INAUGURAL ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE, BY C. H, SPURGEON, ON TUESDAY, APRIL 4TH, 1876.
HAVE selected a most vital topic, and one upon which it would be difficult to say anything which has not been often said before; but peradventure it will be good to bring forth the old things, to put you in remembrance of them. Our subject is “THE HOLY SPIRIT IN CONNECTION WITH OUR MINISTRY,” or the work of the Holy Ghost in relation to ourselves as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “I believe in the Holy Ghost.” Having pronounced that sentence as a matter of creed, I hope we can also repeat it as a devout soliloquy forced to our lips by personal experience. To us the presence and work of the Holy Spirit is the ground of our confidence as to the wisdom and hopefulness of our life work. If we had not believed in the Holy Ghost we should have laid down our ministry long, ere this, for “who is sufficient for these things?” Our hope of success, and our strength for continuing the service, lie in our belief that the Spirit of the Lord resteth upon us. I will for the time being take it for granted that we are all of us conscious of the existence of the Holy Spirit. We have said we believe in him; but in very deed we have advanced beyond faith in this matter, and have come into the region of consciousness. Time was when most of us believed in the existence of our present friends, for we had heard of them by the hearing of the ear, but we have now seen and heard each other, and felt the influence of happy companionship, and therefore we do not now so much believe as know. Even so we have fell the Spirit of God operating upon our hearts, we know and have perceived the power which he wields over human spirits, and we know him by conscious personal contact. By the sensitiveness of our spirit we are as much made conscious of the presence of the Spirit of God as we are made cognizant of the existence of the souls of our fellow-men by their action upon our souls, or as we are certified of the existence of matter by its action upon our senses. We have been raised from the dull sphere of mind and matter into the heavenly radiance of the spirit-world; and not as spiritual men, we discern spiritual things, we feel the forces which are paramount in the spirit-realm, and we know that there is a Holy Ghost, for we feel him operating upon our spirits. If it were not so, we should certainly have no right to be in the ministry of Christ’s church. Should we even dare to remain in her membership? But, my brethren, we have been spiritually quickened. We are distinctly conscious of a new life, with all that comes out of it; we are new creatures in Christ Jesus, and dwell in a new world. We have been illuminated, and made to behold the things which eye hath not seen; we have been guided into truth such as flesh and blood could never have revealed. We have been comforted of the Spirit: full often have we been lifted up from the deeps of sorrow to the heights of joy by the sacred Paraclete. We also have, in a measure, been sanctified by him; and we are conscious that the operation of sanctification is going on in us in different forms and ways. Therefore, because of all these personal experiences, we know that there is a Holy Ghost, as surely as we know that we ourselves exist.
I am tempted to linger here, for the point is worthy of longer notice.
Unbelievers ask for phenomena. The old business doctrine of Grad-grind has entered into religion, and the skeptic cries, “What I want is facts.” These are our facts: let us not forget to use them. A man says to me, “I cannot pin my faith to a book or a history; I want to see present facts.” My reply is, “Yon cannot see them, because your eyes are blinded; but the facts are there all the same. Those of us who have eyes see marvelous things, though you do not.” If he ridicules my assertion, I am not at all astonished.
I expected him to do so, and should have been very much surprised if he had not done so; but I say to him, “What right have you to deny my evidence? If I were a blind man, and were told by you that you possessed a faculty called sight, I should be unreasonable if I railed at you as a conceited enthusiast. All you have a right to say is — that you know nothing about it, but you are not authorized to call us all liars or dupes,” Brethren, to me the phenomena which are produced by the Spirit of God as clearly demonstrate the truth of the Christian religion as ever the destruction of Pharaoh at the Red Sea, or the fall of manna in the wilderness, or the water leaping from the smitten rock, could have proved to Israel the presence of God in the midst of her tribes.
We will now come to the core of our subject. To us, as ministers, the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. Without him our office is a mere name. We claim no priesthood over and above that which belongs to every child of God; but we are the successors of those who, in olden times, were moved of God to declare his word, to testify against transgression, and to plead his cause. Unless we have the spirit of the prophets resting upon us, the mantle which we wear is nothing but a rough garment to deceive. We ought to be put forth with abhorrence from the sons of men for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if the Spirit of God rests not upon us. We believe ourselves to be spokesmen for Jesus Christ, appointed to continue his witness upon earth; but upon him and his testimony the Spirit of God always rested, and if it does not rest upon us, we are evidently not sent forth into the world as he was. The commencement of the great work of converting the world at Pentecost was with flaming tongues and a rushing mighty wind, symbols of the presence of the Spirit; if, therefore, we think to succeed without the Spirit, we are not after the Pentecostal order. If we have not the Spirit which Jesus promised, we cannot perform the commission which Jesus gave.
I need scarcely warn any brother here against falling into the idea of having the Spirit so as to become inspired. Yet certain peculiar people need to be warned against this folly. They hold that their meetings are under the presidency of the Holy Spirit: concerning which notion I can only say that I have been unable to discover in holy Scripture either the term or the idea. I do find in the New Testament a body of Corinthians eminently gifted, fond of speaking, and given to party strifes — true representatives of modern Plymouth Brethren, but as Paul said of them, “I thank God I baptized none of you,” so also do I thank the Lord that few of that school have ever been found in our midst. It would seem that their assemblies possess a peculiar gift of inspiration, not quite perhaps amounting to infallibility, but nearly approximating thereto. If you have mingled in their gatherings, I greatly question whether you have been more edified by the prelections produced under celestial presidency, than you have been by those of ordinary preachers of the Word, who only consider themselves to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as one spirit is under the influence of another spirit, or one mind under the influence of another mind. We are not the passive communicators of infallibility, but the honest teachers of such things as we have learned, so far as we have been able to grasp them. As our minds are active, and have a personal existence while the mind of the Spirit is acting upon them, our infirmities are apparent as well as his wisdom; and while we reveal what he has made us to know, we are greatly abused by the fear that our own ignorance and error may be manifested also, because we have not been more perfectly subject to the divine power.
I do not suspect that you will go off in the direction I have hinted at: certainly the results of previous experiments are not likely to tempt wise men to that folly.
This is our question. Wherein may we look for the aid of the Holy Spirit?
When we have spoken to this point, we will, very solemnly, consider a second — How may we lose that assistance? Let us pray that, by God’s blessing, this consideration may help us to retain it.
Wherein may we look for the aid of the Holy Spirit? I should reply, — in seven or eight ways. 1. First, he is the Spirit of knowledge, — “ He shall guide you into all truth.” We need to study, for the teacher of others must himself be instructed. Habitually to come into the pulpit unprepared is unpardonable presumption: nothing can more effectually lower ourselves and our office. After a visitation discourse by the Bishop of Lichfield upon the necessity of earnestly studying the Word, a certain vicar told his lordship that he could not believe his doctrine, “for,” said he, “often when I am in the vestry I do not know what I am going to talk about; but I go into the pulpit and preach, and think nothing of it.” His lordship replied, “And you were quite right in thinking nothing of it, for your churchwardens have told me they shared your opinion.” If we are not instructed, how can we instruct? If we have not thought, how shall we lead others to think? It is in our study-work, in that blessed labor when we are alone with the Book before us, that we need the help of the Holy Spirit. He holds the key of the heavenly treasury, and can enrich us beyond conception; he has the clue of the most labyrinthine doctrine, and can guide us into all truth. He can break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and give to us the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places. If you study the original, consult fife commentaries, and meditate deeply, yet if you neglect to cry mightily unto the Spirit of God, your study will not profit you; but even if you are debarred the use of helps (which I trust you will not be), if you wait upon the Spirit of God in simple dependence upon his teaching, you will lay hold of very much of the divine meaning.
The Spirit of God is peculiarly precious to us, because he especially instructs us as to the person and work of our Lord Jesus; and that is the main point of our preaching. He takes of the things of Christ, and shows them unto us. If he had taken of the things of doctrine or precept we should have been glad of such gracious assistance; but since he especially deals with the things of Christ, and focuses his sacred light upon the cross, we rejoice to see the center of our testimony so divinely illuminated, and we are sure that the light will be diffused over all the rest of our ministry.
Let us wait upon the Spirit of God with this cry always — “O Holy Spirit, reveal to us the Son of God, and thus show us the Father.”
