HOW THE LAMBS FEED.
A SHORT DISCOURSE BY C. H. SPURGEON,
“Then shall the lambs feed after their manner.” — Isaiah 5:17.
THE sense of this passage may be that Judea would be so desolated that it would become rather a wild wilderness pasture for flocks than an inhabited country; but that is not the meaning which the old readers of the Bible were accustomed to give to it. The Hebrews commentators considered ‘the lambs’ to mean the house of Israel and regarded this as a promise that, in all times of distress and affliction, God’s flock would still be fed, these would still be a people kept alive, and these should still meet with suitable support. Whether that be the correct sense or not, I shall use the words as having some such meaning.
Our text deals with the lambs, and to the lambs we intend to speak; may the Good Shepherd speak to them also! Young converts, newborn souls, these words are for you; you shall feed after your manner.
I. Our first observation is, that GOD WOULD HAVE ALL HIS CHURCH FED; — a simple enough observation certainly, and clearly to be inferred from the common course of nature; for no sooner is any living thing created than there are appliances for its feeding. No sooner is a seed cast into the ground and vitalized than it gathered to itself the particles upon which it feeds, and no sooner is an animal born than it receives food. Surely the Lord does not create life in the regenerated soul without providing stores upon which it may be nourished. Where he gives life he gives food.
Simple as this statement is, it has often been forgotten by those who should best have borne it in mind. It strikes me that it has been forgotten by some ministers. They have exhorted, threatened, and thundered, but they have never fed those to whom they have preached. They have cried, “Believe!
Believe!” but seldom explained what was; to be believed, or, when they have mentioned the simple elements of the faith, they have gone no further, but have continued still to speak the first principles of the gospel, and no more. These brethren have their proper sphere, but they should not be pastors unless they can feed the flock of God. The wanderers must he gathered first, but afterwards they must be fed. For want of this, many have remained in weakness and bondage, and have made no advance in the divine life. The necessity for spiritual food has been forgotten by some ministers, who have continually harped upon the sublime doctrines of the gospel, but have not preached the elementary truths. Surely they have not carried out their Lord’s command, “Feed my lambs.” They have been content to feed the older people, who by reason of use have had their senses exercised, forgetting that the like necessities befall all the flock, and that the lambs need to be fed as well as the sheep.
If the teachers have forgotten this, the taught have also failed to remember it. I have been very anxious, beloved, that you should be diligent in the service of God, and I have continually stirred you up, not to be sitting listening to sermons when you ought to be doing good, and the consequence has been that some have gone forth to attempt to do good whom I should not have exhorted to do so, because for them it would have been better if they had waited a while, till they had learned somewhat more, both of doctrine and experience. Young brethren, there is a time for feeding as well as a time for working. There is work for strong men, and there is nurture for babes. To little children we do not allot the labors of husbandry; some little service in the house is suitable for them, and will do them good; but we do not exact much labor from them, for we know that youth is a time in which they must be learning and growing. Therefore let me say to some of you who know little or nothing of your Bibles, or of your own hearts, — Wait a little, and run not, before you are sent. Sit thou, young brother, still a while at Jesus’ feet, and learn what he has to say to thee; then, when thou runnest as a messenger, thou wilt have a message; but mayhap now thou hast more foot than heart, more tongue than brain, and this is ill.
Let us not forget that our souls need to be fed , and this I say to some of you who do but little for the Lord Jesus, and may be said neither to work nor to eat. Look at the mass of our Christian people, what do they do?
Monday morning early at business, and on till Saturday evening late at business. What is their reading the daily paper! I condemn it not, but of what use is this to their souls? What, then, do they read to nourish the inner life? Ah, what? A magazine with a religious tale in it! A tale which will probably be spun out to two or three volumes! If the religion were taken out of it, it would probably be improved; and if the rest of the book were burned, some light might come of it; but none come by reading it. I will not judge severely, but what is the reading of many Christians: Is it food for their souls? And beyond reading, what else are they doing that their spirits may be nourished? Our fathers would go into their chamber three times a day, and take a quarter of an hour for meditation, how many of us maintain such a habit? Is it done once a day. It was once my privilege to live in a house where, at eight o’clock, every person, from the servant to the master, would have been found for half an hour in prayer and meditation in his or her chamber. As regularly as the time came round, that was done, just as we partook of our meals at appointed hours. If that were done in all households, it would be a grand thing for us. In the old Puritanic times, a servant would as often answer, “Sir, my master is at prayers,” as he would nowadays answer, my master is engaged.” It was still looked upon as a recognized fact that Christian men did meditate, did study the Word, and did pray; and society respected the interval. It is said that if in the days of Cromwell, you had walked down Cheapside in the morning, you would have seen the blinds down at every house at a certain hour. Alas, where will you find such streets nowadays? I fear that what was once the rule is now the exception. When will God’s people perceive that it is not enough to be born again, but that the life then received must be nourished daily with the bread of heaven. It is not enough to be spiritually alive; our life, to be vigorous, must be familiar with its source.
Every Christian man should know that he needs times for supplying his soul with the meat which endureth unto life eternal; as the body needs its mealtimes, so must you sit down to your heavenly Father’s table until he has satisfied your mouth with good things, and renewed your strength like the eagle’s. The more intensely earnest we are in feeding upon the Word of God, the better.
My young friends, you require to be fed with knowledge and understandings , and therefore you should search the Scriptures daily to know what are the doctrines of the gospel, and what are the glories of Christ. You will do well to read the “Confession of Faith,” and study the proof texts, or to learn the “Assembly’s Catechism,” which is a grand condensation of Holy Scripture would say, even to many aged Christians, that they could not spend their time better than in going over the Shorter Catechism again and comparing it with the Book of God, from which it is derived. Truly, in these days, when men are so readily decoyed to Popery, we had need know what it is that we believe. Protestantism grew in this land when there was much simple, plain, orthodox teaching of the doctrines which are assuredly believed among us. Catechisim was the very bulwark of Protestantism. But now we have much earnest preaching, and yet people do not know what the doctrines of the gospel are: be ye not ignorant, but be ye nourished up in the truth.
My young friends, may you obtain a spiritual understanding of God’s Word , which is more than knowledge! May you discern the inward sense, compare spiritual things with spiritual, and see the relation between this truth and the other, and the relation of all truth to your own selves and to your standing before God! May the Holy Spirit feed you so! May you also be fed by mingling with the saints of God, and learning from their experience! Many a young Christian gathers from advanced saints what he: would never discover elsewhere. As they tell of what they have felt, and known, and suffered, and enjoyed, the lambs of the flock are strengthened and consoled. Seek for your companions those who can instruct you. It is a dreary thing for a young man to have association with those only who are below himself in experience, and not to know those from whose lips pearls drop, because they have been in those deeps where pearls are found. Be much with experienced Christians who have been with Jesus, and you will be fed by them.
