“DO NOT SIN AGAINST THE CHILD.”
NO. AT A PRAYER MEETING FOR SABBATH-SCHOOLS IN THE YEAR 1877. DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, “And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child, and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” — Genesis 42:22 A Sermon by C. H. Spurgeon, upon the same text, is No. 840 in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, also entitled “Do not Sin against the Child.” It was delivered as preface to a series of services for children conducted in the Tabernacle, in the year 1868, by the late Mr. E. Payson Hammond.
You know how Joseph’s brethren, through envy, sold him into Egypt; and how ultimately they were themselves compelled to go down into Egypt to buy corn. When they were treated roughly by the governor of that country, whom they did not know to be their brother, their consciences smote them, and they said one to another, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, who he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.” While their consciences were thus accusing them, the voice of their elder brother chimed in, saying, “Said I not unto you, Do not sin against the child?” From which I gather that, if we commit sin after being warned, the voice of conscience will be all the more condemning, for it will be supported by the memory of disregarded admonitions, which will revive again, and with solemn voices say to us, “Said we not unto you, Do not sin against the child?” We who know what is due to children will be far more guilty than others if we sin against their souls. Wiser views as to the needs and hopes of the little ones are now abroad in this world than those which ruled the public mind fifty years ago, and we shall be doubly criminal if now we bring evil upon the little ones.
The advice of Reuben may well be given to all grown-up persons, “Do not sin against the child.” Thus would I speak to every parent, to every elder brother or sister, to every schoolmaster, to every employer, to every man and woman, whether they have families or not, “Do not sin against the child:” neither against your own child, nor against anybody’s child, nor against the poor waif of the sweet whom they call “nobody’s child.” If you sin against adults, “do not sin against the child.” If a man must be profane, let him have too much reverence for a child to pollute its little ear with blasphemy. If a man must drink, let him have too much respect for childhood to entice his boy to sip at the intoxicating cup. If there be aught of lewdness or coarseness on foot, screen the young child from the sight and hearing of it. O ye parents, do not follow trades which will ruin your children, do not select houses where they will be cast in evil society, do not bring depraved persons within your doors to defile them! For a man to lead others like himself into temptation is bad enough; but to sow the vile seed of vice in hearts that are as yet untainted by any gross, actual sin, is a hideous piece of wickedness. Do not commit spiritual infanticide. For God’s sake, in the name of common humanity, I pray you, if you have any sort of feeling left, do not play the Herod by morally murdering the innocents. I have heard that when, in the cruel sack of a city, a soldier was about to kill a child, his hand was stayed by the little one’s crying out, “O sir, please don’t kill me; I am so little!” The feebleness and littleness of childhood should appeal to the worst of men, and restrain them from sinning against the child.
According to the story of Joseph, there are three ways of sinning against the child. The first was contained in the proposition of the envious brothers, “Let us slay him , and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” “Shed no blood,” said Reuben, who had reasons of his own for wishing to save Joseph’s life. There is such a thing as morally and spiritually slaying boys and girls, and here even the Reubens unite with us; even those who are not so good as they should be will join in the earnest protest, “Do not sin against the child, “— do not train him in dishonesty, lying, drunkenness, and vice. No one among us would wish to do so, but it is continually done by bad example. Many sons are ruined by their fathers.
Those who gave them birth give them their death. They brought them into the world of sin, and they seem intent to bring them into the world of punishment, and will succeed in the fearful attempt unless the grace of God shall interfere. Many are doing all they can, by their own conduct at home and abroad, to educate their offspring into pests of society and plagues to their country. When I see the member of juvenile animals, I cannot help asking, “Who slew all these?” and it is sad to have for an answer, “These are mostly the victims of their parents’ sin.” The fiercest boasts of prey will not destroy their own young, but sin makes men unnatural, so that they destroy their offspring’s souls without thought. To teach a child a lascivious song is unutterably wicked; to introduce him to the wine cup is evil. To take children to places of amusement where everything is polluting, — where the quick-witted boy soon spies out vice, and learns to be precocious in it; where the girl, while sitting to see the play, has kindled within her passions which need no fuel, — to do this is to act the tempter’s part. Would you poison young hearts, and do them lifelong mischief? I wish that the guardian of public morals would put down all open impurity; but if that cannot be, at least let the young be shielded. He who instructs a youth in the vices of the world is a despicable wretch, a panderer for the devil, for whom contempt is a feeling too lenient. No, even though thou art thyself of all men most happened, there can be no need to worry the lambs, and offer the babes before the shrine of Moloch.
