FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH THE FIRST BUNDLE.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” — Song of Solomon 4:7.
HOW marvelous are these words! The glorious bridegroom is charmed with his spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. Widen the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for he deserves it well, and in him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does he who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? ‘Tis even so, for these are his own words, and were uttered by his own sweet lips. Nay, doubt not, O young believer, for we have more wonders to reveal. There are greater depths in heavenly things than thou hast at present dared to hope. The Church not only /s all fair in the eyes of her beloved, but in one sense she always was so. He delighted in her before she had either a natural or a spiritual being, and from the beginning could he say, “My delights were with the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:31.)
Having covenanted to be the surety of the elect, and having determined to fulfill every stipulation of that covenant, he from all eternity delighted to survey the purchase of his blood, and rejoiced to view his Church in the purpose and decree, as already by him-delivered from sin and exalted to glory and happiness. “In God’s decree, her form he view’d; All beauteous in his eyes she stood, Presented by th’ eternal name, Betroth’d in love and free from blame. Not as she stood in Adam’s fall, When guilt and ruin cover’d all; But as she’ll stand another day, Fairer than sun’s meridian ray.
Oh glorious grace, mysterious plan Too great for angel-mind to scan, Our thoughts are lost, our numbers fail All hail, redeeming love, all hail!”(KENT.) Now with joy and gladness let us approach the subject of Christ’s delight in his Church, as manifested in the text, believing in him whom the Spirit has sealed in our hearts as the faithful and true witness.
Our first bundle of myrrh lies in the open hand of the text.
Christ has a high esteem for his Church. He does not blindly admire her faults, or even conceal them from himself. He is acquainted with her sin, in all its heinousness of guilt, and desert of punishment. That sin he does not shun to reprove. His own words are, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” (Revelation 3:19.)
He abhors sin in her as much as in the ungodly world, nay even more, for he sees in her an evil which is not to be found in the transgressions of others — sin against love and grace. She is black in her own sight, how much more so in the eyes of her Omniscient Lord. Yet there it stands, written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and flowing from the lips. of the bridegroom, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” How then is this? Is it a mere exaggeration of love, an enthusiastic canticle which the sober hand of truth must strip of its glowing fables. Oh, no. The king is full of love, but he is not so overcome with it as to forget his reason. The words are true, and he means us to understand them as the honest expression of his unbiased judgment, after having patiently examined her in every, part. He would not have us diminish aught, but estimate the gold of his opinions by the bright glittering of his expressions; and therefore in order that there may be no mistake, he states it positively, “Thou art all fair, my love,” and confirms it by a negative, “there is no spot in thee.”
When he speaks positively, how complete is his admiration! She is “fair,” but that is not a full description; he styles her “all fair.” He views her in himself, washed in his sin-atoning blood and clothed in his meritorious righteousness, and he considers her to be full of comeliness and beauty. No wonder that such is the case, since it is but his own perfect excellencies that he admires, seeing that the holiness, glory, and perfection of his Church are his own garments on the back of his own well-beloved spouse, and she is “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” She is not simply pure, or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit!
Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her. Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when they become “accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6.) nor is the Church barely lovely, she is superlatively so. Her Lord styles her, “Thou fairest among women.” (Song of Solomon 1:8.)
She has a real worth and excellence which cannot be rivaled by all the nobility and royalty of the world. If Jesus could exchange his elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even for the angels in heaven, he would not, for he puts her first and foremost — “fairest among women.”
Nor is this an opinion which he is ashamed of, for he invites all men to hear it. He puts a “behold” before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and arresting attention. “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair.” (Song of Solomon 4:1.)
His opinion he publishes abroad even now, and one day from the throne of his glory he will avow the truth of it before the assembled universe. “Come, ye blessed of my Father” (Matthew 25:34), will be his solemn affirmation of the loveliness of his elect.
Let us mark well the repeated sentences of his approbation. He turns again to the subject, a second time looks into those dove’s eyes, and listens to her honey-dropping lips. It is not enough to say, “Behold, thou art fair, my love;” he rings that golden bell again, and sings again, and again, “Behold, thou art fair.” “ Lo thou art fair! lo thou art fair!