Young friend, much feeding will come to you by meditation on the truth that you hear . As the cattle lie down, and chew their cud, so does meditation turn over the truth, and get the very essence, and nutriment out of it. To hear, and hear, and hear, and hear, as some do, is utterly useless, because, when they have heard, it is all over with them; it has gone in at one ear and out at the other, and has left nothing upon the mind. Press the truth as men tread the grapes in the winevat filing the red clusters into the press of memory, and trample on them with the feet of meditation, then shall the rich juice flow forth to cheer thy heart, and make thy spirit strong within thee. Meditate, young man. This is the thing thou needest if thou wouldst be fed.
And, higher still, there is a divine nourishment in communion, when the soul ascends to Jesus Christ, and feeds on the Lord himself, when the incarnate God becomes the soul’s bread, and the bleeding Savior in his substitutionary sacrifice, becomes the heart’s wine. Feed on him, O beloved, ye who have lately come to him Eat, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved! May the Lord give you a mighty hunger after his Word, and after himself, and then lead you by the still waters, and make you to lie down in green pastures!
Thus much on the first simple fact, that God will have all his sheep, and his lambs fed.
II. Secondly, the text says that the lambs shall feed “after their manner; and that leads us to observe, that YOUNG BELIEVERS HAVE THEIR OWN WAY OFFEEDING. I believe every single Christian has his own idiosyncrasy in that matter.
Beloved, there are some of you who could not constantly hear me to profit, and yet this is neither my fault nor yours, but a wise arrangement, for you can hear some other brother, and thus there is work for him as well as for me. If all could be fed by me, and by no one else, where should I put my congregation, and where would others get theirs? Certain persons can receive the truth from one man better than they can from another, not because that man is any better, or the other any worse, but because there is a way of putting it, or there is a kind of congruity of nature between the hearer and the preacher. I am glad to think that God has not cast all his people in one mold, and made them all desirous to listen to one voice in order to be spiritually fed.
It may happen, moreover, that in our church, there are people who cannot be instructed in one of our classes. Well, if it is so, do not quarrel with the brother who conducts it; go to another teacher, and try him. Or perhaps you are not edified by the teaching of some Christian with whom you associate. Well, the world is wide, try another. “Then shall the lambs feed after their manner.” Each Christian has his own way of feeding on the Word. Let him have it in, his own way, and do not judge him. There may be something of self in his peculiarity, but perhaps there is also something of God’s purpose in it. Do not pass an Act of Uniformity, but rejoice in the diversities of operations, provided you see the same Lord.
There are several things certain about the manner of feeding of all lambs.
The first is, that if they feed after their manner, they feed on tender grass .
Young Christians love the simple truths of the gospel; hence these ought to be often preached, and we ought not to be angry with newborn believers if they cannot understand the higher doctrines. I hope we shall never, as a church, exact from young converts the wisdom of age. I trust we shall never say, “There, you must go back; you won’t do for us, you are not up to our mark, for you cannot expound the deep things of God.” God forbid!
If we shut out the lambs, where shall we get our sheep? If the Lord has received them, let us receive them. No father excluded a child from his table when he is three or four years old because, he is not yet able to speak Latin. If the little ones know their A B C, it is a good beginning. We think a great deal of the first little verse our babes repeat; they say it in such a queer way that nobody thinks it is language at all except father and mother, but they are charmed with the simplest form of speech which infant lips can try. So, to see a little spiritual knowledge in new converts should gratify us, and cause us to love them. Leave the lambs to feed on tender grass, and you older ones may take as much of the tougher herbage as you like.
Again, lambs like to feed little and often . They are not able to take in much at a time, but they like to be often at it. I love to see our young people coming to the prayer-meetings and week-day services so continually. You will grow in grace if you are often engaged in the means of grace; but it is possible to make such things a weariness to the flesh if they become protracted. Strong saints can bear whole days of devotion, and delight in them; yea, a whole week spent alone in a sacred retreat might be a glorious holiday, — a holy day, rather, — an anticipation of heaven; but for young believers, let them have here a little and there a little, — a text and a text, line upon line, precept upon precept, — but let them have it often. “Then shall the lambs feed after their manner.” The lambs, if they feed well, feed after their manner, quietly . If there is a dog in the field, they will not feed; if they are driven about hither and thither, and not allowed to rest, they cannot feed. I pity young Christians who get into churches where there are disturbances and troubles. Oh, may we ever be kept at peace! I bless God for the love that has reigned among us. May it continue, and may it deepen! Beloved friends, when we fall out with one another, we shall find that the Spirit of God has fallen out with us.
We cannot expect to see young converts among us at all, much less can we hope to see them advance in grace, if we indulge a party spirit, or a controversial spirit within the fold. All believers should endeavor to maintain a sacred quiet within the church for the sake of the little ones.
Have you never heard of the child who was greatly impressed under a sermon, and had resolved to pray on reaching home, but he heard his father and mother on the road home discussing the discourses, and finding such fault with it, that the happy season of tenderness passed away from that child; and, in after years, he was accustomed to say that his becoming an infidel was due to that conversation? Let the lambs feed in quiet. If a little bit of the sermon suits my boy, though it seems childish to me, let me be glad that there is something for him. If the preacher did state the truth in a way which I do not like, I daresay the preacher’s Master knows how to guide him far better than I do, and perhaps my neighbor who sat next to me has profited by precisely that which I have criticized. Let the lambs feed quietly. I would say to young Christians, — Never mix up in the controversies of these days. There are people about who seem to be cut on the cross, and the only use they are in this world seems to be to raise irritating questions. They and the mosquitoes were created by infinite wisdom, but I have never been able to discover the particular blessing which either of them confer upon us. Those persons who discuss and discuss, and do nothing else, had better be let alone. If there be a way to live peaceably with all men, I should say to the young Christian, “Follow it.” The lambs feed best when they are not worried, but dwell in peace with all.
Then, next, when lambs feed after their manner, they feed in pleasure . A very disorderly lot the lambs are, if you look over the gate at them, they are never proper and solemn. A draughtsman could scarcely sketch them in their friskings and gambols. Young, Christians ought not to be told to cease their holy mirth; they ought not to be expected as yet to groan with those that groan, but let them rejoice with those that do rejoice. Their days of sorrow will probably come soon enough, without their being anticipated; let them rejoice in the Lord, yea, let them rejoice always. I am glad our friends do not universally call out in the Tabernacle, “Hallelujah,” and “Hosannah,” and the like; but, for my part, when I am preaching in the open air in the country, and our Methodist friends do so, it seems to stir my blood, and I am glad of it. It is much better than having a sleepy congregation.