The same evil may be committed by indoctrinating children with evil teachings. They learn so soon that it is a sad thing to teach them error. It is a dreadful thing when the infidel father sneers at the cross of Christ in the presence of his boy, when he utters horrible things against our blessed Lord in the hearing of tender youth. It is sad to the last degree that those who have been singing holy hymns in the Sabbath-school should go home to hear God blasphemed, and to see holy things spit upon and despised. To the very worst unbelievers we might well say, — Do not thus ruin your child’s immortal soul; if you are yourself resolved to perish, do not drag your child downward too.
But there is a second way of sinning against the child, of which Reuben’s own proposition may serve as an illustration. Though not with a bad motive, Reuben said, “Cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness , and lay no hand upon him.” The idea of many is to leave the child as a child, and then look him up in after days, and seek to deliver him from destruction. Do not kill him, but leave him alone till riper years. Do not kill him, that would be wicked murder; but leave him in the wilderness till a more convenient season, when, like Reuben, you hope to come to his rescue. Upon this point I shall touch many more than upon the first. Many professing Christians ignore the multitudes of children around them, and act as if there were no such living beings. They may go to Sunday-school or not; they do not know, and do not care. At any rate, these good people cannot trouble themselves with teaching children. I would earnestly say “Do not sin against the child by such neglect.” “No,” says Reuben, “we will look after him when he is a man. He is in the pit now, but we are in hopes of getting him out afterwards.” That is the common notion, — that the children are to grow up unconverted, and that they are to be saved in after life. They are to be left in the pit now, and to be drawn out by-and-by. This pernicious notion is sinning against the child. No word of Holy Scripture gives countenance to such a policy of delay and neglect. Neither nature nor grace pleads for it. It was the complaint of Jeremiah, “Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.” Let not such a charge lie against any one of us. Our design and object should be that our children, while they are yet children, should be brought to Christ; and I ask those dear brothers and sisters here present who love the Lord not to doubt about the conversion of their little ones, but to seek it at once with all their hearts. Why should our Josephs remain in the pit of nature’s corruption? Let us pray the Lord at once to take them up out of the horrible pit, and save them with a great salvation.
There is yet a third way of sinning against the child, which plan was actually tried upon Joseph: they sold him , — sold him to the Midianite merchantmen. They offered twenty pieces of silver for him, and his brothers readily handed him over for that reward. I am afraid that some are half inclined to do the same now. It is imagined that, now we have Schoolboards, we shall not want Sabbath-schools so much, but may give over the young to the Secularists. Because the children are to be taught the multiplication table, they will not need to be taught the fear of the Lord!
Strange reasoning this! Can geography teach them the way to heaven, or arithmetic remove their countless sins? The more of secular knowledge our juveniles acquire, the more will they need to be taught in the fear of the Lord. To leave our youthful population in the hands of secular teachers will be to sell them to the Ishmaelites. Nor is it less perilous to leave them to the seductive arts of Ritualists and Papists. We who love the gospel must not let the children slip through our hands into the power of those who would enslave their minds by superstitious dogmas. We sin against the child if we hand it over to teachers of error.
The same selling of the young Josephs can be effected by looking only to their worldly interests, and forgetting their souls. A great many parents sell their children by putting them out as apprentices to men of no character, or by placing them in situations where ungodliness is the paramount influence.
Frequently, the father does not ask where the boy can go on the Sabbathday, and the mother does not inquire whether her girl can hear the gospel when she gets out; but good wages are looked after, and not much else.
They count themselves very staunch if they draw a line at Roman Catholics, but worldliness and even profligacy are not reckoned as barriers in many cases. How many there are of those who call themselves Christians who sell their daughters in marriage to rich men! The men have no religion whatever, but “it is a splendid match,” because they move in high society.