Twice fair thou art I say; My- righteousness, and graces are Thy double bright array. But since thy faith can hardly own My beauty put on thee; Behold! behold! twice be it known Thou art all fair to me(Erskine.) After having surveyed her whole person with rapturous delight, he cannot be- satisfied until he takes a second gaze and afresh recounts her beauties.
Making but little difference between his first description and the last, he adds extraordinary expressions of love to manifest his increased delight. “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” (Song of Solomon 6:4-9.)
The beauty which he admires is universal, he is as much enchanted with her temples as with her breasts. All her offices, all her pure devotions, all her earnest labors, all her constant sufferings are precious to his heart. She is “all fair.” Her ministry, her psalmody, her intercessions, her alms, her watching, all are admirable to him, when performed in the Spirit. Her faith, her love, her patience, her zeal, are alike in his esteem as “rows of jewels,” and “chains of gold.” (Song of Solomon 1:10.) He loves and admires her everywhere. In the house of bondage, or in the land of Canaan, she is ever fair. On the top of Lebanon his heart is ravished with one of her eyes, and in the fields and villages he joyfully receives her loves. He values her above gold and silver in the days of his gracious manifestations, but he has an equal appreciation of her when he withdraws himself, for it is immediately after he had said, “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountains of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense,” (Song of Solomon 4:6,) that he exclaims in the words of our text, “Thou art all fair, my love.” At all seasons the believer is very near the heart of the Lord Jesus, he is always as the apple of his eye, and the jewel of his crown. Our name is still on the breastplate, and our persons are still in his gracious remembrance.
He never thinks lightly of his people; and certainly in all the compass of his Word there is not one syllable which looks like contempt of them. They are the choice treasure and peculiar portion of the Lord of hosts; and what King will undervalue his own inheritance? what loving husband will despise his own wife? Let others call the Church what they may, Jesus abides in his love, and does not differ in his judgment of her, for he still exclaims, “How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!” (Song of Solomon 7:6.)
Let us remember that he who pronounces the Church and each individual believer to be “all fair,” is none other than the glorious Son of God, who is “very God of very God.” Hence his declaration is decisive, since infallibility has uttered it. There can be no mistake where the all-seeing Jehovah is the judge. If he has pronounced her to be incomparably fair, she is so, beyond a doubt; and though hard for our poor puny faith to receive, it is nevertheless as divine a verity as any of the undoubted doctrines of revelation.
Having thus pronounced her positively full of beauty, he now confirms his praise by a precious negative, “There is no spot in thee.” As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the carping world would insinuate that he had only mentioned her comely parts, and had purposely omitted those features which were deformed or defiled, he sums all up by declaring her universally and entirely fair, and utterly devoid of stain. A spot may soon be removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty, but even from this little blemish the believer is delivered in his Lord’s sight. If he had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no filthy ulcer, we might even then have marveled; but when he testifies that she is free from the slightest spot, all these things are included, and the depth of wonder is increased. If he had but promised to remove all spots, we should have had eternal reason for joy; but when he speaks of it as already done, who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and delight. O my soul, here is marrow and fatness for thee; eat thy full, and be abundantly glad therein!
Christ Jesus has no quarrel with his spouse. She often wanders from him, and grieves his Holy Spirit, but he does not allow her faults to affect his love. He sometimes chides, but it is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions ; — it is “my love” even then. There is no remembrance of our follies, he does not cherish ill thoughts of us, but he pardons, and loves as well after the offense as before it. It is well for us it is so, for if Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are, how could he commune with us. Many a time a believer will put himself out of humor with the Lord for some slight turn in providence, but our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well to take any offense at our ill manners.
