GENTLE READER, THE Preface of our volume is written last, and so is really the Itconclusion: thus oddly do things happen in this queer world.
There is this advantage in it, that we have the more to look back upon and to write about in a grateful style. We have now completed twelve volumes, and very good-looking volumes they are as they stand before us on our library shelf. Twelve volumes represent twelve years of mercy received, of work accomplished, of experience gained, and of progress made. “Bless the Lord, O my soul” is the utterance which presses most importunately upon our lip. Yes, let it come forth, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” We commenced this magazine very tremblingly, for our pen was a very young goose-quill, but it has held out, and it is not worn to the stump even now.
We meant to do our best, but feared that the cider potentates in the editorial chair would so far excel us as to snuff us out. Our fears have vanished, our magazine is yet alive, and lively too, and full of promise of better things in the future. Fresh subjects are found, though sometimes we cannot tell where to look for them, and fresh contributors come forward also to assist our editorial labors when old friends are removed. Our mercies as pastor, president, and preacher have been many, but those received as Editor must not be forgotten.
We have aimed at practical usefulness, and it is with much thankfulness that we remember the many occasions in which philanthropic institutions have obtained help through articles in these pages: in one case £1,000 was sent by a reader of The Sword and Trowel, and in many others substantial donations have been forthcoming. To help unknown friends to do good is as sweet a pleasure as to receive aid for our own work, and the joy is all the purer because no trace of selfish alloy can be found therein. -At the same time it is with equal pleasure that we remember our personal obligations to Sword and Trowel readers. The College, Orphanage, Colportage, Blind Society, and Book Fund owe to them no small measure of their support; and here, too, our joy has no selfishness in it, for in none of these works have we the remotest pecuniary reward, we seek only the glory of God and the good of our fellow men. As for editing this magazine we have never received a farthing, and it has been from the first a labor of love, we think we shall in this case also be acquitted of selfishness if we ask our readers to increase our circulation by commending the magazine to their friends. If we could have double the present number of readers it would enable us to do more good without increasing our labor.
We trust that the matter and style of The Sword and Trowel have not deteriorated, for we have spared no pains, and have read every line carefully ourselves. We have evidence that some of our readers appreciate the articles, for we have continual requests to reprint this or that, and had we always done as requested we fear our printer would have had to tax us heavily for losses. If our friends knew our labor in a thousand ways, and our “often infirmities,” they would be very patient with us, ,rid admit that upon the whole we do very well, considering how much other work lies upon us.
Dear Reader, are you serving the Lord with all your heart? If not, you are missing the only way of happiness. Even a religious life is not joyous unless the Lord be served either by active exertion or by patient endurance, Unconsecrated strength has about it no power to cheer, no force to exhilarate. To obtain perfect delight, you must not only have all the clements of excellence, but you must write HOLINESS UNTO the LORD over the head of them all. Only that which is God’s is truly ours. We never ourselves know the sweetness of the ointment in the alabaster box until we have broken it over the head of our Beloved. To live entirely for the Lord is to live indeed, all else is mere existing.
Perhaps our reader is not at present capable of such consecration, being as yet unconverted. The unclean animal could not be offered in sacrifice, neither can the unrenewed heart be acceptable with the Lord. The raven cannot be presented in the temple, but the dove can, and there is One who eau turn the raven to a dove. May this Divine One look upon our unrenewed friends, and with his glance of love renew, sanctify, and save them.
A happy new year to you, courteous reader, and many such, and at the end of them all may we meet in heaven.
So prays, Your willing Servant, C. H.SPURGEON.