THE GREAT POT AND THE TWENTY LOAVES.
A SHORT SERMON BY C. H. SPURGEON. AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“Set on the great pot.” — 2 Kings 4:38. “Then bring meal.” — 2 Kings 4:41. “Give unto the people that they may eat.” — 2 Kings 4:42.
WE scarcely need go over the story. There was a dearth in the land; Elisha, came to the college of the prophets, which consisted of about a hundred brethren, and found that they were in want, as the result of the famine.
While he was teaching the young men, he observed that they looked as if they needed food, and he found that there was none, in the house. Elisha, therefore, ordered his servant, to take the great pot, which generally stood upon long legs over the fire, and make a nourishing soup in it. True, there was nothing to put in this pot, but he believed that God would provide. It was for him, to set the pot over the fire, and it was for the Lord to fill it.
Some of the young men were not so sure as Elisha, was that God could fill it without their help, and one with great eagerness went out to gather something from the fields; his help turned out to be of small service, for he brought home poisonous cucumbers, and cut them up, and threw them into the broth; and, lo, when they began to pour it out, it was acrid to the taste, gave them a terrible colic, and made them cry out, “There is death in the pot.”
Then the prophet said, “Bring meal.” This was put into the steaming caldron, the poison was neutralized, the food was made wholesome, and the students were satisfied. This miracle was in due time followed up by another. A day or two afterwards, the young prophets were still needing food, and the larder was again empty. Just at that time, a devout, man comes from a little distance, bringing a present for the prophet, which consisted of a score of loaves similar to our penny rolls. The prophet bids his servitor set this slender quantity before the college. He is astonished at the command to feed a hundred hungry men with so little, but he is obedient to it; and while he is obeying, the little food is multiplied, so, that the hundred men eat and are perfectly satisfied, and there is something left.
I believe there are lessons to be learned from these two miracles, and I shall try to bring out these lessons in three forms. First, as they shall relate to the present condition of religion in our land ; secondly, as they may be made to relate to the condition of backsliders ; and, thirdly, as they may afford comfortable direction to seeking sinners .
I. First, then, our text, as in a parable, sets forth in a figure our course of action in connection with RELIGION IN THISLAND.
And, first, there is a great need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have not a hundred men famishing nowadays, but hundreds of thousands, and even hundreds of millions in this great world who are perishing for want of heavenly food. The Church must feed the people . It is not for us to say, “We hope they will be saved,” and leave it there; or set it down as a work that cannot be done till the millennium, and therefore we have nothing to do with it. Our business is in the strength of God, to grapple with the present condition of things. Here are the millions famishing; shall we let them famish? I remember seeing similar sentences under the likeness of the late Richard Knill; — “The heathen are perishing! Shall we let them perish?” “But,” says one, “how can we possibly supply them with food?”
See what Elisha did; the people were hungry, and there was no food in hand, except a little meal, yet he said, “Set on the great pot.” Faith, always does as much as she can; if she cannot fill the pot, she can put it on the fire, at any rate. If she cannot find meat for the pottage, she pours in the water, lights the fire, and prays and waits. Some have not this faith nowadays; and until we have it, we cannot expect the blessing. Thus saith, the Lord, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitation.” Why? Because “thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left.” Few will regard such a summons as this. The feeble faith of our time finds it difficult to enlarge the tent, even after the increase has come, and the people are there to fill it. Great faith would enlarge the tent, and expect the Lord to keep his promise, and multiply us with men as with a flock. The Church, of God greatly needs, not foolish confidence in herself, which would lead her to be Quixotic, but simple confidence in God, which would enable her to be apostolic, for she would go forth believing that God would be with her, and great things would be accomplished by her. She would open her mouth wide, expecting that God would fill it, and fill it he would. Faith does what she can, and waits for her Lord to do what he can.
Brother, what is your faith doing? Are you putting a great pot on the fire in expectation of a blessing, “Set on the great pot,” said the prophet, “and seethe the pottage.” He was not in jest, he meant what he said. Often, when we get as far as setting on the pot, it is not for seething pottage! We feel the desire to carry out spiritual work, but we do not come to; practical action as those who work for immediate results. Oh, for practical common sense, in connection with Christianity! Oh, for reality in connection with the idea, of faith! When a man goes to his business to make money, he goes there with all his wits about him; but, frequently, when men come to prayer and Christian service, they leave their minds behind, and do not, act as if they were transacting real business with God. Eilisha, when he said, set on the great pot,” expected God to fill it; he was sure it would be So, and he waited in all patience till dinner was ready. O Church of God, set on the pot, and the great pot, too! Say, “The Lord will bless us.” Get your granary cleaned out, that, the Lord may fill it with his good corn. Put the grist into the hopper, and look for the wind to turn the sails of the mill. O ye doubters, throw up the windows, that the fresh breeze of the Divine Spirit may blow in on your sickly faces! Expect that God is about to send the manna, and have your omers ready. We shall see greater things than these if we awake to our duty and our privilege. It is the Church’s business to feed the world with spiritual bread; she can only do so by faith, and she ought to act in faith in reference to it.
The faith of Elisha was not shared by all the brethren. There were some who must needs go and fill the pot, as we have said, but they gathered the gourds of the colocynth vine, and poisoned the whole mess, and it became needful to find an antidote for the poison. We here see our second duty, the Church must provide an antidote for the heresies and poisonous doctrines of the time. There has entered into the public ministry of this country a deadly poison. We may say of the Church in general, “O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!” Zealous persons, whose zeal for God is not according to knowledge, have gone about and gathered the gourds of the wild vine. I think I could tell you what kind of gourds they are; some of them are very pretty to look at, and they grow best on the seven hills of Rome, they are called “Ritualistic performances”; these they shred into the pot. There are gourds of another kind, very delicate and dainty in appearance, which are known as “liberal views” or “modern thought.” As a philosopher once talked of extracting sunbeams from cucumbers, so thee wild gourds are said to consist of “sweetness and light,” but the light is darkness and the sweetness is deadly. They have shed these into the pot, and nobody can taste the doctrinal mixture which is served out from some pulpits without serious risk of soul-poisoning, for “there is death in the pot.” What Scriptural doctrine is there which, men do not deny and yet call themselves Christians. What truth is there which our fathers held which is endorsed by those who think themselves the leaders of advanced thought? Have they not polluted the entire sanctuary of truth, and lifted up their axes against all the carved work of the temple? On the other hand, have we not, almost everywhere, Christ put aside for the crucifix, and the blessed Spirit thrust into a corner by the so-called sacraments? Is not the outward made to drown the inward, and is not the precious truth of the gospel overlaid by the falsehoods of Rome?
There is death in the pot; how is the Church to meet it? I believe it is to imitate Elisha. We need not attempt to get the wild gourds out of the pot, they are cut too small, and ate too cunningly mixed up; they have entered too closely into the whole mass of teaching to be removed. Who shall extract the leaven from the leavened loaf? What then? We must look to God for help, and use the means indicated here. “Bring meal .” Good wholesome food was cast into the poisonous stuff, and by God’s gracious working it killed the poison; and the Church must cast the blessed gospel of the grace of God into the poisoned pottage, and false doctrine will not be able to destroy men’s souls as it now does. We shall not do much good by disputing, and denouncing, and refusing to associate with people. I call such things barking , but preaching the gospel is biting . The surest remedy for false doctrine is preaching the truth. Christianity is the cure for Popery.
Preach up Christ, and down go the priests; preach grace, and there is an end of masses. I am more and more persuaded that the good old Calvinistic truths, which are now kept in the background, are the great Krupp guns with which we shall blow to pieces the heresies of the day, if once more they are plainly and persistently preached in harmony with the rest of revealed truth.
Is the remedy very simple? Do not, therefore, despise it. God be thanked that it is simple; for then we shall not be tempted to give the glory to man’s wit, and wisdom when the good result is achieved. In, this work, you can all help; for if only meal is needed, a child may bring his little handful. One man may contribute more than another, but the humblest may put, in his pinch of meal, and even the commonest servitor in; the house may assist in this work. Spread the gospel. Spread the gospel. Spread the gospel. A Society for prosecuting Puseyites, will that do the work? Appeals to Parliament, will they be effectual? Let those who choose to do so cry to lawyers and Parliaments; but as for us, we will preach the gospel. If I could speak with a voice, of thunder, I would say to those, friends who are for adopting other means to stop the spread of error, “You waste your time and strength, give all your efforts to the preaching of the gospel. Lift up Christ, and lay the sinner low. Proclaim justification by faith, the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, and the grand old doctrines of the Reformation, and your work will be done; but by no other means.” “Bring meal,” said the prophet; and our word at this time is, “Preach the truth as it is in Jesus.”