A little excitement in the Christian church, especially by young converts, is by no means to be deprecated. I remember hearing dear Doctor Fletcher say, when talking to a number of children, that he once saw a boy standing on his head, dancing on the pavement, and displaying all sorts of antics of joy. He stopped near him, and said, “Well, my lad, you seem to be exceedingly merry.” “I think I am, and so would you be, Sir, (or Guv’nor, I think he said,) if you had been locked up three months, and had just got out.” “Well,” said the venerable man, “I thought it very reasonable, indeed, and I told him by no means to stop his performances because of me.” Now, when a poor man has felt the burden of sin, and has been shut up in the prison of the law, and Jesus comes and brings him out, and he begins to rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, if any man living would stop him, I would not. Nay, let him rejoice. Let the lambs feed “after their manner.” And if somebody to-night should come to me, and say, “Your young converts have been extravagant in expression, and injudicious in zeal,” I should reply, “My dear brother, are you better than these young ones? At any rate, there is one respect in which you are worse, for you show a propensity to find fault with those who are serving God with all their might. Go your way, and join them. If you have not a heart to do so, and if they seem to be enthusiastic beyond measure, only thank God that there are some few left among us yet who can appreciate fervor, and wish that there were a little more of it.” For my own part, I would like to see a downright fanatic. It is so long since one has set one’s eyes upon such a curiosity, that I should like to see one, — just one! I have seen snow enough, pray let me see a fire-flake. I have seen thousands of wet blankets, oh for the touch of a live coal! Enthusiasm in excess might be a blessing in disguise. Let the lambs feed pleasantly, in their own wild, natural way.
Once more, when the lambs feed after manner, they feed in company .
They like to get with others if they can. Sheep thrive best in flocks. I call upon every young Christian here to get into some part of Christ’s flock. I invite you into this portion of Christ’s church; but if you find any other, where all things considered, you think it would be better for you to be, go there. Mind that you join yourself first to Christ, and after that unite with his people. Do not try to go to heaven as a solitary individual, that is not the Christian way. Jesus gathers his people into a Church, he does not profess to lead his people one by one, as solitary pilgrims, but they are to go in groups and bands. From company to company they proceed towards the New Jerusalem. May you have much love to the visible Church, and believe that, notwithstanding all her faults, there is none like her in the earth; that, notwithstanding all her spots, she is excellent for beauty, and fairest among women.
III. I must close with the remark thatIN THE WORST OF TIMES,GOD WILL SEE THAT HIS LAMBS AND THE REST OF HIS FLOCK AREFED. It is said, in the text, “Then shall the lambs feed after their manner;” that is, when the vineyard was destroyed and the hedge broken down, when thorns and briars had come up, and the clouds had refused to rain, and God had sent desolation upon Israel, and the people were gone into captivity; even then shall the lambs feed after their manner. This is a blessed truth; come what may, God’s people shall be saved, and they shall have spiritual meat.
There may come persecuting times. Never mind. Never did Christ seem so glorious as when he walked with his Church in the dungeon and up to the stake. Never were there sweeter songs than those which rose from the Lollards’ tower and Bonner’s coal-hole. Never did the Church have such marriage feasts as when her members died at the gallows and the fire.
Christ Jesus has made himself preeminently near and dear to a persecuted church. Therefore, fear not if you should have your little trouble to bear in the family, or rebuke and shame from an evil world, for you shall feed after your manner. Though your mother should be grieved, though your husband should be angry, though your brother should ridicule, though your employer should scoff, you shall be fed with spiritual meat, and your soul shall surmount all these ills, triumphant in her God. “But I dread,” says one, “that there will come times of sickness to me; I have premonitions of it.” Yes, but you shall be fed after your manner. And I, for one, bear witness that sometimes, periods of sickness are times of the greatest spiritual nourishment. The Lord can furnish a table in the wilderness. A very wilderness sickness is of itself, but God can find us daily manna. He can make you strongest in heart when you are weakest in body.
Therefore fear not, God will feed you. “I am afraid of poverty,” says one. Art thou? That has been the lot of many of his people. For many an age hath the Lord chosen the poor to be his disciples. Thou needest not fear that. Thy Master was poor; thou wilt never be so poor as he was, for he had not where to lay his head. Fear not, he will feed thee. Canst thou not trust him? “Ah, but I fear death,” says one. “Then shall the lambs feed after their manner.” Even in the valley of the shadow of death thou shalt find tender grass. Have you never seen others die? Has it not been a joyous thing to see; some saints depart? I recall to your memories, dear brethren, those who have but lately ascended, whom we loved. Was there anything terrible about their deaths? Did they not smile upon us in their last hours, and make us feel that we would willingly change places with them, and die, as they died? Have I not often seen the young girl sickening with consumption, and heard from her strange things that made me think her half a prophetess, — a seer whose eyes had been anointed so that she had looked within the veil, and seen the glory of the invisible? Oh, how texts of Scripture have been placed in golden settings by dying saints! How sweetly have they set promises to music! Speak of monks and their illuminated missals! Scripture illuminated by dying saints is far more marvelous. What amazing joy they have felt! They told us that joy was killing them, — that they did not die of the disease, but of excess of delight. It was as though the great floods of glory had burst their banks, and they were being swept right away by them to eternal bliss. It has visibly been blessed for the saints to die, and therefore it is foolish, — perhaps wicked, — for any child of God to be afraid to depart. “Then shall the lambs feed after their manner,” feeding near the very scythe of death, and cropping choice morsels at the grave’s mouth; for the Lamb, Jesus Christ, being with them, no lamb of all the flock shall have cause to fear.
We shall now separate, and scatter, as congregations have scattered, I might say, these hundreds of times from this house; and scattering and going each our way to his own home, shall we ever meet again? Probably by no means shall we all of us meet in the body, so that these eyes shall look to other eyes, and say, “I saw those eyes before.” Well, well, truth be the truth remembered that we are a flock, and must gather again in one meeting-place before the judgment-seat, on that day of wrath, that dreadful day. Shall we meet then as the sheep of Christ, or, meeting, will it be to be divided, to the right and to the left, as the sheep of the Great King, or the goats condemned to be cast away? We shall meet there certainly, but will it be an eternal meeting for unending joy? God grant it may! Oh, infinite, mercy of the blessed God, let us all be united at the throne of Christ! But I hear thee say, O angel, in answer to that prayer, — I hear thee speak out of the glory, and say, “There can be no union at the throne except there first be union at the cross.” Hearken to that warning, and come to Jesus. There stands the cross, which is the center of the Church! Lo, I see upon it the Son of God, his wounds still founts of cleansing blood! Will you come to the cross? Will you trust the Redeemer? Will you bow before him? Will you be washed in his blood? Will you be saved with his salvation? If so, we shall all meet in heaven to see the face of the Lamb in his glory. God grant we may, for Jesus sake! Amen.
COLLEGE. We are working on with a large body of students, and God is with us. During the week commencing October 30th the students will conduct services at the Tabernacle for the ingathering of souls to Christ, and the revival of true religion. We ask our readers’ prayers. It seems most comely that our young brethren should make a special effort for the work of the Lord at the Tabernacle, seeing that the College owes so much to the weekly offerings of the church. This source of supply aids us from week to week, and is specially valuable when outside friends forget us, as we fear many have done of late.
