HOW THE BOOK FUND PROSPERS.
BY MRS. C. H. SPURGEON
FOR many weeks past I have had a great desire in my heart to write out the gracious details of the Lord’s dealings with the Book Fund during the present year, but almost constant pain has fettered both head and hand, and rendered the fulfillment of the heart’s wish well-nigh impossible. But even the “school of affliction” has its “holidays”’ (true holy-days these), and as the “good Master” has granted me one such today, I will consecrate it to his honor and glory by telling what great things he hath done for me and my work since I wrote last. The commencement of the new year was marked by an offer of six volumes of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit to every minister who had formerly been a student of the “Pastors’ College” and so enthusiastically was it responded to that in three months’ time of our own old students had received 980 volumes! I had intended this effort to be an extra one, and extend over the entire year, but the Lord had more work for me to do than I knew of, so he would allow of no lingering, but graciously gave me strength to accomplish easily what at first sight seemed a formidable task. During this time the usual work of the Book Fund was not neglected, all applications being cheerfully responded to, one notable feature of interest being the sudden and simultaneous awakening of Primitive Methodist ministers to the fact that they could have the “Treasury of David” by asking for it. Nearly 100 of their “traveling preachers” have received the four published volumes since January last, and if God grant his blessing on them (as he certainly will) we may look for a hundred-fold harvest from such seed sown in such soil. Very poor in this world’s goods, these brethren are rich in good works, and as a rule labor more abundantly than any of their brethren. They must urgently need books, and it is certain that their terribly small allowances cannot procure them, and therefore it is a true Christian charity to relieve their mental need. A good book given to an idler is a doubtful speculation: to a worker it is a sure benefit.
For a short time during the months just flown by it seemed as if the Lord were trying my faith by sending me more “needs” than “supplies,” but I am almost ashamed to speak of fears which then possessed me, they have been so utterly routed and destroyed by subsequent favors. Now I see that the Lord only brought a cloud over the sun to veil its brightness, lest the heat of labor should overpower his weak child, and cause her to faint under the burden of the day. So, blessed be his name, he “leads on softly” as “we are able to bear it.” Turning over the pages of my “day-book” I cannot but rejoice to know that already nearly 3,000 volumes have been distributed since the beginning of this year, and though this number falls woefully short of supplying the need which exists, yet I thank God and take courage. The few following extracts from letters will show that the intense appreciation and loving eagerness with which these gifts were at first received has not abated one whit. The first letter, written by a venerable pastor, a true “bishop” in his district, runs thus: — “My dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — Last night I received the parcel of books, and what shall I say? I hardly know how to express my thanks to you and your excellent husband for such generous and Christian kindness. As I could do nothing else, I asked the Lord to bless you and reward you most amply for such a valuable gift. I can say it is to me better than thousands of silver and gold could be; for I could never get from earthly riches what I this morning obtained from reading Mr. Spurgeon’s comment on Psalm 23. The books may well be called the ‘Treasury of David ;’ I shall keep it as a ‘Treasury’ for my own use, and will never let it go out of my family, the Lord so helping me. You cannot tell What a nice show the volumes make in my little library; and while I am quite proud of the outside I delight myself with the thought of what I shall find within, both for my own comfort and I trust for the benefit of others. I am quite a book-worm, I assure you, and it pleases me beyond expression to find so many good old authors quoted in the ‘Treasury.’ I pronounce it one of the most useful works a minister can have in his library. When I think of such Herculean labor as this, together with so many other things, I am lost in astonishment as to how Mr. Spurgeon pushes through all as he does. But a passage comes to my mind which solves the mystery — By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’” “My dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — Though I have watched with interest and pleasure, the birth, growth, and usefulness of your ‘Book Fund,’ I little thought I should ever be so deeply indebted to you as I find myself today.
The nice parcel you so kindly sent came as ‘cold water to a thirsty soul,’ and judging from the feelings of gratitude and delight produced in my own breast I feel your work of love has made not a few pastors’ hearts to ‘sing for joy.’ I rejoice also to know that the work yields such sweet solace of joy to you in your affliction; I really think it must be one rose at least on this sin-blighted earth ‘without a thorn. ’” What this dear brother says is perfectly true. The Book Fund is the joy of my life, and ever since the Lord gave the sweet service into my weak and unworthy hands he has led me by green pastures and beside still waters, and crowned me with lovingkindness and tender mercies. The next letter is from a much-tried servant of God, who, with a wife, invalid daughter, and four young children to support (there are nine children living) on eighty pounds per annum, may well be “unable to buy books.” “My dear Madam, — Most gratefully do I beg to acknowledge the receipt of the four volumes Of the ‘Treasury of David.’ The gift, I can assure you, is a most acceptable one. Often when at the homes of my brethren I have seen the work, and longed for its possession, deeming the desire however quite Utopian, seeing that the purchase of such books is altogether beyond the limit of my slender income. Ten years have elapsed since my return from ____, where for a long time I labored, and those years have been one long protracted struggle for bare existence. Blessed be God, that is not all; for if my tribulations hare abounded, so also have my consolations, ‘Hitherto the Lord hath helped me.’ The Psalms of David are ever a tower of comfort to tried saints, and your honored husbands work is to my mind the best book that I have seen, in that it brings out the marrow and fatness of the text. Again, I thank you most deeply and sincerely for the gift, as also for the good wishes by which it was accompanied.”
The foregoing letter (and, alas! I have hundreds like it) reminds me of a few sentences which I read the other day, translated from the German of Pastor Harms, of Hermannsburg. They are so quaint, and so much to the point, that I cannot resist quoting them. He says, speaking of a representative country minister in the “Fatherland,” “With temporal goods, however, this pastor is not specially well provided and, were it not that he has a living God in the heavens, he must many a time grow anxious and dispirited, which, in truth, he does not always escape, as he himself humbly confesses. For if you have a small benefice, a large family, and a couple of children at school to boot, sometimes that gives even a believer the headache; though, indeed, there is no need for that, were faith but strong and prayer simple enough.”
The two letters which follow are from a “Methodist” preacher and a “Baptist” minister, both being charming expressions of a glad and grateful heart. When I receive such epistles I always wish they could be passed round to every kind friend who has contributed to the “Fund,” that they might catch glimpses of the abounding happiness which they thus bestow on others. “My dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — The parcel containing four vols. of ‘Treasury of David’ arrived all safe yesterday. I had been rejoicing over my good fortune in getting as I supposed, one volume of Mr. Spurgeon’s great work; but the receipt of such a gift was a surprise for which I was wholly unprepared. I am entirely at a loss to express all I feel respecting such kindness; but I beg to offer my heart’s deepest gratitude, and my earnest prayers that heaven’s richest blessings may come down upon yourself and upon all through whose disinterested generosity you are able to carry on such a work of love. “This is a gift indeed! May God help me to use it for his glory. One may, I think, justly feel proud of having four such volumes in his library, and the aid they will afford in my work no one can fully realize but myself.