Some of the grossest errors of our own day may yet be overruled by God for the promotion of his truth. There are men who believe in sacramentarianism, who love the Lord Jesus very ardently. When I read some of the poetry of this school, I cannot but rejoice to see that, the writers love my Lord and Master, and it strikes me that, if the whole gospel could be put before them, we might expect to see some of them become noble preachers of the truth, and perhaps save the orthodox from dead dry doctrinalism by reviving a more direct devotion to the Savior. Perhaps they will not, with us, talk often of justification by faith, but if they extol the merit of the precious blood and wounds of Jesus, it will come to much the same thing. For my part, I care little for the phraseology, if essential truth be really taught, and the Lord Jesus be exalted.
Some of the doubters, too, “thinkers”, as they prefer to be called, if thine Lord renewed them by his Spirit, might bring out the old truths with greater freshness than our more conservative minds are able to do. I love to hear those who have known the vanity of error speak out the truth. They are more sympathetic towards the tempted, and are generally more conversant with the grounds of our faith.
Who knows? Who knows? I have a hope which may not prove a dream. I hope that thousands are feeling their way into light, and will come forth soon. Let us not despair, but keep to our work, which is gospel preaching, telling about Jesus and his dear love, the power of his blood, the prevalence of his plea, and the glory of his throne, and who knows but that a multitude of the priests may believe, and the philosophers also may become babes in Christ’s school? “Bring meal,” and thus meet the poison with the antidote.
Another lesson comes from the second miracle; let us look at it. The loaves brought to Elisha were not quartern loaves like ours, but either mere wafers of meal which had been laid flat, on a hot stone, and so baked, or else small rolls of bread. That store was but little, yet Elisha said, “Feed the people,” and they were fed. That is the third lesson, the Church is to use all she has, and trust in God to multiply her strength . Nowadays, individuals are apt to think they may leave matters to Societies, but this is highly injurious; we should every one go forth to work for God, and use our own talents, be they few or many. Societies are not meant to enable us to shirk our personal duty, under the idea that our strength is small. Little churches are apt, to think that they cannot do much, and therefore they do not expect a great blessing. What can these few cakes do towards feeding a hundred men? They forget that God can multiply them. Ye limit the Holy One of Israel. Do you think he needs our numbers? Do you think he is dependent upon human strength? I tell you, our weakness is a better weapon for God than our strength. The Church in the apostolic times was poor, and mostly made up of unlearned and ignorant men, but she was filled with power. What name that would have been famous in ordinary history do you find among her first members? Yet that humble Church of fishermen and common people shook the world. The church nowadays is for the most part too strong, too wise, too self-dependent, to do much. Oh, that she were more God-reliant! Even the whom you call great preachers will be great evils if you trust to them. This I know, we ought never to complain of weakness, or poverty, or lack of prestige, but should consecrate to God what we have. “Oh, but I can scarcely read a chapter!” Well, read that chapter to God’s glory. You who cannot say more than half-a-dozen words to others, say that little in the power of the Spirit. If you cannot do mare than write a letter to a friend about his soul, or give away a tract to a stranger in the streets, do it in God’s name. Brother, sister, do what you can; and in doing this God will strangely multiply your power to do good, and cause great results to flow from small beginnings. Active faith is needed; and if this be richly present, the Lord in whom we trust will do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or even think.
II. And now, briefly, but very earnestly, I desire to speak TOBACKSLIDERS. In all our churches, there are members who are no better than they should be. It is very questionable whether they ought to be allowed to be members at all; they have gone very far back from what they used to be, or ought to be. They scarcely ever join the people of God in public prayer, though they once professed to be very devout. Private prayer is neglected, and family prayer given up. Is it not so with some to whom I address myself? Have you not lost the light of God’s countenance, and gone far away from happy communion with! Christ? It is not for me to charge you; let your own consciences speak. I hope that you are now beginning to feel an inward hunger, and to perceive the your backslidings have brought famine upon you. What shall I bid you do? Go and attempt your own restoration by the works of the law? By no means: I bid you bring your emptiness to Christ, and look for his fullness . Yours is a great empty pot; set it on the fire, and cry to God to fill it. Jesus says to lukewarm Laodicea, “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him.” “Alas!” says the Laodicean, “I have nothing in the house.” Your confession is true; but when our Lord comes to sup, he brings his supper with him. He stands at the door of every backslider and knocks. Will you let him in? “Oh!” say you, “I wish he would enter.” Dear brother, open your heart now, just as you did at the first, when as a poor sinner you went to him.
Say unto him, “Blessed Lord, there is nothing in me but emptiness, but here is the guest chamber. Come in all thy love, and sup with me, and let, me sup with thee. I am nothing, come and be my All-in-all.” “But,” says the backslider “may I really come to Jesus, just as I did at the first?” Listen. “Return, ye backsliding children, for I am married unto you, saith the Lord.” He is married unto you; and though you have behaved badly, the marriage bond is not broken. Where is the bill of divorcement which he hath sued out? Is it not written “he hateth putting away”? Come just as you are, and begin anew, for he will accept you again. “But,” say you, “alas for me, I have been gathering wild gourds!” What have you been doing, professor? You have left undone what you ought to have done, and you have done many things you ought not to have done, and therefore there is no health in you. You have been trying to find pleasure in the world, and you have found wild vines. You have been tempted by love of music, love of mirth, love of show, and you have gathered wild gourds, a lap full, almost a heart full. You have been shredding death into the pot, and now you cannot feel as you used to feed, the poison is stupefying your soul. While we were singing just now, you said, “I want to sing” as saints do, but there is no praise in me.” Whom you meet with a man who is mighty in prayer, you say, “Alas, I used to pray like that, but my power is gone;” the poison is paralyzing you. If you are a worldling, and not God’s child, you can live on that which would poison; a Christian, but if you are a child of God, you will cry out, “O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!” Some of you have become rich, and have fallen into worldly fashionable habits; these are the colocynth cucumbers.
Others of you are poor, and necessarily work with ungodly men, and perhaps their example has lowered the tone of your spirit, and led you into their ways. If you love, this condition, I grieve for you; but, if you loathe it, I trust you are a child of God, notwithstanding your state.
What are you to do who have in any way fallen? Why, receive afresh the soul-saving gospel. “Bring meal,” — simple, nourishing, gospel truth, and cast it into the poisoned pottage. Begin anew with Jesus Christ, as you did at first; say to him, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” “Repent, and do thy first works.” Do you not recollect the period when first your eyes lighted on his cross, and you stood there burdened and heavy-laden, fearing that you would sink to hell, until you read in his dear wounds that your sin was put away? There you found peace as you saw your transgressions laid on Jesus, and removed from you. Oh, how you loved him! Come, brother, let us go to-night again to the cross, and begin to love him again. That will cure you of the world’s personal influences, and bring back the old feelings, the old joys, the old loves, and take the death out of the pot.
