which made the Lord of all Drink the wormwood and the gall.
Love, which led him to the cross, Bearing there unutter’d loss; Love, which brought him to the gloom Of the cold and darksome tomb.
Love, which made him hence arise Far above the starry skies, There with tender, loving care, All his people’s griefs to share.
Love, which will not let him rest Till his chosen all are blest; Till they all for whom he died Live rejoicing by his side.” We have not half exhausted the list, but it is clear that, sitting at the Lord’s Table, we shall have no lack of suitable psalmody. Perhaps no one hymn will quite meet the sentiments of all; and while we would not write a hymn for you, we would pray the Holy Spirit to write now the spirit of praise upon your hearts, that sitting here, you may “after supper sing an hymn.”
For one or two minutes let us ask, “WHAT SHALL THE TUNE BE? It must be a strange one, for if we are to sing “an hymn” to-night, around the table, the tune must have all the parts of music. Yonder believer is heavy of heart through manifold sorrows, bereavements, and watchings by the sick. He loves his Lord, and would fain praise him, but his soul refuses to use her wings. Brother, we win have a tune in which you can join, and you shall lead the bass. You shall sing of your. fellowship with your Beloved in his sufferings; how he, too, lost a friend; how he spent whole nights in sleeplessness; how his soul was exceeding sorrowful. But the tune must not be all bass, or it would not suit some of us to-night, for we can reach the highest key. We have seen the Lord, and our spirit has rejoiced in God our Savior.
We want to lift the chorus high; yea, there are some true hearts here who are at times so full of joy that they will want special music written for them.
Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell:” said Paul, and so have said others since, when Christ has been with them. Ah! then they have been obliged to mount to the alto notes, to the very loftiest range of song.
Remember, beloved, that the same Savior who will accept the joyful shoutings of the strong, will also receive the plaintive notes of the weak and weeping. You little ones, you babes in grace, may cry, “Hosanna,” and the King will not silence you; and you strong men, with all your power of faith, may shout, “Hallelujah!” and your notes shall be accepted too. Come, then, let us have a tune in which we can all unite; but ah! we cannot make one which will suit the dead — the dead, I mean, “in trespasses and sins” — and there are some such here. O may God open their mouths and unloose their tongues; but as for those of us who are alive unto God, let us, as we come to the table, each contribute our own share of the music, and so make up a song of blended harmony, with many parts, one great united song of praise to Jesus our Lord!
We should not choose a tune for the communion table which is not very soft. These are no boisterous themes with which we have to deal when we tarry here. A bleeding Savior, robed in a vesture dyed with blood — this is a theme which you must treat with loving gentleness, for everything that is coarse is out of place. While the tune is soft, it must also be sweet. Silence, ye doubts; be dumb, ye fears; be hushed, ye cares! Why come ye here? My music must be sweet and soft when I sing of him. But oh! it must also be strong; there must be a full swell in my praise. Draw out the stops, and let the organ swell the diapason! In fullness let its roll of thundering harmony go up to heaven; let every note be sounded at its loudest. “Praise ye him upon the cymbals, upon the high-sounding cymbals; upon the harp with a solemn sound.” Soft, sweet, and strong, let the music be.
Alas! you complain that your soul is out of tune. Then ask the Master to tune the heart strings. Those “Selahs” which we find so often in the Psalms, are supposed by many scholars to mean, “Put the harp strings in tune :” truly we require many “Selahs,” for our hearts are constantly unstrung. O that to-night the Master would “Teach us some melodious sonnet Sung by flaming tongues above!” We close by inquiring WHO SHALL SING THIS HYMN?
Sitting around the Father’s board, we will raise a joyful song, but who shall do it? “I will,” saith one; “and we will,” say others. What is the reason why so many are willing to join? The reason is to be found in the verse we were singing just now — “When He’s the subject of the song, Who can refuse to sing?” What! a Christian silent when others are praising his Master? No; he must join in the song. Satan tries to make God’s people dumb, but he cannot, for the Lord has not a tongue-tied child in all the family. They can all speak, and they can all cry, even if they cannot all sing, and I think there are times when they can all sing; yea, they must, for you know the promise, “Then shall the tongue of the dumb sing.” Surely, when Jesus leads the tune, if there should be any silent ones in the Lord’s family, they must begin to praise the name of the Lord. After Giant Despair’s head had been cut off, Christiana and Mr. Great-heart, and all the rest of them, brought out the best of their provisions and made a feast, and Mr. Bunyan says, that after they had feasted, they danced. In the dance there was one remarkable dancer, namely, Mr. Ready-to-Halt. Now, Mr. Ready-to-Halt usually went upon crutches, but for once he laid them aside. “And,” says Bunyan, “I warrant you he footed it well!’ This is quaintly showing us that sometimes the very sorrowful ones, the Ready-to-Halts, when they see Giant Despair’s head cut off, when they see death, hell, and sin led in triumphant captivity at the wheels of Christ’s victorious chariot, feel that even they must for once indulge in a song of gladness. So, when I put the question to-night, “Who will sing?” I trust that Ready-to-Halt will promise, “I will.”