Probably there are hundreds of grateful hearts lifted up from day to day in prayer for yourself and your indefatigable husband; if my feeble prayers can be of any possible advantage, most gladly will I pray daily that in your affliction the Lord will impart a large measure of his soothing grace, that your soul may always be filled with the brightness and peace of the Savior’s presence, and that you may long be spared to continue the noble enterprise, which has already sent relief, joy, and light into hundreds of homes, and brought blessings into probably thousands of minds.” “Madam, — The very handsome present which you have so kindly sent me (Mr. Spurgeon’s’ ‘Treasury of David’ four vols.) arrived quite safely about half-an-hour ago. It has come upon me as a pleasant surprise, for your kindness has much exceeded my expectations. I thought you might send me one volume — I never even hoped, so far as I remember, for more than two; and yet here are the whole four ! A valuable present, truly, in more senses than one. I have already been tasting its quality with relish, and feel certain that I shall find it, as you kindly wish, ‘a treasure indeed.’ Thank you very, very, very much for it; and for your letter with all the kindness of heart which it reveals. Whatever may be the needs and privations of some village pastors, you, at all events, are trying to minister to their joy, and to make them more efficient in the service of the Master. And you know, without my suggesting it, that he will give reward. Again I thank you with earnestness which increases as I continue to look into the volumes.”
The Book Fund has received this year some splendid additions as gifts, to its stores of works by other authors, and I have rejoiced greatly to have at my disposal such standard volumes of divinity as the works of the sainted brothers Haldane, Dr. Hodge, and others. But the fact becomes more and more evident to me every day that unless already possessed of the “Treasury of David, ” our pastors look upon no other volumes as my gift with complete satisfaction, and that in applying to me for books they fix their heart’s desire upon the “Treasury’ or the “Sermons” as the “summum bonum ” of their happiness. And I think this is very natural and very proper, so long as the management of the Book Fund rests entirely in these feeble hands; but I trust that some day when all the churches, awaken to a sense of the urgent need there is that “the poor minister’s bookshelf” should have plenty of books upon it, many a noble volume, both ancient and modern, will take its place beside the “Treasury of David.”
As to old books which sometimes come to me troublously fast, I am obliged to smuggle them in with the coveted works of my dear husband, and but a very faint echo of any welcome they receive ever reaches my ear.
I really fear that some people think that anything in the shape of a book will do for a minister, or they would scarcely send such things as “Advice to Wives and Mothers,” “Essays on Marriage,” or “Letters to a Son” as aids to pulpit preparation!
On looking over the list of contributors for last year, I find a falling away of some old friends, which somewhat grieves me, for the work is more deeply needed than ever. The famine is sore in the land — not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but a deeply felt and widespread need of mental food, by those under shepherds who have to “feed the flock of God” and I had hoped that all the friends who had so generously aided me at the commencement of my work would have “continued with me.” To the many who have done so I tender my most heartfelt thanks: “God bless you,” dear friends, and return into your own bosom some of the joy, and gladness, and gratitude with which you have filled mine. New friends, too, are cordially welcomed to cooperation in the blessed work, and every gift that comes for the Book Fund is offered to the Lord as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. I am just now rejoicing over the fact that the Lord has inclined the heart of a dear friend to whom I am already greatly indebted to give me a large donation for the purpose of supplying all the Presbyterian ministers in Argyleshire with the “Treasury of David,” and I have another sum of money given by one who is a great sufferer, set apart for the distribution of the same precious volumes in Ireland. So, for the next few months, dear friends, you may know that the “work of the Book Fund” will be in the full swing of business, and I pray you to remember that you can truly and tenderly help me by asking the Lord to set the seal of his blessing on every book sent out. Does any one care to know that my lovely lemon tree is in vigorous health and perfect beauty? I have not dared to count its leaves lately, because I feel it has far outstripped the proportions with which my fancy fettered it; yet I never look upon it or think about it without blessing God for making it grow so wonderfully in my sick room that winter, where it heralded, and illustrated, helped forward, and finally became the emblem of the “Book Fund.” “I NEVER CARED FOR THEIR SOULS.”
A REMINISCENCE BY C. H. SPURGEON.
AMINISTER will never, I should think, forget his earliest converts. He lives to see hundreds begotten unto God by his means, but of these who were the children of his youth he still treasures delightful memories, for are they not his firstborn, his might, and the beginning of his strength? I can recall at this moment, though a quarter of a century has passed, the form of an elderly woman who had found peace with God through my youthful ministry, and especially do I recollect her wail of woe as she told of the days of her ignorance, and the consequent godless bringing up of her children. Her words were somewhat as follows, and I write them down for the good of mothers who labor hard out of love to their dear ones, and provide them with all necessaries for this life, but never think of the life to come. “Oh, sir,” said she, “I should be quite happy now, only I have one sore trouble which keeps me very low. I am so sad about my children. I was left with eight of them, and I worked hard at the wash-tub, and in other ways, morning, noon, and night, to find bread for them. I did feed and clothe them all, but I am sure I don’t know how. I had to deny myself often both in food and clothing, and times were very hard with me.
Nobody could have slaved worse than I did to mend and clean and keep a roof over our heads. I cannot blame myself for any neglect about their bodies; but as to their souls, I never cared about my own, and of course I never thought of theirs. Two of them died. I dare not think about them.
God has forgiven me, but I can’t forget my sin against my poor dears; I never taught them a word which could be of any use to them, poor dears.
The others are all alive, but there is not one of them in the least religious.
How could they be when they saw how their mother lived? It troubles me more a good deal than all the working for them ever did; for I’m afraid they are going down to destruction, and all through their cruel mother. ” Here she burst into tears, and I pitied her so much that I said I hardly thought the was cruel, for she was in ignorance, and would never intentionally have neglected anything for her children’s good. “Don’t excuse me,” said she, “for if I had used my common sense I might have known that my children were not like the sheep and the horses which die, and there’s an end of them. I never thought about it at all, or I might have known better; and I feel that I was a cruel mother never to have considered their souls at all. They are all worldly, and none of them goes to a place of worship, year in and year out. I never took them there, and how can I blame them? “As soon as I was converted I went down to my eldest son, who has a large family, and I told him what the Lord had done for me, and entreated him to come here with me to the services; but he said he wondered what next, and he had no time. When I pleaded hard with him he said he was sure I meant well, but ‘it was no go’ — he liked his Sunday at home too well to go to hear parsons. You know, sir, you can’t bend a tree; I ought to have bent the twig when I could have done it. Oh, if I had led him to the house of God when he was little! He would have gone then, for he loved his mother, and so he does now, but not enough to go where I want him.