Backslider, you see now exactly what you needed at first, namely, faith in Jesus. Come repenting, come believing, to the Savior, and he will remove the ills which the gourds of earth’s wild vines have brought upon you. “Ah!” say some of you, “we can understand how the Lord Jesus can fill our emptiness, and heal our soul’s sicknesses, but how shall we continue in the right way? Our past experience has taught us our weakness, we are afraid that even the great pot will only last us for a little while, and then our souls will famish.” Then remember the other part of our text, in which we read that, when the few loaves, and the ears of corn in the husks, were brought to Elisha, the Lord multiplied them. Though you may have very little grace, that grace shall be increased. “He giveth more grace.” We receiveth grace for grace, daily grace for daily need. Between this and heaven you will want a heaven full of grace and you will have it. No one knows what draughts you will make upon the sacred exchequer of the King of kings, but his treasury will not be exhausted. “Trust in the Lord, and do good so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
III. Our third and last word isTO THE SEEKINGSINNER.
Many of you, I trust, desire salvation. The subject before us has much comfort in it for you. You are hungering and thirsting after Christ, and have not yet found peace in him. You lament your own emptiness of all that is good. Then, poor soul, do just what the prophet bade his servant do, “set on the great pot,” that is, confess your emptiness unto the Lord. Tell the Lord what a sinner you are. I know not whether the story be true of Mr. Rowland Hill’s leading the landlord of an inn to pray. Mr. Hill would have family prayer wherever he stayed; and if this was refused, he would order out his horses, and go on. On one occasion, he is reported to have asked the landlord to act as priest in his own house, but the man replied, “I can’t pray, I never prayed in my life.” However, after a while, Mr. Hill had him on his knees, and when the man said, “I cannot pray,” Mr. Hill cried out, “Tell the Lord so, and ask him to help you.” The man exclaimed, “O God, I can’t pray, teach me.” “That will do,” said Mr. Hill, “you have begun.” Whatever your state is to-night, if you desire salvation, go and tell the Lord your condition. Say, “Lord, I have a hard heart; soften it.” If you cannot feel, tell him so, and ask him to make you feel. Begin at the root of the matter, set on the great pot, empty as it is. Be honest with the Most High, reveal to him what he so well knows, but what you so little know, the evil of your heart, and your great necessity. If you cannot come with a broken heart, come for a broken heart. If you cannot come with anything good, the mercy is that nothing good is needed and a preparation for coming to Christ. Come just as you are. Do not wait to fill the pot, but set it on to be filled.
Do I hear you reply, “Ah, you don’t know who I am; I have lived many years in sin”? Yes, I know you; you are the young man that found the wild vine, and went and gathered of its gourds a lapful, — a horrible lapful.
Some of you rebellious sinners have ruined yourselves, body and soul, and perhaps in estate as well, by your sins. We hear of people sowing their wild oats; that is a bad business. They had better never do it, for the reaping of those wild oats is terrible work. You have poisoned your life, man, with those wild gourds. Can the pottage off your life be made wholesome again?
Yes, you cannot do it with your own efforts, but “bring meal” and it will be done. If thou believest on the Lord Jesus, he will be the antidote to deadly habits of sin. If thou wilt simply trust in him who bled for thee, the tendency of thy soul to sin shall be overcome, the poison which now boils, in thy veins shall be expelled, and thy soul shall escape as a bird out of the snare of the fowler. Thy flesh upon thee, in a spiritual sense, shall become fresher than a little child’s. Though thou art full of the poison, till every vein is ready to burst with it, the great Physician will give thee an antidote which shall at once and for ever meet thy case. Wilt thou not try it? Incline thine ear, and come unto him; hear, and thy soul shall live. May God put the meal of the gospel into the pot to-night! “Ah!” say you, “but if I were now pardoned, how should I hold on? I have made a hundred promises, and always broken them; I have resolved scores of times, but my resolutions have never come to anything.” Ah, poor heart, that is when thou hast the saving of thyself; but when God has the saving of thee, it will be another matter. When we begin to save ourselves, we very soon come to a disastrous shipwreck; but when God, the eternal Lover of the souls of men, puts his hand to salvation-work, and Jesus puts forth the hand once fastened to the cross, there are no failures then.
I have tried to preach a very simple sermon, and to say some earnest things; but it is likely that I may have missed the mark with some, and therefore I will again draw the gospel bow in the name of the Lord Jesus.
O Lord, direct the arrow! If God will bring souls to Jesus, I will bless his name throughout eternity. Poor lost souls, do you know the way of salvation, do you know how simple it is? Do you know the love of God to such poor souls as you are, and yet do you refuse to attend to it? Do you know that he does not exact any hard conditions of you, but, he points to his Son on the cross, and says, “Look”? Can it be that, you will not look?
Does Jesus die to save, and do you think it is not worth your while to think about salvation? What is the matter with you? Surely you must be mad.
When I look back on my own neglect of Christ till I was fifteen years old, it seems like a delirious dream; and when I think of some of you who are thirty or forty, and yet have never thought about your souls, what can be invented to excuse you? I see some of you with bald heads, or with the snow of wintry age lying upon them, and you have not yet considered the world to come; I would say to you, “Men, are ye mad?” Why, ye are worse than mad; for if ye were insane, ye would be excused. Alas, the madness of sin has responsibility connected with it, and therefore it is the worst of all insanities. I pray you, by the living God, you unsaved ones, turn unto the Savior to-night. Whether you are saved or lost cannot so much matter to me as it will to you. If I faithfully beseech you to look to Jesus, I shall be clear, even if you reject the warning; but for your own sakes, I beseech you to turn to Jesus. By death, which may be so near to you; by judgment, which is certain to you all; by the terrors of hell, by the thunderbolts of execution, by eternity and better still, by the sweets of Jesus’ love, by the charms of his matchless beauty, by the grace which he is prepared to give, by the heaven whose gates of pearl are glistening before the eye of faith, by the sea of glass unruffled by a single wave of trouble, where you shall stand for ever blest if you believe in Jesus, by the Lord himself, I entreat you, seek him at once, while he may be found. May his Holy Spirit lead you so to do! Amen and Amen. “YET THERE IS ROOM” THAT was a long pull for the horses, and we ourselves were utterly wearied, but the pretty little town was just before us, and we reckoned upon the refreshments of its well-known hostelry. Alas! there was no room for us in the inn. The very stables were filled. A grand wedding at the manor house had filled the village, and made every inch of space in the “King’s Arms” the subject of double occupation. It was a sorry end to a weary day. This was the one sole house of entertainment for miles around, and we must needs turn away from its door. “We are very sorry, indeed, sir, but we have no room, and we do not believe that there is such a thing as a spare bed in the parish.” Nowhere else to go, and no room here! A sorry look out as the sun is setting!
Dear reader, if you at this time approach the Lord Jesus, and by simple faith seek a refuge in him, you need not fear a repulse. Yet there is room.
Come and welcome. Thank God that it is so, and prove your thankfulness for the mercy by availing yourself of it.
A LETTER TO FRIENDS, BY MRS. SPURGEON.
DEAR FRIENDS, MY
“Few Words” in the February number of the Sword and Trowel were received with so much tender sympathy and consideration, that I feel encouraged to present you with another slight sketch of the work which the Lord’s love and your kindness have made so prosperous. I then told you from how small a matter the fund arose, and how pitifully and graciously the Lord dealt with me in giving me so blessed a work to do for him when all other service was impossible. Now I have the same song to sing, but the notes are higher and more assured, and the accompanying chords deeper and fuller, for the “little one has become a thousand,” and the mercy which was so great before has grown exceedingly, until my heart echoes the poet’s words: — “For if thy work on earth be sweet, What must thy glory be?” I have very much to tell you, and I shall do it in the best way I can, but as all my friends know that my pen is “unaccustomed to public speaking,” I think I may crave special indulgence for all failures and shortcomings.
We will discuss money matters first, because I want you to sing “Laus Deo” with me. John Ploughman says that “Spend, and God will send is the motto of a spendthrift.” Now, I must not dispute this, for dear John is always right, and, moreover, knows all about everything, but I may say I consider it singularly inappropriate to the spendthrift, and should like it handed over to me at once and for ever for my Book Fund, for again and again has it been proved most blessed]y true in my experience. I have “spent” ungrudgingly, feeling sure that the Lord would “send” after the same fashion, and indeed he has done so, even “exceeding abundantly above what I could ask or even think.” I have received now upwards of £500, and the glory of this is that it is all spent, and more keeps coming I I never tell you, dear friends, when my store is slender, but I am sure the Lord does, and opens your hearts to give just when it is most needed, for never since I first began the work have I had to refuse an application for want of funds. I must tell you, too, that this £500 represents quite £700 or £800 in books, for Mr. Spurgeon’s good publishers let me purchase on such liberal terms that by their delightful magic my sovereigns turn into thirty, and sometimes forty shillings each! This, also, is of the Lord, and I bless him for it. I often look with intense pleasure on the long list of subscribers’ names spread out before the Lord, and before him only; for your kind deeds, my dear friends, are unpublished to the world, but are, perhaps, for this reason, all the more precious in his sight, who “seeth not as man seeth.” It is, indeed, pleasant to look down the long columns and note how many strangers have become dear friends, and former friends have grown dearer through this loving link of sympathy for Christ’s servants between us.