As the Spirit of knowledge, he not only instructs us as to the gospel, but he leads us to see the Lord in all other matters. We are not to shut our eyes to God in nature, or to God in general history, or to God in the daily occurrences of providence, or to God in our own experience; and the blessed Spirit is the interpreter to us of the mind of God in all these. If we cry, “Teach me what thou wouldst have me to do; show me wherefore thou contendest with me; tell me what is thy mind in this precious providence of mercy, or in that other dispensation of mingled judgment and grace,” — we shall in each case be well instructed; for the Spirit is the seven-branched candlestick of the sanctuary, and by his light all things are rightly seen. Oh, my brethren, wait upon him for this light, or you will abide in darkness, and become blind leaders of the blind. 2. In the second place, the Spirit is called the Spirit of wisdom, and we greatly need him in that capacity; for knowledge may be dangerous if unaccompanied with wisdom, which is the art of rightly using what we know. Rightly to divide the Word of God is as important as fully to understand it, for some who have evidently understood a part of the gospel have given prominence only to that one portion of it, and have therefore exhibited a distorted Christianity, to the injury of those who have received it, since they in their turn have exhibited a distorted character in consequence thereof. A man’s nose is a prominent feature in his face, but it is possible to make it so large that eyes and mouth, and everything else, are thrown into insignificance, and the drawing is a caricature and not a portrait: so the most important doctrines of the gospel can be so proclaimed to excess as to throw the rest of truth into the shade, and the preaching is no longer the gospel in its natural beauty, but a caricature of the truth, of which caricature, however, let me say, some people seem to be mightily fond. The Spirit of God will teach you the use of the sacrificial knife to divide the offerings; and he will show you how to use the balances of the sanctuary so as to weigh out and mix the precious spices in their proper quantities. Every experienced preacher feels this to be of the utmost moment. Alas, some of our hearers do not desire to hear the whole counsel of God. They have their favorite doctrines, and would have us silent on all besides. Many are like the Scotchwoman, who, after hearing a sermon, said, “It was very well if it had not been for the trash of duties at the hinner end.” There are brethren of that kind; they enjoy the comforting part — the promises and the doctrines; but practical holiness must scarcely be touched upon. Faithfulness requires us to give them a four-square gospel, from which nothing is omitted, and in which nothing is exaggerated, and for this much wisdom is requisite. I gravely question whether any of us have so much of this wisdom as we need. We are probably afflicted by some inexcusable partialities and unjustifiable leanings; let us search them out and have done with them. We may be conscious of having passed by some texts, not because we do not understand them (which might be justifiable), but because we do understand them, and hardly like to say what they have taught us, or because there may be some imperfection in ourselves, or some prejudice among our hearers which we fear those texts would reveal too clearly. Such sinful silence must be ended forthwith. To be wise stewards, and bring forth the right portions of meat, we need thy teaching, O Spirit of the Lord! :Nor is this all, for even if we know how rightly to divide the Word of God, we want wisdom in the selection of the particular part of truth which is most applicable to the season and the people assembled; and equal discretion in the tone and manner in which the doctrine shall be presented.
I believe that many brethren who preach human responsibility deliver themselves in so legal a manner as to disgust all those who love the doctrines of grace. On the other hand, I fear that many have preached the sovereignty of God in such a way as to drive all persons who believe in man’s free agency entirely away from the Calvinistic side. We should not hide truth for a moment, but we should have wisdom so to preach it that there be no needless jarring ‘or offending; but a gradual enlightenment of those who cannot see it all, and a leading of weaker brethren into the full circle of truth. Brethren, we also need wisdom in the way of putting things to different people. You can knock a man down with the very truth which was intended to build him up. You can sicken a man with the honey with which you meant to sweeten his mouth. The great mercy of God has been preached unguardedly, and has led hundreds into licentiousness; and, on the other hand, the terrors of the Lord have been occasionally preached with such violence that they have driven men into despair, and so into a settled defiance of the Most High. Wisdom is profitable to direct, and he who hath it brings forth each truth in its season, dressed in its most appropriate garments, and placed in its proper position. Who can give us this wisdom but the blessed Spirit? O, my brethren, see to it, that in lowliest reverence you wait for his direction. 3. Thirdly. we want the Spirit in another manner, namely, as the live coal from off the altar, touching our lips, so that when we have knowledge and wisdom to select the fitting portion of truth, we may enjoy freedom of utterance when we come to deliver it. “Lo, this hath touched thy lips.” Oh, how gloriously a man speaks when his lips are blistered with the live coal from the altar — feeling the burning power of the truth, not only in his inmost soul, but on the very lip with which he is speaking! Mark at such times how his very utterance quivers. Did you not notice in the prayermeeting just now, especially in two of the suppliant brethren, how their tones were tremulous, and their bodily frames were quivering, because not only were their hearts touched, as I hope all our hearts were, but their lips were touched, and their speech was thereby affected. Brethren, we need the Spirit of God to open our mouths that we may show forth the praises of the Lord, and we need him almost as much to keep us back from saying many things which, if they actually left our tongue, would mar our message. Those of us who are endowed with the dangerous gift of humor have need, sometimes, to stop and take the word out of our mouth and look at it, and see whether it is quite to edification; and those whose previous lives have borne them among the coarse and the rough had need watch with lynx eyes against indelicacy. Oh, brother, far be it from us to utter a syllable which would suggest an impure thought, or raise a questionable memory. We need the Spirit of God to put bit and bridle upon us to keep us from saying that which will take the minds of our hearers away from Christ and eternal realities, and set them thinking upon the grovelling things of earth.
Brethren, we require the Holy Spirit also to incite us in our utterance. I doubt not you are all conscious of different states of mind in preaching.
Some of those states arise from your body being in different conditions. A bad cold will often not only spoil the clearness of the voice, but freeze the flow of the thoughts. For my own part if I cannot speak clearly I am unable to think clearly, and the matter becomes hoarse as well as the voice. The stomach, also, and all the other organs of the body, affect the mind; but it is not to these things that I allude. Are you not conscious of changes altogether independent of the body? When you are in robust health do you not find yourselves one day as heavy as Pharaoh’s chariots with the wheels taken off, and at another time as much at liberty as “a hind let loose.” Today your branch glitters with the dew, yesterday it was parched with drought. Who knoweth not that the Spirit of God is in all this?
The divine Spirit will sometimes work upon us so as to bear us completely out of ourselves. From the beginning of the sermon to the end we might at such times say, “Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth.” Everything has been forgotten but the one all-engrossing subject in hand. If I were forbidden to enter heaven, but were permitted to select my state for all eternity, I should choose to be as I sometimes feel in preaching the gospel. Heaven is foreshadowed in such a state: the mind shut out from all disturbing influences, adoring the majestic and consciously present God, every faculty aroused and joyously excited to its utmost capability, all the thoughts and powers of the soul joyously occupied in contemplating the glory of the Lord, and in extolling to listening crowds the Beloved of our soul; and all the while the purest conceivable benevolence towards one’s fellow creatures urging the heart to plead with them on God’s behalf. Alas! we have reached this ideal, but we cannot always maintain it, for we know also what it is to preach in chains, or beat the air. We may not attribute holy and happy changes in our ministry to anything less than the action of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. I am sure that the Spirit does so work. Often and often, when I have had doubts suggested by the infidel, I have been able to fling them to the winds with utter scorn, because I am so conscious of a power working upon me when I am speaking in the name of the Lord, infinitely transcending any personal power of fluency, and far surpassing any energy derived from excitement such as I have felt when delivering a secular lecture or making a speech — so utterly distinct from such power that I am quite certain it was not of the same order or class as the enthusiasm of the politician or the glow of the orator. May we full often feel the energy divine, and speak with power. 4. But then, fourthly, the Spirit of God acts also as an anointing oil, and this relates to the entire delivery — not to the utterance merely from the mouth, but to the whole delivery of the discourse. He can make you feel your subject till it thrills you, and you become depressed by it so as to be crushed into the earth, or elevated by it so as to be borne upon its eagle wings; making you feel, besides your subject, your object, till you yearn for the conversion of men, and for the uplifting of Christians to something nobler than they have known as yet. At the same time, another feeling is with you, namely, an intense desire that God may be glorified through the truth which you are delivering. You are conscious of a deep sympathy with the people to whom you are speaking, making you mourn over some of them because they know so little, and over others because they have known much, but have rejected it. You look into some faces, and your heart silently says, “The dew is dropping there;” and, turning to others, you sorrowfully perceive that they are as Gilboa’s mountains. All this will be going on during the discourse. We cannot tell how many thoughts can traverse the mind at once. I once counted eight sets of thoughts that were going on in my brain simultaneously. I was preaching the gospel with all my might, but could not help feeling for a lady who was evidently about to faint, and also looking out for the brother who opens the windows that he might give us more air. I was thinking of that illustration which I had omitted under the first head, casting the form of the second division, wondering if A felt my rebuke, and praying that B might get comfort from the consoling observation, and at the same time praising God for my own personal enjoyment of the truth I was proclaiming. Some interpreters consider the cherubim with their four faces to be emblems of ministers, and assuredly I see no difficulty in the quadruple form, for the sacred Spirit Can multiply our mental states, and make us many times the men we are by nature. How much he can make of us and how grandly he can elevate us I will not dare to surmise.
He can do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.
Especially is it the Holy Spirit’s work to maintain in us a devotional frame of mind whilst we are preaching. This is a condition to be greatly coveted — to continue praying while you are occupied with preaching; to do the Lord’s commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word; to keep the eye on the throne, and the wing in perpetual motion. I hope we know what this means; I am sure we know, or may soon experience, its opposite, name]y, the evil of preaching in an undevotional spirit. What can be worse than to speak under the influence of a proud or angry spirit? What more weakening than to preach in an unbelieving spirit? But, oh, to burn in our secret heart while we blaze before the eyes of others! This is the work of the Spirit of God. Work it in us, O blessed Comforter!
In our pulpits we need the spirit of dependence to be mixed with that of devotion, so that all along, from the first word to the last syllable we may be looking up to the strong for strength. It is well to feel that though you have continued up to the present point, yet if the Holy Spirit were to leave you, you would play the fool ere the sermon closed. Looking to the hills whence cometh your help all the sermon through, with absolute dependence upon God, you will preach in a brave, confident spirit all the while. Perhaps I was wrong to say “brave,” for it is not a brave thing to trust God: to true believers it is a simple matter of sweet necessity — how can they help trusting him? Wherefore should they doubt their ever-faithful Friend? I told my people last Lord’s-day morning, when preaching from the text, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” that for the first time in my life I experienced what Abraham felt when he fell upon his face and laughed. I was riding home, very weary with a long week’s work, when there came to my mind this text — “ My grace is sufficient for thee:” but it came with the emphasis on two words: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” My soul said, “Doubtless it is,” and I laughed, and laughed again and again to think how far the supply exceeded all my needs. It seemed to me as though I were a little fish in the Thames, and in my thirst I said, “Alas, I shall drink up this river.” Then Father Thames lifted up his ancient head, and smilingly replied, “Little fish, my water is sufficient for thee.” It made unbelief appear to be utterly ridiculous, as indeed it is. Oh, brethren, we ought to preach feeling that God means to bless the word, for we have his promise for it, and when we have done preaching we should look out for the people who have received a blessing. You ought not to say, “I am overwhelmed with astonishment to find that the Lord has converted souls through Everybody knows that, and humility! Your ministry is poor enough. you ought to know it most of all: but, at the same time, is it any wonder that God who said, “My word shall not return unto me void,” has kept his promise? Is the meat to lose its nourishment because the dish is a poor platter? Is divine grace to be overcome by our infirmity? No, but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.
