YEAR after year I have had to tell my friends the same tale. The continued blessing of the Lord has been with us throughout, and therefore we have not been compelled to vary our story with lamentations and woe. Our aim from the first has been to glorify God by the spread of the gospel, and in that object we have obtained cheering success. Nearly three hundred brethren are now bearing witness to the gospel of our salvation as regular ministers who were trained among us, and a more considerable number are acting as evangelists, colporteurs, and lay-preachers; indeed, under the last designation, we have trained several hundreds of young men. Our principle as to reception into the College with a view to the regular ministry is this : — -We receive only those who have preached for about two years, and have proved their calling of God; and these we do not pretend to make into preachers, but simply to aid them to obtain an education. We have no lack of applicants, indeed we are able to make a careful selection, and reject very many, and yet to accept as large a number as we need. Young and ardent spirits are evidently attracted to us, for such have appealed to us from places far away in America, and from different countries of Europe, as well as from every denomination of Christians at home. It has been frequently hinted that our course of study is so short that our men will not wear. Our reply is an appeal to facts, and by those facts we are content to stand or fall. If the men of any other College had done better in that respect, there might have been a reason for our altering our plans, but such is far from being the case. I requested my friend Mr. Rogers to give me a note of his observations upon this head, and he sent me the following : — “Having visited many of the settlements of the students during the year, in various parts of the country, I am able to speak with some degree of confidence of their adaptation for the work for which they are designed. As the characters formed and the acquirements made at the College are for the accomplishment of a certain end, it is due to those who befriend it to be informed how far it has contributed and is still contributing to that end. If that end be the publication of a plain and straightforward gospel in a plain way, with a direct view to win souls for Christ, it has certainly not failed in its design. Nor does this apply to some few only whose success has been more signally displayed, but as a rule and with few exceptions amongst the nearly three hundred students who are zealously engaged in this work. It is not easy to judge while our students are in College what they will become when thrown upon their own resources, but in general they have exceeded rather than come short of the expectations which had been formed concerning them. Many who have been timid and diffident during the whole course of their studies, and have seldom ventured to take part in collegiate criticisms and discussions, have, soon after entering upon a sphere of labor, gained confidence in their own powers, and found ease and encouragement in their work. Their qualifications when put to the test have dispelled their fears, and evinced both to them and others the adaptation of their training to the end they had in view. The kind reception they have met with, the interest awakened in their ministry, and the early instances of actual usefulness, have quickened their activity and zeal. The fact of a student from Mr. Spurgeon’s College coming into a neighborhood has excited an attention that has been turned to good account, not to temporary merely, but to permanent good; insomuch that cold and dying churches have been quickened into newness of life. As my visits have generally been some few months after the pastorate has been assumed, and I have often revisited the same sphere of labor after several years of ministration of the same pastor, I have had abundant opportunity for judging the capability of the students for permanent acceptableness and growing usefulness among the same people; and I have no hesitation in affirming, though much has been insinuated to the contrary, that they will compare most creditably in this respect with the students of any other similar institution. The men who preach extemporaneously, and who preach a full gospel, and preach from the heart, less need a change of sphere than those who read highly elaborated sermons and preach less from the heart than from the head. The success of our students depends upon the fact that, like the first gospel-preachers, they cease not to teach and preach Jesus Christ, and in his name to look for signs and wonders following. This has secured for them the friendship and goodwill of all who love the old truths, and have no sympathy with the innovations of modern times.”
Some have labored under the fear that too many preachers would be thrust forth — a pusillanimous fear scarcely worthy of a reply. It may, however, suffice to say, that a large portion of our brethren have made their own spheres, and so cannot be charged with crowding out other ministers; and another considerable company have gone abroad — to America and elsewhere — where they were greatly needed, and more are about to go.
Our field is the world. Our heart pleads continually for the missionary spirit to move among our brethren, that very many of them may carry the gospel to the regions beyond, both in our own land, among the churches of America, and the colonies, and, better still, among the heathen. This prayer has begun to receive its answer, and will have. in future days, a plentiful reward. The world is all before us, and the more heralds of the cross the better for the dying multitudes.
The New College Buildings are nearly completed, and their occupation is looked forward to with great expectations, for at present we dwell as in dens and caves of the earth in the underground rooms of the Tabernacle.
How earnestly I wish that some generous friends, who have not helped me in this erection, would furnish me with the three thousand pounds which I still need to finish this work. The needed money will come I am certain, but from what quarter I know not. It is with deep gratitude that I record the fact that the brethren who were educated in the College have raised £1,000 towards the amount, which I have already received. May the Lord reward them for their love to this work.
Our general funds have, during the past year, never given us a moment’s thought. They have been left to the Lord by simple faith and he has supplied them, as he always will. Our beloved friends at the Tabernacle supplied £1,873 by the weekly offering last year, and so greatly cheered their Pastor’s heart. We want £5,000 per annum at the least, and, if we could be entrusted with more, we could use it most advantageously in helping men to break up new ground and form fresh churches. If we could maintain some gifted and warm-hearted brother, as a traveling evangelist, to stir up the churches, the Holy Spirit might make him of great service.
