EARNESTNESS IN MINISTERS.
A LECTURE TO THE STUDENTS OF THE PASTORS COLLEGE, BY C. H. SPURGEON, CONTINUED FROM ABOVE.
REMEMBERING then, dear brethren, that we must be in earnest and that we cannot counterfeit earnestness, or find a substitute for it, and that it is very easy for us to lose it, let us consider awhile and meditate upon the ways and means for retaining all our fervor and gaining more. If it is to continue, our earnestness and be kindled at an immortal flame, and I know of but one — the flame of the love of Christ, which many waters cannot quench.
A spark from that celestial sun will be as undying its the source from whence it came. If we can get it, yea, if we have it, we shall still be full of enthusiasm, however long we may live, however greatly we may be tried, and however much for many reasons we may be discouraged. To continue fervent for life we must possess the fervor of heavenly life to begin with, — have we this fire? ‘We must have the truth burro into our souls, or it will not burn upon our lips. how understand this? The doctrines of grace must be part and parcel of ourselves, interwoven with the warp and woof of our being, and this can only be affected by the same hand which originally made the fabric. We shall never lose our love to Christ and our love to souls if the Lord has given them to us. The Holy Spirit makes zeal for God to be a permanent principle of life rather than a passion, — does the Holy Spirit rest upon us, or is our present fervor a mere human felling?
This should lead us to be seriously inquisitive with our own hearts, pressing home the question, Have we the holy fire which springs from a true call to the ministry? If a man can live without preaching, let him live without preaching. If a man can be content without being a soul-winner — I had almost said he had better not attempt the work, but I had rather say — let him seek to have the stone taken out of his heart, that he may feel for perishing men. Till then, as a minister, he may do repetitive mischief by occupying the place of one who might have succeeded in the blessed work in which he must he a failure.
The fire our earnestness must burn upon the hearth of faith in the truths which we preach, and in their power to bless mankind when the Spirit applies them to the heart. He who declares what may or may not be true, and what he considers upon the whole to be as good as any other form of teaching, will of necessity make a very feeble preacher. How can he be zealous about that which he is not sure of? If he knows nothing of the inward power of the truth within his own heart, if he has never tasted and handled of the good word of life, how can he be enthusiastic? But if the Holy Ghost has taught us in secret places and made our soul to understand within itself the doctrine which we were to proclaim, then shall we speak evermore with the tongue of fire. Brother, do not begin to teach others till the Lord has taught you. It must be dreary work to parrot the dogmas which have no interest for your heart, and carry no conviction to your understanding; I would prefer to pick oakum or turn a crank for my breakfast, like the paupers in the casual ward, than to be the slave of a congregation and bring them spiritual meat of which I never taste myself.
And then how dreadful the end of such a course must be! I How fearful the account to be rendered at the last by one who publicly taught what he did not heartily believe, and has perpetrated this detestable hypocrisy in the name of God.
Brethren if the fire is brought from the right place to the right place, we have a good beginning; and the main elements of a glorious ending kindled by a live coal borne from off the altar by the winged cherub with the sacred tongs to our lips, the fire has begun to feed upon our inmost spirit, and there will it burn though Satan himself should labor to stamp it out.
Yet the best flame in the world need is renewing. I know not whether immortal spirits, like the angels, drink on the wing, and feed on some superior manna prepared in heaven for them; but the probability is that no created being, though immortal, is quite free from the necessity to receive from without the sustenance for its strength. Certainly the flame of zeal in the renewed heart, however divine, must be continually fed with fresh fuel.
Even the lamps of the sanctuary needed oil. Feed the flame, brother feed frequently; feed it with holy thought and contemplation, especially with thought about your work, your motives in pursuing it, the design of it, the helps that are waiting for you, and the grand results of it, if the Lord be with you. Dwell much upon the love of God to sinners and the death of Christ on their behalf, and the work of the Spirit upon men’s hearts. Think of what must be wrought in men’s hearts ere they can be saved.
Remember, you are not sent to whiten tombs, but to open them. Meditate with deep solemnity upon the fate of the lost dinner, and, like Abraham, look towards Sodom and see the smoke thereof going up like the smoke of a furnace. Shun all views of future punishment which would make it appear less terrible, and so take off the edge of your anxiety to save immortal souls from the quenchless flame. If men are indeed only a nobler kind of ape, and expire as the beasts, you may well enough let them be unpitied; but if their creation in the image of God involves immortality, and there is any fear that through their unbelief they will bring upon themselves endless woe, arouse yourselves to the agonies of the occasion, and be ashamed at the bare suspicion of unconcern. Think much also of the bliss of the sinner saved, and like holy Baxter derive rich arguments for earnestness from “the saints’ everlasting rest.” Put these glorious logs of the wood of Lebanon upon the fire: it will burn freely and yield a sweet perfume as each piece of choice cedar glows in the flame. There will be no fear of your being lethargic if you are continually familiar with eternal realities.