We need the Spirit of God, then, all through the sermon to keep our hearts and minds in a proper condition, for if we have not the right spirit, we shall lose the tone which persuades and prevails, and our people will discover that Samson’s strength has departed from him. Some speak scoldingly, and so betray their bad temper; others preach themselves, and so reveal their pride. Some preach as though it were a condescension on their part to occupy the pulpit, while others preach as though they apologized for their existence. To avoid errors of manner and tone, we must be led of the Holy Spirit, who alone teacheth us to profit. 5. We depend entirely upon the Spirit of God to produce actual effect from the gospel, and it is at effect that we always aim. We do not stand up in our pulpits to display our skill in spiritual sword-play, but we come to actual fighting: our object is to drive the sword of the Spirit through men’s hearts. If preaching can ever in any sense be viewed as a public exhibition, it should be like the exhibition of a ploughing match, which consists in actual ploughing. The competition does not lie in the appearance of the ploughs, but in the work done; so let ministers be judged by the way in which they drive the gospel plough, and cut the furrow from end to end of the field. Always aim at effect. “Oh,” says one, “I thought you would have said, ‘ Never do that.’” I do also say, never aim at effect, in the unhappy sense of that expression. Never aim at effect after the manner of the climax makers, poetry quoters, handkerchief manipulators, and bombast blowers.
Far better for a man that he had never been born than that he should degrade a pulpit into a show box to exhibit himself in. Aim at the right sort of effect; the inspiring of saints to nobler things, the leading of Christians closer to their Master, the comforting of doubters till they rise out of their unbeliefs, the repentance of sinners, and leading them to immediate rest in Christ. Miracles of grace must be the seals of our ministry; who can bestow them but the Spirit of God? Convert a soul without the Spirit of God?
Why, you cannot even make a fly, much less create a new heart and a right spirit. Lead the children of God to a higher life without the Holy Ghost?
You are inexpressibly more likely to conduct them into carnal security, if you attempt their elevation by any method of your own. Our ends can never be gained if we miss the cooperation of the Spirit of the Lord.
Therefore, with strong crying and tears wait upon him from day to day. 6. Next, we need the Spirit of God as the Spirit of supplications, who maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. A very important part of our lives consists in praying in the Holy Ghost, and that minister who does not think so had better escape from his ministry.
Abundant prayer must go with earnest preaching. We cannot be always on the knees of the body, but the soul should never leave the posture of devotion. The habit of prayer is good, but the spirit of prayer is better.
Regular retirement is to be maintained, but continued communion with God is to be our aim. As a rule, we ministers ought never to be many minutes without actually lifting up our hearts in prayer. Some of us could honestly say that we are seldom a quarter of an hour without speaking to God, and that not as a duty but as an instinct, a habit of the new nature for which we claim no more credit than a babe does for crying after its mother.
How could we do otherwise? Now, if we are to be much in the spirit of prayer, we need secret oil to be poured upon our hearts, even the spirit of grace and of supplication. As to our prayers in public, let it never be truthfully said that they are official, formal, and cold, yet they will be so if the supply of the Spirit be scant. You cannot pray acceptably in public year after year without the Spirit of God; for this reason, certain weaklings have said, “Let us have a liturgy!” Rather than seek divine aid they will go down to Egypt for help. Rather than be dependent upon the Spirit of God, they will pray by a book. For my part, if I cannot pray, I would rather know it, and groan over my soups barrenness till the Lord again visit me with fruitfulness of devotion. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will be glad to throw off all formal fetters, that you may commit yourself to the current of the divine Spirit, and by his power be borne along till you find waters to swim in. Sometimes you will enjoy closer fellowship with God in prayer in the pulpit than you have known anywhere else. To me my greatest secrecy in prayer has often been in public; my truest loneliness with God has occurred to me while pleading in the midst of thousands. I have opened my eyes at the close of a prayer and come back to the assembly with a sort of shock at finding myself on earth and among men. Such seasons are not at our command, neither can we raise ourselves into such conditions by any preparations or efforts. How blessed they are both to the minister and his people no tongue can tell! How full of power and blessing habitual prayerfulness must also be I cannot here pause to declare, but for it all we must look to the Holy Spirit, and blessed be God we shall not look in vain, for it is especially said of him that he helpeth our infirmities in prayer. 7. Furthermore, it is important that we be under the influence of the Holy Ghost, as he is the Spirit of holiness; for a very considerable and essential part of Christian ministry lies in example. Our people take much note of what we say out of the pulpit, and what we do in the social circle and elsewhere. Do you find it easy, my brethren, to be saints? — such saints that others may regard you as examples? We ought to be such husbands that every husband in the parish may safely be such as we are. Is it so? We ought to be the best of fathers. Alas! some ministers, to my knowledge, are far from this, for as to their families, they have kept the vineyards of others, but their own vineyards they have not kept. Their children are neglected, and do not grow up as a godly seed. Is it so with yours? In our converse with our fellow men are we blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke? Such we ought to be. I admire Mr. Whitefield’s reasons for always having his linen scrupulously clean. “No, no,” he would say, “these are not trifles; a minister must be without spot, even in his garments, if he can.” Purity cannot be carried too far in a minister. You have known an unhappy brother bespatter himself, and you have affectionately aided in removing the spots, but you feel that it would have been better had the spots been avoided. O to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. How can this be in such a scene of temptation, and with such besetting sins unless we are kept by superior power? If you are to walk in all holiness and purity, as becometh ministers of the gospel, you must be daily baptized into the Spirit of God. 8. Once again, we need the Spirit as a Spirit of discernment, for he knows the minds of men as he knows the mind of God, and we need this very much in dealing with difficult characters. There are in this world some persons who might possibly be allowed to preach, but they should never be suffered to become pastors. They have a mental or spiritual disqualification. In the church of San Zeno, at Verona, I saw the statue of that saint in a sitting posture, and the artist has given him knees so short that he has no lap whatever, so that he could not have been a nursing father. I fear there are many others who labor under a similar disability: they cannot bring their minds to enter heartily into the pastoral care. They can dogmatise upon a doctrine, and controvert upon an ordinance, but as to sympathizing with an experience, it is far from them. Cold comfort can such render to afflicted consciences, their advice will be equally valuable with that of the highlander who saw an Englishman sinking in a bog on Ben Nevis. “I am sinking!” cried the traveler. “Can you tell me how to get out?” Calmly replied the highlander, “I think it is likely you never will,” and he walked away. We have known ministers of that kind, puzzled, and almost annoyed, with sinners struggling in the slough of despond. If you and I, untrained in the shepherd’s art, were placed among the ewes and young lambs in the early spring, what should we do with them? In some such perplexity are those found who have never been taught of the Holy Spirit how to care for the souls of men. May his instructions save us from such wretched incompetence.
Moreover, brethren, whatever our tenderness of heart, or loving anxiety, we shall not know how to deal with the vast variety of cases unless the Spirit of God shall direct us, for no two individuals are alike; and even the same case will require different treatment at different times. At one period it may be best to console, at another to rebuke; and the person with whom you sympathized even to tears to-day may need that you confront him with a frown to-morrow, for trifling with the consolation which you presented.
Those who bind up the broken-hearted, and set free the captives, must have the Spirit of the Lord upon them.
In the oversight and guidance of a church the Spirit’s aid is needed. At bottom the chief reason for secession from our denomination has been the difficulty arising out of our church government. It is said to “tend to the unrest of the ministry.” Doubtless, it is very trying to those who crave for the dignity of officialism, and must needs be Sir Oracles, before whom not a dog must bark. Those who are no more capable of ruling than mere babes are the very persons who have the greatest thirst for authority, and, finding little of it awarded to them in these parts, they seek other regions. If you cannot rule yourself, if you are not manly and independent, if you are not superior in moral weight, if you have not more gift and more grace than your ordinary hearers, you may put on a gown and claim to be the ruling person in the church; but it will not be a church of the Baptist or New Testament order. For my part I should loathe to be the pastor of a people who have nothing to say, or who, if they do say anything, might as well be quiet, for you are Lord Paramount, and they are mere laymen and nobodies. I would sooner be the leader of six free men, whose enthusiastic love is my only power over them, than play the dictator to a score of enslaved nations. What position is nobler than that of a spiritual father who claims no authority and yet is universally esteemed, whose word is given only as tender advice, but is allowed to operate with the force of law?