If he were as easily provoked as we are, who among us could hope for a comfortable look, or a kind salutation? but he is “ready to pardon, and slow to anger.” (Nehemiah 9:17.) He is like Noah’s sons, he goes backward and throws a cloak over our nakedness; or we may compare him to Apelies, who when he painted Alexander, put his finger over the scar on the cheek, that it might not be seen in the picture. “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel” (Numbers 23:21;) and hence he is able to commune with the erring sons. of men, But the question returns. How is this? Can it be explained, so as not to clash with the most evident fact that sin remaineth even in the hearts of the regenerate? Can our own daily bewailings of sin allow of anything like perfection as a present attainment? The Lord Jesus saith it, and therefore it must be true; but in what sense is it to be understood? How are we “all fair?” though we ourselves feel that we are “black, because the sun hath looked upon us.” (Song of Solomon 1:6.) The answer is ready, if we consider the analogy of faith. 1. In the matter of justification the saint is complete and without sin. As Durham says, these words are spoken “in respect of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness Wherewith they are adorned, and which they have put on, which makes them very glorious and lovely, so that they are beautiful beyond all others, through his comeliness put upon them.”
And Dr. Gill excellently expresses the same idea, when he writes, “though all sin is seen by God, in articulo providentiae, in the matter of providence, wherein nothing escapes his all-seeing eye; yet in articulo justifications, in the matter of justification, he sees no sin in his people, so as to reckon it to them, or condemn them for it; for they all stand ‘holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.’“ (Colossians 1:22.)
The blood of Jesus removes all stain, and his righteousness confers perfect beauty; and, therefore, in the Beloved, the true believer is at this hour as much accepted and approved, in the sight of God, as he will be when he stands before the throne in heaven. The beauty of justification is at its fullness the moment a soul is by faith received into the Lord Jesus. This is righteousness so transcendent that no one can exaggerate its glorious merit. Since this righteousness is that of Jesus, the Son of God, it is therefore divine, and like the holiness of God; and, hence, Kent was not too daring when, in a bold flight of rapture, he sang- “In thy surety thou art free, His dear hands were pierc’d for thee; With his spotless vesture on, Holy as the Holy One.
O the heights and depths of grace, Shining with meridian blaze; Here the sacred records shew Sinners black, but comely too!” 2. But perhaps it is best to understand this as relating to the design of Christ concerning them. It is his purpose to present them without “spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” (Ephesians 5:27.) They shall be holy and unblameable and unreproveable in the sight of the Omniscient God. In prospect of this, the Church is viewed as being virtually what she is soon to be actually. Nor is this a frivolous antedating of her excellency; for be it ever remembered that the representative, in whom she is accepted, is actually complete in all perfections and glories at this very moment. As the head of the body is already without sin, being none other than the Lord from heaven, it is but in keeping that the whole body should be pronounced comely and fair through the glory of the head. The fact of her future perfection is so certain that it is spoken of as if it were already accomplished, and indeed it is so in the mind of him, to whom a thousand years are but as one day. “Christ often expounds an honest believer, from his own heart-purpose and design; in which respect they get many titles, otherwise unsuitable to their present condition.” (Durham.) Let us magnify the name of our Jesus, who loves us so well that he will overleap the dividing years of our pilgrimage, that he may give us even now the praise, which seems to be only fitted for the perfection of Paradise. “My love, thou seem’st a loathsome worm:
Yet such thy beauties be, I spoke but half thy comely form; Thou ‘rt wholly fair to me. Whole justified, in perfect dress; Nor justice, nor the law Can in thy robe of righteousness Discern the smallest flaw.
Yea, sanctified in ev’ry part, Thou’rt perfect in design:
And I judge thee by what thou art In thy intent and mine.
Fair love, by grace complete in me, Beyond all beauteous brides; Each spot that ever sullied thee My purple vesture hides.”(ERSKINE.)
THE craggy rocks frown upon the traveler, threatening to fall upon him as he journeys in their shade, and as he looks down from above upon their precipitous steeps, his head whirls and he shuns the brink lest he be dashed to pieces by a fall; yet the little trees and shrubs upon the sides of the precipice are safe from all fear of failing, because they cling with all their might to the rock. Down leaps the cataract with roaring fury as if it would carry all before it; but the flowers and creeping plants fear not its thunder, for they cling to the rock, and find refreshment in the spray of the foaming torrent. The storm sweeps over the mountain, the lightning scars the face of the hoary Alps, the cedars of Lebanon are shivered, and the ships of Tarshish are broken, but the mosses and ferns on the cliff’s beetling crag smile on, unharmed by the terrible whirlwind, for they cling to the rock.
