A FEW WORDS BY C. H. SPURGEON.
LOOKING over our visitors’ book at the Orphanage the other day we were much pleased with the following entry from the pen of a Manchester gentleman, dated June 4th, i874, and we thought our friends would like to read it too : — “I am much pleased with all I have seen at the Orphanage. It struck me that the lads could not be much happier in heaven than here. They are buoyant and hearty, and the dogged and frightened look which is seen in the children of many large institutions is absent here. Much pleased with the style of the education. The boys are turned out fitted to occupy a post in the strictest merchant’s office, and the writing and power of accounts which some of the elder boys possess far exceed the average of the middleclass schools which I have visited. The boys are not crammed as in many elementary schools, but are well grounded in everything that is taught here.
May the Lord bless all who bless this institution either by service or contribution. I cannot suggest an improvement.”
Our visits to certain most admirable institutions have sometimes pained us, because we could not avoid noticing just that one fly in the ointment which our visitor seems to have observed also. Children can be drilled into an unnatural order, which is wonderfully taking with crusty disciplinarians, but involves either wretchedness or hypocrisy in the young machines. Kittens will never make good cats unless they are allowed to be kittens while kittenhood lasts. In after life children who are kept under a cast-iron rule break loose, and under the influence of a powerful but natural reaction, frequently become the wildest and most irreligious of men. When religion is associated with all that is stern, gloomy, and repressive, it becomes distasteful, and is avoided as soon as the boy enters upon the liberty of manhood. “I had a sickener of it at school” is a saying which we have heard more than once from men whom we have tried to influence for true religion. Our rule at the Orphanage is firm; anything like sin is repressed with a strong hand, and incorrigibly vicious boys, who sometimes get in among us, are weeded out when nothing else will do, for our institution is not a reformatory, nor do we intend to make it so: but the boys enjoy a large measure of freedom, and fun, and frolic. Manly exercise and country rambles are as much a part of our course as reading, writing, and arithmetic; hence while with us our boys are natural in their manners and buoyant in their spirits, and as a rule when they go from us they give satisfaction to their employers and succeed in life. Under the divine blessing the intention of the sister who founded the Orphanage is being realized more and more, and our own heart is glad. We cannot bear to see the workhouse, pauper look upon lads; we want them to be manly, brightfaced, wide-awake, and ready to do right because of inward principle and not because of outward constraint.
We have daily need of the prayers of our kind supporters, for every time we take new boys there is a season of anxiety and trouble. Coming from abodes of poverty, they generally, before many days, develop some cutaneous disorder, and having frequently been neglected, because their mothers were obliged to be out at work for them, they bring with them the morals of the streets, and sometimes gross vices, learned from evil companions. It is positively astounding how precocious in wickedness even little boys will become. A little fellow of eight years of age was once a torment to us, he seemed to be an apostle of iniquity, and though reproved and chastened, he persevered in-evil with an obstinacy quite amazing, and influenced others of whom we hoped better things. It was clear in his case that, whatever we might think of the value of children’s souls, Satan set great store by them, and put forth all his power to hold them and use them for his own purposes. Nothing but conversion is of any avail in such instances; the evil spirit will not be curbed, and must be cast out by the divine power, but till that is put forth the mischief done in our happy kingdom is painfully harassing to those concerned in it, and we shall be right glad to have a band of helpers who remember our little ones before the throne of the heavenly grace, and so call in celestial succors to our aid.
We have a greater need than even heads of families, for into their smaller domain little ones are sent, with fallen natures it is true, but not with the added superfluity of haughtiness, which comes of bad example, and low associations. Fathers and mothers have their hands and hearts full, but in addition to divine grace they have near and dear ties of natural affection, which have a potent influence in restraining from disobedience; these we have not till gratitude creates a somewhat similar force, and while that force is being generated the little sinner plays the rebel, and is a leaven for evil in our community. It is right to say that some children come to us with the benediction of a mother’s prayers, and are notable exceptions to the rule, but as we dare not exclude a child because his mother is not a devout woman, we must always have a large proportion of neglected orphans, and Christian pity would hardly desire to shirk so good a work because of the consequent trial; rather would all of us gird ourselves the more earnestly to our labor, and by more prayer call down the larger blessing which the circumstances demand.