So, you see, I can do nothing with my son now. I was a cruel mother, and let the boy go into the fields or the streets when he should have been in the Sunday-school. Oh, that I could have my time back again, and have them all around me as little ones, and teach them about my blessed Savior. They are all beyond me now. What can I do?”
She sat down and wept bitterly, and I heartily wish all unconverted mothers could have seen her and heard her lamentations. It was very pleasant to know that she was saved herself, and to see in her very sorrow the evidence of her genuine repentance; but still the evil which she lamented is a very terrible one, and might well demand a life of mourning. Young mother, do not, as you love your babe, suffer it to grow up without divine instruction. But what am I saying, — how can you teach your child if you do not know the Lord Jesus yourself? May the good Lord lead you to give your heart to Jesus at once, and then you will train your dear little ones for heaven.
PULPITS. f5 PULPITS hate much to answer for in having made men awkward. What horrible inventions they are! If we could once abolish them we might say concerning them as Joshua did concerning Jericho — “Cursed be he that buildeth this Jericho,” for the old-fashioned pulpit has been a greater curse to the churches than is at first sight evident. No barrister would ever enter a pulpit to plead a case at the bar. How could he hope to succeed while buried alive almost up to his shoulders? The client would be ruined if the advocate were thus imprisoned. How manly, how commanding is the attitude in which Chrysostom is usually represented! Forgetting his robes for the moment, one cannot but feel that such a natural posture is far more worthy of sublime truth than that of a person crouching over a sheet of paper, looking up very occasionally, and then revealing no more than his head and shoulders. Austin in his Chironomia v ery properly says, “Freedom is also necessary to gracefulness of action. No gestures can be graceful, which are either confined by external circumstances, or restrained by the mind. If a man were obliged to address an assembly from a narrow window, through which he could not extend his arms and his head, it would be in vain for him to attempt graceful gesture. Confinement in every lesser degree must be proportionally injurious to grace; thus the crowded bar is injurious to the action of the advocate, and the enclosed and bolstered pulpit, which often cuts off more than half of his figure, is equally injurious to the graceful action of the preacher.”
The late Thomas Binney was unable to endure a platform, and was known to fetch gowns and other materials to hang over the rails of an open rostrum, if he found himself placed in one; this must have arisen solely from the force of habit, for there can be no real advantage in being enclosed in a wooden pen. This feeling will no doubt retain the close pulpit in its place for a while longer, but in ages to come men will find an argument for the divinity of our holy faith in the fact that it survived pulpits.
Ministers cannot be blamed for ungainly postures and attitudes when only a very small part of their bodies can be seen during a discourse. If it was the custom to preach as Paul did at Athens public speakers would become models of propriety, but when the usual method is modeled upon our woodcut of “The Reverend Dr. Paul preaching in London” we cannot marvel if the ungainly and the grotesque abound. By the way, it is interesting to note that Raphael in his representation of Paul at Athens evidently had in his mind the apostle’s utterance, “God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with man’s hands”: hence he delineates him as lifting his hands. I am indebted for this hint to G.W. Hervey, M.A., who has written a very able and comprehensive “System of Rhetoric.” F7 Remarkable are the forms which pulpits have assumed according to the freaks of human fancy and folly. Twenty years ago they had probably reached their very worst. What could have been their design and intent it would be hard to conjecture. A deep wooden pulpit of the old sort might well remind a minister of his mortality, for it is nothing but a coffin set on end: but on what rational ground do we bury our pastors alive? Many of these erections resemble barrels, others are of the fashion of egg cups and wine glasses; a third class were evidently modeled after corn bins upon four legs; and yet a fourth variety can only be likened to swallows’ nests stuck upon the walls. Some of them are so high as to turn the heads of the occupants when they dare to peer into the awful depths below them, and they give those who look up to the elevated preacher for any length of timers crick in the neck. I have felt like a man at the mast-head while perched aloft in these “towers of the flock.” These abominations are in themselves evils, and create evils.
While I am upon pulpits I will make a digression, and remark for the benefit of deacons and churchwardens that; I frequently notice in pulpits a most abominable savor of gas, which evidently arises from leakage in the gas-pipes, and is very apt to make a preacher feel half intoxicated, or to sicken him. We ought to be spared this infliction. Frequently, also, a large lamp is placed close to each side of the minister’s head, thus cramping all his movements and placing him between two fires. If any complaints are made of the hot-headedness of our ministers, it is readily to be accounted for, since the apparatus for the purpose is arranged with great care. Only the other night, I had the privilege, when I sat down in the pulpit, to feel as if some one had smitten me on the top of my head, and as I looked up there was an enormous argand burner with a reflector placed immediately above me, in order to throw a light on my Bible: a very considerate contrivance no doubt, only the inventor had forgotten that his burners were pouring down a terrible heat upon a sensitive brain. One has no desire to experience an artificial coup de soleil while preaching; if we must suffer from such a calamity let it come upon us during our holidays, and let it befall us from the sun himself. No one in erecting a pulpit seems to think of the preacher as a man of like feelings and senses with other people; the seat upon which you are to rest at intervals is often a mere ledge, and the door-handle runs into the small of your back, while when you stand up and would come to the front there is often a curious gutta-percha bag interposed between you and your pulpit. This gummy depository is charitably intended for the assistance of certain deaf people, who are I hope benefited; they ought to be, for every evil should have a compensating influence. You cannot bend forward without forcing this contrivance to close up, and I for my own part usually deposit my pocket-handkerchief in it, which causes the deaf people to take the ends of the tubes out of their ears and to discover that they hear me well enough without them.
No one knows the discomfort of pulpits except the man who has been in very many, and found each one worse than the last. They are generally so deep that a short person like myself can scarcely see over the top of them, and when I ask for something to stand upon they bring me a hassock.
Think of a minister of the gospel poising himself upon a hassock while he is preaching: a Boanerges and a Blondin in one person. It is too much to expect us to keep the balance of our minds and the equilibrium of our bodies at the same time. The tippings up, and overturnings of stools and hassocks which I have had to suffer while preaching rush on my memory now, and revive the most painful sensations. Surely we ought to be saved such petty annoyances, for their evil is by no means limited by our discomfort; if it were so, it would be of no consequence: but, alas! these little things often throw the mind out of gear, disconnect our thoughts, and trouble our spirit. We ought to rise superior to such trifles, but though the spirit truly is willing the flesh is weak. It is marvelous how the mind is affected by the most trifling matters: there can be no need to perpetuate needless causes of discomfort. Sydney Smith’s story shows that we are not alone in our tribulation. “I can’t bear,” said he, “to be imprisoned in the true orthodox way in my pulpit, with my head just peeping above the desk.