Above all, feed the flame with intimate fellowship with Christ. Man was ever cold in heart; who lived with Jesus on such terms as John and Mary did of old, for he makes men’s hearts burn within them. I newer met with a half-hearted preacher who was much in communion with the Lord Jesus.
The zeal of God’s house ate up our Lord; and when we come into contact with him it begins to consume us also and we feel that we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard in his company, nor can we help speaking of them with the fervor which comes out of actual acquaintance with them. Those of us who have been preaching for these five-and-twenty years sometimes feel that the same work, the same subject, the same people, and the same pulpit, are together apt to beget a feeling of monotony, and monotony may soon lead on to weariness. But then we call to mind another sameness, which becomes our complete deliverance; there is the same Savior, and we may go to him in the same way as we did at the first, since he is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
From him we drink in the new wine and renew our youth. He is the fountain, for ever flowing with the cool, refreshing water of life, and in fellowship with him we find our souls quickened into newness of life.
Beneath his smile our long consumed work grows new, and wears a brighter smile than novelty could have given it. We gather new manna for our people every morning, and as we go to distribute it we feel an annointing of fresh oil distilling upon us. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Newly come from the presence of him that walketh among the golden candlesticks, we are ready to write or speak unto the churches in the power which he alone can give. Soldiers of Christ, you can only be worthy of your Captain by abiding in fellowship with him, and listening to his voice as Joshua did when he stood by Jordan, and inquired — “What saith my Lord unto his servant?” Fan the flame as well as feed it. Fan with much praying. We cannot be too urgent with one another upon this point: no language can be to vehement with which to implore ministers to pray. There is for our brethren and ourselves an absolute necessity of prayer. Necessity — I hardly like to talk of that, let me rather speak of the deliciousness of prayer — the wondrous sweetness and divine felicity which comes to the soul which lives in the atmosphere of prayer. The devout Mr. Hervey resolved on the bed of sickness — “If God shall spare my life, I will read less and pray more.”
John Cooke, of Maidenhead, wrote — “The business, the pleasure, the honor, and the advantage of prayer press on my spirit with increasing force every day.” There should be special seasons for devotion, and it is well to maintain them with regularity, but the spirit of prayer is even better than the habit of prayer; to pray without ceasing is better than praying at intervals. It will be a happy circumstance if we can meet frequently with devout brethren, and I think I ought to be a rule with us ministers never to separate without a word of prayer. Much more intercession would rise to heaven if we made a point of this, especially those of us who have been fellow students. If it be possible, let prayer and praise sanctify each meeting of friend with friend. But, for all that, to fan your earnestness best it will need to seek after the spirit of continual prayer, so as to pray everywhere; and always; in the study, in the vestry, and in the pulpit; praying right along, when sitting down in the pulpit, when rising give only the hymn, when reading the chapter, and while delivering the sermon; holding up one hand to God, empty, in order to receive, more with the other hand dispensing to the people what the Lord bestows. Be in preaching like the conduit pipe between the everlasting and infinite supplies of heaven and the all but boundless needs therein. Pray for them while you preach to them; speak with God for them while you are speaking with them for God. Only so you can expect to be continually in earnest. A man does not often rise from his knees unearnest; or, if he does, he had better return to prayer until he feels the flame descending upon his soul. Adam Clarke originally said, “Study yourself to death, and then pray yourself alive again”: it was a wise sentence. Do not attempt the first without the second, the neither will the second be honestly accomplished without the first. Work and pray as well as watch and pray; but pray always.
As a subordinate but very useful means of keeping the heart fresh, I would suggest the frequent addition of new work to our old engagements. I would say to brethren who are soon going away from the College to settle in spheres where they will come into contact with but few superior minds, and perhaps will be almost alone in the higher walks of spirituality, look well to yourselves that you do not become flat, stale, and unprofitable. You will have a good share of work to do and few to help you in it, and the years will grind along heavily; watch against this, and use all means to prevent your becoming dull and sleepy. I find it good for myself to have some new work always on hand. The old and usual enterprises must be kept up, but somewhat must be added to them. It must be with us as with the squatters upon our commons, the fence of our garden of our most roll outward a foot or two and enclose a little more of the common every year.