But it is time I now gave you some details of the work accomplished. The number of books given up to this moment runs as under, and the persons receiving them have not all been pastors of the Baptist denomination, but the list includes Independents, Wesleyans. Primitive Methodists, some Clergymen, and one or two “Brethren.” Is not this a goodly army of volumes? — But ah! dear friends, when I look at this list I see the only shadow of sadness that ever rests upon my Book Fund. It is the grief of knowing that there exists a terrible necessity for this service of love; that without this help (little enough, indeed, compared with their wants) the poor pastors to whom it has been sent must have gone on famishing for lack of mental food, their incomes being so wretchedly small that they scarcely know how to “provide things honest” for themselves and their families, while money for the purchase of books is absolutely unattainable. Hear what one says, who like Paul can thank God he is chargeable to none. “Dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — In this month’s Sword and Trowel ministers are kindly invited to apply for a grant of books from your ‘ Book Fund.’ I should be glad of a grant if ever so small I have no income from preaching whatever, have a wife delicate in health, necessitating the keeping of a servant; we have had twelve children, six the Lord has taken home, and six are with us here. Not a year has passed since our marriage (twenty-five years ago) without the doctor being in the house; I am but now slowly recovering from illness, the effect of an overwrought mind and frame; the eldest of our children living is the only one earning anything, and he but a trifle more than sufficient to clothe him; we hardly make the two ends meet, and were it not for the extras the Lord is ever and anon sending us we could not do so at all. .... For the past eighteen months I have kept an evening school, in order to get the means of procuring a fair education for my boys, but my health and other labors will not admit of this any longer. I mention these things that you may learn from them I have but little to spare for books. I take in The Sword and the Trowel, Baptist! Messenger, and Mr. Spurgeon’s Sermons; am extravagant enough sometimes to buy a two shilling or two shilling and sixpenny book, but the whole of my library would scarcely fetch thirty shillings ..... The Lord is good to us; though often lacking, there is help at last, and I trust if it is his will the lack which I feel for books he will kindly supply, to some extent, through your ‘ Book Fund.’” After having received a nice box of books this tried brother writes “I know not how to express my gratitude for the choice and valuable books you have sent me. I do not think I could ever have dreamed of having the four volumes of the ‘ Treasury of David.’ May the Lord grant, indeed, that it may be a ‘ treasure’ to myself and others. Bless his name, he has indeed done all things well, and has again and again showed us ‘ He is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.’ In that he has through you sent me such valuable aid, he has shown again how mindful he is of the least of his children.” Their very gratitude for the boon conferred often makes my heart ache in the midst of its gladness, for the sense of need must have been sorely felt, since relief is received with such rapture. Here are two or three more selections from scores of similar epistles. “I have a family of eight children, four of whom are now grown up. My stipend at first was £60, it is now £70; my wife for seventeen years has managed the house without the assistance of a servant, and our expenditure, with the utmost thrift and economy, always exceeds my stipend; but through a kind Providence we are enabled to do, and pay ready cash for everything.” “My salary is £80 per annum; with a wife and three children into the bargain. I have a few books, and among them the first five volumes of Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘ Sermons,’ which I purchased before I was married; and a short time since I invested £2 17s. in the purchase of “Brown and Fausset’s Commentary,” and my wife thinks it will be a very long time before we recover the shock which this outlay has given to our finances.”
A pastor’s wife writes thus on her husband’s behalf “He has strongly desired to possess the ‘ Treasury of David,’ and we have been waiting in the hope of being able to procure it without further taxing your noble Fund; but now that, as far as our possibilities are concerned, we appear to be as far as ever from attaining the object, I am again troubling you .....
Such a grant would be a great boon to my dear husband, who is the hardworking pastor of two churches in a scattered district ..... We find it difficult with a small and increasing family so to manage our income (£80) as to keep free of debt and leave a margin for buying one or two periodicals.” The books were sent, and the answer was as follows — “My dear Madam, — I beg to acknowledge with sincere thanks the safe arrival of your valuable, kind, and very generous gift. I have felt and expressed to my dear wife my longing desire to possess the ‘Treasury of David,’ and she made the application quite unknown to me, so that your kind letter, and your esteemed husband’s noble work on the Psalms were to me a very pleasing and joyful surprise... The ‘Treasury of David’ will be indeed a ‘treasure’ to David [his own name], and I trust through him to many more.”
It is most touching to hear some tell with eloquence the effect the gift produced upon them. One is “not ashamed to say” he received his parcel with “tears of joy,” wife and children standing around and rejoicing with him. Another, as soon as the wrappings fall from the precious volumes, praises God aloud and sings the Doxology with all his might, while a third, when his eyes light on the long-coveted “Treasury of David,” “rushes from the room” that he may go alone and “pour out his full heart before his God.”
Now this is very beautiful and admirable, but is there not also something most sorrowfully suggestive to the church of God? Surely these “servants of Christ,” these “ambassadors for God,” ought to have received better treatment at our hands than to have been left pining so long without the aids which are vitally necessary to them’ in their sacred calling. Books are as truly a minister’s needful tools as the plane and the hammer and the saw are the necessary adjuncts of a carpenter’s bench. We pity a poor mechanic whom accident has deprived of his working gear, we straightway get up a subscription to restore it, and certainly never expect a stroke of work from him while it is lacking; why, I wonder, do we not bring the same commonsense help to our poor ministers and furnish them liberally with the means of procuring the essentially important books? Is it not pitiful to think of their struggling on from year to year on £100, £80, £60, and some (I am ashamed to write it) on less than £50 per annum? Many have large families, many more sick wives, some, alas ‘, have both; they have heavy doctor’s bills to pay, their children’s education to provide for, are obliged to keep up a respectable appearance or their hearers would be scandalized, and how they manage to do all this and yet keep out of debt (as, to their honor and credit be it said the majority of them do) only they and their everfaithful God can know! I never hear a word of complaint from them, only sometimes a pathetic line or two like this: “After upwards of sixteen years service in the Master’s vineyard, I am sorry to say that with a small salary and a wife and five daughters to provide for, my library is exceedingly small, and I am not, in a position to increase its size by purchasing books.”
Or again like this: “My salary is small (£60), and if I did not get some little help from some benevolent societies, I should have very great difficulty in keeping the wolf from the door.” Are these men to be kept in poverty so deep that, they positively cannot afford the price of a new book without letting’ their little ones go barefoot? The “laborer is worthy of his hire;” but these poor laborers in the gospel field get a pittance which is unworthy both of the workman and the work, and if their people (who ought to help them more) either cannot or will not do so, we, at least, dear friends, will do all in our power to encourage their weary hearts and refresh their drooping spirits. This is a digression, I dare say, from my authorized subject, but I was obliged to say what I have because my heart was hot within me, and I so earnestly want to do these poor brethren good service.
Now I return to the details of my work.
I have been doing a brave business in Wales through the magnificent generosity era stranger whom now we count a friend. This gentleman first introduced himself to us by sending £100 to Mr. Spurgeon, £50 of which was for my Book-fund. I was greatly gratified at receiving so large a sum all at one time, and set about “spending” it as quickly as possible, and here you will see how grandly true my “motto” proved, for, about six months after the first gift, the same kind friend called at our house one evening, and to our sincere admiration and astonishment announced his intention of giving a copy of “Lectures to my Students” to every Calvinistic Methodist minister, preacher, and student in North Wales (of whom there are 500) if I would undertake the “trouble” of sending them. Trouble!! The word was inadmissible! With intense joy and deep gratitude to God I received the charge, and another £50 to meet expenses! This was on the 18th of March, 1876. Since then to this day the work there has flourished, for as soon as 400 copies had been given in the northern part I received authority from the same noble donor to continue at his expense the distribution throughout South Wales also. The books are very eagerly accepted by our Welsh brethren, and on May 16th, the “Quarterly Association” sent copies in Welsh and English of a resolution passed at their meeting at Ruthin of “Cordial thanks to the kind brother whoever he may be, to whose liberality we are indebted, etc., etc., and grateful acknowledgments to Mrs. Spurgeon for her kindness in forwarding the books.” Nor does the matter rest here; other ministers besides Calvinistic Methodists coveted the precious volume, and wrote to me asking why they should be left out? I have supplied all who have written, and at this present moment I have promised copies to all the Wesleyan ministers of South Wales, and when they are satisfied, I doubt not their northern brethren will request the same favor. These copies, of course, are provided by my Book-fund, our friend’s gift being confined to his own denomination; but you see, dear friends, I never can be the least troubled at a large expenditure, because I have the firmest possible faith in my motto “Spend, and God will send.” “Lectures to my Students” has traveled to Holland and Sweden, to Michigan and Nebraska (U.S.), and to Ontario, and Miss Macpherson took with her to Canada 100 copies from my fund for poor ministers in the backwoods. Mr. Orsman’s “workers” in Golden-lane were supplied with forty-one copies, and in addition to the colleges of Haverfordwest, Pontypool, and the Training Institute at Bow, mentioned in my last account, I have now on my list those of Bala and Trevecca and Clymnog as having applied for and received grants for all their students. Surely such a wholesale scattering of the seed of truth by this precious little book cannot fail to bring a rich harvest of glory to God and good to man. Lord, follow every copy with thine own blessing!