For many reasons, we pray that the means at our disposal may be increased, for we believe there is urgent need. Several dear friends, who have been my faithful helpers, have been taken home to heaven this year; will not others take their places and see that the good cause suffers no lack? The guests at Mr. Phillips’ supper have hitherto contributed a large part of the annual income, and to him, and to them, all of us are deeply grateful, and yet more to our heavenly Father, who has inclined their hearts to aid us so generously. We shall be rich indeed if we have their prayers as well as their gifts.
The statistics of the churches in which our brethren labor are still most gratifying, and we refer our kind subscribers to them as their best reward.
To our ministers in foreign parts we have, at the request of the Conference, written the following letter, with which we conclude these brief notes. It will show the union which is maintained among us when college days have long become memories of the past :-CLAPHAM, September 30th.
BELOVED BROTHER, I have been requested to salute you in the name of the Conference of brethren in connection with the Pastors’ College, and I do so most heartily.
Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied unto you. But I must also add the assurance of my own sincere love to you, and earnest desire that the Lord may be with you. Oceans divide us in body, but we are one in Christ, and by his Spirit we are knit together in one fellowship. We who are at home have enjoyed a considerable measure of the divine blessing, although we earnestly desire to see far greater things: our prayer is, that you who are abroad may be far more successful than we have been; may you yet do great things and prevail. Your trials are peculiar, but your God is allsufficient.
The minds of your people are tinged with the special circumstances of the country, but the gospel is as suitable to them as to our own countrymen. Hearts are hard in every place, but the Spirit works effectually with the Word, and subdues wills most obdurate, to the obedience of the faith. Be of good courage, your God and ours is faithful to his promise, he will not leave you to be put to shame.
I feel sure, my beloved brother, that yore’ growing experience must have endeared to you the gospel of the grace of God, I feel more and more every day that nothing but salvation by grace will ever bring me to heaven, and therefore I desire more and more explicitly to teach the grand truths of electing love, covenant security, justification by faith, effectual calling, and immutable faithfulness. Love to souls as it burns in our hearts will also lead us to preach a free as well as a full salvation, and so we shall be saved at once from the leanness of those who have no doctrine, and from the bitterness of those to whom creed is everything. The happy via media of a balanced ministry we have aimed at, and succeeding years confirm us in the correctness of our views.
I pray you, in these evil days be firm, clear, and decided, in your res-the(my for the truth as it is in Jesus; nothing else will keep us clear of the blood of men’s souls. May the Holy Ghost anoint you anew for the struggle which lies before you. By the love which has long existed between us, I beseech you be faithful unto death, r reach my hand across the flood, and grasp you lovingly, and my heart goes with the word — the Lord bless thee, my brother, and keep thee, and lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
All goes well at the Tabernacle. Our beloved friend, Mr. Rogers, is still among us, enjoying perennial youth in his advanced age. The other Tutors are strong to labor. Our brethren are multiplied, and, as a body of ministers, they are such as you may remember with satisfaction. I am obliged to lithograph this letter, because I could not write so many copies, but in each case the signature is with my own hand, and I pray you, dear brother, do not look upon the lines as mere official writing. I love you in my heart; accept that love and the hearty greetings of a]l our brotherhood at home. Remember us in your prayers, especially remember me. By the memory of happy days in the past, when we looked each other in the face, do not forget us, and far more, do not forget your allegiance to our common Lord. Blessed be His name for ever. We live a]one for H/s glory.
May he reign gloriously in your congregation. The blessing of the Triune God be with you, dear brother.
Yours for ever heartily, C. H.SPURGEON. VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT HAPPILY our Report can be made in terms nearly identical with those of previous years. Our system of instruction has shaped itself according to actual requirements, and the continued confidence of the churches leads us to believe that the results are satisfactory.
Class work has gone on with quite an average amount of application and consequent success. No case calling for discipline has arisen during the year, and the evident spiritual life of our young brethren augurs well for their future usefulness. We have had valuable assistance from some of our ministerial friends, and our special thanks are due to the Rev. J. Clifford, M.A., and to the Rev. Elvay Dothie, B.A., for able lectures delivered in the course of the past session.
With renewed vigor we prepare for another year’s campaign. One thing is clear, that good men are still at a premium, and that the demand for such augments year by year. -All care in selection, and faithfulness in weeding out the inefficient brethren, will always leave some few who are not equal to the many and heavy calls which a pastorate in our country inevitably makes.
Our number of unsuccessful students is happily very small, while in several cases, where we once feared total inefficiency, some other sphere of labor has opened up, in which the brethren have amply repaid, by increased usefulness, all the time and expense devoted to them in College. Our opinion is confirmed, however, continually, that we cannot aim too high in our attempts to raise a soundly evangelical and well-educated Biblical Ministry for our denomination.
There can be no doubt that the struggle of our country churches to maintain an educated pastorate intensifies rather than diminishes every day.