The bird which has built its nest in the rifts of the mountain flies abroad and falls a prey to the fowler, but the tiny wildflower which has no wings with which to escape from a foe, does not tempt the enemy, but abides immovable in one place, ever clinging to the rock, and is therefore always safe, helpless though it be. We read in the book of Job of certain houseless persons, who are described as clinging to the rock for shelter; this may be very appropriately applied to every poor needy sinner, who has fled for refuge to Jesus the Rock of Ages. Such a soul is safe beyond all hazard.
The justice, greatness, truth and perfection of God, which seem to frown upon others, are all our friends if we know how to cling to them, as they are set forth in the great atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you can only cling to Jesus, poor sinner, you are safe. Neither your own weakness, nor the storms of temptation, nor the hand of justice, can cast you to destruction while you cling to him. Learn from your heart to say, “Other trust away I fling, Only to the rock I Cling.
THE angel points upwards to glow, where the palm is waved in victory!
The fiend points downward to perdition where the worm undying groans for ever! Reader, your body will soon be in the coffin, and your soul will soon be winging its flight to heaven or hell. Angelic spirits will bear you to Abraham’s bosom, and you will sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb, to enjoy for ever the society of the glorified Church, with Christ at the head of the feast, shedding his glory on all the guests; or you will be hurled like tares bound in bundles to be burned, into a pit which hath no bottom, where you will cry in vain for a drop of water to cool your parched tongue, ,and for ever will have to weep, and wail, and gnash your teeth in agony unending.
O, which shall it be? There is no middle course; you must be with Jesus, where he is, to behold his glory, or you must be cast into the lake which’ burneth with fire and brimstone! Jesus will either say to you, “Come ye blessed!” or, “Depart ye cursed: he will either award you the kingdom, or condemn yea to the place prepared for the devil and his angels.
O, which, dear reader, of the two shall be your portion? Sin is the easy road to ruin, you have but to follow it and you will meet your due reward.
Christ is the way to heaven; whosoever believeth in him shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hands. Sin and Satan — are these your choice? Or does the Holy Spirit lead you to lay hold on Christ Jesus and his salvation? Friend sit down and ask thyself WHICH?
FROM ENGLAND TO ITALY A CHAPTER FROM THE BOOK OF NATURE. WRITTEN AT LUGANO, BY C. H. SPURGEON.
IN a few days we have left our white-cliffed island, crossed the Channel, traversed France, penetrated the heart of Switzerland, passed the Alps, and entered sunny Italy; we have seen a thousand things and mused upon ten thousand more, and our thoughts, like the fishes in the blue lake which sparkles at our feet, are very many and very restless, and we have no net at hand in which to bring them to shore. A bird of prey was hovering just now over the shelving bank where the rippling flood bathes the foot of the verdant mountains; poising himself in mid-air upon quivering wing; for a moment he looked eagerly for his prey, saw it, darted upon it, and doubtless held it with iron grasp; we must in the same fashion seize some flitting thought, or we shall starve in the land of plenty. Swift and sudden, without waiting to plume our wings by long consideration, we descend upon our theme.
The Great Master Author has sent forth several volumes; among the rest is one called the “Book of Revelation,” and another styled the “Volume of Creation.” We have been reading the Word-volume and expounding it for years, we are now perusing the Work-volume, and are engrossed in some of its most glowing pages. Our love for the sacred book of letters and words has not diminished but increased our admiration for the hieroglyphics of the flood and field. That man perversely mistakes folly for wisdom who persists in undervaluing one glorious poem by a famous author, in order to show his zeal for a second epic from the same fertile pen. It is the mark of a feeble mind to despise the wonders of nature because we prize the treasures of salvation. He who built the lofty skies is as much our Father as he who hath spoken to us by his own Son, and we should reverently adore HIM who in creation decketh himself with majesty and excellency, even as in revelationHE arrayeth himself in glory and beauty. Modern fanatics who profess to be so absorbed in heavenly things that they are blind to the most marvelous of Jehovah’s handiwork, should go to school, with David as the schoolmaster, and learn to “consider the heavens,” and should sit with Job upon the dunghill of their pride, while the Lord rehearses the thundering stanzas of creation’s greatness, until they cry with the patriarch, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore, I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” For our part, we feel that what was worth the Lord’s making, richly deserves the attention of the most cultivated and purified intellect; and we think it blasphemy against God himself to speak slightingly of his universe, as if, forsooth, we poor puny mortals were too spiritual to be interested in that matchless architecture which made the morning stars sing together and caused the sons of God to shout for joy.