Some weeks since a gentleman sent me a splendid lot of second-hand books, so well selected and suitable, that they have proved most valuable in making up parcels but usually I would prefer that help did not come to me in that shape, for I find, as a rule, that Mr. Spurgeon’s works are more eagerly sought after, and more joyfully welcomed than any others. “His words are like the dew-drops of heaven to my soul,” writes one pastor, and to most the “Treasury of David” seems to have been a possession longcoveted and ardently desired.
A letter just received says — “ With great joy and gratitude I acknowledge the receipt of your parcel of books. I had heard and read much about dear Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘Treasury of David,’ but I was not prepared to receive a work of such dimensions and value. I esteem it as the most valuable and precious gift I ever received, and I do sincerely hope and pray that its glowing thoughts and fervid utterances may be as heavenly manna to my own soul, and, through me, to the souls of my hearers.”
Am I not happy to have been able to send forth 700 vols. of this veritable “Treasure.” You will observe, dear friends, in the list given above, a goodly number of Mr. Spurgeon’s lesser works. This arises from the fact that many evangelists, colporteurs, and lay preachers apply to me for books; and, although my fund is chiefly for the aid and comfort of poor Pastors, I find this other class so sorely needing encouragement and help that I cannot pass them by. Denied the blessing of a solid education in their youthful days, they find it difficult to pick up knowledge in middle life, and when called upon to conduct cottage meetings or open-air services, they painfully feel the strain on their mental powers. To such the “Morning and Evening Readings” are an inestimable boon, for, open the book where they will, they may find sermons in embryo in every page, and nuggets of thought only waiting to be picked up and appropriated. The two following letters, the first from one who left the Colportage for the ministry, and the second from one still a Colporteur, will confirm my statement “Dear Madam, — Pardon the liberty I am taking, but I think I may say if any one needed a little help in the book line I do. I am laboring in three country villages, preaching to and visiting the people. I am receiving £60 a year, and have five children to provide for. I cannot find money to purchase books, and my stock is limited to a few works — old sermons, etc. I can assure you Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘ Lectures to my Students’ would be thankfully received. I dare not ask any further, having no claims whatever on your generosity. Your kind letter in the Sword and Trowel has encouraged me to make this application. I don’t know what I should do sometimes but for Mr. Spurgeon’s ‘Evening by Evening,’ which not only helps us in our family devotions, but provides me with many a subject for my congregations.”
Some books were sent and this grateful answer received: — “I beg to acknowledge your kind present, which reached me on Saturday evening. My children could not have been more delighted if they had received a parcel containing toys than I was when I saw the contents of the package. I cannot find words to express my heartfelt thanks to you; I could only exclaim, ‘ How good is my Father in heaven!’ Like the poor negro, I might say, ‘ Bless the Lord; me hab all kind o’ commodations, like Joseph in Egypt.’ May the Lord reward you by sending in abundantly the help you need to carry on your work of love.” “Dear Madam, — I once more appeal to you for aid to enable me to preach the gospel of my Lord more efficiently. He has been graciously pleased to bless my poor efforts. When I entered Colportage work in September last I had never gone out to preach, and had only occasionally spoken of spiritual things at temperance meetings. In November I preached at a cottage meeting, and about three weeks afterwards I heard the joyful news of a young man being blessed; for this mercy I am very thankful, and I can truly say “Ebenezer.” Much to my surprise, I receive requests from all parts of my district, and out of my district, to preach the gospel, from Baptists, Independents, Free · Church, and Methodists, but with so much on my hands have not much time to study, and I feel deeply my shortcomings. I know full well that it is the Lord’s work, but I think and believe that we should go about our Master’s work in the best possible way. I have long had as desire for assistance, and should be deeply grateful for any help you may deem me worthy to receive, in the shape of books, to aid me in my studies.”
Next to the “Treasury of David,” the “Sermons” of our very dear Editor are the objects of desire on the part of those who know their , and happy is he who has the set complete. I have helped very many to attain their wishes in this matter when they have already possessed many volumes; others have to be content for the present with three, four, six, or eight volumes, as the case may be. Two whole sets I have given, one to the Open-Air Mission in London, and one to the Wesleyan Missionary Library in Barbadoes. I cannot speak of the blessing these Sermons carry with them wherever they go; God owns and blesses them so mightily that eternity alone will reveal their power and value. “Flashes of Thought” and “Feathers for Arrows” have been useful to send to those who had neither time nor ability to work out illustrations for themselves. Watson’s “Body of Divinity” is always thankfully received by those whose scarcity of theological literature troubles them. Mr. Bardsley’s “Illustrative Texts and Texts Illustrated” found so much favor with Mr. Spurgeon that I could not resist the pleasure of giving away fifty among the pastors who were formerly students at the College. “Power in Weakness,” by the Rev. C. Stanford, was kindly given me for distribution by Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton, and Dr. Fish’s “Handbook of Revivals,” has been so well appreciated that I have indulged in a second and third supply. And now, dear friends, though I have by no means exhausted my information, I think I have told you all I can remember of special interest. What do you think of your work? It is yours as much as mine, for without your kind and loving aid I could not carry it on to so large an extent. Does it satisfy and please you? To me, as you know, it brings unalloyed joy and comfort, and to the Lord’s poor servants it carries new life, and light, and vigor; but I want most of all that it should promote God’s glory, and have for its chief aim and object the uplifting of his holy name. Do, dear fellow-workers, pray very earnestly that a rich blessing may rest upon every book sent out, so that first the minister, then his church, and next of all the unsaved in the congregation, may be the better, and the Lord may receive “the thanksgiving of many.”
I cannot close my letter without reference to my little lemon plant, for its history interested many, and it will ever be tenderly associated in my mind with my God-given work. It has thriven in its way as gracefully and grandly as the Book Fund, and is now an ambitious, healthy young tree, preparing itself I hope for future fruit-bearing. One of John Ploughman’s “boys” (such a dear, good boy according to his mother) can use his pencil deftly, and handle the graying tool with some skill (though John’s wife says she knows his father’s heart is set upon his following the old plough some day), so I asked him to make me a little sketch of my pretty tree, and here it is, dear friends, for you to see, though I can assure you the grace of its form and the glossy beauty of its leaves cannot be depicted. I have always cherished the fanciful idea that each leaf must represent £100, so now you can count them, and smile at the magnificent future I anticipate for my Book Fund. Twenty-one, are there not? That must mean £2,100, and plenty of strength to grow more! Well, it seems a great deal of money, certainly, but what a trifle it must be to the God who made all the silver and the gold! Ah! I believe that some day “When grace has made me meet His lovely thee to see,” the subscription list of the Book Fund will record its thousands of pounds, the once tiny plant will be a tree bearing fruit to perfection, and the dear old motto,” Spend, and God will send,” will be found true and unfailing to the end.
With the utmost loving gratitude, dear friends, I am, on the behalf of Christ’s poor servants, your happy almoner.
DAY’S ENTRIES IN A COLPORTER’S DIARY OCT. 26th. — Leave home at 8 p.m., after seeking the Lord’s blessing as usual on the visits to the cottages, etc., and make my way to F — ,calling at several houses on the road. One woman came to the door. “Oh, sir, I am so pleased you have come. I want to tell you about that book you sold me; it is the best book, except the Bible, ever printed.” I replied, “What book? that dear book, “Come to Jesus.” I have read it through several times to my husband, and he is delighted with it, and a lady called to see me and I told her how kind you were to us, and talked to us, and sold such good books, and she has taken that book home, and you are to go and see her.