Consulting the wishes of others he finds that they first desire to know what he would recommend, and deferring always to the desires of others, he finds that they are glad to defer to him. Lovingly firm and graciously gentle, he is the chief of all because he is the servant of all. Does not this need wisdom from above? What can require it more? David when established on his throne said, “It is he that subdueth my people under me,” and so may every happy pastor say when he sees so many brethren of differing temperaments all happily willing to be under discipline, and to accept his leadership in the work of the Lord. If the Lord were not among us how soon there would be confusion. Ministers, deacons, and elders may all be wise, but if the sacred Dove departs, and the spirit of strife enters, it is all over with us. Brethren, our system will not work without the Spirit of God, and I am glad it will not, for its stoppages and breakages call our attention to the fact of his absence. Our system was never intended to promote the glory of priests or pastors, but is calculated to educate manly Christians, who will not take their faith at second-hand. What am I, and what are you, that we should be lords over God’s heritage? Dare any of us say with the French king, “L’etat, c’est moi “ — “ the state is myself,” — I am the most important person in the church. If so, the Holy Spirit is not likely to use such unsuitable instruments; but if we know our places and desire to keep them with all humility, he will help us, and the churches will flourish beneath our care.
I have given you more than a sufficiently long catalogue of matters wherein the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to us, and yet the list is very far from complete. I have intentionally left it imperfect, because if I attempted its completion all our time would have expired before we were able to answer the question, How MAY WE LOSE THIS NEEDFUL ASSISTANCE? Let none of us ever try the experiment, but it is certain that ministers may lose the aid of the Holy Ghost. Each man here may lose it. You shall not perish as believers, for everlasting life is in you; but you may perish as ministers, and be no more heard of as witnesses for the Lord. The Spirit claims a sovereignty like that of the wind which bloweth where it listeth; but let us never dream that sovereignty and capriciousness are the same thing. The blessed Spirit acts as he wills, but he always acts justly, wisely, and with a motive, and reason. At times he gives or withholds his blessing, for reasons connected with ourselves. Mark the course of a river like the Thames; how it winds and twists according to its own sweet will: yet there is a reason for every bend and curve: the geologist studying the soil and marking the conformation of the rock, sees a reason why the river’s bed diverges to the right or to the left; and so, though the Spirit of God blesses one preacher more than another, and the reason cannot be such that any man could congratulate himself upon his own goodness, yet there are certain things about Christian ministers which God blesses, and certain other things which hinder success. The Spirit of God falls like the dew, in mystery and power, but it is in the spiritual world as in the natural, certain substances are wet with the celestial moisture while others are always dry. Is there not a reason? The wind blows where it lists; but if we desire to feel a stiff breeze we must go out to sea, or climb the hills. The Spirit of God has his favored places for displaying his might. He is typified by a dove; but the dove has its chosen haunts: to the rivers of waters, to peaceful and quiet places, the dove resorts; we meet it not upon the battle-field, neither does it alight on carrion. There are things congruous to the Spirit, and things contrary to his mind. The Spirit of God is compared to light, and light can shine where it wills; but some bodies are opaque, while others are transparent; and so there are men through whom God the Holy Ghost can shine, and there are others through whom his brightness never appears.
Thus, then, it can be shown that the Holy Ghost, though he be the “free Spirit” of God, is by no means capricious in his operations.
But, dear brethren, the Spirit of God may be grieved and vexed, and even resisted: to deny this is to oppose the constant testimony of Scripture.
Worst of all, we may do despite to him, and so insult him that he will speak no more by us, but leave us as he left king Saul of old. Alas, that there should be men in the Christian ministry to whom this has happened; but I am afraid there are.
Brethren, what are those evils which will grieve the Spirit? I answer, anything that would have disqualified you as an ordinary Christian for communion with God also disqualifies you for feeling the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit as a minister: but, apart from that, there are special hindrances.
Among the first we must mention a want of sensitiveness, or that unfeeling condition which arises from disobeying the Spirit’s influences. We should be delicately sensitive to his faintest movement, and then we may expect his abiding presence, but if we are as the horse and the mule, which have no understanding, we shall feel the whip, but we shall not enjoy the Spirit.
Another grieving fault is a want of truthfulness. If a great musician takes a guitar, or touches a harp, and finds that the notes are false, he stays his hand. Some men’s souls are not honest; they are sophistical and doubleminded.
Christ’s Spirit will not be an accomplice with men in the wretched business of shuffling and deceiving. Does it really come to this — that you preach certain doctrines, not because you believe them, but because your congregation expects you to do so? Are you biding your time till you can, without risk, renounce your present creed and tell out what your dastardly mind really holds to be true? God deliver us from such men, and if they get into our regiment, may they speedily be drummed out to the tune of the Rogue’s March.
You can greatly grieve the Holy Spirit by a general scantiness of grace.
The phrase is awkward, but it describes certain persons better than any other which occurs to me. I know the man. He is not dishonest, nor immoral, he is not bad tempered, nor self-indulgent, but there is a something wanting whose absence spoils everything about him. He wants the one thing needful. He is not spiritual, he has no savor of Christ, his heart is not warm, his soul is not alive, he wants grace. We cannot expect the Spirit of God to bless a ministry which never ought to have been exercised, and certainly a graceless ministry is of that character.
Another thing which drives him away is pride. The way to be very .great is to be very little. To be very noteworthy in your own esteem is to be unnoticed of God. If you will dwell near the skies, you shall find the mountain summits cold and barren: the Lord dwells with the lowly, but he knows the proud afar off.
The Holy Ghost is also vexed by laziness. I cannot imagine the Spirit waiting at the door of a sluggard, and supplying the deficiencies of an idle man. Sloth in the cause of the Redeemer is a vice for which no excuse can be invented. We ourselves feel our flesh creep when we see the dilatory movements of sluggards, and we may be sure that the active Spirit is equally vexed with those who trifle in the work of the Lord. Neglect of private prayer and many other evils will produce the same unhappy result, but there is no need to enlarge, for your own consciences will tell you, brethren, what it is that grieves the Holy One of Israel.
And now, let me entreat you, listen to this word: — Do you know what may happen if the Spirit of God be greatly grieved and depart from us.
There are two suppositions. The first is that we never were God’s true servants at all, but only temporarily used by him, even as Satan’s agency may be overruled for good. Suppose, brethren, that you and I go on comfortably preaching for a while, and are neither suspected by ourselves or others to be destitute of the Spirit of God: it may all come to an end on a sudden, and we may be smitten down in our prime, as were Nadab and Abihu, no more to be seen ministering before the Lord. We have no inspired annalist to record for us the sudden cutting off of promising men, but if we had, it may be we should read with terror of zeal sustained by strong drink, and of strange fire presented upon the altar till the Lord would endure it no more, and cut off the offenders with a sudden stroke.
Shall this ever be our doom?
Alas, I have seen some deserted by the Holy Spirit, as Saul was. It is written that the Spirit of God came upon Saul, but he was faithless to the divine influence, and it departed, and an evil spirit occupied its place. See how the deserted preacher moodily plays the cynic, criticizes all others, and hurls a javelin at a better man than himself. Saul was once among the prophets, but he was more at home among the persecutors. The disappointed preacher worries the true evangelist, resorts to the witchcraft of philosophy, and seeks help from dead heresies, but his power is gone, and the Philistines will soon find him among the slain. Some, too, deserted by the Spirit of God, have become like the sons of one Sceva, a Jew. These pretenders tried to cast out devils in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preached, but the devils leaped upon them and overcame them; thus while certain preachers have declaimed against sin, the very vices which they denounced have overcome them. The sons of Sceva have been among us in England: the devils of drunkenness have prevailed over the very man who denounced the bewitching cup, and the demon of unchastity has leaped upon the preacher who applauded purity. If the Holy Ghost be absent, ours is of all positions the most perilous; therefore let us beware.
Alas, some ministers become like Balaam. He was a prophet, was he not?
Did he not speak in the name of the Lord? Yet Balaam fought against Israel, and cunningly devised a scheme by which the chosen people might be overthrown. Ministers of the gospel have become Papists, infidels, and freethinkers, and plotted the destruction of what they once professed to prize. We may be apostles, and yet, like Judas, turn out to be sons of perdition. Woe unto us if this be the case!
Brethren, I will assume that we really are children of God, and what then?
Why, even then, if the Spirit of God depart from us, we may be taken away on a sudden as the deceived prophet was who failed to obey the command of the Lord. He was no doubt a man of God, and the death of his body was no mark of the loss of his soul, but he broke away from what he knew to be the command of God given specially to himself, and his ministry ended there and then. May the Holy Spirit preserve us from deceivers, and keep us true to the voice of God.
Worse still, we may reproduce the life of Samson, upon whom the Spirit of God came in the camps of Dan; but in Delilah’s lap he lost his strength, and in the dungeon he lost his eyes. He bravely finished his life-work, blind as he was, but who among us wishes to tempt such a fate?
Or — and this last has saddened me beyond all expression — we may be left by the Spirit of God to mar the close of our life-work as Moses did.
Not to lose our souls, nay, not even to lose our crown; but, still, to be under a cloud by once speaking unadvisedly with our lips. I have lately studied that story of the prophet of Horeb, and I have not recovered yet from the deep gloom of spirit which it cast over me. What was the the sin of Moses? You need not enquire. It was not gross like the sin of David, nor startling like the sin of Peter; it seems an infinitesimal sin as weighed in the balances of ordinary judgment. But then, you see, it was the sin of Moses, of a man favored of God above all others, of a leader of the people, of a representative of the divine King. The Lord could have overlooked it in anyone else, but not in Moses: Moses must be chastened by being forbidden to lead the people into the promised land. Truly, he had a glorious view from the top of Pisgah, but it was a great disappointment never to enter the land of Israel’s inheritance, and that for once speaking unadvisedly. I would not shun my Master’s service, but I tremble in his presence. It is a dreadful thing to be beloved of God. “Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly” — he alone can face that sin-consuming love. Brethren, I beseech you, crave Moses’ place, but tremble as you take it. Fear and tremble for all the good that God shall make to pass before you. When you are fullest of the fruits of the Spirit bow lowest before the throne, and serve the Lord with fear. “The Lord our God is a jealous God.” Remember that God has come unto us, not to exalt us, but to exalt himself, and we must be diminished as he increases in us. You will not increase as Jesus increases, but the reverse. “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Oh, may God bring us to this, and make us walk very carefully and humbly before him. God will search us and try us, for he begins in judgment firs[at his own house, and there he begins with his ministers. Will any of us be found wanting? Shall the pit of hell draw a portion of its wretched inhabitants from among us? Terrible will be the doom of a fallen preacher: his condemnation will astonish common transgressors. O for the Spirit of God to make and keep us alive unto God, faithful to our office, and useful to men’s souls. Amen.