To our great joy our beloved brother, John Collins, of Penge, has accepted the pastorate of Bedford Row Chapel, and Alfred Bax, of Battersea, has been unanimously invited to Salters’ Hall. These are both most important spheres, and we invite prayer that these two most estimable brethren may be sustained and prospered.
Mr. Dykes, of Parliament-street, Toronto, has also removed to Collegestreet.
During his five years’ pastorate at Parliament-street the church has increased from 33 to 213.
Mr. Tarrant, of our College, has settled at Romney Street, Westminster.
He is worthy of the help of all our friends in that region.
Last month we mentioned our great need, not only of means for meeting current expenses, but of capital with which to work the concern. Our hope was that there were persons who would sufficiently appreciate this form of Christian labor, and put us in possession of the necessary funds: such is not the case. However, one gentleman has sent £2100 to serve as a challenge to nine others to make up the l,000 required for capital. If it please the Lord, he will move others to follow this good example. Meanwhile our heart is cheered by this timely and generous act, and we pray that every blessing may rest on the anonymous friend who has thus encouraged us at a time when the stream of expenditure is at flood and every source of income at the ebb. The Lord liveth and will not fail us or forsake us. The Monday Prayer-meeting, September the 25th, was mainly directed towards Colportage, and very deep was the interest felt. At the close of the meeting the Pastor, in the name of the Committee and other friends, presented Mr. Frederick Jones with some forty or more volumes of books in testimony of the high regard felt for him, and in recognition of his eminent services to the Society. Mr. Jones is now studying in the College; happy will the church be which in due time obtains, as its pastor, a man with the gifts and graces which we have observed in him for these many years.
ORPHANAGE. We are still greatly in need of an under-schoolmaster. There is such a scarcity of school-teachers now that we scarcely know where to look. Apply to Mr. Charlesworth, The Orphanage, Stockwell. The meeting for the Collectors is fixed for Friday, November 10th, at Five o’clock. Our son, Thomas, will then give a lecture. We look for a good muster and substantial aid.
We have received, with thankfulness, the donations and presents so kindly sent by the “Widow Chesterman,” and if we had but known her address we would gladly have acknowledged them. The 10s. for Mrs. Spurgeon’s Fund have come safely, as also the parcel for the orphans, and the personal gifts — but as only goods for the orphans are mentioned in the magazine we had no means of communicating with our kind friend. Will friends, in sending parcels, be so good as to put their names upon or in the package itself as well as in the letter of advice.
Sept. 26. — A meeting of the pastors, delegates, and officers of the Baptist churches forming the London Association was held in the Lecture Hall of the Tabernacle. During tea there was much Christian intercourse, and afterwards the meeting was full of life and earnestness. A cloud hung over all in the absence of Mr. Archibald Brown, by whom the meeting was suggested, but who on that day went to the grave with his beloved wife.
Mr. Wigner, the president, conducted the meeting admirably, and from the lips of such brethren as Charles Stanford, Dr. Culross, and W. G. Lewis, we received much stimulus, but somehow we missed practical results, except, indeed, that it is a grand result in itself to bring some 500 earnest men into fellowship with each other. The very sight of so many representative men made us feel that the Lord has work and blessing in store for the Baptists of London. May they only prove worthy of their high calling, and continue in hearty unity, and the arm of the Lord will be made bare among them. Evangelistic services are to be held all through November and December in the various chapels, and it is also proposed to start colporteurs for London, but this last matter hangs fire until good Mr. Brown is able to step forward and urge it on. We pray that he may be comforted and restored to his people and to us all.
Sept. 28. — The President gave a lecture to the members of the College Evening Classes. It was a fine sight to see some 250 men of good build and intellectual form, met together to improve themselves in knowledge that they might the better serve the Lord. Our evening classes are the training ground for our College, Sabbath schools, open-air preaching, and evangelist societies, and indeed for all Christian organizations. Young men engaged in business hero get an education for nothing, and nearly three hundred avail themselves of the privilege. This is a Working Men’s College of the Christian order, and will, we trust, prevent many from seeking mental culture in regions where modern doubt and masked infidelity mingle with the instruction.
Oct. 3. — The memorial stone of a new building for Ned Wright was laid in George Street, Camberwell, hard by the spot where Messrs. Moody and Sankey had their great hall. Mr. Wright has to our knowledge, been the means of leading many to the savior; he shows marvelous vigor and tact, and has great power to attract and impress an audience. We wish him God speed. Although his work is not actually connected with any one denomination, Mr. Wright is a Baptist, and a large number of those converted under him are baptized upon profession of their faith.
Oct. 3-5. — The Baptist Union met at Birmingham, under the presidency of Dr. Landels. The meetings were enthusiastic and the only regret appeared to be that they were too short for practical discussion. Our brethren like to have ample room and verge enough for talk, and they evidently missed this, principally because too many subjects were brought forward. Are we every year to discuss total abstinence and the Contagious Diseases Acts? A deliverance once for all, or say every three years, might, we should think, be sufficient for a body which only meets twice in the year, and then only for a few hours. The subjects are worthy of zealous advocacy, but enough is as good as a feast. The union meetings increase in importance, and the subjects, which are really their own, are pressingly urgent, and therefore we suggest to the committee that next year they put nothing on the agenda paper but the Union’s own work.
Here is the place to express our deep obligation to our admirable chairman, Dr. Landels. He has served his denomination well and faithfully, and we can assure him that his brethren admire and love him. A Paedebaptist paper has dared to say that Dr. Landels does not represent us. Nothing could be more false. We have never heard a whisper or a complaint against him from any one of the thousands of Baptists among whom we move. If there be among us any cravens who would court the favor of the wealthy by concealing their sentiments, we do not know them, and these only are the persons who would dissent from the doctor’s outspoken address. Has it come to this, that the only answer to his arguments is a vilification of his character by cutting him “the apostle of discord,” and such like pretty names? If so, the cause is very weak which resorts to such weapons. We usually find that the gentlemen who most loudly boast their broadness and liberality of soul, are the first to wince when unpleasant truth is vigorously spoken. True manliness delights to meet an honest opponent; and there lives not a man beneath God’s heaven who can doubt our chairman’s honesty, tie pricks too near the heart of the matter, he has not the manners of the carpet knights, who care not a penny for any doctrine whatever, he has convictions and yields himself to them, therefore the word is passed round, “Call him the Apostle of Discord, and say that the best of the Baptists are not with him; never mind the falsehood, it may serve for the occasion, and silence discussion, for if men once begin to think and search, much evil will come to our cause.” All honor to Wm. Landels, brave as a lion and true as steel. We are not accustomed to magnify any man, but we must and will give our champion a word of hearty cheer now that his antagonists would make men believe that he stands alone. Such dastardly tactics arouse our spirit. Fight with fair arguments, gentlemen, but do not abuse the man. Do not represent him as deserted by his brethren, for they bless God at every remembrance of him.