Young men and women are put into the matrimonial market, and disposed of to the highest bidder: God is not thought of in the matter. Thus the rich depart from the Lord, and curse their children quite as much as the poor. I am sure you would not literally sell your offspring for slaves, and yet to sell their souls is by no means less abominable. “Do not sin against the child. “ Do not sell him to the Ishmaelites. “Ah!” say you, “the money is always handy.” Will you take the price of blood? Shall the blood of your children’s souls be on your skirts? I pray you, pause awhile ere you do this.
Sometimes, a child may be sinned against because he is disliked. The excuse for undue harshness and severity is, “He is such a strange child!”
You have heard of the cygnet that was hatched in a duck’s nest. Neither duck, nor drake, nor ducklings could make anything out of the ugly bird; and yet, in truth, it was superior to all the rest. Joseph was the swan in Jacob’s nest, and his brothers and even his father did not understand him.
His father rebuked him and said, “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” He was not understood by his own kin. I should fancy that he was a most uncomfortable boy to live with, for, when his elder brothers transgressed, he felt bound to bring unto his father “their evil report.” I doubt not that they called him “a little sneak”, though, indeed, he was a gracious child.
His dreams also were very odd, and considerably provoking, for he was always the hero of them. His brothers called him “this dreamer”, and evidently thought him to be a mere fool. He was his father’s pet boy, and this made him even more obnoxious to the other sons. Yes that very child, who was so despised by his brothers, was the Joseph among them. History replicates itself, and the difference in your child, which now causes him to be pecked at, may perhaps arise from a superiority which as yet hasn’t found its sphere, at any rate, “do not sin against the child” because he is singular, for he may rise to special distinction. Do not, of course, show him partiality, and make him a coat of many colors; because, if you do, his brothers will have some excuse for their envy; but, on the other hand, do not suffer him to be snubbed, and do not allow his spirit to be crushed.
I have known some who, when they have meet with a little Joseph, have sinned against him by foolish flattery. The boy has said something rather good, and then they have set him upon the table so that everybody might see him, and admire what he had to say, while he was coaxed into repeating his sage observations. Thus the child was made self-conceited, forward, and pert. Children who are much exhibited are usually spoiled in the operation. I think I hear the proud parents say, “Now do see — do see what a wonderful boy my Harry is! “Yes, I do see; I do see what a wonderful stupid his mother is. I do see how unwise his father is to expose his boy to such peril. Do not sin against the child by fostering his pride, which, as it is an ill weed, will grow apace of itself.
In many cases, the sin is of quite the opposite character. Contemptuous sneers have chilled many a good desire, and ridicule has nipped in the bud many a sincere purpose. Beware of checking youthful enthusiasm for good things. God forbid that you or I should quench one tiny spark of grace in a lad’s heart, or destroy a single bud of promise! We believe in the piety of children; let us never speak, or act, or look as if we despised it. “Do not sin against the child,” whoever you may be. Whether you are teacher or parent, take care that, if there is any trace of the little Joseph in your child, even though it be but in his dreams, you do not sin against him by attempting to repress the noble flame which God may be kindling in his soul. I cannot just now mention the many, many ways in which we may be offending against one of the Lord’s little ones; but I would have you recollect that, if the Lord’s love should light upon your boy, and he should grow up to be a distinguished servant of the Lord, your conscience will prick you, and a voice will say in your soul, “Said I not unto you, Do not sin against the child.” And if, on the other hand, your child should not become a Joseph, but an Absalom, it will be a horrible thing to be compelled to mingle with your lametations the overwhelming consciousness that you led your child into the sin by which he became the dishonor of your family. If I see my child perish, and know that he becomes a reprobate through my ill teaching and example, I shall have to wring my hands with dread remorse and cry, “I slew my child! I slew my child! and when I did it, I knew better, but I disregarded the voice which said to me, ‘Do not sin against the child.’” Now, dear Sunday-school teachers, I will mention one or two matters which concern you. “Do not sin against the child” by coming to your class with a chilly heart. Why should you make your children cold towards divine things? Do not sin against them by coming too late, for that will make them think that punctuality is not a virtue, and that the Sunday school is of no very great importance. “Do not sin against the child” by coming irregularly and absenting yourself at the smallest pretense, for that is distinctly saying to the child, “You can neglect to serve God when you please, for you see that this is what I do.” “Do not sin against the child” by merely going through class routine, without really teaching and instructing.