For one thing we praise God at every remembrance of the work. We have in Mr. Charlesworth, the head master, a man who loves the children’s souls, and mingles firmness with a degree of forbearance and affection which come not to all men. Our other teachers, matrons, nurses, and servants occupy their spheres so admirably, and are all so willing, able, and attentive, that what would otherwise be a terrible burden is an easy yoke to us. We have not in a twelvemonth in our large family one tittle as much trouble as falls to the lot of many ordinary households; in fact, for long periods we have no jar of sufficient importance to reach our ears.
Infirmities and mistakes are unavoidable, but not once in the whole history of the Orphanage have these caused us any serious anxiety, or even given us an hour’s distress. Kind helpers have doubtless borne burdens in our stead, and their love is recorded in heaven. The Lord bless them for it, and especially remember those who may have escaped our grateful recognition as yet. The beloved brethren associated with us as co-trustees would, we are sure, join in our grateful expressions, while towards those brethren themselves and the secretary our heart is full of love, esteem, and thankfulness, for they are true yoke-fellows in the Lord’s work. Long may they be spared to us. Some people can see no good in their fellow-workers, and much evil in those whom they employ; perhaps their experience has been unhappy; ours has been such that we wonder how such suitable helpers ever came to us, and have remained so kindly faithful, and we can only attribute it to the gracious providence of the Father of the fatherless.
Being quite unable personally to claim any special virtues, it is with unaffected humiliation of soul, caused by sincere gratitude, that we record thus publicly a part of the loving-kindness of the Lord in connection with this labor of love.
We hope our readers are not weary of these personal acknowledgments, and lest they should be we close them by thanking hundreds of them for the thoughtful manner in which they have helped to supply the daily needs of the institution. May they have a rich return in their own families. If they count us faithful to our trust, let them assist us still, and remember that if one brother finds a joy in taking so heavy a responsibility, and a little staff rejoice to labor continually with him, it is but just that no unnecessary temptation to anxiety about money matters should be cast in the way of either the leader or his coadjutors. While we thus speak we cannot but add our solemn declaration of firm confidence that our God will supply all our need.
NOTES OUR work for use at family worship, which for lack of a better title we named the “Interpreter,” now approaches so nearly to completion that we hope the bound volume will be procurable on the first of September. It will cost twenty-five shillings in cloth, but as it is a book for daily use our friends will do better to purchase copies in a more lasting binding. Those who have the numbers can procure the covers and have them bound. This has been a very laborious work to us, for, short as the remarks often are, we have read many of the best writers upon each book before sitting down to pen our own notes. It would have been easier to make the book larger, for it takes much labor to condense. Any family having our “Interpreter” will have lessons for morning and evening throughout the year all ready for use, and we hope it will not only be convenient to the heads of the household but instructive to the family. Several who have used it so far, have given us their grateful testimony in its favor. Nothing but a large sale can remunerate the publishers for the expense involved in bringing out such a work. It will be in outward appearance a noble volume, and we hope will make an acceptable wedding present. Cases for binding, 2s. 6d.
Our Orphan Boys are to have a day’s treat at Margate, August 5th. Friends who would like to go with them can procure tickets at the Tabernacle or Orphanage for 3s. 6d., there and back. Train leaves Victoria 7.45, Clapham 7.50, Brixton 7.53, and returns from Margate at 7.40. As we have had to guarantee a certain number we shall be glad if friends will avail themselves of the opportunity. As the expense of this treat cannot be paid out of the regular funds, Mr. Charles-worth and ourselves will be glad to receive a few donations to pay for it. A day at the seaside is a great pleasure to our boys, and we believe many friends would like to help to give them the enjoyment. Margate friends are, we hear, upon the move towards entertaining the children, and we are very grateful to them under a lively sense of favors to come.