I like to look down upon my congregation — to fire into them. The common people say I am a bould preacher, for I like to have my arms free, and to thump the pulpit. A singular contretemps happened to me once, when, to effect this, I had ordered the clerk to pile up some hassocks for me to stand on. My text was, ‘We are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed’ I had scarcely uttered these words, and was preparing to illustrate them, when I did so practically, and in a way I had not at all anticipated. My fabric of hassocks suddenly gave way; down I fell, and with difficulty prevented myself from being precipitated into the arms of my congregation, who, I must say, behaved very well, and recovered their gravity sooner than I could have expected.”
But I must return to my subject, and I do so by repeating the belief that boxed-up pulpits are largely accountable for the ungainly postures which some of our preachers assume when they get out of their cages and are loose upon a platform. They do not know what to do with their legs and arms, and feel awkward and exposed, and hence drop into ridiculous attitudes. When a man has been accustomed to regard himself as an “animated bust” he feels as if he had become too long when he is made to appear at full length.
AN EARNEST WARNING AGAINST UNBELIEF.
NO. A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH, 1910,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“And to whom swear he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. — Hebrews 3:18,19.
ALL the histories of Scripture are written for our ensamples, but especially the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, which is given to us at a length far exceeding the value of the narrative except it be intended for purposes of spiritual instruction; for it occupies four books of the Old Testament, and those by no means short ones. These things were written that we might see ourselves in the Israelites as in a glass, and so might be warned of dangers common to us and to them, and be guided to a worthier use of the privileges which we enjoy. Always read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with this view, — “This is the story of the church of God in the wilderness: I would see how God dealt with them and how they dealt with him, and from this learn lessons that may be useful to me in my own pilgrimage to the eternal rest.”
The great promise which was given to Israel was Canaan, that choice land which God had of old allotted to them. “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” He made Palestine to be the center of worship, the joy of all lands, the seat of his oracle, and the place of his abode. In the wilderness, the tribes were journeying towards this country, and it was a very short distance from Egypt, so that, they “might almost at once have taken possession of the land,” and yet it “cost them forty years’ traveling. If you trace their journeyings, you will see that they ran a perpetual zigzag, backward and forward, to the right and to the left. Sometimes they were actually journeying away from the promised rest, plunging into the deeps of the howling wilderness; and all, we are told, because of their unbelief.
The land itself flowed with milk and honey: it was a land of brooks and rivers, a land upon the surface of which all choice fruits would grow, and out of whose bowels they could dig copper and iron. It was the choicest of all lands, and will yet again become so when there is an end of the accursed rule which now makes it desolate. Once more, under decent, settled rule, and properly irrigated, it will again bloom, and become such a country as all the world besides cannot match. This was the promised land, and into it they were to enter, and therein to multiply and increase as the stars of heaven, and to be a nation of kings and priests unto God. But “they could not enter in because of unbelief.” This alone shut them out.
Brethren, Canaan is a type to us of the great and goodly things of the covenant of grace which belong to believers; but if we have no faith, we cannot possess a single covenant blessing. This day, in the proclamation of the gospel, the demand is made of faith in God; and if there be no faith, no matter how rich the gospel, how full its provisions, and how precious the portion which God hath prepared, none of us can ever enter into the enjoyment of them.
Some of you, because of unbelief, have not entered into the rest which God giveth to his people even here below (“for we which have believed do enter into rest;”) and into the rest which remaineth, the blessed Sabbath of the skies, you will not be able to enter because of unbelief. This pains and troubles me, but so it is. Moses wrote a mournful Psalm which began, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations,” and then he went on to weep and bewail the transitory nature of man’s estate. He wrote it while he was seeing forty funerals, at the least, every day, for it required an average of forty deaths per diem to carry off all the people that came out of Egypt in the forty years. Their days were spent in bewailing the dead so that it was true of them as it is not true of us, “All our days are passed away in thy wrath.” They had to mourn and sigh, with Canaan but a little way ahead. They might have been laughing in its glades, sunning themselves in its plains, feasting on its figs and grapes and corn; but, instead there they were pining and dying, digging graves and expiring, for they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Many, many, many this day are tormenting themselves with needless despondency, shivering in fears they need not know, and vexed with plagues they need not feel, because they fail to rest in Christ through unbelief. Alas, myriads more are descending into the lake, that burneth with fire, and know no rest, and never shall know any! For them the harps of angels never sound, for them the white robes are not prepared, because the unbelieving must have their portion in the fiery lake. Oh, that God would now deliver them from this dreadful sin of unbelief!
I have only three remarks to make, and the first is, that these were a highly-favored people, yet they could not enter in because of unbelief ; secondly, that the sole and only thing, according to the text, which shut them out was unbelief ; and that, thirdly, there were other people, their own sons and daughters, who, being delivered from this unbelief, did enter in .
That must have made the case more clear against them, because their little ones, who they said should be prey, were nevertheless permitted each one to stand in his lot. God’s purpose was not frustrated because of man’s unbelief. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
I. First, then,THESE WERE AHIGHLY-FAVORED PEOPLE,YET THEY COULD NOT ENTER IN BECAUSE OFUNBELIEF.
Mark you, this was not said of Egyptians Amorites, Philistines; no, it was said of Israelites who occupied the position of those who, in the New Testament, are called the “children of the kingdom”, many of whom will be cast out. These are the persons to whom it may be truly said, “Be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” The dust of the feet of God’s servants will be shaken off against you, but yet you have heard the message of mercy, and you have been as highly-favored as Bethsaida and Chorazin when they heard the word which, through its rejection, wrought for them a more intolerable doom.
Now, think of it. These Israelites had seen great wonders wrought . These men were in Egypt during those marvelous plagues. What times to live in, when they heard of miracle after miracle, peals of God’s great thunder when he made his storm to beat about the head of proud Pharaoh! These men had seen the waters turned into blood, and the fish floating dead upon the stream; they had seen the murrain on the cattle, and the great hailstones which destroyed the harvest. They had been in the light when all the Egyptians were in the darkness that might be felt. They had seen the plagues of locusts and of lice, and all the terrors of the Lord, when Jehovah took arrow after arrow out of his quiver, and shot them against the hard heart of Pharaoh. They had all eaten of the paschal lamb on that dread night when Egypt wept sore because the chief of all their strength had been smitten in all the dwellings of the sons of Ham. They had gone out with their kneading-troughs in haste to escape from the land of bondage, brought forth with a high hand and an outstretched arm. These very men had been with Moses when Pharaoh pursued them, and when that lifted rod affrighted the Red sea, and Israel found an open channel where of old the waves had perpetually rolled. They had marched through the depths as through the wilderness; and they had seen the eager waters leap back again into their place, and drown all Egypt’s chivalry. They had heard the song of Miriam, “Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Yet “they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
And, oh, brethren, there are some among you who have seen great marvels wrought by God! You have known the gift of his dear Son, so as to be assured of the fact, and to see it with your mind’s eye, though you have not believed unto salvation. You know what God has wrought for his people, you know how he delivered them, and saved them by the blood of his Son.