That is the shadow of Sunday school teaching, and not the substance, and it is in some respects worse than nothing. “Do not sin against the child” by merely telling him a number of stories without setting forth the Savior, for that will be giving him a stone instead of bread. “Do not sin against the child” by aiming at anything short of his conversion to God through Jesus Christ the Savior.
And then, you parents, “do not sin against the child by being so very soon angry . I have frequently heard grown-up people repeat that verse, “Children, obey your parents in all things.” It is a very proper heart, very proper text, and boys and girls should carefully attend to it. I like to hear fathers and mothers preach from it; but there is that other one, you know; there is that other and, — “Likewise, ye fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Do not pick up every little thing against a good child, and throw it in his or her teeth, and say, “Ah, if you were a Christian child, you would not do this and you would not do that!”
I am not so sure about that; you who are heads of families do a great many wrong things yourselves, and yet I hope you are Christians; and if your father in heaven we sometimes to be as severe with you as you are with the sincere little ones when you are out of temper, I am afraid it would go very hard with you. Be gentle, and kind, and tender, and loving.
At the same time, do not sin against any child by over-indulgence . Spoiled children are like spoiled fruit, the less we see of them the better. In some families, the master of the house is the youngest boy, though he is not yet big enough to wear knickerbockers. He manages his mother, and his mother, of course, manages his father, and so, in that way, he rules the whole house. This is unwise, unnatural, and highly perilous to the pampered child. Keep boys and girls in proper subjection, for they cannot be happy themselves, nor can you be so, unless they are in their places. Do not water your young plants either with vinegar or with syrup. Neither use too much nor too little of rebuke. Seek wisdom of the Lord, and keep the middle of the way.
In a word, “do not sin against the child,” but train it in the way it should go, and bring it to Jesus that he may bless it. Cease not to pray for the child till his young heart is given to the Lord. May the Holy Spirit make you wise to deal with these young immortals! Like plastic clay, they are on the wheel. Oh, that he would teach us how to mold and fashion their characters! Above all, may he put his own hand to the work, and then it will be done indeed!
GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY KNOWING full well that many of our readers will “rejoice with us in our joy,” even as we are sure they would weep with us in sorrow, were we called upon to endure it, we have determined to lift for a moment the veil which usually covers our home circle, and introduce them to our fire-side, while some portions of the letters from our dear son in Australia are being read. Verily, “goodness and mercy have followed him” every step of the way he has taken, and the kindness of Christian friends has been displayed in a marvelous manner. All listeners are eager to hear the pleasant news, and every now and then you would see, if you were present, the handkerchief slily steal to the eyes, and you would notice that the voice of the reader occasionally grows hoarse with emotion, and her eyes are dimmed by glad tears, as she unfolds page after page of the “manifold” mercy which “his father’s God” has shown to the young sojourner in a strange land.
By printing any parts of the letters of our own boy we run the risk of being thought egotistical, and so on; but we had rather suffer under this charge than be deemed ungrateful, as we fear we shall be if we pass over all in silence. The brethren in Australia have placed us under everlasting obligations by their great kindness to the father through the son. We are overcome by their exceeding goodness, and if we do not mention all their names it is not because anyone is forgotten, but because the list is too long to be written.
Our son’s voyage out was speedy, prosperous, and pleasant: companions few, but occupations many and varied, so that time seems rarely to have hung heavily on hand. At the request of our esteemed friend, Captain Jenkins, our son held services every Lord’s-day while on board, and sometimes amid very much disorder and difficulty, consequent upon being at sea. Of these services he thus writes: — “I am sure you are very anxious to know all about Sundays, and I am glad to report pretty favorably of our Sabbaths on the ocean. The second Sunday on board was anything but a pleasant day, as far as the weather was concerned, the sea was very rough, and the rain fell constantly. The bell for church commenced to ring about half-past ten, and not having far to travel, the audience soon arrived. It was not an easy task to stand, but after a while I succeeded in wedging myself between a table and the back of a seat, and presently forgot circumstances and inconveniences in the glory of my subject. Unfortunately many of my hearers were not so successful, for their white faces grew whiter every moment, and at last they were compelled to leave...... I think I may say that every other Sunday was much more pleasant than the one just described.