She lives at that large house (pointing to a gentleman’s seat), and she wants to buy some of your books.” Alter having a talk about good things, I go to the house, up the hill. I knocked and asked to see the lady. I am asked inside, and have a good conversation. The gentleman also said “I am glad to hear of your work and that God is blessing you so much around me.” After wishing me God-speed, and buying four shillings’ worth of books, he wished me to go the kitchen and have something to eat. Making my way there, as it was now one o’clock, I sat down and cut from a good joint of beef, then showed my books to the servants and gave some tracts to them, and had a talk about the Savior. I sold a Bible and a shilling book.
With a joyful heart, praising God for such unexpected blessings, on I go again. I come to a farm-house. Having seen these people ‘several times, and sold several hooks, I am quite at home with them. I ask how they are, and I am very much surprised to hear that the mother, who was well at my last visit a month ago, is now lying beneath the clods. Thinks I, this is a good chance to press home the truth. I speak to them all of the uncertainty of life, and the blessing of having Jesus the unchangeable Friend. They aft seemed broken down, and thanked me for my sympathy and kindness, and took a tract each. I left them, praying God to bless the few words which I had spoken. At F— the people seem so glad to see me. Says one, “Do, sir, come and have a meeting here; nobody cares for us here; last Sunday week there was a cricket match on the green, and we have no church nearer than two miles and a half, and the whole service there lasts only an half hour, sermon and all. Sir, do come and talk to the other people like you have talked to me.” I found the people here very dark, but, praise God, I got into every house, and sold several books, after giving every one a tract.
Then I start for E — , calling at houses on the road. Here there had been a chapel shut up for four years, and little trees growing up through the floor.
Some months ago I opened it, and, praise God, had several meetings there.
Last time I had a hundred and thirty-seven people present. When I first visited here, the people seemed afraid of me or my pack, but now, praise God, I have had a hearty welcome into every, home. I call at one house where an old lady lies very ill, and has done so for some time. The old lady, fastening her eyes on me, said, “I am so glad to see you, I thought you never was coming again. Do come alongside me and talk to me a little.
You do me so much good. I have been praying the Lord to send you here, as nobody comes to read or pray but you, and God always seems to give you something for me.” I sat down beside her, and she seemed to catch every word; then we prayed together, and, looking at me, she said, “Do come again as soon as you can. God bless you. This has been a treat to my poor soul.” I next go to the rectory, see the rector, and sell him several books, then give the servants a tract each, and talk to each one upon good things. I wish our friends could have gone with me from house to house here and have seen the reception I met with, and the eagerness to get me into their homes to talk to them, it would have done our society good. I called at a farmhouse, the friends here having taken a great interest in the work since the meeting at the chapel, ask me to stop and have some tea, and tell me to put my donkey in one of their stables and he shall be fed and kept for the night. As I am now nearly twelve miles from home, and both myself and my donkey very tired, I am glad to accept this invitation.
This donkey and carriage were given me by several gentlemen at D — , who know the blessing and value of the work around, and see it to be so well adapted to the villages because we visit those who otherwise never would have been visited. They wished me to enlarge my field of labor, and therefore gave me the donkey to take my books. We agree very well together, as I don’t believe that a great stick outside is the best means of getting him along, but a good feed inside, and kind words.
My friends gave me a good tea, which is just what I need just now, and, after seeing my donkey all right, I now have a long talk to the farmer, and he seems pleased to listen and do anything for me. Now I go to see some others to spend a little time before going to rest. I call at the house on the hill. “Come in, Mr. B — , and have some tea, we have set it all ready, and have been waiting for you.” I tell them of the kindness of the farmer and the good tea he gave me. These people work very hard, but now the work is put aside, and they come around me to hear what I have to say. The Lord here, I believe, has given me the honor of being blessed to the souls of the inmates, and they seem as if they cannot do enough for me. They tell me to call next morning, and they will give me a half-bushel of apples, as they think they cannot reward me for what God has done for them. I then go back to my lodging where I generally put up for the night, and have a good talk with the mistress and the children. We all kneel down together to pray. I then go to my bed tired, but happy. I wake up next morning and find the people about. his nearly seven o’clock; I get up, have a good breakfast, for which ][pay one shilling and the bed is included. I now call at the house on the hill for my apples, and go to the farm house and sell a “John Ploughman.” The lady gives me some lunch to put in my pocket, and wishes me God speed. I am on my return journey, having sold the day before sixteen shillings’ worth of books and Bibles.
SPECIAL SERVICE. On Lord’s-day evening, July 16th, the members and seat-holders at the Tabernacle were requested by the pastor to absent themselves and leave the building for strangers. We desire to record our gratitude to them for yielding to our wish with great heartiness, and absolute unanimity. The elders and their helpers were present, by arrangement, to place persons in the seats and to converse with inquirers; but with this exception we could not discover any of the regular hearers, or not more than half-a-dozen at most. This is splendid discipline, worthy of the best trained army — the discipline of love. Much prayer has been offered at various meetings, and the officers had a baptism of fire in prayer before the doors were opened. From the moment of opening the house till the time of commencing service crowds of strangers poured in, the richest and the poorest being alike represented, until the Tabernacle was full as a barrel packed with herrings, although the heat was extreme. That they were strangers was evident by many signs, and we cannot doubt that the Word came with freshness and power to these new hearers. After the hour of service the multitude continued to come, but the gates were closed, for not another could enter. The experiment has succeeded beyond all expectation, and we shall, if spared, repeat it in three months with more confidence.
There are other places in which this method might be tried, and we hope it will be. We did not invent it, and it is not patented. Our own beloved people held three prayer-meetings, and an open air service, while we were preaching, and so lost nothing themselves. On Monday, June 26. Among others who were baptized at the Tabernacle there were three friends who were led to confess the Savior through the preaching of the pastor’s two sons, Charles and Thomas Spurgeon. There was great joy among the friends at the sight of the first-fruits of the youthful ministry, which in its own limited sphere the Lord is blessing. Our sons need a preaching room, for the cottage in which they have held their services is now too small. A piece of ground is purchased in Chatham Road, Bolingbroke, but means are needed to build the meeting-house. There are probably some loving friends who will help the sons for the father’s sake, and we are sure that there are many others who will aid them for the Lord’s sake. C.H.
Spurgeon is treasurer to the fund.OUR ACCOUNTS.
These are made up very early this month, so that many sums will not be found because they came in after the 14th. We were called into the country to preach, and so made up the magazine earlier.QUE MAGAZINE. — Friends would do us good service if they would try and extend the sale of the SWORD AND TROWEL. It ought to be doubled. We take great pains to keep it lively and interesting. If you think we succeed, help us.ORPHANAGE.
— The boys are nearly all away for holidays. A few remain, because they have no friends to give them a change. There are only forty. Another year we hope friends will be found to take these into their houses for a little holiday. Poor boys, we make them as happy as we can, but it is rather dull for them. We need a good schoolmaster at the Orphanage, as a valued helper is leaving for Australia. Address, Mr. Charlesworth, Stockwell Orphanage. Among donations for the Orphanage, none have pleas I us more than sixpence from a poor woman in a workhouse infirmary, who could not help giving it as a token of gratitude for benefit received from reading the sermons. This is an offering truly acceptable with the Lord. We are also rejoiced when we receive portions derived from the Lord’s purse, which is kept full by weekly storing, these have a holy aroma about them, as being the fruit of obedient, constant, practical love. Many very kind letters enclosing help for the orphans have been received of late, and have made us very happy.
— Our friends have almost forgotten that we support an evangelist in connection with the College to visit and stir up the churches. he has lately been at Lincoln, Gainsborough, West Row, Ruddington and Bulwell, Dolton, St. Giles, and Beaford (North Devon), and in all places a blessing has rested on his work. Churches have, by the divine blessing, been raised by this earnest brother, and great benefit has been bestowed upon flagging churches. For some reason or other our College brethren are slow to invite Mr. Higgins, and therefore at this time his engagements are few. This must arise from forgetfulness. In the smaller churches special services by this brother would lead to growth, if well supported by the prayers of the people. Letters should be sent to Mr. Higgins, 16, Florence-terrace, Kingswood-road, Penge, S.E.
Mission ToTHE BLIND.
— Mr. Hampton now gives all his time to this work, but we have neither met with money for a hall nor ground to put it on. Yet both will come. We must gather together the blind and the halt and the lame. This is Christly work, and must not be long delayed.