Oct. 6. — A number of leading Baptist ministers breakfasted with the Mayor of Birmingham, who happens to be a member of the Society of Friends. All the speeches went to show how near akin are the Baptists and the Quakers. One common fear of priestcraft, sacramentarianism, and ecclesiastical domination over the conscience possesses both bodies; and though herein others are partakers, none are so sensitive upon these points.
Several ministers said, “If I were not a Baptist I must become a Quaker,” and we believe this to be the general feeling; certainly it is ours. We maintain the two outward ordinances because they appear to us to be plainly taught in Scripture, and because when used only by believers they cannot be perverted into means of salvation: but when we see them regarded as saving ordinances, or as in any way contributing to salvation, we lament the perversion and marvel not that brethren are driven by honest, but erring impulses, to reject the outward symbol altogether.
Birmingham, from its mayor downward, entertained our brotherhood most hospitably, and made the visit of the Union a most pleasant one.
Oct. 16. — The memorial stone of a new house of prayer for the ancient church in Maze Pond, Southwark, was laid at the corner of Albany Road, Old Kent Road.
The building will be a fine commodious structure, but a great deal of help will be needed to prevent its being heavily in debt. All over the world there are Old Maze Pond people, and they are mostly of a thriving class: we suggest to them that now is the time to remember the love of their espousals, and the haunt of their early days, and pour a horn of oil upon the top of the stone. We suggest golden oil, and shall be happy to pass the flask to Mr. Cope, the pastor of the church.
Oct. 22. — In the evening the regular attendants at the Tabernacle absented themselves, and a fresh host of hearers filled the house. How they poured in! Fustian and satin, corduroy and sealskin, — the dress showed the variety of the classes. Long before time the Tabernacle was crowded, and numbers sufficient to fill the place again and again had to be shut out.
Much prayer has been offered about this service, and we are sure of happy results.
A friend suggests that we should imitate Mr. Aitken and Mr. Muller, and visit all the large towns in a long preaching tour. We are much obliged, but we can assure our friend that we do a good share of such work even now, and we could not hearken to advice which would lead to the scattering of our church and all its organizations. Our congregation is larger through the printed sermons than if we wandered hither and thither, much as we should like such work.
We rejoice to mention that during the last few months we have met with more converts from Messrs. Moody and Sankey’s meetings than in all the time before. Some-of our brethren have also made the same observation. It is probable that many held back till they saw where it was best for them to join, and if so, they are to be commended. We expressed our disappointment very plainly some time ago, because we met with so few decided conversions, audit is therefore with the utmost pleasure that we intimate more pleasing tidings. We could not believe that such earnest gospel preaching conic[be without saving result, but we feared that the converts would remain separate, and not unite with the churches. For awhile it seemed to be so, but we are delighted to have seen and conversed with many who make good disciples and hearty workers. God be thanked for this evermore.
The church at New Park Road, Brixton Hill (Rev. D. Jones, B.A., pastor), opened their now Lecture Hall October 18th by a public meeting, which was very largely attended. Edward Rawlings, Esq., presided, and addresses were delivered by the Revs. Dr. Angus, Dr. Green. the Pastor, and other friends. The total cost, exclusive of site, which was given by one of the members, is £1,300, of which £800 is subscribed. It is hoped to clear off the balance by a bazaar, which will be held Nov. 7, 8, 9. The attendance of all readers of The Sword and the .Trowel residing in the vicinity is earnestly requested.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — September 28th, twenty-two.
WATCHING THE EBB BY C. H. SPURGEON.
TO an active mind bent on going forward it is most pleasant to observe the incoming tide, to see wave overleaping wave, the sand covered by degrees, and the heads of the rocks gradually submerged. It is the emblem of progress and success, in which there is always something to stimulate and exhilarate. To succeed and to go on succeeding. to prosper and enlarge the prosperity — this is, when the Lord vouchsafes it, a joyous passage in one’s life. But, reader, did you ever watch the ebb? Have you seen old ocean retreat, giving up foot by foot the shingle, the sand, the mud, the rocks, till perhaps it has ebbed out a mile or more, and left a dreary expanse where once all was alive with leaping waters? This is the emblem of reverses, failure of resources, and decline. Who can quietly survey such a scene, his own work being the subject of it? This has been our lot, in one point of view only, for the last few weeks. We have been watching the ebb, so far as our funds go for the various enterprises. For months all that was needed came when required and left even a surplus beyond immediate demands; we grew accustomed to plenty, as children to their daily meals.
Then came a pause, we know not why, and as this continued we had to live upon stores in hand; as it continues still with the Orphanage and most other matters, those stores are well-nigh spent, if not quite. What then?
Ebb!ebb!ebb! What will come of it?
We pen our thoughts for the good of others whose personal trials may be of much the same kind; it is not for orphans, students, colporteurs, etc. that they are anxious, but for their own households, yet the trial is the same: that long, sad, trying ebb. What then are our thoughts upon the matter?
This withdrawal of resources for a time leaches us gratitude. How thankful we ought to be for the abundant supplies which have been so long awarded us! And what a mercy that there is no absolute pinching need as yet, nor will there be. A fast now and then only teaches us how much we owe for the long feasts of love with which our Lord has indulged us. If the table is a little longer in being prepared it is intended by the delay to call our attention to the marvelous kindness which has for so many )’ears furnished our table in the wilderness in the presence of our enemies. “The fullness and continuance of a blessing, Doth make us to be senseless of the good; And if sometimes it fly not our possessing The sweetness of it is not understood.
Had we no winter, summer would be thought Not half so pleasing; and if tempests were not, Such comforts by a calm could not be brought; For things save by their opposites appear not.” The ebb of our visible supplies is meant also to try our faith, whether it be faith or not. When all goes well we think ourselves mighty believers and wonder how our brethren can be so unbelieving, but short commons soon change our tune and we discover that about nine parts out of ten of our supposed faith were only a pretense. We believe more in our balances than in our promises, and yet we compliment ourselves that we are manifesting great trust in God. Bring us to push of bayonet and our courage evaporates; or at least, if it do not so, we are then truly brave. It is of great benefit to know exactly how we do stand towards God, whether we really believe in him or not; and hence the decline of manifest supplies has a most salutary effect upon our spiritual condition. Brother, do you now believe?
When the brook Cherith dries up? When the children are needing new garments and the last tailor’s bill is not yet paid? When even necessary food is not visibly on the way: do you now believe? Is it quite so easy a matter to trust in God as you once thought it was?