The next week we were near the tropics, and enjoyed fine weather. I determined to have two services. In the evening it was dreadfully hot, but we had a good time. Sunday, July 15th, is recorded as the happiest Sabbath spent on board. Both meetings were better attended than ever, and in the evening there were nearly sixty persons present. When you remember that there were so many Roman Catholics on board, a band of men “on the watch,” and many who preferred sleep to service, besides several absentees through sickness, you will see that this was a most encouraging audience. I bless the Lord for inclining them to come, for making them so wonderfully attentive, and for so graciously aiding me in speaking. I spend much time in making sure of my sermons, for I preach without notes, one reason being that at night the lights are turned down on account of the heat. The sailors came in great force to the meeting, and plainly showed they felt the word, by hoping for opportunities to hear it in Melbourne. I ought, indeed, to be thankful for help and blessing on those days. Many a time, despite outward circumstances, I enjoyed preaching, and have been encouraged often. I feel sure the seed, though thus ‘cast on the waters,’ must be found again ‘after many days.’ The 29th July was about our roughest Sunday. With little wind to steady the ship, the rolling was very considerable and very inconvenient.
During service it was difficult for some to retain their seats and for me to maintain my post. It, was not easy either to sustain the thread of the discourse, for swinging trays, and an audience ‘moved’ in anything but a desirable way, are not conducive to retention of ideas, or expression of thought. That evening our largest congregation met, and, best of all, the Lord was there. Yet I cannot disguise the fact that I have felt loneliness today as regards the services. I sadly miss the encouraging looks of eager listeners at home, and there is a want of life and interest which saddens me, but I am not cast down about it, for the one great source of aid is with me, and after all ‘tis welcome trouble if it drive me close to him.’” Evidently God was teaching his youthful “hands to war and his fingers to fight,” in anticipation of future battles. Three months preaching to the same audience amid the rolling of the sea is an admirable preparation for addressing crowds on shore. The discouragements especially which the young preacher met with were specially calculated to train him for the far greater hardness which awaits the good soldier of Jesus Christ. On the 12th of August, after giving an account of interruptions to the service by the frequent entrance of a large dog, he thus writes, “I was grieved to see the audience completely disturbed by the intruder. Rats running across the saloon and persons passing the doors were further hindrances to worship, and altogether I certainly stood greatly in need of the help God so graciously gave.” The last Sunday on board ship he addressed the assembly from the appropriate text, “So he bringeth them to their desired haven,” and he says, “Oh, that some who listened would accept Jesus as the true pilot who brings us to the desired port of peace. Join with me in blessing God for making Sunday life on board this ship so different to what it often is, and pray that the word spoken under such circumstances may be blessed.”
His reception at Melbourne was most gratifying and enthusiastic. On the pier a crowd of friends awaited him, almost vying with each other as to who should claim the young stranger as their guest. “I seemed to keep on shaking hands,” he says, “and which of the many offered will be my home I cannot tell, but God seems to be arranging everything most graciously.”