ANNUITY FUND — July 4th. — On Mr. Spurgeon’s lawn at a tea given in a large tent the sum of £2,400 was promised to the Annuity Fund for aged Baptist ministers. Dr. Landels is laboring heroically to raise £50,000, that our poor ministers may be cared for in their old age. He wishes to complete this work during his year of office, as President of the Baptist Union. He has, together with Mr. Charles Williams and others, already obtained about £15,000, and therefore he has a very long and laborious work before him, in which we trust he will be sustained. If this grand worker does not finish the work in his one year of office, we hope he will be re-elected for another year, since he is the very best man to complete the undertaking, and his presidential position gives him right to speak.
Every Baptist in England ought to give at once, without pressing, to this needful work, which once done will last for ever. Every Baptist church should also put its minister upon the Fund, either by making the annual payments for him, or by paying up the whole amount in full to make him free for life. Ladies of our Baptist churches, will you see to this? We mean to propose this question to you until you accept the privilege. The present scheme contemplates two hundred applicants, and therefore the sooner application. is made the better. Our heart is warmly in the work, and we only wish we had the physical strength to go about and plead for it.
On our lawn we received a very happy commission which we executed at once. A friend gave us £100 to give to poor ministers, to let them have a change at the seaside or in the country. We sent off cash to twelve brethren at once. What joyful letters in return. Would any one else like to employ us in the same way? Hard pressed as we are, we count it a recreation to help a poor brother minister. Should not wealthy Christians sanctify their own sea-side trip by seeing that some poor pastor has a change too?
— We are still happy to report progress in the opening of new districts, but regret that our appeal for General Funds to supplement the Local Subscriptions has not yet met with anything like an adequate response. We greatly need help at this time for the good work. The following additional districts have been accepted by the committee since last month, and in most cases colporteurs are at work in them. Every new district increases the demand upon the General Fund, and this is at a low ebb. Dorchester, supported by a friend who desires to be anonymous. Devizes and Wineanton; two new districts subscribed for by the Wilts and East Somerset Association, which has long helped to support one of our agents.
Matlock Bridge, Derbyshire, where local friends have been interested to subscribe, partly by the agent appointed and partly by the visit of our traveling agent, Mr. T. 8. Buckingham. Ironbridge, Salop, where a local committee has been formed by Mr. Buckingham, and Town Mulling, where a gentleman has promised to subscribe for a man to work among the hop pickers. From one of our new districts the agent writes — “On Saturday evenings I preach to sailors by the sea, and on last Saturday evening at least 500 Irish Papists turned out and created a great row. They say I shall not do it again. But it has done a very great deal of good. It has made me and my mission known all over the district.
We still require suitable men to act as colporteurs. All applications will be attended to if addressed to Mr. W. Corden Jones, Pastors’ College, Temple Street, S.E. COLLEGE.
— Men all away for vacation. They return Aug. 1. Applicants are very numerous; we are adding some twenty hopeful recruits to our little army. Prayer is needed for the divine anointing, though in a great measure it is enjoyed. We are looking for increased success. The College is the most important of all our enterprises, and we trust it will live in the hearts of our friends.
In the month of June sixty-three persons were received into the fellowship of the church, and in July forty-six.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: By Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — June 26th, sixteen; June 29th, twenty-two.
CONSECRATION OF OUR SUBSTANCE.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
ONE of the things which we cannot unriddle is the waif in which professing Christians use their wealth. We are not extreme in our views, and do not believe the Lord to be a hard taskmaster, but we cannot understand the manner in which many of his avowed servants act towards him. When we gave ourselves to God we meant it, and it was no mere form: we gave him then and there our whole self and all that we had, and we have no desire to run back from the vow. We suppose that other Christians did the same, and that they regard themselves as not their own, but bought with a price: how, then, can we interpret their lives? They accumulate tens of thousands of pounds for themselves and families, and leave the heathen to perish in ignorance; they add field to field, or ship to ship, and allow poor churches to be crippled with debt. The ministers of God are starving, and among the people whom they serve there are men worth scores of thousands; missionaries cannot be sent out for lack of means, and yet those who profess to love Jesus continue to lay by, not for their needs, but for mere greed. Ah, if they did but know it, they are missing one of the brightest joys of life, compared with which avarice is misery. He lives indeed who lives for God, and he enjoys his money who lays it out to glorify Jesus.
Reading the other day a book entitled” Wesleyan Local Preachers,”* we dropped upon the following account of Thomas Bush, which we recommend to Baptists as well as Methodists: — “Thomas Bush entertained a high estimate of the duty of Christian benevolence; and in the plans he adopted to carry out his beneficent wishes, he proved himself to be, in heart and action, a Methodist.t Heavy affliction did not sour his nature, neither did it cause his zeal for God to occupy a second place in his thoughts and purposes. Although prevented, in the providence of God, from teaching the truth by his voice, he felt that there was no barrier in the way to hinder the manifestation of the truth in his life and conduct. That he lived the gospel which he had preached to others, is attested by a solemn covenant which he made with his Maker, and which also he strictly observed to the latest day of his pilgrimage on earth. Ascending, one day, an eminence called White Horse Hill, about the year 1820, he gazed upon the fertile plain which lay stretched before him.
Saddening thoughts filled his mind, as he considered that at his feet dwelt multitudes who could not claim any interest in the atonement of Christ — men and women who were passing to eternity, heedless alike of happiness and misery. True, there were watchmen appointed for the purpose of warning these thoughtless ones against the dangers of the path on which they journeyed; but the counsel, he believed, was misleading and unsafe.
No sooner did the magnitude of the evil present itself forcibly to his imagination, than he determined to do what in him lay to mitigate, and, if possible, remove it. Animated by a lively faith and holy love, he committed himself and the cause he had espoused to God. The following record of the circumstance was noted by himself: — ‘ On White Horse Hill I solemnly and unalienably made an entire surrender of body, soul, substance, time, influence, and talent of every kind, to thee as my triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit; and I took that whole district as my special vineyard.’ An extract from the covenant itself will show its scope, and the devoted piety and zeal which called it forth: — ‘ I will lay out my yearly income faithfully for thee — if not in the same year, yet uprightly and faithfully. And if thou sparest me to pursue the great work in the Vale of the White Horse, I will plant the gospel, and purchase premises, and erect preaching-houses, and settle them on the Conference Plan, without the Wesleyan Local Preachers: Biographical Illustrations of their Position in Connexion, Utility in the Church, and Influence in the World. By the Author of “Tyneside Celebrities.” Hewcastle-upon-Tyne: William D. Lawson, 9, Ash-field Terrace West. t Say rather, a Christian. selfish reserve:. I will not lend my yearly income on interest, but will honestly lay it up for the cause of God.
Oh, make me as a child of eternity while in time! Oh, in sovereign mercy, give me to go through the world under the influence of special power from thee! May I be raised above the influence of all sensual desires and pursuits! Oh, give me to feel that I am ordained, called, qualified, and redeemed, by thee, for special service both in the church and in the world!
Oh, give me to live in this holy atmosphere at all times, and in all places and companies, in all humility of mind, and gracious soul- humbling, soultransforming feelings, for Jesus Christ’s sake, for thy name’s sake, and for thy own glory! Oh, restore my voice again! Lord, heal me, I beseech thee, for these great and holy ends! Oh, let nothing incapacitate me for thy service! My chapels shall be settled so that the surplus income go to support the regular ministry in the circuit.’ Such was the grand scheme of practical usefulness which Thomas Bush devised in humble dependence upon God. That he did not lose sight of the important objects for the attainment of which it had been conceived, the following memorandum proves. Five years after his special day of communion with Jehovah upon White Horse Hill, he thus writes: — ‘ O my God! I have most solemnly given myself up to thee. I have particularly covenanted and engaged to take the whole district of the Vale of the White Horse as my vineyard, as far as my yearly income will allow, with proper quotas to thy general cause and poor relations. Oh, look upon the still desert parts of my native land!
