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PREFACE To Our Readers
BRETHREN, — Our editoral labors of another year are before you, in their results at least. Conscientiously have they been performed, and never with a slack hand. Our work has been personally conducted to the best of our ability, and the effect has been a sustained circulation for our periodical, and we hope, also, a continued degree of interest, among our readers.
Certainly, our various enterprises, such as the College, the Orphanage, and the Colportage, have derived perpetual assistance as the fruit of our magazine articles; and very many other useful institutions which our contributors have described in our pages, have also gained substantial aid.
For all this we are grateful, and render thanks to Almighty God; but we aspire to larger influence for good, and for this we must appeal to our subscribers whose good word would speedily double the number of our readers. If they feel hey should give it, we trust they will not be silent.
In the portico of St. Mark’s Cathedral we were amused by the sigh of a grotesque mosaic representing seven lean bullocks, whose ribs might be counted, devouring seven well-fatted steers, whose plump hindquarters were bleeding under the strangely carnivorous operators’ teeth. We fear that the year 1872 has been to the Dissenting Churches of England one of the ill-favored and lean kine, and has sadly consumed the former years, which were comparatively fat and well-fleshed. Our numbers, taking all churches round, have not increased, but have rather diminished hence we must close the year with humiliation and regret. Jeremiah must be our prophet for awhile, and call us to lament for the hurt of the daughter of our people. Where lies the sin? Who is the Achan in the camp? Let us rise and purge ourselves, and cry mightily till the Lord our God return unto us in the power of his mighty grace.
Yet there is no cause for despondency. “It is of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” He will turn again and restore to us the years which the locus hath eaten, only let us return unto him, and walk in all his ways, and rest in his promises. Now must we awake, and by faith advance in right earnest to the battle, and the enemy shall no longer insult over us. All the signs of the times, both those which are hopeful and those which threaten, unite to stimulate the prayers and activities of the faithful. Who knoweth what shall be, or whence shall come deliverance? This much we know assuredly, that the Lord will yet prevail over his enemies, and Moab shall be trodden down as straw is trodden for the dunghill.
Our own church at the Tabernacle has continued to enjoy prosperity and increase, and so has the larger proportion of those presided over by brethren trained in our College. Our piece has been rained upon in the year of drought, which also keeps us in good heart of hope for others, since we are neither more worthy, nor wiser, nor stronger than they. The Lord is among us, and gleams of the light of his countenance are visible here and there; therefore, let the churches preach the gospel simply, live in holiness, and be much in prayer, and the power of the sacred Spirit will soon be manifest among us, and conversions will become numerous as the drops of the morning.
Again have we to bear witness to the goodness of God in providence, for our many and expensive operations have all been well supported, even until now; and they will be for our reliance is upon the Infinite One. We have hope, also, that other works will yet be wrought by our instrumentality; and were all our readers fully consecrated to the Lord as to their substance, many much-needed agencies could be commenced or enlarged. He only lives who lives for Jesus. Nothing is worth having if it cannot be made to serve his cause. Eternity is hurrying, on, we hear its chariot-wheels, and in its near approach we feel moved to speedier action, and wish that the blood of all Christians were quickened, to more rapid pulsations in the work and life of Jesus. O for crowns for him! Souls won by his gospel to be priceless gems in his resplendent diadem! Brethren, what are we doing? Put the question in the singular, each man among you, and say “What am I doing for my Redeemer, the best of Masters, the incomparable Well Beloved?”
By every mercy received, by every boon expected, by every communion enjoyed, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, we call upon every lover of The Altogether-lovely One to honor him in all ways, while yet this dispensation lingers, and the Bridegroom tarries. To fight for him against his carnal foes, and labor for him in his vineyard, on his own chosen hill, be our chosen vocation, “till the day break and the shadows flee away.”
Yours for Christ’s sake, (C. H. Spurgeon signature, December , 1872.