After a brief stay of two or three days at Melbourne with Mr. Wade, of the Religious Tract Society, who has long been a friend of ours through correspondence, though unknown by face, he removed to Geelong. To Mr. Wade and other brethren at Melbourne we all at home render most sincere thanks. At Geelong Tom took up his quarters with our dear friend and former student, Mr. Bunning. Here he has met with kindness which stirs our hearts to their depths. His first sermon in Australia was delivered on Sunday evening in the chapel of his good friend, Mr. Bunning. He writes, “I did not intend preaching on my first Sunday ashore, but as I expect to be at Ballarat next Sabbath, I seized perhaps my only opportunity of helping our dear brother. We had a grand time, the beautiful chapel was thronged, and God was in the place. I do not know the number of persons whom I have seen who knew dear father, or have received benefit from his sermons. I am overwhelmed with their stories, and it gladdens them to tell them to me. By this means I believe I have the way open to many hearts in this colony. I have seen them weep when I spoke, I suppose because of the recollections that are raised. If God will guide me where I shall go, and tell me what I shall say, I hope to be able to do great good. God give the youthful mind prudence and discretion. Yesterday I received a telegram from Adelaide, ‘Please preach in Town Hall, or Wesleyan Chapel, Adelaide, October or November. Letter coming.’” After speaking at a large meeting on behalf of the Young Men’s Christian Association, the young traveler took a journey to Ballarat, and visited a gold mine, of which he gives a most interesting description, too long to insert in this brief paper. Here he preached for Mr. Clarke, another old student of the Pastors’ College, and we give in his own words the details of the service. “We had a grand time on Sunday night. Dawson-street Chapel is a fine building, seating, I suppose, about seven hundred persons. It was crammed long before service time, and when we commenced the large platform was crowded, and the pulpit besieged, while all the forms in the place were in use. We had such a sweet service. The Lord of hosts stood by my side, and helped me mightily. (2 Chronicles 15:2.) I cannot tell the number of persons who came to shake hands with me. During the week I have attended the noonday prayer-meeting and addressed a children’s class, in which Mr. Clarke takes especial interest, and bade farewell to the people at the Wednesday evening meeting. Mr. Clarke has been as kind and as generous as Mr. Bunning, and Mr. Allen the same, so that I have had the A B C of kindness.
From Ballarat our son journeyed to Stawell, a mining town about seventysix miles from Ballarat. Here again he was initiated into the mysteries of search for gold in the bowels of the earth, and his amazement seems great at the difficulties which everywhere attend the discovery of the precious metal. New friends, fresh hospitalities, and unvarying kindness await the young voyager. He is feted and made much of, and treated in quite a princely fashion. How we can ever thank friends for all this we know not, but two warm hearts feel this kindness very deeply.
Of the services in Stawell, he says, “Sunday up here was a very pleasant day. I took the morning service in the Baptist chapel, and in the evening the town hall was crammed; to all appearance it would have been the same had the space been doubled. We had a blessed meeting. I felt God’s help most certainly, and the hearing ear was assuredly listening.”
We must pass over a very glowing account which he gives of a day’s picnic in the Grampian Hills, some thirty miles from Stawell, to follow him back to Geelong, where, in the society of Mr. Bunning and his people, his twenty-first birthday was to be spent. Little could he have anticipated the loving welcome which awaited him, or the splendid gift which liberal hearts would devise and tender hands bestow on him that day. We will let him tell in his own words the story of that ever memorable epoch of his life. “I was glad that my twenty-first birthday should be celebrated at Geelong, but it never occurred to me that it would be done on so great and magnificent a scale. No sooner had I risen in the morning than I was presented with a beautiful pair of slippers from Mrs. Bunning. A new Union Jack waved in the breeze next door, and a bunch of violets hung over the fence for ‘the son of John Ploughman.’ A little daughter of one of the deacons came with good wishes and splendid flowers, and a Mr. V. had previously sent a folio of Geelong views. I was overwhelmed with kindness. About 10:30 Mr. W. took us a lovely drive to his house, where there was a feast indeed. A good many friends, most of whom I had seen before, gave me a hearty welcome.
At dinner the first toast was the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, and dear mother was very affectionately remembered by all. Then ‘our’ guest,’ who tried to reply. [Tom is a life abstainer, and therefore the toasts need shock no teetotaller, however scrupulous.] The walls were decorated with greenery and mottoes, ‘The Lord bless thee and keep thee,’ ‘Many happy returns of the day,’ etc. were appropriately interspersed. But the half has not been told you. I learned that there was to be a tea meeting in the evening, but they tried to keep particulars from me most mysteriously. At length it all came out. At the tea there were some two hundred persons, and such a tea I never saw before! The provisions both in quantity and quality proved it to be something out of the ordinary way, and charming flowers were numberless. At the after meeting, which was held in the new chapel, there were about 500 people. The affair had not been made public, except by a short announcement that got into the papers, nobody knows how. This paper was, of course, jealously guarded from my sight. Well, as the newspaper accounts will inform you, I was presented with a gold watch.