Here we are with a weekly demand for not less than £250, and it does not come in. We think of Elijah at the brook Cherith when in process of time the brook dried up. How did he feel? He was only one man. There was no orphanage with a quarter of a thousand orphans to be fed and clothed, nor a hundred sons of the prophets in like case, nor a band of colporteurs needing support, nor a company of blind people wanting help: how would he have felt if all these, as well as himself, were watching the failure of the stream? Would the iron man have had no anxiety? Would the prophet of fire have known no damps of care? As one big stone after another grew dry, and the pools which had been so many cisterns gradually leaked into mere cups, and the water dwindled into a mere driblet, would he never have heaved a sigh? We cannot tell, but this we know, the devil has risen up from among the sand of the failing brook and hissed in our face such words as these — “ The Lord has forsaken you. God’s people have grown tired of helping, and you have ventured too far. Now there will come a collapse.” Have we agreed with the foul fiend? No, not for a moment, for we know whom we have believed. Yet the struggle has been severe in the soul, and the battle has pressed sore. We have no faith to boast of. Such as it is we would not give it up for all the world, but we have none to spare, and none to exhibit as a wonder. God is good, and his mercy is unfailing, but our faith is a poor starveling thing, which would utterly die if it were not kept alive by omnipotence.
The trial of faith by the decrease of supplies is also meant to make us give all glory to God. When things go too smoothly self is apt to ride on the fore horse. Continuance without change breeds carnal security, and that is the mother of self-conceit. It is a very beneficial thing to be made to see how dependent we are every moment, how readily we may be emptied out, and how impossible it would be for us continue in prosperity if the Lord’s hand were withdrawn. The best established work for the Master has no more endurance in it than a bubble unless he daily smiles upon it. To be laid absolutely at the Lord’s feet, and to be made to stay there, is a most needful thing for us. Our conscious needs chase out our carnal rejoicings.
We see that the Lord alone is our all-sufficient helper, and we give him the more hearty and undivided praise. Will such results come to us and to those in like case? If so they will be “comfortable fruits of righteousness.”
Many a time, also, trial has preceded great mercy, prepared us to enjoy it.
The long and terrible ebb has been connected with an extraordinary flood.
As we have learned to fear and tremble when we have perceived too much delight, because the calm is so often the prelude of the storm, so on the other hand we have learned to rejoice in deep distress as the herald of enlarged blessing. Adversity acts as a tonic: it braces our manhood, and fits us for something higher and greater than our previous attempts. Watching the ebb, we have wondered what the Lord was preparing us for! Instead of contemplating the abridgment of our enterprises we have said unto our soul, “See what emptiness God is making, and how low he is bringing us.
Now do we see that all things are of him, and therefore all things shall be to his glory. The tide will soon turn, and rise all the higher because of this present grievous outflow. God has great things in store if we can only believe.”
So, turning from our bare exchequer to the bottomless mines of eternal wealth, we are not dismayed. Why should we be? Yet, brother, in similar case we will pray for thee, for we know thy sorrow, thy weariness, and long-expecting hope. Pray thou for us also, for the prayer of a son of sorrow is unfeigned, and the petition of a daughter of grief is very prevalent with the Lord. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness. He will turn again and have compassion upon us.
UNCLE TOM’S BUZZARDS UNCLE Tom was a good, pious old negro, who was loved by all the neighborhood, and though he was often teased and worried by some of the heedless, thoughtless young men of the place, his good sense and piety brought him out of all their traps and pitfalls which they set for him in word or deed. There was one thing Uncle Tom hated particularly, and that was to hear church members abused, and many a time was his hear[pained by the light remarks made against Christians, by those who knew how sensitive Tom was about them, and who said them merely to hear Tom defend his brethren.
One day some of the young men were unusually hard in their strictures, and brought forward as an argument the case of a man who had just been exposed in some fraud, and who had run away. Old Tom heard their tirade till he could stand it no longer, so when they paused, purposely to give him a chance to answer [hem, he cried out, “Young masters, you makes me think of a flock of buzzards. “How so, Uncle Tom?” asked the young men. “Well,” said Tom solemnly, “when der is a big pastur full of great fat cattle, de buzzards fly way off, up .high; but let a little, lean, sickly calf fall into de ditch and de buzzards in ready to pick out he eyes befor he’s dead.”
So keen and true was the rebuke, that the young men could utter no reply, and they felt it so deeply that they never troubled Uncle Tom any more by abusing lame Christians. Two of the three most active in calling forth the above rebuke have since become consistent members of the church.
STREET PREACHING BY C. H. SPURGEON.
IAM persuaded that the more of open air preaching there is in London thebetter, if it should become a nuisance to some it will be a blessing to others, if properly conducted. If it be the gospel which is spoken, and if the spirit of the preacher be one of love and truth, the results cannot be doubted: the bread cast upon the waters must be found after many days. At the same time it must be the gospel, and be preached in a manner worth the hearing, for mere noise-making is :in evil rather than a benefit. I know a family almost driven out of their senses by the hideous shouting of monotonous exhortations, and the howling of” Safe in the arms of Jesus” near their door every Sabbath afternoon by the year together. They are zealous Christians, and would willingly help their tormentors if they saw the slightest probability of usefulness from the violent bawling; but as they seldom see hearer, and do not think that what is spoken would do any good, even if it were heard, they complain that they are compelled to lose their few hours of Sabbath quiet because two good men think it their duty to perform a noisy but perfectly useless service. I once saw a man preaching with no hearer but a dog, who sat upon his tail and looked up very reverently while his master orated. There were no people at the windows nor passing by, but the brother and his dog were at their post whether the people would hear or whether they would forbear. Once also I passed an earnest declaimer, whose hat was on the ground before him, filled with papers, and there was not even a dog for an audience, nor anyone within hearing, yet did he” waste his sweetness on the desert air.” I hope it relieved his own mind. Really it must be viewed as an essential part, of a sermon that somebody should hear it: it cannot be a great benefit to the world to have sermons preached in vacuo.
As to style in preaching out of doors, it; should certainly be very different from much of that which prevails within, and perhaps if a speaker were to acquire a style fully adapted to a street audience he would be wise to bring it indoors with him. A great deal of sermonizing may be defined as saying nothing at extreme length; but out of doors verbosity is not admired, you must say something and have done with it, and go on and say something more, or your hearers will let you know. “Now then,” cries a street critic, “let us have it, old fellow.” Or else the observation is made, “What are you driving at? You’d better go home and learn your lesson.” “Cut it short, old boy,” is a very common admonition, and I wish the presenters of this advice gratis could let it be heard inside Bethel and Zoar and some other places sacred to long-winded orations. Where these outspoken criticisms are not employed, the hearers rebuke prosiness by quietly walking away.
Very unpleasant this, to find your congregation dispersing, but a very plain intimation that your ideas are also much dispersed.
In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. To dwell long on a point will never do. Reasoning must be brief, clear. and soon done with.
The discourse must not be labored or involved, neither must the second head depend upon the first, for the audience is a changing one, and each point must be complete in itself. the chain of thought must be taken to pieces, and each link melted down and turned into bullets: you will need not so ranch Saladin’s sabre to cut through a muslin handkerchief as Coeur de Lion’s battle-ax to break a bar of iron. Come to the point at once, and come there with all your might.
Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out of doors. Long paragraphs and long’ arguments had better be reserved for other occasions. In quiet country crowds there is much force in an eloquent silence, now and then interjected; it gives people time to breathe, and also to reflect. A solemn pause prepares for that which is coming and has a great power over an audience. Do not however, attempt this in a London street, there you must go ahead, or someone else may run off with your congregation. In a regular field sermon pauses are very effective, and are useful in several ways both to speaker and listeners, but to a passing company who are not inclined for anything like worship, quick, short, sharp address is most adapted.
In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance. It would never do to begin by saying, “My text, dear friends, is a passage from the inspired word containing doctrines of the utmost importance, and bringing before us in the clearest manner the most valuable practical instruction. I invite your careful attention and the exercise of your most candid judgment while we consider it under various aspects and place it in different lights, in order that we may be able to perceive its position in the analogy of the faith. In its exegesis we shall find an arena for the cultured intellect and the refined sensibilities. As the purling brook meanders among the meads and fertilizes the pastures, so a stream of sacred truth flows through the remarkable words which now lie before us.
It will be well for us to divert the crystal current to the reservoir of our meditation, that we may quaff the cup of wisdom with the lips of satisfaction.” There, brethren, is not 486 that rather above the average of word-spinning, and is not the art very generally in vogue in these days? If you go out to the obelisk in Blackfriars Road, and talk in that fashion, you will be saluted with “Go on, old buffer,” or” Ain’t he fine .’ MY EYE!” A very vulgar youth will cry, “What a mouth for a rarer!” and another will shout in a tone of mock solemnity, “AMEN!” If you give them chaff they will cheerfully return it into your own bosom. Good measure, pressed down and running over will they mete out to you. Shams and shows will have no mercy from a street gathering; but have something to say, look them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, boldly, earnestly, courteously, and they will hear you. Never speak against time or for the sake of hearing your own voice, or you will obtain some information about your personal appearance or manner of oratory which will probably be more true than pleasing. “Crilcey,” says one, “wouldn’t he do for an undertaker! He’d make ‘em weep”: this was a compliment paid to a melancholy brother whose tone is peculiarly funereal. “There, old fellow,” said a critic on another occasion, “you go and wet your whistle. You must feel awfully dry after jawing away at that rate about nothing at all.” This also was specially appropriate to a very heavy brother of whom we had afore-time remarked that he would make a good martyr, for there was no fear of his burning well, he was so dry. It is sad, very sad, that such rude remarks should be made, but there is a wicked vein in some of us, which makes us take note that the vulgar observations are often very true. and “hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature.” As a caricature often gives you a more vivid idea of a man than a photograph would afford you, so do these rough mob critics hit off an orator to the life by their exaggerated censures.
The very best speaker must be prepared to take his share of street wit, and to return it if need be; but primness, demureness, formality, sanctimonious long-windedness, and the affectation of superiority actually invite offensive pleasantries, and to a considerable extent deserve them. Chadband or Stiggins in rusty black, with plastered hair and huge choker, is as natural an object of derision as Mr. Guido Fawkes himself. A very great man in his own esteem will pro-yoke immediate opposition, and the affectation of supernatural saintliness will have the same effect. The less you are like a parson the more likely you are to be heard; and if you are known to be a minister the more you show yourself to be a man the better. “What do you get for that, governor?” is sure to be asked, if you appear to be a cleric, and it will be well to tell them at once that this is extra, that you are doing overtime, and that there is to be no collection. “You’d do more good if you gave us some bread or a drop of beer, instead of those tracts,” is constantly remarked, but a manly manner, and the outspoken declaration that you seek no wages but their good, will silence that stale objection.
The action of the street preacher should be of the very best. It should be purely natural and unconstrained. No speaker should stand up in the street; in a grotesque manner, or he will weaken himself and invite attack. The street preacher should not imitate his own minister, or the crowd will spy out the imitation very speedily, if the brother is anywhere near home.
Neither should he strike an attitude as little boys do who say, “My name is Norval.” The stiff straight posture with the regular up and down motion of arm and hand is too commonly adopted, but it is not worthy of imitation: and I would even more condemn the wild raving maniac posture which some are so fond of. which seems to be a cross between Whitefield with both his arms in the air, and Saint George with both his feet violently endaged in trampling on the dragon. Some good men are grotesque by nature, and others take great pains to make themselves so. Clumsy, heavy, jerky, cranky legs and arms appear to be liberally dispensed. Many speakers don’t know what upon earth to do with these limbs, and so they stick them out, or make them revolve in the queerest manner. The wicked Londoners say, “What a cure!” I only wish I knew of a cure for the evil.
All mannerisms should be avoided. Just now I observe that nothing can be done without a very large Bagster’s Bible with a limp cover. There seems to be some special charm about the large size, though it almost needs a little perambulator in which to push it about. With such a Bible, full of ribbons, select a standing in Seven Dials, after the pattern of a divine so graphically described by Mr. McCree. Take off your hat, put your Bible in it, and place it on the ground. Let the kind friend who approaches you on the right hold your umbrella. See how eager the dear man is to do so! Is it not pleasing? He assures you he is never so happy as when he is helping good men to preach to the poor sinners in these wicked places. Now close your eyes in prayer. When your devotions are over, somebody will have profited by thee occasion Where is your affectionate friend who held your umbrella and your hymn-book? Where is that well-brushed hat and that orthodox Bagster? Where? Oh where? Echo answers, “Where?”
The catastrophe which I have thus described suggests that a brother had better attend you in your earlier ministries, that one may watch while the other prays. If a number of friends will go with you and make a ring around you it will be a great acquisition; and if these can sing it will be still further helpful. The friendly company will attract others, will help to secure order, and will do good service by sounding forth sermons in song.
It will be very desirable to speak so as to be heard, but there is no use in incessant bawling. The best street preaching is not that which is done at the top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might.
When there are no hearers near you, and yet people stand over the other side of the road and listen, would it not be as well to cross over and so save a little of the strength which is now wasted? A quiet, penetrating, conversational style would seem to be the most telling. Men do not bawl and holler when they are pleading in deepest earnestness; they have generally at such times less wind and a little more rain; less rant and a few more tears. On, on with one monstrous shout and you will weary everybody and wear yourself out. Be wise now, therefore, O ye who would succeed in declaring your Master’s message among the multitude, and use your voices as common sense would dictate. Notes.
We wrote strongly last month upon the Baptismal Controversy in which our honored friend Dr. Landels has been so assailed, and we have nothing to retract. We hope, however, that personalities will cease. The question itself is too weighty to be thrown into the background by personal attacks and replies. What has our Lord commanded? That is the question.
Whatsoever he hath said unto us let us do. Jokes about “the loafer” are profane, and it is to be feared that in tolerating them, if not in repeating them, many of the Lord’s servants have been verily guilty. A matter may be quite trivial in itself and yet assume very serious proportions when it becomes a question of reverential obedience to a divine command. Search and look. Let the New Testament decide whether the babe is to be sprinkled or the believer immersed: we have no other book to recommend, and shall not be afraid of the result as time rolls on, and the precept of Scripture drives out the prescription of custom. At the same time we trust that Christian fellowship, and the union of saints upon other matters, are not to be endangered in the mind of any man by an honest utterance of opinion. We can differ on that point surely (if we must) without exhibiting unkindly feeling.