ARE YOU CARRYING A LIFE SHELL ABOUT YOU?
ALIVE shell fell on the quarter-deck, and a brave sailor seizing it with both hands carried it to the ship’s side and threw it overboard. Was not this cool courage? It was, and it is to be admired. The man voluntarily placed himself in jeopardy of instant destruction, and yet retained his calm presence of mind: it was wonderfully heroic. But what shall we think of men who remain in peril of the destruction of their souls, for no heroic purpose, or justifiable reason, and yet are as unconcerned as if there were no danger? They carry hell in their bosoms and are not afraid! They even rejoice in that which will be their sure damnation. This is not courage, but madness. The sailor was rid of his terrible handful as soon as possible, but these retain the deadly shell and play with it as if it were a toy. Reader: is this true of you?
TAKE TIME BY THE FORELOCK IF we have half-a-dozen trains starting between now and the time when we must go to meet some engagement, we are not particular which train we take; but if we know that the next train is the last, how very earnest we are in the matter of getting to the station. Every hour there is a last train — the going of opportunities which will never, never come back. Indeed, all our opportunities of usefulness are speeding away. You have less physical strength — perhaps less mental strength — than you once had. You will have less in the future. The people with whom you come in contact in business circles during the approaching week, you will meet, perhaps for the last time. The fields all around us are white to the harvest. The gospel sickle is ready, the wages are large, and Jesus asks us to go into the harvest fields and bind sheaves for the heavenly garner. Shall we refuse? — Christian at Work.
JOHN PLOUGHMAN’S SERMON ON
“BEWARE OF DOGS” IF this were a regular sermon preached from a pulpit of course I should make it long and dismal, for fear people should call me eccentric. As it is only meant to be read at home I will make it short, though it will not be sweet, for I have not a sweet subject. The text is taken from the Epistle to the Philippians, the third chapter and the second verse. “BEWARE OF DOGS.” You know what dogs are, and you know how you beware of them when a bull-dog flies at you to the full length of his chain, so the words don’t want any clearing up.
It is very odd that the Bible never says a good word for dogs: I suppose the breed must have been bad in those eastern parts, or else, as our minister tells me, they were nearly wild, had no master in particular, and were left to prowl about half starved. No doubt a dog is very like a man, and becomes a sad dog when he has himself for a master. We are all the better for having somebody to look up to; and those who say they care for nobody and nobody cares for them are dogs of the worst breed, and, for a certain reason, are never likely to be drowned.
Dear friends, I shall have heads and tails like other parsons, and I am sure I have a right to them, for they are found in the subjects before us.
Firstly, then, let us beware of dirty dogs — or as Paul calls them, “evil workers “ — those who love filth and roll in it. Dirty dogs will spoil your clothes, and make you as foul as they are themselves. A man is known by his company; if you go with loose fellows your character will be tarred with the same brush as theirs. People can’t be very nice in their distinctions; if they see a bird always flying with the crows, and feeding and nesting with them they call it a crow, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred they are right. If you are fond of the kennel, and like to run with the hounds, you will never make the world believe that you are a pet lamb.
Besides, bad company does a man real harm, for, as the old proverb has it, if you lie down with dogs you will get up with fleas.
You cannot keep too far off a man with the fever, and a man of wicked life. If a lady in a fine dress sees a big dog come out of a horse-pond, and ran about shaking himself dry, she is very particular to keep out of his way, and from this we may learn a lesson, — when we see a man half gone in liquor, sprinkling his dirty talk all around him, our best place is half-a-mile off at the least.
Secondly, beware of ,snarling dogs. There are plenty of these about; they are generally very small creatures, but they more than make up for their size by their noise. .They yap and snap without end. Dr. Watts said- “Let dogs delight to bark and bite, For God has made them so.” But I cannot make such an excuse for the two-legged dogs I am writing about, for their own vile tempers, and the devil together, have made them what they are. They find fault with anything and everything. When they dare they howl, and when they cannot do that they lie down and growl inwardly. Beware of these creatures. Make no friends with an angry man: as well make a bed of stinging nettles or wear a viper for a necklace.
Perhaps the fellow is just now very fond of you, but beware of him, for he who barks at others to-day without a cause will one day howl at you for nothing. Don’t offer him a kennel down your yard unless he will let you chain him up. When you see that a man has a bitter spirit, and gives nobody a good word, quietly walk away and keep out of his track if you can.
Loaded guns and quick tempered people are dangerous pieces of furniture; they don’t mean any hurt, but they are very apt to go off and do mischief before you dream of it. Better go a mile round than get into a fight; better sit down on a dozen tacks with the points up than get into a dispute with an angry neighbor.
Thirdly, beware of fawning dogs. They jump up upon you and leave the marks of their dirty paws. How they will lick your hand and fondle you as long as there are bones to be got: like the lover who said to the cook, “Leave you, dear girl, never, while you have a shilling.” Too much sugar in the talk should lead us to suspect that there is very little in the heart. The moment a man praises you to your face mark him, for he is the very gentleman to rail at you behind your back. If a fellow takes the trouble to flatter he expects to be paid for it, and he calculates that he will get his wages out of the soft brains of those he tickles. When people stoop down it generally is to pick something up, and men don’t stoop to flatter you unless they reckon upon getting something out of you. When you see too much politeness you may generally smell a rat if you give a good sniff. Young people need to be on the watch against flatterers, especially young women with pretty faces and a little money. To these we would say beware of puppies!
Fourthly, beware of greedy dogs, such as can never have enough.
Grumbling is catching; one discontented man sets others complaining, and this is a bad state of mind to fall into. Folks who are greedy are not always honest, and if they see a chance they will put their spoon into their neighbor’s porridge; why not into yours? See how cleverly they skin a flint; before long you will find them skinning you, and as you are not quite so used to it as the eels are, you had better give Mr. Skinner a wide berth.
When a man boasts that he never gives anything away, you may read it as a caution — beware of dogs. A liberal, kind-hearted friend helps you to keep down your selfishness, but a greedy grasper tempts you to put an extra button on your pocket. Hungry dogs will wolf down any quantity of meat, and then look out for more, and so will greedy men swallow farms and houses, and then smell around for something else. I am sick of the animals:
I mean both the dogs and the men. Talking of nothing but gold, and how to make money, and how to save it — why one had better live with the hounds at once, and howl over your share of dead horse. The mischief a miserly wretch may do to a man’s heart no tongue can tell; one might as well be bitten by a mad dog, for greediness is as bad a madness as a mortal can be tormented-with. Keep out of the company of screwdrivers, tightfists, hold-fasts, and bloodsuckers; beware of dogs.
Fifthly, beware of yelping dogs. Those who talk much tell a great many lies, and if you love truth you had better not love them. Those who talk much are likely enough to speak ill of their neighbors, and of yourself among the rest; and therefore if you do not want to be town-talk, you will be wise to find other friends. Prate-a-pace will weary you out one day, and you will be wise to break off his acquaintance before it is made. Do not lodge in Clack-street, nor next door to the Gossip’s Head. A lion’s jaw is nothing compared to a talebearer’s. If you have a dog which is always barking, and should chance to lose him, don’t spent a penny in advertising for him. Few are the blessings which are poured upon dogs which howl all night and wake up honest householders, but even these can be better put up with than those incessant chatterers who never let a man’s character rest either day or night.
Sixthly, beware of dogs that worry the sheer. Such get into our churches, and cause a world of misery. Some have new doctrines as rotten as they are new; others have new plans, whims, and crochets, and nothing will go right till these are tried; and there is a third sort, which are out of love with everybody and everything, and only come into the churches to see if they can make a row. Mark these, and keep clear of them. There are plenty of humble Christians who only want leave to be quiet and mind their own business, and these troublers are their plague. To hear the gospel, and to be helped to do good, is all that the most of our members want, but these worries come in with their “ologies” and puzzlements, and hard speeches, and cause sorrow upon sorrow. A good shepherd will soon fetch these dogs a good crack of the head; but they will be at their work again if they see half a chance. What pleasure can they find in it? Surely they must have a touch of the wolf in their nature. At any rate, beware of dogs.
Seventhly, beware of dogs who have returned to their vomit. An apostate is like a leper. As a rule none are more bitter enemies of the cross than those who once professed to be followers of Jesus. He who can turn away from Christ is not a fit companion for any honest man. There are many abroad now-a-days who have thrown off religion as easily as a ploughman puts off his jacket. It Will be a terrible day for them when the heavens are on fire above them, and the world is ablaze under feet. If a man calls himself my friend, and leaves the ways of God, then his way and mine are different; he who is no friend to the good cause, is no friend of mine.