Our hasty perusal of one short chapter of the book of nature has sufficed to assure us that its author most certainly wrote the Holy Scriptures. Writers have their own idiomatic expressions and modes of thought; kings of literature set their image and superscription upon the coinage of their minds; and therefore you can detect a literary forgery as readily as a counterfeit bank note. The paintings of the old masters may be cleverly copied, but the man of taste would soon discover the imposture, if a mere copy were palmed upon him as the original; a certain indescribable something would be wanting, and there would be present a tint, a manner, or an expression quite unknown to the master’s purer style. In the productions of” the Great Artist,” the rule holds good. Deity has a peculiar manner which it is quite impossible to imitate with success. In the base counterfeit of the book of Mormon, a mere child, fresh from the Sundayschool, can discover marks and lines which are manifestly far from divine, and in the more commanding imposture of the Koran, the blots of evil prove that it came not from the hand of the all-pure One. We can boldly challenge the patient examination of the Holy Scriptures by all candid men, and we believe that they will be found to establish their claim to be authentic productions of the hand which wrote the world’s great hymn.
Among many arguments we offer these:- The Scriptures are distinguished for their variety and unity, they are one, yet many; the modes are myriad, the matter is the same. Jeremiah weeps; Isaiah shouts for joy; Ezekiel soars aloft in eloquence; Amos is rugged and familiar; John is gentle; Peter is bold; Paul reasons; James commands; and yet, like a silken thread holding a string of pearls, the mind of the Lord passes through the very center of the words of every prophet, apostle, and evangelist. We could not destroy a single book of the Old or New Testament, without marring the design: the whole company of inspired writers might say, “We being many are one body, and every one members one of another.” We observe this same quality in nature. How great the difference between yonder granite mountain and the cloud which caps it; the raging wind, and the bright star which smiles serenely amid the storm; the cataract which leaps from rock to rock, and the solitude through which it roars; the boundless ocean, and the grain of sand which lies on its shore!
In a few hours we climbed from fields of corn to slopes of snow, through which our road was cut at a depth of ten or twenty feet; and before the sun had set, we were in sultry plains, where figs and grapes grow in rich profusion, and the lizard and snake bask in the sun. Variety was there indeed, for no two scenes were the same, yet the unity was equally conspicuous, for who could fail to see that the floating cloud feeds the foaming cataract with its descending deluge, that the rivers bind the mountains to the ocean by silver cords, and that winds, and waves, and mists, and stars, and Alps, are all wheels of the same great machinery.