Never say “it is enough,” nor accept the policy, “rest and be thankful.” Do all you possibly can, and then do a little more. I don’t know by what process the gentleman who advertises that he can make short people taller attempts the task but I should imagine that if any result could be produced in the direction of adding a cubit, to one’s own stature it would be by every morning reaching up as high as you possibly can on tiptoe, and having done that, trying day by day to reach a little higher. This is certainly the way to grow mentally and spiritually, “reaching forth to that which is before.” If the old should become just a little stale, add fresh endeavors to it, and the whole mass will be leavened anew. Try it, and you will soon see there is virtue in breaking up fresh ground, invading new provinces of the enem., and scaling fresh heights to set the banner of the Lord thereon.
This, of course is a second expedient to those of which we have already spoken, but still it is a very useful one, and may greatly benefit you. In a country town, say of two thousand inhabitants, you will, after a time, feel, “Well, now I have done about all I can in this place.” What then? There is a hamlet some four miles off: set about opening a room there. If one hamlet is occupied, make an excursion to another, and spy out the land, and set it before you as an ambition to relieve its spiritual destitution. When one place is supplied look to another. It is your duty, it will also be your safeguard. Everybody knows what interest there is in fresh work. A gardener will become weary of his work unless he is allowed to introduce new flowers into the hothouse, or to introduce new beds upon the lawn in a novel shape; all monotonous work is unnatural and wearying to the mind, therefore it is wisdom to give variety to your labor.
Far more weighty is the advice, keep close to God, and keep close to your fellow men whom you are seeking to bless. Get into close quarters with those who are in an anxious state. Watch their difficulties, their throes and pangs of conscience. It will help to make you earnest when you see their eagerness to find peace. On the other hand, when you see how little earnest the bulk of men remain, it may help to make you more zealous for their arousing. Rejoice with those who are finding the Savior, this is a grand means of revival for your own soul. When you are enabled to bring a mourner to Jesus you will feel quite young again. it will be as oil to your bones to hear a weeping penitent exclaim: “I see it all now! I believe, and my burden is gone: I am saved.” Sometimes the rapture of newborn souls will electrify you into terrible intensity. Who could not preach after having seen souls converted? Be on the spot when grace at last captures the lost sheep. Be in at the death with sinners. Be able to lay hold of them and say, “Yes, by the grace of God, I have really won this soul;” and your enthusiasm will flame forth. If you have to work in a large town I should recommend you to familiarize yourself, wherever your place of worship may be, with the poverty, ignorance, and drunkenness of the place. Go if you can with a City missionary into the poorest quarter, and you will see that which will astonish you: the actual sight of the disease will make you eager to reveal the remedy. There is enough of evil to be seen even in the best streets of our great cities, but there is an unutterable depth of horror in the condition of the slums. As a doctor walks the hospitals, so might you to traverse the lanes and courts to behold the mischief which sin has done.
It is enough to make a man weep tears of blood to gaze upon the desolation which sin has made in the earth. One day with a devoted missionary would be a fine termination to your college course and fit preparation for work in your own sphere. See the masses living in their sins, drinking and Sabbath-breaking, rioting and blaspheming, and see them dying sodden and hardened, or terrified and despairing. This would kindle expiring zeal if anytiling would. The world is full of grinding poverty and crushing sorrow; shame and death are the portion of thousands, and it needs a great gospel to meet the dire necessities of men’s souls. Go and see for yourselves. Thus will you learn to preach a great salvation, and magnify the great Savior, not with your mouth only, but with your heart; and thus will you be married to your work beyond all possibility of your leaving it.
Death-beds are grand schools for us. Surely they are intended to act as tonics to brace us to our work. I have come down from the bed-chambers of the dying, and thought that everybody was mad, and myself most of all.
I have grudged the earnestness which men devoted to earthly things, and have said to myself, why was that man driving along so hastily? Why was that woman walking out in fine dress? They were all to die so soon; and nothing seemed worth doing but preparing to meet one’s God. To be often where men die will help us to teach them both to die and to live. M’Cheyne was wont to visit his sick or dying hearers on the Saturday afternoon, for, as he told Dr. James Hamilton, “Before preaching he liked to look over the verge.”