We still need some £2,500 to complete and furnish the College, and our friends propose to hold a bazaar the week after Christmas, or thereabout.
We shall be very glad of the help of all our contributors, for we want to have this work done out of hand, and finished without another appeal. So far every payment has been made with punctuality, but we have refrained from giving orders for many necessaries because the money to pay for them is not yet in hand.
In answer to inquiring friends, we beg to say that Mrs. Bartlett’s class is carried on by her with as much vigor and success as ever. Her health is always feeble, but strength is given as required, and her words are so much attended with · divine power that large numbers from her class are constantly added to the church.
The Lord’s work at the Tabernacle prospers.’ Among the converts have been several Roman Catholics and Ritualists, who have become weary of the emptiness of sacramentarianism, and are glad to find rest in the full and finished salvation of Jesus Christ. On the 24th instant we held a noble meeting of the Bermondsey Mission, conducted by Mr. W. Olney, jun. By this effort 102 persons have been added to the church. God is with the earnest band, and souls are won.
For a reply to Bishop Fraser’s remarks upon our conversion, we would refer our readers to our sermon, “Is Conversion Necessary?” which can be had in book form for one penny. We have endeavored, in a Christian spirit, to vindicate the gospel doctrine of conversion, and we trust the discourse will be profitable.
On the 14th instant we opened a new :Baptist chapel at Surbiton, near Kingston. The ground was given us by a generous friend, and the London Baptist Association gave £1000 towards the erection. We hope Surbiton will prosper. We are anxious to found Baptist churches where there is need for them, and shall be always glad to hear of earnest friends who will cooperate with us in taking the gospel to destitute neighborhoods.
We rejoice to see that the friends at Victoria Chapel, Wandsworth Road are building schools. They deserve help.
Government has made two attempts to patch up the old house of Establishment, but the concern is too rickety to bear any extensive repairs. :Pieces of new cloth pieced into old garments make the rent worse, and this will be the result of the Patronage Bill and the Public Worship Bill. Mr. Disraeli, without intending it, has commenced the separation of Church and State.
Our earnest evangelist, Mr. Higgins, is ready to visit the churches of the College Conference. He is an earnest soul-winner, and willing to be always at work. We hope he will find many open doors.
In answer to C. S. we would remark that to preach in the same pulpit as another man should not be construed into an endorsement of his views. If we are asked to preach a sermon for a good brother and afterwards find that he has also engaged a preacher whom we cannot regard as sound in the faith upon all points, are we to break our word and run away from preaching the gospel? It does not seem to us to be right to act in such a manner. Perhaps in future it may be well to ask the question, Who else is to take part in the anniversary services? For then it will be open to the preacher to decline the invitation; but after a promise is once made it ought to be kept, and if necessary the statement may be publicly given that the course taken does not involve agreement with the error held by the other preacher. It must be a very extreme case indeed which would justify a man’s refusal to keep a positive engagement. By the way, the habit of putting down upon bills a number of names of speakers who never appear is not very creditable. Who is to be blamed? The issuers of the bills, or the parties whose sweet names are not duly answered to when the muster-roll is read?
The College Session commences August 4. Young men who would wish to enter should now apply, so as to be in time for next session, which comes after the Michaelmas quarter- day. Applicants must be preachers of some experience and ability, sound in the faith, and earnest in soul, or we cannot receive them; of such brethren we cannot have too many; we will take all who offer if they be really such. No considerations of poverty or backwardness in education need prevent earnest and efficient speakers from applying to us. Brethren, pray the Lord to send us the right men, and to bless them when they come.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle, by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon : — June 22, nine; June 2,5, eleven. By Mr. J. T. Wigner, July 2, eleven.