From the garden of figs, up through the chestnut grove, to the pine forest, and yet higher to the fair blue gentian, the modest moss, and the blackened lichen, and highest of all to the eternal snow, seems a long ascent of infinite variety; but, as the stones of a geometrical staircase all rest on one another, so do all the ranks of vegetable life, so that the blue-bells and red rhododendrons, which blush unseen far up in some sunny crevice, are as necessary parts of the whole fabric as the golden wheat-sheaf, and the luxuriant vine. The departments of animate and inanimate nature are but the various books of the great Bible of Creation, and their teaching is one and harmonious. In Scripture one observes the Great Agent ever glorifying himself by the use of instrumentality; God is there in deeds of greatness, and none the less great and glorious because he chooses to work by means. Noah is saved, but not without an ark; the Red Sea is divided, but not without a rod. David must use a stone, and Shamgar an ox-goad. Paul plants, Apollos waters, God gives the increase. See here around us, the Lord hath made the land fruitful, but tillage brings forth its riches; he hath filled the lakes even to the brim, but the torrents contribute their liquid wealth. Not without fiery violence were the granite hills upheaved, nor without earthquakes were the valleys rent through the mountains. Lightning and frost, wind and sun, water and ice are the servants of him who saith unto one, “Come, and he cometh;” and to another, “Go, and he goeth.” Our witness is that, verily Jehovah is not less manifest because of these his wonder-workers. He sits supreme above flood, and tempest, and fire, making them the chariot in which he rides. Traversing tremendous defiles of grim desolation and awful grandeur, where walls of rock almost exclude the light of the sun, where the overhanging precipices threaten with avalanche, and the torrent dashes wildly below, one exclaims in the presence of the terrible agencies which seem lions couching for their leap, “Row dreadful is this place, it is none other than the dwelling-place of God.” In the Bible the Lord is ever described as great, and yet considering the lowly. — “ Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Who has not noticed the wonderful contrast, or rather combination, in the eleventh and twelfth verses of the fortieth chapter of Isaiah? “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?”
Such strange blendings of grandeur and gentleness we have seen all this week.
Amidst a thick fog in crossing the Channel which clothed everything in mystery, and made us grope our way with anxious tardiness, we heard the cries of sea-birds; they at least had not lost their way; come mist or rain, the God of the floods had numbered every one of their feathers, and given them joys far out on the deep of which the prophet says, “There is sorrow on the sea.” Seeing the jonquil, the hyacinth, the anemone, and many others of our garden flowers growing wild in the rallies On the Italian side of the Alps, and hearing the ceaseless chirping of the innumerable insects which fill the air with their song, and looking up to the snowy peeks piercing the clouds, one could not help comparing the beauty and perfectness of the little, with the overwhelming awe and sublimity of the great. He who launches the thunderbolt guides the fire-fly; he who hurls the falling mass from the shivering alpine summit controls the descent of the dew-drop; and he, who covereth heaven and earth with the black wings of tempest, stoops down to cherish the violet blooming amid the velvet turf. Stern is the God of the Bible and yet his name is Love. Our God is a consuming fire, yet is he good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. He showed his fiery law on Sinai, his wrath on Sodom, his power on Egypt, his anger on Korah, and his justice upon the inhabitants of Canaan; yet this same jealous God was as a nursing father unto Israel and, wonder of wonders, spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all! The skirts of the garments of that same God we have seen in our week’s journey. Crosses set up here and there along the road upon the pass of the St. Gothard showed where poor travelers had met their doom by failing stone, or avalanche, or snow-storm; nor are these the only remembrances of the terrible things of God, for in certain places hard by our route are to be seen the debris of fallen mountains which have covered whole villages, and traces of devastating floods are no rare things. As we were sitting by the Lake of Lucerne, the rugged old Pilatus was suddenly covered with blackness, forth flashed the forked lightning, followed by sharp cracks of thunder reverberated in long peals, enough to let us know that the artillery of heaven had not spent its might, and that the arsenals of the storm were as fully stored as ever; yet as we looked around and saw the sun smiling forth again over the glorious hills, his beams flashing brightly upon the countless wavelets of the lake, vegetation freshened by the newly fallen shower, glistening with rain drops as with sparkling diamonds, and man and beast rejoicing in the clear shining and the cool air, we could not but feel that the stern Lord of Tempests was infinitely kind. The Book of God in the heights and depths of its teaching shows man his own insignificance, and the roll of creation impresses him with the same fact. “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” was an inspired question, but the stars first suggested it. When John in Patmos saw the Lord, he fell at his feet as dead, a sense of the glory of his Lord overpowered him; such has been in a degree our own experience alike in meditating upon Scripture, and in wandering in the dark gorges of the Alps. Let a man stand on what is called the Devil’s Bridge on the St. Gothard road where the fury of the Reuss seems lashed to madness, let him look above, beneath, and around, and as he shivers into nothingness let him say, “As for man whose breath is in his nostrils, wherein is he to be accounted of?” Yet the same Bible which sinks the pride of man teaches him Ms true nobility as creation’s lord and nature’s priest; and our week’s wanderings have taught us the same. Sing the verses of some fine old psalm in a pine forest, in a boat on the blue waves, on the summit of an Alp, in a dark defile, or in the hollow of a great rock, and see if they do not give a tongue to all around and prove man to be the soul of all things. Mark how the industry of man reclaims every inch of soil whereon a blade of grass can grow, see how he builds his chalets high. up on crags where the wild chamois can scarcely mount, and read how the once virgin snows of apparently inaccessible peaks have been trodden by his foot, and see how truly man has dominion over the works of God’s hands. Perhaps nothing will bring this more clearly before us than a journey upon those great highways which are most astounding monuments of human skill and enterprise. Valleys are threaded, torrent beds are crossed on causeways, the edges of precipices are skirted and buttresses of rock are tunneled. Where the hard and steep surface of the cliff had not left an inch of space for a goat to climb upon, the road is conducted upon a lofty terrace of solid masonry, or along a ledge blasted by gunpowder in the face of the rock. Neither gorge, nor avalanche, nor granite wall can block up the way of determined, persevering man.