I pray you, moreover, measure your work in the light of God. Are you God’s servant or not? If you are, how can your heart be cold? Are you sent by a dying Savior to proclaim his love and win the reward of his wounds, or are you not? If you are, how can you flag? Is the Spirit of God upon you? has the Lord anointed you to preach glad tidings to the poor? If he has not, do not pretend to it. If he has, go in this thy might, and the Lord shall be thy strength. Yours is not a trade, or a profession. Assuredly if you measure it by the tradesman’s measure it is the poorest business on the face of the earth. Considered as a profession, who would not prefer any other, so far as golden gains or worldly honors are concerned? But if it be a divine calling, and you a miracle-worker, dwelling in the supernatural, and working not for time but for eternity, then you belong to a nobler guild, and to a fraternity that is higher than any that springs of earth and deals with time. Look at it aright, and you will feel that it is a grand thing to be as poor as your Lord, if like him, you make many rich; you will feel that it is a grand thing, to be as unknown and despised as were your Lord’s first followers, because you are making him known whom to know is life eternal. You will be satisfied to be anything or to be nothing, and the thought of self will not cross your mind, or only cross it to be scouted as a meanness not to be tolerated by consecrated men. There is the point.
Measure your work as it should be measured, and I am not afraid that your earnestness will be diminished. Measure it by the light of the judgment day.
Oh brethren, the joy of saving a soul on earth is something very wonderful; you have felt it, I trust, and know it now. To save a soul from going down to perdition brings us to a little heaven below; but what must it be at the day of judgment to meet spirits redeemed by Christ, who learned the news of their redemption from our lips! We look forward to a blissful heaven in communion with our Master, but there is the added joy of meeting those loved ones whom we led to Jesus by our ministry. Let us endure our cross and despise the shame for the joy which Jesus sets before us of winning men for him.
One more thought may help to keep up our earnestness. Consider the great evil which will certainly come upon us and upon our hearers if we are negligent in our work. Oh, the horror of the doom of an un-faithful minister! And every unearnest minister is unfaithful. I would infinitely prefer to be consigned to Tophot as a murderer of men’s bodies than as a destroyer of men’s souls; neither do I know of any condition in which a man can perish so fatally, so infinitely, as the man who preach a gospel which he does not believe, and assumes the office of pastor over a people whose good he does not intensely desire. Do let us pray to be found faithful always, and ever. God grant we may!
STRAINING AT GNATS
“Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” — Matthew 23:24 THE note on this in the “Pictorial Bible” is valuable: — “In the East, where insects of all kinds abound, it is difficult to keep clear of insects liquors which are left for the least time uncovered; for which reason it was and is usual to strain the wine before drinking, to prevent insects from passing into the drinking vessel. Beside the common motive of cleanliness for this practice, the Jews considered that they had another and more important one — that of religious purity. For as the law forbade them to eat ‘flying creeping things,’ they thought themselves bound to be particularly careful in this matter . . . The Talmud contains many curious explanations and directions relating to it. Thus, ‘One that eats a flea or a gnat is an apostate, and is no more to be counted one of the congregation.’ It seems, however, that a person doing this might, under certain circumstances, escape further consequences by submitting to be scourged. ‘Whosoever eats a whole fly, or a whole gnat, whether dead or alive, is to be beaten on account of the flying creeping thing.”
The resemblance between modern and ancient Ritualists is remarkable and somewhat amusing, as appears in the “Directorinto Anglicanum.’ After having ordained that “if by any negligence any of the Blood be spilled upon a table, the priest officiating must do penance forty days” (p. 90), it proceeds: — “But if the chalice have dripped upon the altar, the drop must be sucked up, and the priest must do penance for three days. “Also if anyone by accident of the throat vomit up the Eucharist . . . if he be a cleric, monk, presbyter, or deacon, he must do penance for forty days, a bishop seventy days, a laic thirty. “But who does not keep the Sacrament well, so that a mouse or other animal devoured it, he must do penance forty days”. (p. 91).
Modern ritualists breathe the same spirit as their Jewish predecessors; but they very discreetly prefer penance to scourging. — From Spalding’s “Scripture Difficulties.”
Answers to Prayer as Recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. Samuel Bagsruer and Sons.
APAMPHLET upon a choice subject, simply continuing the texts and the incidents which they set forth. Here a preacher will find ready to his hand a splendid series of discourses. Answers to prayer such as many of us can tell may be questioned; but these are recorded by the divine Spirit himself, and are the surest possible evidence. Verily there is a God that heareth prayer, and the Scriptures not only reveal Him, but establish our faith by giving many instances of holy men of old time who have tried and lived the faithfulness of the prayer-hearing God. The Hidden Mystery; or, the Revelations of the Word. Being thoughts Suggestive and Practical upon Psalm 19:1-6 . ByROBERT BROWN.