Are you not wonder-struck? After the presentation had been made, Mr. Banning most considerately said, ‘Now we will sing a hymn, to give our young friend an opportunity of getting himself together.’ I can assure you I was glad of the pause, and when I did get up I felt all anyhow. I thanked them as best I could, but remained astonished at their liberality. During the meeting I was greatly touched by the receipt of a telegram from the Collins Street Church, in Melbourne, congratulating me, and cordially approving of the meeting. Was not this kind? Are you not thankful I have found such good friends out here? How I wish you could have heard the prayers that were offered up by all of us, especially by dear Mr. Bunning and Mr. Clarke, at morning and evening worship. Oh that they may be answered for you and every member of the family. What a thing it is to have a father so admired and loved!”
All this may be trifling to outsiders, but to us it causes a sort of sinking of heart that so many people on the other side of the globe should take such loving interest in our son. He well deserves their confidence; but such earnest and superabundant kindness, rendered to him for our sake, is too much. We would gladly express our gratitude by writing privately to each one of the friends, but when they come to be numbered by the hundred we must return thanks in another form. These loving deeds have been done in public, and therefore we must render thanks in public too. Returning to our dear boy’s letter, we find him telling of a sorrowful parting from his dear friends at Geelong, and giving an account of some services in Melbourne itself. He says “Mr. Varley is drawing wonderful crowds, and great good is being done.” Of his own doings he thus writes: — “Some one told me last evening that I must give a ‘glowing account’ to you of Sunday evening last (Sept. 23), but this would scarcely be within my province, as I was so prominent in the affair. You will rejoice with me, however, in the fact that I had another glorious opportunity of preaching the gospel. Albert-street Baptist church (Mr. Bailhache’s — Thanks also to this good friend.) is comparatively new, and built in the amphitheater style. The seats rise tier above tier, and form a semicircle round the pulpit. I have told you how other places have been crowded, but nothing equaled this. It was with great difficulty that I gained the vestry, and the pulpit was harder still to reach. Unfortunately that evening I had a cold, and had not been speaking five minutes before my voice failed me, and it was a great exertion to continue. Those who had listened before could plainly tell I was not talking in my ordinary voice. This was a great drawback, and consequently I did not get on as well as usual. However, the people seemed pleased, and I trust were profited.” A week after this painful experience he writes again: “We have had another very happy Sunday. I preached at Collins-street Baptist church. I felt at home, and, with the message of freedom through the Son, it was glorious indeed to speak to so large and attentive an audience. Yesterday I received an invitation to Dunedin, New Zealand.
Churches here seem to be prospering, I wish I could find time to write an article for The Sword and Trowel.... God bless you all. My mind now thinks of every one. Dear home is before me. God bless the inmates, help father in his work, mother in hers, and all the rest in their different spheres.
I trust this news will make you glad.”
It has made us glad. Will our friends when they read this be so good as to pray for both our sons: Charles who is working hard in the College, and is preaching with all his might, and Thomas, who, though preaching and traveling, is not strong in health. We beg also to be mentioned at the throne of grace ourselves. C.H. & S.S.
A MESSAGE TO ALL MINISTERS WHO WERE FORMERLY STUDENTS OF THE PASTORS’COLLEGE.
MY DEAR FRIENDS.
— You know that “History repeats itself.” This trite saying has been so well worn lately, that I am almost ashamed to reiterate it, yet it just came handily into my head as my fingers grasped the pen.
And, being but a ploughman’s poor wife (not a poor ploughman’s wife, don’t mistake me), I am glad enough to catch at any stray thought which may help me in “saying my say,” or give me the faintest possible chance of clothing my “Message” in some of the “goodly words” which were Napthali’s promised blessing. We are assured that the old saying is as true as it is trite, and I am inclined to put it to the test, and see whether at my bidding the desired repetition will take place. The bright little bit of “history” which I am very wishful should “repeat itself,” occurred at the beginning of this present year, when at my request you all wrote to me, accepting, with great delight, my offer of six volumes of Our President’s sermons towards the completion of your sets. Ah! what a busy time it was!
And how happy! Your letters came streaming in, their loving words and hearty good wishes flooding my heart with joy, and almost making me forget my pain in the sacred pleasure of ministering to your necessities.
One hundred and ninety of you availed yourselves then of the proffered boon, and assurances of the most grateful and fervent nature have not been lacking that the Lord’s blessing manifestly accompanied the volumes.