The falcon, which swooped for its quarry, has long ago flown away, and I have but begun to grapple with my subject; forgive me, dear readers, if, as a man seeking rest, I drop the pen, and go forth from my chamber to gaze and gaze again on loveliness. Would you know what I have gazed upon today and yesterday, these lines which I find in Murray’s Handbook, (and I quote from it because a travelers library is very small,) will possibly suggest more that I can write of Italian hills and scenery. “Sublime, but neither bleak nor bare, Nor misty are the mountains there, Softly sublime — profusely fair, Up to their summits clothed in green, And fruitful as the vales between, They lightly rise, And scale the skies, And groves and gardens still abound; For where no shoot Could else take root, The peaks are shelved, and terraced round.
Earthward appear in mingled growth The mulberry and maize; above, the tralliv’d vine extends to both The leafy shade they love.
Looks out the white-walled cottage here, The lowly chapel rises near; Far down the foot must roam to reach The lovely lake and bending beach; While chestnut green and olive grey Chequer the steep and winding way.”
Lugano, May 15th, 1865.
TO OUR READERS AND HEARERS.
DEAR FRIENDS, I hope the matter of the Chapels is not overlooked. It is much on my heart, and I should feel it a great privilege to find on my return from long-needed rest, that the good work had gone on rapidly in my absence. To serve God is glory, let us not miss the honor. Time is short; Jesus deserves much; let us labor with might and main for Him.
Yours truly, Charles H. Spurgeon WORK OF THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE IN the account of the several institutions connected with the Metropolitan Tabernacle inserted in the April Number of this Magazine, mention was made of the support of two missionaries in Germany. We hope occasionally to find room for some extracts from their journals. Our present object is to relate briefly the circumstances under which these missionaries were brought under the notice of the Church at thee Tabernacle, and the manner in which the offer of pecuniary aid was received by them. The Baptists in Germany have long been exposed to more reproach and persecution than any other body of Christians. They have often had the sympathy of their brethren in this country on that account, and much interest has been excited, and sometimes effectually, on their behalf. A spirit of revival among them of late years has awakened fresh interest in them in their friends, and renewed the vigilance of their foes. Their chief struggle, however, we trust, is past. As their principles and practices become better known, and liberal sentiments upon all subjects more extensively prevail, they may reasonably be expected gradually to survive prejudices, and to obtain greater freedom of action.
The interest of Mr. Spurgeon in the German Baptists was greatly stimulated by personal intercourse with some of their leading pastors, and especially with Mr. Oncken, the well-known pastor of Hamburgh, in whose efforts, by the encouragement of local missionaries to make known a pure gospel in the city and surrounding villages, and to the sailors at the port from all countries, Mr. Spurgeon greatly sympathized. This led to the proffered support of two missionaries whose hearts were in the work, but were unable to be wholly devoted to it. The names of these missionaries are Mr. H. Windoll, and Mr. C. A. Kemnitz. They were both adopted by the friends at the Tabernacle as their missionaries in Germany in 1861. The former thus wrote in reply on that occasion, which is characterized by such simplicity and godly sincerity that it well deserves to be here recorded. The reply of the latter, which is in the same strain, must be deferred to our next number. “Hamburg, November 15th, 1861.