James Nisbet and Co.
AFINE volume in outward appearance, containing a great many good things within it; but what the end and drift of it all may be is indeed “a hidden mystery.” one cannot read a page without finding rich evangelical doctrine and deep experimental instruction, but the connection of it all with the nineteenth Psalm and the jewels of the high-priest’s breast-plate is what we fail to perceive. The author is evidently a man of extensive reading, and his work is full of savor and earnest piety, and yet we do not believe that many persons will ever read it through, for it seems to us to hang together by too invisible a thread, if indeed, it bangs together at all. It is a great pity that such a heap of good bricks could not be built into a house. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe. Fourth Edition. Revised and corrected, with Appendices, Glossary, and Indices, by the Rev.JOSIAH PRATT, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Vicar of St. Stephen’s, Coleman Street, London; also an introduction, Biographical and Descriptive, by the Rev. John Stoughtoa, D.D. In eight volumes. Royal 8vo. With plates. 50s. the set. Religious Tract Society. IT is very brave of the Society to issue so heavy a work, and we have our fears as to the number likely to be sold. Still, the great history of Foxe ought to be in all large libraries, especially in all congregational libraries.
Earnest Protestants should see that their ministers have every one of them a copy. The heroic sufferings of our forefathers ought to be held in perpetual remembrance, and nothing can better ensure this than the wide distribution of old Foxe’s work. The price seems very little for so large a work, but we have not yet seen a copy so as to judge of the plates and the general appearance of the edition.
The following note was found upon our study table. We cannot fulfill the loving request which it contains one half so well by any words of ours as by inserting it just as we received it:
My very dear Mr. Editor, — “Among your ‘Notes’ for the coming month, will you kindly sound one, clear and jubilant, of grateful blessing on behalf of the Book Fund? Nay, a ‘note” will scarce suffice me, I need psalms of praise, and symphonies of sweetness wherewith to make melody unto the Lord for his great goodness. Tell the dear friends who read the Sword and the Trowel that my mouth is filled with laughter, and my tongue with singing at the remembrance of the gracious love which continues to give support and sustenance and success to me in my beloved work. I am impatient to speak of his mercy, and cannot wait for the close of the year, when the report must be written, but feel constrained now to call on all who love the Lord to rejoice in my joy, and aid me in magnifying his dear name. It is only two years since this sweet service was gently and graciously laid on my heart and hands, and yet during that time the Lord has enabled me, though compassed with infirmity, to send forth, like seed corn, many thousands of volumes to aid the toiling laborers in the gospel field. More than £2,000 have been received and expended; the money coming fresh from the mint of heaven,’ for God has sent it all: as the dear friends through whom it reaches me must very well know, seeing that I never ask them for their loving gifts. Just as the olive trees in Zechariah’s vision constantly and silently shielded their rich streams to feed the lights of the golden candlestick, even so, as divinely and mysteriously does the Lord send me the means to provide ‘oil, beaten oil, for the lamps of the sanctuary.’ “Ah dear Mr. Editor, sound the notes of praise for me! I want God’s people to know how very good he is to unworthy me, that they may take comfort and courage from my experience of his tenderness and love. I would I had Miriam’s timbrel in my hand to-day to ‘sing unto the Lord’ withal, and lead out others to sing also, but as that cannot be, I pray you, lift up your voice for me, and ‘praise the Lord before all the people.’” “Yours with true love and ‘reverence,’ “S.SPURGEON.”
In all this delight we join, and in the praise which thus ascends to heaven.
How many poor ministers’ hearts are singing too! Surely our Lord Jesus accepts this service his needy servants as specially rendered unto himself.
To the Ever Blessed be the glory, world without end.