We are constantly applied to for men of the first order of talent, for some rural district or country town, because, unless such a one can be found, the probabilities of success are very few, and the difficulty of maintaining their present position almost insuperable. We cannot retain our young people unless the life and interest of the public teaching is sustained alike by vigor of thought, and freshness of illustration, as well as by deep piety and ripened experience. We must have for our smaller as well as our larger churches, “workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
There is a loud demand for such men on every hand. We do not believe that the spirit of self-consecration has died out of our churches, nor that men of the right stamp will be wholly lacking; but we want many more of our best young men from the families of our church officers and leading members. We see the sacrifice this will entail on some, who must forego pecuniary advantages, to exist upon the very limited income which our churches, as a rule, offer to their pastors. Our ministers must be better paid, or our pulpits will not long continue to be filled with cultured and able men.
We call attention to this, as we foresee how much it is likely to affect us in the future. Already many of our young men have sought and found in America and the Colonies wider spheres of usefulness combined with much more of personal comfort in their work. We are glad of it, and hope that many more will follow, and thus escape the anxiety of straitened means, to do not less, but often more work for our one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The area of our work is thus enlarged, and it assumes proportions perfectly gigantic. In the name of God we will go forward to meet it. The harvest truly is great, and the laborer’s few, pray ye the Lord of the harvest, to thrust forth more laborers into his harvest. J.A.SPURGEON.
OUR TUTORS’ REPORTS IHAVE to report with thankfulness that the course of studies under my own immediate superintendence, during the past year, has been uninterruptedly pursued, and attended with some satisfaction, I trust, both to myself and others. Lectures in Theology and Biblical studies have been regularly delivered. The plan adopted during the year, of giving more frequent opportunities of criticizing sermons has answered well, and the discussions have maintained their usual interest and profit. The more private classes, for Mathematics, Logic, Hebrew, the Greek Testament, Homiletics, Pastoral Theology, and English Composition, have been continued; owing to the changes which are unavoidably made during the year, for mutual accommodation in the arrangement of the several classes by the tutors, some of these may not have been so far pursued and so numerously attended as might have been desired, but the time employed in them, has been sufficient, it may be hoped, to give considerable attainments in some of those studies, and a stimulus for further acquirements in all of them. The attention given by the students to their studies, continues to evince their eagerness to gain that information, and to exercise those gifts which may best qualify them for the one great work to which they have devoted themselves, and which is continually kept in view. G.ROGERS.
THE pasttwelve months leave a very satisfactory record of painstaking work. The progress of many of the brethren has been marked and rapid, showing a great degree both of diligence and aptitude. The diligence in some cases has been much more observable than the aptitude, it being at first the only visible thing that could warrant the pursuit of such studies, but never failing at length, to create, or to arouse the needed talent. Our class-work, I believe, has had a general healthful effect upon the mind; it has served, in no unimportant way, to discipline the faculties, and cultivate the taste. With a view to such results among others, the subjects of the senior classes have been chosen: these subjects have been the Ars Poetica, and Carmina, of Horace, the sixth Book of Virgil’s AEneid, the Hecuba of Euripides, and Demosthenes De Corona. As bearing, however, more directly upon the preaching of the Gospel, the reading of the Gospel by John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the original Greek, has been naturally the most entertaining of all our work, and the most beneficial. :No pains have been spared in bringing to bear upon the text the most certain results of recent criticism and research, in order that the real meaning might, if possible, be fairly and fully elucidated. The value of reading the New Testament in this manner, is unspeakably great to every faithful minister thereof. D.GRACEY.
THE classescomprising the department of the Pastors’ College under my care, have this year been enabled to get through a good amount of work satisfactorily; this they have accomplished ‘only by hard study, continuous effort, cheerfully put forth and sustained by a deep sense of duty to Him who has called them, and a conscientious appreciation of the requirements of the man who desires to be wise in winning souls. The success of this year of study, I cannot help thinking, is due to fixed seasons of devotion and prayer. All have been constrained to much prayer, and regularly once a month the work of intellectual culture has been arrested, and the greater part of one day has been set apart to wrestling with God for special help in our particular studies, and increased supplies of grace, zeal, fire, and vital energy in that form of spiritual life essential to him who is to live and die catching men. The subjects of study in my department are as follows — English. All the branches of a plain and thorough Education therein are regularly and daily taught. The text books are : — for Grammar, Angus’s Hand Book of the English Tongue, Fleming’s Analysis of the English Language; Composition, Bain and Cornwall’s Treatises: Analysis, Milton according to Morell and Angus’s system. Geography. Text Books: Cornwall’s General Geography, and Blackie’s Geography of Palestine. Bible, General Knowledge. Text books ; Angus’s Handbook of the Bible. Metaphysics. Text Books: Whateley’s Elementary Logic, Sir William Hamilton’s Lectures on Metaphysics, Wayland’s Ethics, Taylor’s Elements of Thought, and Butler’s Analogy.