You have not much comfort at home, perhaps; by very hard worst you earn that little. Sunday is to you a day of true rest, for you are worked very cruelly all the week. Those cheeks of yours, poor girl, are getting very pale, and who knows but what it may be true of you : — “Stitch, stitch, stitch, In poverty, hunger, and dirt, Sewing at once, with a double thread, A shroud as well as a shirt.” But, my sister, you may surely rejoice to-night in spite of all this: There may be little on earth, But there is much in heaven. There may Be but little comfort for you here apart from Christ, But oh! when, by faith, you mount into his glory, your soul is glad. You shall be as rich as the richest to-night if the Holy Spirit shall but Bring you to the table, and enable you to feed upon your Lord and Master. Perhaps you have come here to-night when you ought not to have done so. The physician would have told you to keep to your bed, but you persisted in coming up to the house where the Lord has so often met with you. I trust that we shall hear your voice in the song.
There appear to have Been in David’s day many things to silence the praise of God, but David was one who would sing. I like that expression of his, where the devil seems to come up and put his hand on his mouth and say, “Be quiet.” “No,” says David, “I will sing.” Again the devil tries to quiet him, But David is not to be silenced, for three times he puts it, “I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.” May the Lord make you resolve this night that you will praise the Lord Jesus with all your heart.
Alas! there are many of you here to-night whom I could not invite to this feast of song, and who could not truly come if you were invited. Your sins are not forgiven; your souls are not saved; you have not trusted Christ; you are still in nature’s darkness, still in the gall of Bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. Why must it always Be so? Will you destroy yourselves? Have you made a league with death, and a covenant with hell? Mercy lingers!
Longsuffering continues! Jesus waits! Remember that he hung upon the cross for sinners such as you are, and that if you believe in him now, you shall be saved. One act of faith, and all the sin you have committed is blotted out. A single glance of faith’s eye to the wounds of the Messiah, and your lead of iniquity is rolled into the depths of the sea, and you are forgiven in a moment! “Oh!” says one, “would God I could believe!” Poor soul, may God help thee to believe now. God took upon himself flesh. Christ was born here among men, and suffered on account of human guilt, being made to suffer “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Christ was punished in the room, place, and stead of every man and woman, who will believe on him. If you believe on him, he was punished for you; and you will never be punished. Your debts are paid, your sins are forgiven. God cannot punish you, for he has punished Christ instead of you, and he will never punish twice for one offense. To believe is to trust. If you will now trust your soul entirely with him, you are saved, for he loved you, and gave himself for you. When you know this, and feel it to be true, then come to the Lord’s Table, and join with us, when, “after supper we SING HYMN? THESE lads to gain the fruit must shake the tree, Good reader, mark the lesson writ for thee!
If from the tree of promis’d mercy thou Wouldst win the good which loadeth every bough, Then urge the promise well with pleading cries, Move heaven itself with vehemence of sighs; Soon shall celestial fruit thy toil repay — ‘Tis ripe, and waits for him who loves to pray.
What if thou fail at first, yet give not o’er, Bestir thyself to labor more and more:
Enlist a brother’s sympathetic knee, The tree will drop its fruit when two agree:
Entreat the Holy Ghost to give thee power, Then shall the fruit descend in joyful shower.
PLEASE TO TAKE NOTICE WE have already received no less than one hundred applications for admission into the Stockwell Orphanage, and they are still pouring in. As the trustees can only hope to admit thirty-six boys at the end of next March, it is obvious that friends of orphans had better look to other orphanages, since ours may be considered full for some time to come.
The bazaar which we spoke of for Christmas, we have resolved to postpone till next June, when, God willing, we can hold it, if the weather be fine, upon the Orphanage ground. We shall esteem it as a great favor if, between now and then, our friends will work hard, that we may have a most extensive stock for sale. Let not those who can give little withhold from fear, and let not those who can do much restrain their bounty. I’m the name of poor orphans, whose heartrending cases of distress might well dissolve the adamant, we ask for aid. Our God will supply all our need.