Lastly, finally, and to finish up, beware of dogs that have no master. If a fellow makes free with the Bible, and the Jaws of his country, and common decency, it is time to make free to tell him we had rather have his room than his company. A certain set of wonderfully wise men are talking very big things, and putting their smutty fingers upon everything which their fathers thought to be good and holy. Poor fools, they are not half as clever as they think they are. Like hogs in a flower-garden, they are for rooting up everything, and some people are so frightened that they stand as if they were stuck, and hold up their hands in-horror at the creatures. When the hogs have been in my Master’s garden, and I have had the big whip handy, I warrant you 1 have made a clearance, and I only wish I was a scholar, for I would lay about me among these free-thinking gentry, and make them squeal to a long meter tune. As John Ploughman has other fish to fry, and other tails to butter, he must leave these mischievous creatures, and finish his rough ramshackle sermon.
Beware of dogs. Beware of all who will do you harm. Good company is to be had, why want bad? It is said of heaven, “without are dogs.” Let us make friends of those who can go inside of heaven, for there we hope to go ourselves. We shall go to our company when we die; let it be such that we shall be glad to go to it.
THE MINIMUM CHRISTIAN.
THE minimum Christian! And who is he? The Christian who is going to heaven at the cheapest, rate possible. The Christian who intends to get all of the world he can, and not meet the worldling’s doom. The Christian who aims to have as little religion as he may without lacking it altogether.
The minimum Christian goes to worship in the morning’; and in the evening also, unless it rains, or is too warm, or too cold, or he is sleepy, or has the headache from eating too much at dinner. He listens most respectfully to the preacher, and joins in prayer and praise. He applies the truth very judiciously, sometimes to himself, oftener to his neighbors.
The minimum Christian is very friendly to all good works. He wishes them well, but it is not in his power to do much for them. The Sabbath-school he looks upon as an admirable institution, especially for the neglected and ignorant. It is not convenient, however, for him to take a class: his business engagements are so pressing during the week that he needs the Sabbath as a day of rest; nor does he think himself qualified to act as a teacher. There are so many persons better prepared for this important duty, that he must beg to be excused. He is very friendly to home and foreign missions, and colportage, and gives his mite, but he is quite unable to aid in the management, for his own concerns are so excessively important. He thinks there are “too many appeals;” but he gives, if not enough to save his reputation, pretty near it, at all events he aims at it, and never overshoots the mark.
The minimum Christian is not clear on a number of points. The opera and dancing, the theater and card-playing, and large fashionable parties give him much trouble. He cannot see the harm in this, or that, or the other popular amusement. There is nothing in the Bible against it. He does not see but what a man may be a Christian and dance or go to the opera. He knows several excellent persons who do so; at least, so he says. Why should not he? He stands so close to · ,he dividing-line between the people of God and the people of the world, that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found.
Ah, my brother, are you making this attempt? Beware, lest you find at last that in trying to get to heaven with a little religion, you miss it altogether; lest without gaining the whole world, you lose your own soul. True godliness demands self-denial and cross-bearing, and if you have none of these you are making a false profession.
NOTES THROUGHOUT the months of April and May sickness has kept us to our chamber, but in great goodness the Lord has now permitted us to preach on the Lord’s-day. For some months to come this, with our pressing home duties, is all that we can attempt. All engagements to preach abroad must stand postponed or canceled, and no new work of any sort can be undertaken. Necessity has no law. If the great Master would give more physical and mental strength, we should be delighted to use it for him and for his church, but if he denies it, we must submit.
The colporteurs have usually come up to the Tabernacle each year, after the College Conference, and we believe the custom has been very beneficial, breaking the monotony of the year, keeping the men together, and helping to warm their hearts. This year, the president being ill, only a few were brought up, and these held meetings and were addressed by Pastor J. A. Spurgeon and some of those indefatigable brethren who manage the Colportage Association. We believe they were all the better for assembling, and they showed their affection to the President by sending him a letter of tender sympathy. Our workers are all a loving clan, and so are our people and adherents. May they receive rich blessings in return for their kindness to us. The report of the Colportage is very encouraging, for God is blessing the work very greatly: the only thing which troubles us is the private information that funds are lust now at a very low ebb. There are forty-seven men at work, good books to the value of £4,415 were sold last year, and the work is growing, but God’s people do not think enough of this means of usefulness to support it adequately. We do not intend to let this difficulty trouble us, for we have no strength to waste on care, but we should be all the happier if this good work commended itself to more Christian men, who would be both able and willing to help. A report will be sent to any one who applies for it, enclosing a stamp. Direct, Secretary of Colportage, Pastors’ College, Newington Butts, London. Shall the priestridden villages of England be evangelized by this efficient agency or not?
The answer must depend upon the means with which the society is supplied. We shall give a condensation of the report next month. One friend who read of the colportage work in our “History of the Tabernacle,” has just sent on £40 to start a fresh colporteur. Here is good cheer.
Mrs. Spurgeon desires gratefully to record the signal success and blessing which attends her “Book Fund.” Contributions come steadily in, books are constantly going out, and our beloved one has the happiness of seeing the work of the Lord prospering in her hands. There are many very interesting facts and details connected with this little “labor of love” which we shall hope to give our readers on some future occasion. Meanwhile Mrs. Spurgeon charges us with two messages: — the first of thanks to those kind friends whose liberal gifts enable her to continue and extend the benefits of the fund; and the second — of invitation to those pastors whose means and libraries are limited, to apply to her for a grant of books. Both of these will be sure to meet with a hearty response. We are personally full of adoring gratitude to God for enabling our beloved sufferer to commence and carry on a work of such magnitude, so full of blessing to pastors and people. “Lectures to My Students” have, by the generosity of a friend, been offered to all the Calvinistic Methodist preachers in North Wales, and now the same thing is being done for South Wales. It is no small work for an invalid, and a daily sufferer, to send out many hundreds of these, besides parcels of books to applicants.
From the number of students in the College we hate to report one as gone home to glory. Our brother Lawrence was an earnest, promising preacher of the word, but he is called by his Lord to sing instead of preach. May all of us who survive be stirred up to use this life while we have it. Will our brethren pray for an increased blessing on the College.
Recognition services have just been held in connection with the promising settlement of our brethren, Mr. H. O. Mackey (at Southampton), and Mr. W. Buster (at Surbiton).
Mr. Charles Wright has accepted the co-pastorate of the church at Horncastle, Lincolnshire, and Mr. Bailey is going to the pastorate of the church at Smethwick, near Birmingham.
Mr. F. Page is about leaving England for Adelaide, South Australia, to labor in connection with the Baptist Association there.
In reference to the Orphanage, all goes well. The annual meeting is to be held on Tuesday, June 20. On that day there will be a fete, public meeting, and sale of goods. If friends will forward bazaar goods as soon as they conveniently can we shall be much encouraged. The boys will be glad of interesting books for their library, and we commend the orphans’ request to all booksellers and publishers in particular and good people in general The annual meeting on June 20 will celebrate the Pastor’s forty-second birthday.
We heartily congratulate the Baptist denomination upon the calling of Dr. Landels to the Presidential chair for this year. His inaugural address was the utterance of a Greatheart. It has, of course, brought upon him the wrath of certain Independents and others, but that will be a small matter to him. Truth is at home in the midst of storms, and a strong nature like that of Dr. Landels takes delight in battling for a good and great cause. The Baptists have had enough of being patronized as a small sect, whose peculiarities were not offensively intruded; we have no wish to be indulged and tolerated by the more respectable branch of the Congregational body, for such kindness is tinctured with contempt. We have a deposit of sacred truth to defend, and we shall not hesitate to battle for it. It is well to be put by our leaders into this position. Our best thanks are due to the bold man who is more eager to bear the responsibility of his office than to wear its honors.
In the matter of the Burials’ Bill, Dr. Landels also spoke out right honestly.
We were amused to find him quoted in the House of Lords, as though singular in his assertions, for to a man the Baptists are all of erie mind; we can never rest till Episcopacy is disestablished and perfect religious equality is found everywhere. Leave to bury our dead in the graveyards which belong to every Englishman will be a liberty for which we shall not even say “thank you,” for it is no more than our right. As for the idea that this is the end of our demands, it is preposterous. There must be no patronage or oppression of any faith by the State, and all men must stand equal before the law whatever their creed may be; and until this is the case our demands will not cease. Dr. Landels did not go an inch beyond his brief; he only stated energetically the common claims of all Nonconformists. There may be a few odd and cranky Dissenters of another mind, but we never come across them; those among whom we move from day to day have long ago made up their minds that the patronage of a sect is a violation of the natural rights of men, an insult to the consciences of many, and the root of innumerable evils. The cause of disestablishment is no mere piece of politics, but a sacred inheritance for which we contend with our whole hearts.
THE EDITOR AND THE VESTRY OF SHOREDITCH THE article in our last number, entitled “A Picture of Shoreditch,” has brought us into hot water. The authorities of Shoreditch were naturally very indignant at finding their district so described, and demanded a retraction. We expressed our readiness to withdraw any statements which could be proved to be untrue, and meanwhile we also set to work to put the details of the article to the test. We found at once that the sum and substance of the error lay in the title. Mr. Pike, the writer of our article, described the district near Mr. Cuff’s chapel, and called it Shoreditch: but his remarks almost entirely relate to streets which are not within the boundaries of that parish. As a little paper, entitled The Ventilator, remarks — “ The district whose unodorous perfume is made to stink in the nostrils of the people is not Shoreditch.” We are glad to find that the vestrymen are jealous of the honor of their parish, and ready to resent any implied charges of neglect of sanitary laws; and we are glad to be able at once to acknowledge the mistake made, and to express our regret that any offense has been given them. At the same time they should look leniently on the blunder, for it is a very natural one, and we feel sure we should ourselves have fallen into it, had we written the article. Very few persons are so learned in parochial geography as to know at once that a district verging close upon Shoreditch High Street, and lying hard at the back of Shoreditch church, is not in Shoreditch, but in quite another region. The Sunday Magazine, edited by Dr. Guthrie, for the month of April, 1869, contains an article entitled “A Sunday in Shoreditch,” but the spots of which it speaks are in Bethnal Green. Where one writer has blundered another may be excused.