We have been again ill, but were only laid aside for a fortnight. Mental labor of a very pressing kind has made us almost prostrate, but we hope to be able to keep on with home work, until we can take a rest abroad. We wish friends would allow us a pause from incessant work, by no longer compelling us to preach away from home. If they do not, we know that there must come an end.
The boys entreat us to say that Christmas is coming — “ Please friends remember the orphans at Stockwell, who are as fond of plum pudding as your own Will and Harry. There are nearly 270 of us, including all the staff, and we like also to have our mothers or aunts to see us after Christmas-day, and so we want a good deal of help to spread the tables with good things. If we have more sent than we need we have some other holiday further on, and this is very nice for us. Mr. Spurgeon promises to spend the day with us, and we hope there will be a Christmas tree. Please send all sorts of things to Mr. Charlesworth, Stockwell Orphanage. Don’t forget us, kind people.” Bless the boys’ hearts, we feel sure that friends will make them a merry Christmas. We wish they would be mindful of the expenses incurred all the other days of the year. Perhaps they will: at any rate, the Lord will remember us. MRS.SPURGEON’ S BOOK FUND.
Our beloved wife placed the following letter on our blotting-pad, and as we cannot improve it, here it is. “My very dear Mr. Editor. — The receipts of the Book Fund have now exceeded £900; don’t you think I ought to show a balance sheet? My books are all ‘ posted up,’ my accounts ‘squat(,’ the vouchers (I think you call them) are ready, and all that is wanted is some competent person to act as auditor. I have fixed upon you to do me this sweet service, because none can know so well as you the deep joy with which this work has filled my life, and no other eyes than yours could see so clearly the ‘tender mercies’ that lie ‘manifold’ between the pages of those little account books. ‘Then I want you to tell your friends (and mine) that in the new year, if all’s well this ‘ balance sheet’ shall be presented to them for their comfort and encourage ment and the strengthening of their faith in our compassionate God, and that at the same time, if space be graciously granted to me in The Sword and the Trowel, I propose to give some more details of my work, and introduce to their notice a few ‘English Interiors,’ whose inmates have had cause to bless the Lord for the ‘Book Fund.’
Upwards of five thousand volumes distributed must have enriched some scantily furnished bookshelves; but, alas! this is but as a drop in the ocean of want. These · five loaves and two fishes ‘ are not enough to satisfy the multitude of ministers who are hungering and thirsting for mental food. We must cry mightily to the Lord that once again he may bless, and break, and divide, so that all may be filled ‘. “Now, my dear Mr. Editor, if these plans of mine meet your approval, please jot them down among the ‘ Notes’ of the Magazine, in your own incomparable way, and oblige “JOHN PLOUGHMAN’ S WIFE.”
We are filled with joyful gratitude as we see the parcels of books going out to poor preachers. They must do good. The instances in which brethren have spoken to us of the profit they have derived from these books have been many, and in each one the report has been enthusiastic. Of course it would need many thousand pounds to properly supply all poor ministers with books, but that which our beloved wife has accomplished must be a blessing. She has spent all her little strength upon the work, and the Lord has cheered her in it, and made us glad together.
We will gladly give her space for the accounts, but we will invite some more impartial person to act as auditor. She knows how heartily we sympathize in this her peculiar service for the Lord, and how we rejoice in her success therein. Perhaps this work will become a permanent institution, and therefore its auditing must be done in the most orthodox and public fashion by some public business man, and not by us. Meanwhile, before the year closes we hope there may be more to audit.
COLPORTAGE The Colportage Secretary sends us his monthly report as follows: — “I have again the pleasure to report three additional colporteurs added to our list, Ludlow, Salop, Wellington, Salop, and Sedgley, Worcestershire.
As two agents are constantly employed traveling from place to place for the express purpose of trying to start new colporteurs, we are anxious to enlist the cooperation of friends in the localities which they visit. This would greatly facilitate their efforts. Mr. T. S. Buckingham is in the midland counties, and Mr. J. Kettle is now in Suffolk. In addition to the £100 so generously given towards the £1,000 for stock, another friend has promised £50, but this is the only response to our appeal. The need of capital is seriously felt. The work grows, and its intrinsic value and importance necessitate a still larger increase, but this cannot be while the income is so small. Fifty-seven colporteurs are now at work ‘ sowing the seed.’ Shall this encouraging progress be checked, and the harvest be limited?”
From the brethren of the College we have cheering words. The students commenced a series of evangelistic services on Monday, 30th October, in the Tabernacle, intending to continue them for the week only; but at the unanimous desire of the brethren, they were prolonged to the 10th inst. All speak of the meetings as times of great blessing. Various means were used for gathering the people in to hear the word, and on more than one occasion a band of students resorted to “the highways,” and by singing and preaching “compelled them to come in.” Deep earnestness characterized both audiences and speakers, and on no evening did our brethren leave their work without being able to rejoice over some sinners brought to repentance.
On Thursday afternoon, Nov. 2, the students met together for fellowship and to seek a blessing on themselves. In the evening they took the Lord’s supper together. Afterwards Mr. Spurgeon preached in connection with the services from John 5:40. It was a day of heart-melting to all. The Master was very near.
We rejoiced in Mr. W. Olney’s presence on more than one occasion; his enthusiasm and loving counsel much helped us, and his pathetic appeals touched every heart, “Those meetings did us a world of good” is the general comment in the College. That they have done much good to the congregation is beyond all question.
Several students have lately settled, but our illness causes our reports to be imperfect this month.
This chapel is not an aristocratic sanctuary as its name would seem to imply: on the contrary it stands in a poor locality and has fallen into a poor way itself. Our brother-in-law, Mr. Page, has been the means of greatly reviving the church, but the building is out of order, its fittings are uncomfortable and its outward appearance is repulsive. Moreover the ground can be made a freehold for a moderate sum, and the present tenure is unsatisfactory. For all this at least £500 will be required, and as the people are poor we ask help for them. It is our duty to maintain the poor churches which work among the crowded populations. A bazaar is to be held in George Street Schools. Regent Street, December 26, 27, 28. Articles for the bazaar can be sent to Mrs. Page, 92, Newington Butts, and cash to Mr. Page. This is a case in which no minister could have been supported, but Mr. Page, who is a solicitor, has added the gospel to the law, and thus supplied the deficiency. Many more business or professional men might do good service by imitating the example. Our impression is, that the alteration of the old structure will inaugurate an era of success for Regent Street.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon:-October 26th, twenty-two; November 2nd, twenty-six. By Mr. V. J. Charlesworth: — November 9th, eight. By Mr. W. J. Orsman: — November 16th, seventeen.