You have been present when the power of the Lord has swept through the audience as the wind sweeps through the forest, and breaks the cedars of Lebanon. You have known the mighty works which God has done in the midst of the congregation, and your eyes have seen them, and your fathers have also told you of the wondrous things which he did in their day and in the old time before them; and yet, with all this before you, and your mother in heaven, and your sister in the church of God, and your friends saved, you yourselves cannot enter in because of unbelief. Ah! the Lord will not have mercy upon you because of what you have seen, for so much light is but an aggravation of the guilt of your unbelief; and, instead of pleading in your favor, it demands justice on those that believe not after all they have seen. To these Israelites great things had been revealed , for during their sojourn in the wilderness, they had been scholars in a gracious school. You yourselves have marveled that they did not learn more. What glorious marchings those, were through the wilderness, when the mountains saw thee, O God, and they trembled, when Sinai was altogether on a smoke!
To what other people did God ever speak as he spake to them? To whom did he give the tablets of divine command, written with his own mysterious pen? Where else did he dwell between the cherubim, and shine forth with glorious majesty? Where else did he reveal himself in type and shadow, by priest and sacrifice and altar? Where else was heard so sweetly holy psalm and daily prayer? Where else smoked the morning and the evening lamb, God teaching by all these? And yet, when they heard, they did provoke; when they were taught, they refused to learn; when they were called, they went not after him. Their hearts were hardened, and they believed not the Lord their God.
We too, have enjoyed a clear revelation. We have heard the gospel more plainly than the Israelites ever did. This blessed book has more light in it than Moses could impart, and the preaching of the gospel, where it is done affectionately and earnestly, and by the help of the Spirit of God, is a greater means of grace to the soul than all the sacred rites of the tabernacle. Shall it be with us as with them? “They could not enter in because of unbelief”; shall we labor under the same disability? Sharers in solemn feasts, and yet their carcases fell in the wilderness! Partakers of countless blessings, favored with the light of God, and yet shut out from Jehovah’s rest because they believed not! Will this be our portion also?
Remember also, that, they were a people with whom God had great patience . Has it ever struck you — the great patience which must have been exercised in forty years of provocation? I put it to any man here who has a good temper, and is very calm and cool, and singularly forgiving; how long could you stand provocation? Brother, if they did always provoke you intentionally, willfully, and repeatedly, how long could you bear it? Ah, you would not be provoked one-half so long as you think you would, without, at least, coming to blows. When Jesus said to his disciples that, if a brother should trespass against them seven times in a day, and seven times in a day should turn and say, “I repent,” they should forgive him. The very next thing we read is that the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith,” as much as to say, “Flesh and blood can never attain to that Lord, thou must increase our faith if we are to do that.” But forty years’ provocation , what think you of that? Some men bear provocation well because they cannot return it, on the principle mentioned in Cowper’s ballad, — “So stooping down, as needs he must Who cannot sit upright.” But when a man knows his power to end the provocation, and to deliver himself, he is not so slow to ease him of his adversary. See the gentleness of the Lord. Forty years is he provoked! One would have thought that, surely, in that time these people would turn and repent. Moses himself, I think, in the greatest agony of his prayer, could only have said, “Lord, give them twelve months in which they may mend their ways.” That gracious intercessor who is mentioned in the parable of the fig-tree only said, “Let it alone this year also.” That was all. But this was forty years! A fruitless tree standing for forty years! Why cumbereth it the ground? Oh, the stupendous mercy of God! But they could not enter into his rest after all. Will it be the same with you who have heard the gospel for many years? What is to becomes of you? When so much patience is lost upon you, what, must happen next? I scarcely feel as if I could pity you, I seem as if I pitied God that he has borne your indifference so long as the only return for his great love. In what manner has he acted that you should so ungenerously treat him and continue still to provoke him? I fear it will ere long be said of you, “they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
Once more only on this point. These people had also received great mercies . It was not merely what they had seen, and what they had been taught, and the longsuffering they had enjoyed; but they had received very remarkable favors. They drank of the rock which followed them; and the manna fell every morning fresh from heaven for them. Men did eat angels’ food. They had a cloudy pillar to guide and shield them by day; and that same pillar at night became a light of fire, and so lit up the canvas city all night long. The Lord was a wall of fire round about them and a glory in their midst. Will you think, dear friend what God has done for you from your childhood until now? Mayhap you found yourself upon a mother’s lap, and she was singing of Jesus; and as you grew up, you dwelt in a family circle where that dear name was a household word. By-and-by, you were led to a godly teacher to be taught more about Jesus; and since then, you have heard from the pastor’s mouth a message which he tries to steep in love whenever he delivers it. Then think of the lord’s gracious providence. You have been fed and cared for. Perhaps you have been, brought very low, but you have had food and raiment. Others are pining in the workhouse and you have, probably, a competence, or you are in health, and are able to earn your livelihood, and in times of sickness, God hears you, and keeps you from death. You have been preserved incident, and here you are, kept alive with death so near. Will you not turn unto the Lord? For if not, he will not always spare you. Earth feels your weight too much for her, and almost asks God to let her open a grave for the wretch who refuses to love his Creator. Time itself is getting impatient of your sin, and hurrying on the hour when your allotted span will be over, and you will be forced into a dread eternity. O soul, soul, highly-favored as thou art, it seems so sad a thing that of thee it should be said, “He could not enter in,” or “she could not enter in” — “because of unbelief.”
II. And now a few words upon our second head.NOTHING BUT UNBELIEF SHUT THEM OUT.
They could not enter in because of unbelief.”
It was not through great sin in other respects although they were a sinful people. God was ready to forgive them everything else but unbelief; and had they but been willing and obedient, the times of their ignorance he would have winked at. He had provided sacrifices on purpose to take away sins of ignorance, and multitudes of sins besides; but nothing takes away the sin of unbelief, so long as it remains in the heart. Ye must be believers, or the blood of Jesus Christ itself shall never be sprinkled upon you to your cleansing. However great your sins may have been, all manner of sin and iniquity shall be forgiven unto you if you believe. The greatness of his sin shall shut no men out of heaven; unbelief alone, will stop the way.