COLLEGE — We have in the College an earnest and able brother who is anxious to go to Japan to preach Christ. We hope that the Baptist Missionary Society will give a grant in aid, but shortness of funds prevents their taking the brother altogether to their staff. If a few friends would join us in giving £10 a year the thing might be done at once. The brother appears to be eminently qualified. Here is the account of himself which he wrote us at our request a few days ago. He has been with us about a year: — “Herewith I send you a brief account of myself while I lived in Japan. “I first landed in that country in May, 1871, and left for England in July, 1876. During nearly five years of this time I was engaged as a teacher of English in Japanese schools, and the last year and a half was a teacher in the English Department of the Imperial College. Thus my position brought me into immediate contact with the Japanese people. “For some time I held a Bible Class on Sunday afternoon in my own house, to which I invited my scholars. In this class I generally explained the Scriptures, keeping to those portions which contained gospel invitations, as I found those easier to explain. Several of my pupils who attended these, classes have since become believers in Christ, the last of whom is a lad by the name of Anyoji, who since my leaving Japan has joined himself to the Presbyterian church at Yokohama. Owing to opposition from the directors of my school I was obliged to discontinue these classes, and content myself with private conversation with my scholars, in which I endeavored to lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ, and I believe that in several instances God blessed this unassuming work. “At the outset of my Christian life, I had a strong desire to enter the ministry and become a missionary, but a feeling of unfitness for the work led me to give up the thought of it, and hence I remained out of the path of duty; but God, whose ways are often mysterious, in his wisdom saw fit to take from me my dear wife, to whom I had been married for the short space of seven months. This he used as the means of bringing me into my present position. It was seemingly a hard way of the Lord with me, but now I bless and praise his name that even in this way he has led me to give myself up entirely to his service. From that time of trouble I resolved to devote myself to the Lord’s work in Japan. The old feeling of unfitness for the work of preaching again came over me, and I determined to study medicine and prepare myself for medical mission work. At once I commenced a course of preparatory study. Some time after, Dr. Palm, a medical missionary, writing to me from Nugata respecting medical mission work said, ‘If I had had more faith in the power of the simple preached word I should not have become a medical missionary.’ “At once I saw my mistake; I saw that it was by the foolishness of preaching that sinners should be led to the Savior. After much prayer I made up my mind to come home, and with the little money I had saved go through a course of theological study, in order that I might be better fitted to preach the gospel to the Japanese. Dr. Palm gave me a letter of introduction to Mr. Lewis of Bayswater, who very kindly asked you to receive me into your College; you did so, and I thank God for it. And here, sir, allow me to thank you most heartily for all the kindness you have always shown towards me, and especially with regard to the work in Japan, for I feel in debt to the Japanese; and until I have faithfully preached to them the gospel of Christ I feel that debt will remain upon me. “In going forth from the Tabernacle and the College I have an exceedingly great encouragement in that I know the prayers of the Tabernacle and College will follow me, and having such, I feel doubly sure the Master will be with me to bless the word wherever it is preached. “Praying that God’s richest blessing may rest on you and yours, I am, “My dear Mr. President, “Yours affectionately and respectfully, “W.JNO.WHITE.”
The settlements from the College are as follows: Mr. Holmes, to Belfast; Mr. G. Smith, to Bexley Heath; Mr. Petramo, to Herne Bay. Mr. Bacon also, having honorably finished his course with us, has left to pursue his studies at Edinburgh.
We are very much obliged to a worthy friend who has sent us the following account of the labors of our two beloved evangelists at Stockton: — “Dear sir, — In a note in the September number of The Sword and the Trowel, you promise condensed reports from the evangelists, Messrs.
Clarke and Smith, so recently set forth, and who have now commenced their labors in Stockton. Perhaps a short report of the work from a visitor may be acceptable.
The invitation to Stockton was given in connection with the Evangelistic Mission, commenced about three years since by Mr. E. P. Telford; and the Exchange, the largest public building, was secured for the services.
On Friday, August 24th, a Workers’ meeting was held in the Mission Room and was packed with earnest souls on fire with zeal for the work, and many a heartfelt prayer arose for a great blessing upon the town. The presence of the Lord was felt, and a firm confidence that he was about to work mightily in our midst.
The hearts of many of the Lord’s people have been stirred up of late to ask for great things and at no time since the commencement of the Mission has the spirit of earnest, believing prayer been so greatly felt. One feature of the present work has been the large number of specific requests for prayer which have been sent to prayer-meetings, and which have received immediate answers, not a day has passed without a note of praise being heard for answers to definite requests — ‘What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.’
The daily noon prayer-meeting, held in the Young Men’s Christian Association rooms, has been well attended. Many working men have hurried from their work to spend a portion of their dinner hour at these meetings, and their petitions for the salvation of relations and shop-mates have shown how much they desire that others should be saved. Often, too, has the petition gone up for grace to withstand the scorn and derision of those with whom they have to work. The population of Stockton being so largely composed of men employed in the iron works, ship building yards, etc., and of the class who rarely, if ever, attend any place of worship, the meetings held in the Marketplace are of great importance. These have usually been held each evening for half an hour before the meetings in the Exchange, and great numbers have been attracted to them by Mr. Smith’s cornet, and many become sufficiently interested in the singing and short addresses to follow into the hall.