The Religion of Redemption: a contribution to the Preliminaries of Christian Apology. By R. W.MONSELL, B.A, late pastor of the Congregational Church, Neufchatel, Switzerland. Wm. Hunt & Co, Holles Street, Cavendish Square. WE have been very tardy in reviewing this learned and thoughtful work, which is evidently the production of a deep student and a profound scholar, and therefore worthy of the careful perusal of the reviewer. We have now read it with patience, and our conclusion is, that as a whole we do not like it: there are fine thoughts, able reasonings, and valuable observations in it; but the general tendency of its teaching is to dilute the gospel, and rob it of its strength. We have not so learned Christ. The great fact of our Lord’s actual and literal substitution for sinners we cannot give up; and the doctrines of sovereign grace we ever must maintain, and therefore, when we see new renderings given to them, and their names retained while their true meaning is lost, we are not able to withhold our protest. Demonologia Sacra; or, a Treatise on Satan’s Temptations. In three parts.
ByRICHARD GILPIN, M.D. Edited with Memoir by ALEXANDER BALLOCH GROSART.
Edinburgh: James Nichol. London: Nisbet & Co. THUS is another of Nichol’s valuable series, of which we cannot speak too highly. James Nichol, the father, did good service to the church of God, before he was removed to a better world, by commencing and continuing the issue of reprints of the works of Puritanic divines, under much difficulty and discouragement. We knew him well, and esteemed him highly; and now we thank God that James Nichol, the son, does not relinquish the good work: God speed and prosper the enterprise. The present volume we have read many times; it is the treatise upon the subject, and the subject is one of the most important in the whole range of theology. e remember that in a conversation with the late Earl of Carlisle, he asked us to recommend him a book upon the temptations of Satan, and we at once mentioned Gilpin as the best writer upon the subject. John Ryland once said, “If ever there was a man that was clearly acquainted with the cabinet councils of hell, this author is the man.” His work was held in high repute in days when there were men upon earth worthy to give an opinion; it has been once or twice reprinted, and remains to this day unrivaled in its own sphere. There are a few queer passages, in. it upon witchcraft, and the devil carrying men through the air, and other marvels, but these are as the small dust of the balance; indeed, they give a spice of antique interest which one would be sorry to miss. It is the pastor’s book, sagacious and full of insight into human hearts; it is equally the people’s book, experimental and sympathetic, instructing the ignorant and confirming the weak. No minister, however poor, can afford to do without it. The reprint now offered to the public will make this once rare book accessible to all. We gave many shillings for our old copy, and now, in good type and excellent binding, it is to be had for a very few. Wealthy believer, buy it for your minister. Order it at once. Remarkable Facts, illustrative and confirmatory of different portions of Holy Scripture. By the REV. J.LEIFCHILD, D.D. With a preface by his Son.
Jackson, Walford, & Hodder, 27, Paternoster Row.
As might be expected from the great age of the author, the illustrations here collected are not such as dazzle by their novelty, but such as edify by their sober earnestness. To compile this book was Dr. Leifchild’s last work on earth, and it is one of his best memorials now that he has passed into the skies. We were favored to obtain a copy of this interesting work some six years ago, when a small edition was issued by subscription; and we felt sure at the time that the public would one day call for a wider circulation of it. Our octogenarian friend did well to leave us these mellow fruits from the garden of his experience. He was one of- a noble band of Congregational ministers, whose generation should be as well acquainted with the genial, wise, and holy writings of Old Humphrey, as we were in our boyhood, when we read them with great zest, and not a little benefit. The writer has, after a useful life, gone over to the majority, but no one has arisen to fill his place; in his own style he remains without a successor.
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL.
Our volume for 1867, bound in the usual handsome case, will be ready on the first of December, and we believe it is, as a whole, a volume of such permanent interest, that it will be read with satisfaction in years to come. Those who have the numbers, can procure cases for binding of the publishers.
SPURGEON’ S ILLUSTRATED ALMANAC, FOR 1868,
price one penny, is now ready. In the chamber of slackness we have put our little Almanac together, and hope that it may prove acceptable and useful. We have heretofore sold about fifty thousand each year; but by the aid of our zealous friends we might send forth a hundred thousand. Those who think well of it, will do us the favor to spread it. A specimen of the engravings and the articles we have placed elsewhere. WE have received, besides the usual copies of our contemporaries, such as Good Words, Sunday at Home, Christian Work, Happy Hours, Christian World Magazine, Baptist Messenger, Old Jonathan, British Workman, Baptist Missionary Herald, Missing Link, etc, the following :-FORWARD, a monthly magazine for the promotion of a liberal evangelical Theology. This is a serial for the promotion of ultra-Arminianism and the overthrow of Calvinism. In our view, it would have been more appropriately named BACKWARD.