Neither, my dear brethren, would their other evil tendencies have kept them out of Canaan . God knew what they were. They had been a race of slaves in Egypt, and it is not easy for a nation long in bondage to rise to the dignity of freedom: the Israelites in the wilderness were people of a low type, much degraded by slavery, and God was therefore lenient with them.
Many laws he did not make, because he knew they would not keep them; and there were some things which he permitted them which could not be permitted to us. “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to put away your wives,” said Jesus. The Lord was very gentle towards their moral weakness, and bore with them as a nurse with her children but when it came to unbelief, — a doubt of him who was so clearly God — a denial of his power, his faithfulness, his truth, then they were shut out of Canaan as with an iron gate.
My brethren, they were not unbelieving from want of evidence ; yet they had not more than you have, because most of you have abundant evidence of the truth of the gospel. The Bible to you has been God’s Book from your childhood and you take its inspiration for granted and you are therefore inexcusable if you do not trust Christ. If a man’s skepticism includes a doubt of the existence of God, or the truth of Scripture, we will talk to him another time; but with most of you there are no such questionings, and the Lord Jesus might well demand of you, “If I tell you the truth, why do you not believe me?” If before the judgment seat of Christ a man shall be forced to confess, “I believe the Bible to be God’s Word,” I cannot imagine the apology which he can frame in his heart for not having believed in Jesus Christ. To you, then, there is no lack of evidence; and if you are shut out of heaven, your own willful unbelief must bear the blame.
The Israelites were not unbelieving from want of encouragement for as I have already shown you, the Lord sweetly encouraged them to believe in him by the great things he did for them, and by his gentle dealings day by day. Most of you have been gently persuaded and encouraged to trust in the Lord Jesus. How blessedly the word of God has worded its invitations so as to suit the timorousness of poor trembling sinners; and as a preacher I can honestly say that I lay out all my wits to think of truths which might cheer desponding souls! God, who abounded to me in all goodness and mercy is bringing me tenderly to his feet, has made me long after souls that I may bring them to him! If you have not believed, it has not been for want of invitations, and expostulations, and encouragements, and words of consolation. No, you will not be able to blame the Bible or the preacher; but unbelief of the most wanton kind will be chargeable upon you, and will shut you out of God’s rest. Nor would it have been true if the Israelites had said that they could not enter in because of difficulties . There was the Jordan before them, and when they entered the land, there were cities; walled to heaven, and giants before whom they felt like grasshoppers. Yes, but that did not hinder, for God divided the Jordan, made the walls of Jericho to fall flat to the ground, and sent the hornets before them to chase out the giants. Israel had little more to do than to go up and take the spoil.
Now, soul, there is no difficulty between you and eternal life which Christ either has not removed already or will not remove as you believe in him. As for your iniquities, when you believe, they are gone — the Jordan is divided. As for your inbred sins, he will surely drive them out little by little, when you believe in him. As for your old habits, which are like the high walls of the Canaanitish cities, they shall fall down at the sound of the ram’s horns of faith. Only believe, and thou shalt enter into rest. Trust in God, and impossibilities shall vanish, and difficulties shall become a blessing to thee. Nothing hinders thee except, that thou will not believe ; and if thou wilt not believe, neither shalt thou be established. “If ye believe not,” says Christ, “that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” This is the sin of which I pray the Spirit of God to convince you, “Of sin because they believe not on me.”
III. The third head was that SOME DID ENTER IN.
These were their own children, and I have been wondering whether, if I should preach in vain to a whole generation of those who reject Christ, I might yet hope that their children would rise up to call the Redeemer blessed. Dear young man, do not follow in your unbelieving father’s footsteps. Dear girl, do not imitate the indecision, the halting between two opinions, which you have seen in your mother. If her carcase must fall in the wilderness, there is no reason why yours should. Is it not a great mercy that the Lord does not reject us because of the sins of our fathers? Though you were a child of shame, yet you may be a child of graces; though your pedigree, were dishonorable, your end may be glorious. If the history of your ancestors is full of unbelief and rejection of the Lord, yet this need be no reason why you should perish with them.
Look at the effect of this upon the fathers, as they looked upon their sons, and said, “That boy of mine will have a house and home in the holy land, but I must die in the desert, That girl of mine will be among the merry wives that make joy in Eshcol, and that go up to the house of the Lord in Zion; but I must be buried in this waste of sand, for the Lord has sworn in his wrath that I shall not enter into his rest.” Fathers and mothers, how do these things suit you? I am sure, if it were my lot to see my boys rejoicing in the Lord while I was myself an unbeliever, and could not enter in because of unbelief, I could not bear it. I could not bear it. How I wish that your children would entice you to Christ! I have known it happen by the influence of dear departing infants. Many a time, the Lord has caught a babe away from its mother’s breast, to her grief at first, but to her salvation in the end. The shepherd could not get the sheep to follow till he took up its lamb, and carried it in his bosom, and then the mother would go wherever he liked. Perhaps the Lord has done that with some of you on purpose that you may follow him. Do you want him to come, and take another little one? Ah, he may, for he loves you! If one is not enough, he may take another, till at last you follow the Shepherd’s call. If you will not follow Jesus you cannot enter where your babes have gone. Mother, you shall not see the heavenly field wherein your little lambs are resting; you are divided from them, for ever. Unbelieving father, you cannot follow your sons; your believing offspring are with God, but you must be cast out from his presence. Can you endure this?
O impenitent sinner, do you not know that God’s purpose shall not be frustrated? If you will not have Christ, others will. If you will not come to the banquet of his love, he will gather the wanderers and the outcasts, for his wedding shall be furnished with guests. As surely as the Lord liveth, Christ shall not die in vain. Heaven shall not be empty, and the sacred orchestra of the skies shall not lack musicians. If you count yourselves unworthy, others whom you have despised shall be welcomed to the feast of love. Harlots and outcasts, his mighty grace will save, and you, the children of the kingdom, shall be cast into outer darkness, where weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth are heard. Can you bear it? Can you bear to think of it? If you can, I cannot. When I think of any of my hearers perishing I feel like Hagar when she could not help her child, and therefore laid him under the bushes, and went away saying “Let me not see the death of the child!” One of you lost! One of you lost! It is too much for me to think of! Yet to many of you the gospel has been preached in vain, for the bearing of it has not been mixed with faith. The Lord have mercy upon you!