How many counties are still comparatively destitute of Methodism, and the genuine doctrines of the gospel, by any truly evangelical ministration! I know foreign missions .are of inconceivable importance, the most noble subject that can engage the mind of man; and while-Christians are alive to God, they can never view with in- difference the state of the heathen world. Blessed be God! the missionary flame is revived, and is, I trust, increasing. A Christian public is alive and active in that department. As to myself, I am a poor, solitary, afflicted, in- significant individual; and have for some years been led to try to do a little good in those ways and directions where, I believe, humanly speaking, it would not otherwise have been done at all. I will be entirely and unreservedly de- voted to God. Oh, that I may, as fully as my nature is capable! If the Lord should continue or increase my providential talents, I will use them fully for him. I will have a particular eye not only on one district, but to the neglected parts of the country in general, if I can possibly, by my yearly income, my little influence, or by writing, advance the glory of God in that way. O my God, if thou canst so greatly bow, heal me, restore my voice and strength, so far as shall enable me to glorify thee. Oh, ordain me for special service for thee! Even favor me with justness of thought, humility of soul, spirituality of mind, that will enable me to glorify thyself, for Christ’s sake.’” PREACHING TO BEPLAIN.
THERE isa sea-bird called the Great Northern Diver, which is worth watching. He is floating upon the sea at one moment, and in the next you miss him: he is gone, gone for quite a time, and then he comes up so far away that unless you know his habits you will never believe that it is the same bird. He is great at diving. Have we never seen his like in the ministerial world P Assuredly we have. The preacher is there, and you think you see what he is at, but on a sudden be has plunged and is lost to comprehension. Wait awhile, and he will again appear upon the surface, but it will be at a considerable distance from his last position. This may be thought very fine by those hearers who consider that they are profited much when they understand least, but it is not the preaching which glorifies or benefits men. “We use great plainness of speech,” said Paul, and the more honestly a man can say the same the better. When the hearers cannot understand there is room to suspect the preacher of a lack in his own understanding.
COMFORT TO BE DISPENSED JUDICIOUSLY CHILDREN can be coddled into the grave. The dear boy is deprived of fresh air from the terrible fear of taking cold; he must not play at any game requiring healthy exercise lest he should over-exert himself; he must be physicked when he is well to prevent his taking some terrible disease; and he must he pampered and indulged in order that he may not become unduly excited by having his will opposed. We have seen children positively murdered by their anxious parents, coddled to death. Is it not easy to do the same with converts? Is it not too common to keep back solemn truths lest the new comers should be discouraged, and give a comfortable but untruthful gloss to every searching doctrine that their peace may not be disturbed? Is it right to do this? Can it be a good thing to screen the conscience from searching inquiry, and the heart from testing doctrines? It must surely be far better to let every part of revelation act on the professed disciple after its own manner, and produce the effect for which it was intended.
The same evil may happen if we comfort unbelieving Christians, and never upbraid them for their unbelief. We may treat them to too much pity till they come to like to be despondent for the sake of being consoled. In this way their Christian manliness may be checked in its development, and their general spiritual health be reduced to constant ailing. Doubting saints, like children, must be loved and cared for, but not indulged in sinful unbelief and cossetted into constant weakness. We have seen a boy kept in a heated room in an atmosphere quite enough to drive him into a fever, and we have been reminded of the unnatural and artificial conditions into which some of the weaker sort of believers are constantly placed by the mistaken kindness of unwise friends.
UNITY OF PURPOSE IN a garden at Mentone is a tree upon which may be seen at the same time oranges, lemons, citrons, and shaddocks. All the grafts were alive, but they were not all equally vigorous. If I remember well there was but one fruit of each kind on any but the orange and the lemon, and the orange greatly preponderated in fruitfulness. The stronger wins the day. The more vigorous of the grafts took the sap to itself, and left the others to pine. One kind of fruit is enough for one tree, and one great object in life is enough for one man. If we have two or three aims, either one will kill the rest or else all will be poor, miserable, pining, worthless things. “This one thing I do” is a wise motto. “One thing is needful,” let us pursue it.
AMUSEMENTS, AVOIDED FROM THEIR SURROUNDINGS.
BECAUSE of the ravages of the Colorado beetle, all foreign potatoes, though in themselves unobjectionable, are kept out of Italy. It seems a hard measure, but the danger appears to justify it. We are often placed under the same necessity as to amusements: in themselves they may be well enough, but we cannot shut our eyes to the serious evils which have become connected with them, and therefore we feel it to be our only course to make them contraband altogether. You cannot sift out the beetles, and so you must shut out the potatoes; you cannot remove the attendant sins, and so you must forego the pleasures. “Hard Puritanism!” cries one. Common sense, say we, and if we had more of the so-called Puritanism among us we should be all the better for it.
THE Editor has been out of the way of taking notes of anything except Highland cattle, sea gulls, herrings, and heather, Hence this department of the magazine must go bare this month. Perhaps, also, the rest of this issue may show that the ruling hand is absent; and if so, gentle reader, forgive the fault. We must rest now and then, and breathe the ocean air, or else we shall become as fiat, stale and unprofitable as a stagnant pool. What ‘salt could be expected in a magazine if the editor never went to the seaside?
Mrs. Spurgeon is being overwhelmed with applications for books, quite out of proportion to the assistance which enables her to supply them. Will friends please take kindly the hint that when perfect strangers of various denominations apply to her they should mention the names of some wellknown individuals who could recommend them. Our beloved wife is anxious to do her work well and judiciously, and it would grieve her very much if she found that unworthy persons perverted this good work to their own undue advantage. It is needful, therefore, that she be enabled to judge each application. The need is so great, and the means are so limited, that she wishes every penny to go to really bona fide poor ministers of the gospel. Every one will see the necessity for this hint. To generous donors who have aided her, our dear helpmeet asks us to give her sincere thanks, and we also add our own personal gratitude. Her joy in the Lord’s work is ours. Our great Master, also, which is far more important, graciously accepts what is done for his needy ministers. It is an offering of sweet smell, pleasing to his heart. To his church, also, it is no small profit that her indigent preachers should be provided with at least some little store of mental food. Friday, Aug. 4. A meeting was held at the Tabernacle of the friends meeting in the Green Walk, Bermondsey, under the leadership of Mr.W. Olney, junior. This is a mission of the right kind, where working men and women throw their whole hearts into the work of evangelizing their neighbors, and under the divine blessing are eminently successful. Open-air preaching, tract giving and lending, house to house visitation, and every form of holy service are carried on with abounding perseverance and prayerfulness, and many are thus gathered unto the Lord. How many such good works might be accomplished if earnest workers would unite, and in how many cases they would unite if they could find a leader as devoted and whole-hearted as our esteemed brother, the worthy son of our worthy senior deacon. Could not other young gentlemen of education and position collect around themselves a band of hearty men and women, and push forward into the enemy’s territories. Our Christian young men would find that such an enterprise would afford them more happiness and interest than any other pursuit in the world. Let them try it.
The students of the Pastors’ College re-assembled for another term on August 1st. The first day was spent in the grounds of Sir Charles Forbes, Clapham, and the occasion furnished pleasant opportunities for intercourse between the elder students and the new comers. Friends at the Tabernacle furnished the entertainment, and the day was one of great enjoyment. We have now 110 men in the College, and earnestly ask to be remembered in daily prayer that every brother may become an able minister of the New Testament. Our expenditure is largely increased, owing to our larger number of students; and we therefore look up for larger help from our great Lord through his people. Ministers are needed everywhere. The earth is to be subdued for Jesus, and there cannot be a better work than to aid the Lord’s young soldiers to put on their harness for the great fight.
Our bird’s-eye view of the Orphanage will, we hope, give our readers a clear idea of that Institution, so far as its local habitation is concerned.
Observe the Dining Hall as soon as you enter the square, and the Infirmary at the further end, a separate building. God blesses us with our orphans very greatly, and we trust he will continue to do so. We entreat the friends of orphans to continue to us their prayers and sympathies. We are well supplied because the Lord thinketh upon us, and guides the kind thoughts of his stewards in the same direction.
On Sabbath, August 13th, C. H. Spurgeon preached at Blairmore to an immense out-door company, consisting of comers from all the surrounding towns. The two services were happy occasions, and much Christian fellowship was shown by our Scotch brethren to the southern preacher.
Mr. Duncan, of Benmore, a gentleman of boundless hospitality, enterrained Mr. Spurgeon, and carefully guarded him from the incessant invasions of those who wanted him to preach. Mr. Spurgeon received not less than fifty invitations to preach during the thirteen days he remained in Scotland. This during REST! As it was, he delivered only four sermons.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle By Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — July 31st, twenty-two; August 3rd, thirteen.