The Exchange meetings have been held twice on Sundays, and once on each week-night, except Saturday, the congregation varying from about 800 to 1,900. The interest in the meetings has evidently deepened as they have gone on, and the blessing also has continued to increase. At first but few would remain to the after-meetings, but as the same people came again and again under the preaching of the gospel, the Lord’s power was manifested, and every night some are found deciding for him.
A service of song on Saturday evening attracted many to the Exchange who probably would have been found at the various places of amusement.
The singing was varied by short addresses from Mr. Smith.
On the 10th, instead of the usual evening service, an experience meeting was held in the Hall, at which many who had been brought to the Lord in the mission during the last year or two gave an account of what he has done for them.
Two or three of the cases which show the complete and striking change in the lives of these men may be of general interest.
One said that he had been one of the most notoriously bad characters in Stockton, ready for anything bad, but the Lord Jesus had found him and made him a new creature, so that now his great desire was that, whereas he had been a faithful servant of the devil, he might now be found a faithful servant of Christ.
Another who had been a drunkard and a betting man was upon his conversion soon told by his companions that it would not last, but he said, “I cannot keep myself; the Lord keeps me, and has done ever since.”
Speaking of his racing habits he said that now he had got on the grand stand. The consistent lives of these men are a constant annoyance to many of their companions who are opposed to the gospel, but many others are probably thus led to seek for a like blessing.
During the fortnight of Messrs. C1arke and Smith’s meetings about one hundred persons have given in their names as having received blessing, and as the services will not be concluded until Sunday, the 16th, a continued blessing is earnestly desired, and that many more may decide for Christ.
In the whole of the work Messrs. Clarke and Smith evidently desire to be guided by the apostle Paul’s injunction, “Whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God;” fully realizing that their labors are quite useless unless they have the continued blessing of God and the power and direction of the Holy Ghost in all that they say and do.
On Monday next, a week of meetings will be commenced at Middlesborough in the Baptist chapel erected by the late lamented Mr. Priter, and the intended meetings at Hartlepool will consequently be postponed.
May there be a great blessing resting upon these also, and many be found accepting the gift of God eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “JOHN STERRY.”
Leaving Stockton, our two brethren, though nearly exhausted by their toils, have been to Middlesborough. We joy and rejoice in their success; but we would again remind our friends that the whole expense rests upon us personally, and that it is natural that we should hope that those who see good accomplished, especially in the towns where they live, should aid in bearing the charges, for surely the laborer is worthy of his hire. If we were helped with these brethren, we would assist two others, and so the band of regular, approved evangelists would grow. Their engagements at present stand as follows: — Barking, Oct. 14 to 21; Bristol Oct. 28 to Nov. 5; Reading, Nov. 25 to Dec. 16. In 1878 Landport, Jan. 6 to 13: Southsea, Jan. 14 to 27; Metropolitan Tabernacle, Feb. 1 to 28; Newcastle-under- Lyes, March 11 to 30: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, April 16 to May 10; Bishop’s Stortford, May 14 to 30; Red Hill, Surrey, June 3 to 24; in July, rest August 22. — The church at Farsley, near Leeds, through its estimable pastor, Mr. Parker, gave two collections to the Stockwell Orphanage, and gave them so heartily as to make them of double value. We were happy to be well enough to preach. We wish our friend Mr. Parker great success in his new position as head of the Baptist College in Manchester. May that institution vie with our own in sending out men who hold to the oldfashioned and now much-despised theology of the Puritans. There is good need; for the mildew of philosophy has fallen on the good wheat, and is marring the harvest of the Lord.
Aug. 29. — Our orphans were entertained at Reading in a right royal manner. It was one of the happiest days of our life. The boys were the objects of universal kindness. We do not know how to thank the friends sufficiently; they not only gave all that was needed for the treat and the traveling, but a handsome surplus remained. Truly God is good to find us such helpers.
August 31. — We met the workers who, under the leadership of Mr. Wm.
Olney, junr., are evangelizing in Bermondsey. It was very refreshing to see their zeal for the Lord, and the hearty manner in which all sorts of people worked together to reach the ungodly around them. While one preaches in the street, many help to gather the people by singing, and others distribute tracts. O that the salvation of God were come out of Zion! The millions perish and few lay the matter to heart. Benmondsey needs a great many workers like these who unite with Mr. Olney. Are there none to commence similar enterprises? Young gentlemen of education and position could not better glorify God, nor more surely secure to themselves a good degree in the church of God than by consecrating themselves to evangelistic works in needy districts. Look at our brother Orsman, in Golden Lane, and Mr. Hatton, in St. Giles — their names are honorable where honor is best worth the having. Mr. W. Olney has our loving thanks for all that he does so faithfully for his Lord.