Mr. Pike’s article contains within itself a rectification of the misnomer of the title, for it mentions particular streets and rows, and also speaks of that “awful region at the back of Shoreditch Church,” which the vestrymen themselves know is not under their jurisdiction. Still, a mistake has been made, and we are sorry for it, and in the frankest manner tender our apologies to the gentlemen aggrieved. Changing the title of the article, and leaving Shore-ditch parish out of consideration, is the article true? It is. We believed it to be so all along; for Mr. Pike has been known to us for many years, and we have the utmost confidence in him: still, we made inquiry as best we could, considering our severe illness. Mr. Pike informed us at once that his materials came mostly from “The City Mission Magazine,” and that he had nothing to withdraw or alter except the title. So far, so good.
We then sent an impartial gentleman to make diligent search, and the result was fully confirmatory. We do not think it our duty to go into sanitary matters in this magazine; but what our commissioner saw and smelt with his own eyes and nose would be rather more startling than our constituents would care to read about. We have before us a list of courts, places, and streets, with an estimate of the number of families in each house, and the state of sanitary matters; and we are surprised that a pestilence is not created in such places. Our commissioner’s summary concludes with the words, “The report in the Sword and Trowel is substantially correct.” Of this investigation Mr. Pike knew nothing, or he might, perhaps, have indicated places where every detail could be verified. As it is, we think that quite as much has been made of the erroneous title as need to have been, for no one intended to blame the authorities of Shoreditch or any other parish, and persons on the spot must have seen with half an eye where the mistake lay.
THE POWER OF NONCONFORMITY.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
NONCONFORMITY in England was at first a protest against the errors of the church established by law, it is at the present time a protest against the establishment of any church whatever by the state. In the enlarged area of its protesting it is driven to use other weapons than it employed at first, and to give greater prominence than it once did to matters aforetime regarded as of small moment: our fear is lest the baser weapons should put the nobler out of fashion, and the secondary aims should overshadow the primary intents. We think it right to struggle earnestly against the unhallowed alliance of church and state, and to use the political power with which we are entrusted to promote the principles of religious equality. May the best success attend the exertions of those who devote their lives to this object in their own way. We wish them God speed with all our heart. Still the real power of Nonconformity will never be increased at the hustings; it may be displayed there ever and anon for noble ends, but it is not gained there nor fostered there. Ministers do well to give their votes, and to express their opinions for the guidance of their people, but in proportion as the preaching becomes political, and the pastor sinks the spiritual in the temporal, strength is lost and not gained. Romanists obtain power by various maneuvers, and devices which we would not use if we could; their kingdom is of this world, and they are not slow to use all the methods of the children of this world in gaining their ends; Dissenters will never be powerful in this fashion. There will we hope never be a Nonconformist brass band in the House of Commons ready to side with either party in order to obtain fresh privileges for their clan, nor will men in office be secretly influenced and induced to patronize Dissent by the hope of quieting secret societies of Nonconforming rebels. The Church of England also has not scrupled for its own purposes to ally itself with the partisans of the liquor traffic, and write upon its banners “Beer and Bible”: to this also it is to be hoped Dissent will never come; neither will it ever be supported by the landed interest, the nobility, and the vast army of persons whose positions are more or less mixed up with the conservation of things as they are. We are to a very large extent shut out from the use of instrumentality’s which others possess in abundance, and it is well that it is so, at least we think it well, and many others agree with us in the opinion. Our forefathers left the Church of England because of the serious errors of her prayerbook, her form of church government, and her manner of ecclesiastical procedure. Upon spiritual grounds they left her, and suffered the loss of all things. They could not be true men and subscribe to her doctrines, nor honest pastors if they sanctioned her laxity of discipline, nor faithful to their convictions if they yielded allegiance to her prelates. Their piety as much as their creed drove them out, and made them a power in the land despite the persecution which they endured. Very few of them objected to a state-church, as such; probably most of them agreed with an ideal church of the nation, though the actual embodiment of it was obnoxious to them; in this we have outrun them, and we ought to be grateful for our greater light. But the narrowness of their protest may greatly have tended to increase its force. They fixed their eye on doctrinal and practical evils of the first magnitude, and turned their undivided energy in that direction; we would not obscure what we have added, but we wish the first original things were more tenaciously held. Spirituality of mind was the Puritan’s weapon against religious formality, sound doctrinal teaching was his shield against Popery; by watchful discipline in the church he protested against an all-comprehending establishment, and by a careful maintenance of household devotion, every man being a priest in his own home, he superseded the daily services of the steeple-house and the pretensions of the parish priest. The life and power of the gospel made the meeting-house the resort of devout men, and made it impossible for the State-paid parson with informers, bailiffs, and county magistrates at his back, to put down Dissent. These holy men had no influence at the polling-booth, but they were mighty at the mercy-seat; they were nowhere on an election-day, but they went everywhere preaching the word. Hence came their acknowledged power, and hence must ours come also.
Alas, there were times of wretched blight, when Nonconformity became respectable, intellectual, cold, and worldly. Her great antagonist and herself alike felt the deadly power of Arianism, and then it is true she sought to justify her position rather by appealing to the rights of man than to the truth of God. Small enough was her success. The uprise of Methodism under Whitefield and Wesley did more for Nonconformity than all the agitators for religious liberty that ever lived. The object aimed at was the glory of God and the conversion of souls, the end gained was the arousing of the churches and the revival of evangelical doctrine, but as a remoter consequence the entire position of Dissenters was elevated, and it became impossible to keep them down. Like a volcanic force which cannot be kept in cheek, but moves all things according to its will, the power of vital godliness caused a general upheaval, and hurled to the ground institutions of persecution which seemed to have been built upon a rock. The awakened church of God began again to Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and other things were added unto her, for which she had scarcely hoped. She grasped no longer the wooden weapon of mere intellect, but took for her watchword “the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” and her victories were sure.
At this time we deem it needful to insist upon it that the real power of Nonconformity must still be found in true doctrine, holy living, burning zeal, and simple faith. Agitate by all means for those just reforms which will give religious equality to all men, but do not neglect the weightier matters; “these things ought ye to have done, but not to have left the other undone.” If our pulpits become infected with errors which becloud the atonement, if our members grow worldly and lukewarm, and if the life of piety and the power of prayer become weak in our churches’, the essential force of Nonconformity will be gone. The subscriptions to the Liberation Society may not be diminished for a generation, and the funds of our various institutions may even show an increase, but the worm is at the root, and in a few years decay will assuredly appear, if spirituality shall be at a discount and truth be undervalued. Nothing can serve the ends of our semipopish established church so much as unspiritual Dissent. “I was driven to the parish church,” said a devout Baptist to us the other day, “because the only dissenting place near me was an Independent chapel, where the minister did not preach the gospel as I had been accustomed to hear it; no, nor the gospel at all. I found more food for my soul under an evangelical clergyman than at the chapel, and so I went to church, sorely against my will.” We have heard others say “The people at the Baptist chapel were so dead, and of such high doctrine, that I could not join them. I went several miles to hear a pious curate in a little’ church, and much as I dislike a form of prayer, I put up with it for the sake of the gospel which the good man gave us.” Such things ought not to be; but we fear such things are becoming far too common. Where the old orthodox faith is preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and errors are pointed out plainly and the truth declared, our people become Nonconformists to the backbone; but no true man of God will sacrifice the vital doctrines of the word of God, and the good of his soul and the hope of seeing his children converted, to what is an important, but still a secondary matter. We fear that in certain quarters, Nonconformity has need to cry, “Save me from my friends.” The “modem culture” men are undermining the structure which they profess to build up, the pretenders to intellectual preaching are clouding the gospel which they are supposed to proclaim, and the gentlemen of aesthetic taste are aping the ritualism against which it should have been their first business to protest. We confess we do not understand why certain persons are with us at all, they would be more in their places in the opposite camp. A Nonconformist, and yet use a liturgy! If a man can bring his mind to a liturgical service it is a mere whim which makes him seek an improvement on that of our National Church. A Dissenter who knows not why he dissents, and only does so from political motives, or from the force of education, is a weakness to those among whom he is classed; but a Dissenter who actually leads others towards the very church from which he professes to dissent is far worse, he is a traitor in the camp and ought not to be endured. If we had a writ to serve upon the parties here intended we should not be long in finding them.
We need at this time to make our spiritual and doctrinal protest more clear than it has been. A powerful society represents our political demands, but we have no organization whatever to promote our far higher designs. Why is this? Dissent is represented politically, but not doctrinally. How comes this to be the case? Surely the second is by far the more important. If the present Anglican church were disestablished to-morrow we should conscientiously dissent from her as much as ever, for our differences are solemn, grave, vital, and are not at all confined to her being a state-church.
It is a pity that this fact should be so little remembered. How is it that Nonconformists are so little instructed in the great religious principles by which they justify their distinctive position? How is it that they take so little trouble to instruct others in the same? Is it more pleasant to talk politics than to preach Christ? Are there more charms in warring against flesh and blood than in wrestling with spiritual wickednesses in high places? Our call is for old-fashioned Dissenters, for doctrinal Protesters, for godly Nonconformity to the world, for deeper piety and more sound doctrine; we must have them or the cause will go down, and deserves to go down. The life of God in the soul is a force which nothing can baffle, and it has power, like the cherub’s flaming sword at the gates of Eden, to turn every way: “There is none like it, give it me.”