Calvinism will probably survive the onslaughts of the writers of this monthly, which seem to us to be less forcible than usual, and a little more self-confident.
THE GOSPEL MAGAZINE.
The October number is a rich spiritual feast, with just a sprinkling of bitter herbs; a fine corrective for any noxious effect produced by reading Forward. If the two editors would give their candid opinions of each other’s theology, the result might be edifying to combative believers. If any one will calmly read a number of each serial, he will find the Gospel Magazine full of heavenly unction; and the other, as to spiritual savor, as dry as the desert of Sahara.
PLYMOUTH BROTHER TRACTS, and pamphlets hailing from that party, when forwarded to us, are disposed of so as to do no further mischief. We shall not assist their dissemination by special notice.
Spurgeon, at the invitation of the Baptist Missionary Society, has consented to sit on the Committee of that society.
Our readers will be glad to learn that, although the new chapel at Upper Holloway, built by the London Baptist Association, was only opened a few weeks ago, it is already crowded with attentive congregations on the Sunday evening. The same success has attended the newly-opened chapel in the Grove-road, and we are glad to be informed that some thirty or forty persons have already expressed their desire to form the nucleus of a church there. The Association is doing a glorious work, and we hope its influence upon the churches will be increasingly great. A site is wanted for the third chapel. We should like to hear of some wealthy brother giving a site to the Lord, for this new undertaking for his glory.
Those who participated in the blessing that attended the day set apart for fasting and prayer last year, will rejoice to know that the London Baptist Association at its meeting at Cross-street, on October 15, agreed unanimously to appoint the 5th of November for special prayer. The meeting will be held in Bloomsbury chapel, from two to six o’clock, and the prayers will be followed by the administration of the Lord’s Supper.
We believe the brethren throughout the country will adopt thus plan, so that we all may supplicate the Lord on behalf of our churches, their pastors, and members.
On September 24, the Evangelists’ Association, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, held a soiree in the school-room. After tea, a meeting was held, at which Mr. Edward Leach, a member of the committee, was called to the chair. Prayer having been offered, the chairman stated the objects of the meeting, and suggested various plans by which the work of the association might be extended and promoted. The secretary (Mr. W.J. Orsman), gave some interesting particulars relative to the work of the association. Mr. Cooper spoke of the necessity for preaching in the lodging-houses of Westminster. Already there were twenty good-sized rooms in connection with these houses in which they were at liberty to preach, and he was told that that number could be readily doubled, were a sufficient staff of preachers provided. Mr. Garrett said that every Sunday evening during the summer, about forty or fifty young men met at the Tabernacle before the service, and after a hymn had been sung and prayer offered up, they proceeded to various open-air stations, where they preached the gospel. Their out-door campaign had been very successful.
As the winter-was drawing nigh, the members of the association would have to find some in-door work. Mr. J. D. Cox gave a remarkable account of services held in Lambeth Workhouse. He had preached to about sixty young girls there who were out of situations; and he believed good impressions had been made. He also gave an account of several remarkable conversions, as the result of open-air preaching during the summer. Mr. Conquest mentioned the case of a remarkable conversion, which was the result of the divine blessing upon their open-air preachers. Mr. Marshall spoke amusingly sad eloquently of his work in the New Cut, where he had preached on a Sunday morning to congregations varying from 200 to persons. Mr. Lardner referred to the open-air services of Lock’s Fields, Walworth, of how the brethren had been threatened and insulted by the Irish, and protected by the English, and of the anxiety of-the people living in back streets to hear the gospel preached at their own dwellings. Mr.A. Chamberlain agreed with the chairman when he said he was proud of the Evangelists connected with the association. Men who would go into filthy dens, low lodging-houses, and preach amid so many difficulties in the comers of the worst streets in the metropolis, were men o! whom they might well be proud. He was glad to learn that there were sixty members connected with the association, who preached in the open air every Sunday. The chairman concluded the meeting by urging the brethren to seek to improve their gifts, and to make the association worthy of the church, and of their beloved pastor, whose sympathy they knew was with them in this work.