September 7. — We had an evening with Mr. Perkin’s class, and a very happy one too. The brethren manifested love, life, and light, and spoke admirably, testifying to the good received in the class. Their esteemed president received a well-earned testimonial from them; we had a handsome sum from the College, and the whole proceedings were full of hearty enthusiasm. Our visit to this band of young men revived us. We saw that the Lord is gloriously at work at the Tabernacle, and is not withholding the blessing, as our eager anxiety sometimes makes us fear he may do. Young men are rising up, and by diligent study of their Bibles are preparing themselves for future usefulness. There is a large attendance of interested friends September 14 — The evening of this day was spent among the Evangelists of the Tabernacle, who mustered in good force under their worthy leader, Mr. Elvin. The friends of the work came up very numerously, and the meeting was all alive. We shall never forget some of the details of lodging house visitation. Work in low London is far more interesting and romantic than your genteel lover of propriety would believe, and it is refreshing to hear details. The men have shown great courage, tact, and zeal in their ministrations among the worst parts of our neighborhood, and good must have resulted from testifying to the gospel in street corners and in the haunts of the poor and the fallen. Our young men make our heart leap for joy. We are often heavy, for our charge is great, but when we see their ardor and industry we feel more than rewarded, and leap to our work again. Mr. Elvin was also most fittingly testimonialized by his little army; he is a brother whose steady working and organizing ability are an invaluable gift to our church.
— We hope that friends are not forgetting us. The week ending Sept. 22, when we are writing these lines, has been the dullest we have known for a long time. Donors great or small have been so few as to be counted on our fingers and the cash is going out as usual. Still there is no actual want at present, nor can there be, since the work is the Lord’s, and we have in all things endeavored to carry it on in all simplicity of heart for his glory.
— Urgent invitations have come to us to go Australia for a tour, and we beg publicly to thank the churches for doing us this honor.
Having well weighed the matter, we feel that we cannot at this time leave our post, if indeed we shall ever he able to do so. Our numerous institutions must be watched, the great congregation must he kept together, and the weekly sermon must continue to be published. These all require us to be at home, and our absences must be brief ones; otherwise we should enjoy beyond measure a trip to the Southern Sea. It is not indifference to our friends abroad, but a conviction of duty which keeps me at home. We wish every blessing to those who in so loving a manner have invited us to their shores.
— Progress still continues in the work of opening up new districts, and hence the need of renewed and continued aid to support the colporteurs sent out. Our friends in the Southern Baptist Association find the agency to work so satisfactorily that from one agent they have now increased to five, and Colporteurs will commence work for them at Michaelmas at Salisbury and Poole. Chester and Preston, too, have new colporteurs now at work. The great evil of unhealthy literature, with which colportage mainly seeks to grapple by supplying something better, has latterly become so prominent as to call for notice in parliament, and has had to be dealt with in our law courts. One of the prisoners arrested for the Blackheath highway robbery had a number of vicious publications in his box, and similar occurrences constantly crop up. The vilest productions of the press are surreptitiously hawked about all over the country, and nothing can satisfactorily cope with the mischief except a personal house to house canvass by Christian men, presenting a supply of good and attractive reading accompanied by prayerful endeavors to lead men to Christ. This our society is doing in upwards of sixty districts in England and Wales.
Will not some of the Lord’s servants ponder the vast importance of wielding the immense power of the Christian press? It carries the gospel far beyond the limited number of hearers which can at the best listen to the preacher’s voice. Colportage supplements and extends the work of the church to a large extent, and should therefore be welcomed and employed on a much larger scale. Our work is thoroughly unsectarian, supplying laborers in connection with any Christian church or churches who will subscribe towards their support. Sometimes a wealthy individual subscribes the whole £40 per annum required, and a colporteur is sent into some needy district where otherwise the funds cannot be obtained. Why should we not have one hundred men at once? The secretary will be glad to correspond with friends in any neighborhood who would be willing to cooperate to raise £40 a year to start a colporteur. Please address W. Cordon Jones, Colportage Association, Metropolitan Tabernacle,SE. Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by J. A. Spurgeon: — August 27, four; 30th, eighteen; 31st, one.