To me it is especially appalling that a man should perish through willfully rejecting the divine salvation. A drowning man throwing away the lifebelt, a poisoned man pouring the antidote upon the floor a wounded man tearing open his wounds: any one of these is a sad sight, but what, shall we say of a soul putting from it the Redeemer, and choosing its own destruction? O souls, be warned and forbear from eternal suicide. There is still the way of salvation “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt he saved.” To believe is to trust. I met with one the other night, who had imbibed the notion that saving faith was simply to believe that the doctrines of the Word of God and the statements therein made are true. Now faith includes that, but it is much more. You may believe all this Book to be true, and be lost notwithstanding your belief. You must so believe it as to act upon it by trusting. “Trust what?” say you. Let us alter the question before we answer it. “Trust whom?” You have to trust in a living person, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died as the Substitute for those who trust him, and lives to see that those whom he bought with blood are also redeemed from their sins by power, and brought home to heaven. Trust Jesus Christ, soul. Have done with yourself as your confidence, and commit your soul unto the keeping of the faithful Redeemer.
Have you done so? Then, even if the clock has not ticked once since you believed in Jesus Christ, you are as surely saved as if you had been at saint these twenty years, for he that believeth in him is not condemned. This declaration makes no stipulation as to time. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” God grant that you may obey the heavenly precept, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
Reading Covers for Spurgeon ’s Sermons. Passmore and Alabaster.
FRIENDS who wish to keep their sermons clean can have very neat cases for them for one shilling. These covers are really very useful articles. Northern Lights: Pen and Pencil Sketches of Modern Scottish Worthies.
By Rev.JABEZ MARRAT.
Wesleyan Conference Office, and 66, Paternoster Row. IT was a happy thought to gather together a number of memoirs of great Scotchmen under so brilliant a title; and it somewhat amuses us that our Wesleyan friends should have carried it out. What can be more pleasant than to see Arminians gazing upon Calvinists with admiration, and regarding them as “northern lights”? This is as it should be. Here we have miniatures of Sir Andrew Agnew and Sir James Brewster, Chalmers and Irving, the Haldanes, Guthrie, James Hamilton, and many others. The style of the writing is by no means first-class, but as a whole the book is of the right sort, and the more of its class the better. We have given our readers the life of David Sandeman as a specimen. The Atonement in its Relations to the Covenant, the Priesthood, and the Intercession of our Lord. ByHUGH MARTIN, D.D. Edinburgh: Lyon and Gemmell.
SOMETHING like theology. We wish our young divines would feed upon such meat as this, and we should hear no more of the modern sham redemption. Dr. Martin teaches a real substitution, and an efficient atonement, and has no sympathy with Robertson, and those of his school.
We thank God for Scotland, and trust that she will ever nurse for us a host of sturdy Calvinists, for whom the boastful schemes of the “modern thought” men will have no charms. We are that told many Free Church ministers are going over to the Broad School, but we do not believe it, and will not till we have far more evidence than at present. Israel in Canaan under Joshua and the Judges. ByALFRED EDERSHEIM, D.D., Phil. D. Religious Tract Society.
DR.EDERSHEIM is producing a series of Bible Histories, of which this is the third volume. Each one is complete in itself, and replete with information and godly uses. To Sabbath-school teachers and junior students of the word of God these works will supply much important instruction. Few authors possess so much knowledge of Jewish manners and modes of expression, and with none may the orthodox feel more safe than with the worthy doctor. The Evangelistic Hymn Book. Compiled for J. Manton Smith and AlfredJ. Clarke. With a prefatory note by C. H.SPURGEON. Price One Penny.
Passmore and Alabaster.
OUR two evangelists will use this collection of one hundred and forty hymns, and we hope others will use it too. We believe it to be one of the cheapest hymn-books extant, and one of the best. It contains good doctrinal hymns as well as the popular pieces used at revival meetings; and we beg our friends who are holding special services to try it before they purchase others. The profits will go to our evangelistic enterprise, which will be costly and needs all the help we can obtain. The hymns are choice and the variety great: our esteemed brother, Mr. Charlesworth, made the selection and executed it with great pains. Poems, Lectures, and Miscellanies. ByADAM B.TODD.
Edinburgh: John Forsyth, Guthrie Street.
FARMERS in Scotland are often well-read, literary men, and we suppose that along the Border there are more minor poets among them than in any other region. Mr. Todd writes in a very capital style, with much poetic feeling. His work is not quite in our line of things, nor could we endorse all he says, but we doubt not that many will while away an hour pleasantly with his poems and lectures. Commentary on the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. ByFRANZ DELITZSCH, D.D. Translated from the German, by Rev. M. G.EASTON, D.D. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark.
THIS work, like most of Messrs. Clark’s series, is intended for scholarly readers, and if any others should purchase it they would make but little out of it. We have given elsewhere an extract from Dr. Delitzsch’s introduction to the Song of Songs: his theory commends itself to us far more than any other we have seen, though we think that its first, and not its second subject, is the love of Christ and his church. The Commentary is mainly critical, and though dry, as nearly all German works are, it is sound, and likely to be of great assistance in discovering the literal sense. It is pleasing to know that evangelical teaching is now in the ascendant in the German universities. Our learned English brethren will much value this exposition of Dr. Delitzsch. The Martyr Graves of Scotland. Second Series. By the Rev.JOHN H. THOMSON.
Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter, and Co. WE do not wonder that Mr. Thomson has issued a second series of papers describing is visit to the martyrs’ graves: it must have been a pleasant occupation for him to travel to those sacred spots, and certainly his notes are full of interest to the lover of heroic memories. The materials which Mr. Thomson has gathered are usually taken from larger works of Scottish history, but his descriptive notes place these details in a more vivid form before the reader. On both sides of the Tweed this volume deserves to be widely read. Seven Wonders of Grace. By C. H.SPURGEON.
Being No. 2 of Spurgeon’s Shilling Series. Passmore and Alabaster.
To set forth some of the “Wonders of Grace” this little book was prepared.
Come, reader, and see the various characters upon which grace operates, and it may be, if you are unsaved, you will find here a something to arouse or to encourage you. Pendower: a Story of Cornwall in the time of Henry the Eighth. By M. FILLEUL. T. Nelson and Sons.
POPISH persecutions in Cornwall are here worked up into a considerable volume, and those who give works of religious fiction to their young people will find this to be one of the best and safest. Mariner Newman; a Voyage in the good ship “Glad Tidings ” to the Promised Land. ByDUNCAN MACGREGOR.
Hodder and Stoughton.
TIME is a very precious commodity with us, or we should have given a lengthened notice of this evidently interesting allegory. For the present we are saving it for a season of quiet, when we can read it through and review it at length; which we should not purpose to do if we did not think very much of it. Our young readers especially will find here much that will instruct and at the same time gratify them. If half the talent wasted on stories had been sanctified to nobler ends and spent as Mr. Macgregor has spent his, we should not, perhaps, have had more “Pilgrims” like Bunyan’s, but we should have had a number of charming allegories.
THIS has been a vacation season, and we have shared in it and have therefore but few jottings for our memoranda; we are, however, right glad to have received a letter from Dublin as to our two evangelists, Messrs.