The Baptist church at Bridestone, Suffolk, having applied, on the resignation of Mr. D. Thompson, to Mr. Spurgeon’s College, Mr. A.H. Knell, after supplying the place for several Sundays, was invited to the pastorate. He commenced his stated labors there in January, 1865. Since that period both the church and congregation have considerably increased, which has rendered the erection of galleries needful for the accommodation of the hearers. The re-opening of the place, after the erection of the galleries and other improvements, was celebrated by a public meeting, on Wednesday, 25th ult. In the afternoon of that day, Mr. J. Spurgeon, of Cranbrook, preached. A public meeting was held in the evening, at which Mr. J. Spurgeon presided, and addresses were delivered by Messrs.E. Spurrier, of Colchester; A. Smith, of Boxford, Underwood, Gibbons, Bull. and A. H. Knell, the minister of the place. On the following Sunday, sermons were preached, in the morning and afternoon by Mr. G. Rogers, of the Metropolitan Tabernacle College; and one in the evening by Mr.A. Smith, of Boxford. The attendance at all the meetings was good; and the collections towards the expenses amounted to the sum of £31.
THE EDITOR’S ILLNESS A LETTER TO OUR READERS AND OTHERS.
DEAR FRIENDS, — I have spent two months in ill health, and much of the time in severe pain, but, by the good hand of God upon me, I am now much better, and hope to resume my home work very speedily. It is due to many friends to make the following communications; and I beg them to receive them with their customary kindness. 1. MANY THANKS are hereby tendered to the scores of thoughtful friends who have sent me prescriptions of eminent physicians, medical works, and advice as to homeopathy, hydropathy, animal magnetism, galvanism, Turkish baths, patent medicines, cotton wool, hot fomentations, cold compresses, etc, etc. I can assure my friends that I have had communications concerning all these, and more. It has been a great pleasure to receive such a vast number and variety of evidences that Warm sympathy towards me abounds, and an additional comfort to discover that there are at least hundreds of ways in which rheumatism and rheumatic gout may be cured, in periods varying from an hour to a week. My gratitude is doubly due to those who not only gave me advice and prescriptions, but were so generous as to purchase the medicines and send them to my house. I have received boxes of pills, bottles of liniment, and phials of physic in super- abundance; I am most truly grateful for the kind feeling which prompted the gifts, but I have been so utterly bewildered as to which out of such a number should have the first trial, that I have fallen back upon my kind friend and tried physician, Dr. Palfrey, of Finsbury Place, and I feel quite content with the result of having followed his directions. Will friends be so good as to cut off the medical supplies, now that all need for them is, I trust, over for the present! While some of the prescriptions are more amusing than valuable, there are little incidents connected with some of these well-meant gifts which much pleased me; it would not be right to print them, but they proved most clearly that the poorest persons can show their sympathy with as much tenderness and delicacy as the best educated and the most refined. 2. APOLOGIES are offered to those friends who have been disappointed of services which I had promised to render; the act of God in laying me low is a sufficient exoneration from all engagements. These apologies are the more needed, because it will not be in my power, at any future period near at hand, to fulfill those engagements; for, although to a great degree recovered, the limb is weak, and standing upon it in preaching, or wearying it in traveling, will be likely to lay me up again. I have resolved, for twelve months at least, to refuse almost all work away from home, and I now earnestly beg friends not to distress me with importunate requests to preach here, there, and everywhere. For years I have preached from eight to ten times a week, besides issuing the weekly sermon, editing the magazine, overseeing the church, superintending the college, directing the orphanage, founding new churches, attending committees, and a thousand other things; but many signs indicate that there must be a pause. I am not less willing, but I am far less able than I was, to serve the church by preaching. My excellent secretary and myself are very hardly wrought in the matter of correspondence, and the more so because, after having given one refusal, friends often write three or four times, and put us to much trouble and expense. I would refuse no one if I could comply, and therefore a refusal is always meant when given. If friends are unreasonable enough to write two or three times when they. have once been answered, they must not wonder if they get no further reply. During the year 1868, I must crave for mercy from the Christian public, and a little lightening of my burdens, or otherwise I shall have to lay them down altogether. 3. AN URGENT REQUEST I would, in closing, offer to my friends in Christ, namely, that as they have so fervently prayed for me of late, they would continue those supplications, beseeching the Lord to bless my ministry to my church and congregation, and to the many thousands who weekly read the sermons; to prosper me in the college, giving much grace to all who are trained in it; and to sustain our colportage, and orphanage, and other works. No kindness can be more effectual than that which leads us to pray for our friends. Brethren, pray for Your affectionate friend, C. H.SPURGEON.
P.S. Mr. J. A. Spurgeon, my dear and valued brother, being about to become more closely my fellow laborer in serving our vast church, earnest prayer is requested for a rich blessing upon this most auspicious accession to my strength.
ON MY BACK BY C. H. SPURGEON.