TO THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AND THE MEMBERS OF HIS FLOCK, LONDON.
“‘Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’ (Galatians 1: 3-5.) “Having been informed by Brother Oncken that your beloved flock has really engaged me as their Colporteur, I desire hereby, on the one hand, to return you my most hearty thanks, and on the other, to commend myself to your prayers, that I may be truly faithful as a witness of the free grace of God in Christ, who will have the gospel preached to every nation; and has promised that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. “I need, too, special protection from outward perils, as I might very easily in stepping on board, slip, and in an instant become a prey to death. I have often been in danger, but the Lord has preserved me from all injury hitherto. He has now again given me courage to go out with joy, and proclaim his Word, and proclaim with my mouth that there is a Savior whose blood cleanses all who believe on it from their sins. The field I labor in is somewhat extensive. In the ports of Hamburg and Altona, from four to five thousand ships arrive yearly, besides the river navigation, which I endeavor diligently to visit. Besides, I occasionally visit several places and villages, and disseminate the Lord as widely as possible. Two evenings in the week I preach regularly, that is, on Wednesday evening at Harburg, and on Friday, in the suburb of St. George. On the Sabbath I am generally out at our stations to proclaim the Word of the Lord. We have hitherto continually had the satisfaction to see sinners saved at our stations, devote themselves to the Lord, follow him, and obey him alone. This, and the precious promises of his dear Word, perpetually renew my courage to plant the banner of the Cross, and point to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. I was awakened seventeen years ago in the Baptist meeting here, and soon became a member of the dear Church. I soon after began, with other brethren, regularly to distribute loantracts on the Sabbath, until I was called, after some years, to help in the Sunday-school. On July 1st, 1852, I entered on my duties as Colporteur of the Scottish Mission to the Jews, until, on October 1st, 1854, I entered on the office of Colporteur to the Bible Society. It would be very advantageous to me to possess a thorough knowledge of the English language. Dear Brother Oncken has advised me to undertake the study, and I intend to do so. In the year 1855, I had some lessons with other pupils of the Mission, but when in spring the season for work recommenced, I was obliged to desist. I was however enabled, in the year 1859, again to take lessons, visiting at the same time the ships, where my presence was most requisite; and my residence in the mission-house rendered this easier.
May a risen Savior richly reward you, dear Brother, and your beloved flock, with heavenly blessings, and give you grace and strength to look to the Lord in your arduous task, who always gives fresh strength and courage. With hearty greetings, and commending myself to your intercession, “I remain, “Your humble brother and fellow-laborer, “H.WINDOLF.”
The journal of this missionary for the months of January, February, and March of this year is before us; it shows a great amount of labor and records many instances of usefulness, especially amongst soldiers and sailors. “In this quarter, he writes, I have made 263 visits in families, and 165 on board vessels; I have disposed of 10 bibles, 55 testaments, books, and have exchanged 250 books; I have distributed 1100 tracts and monthly messengers; conducted 34 meetings and 3 prayer-meetings; administered the Lord’s Supper 4 times; and given 24 lessons in religion in our day-school. During the first week of April, I visited 223 ships, and disposed of 9 Bibles,35 Testaments, 27 books, and 810 tracts. After the long winter, navigation is again flourishing Hundreds of vessels are arriving in one day at Hamburg and Altona. I request, therefore, more particularly the prayers of the Church which cares for my temporal welfare, that the Lord would give me great grace conscientiously and faithfully to proclaim the good news of redeeming love. I require much bodily strength also, and the gracious protection of the Lord, having to row about in the boat for six or eight hours a day, besides mounting one ship after another, in which there is danger of my foot slipping, and my family being left orphans. But I comfort myself with the promise that not a hair of our heads shall perish without the will of our Father. It is precious to know how many dear children of God pray for me, and for the work in which I am engaged.”