Clarke and Smith. The opening of the campaign looks well. Let us pray for increasing blessing. “Dear Sir, — Messrs. Clarke and Smith, so recently delegated by your College to evangelistic work, are here amongst us. They have come at the instance of our ‘United Services Committee’ to hold a series of meetings in connection with a Tent Mission carried on each summer in our ‘ Liberties.’
The ‘Liberties’ used to be the best part of our metropolis. In them wealth and religion had their abode. Weaving factories, gentlemen’s residences, churches, and meeting-houses abounded. For a century, however, the locality has been steadily degenerating, and as it has sunk in the social scale it has passed more and more into Romish hands. It saddens a visitor to see all through this district, amid its present misery and barbarism, the relics of a vanished civilization. Large houses apportioned to several poor families, yet still bearing expensive carvings and adornments indicative of ‘the pride of former days.’ The narrow streets where lived the Huguenot Latouches, Lefroy, Delacherois are now out of the circulation of the city’s traffic, and almost blocked up with stalls for old clothes, furniture, vegetables, fish, meat, etc. Here the stench on a hot day, or after a sudden shower, is sometimes dreadful. it is this locality which gives Dublin its sad preeminence on the mortuary list. The Coombe and its adjoining streets and lanes are the St. Antoine of our city. Squalor, ignorance, drunkenness, and the crassest superstition abound. To evangelize this district, to cause the pure stream of the water of the River of Life to flow through its purlieus, is the problem of Dublin Christianity. And a door of hope is still left; for while Romanism has almost entirely possessed this neighborhood, yet there are some spots in its very heart still conserved to Protestantism. On one of these rises annually the snowy awning of a commodious Gospel Tent. Here Messrs. Clarke and Smith have resolved to minister in speech and song. “These brethren arrived on Saturday, the 7th instant, and, though scarcely recovered from the nausea of a rough passage, presented themselves that evening at the preliminary workers’ meeting. It was large and enthusiastic.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Clarke, each in his department, cheered the audience to the onset. On Sunday they both conducted the valedictory services in the Metropolitan Hall: this structure — dear to Dublin Christians as the scene of many blessed seasons during ‘59 and ‘60, and also, as the common religious center of our city — is to come down to make way for buildings in connection with the Y. M. C. A. Your evangelists awoke up its old walls to their final echoes by earnest commendation of Him, the ‘Wonderful.’ In the evening, at a numerously attended young men’s meeting, Mr. Clarke impressively pointed out the blessings of forgiveness. On Monday, the 9th instant, Mr. Clarke addressed the Monday meeting, and Mr. Smith sang with much effect, ‘Waiting and Watching.’ They started that afternoon for Bray to hold ‘a week of meetings.’ Bray is a popular watering place situated in our beautiful Wicklow. The meeting on that evening was so interesting that it was thought advisable to appoint a noon prayer-meeting in the town. Both noon and evening meetings increased in numbers and interest as the time went on. Many instances of impression and usefulness were mentioned. Take an example — a lady observed a stranger girl at the hotel where she was stopping. She brought her to the meeting. On returning she had some earnest conversation with her protege on the subjects Mr. Clarke had been pressing. “Soon after she bade her adieu for the night. During the night she was summoned to see the person in whom she had taken such an interest, and found her truly anxious. Prayerfully and perseveringly she pointed her to the Atoning Sacrifice, and in the brightening of that summer dawn there is reason to believe that a sinner became “a child of light and of the day.” It is said that some who wished to hear the preaching, but dreaded its being known, got stowed away into a small recess before the audience gathered, and remained there within earshot till all was over. Friday’s meeting was the last. About three hundred were present. The lingering groups and affectionate and oft-repeated farewells attested the interest all felt in our brethren’s labors. ‘God bless you, sir, and we wish you had been staying with us longer,’ said a poor woman to Mr. Clarke at the terminus, and this was the general sentiment. “Next evening (Saturday, 14th) they came once more to Dublin. The Bray meetings had been but a preliminary skirmish. The special conflict was to come off in the ‘Liberties.’ Brother Smith met his choir at eight o’clock.
Then, when all had been arranged, with what solicitude the workers looked forward to the first service. The Lord’s Day came, but what a day! Rain pouring and incessant. Scarcely a churchgoer to be seen. A cab here and there, rari nantes in gurgite vasto, of Dublin mud. About half-past three about one dozen people were under the dripping canvas of the tent, and the service commenced at four. A prayer-meeting is held, asking the Lord to encourage the evangelists under the depressing circumstance. We have scarcely risen from our knees when the crowds begin to pour in, and soon after the hour for commencing the tent is nicely filled — about eight hundred being present. Mr. Clarke spoke of Jesus as the hiding place, the covert, and the rivers of water. Mr. Smith gave “Sweetly Resting” as a solo, and thus concluded a most orderly and attentive meeting — an excellent augury of a successful campaign. In the evening the evangelists both addressed the young men’s meeting The unusually hearty singing of the hymn, “Only Trust Him,” showed the presence of a good spirit in the audience. Now Messrs. Clarke and Smith have really entered on the tug of war. There are meetings of some sort for every day for the next three weeks. May the Lord’s people support them in prayer. “Yours truly, “R. K.ECCLES, M.D.”
Since the letter arrived we see that the Romish newspapers have begun to abuse our brethren in the usual style, and we are greatly encouraged to hope that much good will come of the work. Merrion Hall is, we are informed, to be bought for £7,000. We never were so much tempted to wish that we were rich as on this occasion. If we could get this fine hall and supply it with our best men we might, under the divine blessing, build up a Baptist church in Dublin which would influence the whole of Ireland for good. It is ours to be willing, but when the means are not in our reach we can do no more, but must pray that some other of our Master’s servants may be able to save the noble edifice and hold the fort.
COLPORTAGE. We have several times mentioned our great straits for capital for the Colportage, and explained that the increase of our colporteurs necessitated enlarged stock. We hoped that some few friends would have made up the £1,000 which we asked for our Lord’s work, but this has not been done, and now we have even more men and the need is greater. What we asked for a year ago is not enough now; but we shall be glad of it as an installment. Since we have left town we have had an offer from a generous helper in London to give one half of the £450 which is needed out of the £1,000, if other donors will give the rest. He will pay as others contribute.
We thank this kind friend very much, and now leave the matter with the Master’s stewards. We cannot carry on this work properly without means; it is a good and needful work, and it is as much the duty of other Christians to carry it on as it is ours, perhaps more, for we have enough of other service. Therefore we leave the case with those who have been entrusted with the means to help, and simply say — judge whether you should help or no, and act accordingly.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: By J. A. Spurgeon — June 21, fourteen; June 28, eighteen.