ALPHONSE KARR, in his inimitable work, “A Tour round my Garden,” has a chapter headed, “On my Back,” and a most interesting chapter it is, detailing his observations among the insect and vegetable world from a position by no means the most advantageous for the naturalist. “On my back,” in a painfully literal and involuntary sense, is our position while writing at this moment, and in addition we are not altogether free from a mental prostration, which, in a still more bitter sense, throws us on our back. How long we shall be made to lie prone upon the ever-hardening couch, the great Healer of diseased bodies and souls only knows; our term of chastisement will be exactly as protracted as the divine purpose requires for its benign design, but not a moment longer we are sure. It has already been long enough for nature, but faith makes it none too long for grace.
We are the Lord’s prisoner, bound in fetters of pain and manacles of weakness, waiting till the emancipating word shall restore us to the liberty of service. He in this case shutteth, and no man openeth; and when he openeth, no disease can shut. The sorest part of our captivity, which is sweetened by multiplied mercies, is our Sabbath silence. As the king of Sodom said to Abraham, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself,” so say we to sickness; give us our Sabbaths, and let the week-days be as they may. How we envy the birds which fly around the house of prayer, and above all, the poorest occupants of the remotest seats or standing places in the tabernacles of the Lord. Dumb Sabbaths are a heavy trial to an active minister: to be kept out of market on the market day is a sad loss to those who are covetous of doing good to men and bringing glory to God. The trumpet sounds for the battle, and the hosts are marshaling at the call, but our sword rusts idly upon the wall, and our shield is laid aside. O for a day’s renewal of strength to serve the Lord as our wont has been, by dealing out our heaviest blows against the enemies of his crown and cause! If it must not be, then, good Master, renew our cruse of patience and our barrel of resignation! Six week-days of pain would be a cheap exchange for one heavenly soul-refreshing Sabbath spent in preaching in the power of the Spirit. A silent preacher is like a monarch uncrowned, or a vessel laid up to perish by dry rot in the dock, or an eagle penned in a narrow cage, forbidden to soar into its element. “I am weary with refraining,” said the seer of old: his experience is ours; the word is like fire in our bones; we long for a door of utterance, or our soul will melt for heaviness. Finding, however, that we cannot march to the wars, but must needs remain a prostrate soldier in the hospital, we must imitate those riflemen who can strike the target while lying upon their backs; if we cannot preach at length, we may at least write an outline discourse, and so let loose a remark or two, which may kindle a holy thought here and there, and perhaps set others preaching. Those who cannot fire the guns, may at least hand out the ammunition to the gunners. He who cannot go to the field to hunt with Esau, may find his savory meat nearer home. Reader, silver of learning and gold of eloquence have I none, but such as I have give I thee; not precious fruit, brought forth by the sun of prosperity, but a few clusters put forth by the moon of adversity. The Puritans sometimes called a laborious divine, “a painful preacher;” here is our brief sermon, and for once we also claim the title of “a painful preacher.” “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” — John 11:4.
THIS was a very comforting answer to the messenger sent to our Lord, by the anxious sisters, with the mournful tidings, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” Jesus was sure to send the best cordial he had to mourners whom he loved so well. To be infallibly assured that all will end well is one of the best possible supports under heavy trials. Such comfort have all the saints. From our Lord’s words we learn
— I. THAT THERE IS ALIMIT TOSICKNESS.
Here is an “unto” within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimatum of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord saith to the waves of pain, “Hitherto shall ye go, but no further,” while his fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Satan was permitted to worry Job up to a certain point — further he must not go. As the porter at the house Beautiful told the pilgrim, “The lions are chained,” even so are our pains and griefs. When God wills it, sickness will hear us unto deep decline, but not unto death; unto weariness of body, but not unto weakness of soul; unto restlessness, but not unto wretchedness; unto moaning, but not unto murmuring; unto depression, but not unto despair.
There are bounds about this mount of fire. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth and regulates the heat. Gideon taught the men of Succoth with thorns and briers, till they died under the lesson: our Instructor deals with us far more tenderly; his aim is not to kill, but to cure. We are in the hands of Jehovah, not Nebuchadnezzar; the furnace may be heated seven times hotter, but there is no rage and fury in the King who casts us into it, as is very evident, since he intends himself to be with us in the midst of the flames. Noah’s flood rose not an inch higher than God’s decree allowed, and it began to assuage at the very moment when the divine mandate was issued. If the Lord ordains our trials ten, they cannot be eleven. 1. The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. If the minutiae were not in the decree, we might fret over little things; but now we dare not, lest we murmur against the Lord: if our great pains were not regulated by wisdom, we might be alarmed at them, but now we need not be afraid. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head, and keeps the paths of our feet. 2. This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction comes not at haphazard; the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which-compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late. The wind is tempered to the shorn lamb; the load is fitted to the weak shoulder. 3. The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. A father smites no harder than duty constrains. “He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” A mother’s heart cries, “Spare my child;” but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hardmouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit.