We may be misunderstood in this article, and some may suppose that we are shifting our ground, but they will greatly err if they think so. We have aforetime urged every Christian to exercise the franchise and use his political privileges as in the sight of God, and we do so still with equal energy; but this is by no means so vital, or so essential to the best interests of Nonconformity as soundness in the faith, and depth of piety. We value the agency which protests against the unrighteousness which patronizes a sect, but we believe that this is not all; there ought to be a powerful organization for spiritual objects, whose one business should be to expose the original sins of the Anglican body, and to lay bare the ever-growing errors within her pale. If ever this work needed doing it is now. It would lay the ax at the root of the tree, and accomplish far more towards disestablishment than any other imaginable agency, with the one exception of the church herself, which is doing all it can for its own overthrow. For our part, we should like to see a vigorous, evangelical Episcopal church in this land, free of the Slate, and purged of Popery; we have no enmity in our heart towards any branch of the true church of Christ, but desire to see it flourish and fill the land with fruit; but the present hodge-podge must be ended or mended. It cannot be described by any one term, it is good and evil, light and darkness, Popery and Protestantism, and while the evil neutralizes the good, the good assists the evil to do its mischievous work.
O Lord, how long! Souls are being ruined wholesale by high church and broad-church teaching, and the low church lends the aid of its association to the deadly work: this moves our very soul. Party ends we have none; but God’s gospel, the good of souls, the honor of Jesus, all demand of us that this evil corporation should not go unrebuked, but should be resisted with the sword of the Spirit, ‘ which is the Word of God. Are there none who think with us, and are able and willing to make our suggestion a fact?
Mr. Spurgeon is much better in health, mercy ye eager pleaders for “just one day but is still weak, and earnestly begs friends at our anniversary!” At least enclose a not to press him so importunately to preach stamp when, after getting one answer, ever)’ day and every where. Have some you write again. Why should the postage tax be to the poor victim a growing load Could any one of our readers guess what a public man’s correspondence costs him! Make it a penny less by not asking him to preach when he is not well.
June 19. The ordinary prayer meeting was turned into a season of thanksgiving on account of the restoration of the Pastor and our beloved deacon William Olney to a measure of health. It is indeed a special favor from God to the Pastor to have his zealous deacon spared. Great numbers were present and much of the Divine presence was enjoyed. As the members of the church had earnestly prayed for their two brethren so did they with equal fervor magnify the name of the Lord who has so graciously answered the petitions of his people. At the same meeting prayer was offered for Mr. Page, one of the students, who is sailing for Australia, and for two others, who are settling in spheres of usefulness at home. It imparts great interest to prayer meetings when there are distinct objects before the people, and those too of a practical character. The reports which are continually being sent in of answers to special prayers here presented are very cheering and greatly tend to encourage faith.
June 20. A fete was held at the Orphanage to celebrate its anniversary and to keep the Pastor’s birthday. The crowds were beyond all precedent on such occasions, and all the provision which had been made, though it was very large, failed to meet the demands and had to be greatly increased.
Difficulties and delays were borne with patience, and all went merry as a marriage bell. Everybody came with loving heart and smiling countenance.
The Pastor’s arm and hand will long remember the thousands of hearty salutations which he received, and his heart will never forget the affectionate and encouraging words which were addressed to him by his beloved people and attached friends. The goods which have been received during the year were sold at a bazaar. We shall be glad at all times to receive contributions of all sorts, for we always find a fit occasion for their sale sooner or later. The meeting in the evening, presided over by Sir Henry Havelock, was held in the open air, for no hall at the Orphanage, or near it, could accommodate the multitude. Dr. McEwen, of Clapham, Mr. Jones of Brixton, Mr. President Wigner, and five Spurgeons addressed the meeting. Seldom does a man find himself followed in his ministry by two sons and two grandsons, and live to speak with them at the same meeting.
The Lord’s name be praised for mercies to the families of his people.
Writing as we do, just at the close of the meeting, we cannot be accurate in our statements, but we believe that at least £500 will be gained for the Orphanage by the day. We owe special thanks to the generous friend who sent in £42, so as to give a golden token of his esteem for every year of the Pastor’s life. Many other birthday gifts ought also to be noted, but space prevents. Everybody has been kind and we feel bowed beneath the load of our mercies. Never was the Orphanage in so happy and holy a state, never were the funds in so sound a condition, or friends so hearty in supporting it. The Foundation fund has received legacies of about £6,500 this year, and the general income has also been larger than ever. Business is slack and money is hard to obtain, so all the world is saying, but the orphans’ Father knows how to provide for his own. The Report will be issued with the Magazine. Our best thanks are due and are hereby tendered to our friend Mr. Murrell and his staff for the tremendous exertions which they made on the day just past. They were at its close like men who had fought a great battle. The feeding of three thousand when the loaves and fishes grow by miracle does not involve the toil which has to be borne by those who on a sudden find that bread and butter and cake and hot tea are needed by a thousand more people than they expected, although they looked for. two thousand. God bless the men who so cheerfully do the Church’s hardest work. We wish, however, that our friends when they mean to come to a meeting would buy their tickets a day before, that we may know how to provide. It is a singular fact that up to the very morning only four hundred tickets were taken, and yet when the thousands came without giving us notice they expected us to be ready for them. Next time we shall have to consult Dr. Cumming or some other prophetic brother.
June 21. The Female Servants’ Home Society held its annual meeting in our Lecture Hall. The Pastor presided. Prizes were given to sixty or more domestic servants who had kept their places for 2, 5, 9, and 15 years, the last receiving valuable gold medals. The Society provides a home for servants while out of place. More than 1,000 were thus shielded from evil during the past year, and the whole expense to the public, including prizes was only £150. Was ever money better employed? The Society deserves to be greatly enlarged.
Mr. Collins, of Penge, sends us a most pleasing account of the anniversary just held there. What with sermons from Messrs. Maitland, Cuff, and Varley (in whose restored health we greatly rejoice), and speeches from Brethren Tarn, J. A. Brown, and Stone, the Penge people must have had a fine time of it. Everything goes on well, and in the autumn the friends hope to hold a Bazaar to reduce their debt. Old friends of Mr. Collins, and Penge, who wish to help can send parcels to Mr. Blackshaw, at the Tabernacle, who will gladly send them on.
We are endeavoring to form a Baptist church at Herne Bay. The land is given, and the friends have brought up £115 to which we will add £100.
Baptists who take in their year’s salt at this quiet little watering place will, we hope, back us up in this effort. Students from the College preach in the Town Hall.
A like effort is also being made at Southend, Essex, where a church has been formed. A chapel is needed.
Erith also has a prospering church under the care of our late student Mr. Martin, but a meeting-house is needful, and that speedily.
Mr. Silverton has opened his noble Exeter Hall, in Nottingham, under the most pleasing auspices. He has his own ways of doing things, but no one can deny that souls are saved and multitudes reached by his ministry, whom no one else has ever got at. We hoped to have taken part in the opening, but illness has prevented us. As soon as we feel able we shall fulfill our promise.
One of our most urgent needs is a chapel for the blind people who assemble with Mr. Hampton. He devotes all his time and energies to this work among the poorest of the blind, but the room in which the blind people gather is too small. Very few of our readers would dare to enter during service, for the smell from the thickly packed poor people assembled is described as “awful.” One speaker told us that it made him feel sick, and all who go there feel it to be injurious to health. Besides, there is no room for those who wish to come. We have an opportunity for gathering together the very poorest and most helpless of mankind, and now we are at a standstill for a chapel or hall to put them in. The improvement in many of our blind friends in a short time is something wonderful to see, and it pains us to think that we cannot enable Mr. Hampton to gather a yet larger flock. A spot within half a mile of the Tabernacle is wanted, and a thousand pounds to build a hall’ with. Who can find a piece of cheap land? Who can build us the hall? Some lover of the blind and of the gospel will be the most likely person to aid us, and we believe he will be forth coming. Colportage Association. The secretary, Mr. Corden Jones, says, “Since I last wrote new districts have been commenced at Wolveshampton, Maryport, and Melton Mowbray, the last specially among railway navvies.
We have applications also from several other districts for men. but if all are to be entertained our General .Funds will need immediate and increased. support. The blessing on the work seeing to increase, and. also the desire to have men employed. A gentleman writes this month, ‘We are increasingly pleased with our colporteur. He is active in holding cottage open air meetings, and in his visits to the sick. Many persons have been induced to attend on the preached gospel, and there are some few hopeful characters. We hope to have another in the C. N. District.’ Will friends who value the work, but do not need the personal services of the colporteur, help us to send out more men by contributing to the General Fund? “The colporteurs get a fixed salary, and do not personally receive any further remuneration for the books they sell either by commission or otherwise. The profits on their sales go to the funds of the association, and help to maintain the work.”
The Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Band of Hope was held on Friday evening, May 26th, in the Lecture Hall of the Tabernacle, which was crowded to excess. Mr. W. R. Selway occupied the chair, and the meeting was opened with singing and prayer. The report, which was read by the Secretary, Mr. Percy Selway, stated that eleven meetings had been held during the year, at which 126 pledges were received. After a careful visitation at the homes of the members the total number still true to their pledge and in full membership with the society was found to be 642.
Excellent addresses were delivered by Revs. G. in. Murphy and T.T. Lambert, and Messrs. G. C,. Campbell, Jabez Inwards, Thomas Whittaker, and Thomas and Charles Spurgeon, the presence of the last two being a most welcome feature of the meeting. A Band of Hope choir stag melodies, and two lads from the Orphanage gave recitations.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle, by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — May 25th, fourteen; May 29th, seventeen; June 1st, twenty-one.