So much rust requires much of the file; but love is gentle of hand. The thought is full of consolation, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.
II. THAT JESUS KNOWS ALL ABOUT IT.
He gave the sisters infallible information, for he knew all things. This knowledge he possesses as the only wise God and our Savior: because he is divine, he has knowledge and foreknowledge; sight, insight, and foresight; perfect, minute, universal, continual, immediate acquaintance with all that concerns his people. The child is cheered as he sings, “This my father knows ;” and shall not we be comforted as we discern that our dear Friend and tender soul-husband knows all about us? 1. He is the Physician, and, if he knows all, there is no need that the patient should know. Hush, thou silly, fluttering heart; prying peeping, and suspecting! What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter, and, meanwhile, Jesus, the beloved physician, knows thy soul in adversities.
Why need the patient analyze all the medicine, or estimate all the symptoms? This is the Physician’s work, not mine; it is my business to trust, and his to prescribe. If he shall write out his prescription in uncouth characters which I cannot read, I will not be uneasy on that account, but rely upon his unfailing skill to make all plain in the result, however mysterious it may be in the working. 2. He is the Master , and his knowledge is to serve us, instead of our own; we are to obey, not to judge. In some respects we, as servants, must remember that “the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth.” Shall the architect explain all his plans to every hodman on the works? If he knows his own intent, is it not enough? The vessel on the wheel cannot guess to what pattern it shall be conformed, but, if the potter has a clear eye to the ultimate result, what matters the ignorance of the dull clay? My Lord must not be cross-questioned any more by one so ignorant as I am. 3. He is the Head. All understanding centers there. What does the finger know? What judgment has the arm? What comprehension has the foot? All the power to know lies in the head. Why should the members be so anxious to inquire and question, when the head is already fully acquainted with everything? Why should the foot have a brain of its own, when the head fulfills for it every intellectual office? Here, then, must the believer rest his comfort in sickness, not that he himself can see the end, but that Jesus knows all. Sweet Lord, be thou for ever eye, and soul, and head for us, and let us be content to know only what thou choosest to tell us.
The tree of knowledge brought no good to man, but in Jesus we see the tree of knowledge united with the tree of life: the second Adam by his knowledge saves us; let us be content to have it so.
Jesus assures us
THAT THE DESIGN OF SICKNESS IS DIVINELY GOOD:
“Not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Sickness is by no means destructive, but aims at that which every regenerated mind considers to be the highest good, the chief end for which man was created, namely, the glory of God. Negatively: sickness works us no real ill. It is not unto the death of our joy, though it may annihilate all physical enjoyment, for the believer’s heart-joy flows from springs which are not affected by the frosts of outward circumstances. Neither does sickness Work the death of our peace — we can be calm in heart when racked in body; our peace is not a thing for flesh and blood to reign over.
Nor is our usefulness put to death by our illness; blessed be God a weak hand can sow good seed, and a couch may be a pulpit: besides, the experience gained in the chamber of affliction may enrich us for future work, as lying fallow fattens the soil for future crops. Our usefulness is suspended, and this frets us no little, but we shall do all the more by-andby, and this may cheer us. Sickness is unto the death of no Christian virtue; like a rough wind, it shakes down a great deal of rotten fruit, but the living fruit of grace is uninjured, nay, it is mellowed and sweetened by it. Oh! how foolish are we to fear and dread bodily suffering, when it hath no killing hand, but two hands fall of blessings. We fear our mercies and tremble at our soul-enrichments; we cry out against a friend as though he were an enemy, and chase away an. angel as though he were a devil. If we could but see the words, “Not unto death,” emblazoned upon the escutcheon of our afflictions, we should receive them with more willing mind. Positively: sickness in the believer is intended for the glory of God, and in part this design is answered during the trial. It is to be feared that the Lord gets but a small revenue of glory from some of us; we defraud the royal exchequer of many dues: much conscience-money might we all send into court on account of our long and heavy arrears of thankfulness. Sickness takes out a warrant against ingratitude, and surcharges us for our defalcations, by bringing our negligences to remembrance. God gets many a song from his caged birds which might never be heard if they had strength to wanton on the wing. Psalms and hymns, like music on the water, sound sweetly from the deeps of suffering. Moreover, God is glorified in the after results of sanctified pain, by the gentleness, meekness, quietness, and unction which adorn the spirit of the experienced believer.
Until the oyster is sick it yields no pearls. Heavy damps of adversity make souls verdant. Saints, unlike the plants of earth, grow fastest in the sharpest weather. We make most progress in our voyage heavenward when the wind is rough: calms are more pleasant than profitable; better for comfort than for commerce; fairer in the present than in the retrospect. Affliction cuts the facets of the Lord’s diamonds, and so they shine with a greater luster to his honor. What the church owes to the file and the hammer no tongue can tell. Would the church triumphant have been so glorious as it now is, if its members had been spared the great tribulation Out of which they passed to their crowns? Would half the grace which now beautifies the church militant have been discernible at all, if severe trials had not developed it? Would the Lord have had honor among us if the chastening rod had been laid aside? For the world to see how a Christian can endure hardness, is a great glory to God. The great hospital of saintly suffering is a grand exposition in which the choice works of the Holy Spirit are exhibited to all who have eyes to see. Our covenant God is magnified by the virtues peculiar to tried believers, quite as much as by those which adorn his active servants. True religion has for its choicest ornaments the patience of the sick, the triumphs of the dying. Lazarus had made small figure in the book of the Lord’s mighty acts had it not been for the sickness which so grieved his sisters; but through that affliction, and that which came of it, the name of Jesus became famous, crowds flocked together, and many believed on him. If we could but hope that in any way the Son of God would be glorified in our pains, we would fall on our knees and bless the Lord for them with joyful tears. But why should it not be so? It shall be so through the supply of the Spirit; for whose sacred power let us pray with increasing fervor.
This is enough for a man on his back to write, and perhaps as much as our readers may care to peruse, for we fear that our thoughts must be very prosy, since the mind from which they come is far from being in a lively state. We shall, therefore, draw to a close by quoting the following quaint lines from “Quarles’ Divine Fancies,” written upon “The change of weather;” they argue well the sweet uses of adversity, and therefore suit our state and theme. And were it for thy profit to obtain All sunshine? No vicissitude of rain?
Thinkest thou that thy laborious plough requires Not winter frosts, as well as summer fires?
There must be both: sometimes these hearts of ours Must have the sweet, the seasonable showers Of tears; sometimes, the frost of chill despair Makes our desired sunshine seem more fair:
Weathers that most oppose to flesh and blood, Are such as help to make our harvest good; We may not choose, great God; it is thy task:
We know not what to have, nor how to ask.”
IN the Cathedral of St. Mark, in Venice — a marvelous building, lustrous with an Oriental splendor far beyond description there are pillars said to have been brought from Solomon’s Temple; these are of alabaster, a substance firm and durable as granite, and yet transparent, so that the light glows through them. Behold an emblem of what all true pillars of the church should be — firm in their faith, and transparent in their character; men of simple mould, ignorant of tortuous and deceptive ways, and yet men of strong will, not readily to be led aside, or bent from their uprightness! A few such alabaster men we know; may the great Master Builder place more of them in his temple l — From the Note Book of my Travels. C. H. S.
EDITOR’S HEALTH STRANGE rumors having been set afloat as to our death, we beg to assure all the world who care about us that we are alive, and hope, by God grace, to be fully at our work in a few days. We consider that we are off the sick list, although not quite entered among the able-bodied soldiers. God be thanked that we, in writing the last part of the magazine, are no longer “on our back,’ as we were at the beginning. O for a renewal and increase of the divine blessing upon the work to which we are now restored.
AS it is most probable that our esteemed brother, Mr. J. A. Spurgeon, will become wholly engaged as our Assistant Pastor, he will have frequent Sabbaths to spare. Ministerial well-wishers to the College, and other church officers, will much aid us if they will invite him to occupy their pulpits on the Sabbath, and make Collections for the Pastor College. Thus substantial aid might be rendered to our work without inconvenience to the donors, and, we trust, with abundant profit to the churches. Our brother cannot preach for any other object, but for this he cheerfully offers himself; and we as willingly spare him. Will friends make this known, and so oblige us P · Next month we intend giving a large engraving of the Orphanage, as it is to be when completed; and we shall then take the liberty of pressing the bazaar, and urging upon our readers the plan of becoming collectors for the work. We greatly need help for erecting the school-house and dininghall.
We shall have four houses built very soon, and four more will follow, but we have no school for the boys; this will very much embarrass us, and prevent our proceeding as we would. May the God of Israel help us, for we are in this and in the College business in great straits. The very small amount of donations to the Orphanage announced this month is very far from encouraging, and apart from the Weekly Offering, the College fund would be worse. Jehovah-Jireh is, however, asure word.