Perchance there is a plentiful spice of selfishness in the longing which now possesses me for a renewal of this bright spot in my history. These last few months my work has seemed to lie away from “mine own people,” and I have sorely missed the tenderness of the mental atmosphere which always surrounds me when dealing with those loving hearts. Come then, dear friends, let us mutually comfort and refresh one another as heretofore.
Again I offer you six volumes of the sermons which the Lord has so greatly blessed, and which I know are most precious and useful to you in your work for Him. God will be glorified by the gift, if the study and prayerful perusal of these books should rekindle your zeal, and inflame your love, and make you more than ever determined to preach nothing but “Christ and him crucified” to poor perishing souls; and my hands will be strengthened, and my spirit braced for further work, by the encouragement and blessing which are sure to return to me from the over-flowing of glad and grateful hearts. It may not be out of place if I tell you here a choice little bit of “history” touching these same precious sermons. It came to me the other day from Ireland; and, after reading it, I think you will join me in praying that it may “repeat itself” indefinitely. My correspondent writes thus: “The town in which Mr.___ labors is densely and fiercely Popish, — the people wholly under the thumb of the priest, — his heel rather, for he does not scruple to use physical punishment to compel them to do his will!
A Presbyterian shopkeeper, a grocer, tries to do good by means of your husband’s sermons. Of course the Romanists dare not buy them. It would be as much as their salvation is worth to be known to have anything to do with such heretical publications. But when they come to buy a loaf, this good grocer wraps it in one of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons, and of course there is no harm taking it that way! He finds they read it, too, and when they come back for another loaf, he sees them looking anxiously, though furtively, to see whether they are going to get another sermon as well! So they are being circulated and read among these poor people, and who can tell how God may bless them!” Will you take note of this touching incident, and remember poor dark Ireland in your prayers for Christ’s sake?
Returning to the business of this letter, I should like, if God spare and enable me, to begin the New Year with this proposed sweet service for you: this month I have to prepare and write the “Report” of my work for the past twelvemonths, and nobody knows how very hard I shall have to “cudgel” my poor brains to get THAT out of them in anything like a comely fashion. Letters can be sent to me before January, if any one so please; but, pending the “cudgelling’ process just spoken of, they must be laid aside, and await my attention till the commencement of 1878, when, all being well, I shall with the greatest delight respond to all applications in the order in which they will have been received. You are aware, dear friends, of my entire dependence on the Lord for all I need in carrying on the work which he has given me to do. May I ask you to “speak for me to the King,” when it shall be well with you; that He would graciously “remember me for good,” “fulfill all my petitions,” and “give me the desire of my heart” in His service. Blessed be His name, the “history” of His love, and His grace, and His faithfulness, “repeats itself,” in one continual song of praise on the lips of those who have been “redeemed from among men by His blood.” With hearty Christian love, and delightful anticipations of future service, Very truly yours,SUSIESPURGEON.NOTICES OF BOOKS
The Bible for the World: a Lecture. By the Rev. A. N.SOMERVILLE, D.D.
Morgan and Scott. IT was a good thought to preserve this almost valedictory speech of Dr. Somerville, delivered on the eve of his departure to Australia. We have given elsewhere a lengthy extract, which will show the author’s poetic power. The doctor’s mission has been of the utmost service to the southern world. Kind Questions; or, “Speaking the Truth in Love.” By A. M.STALKER.
Second Edition. Elliot Stock. WE hope that this work will always be kept in print. We ought to have a dozen good manuals of baptism, but there is a sad lack of such books. Mr. Stalker’s is in every way admirable, and we hope it will go through a score editions. By Land and Ocean; or, the Journal and Letters of a Young Girl who went to South Australia with a Lady Friend, then alone to Victoria, New Zealand, Sydney, Singapore, China, Japan, and across the Continent of America Home. ByFANNY L.RAINS.
Sampson Low and Co. THIS book scarcely comes within our range, for our review department mainly deals with religious works, while this is true to its title in keeping to land and ocean: the writer, however, is “with us,” and therefore might without difficulty, have risen above her present theme. Miss Rains has gone round the world all alone, and has returned to interest her family with her adventures. She has shown marvelous fortitude and common sense, and has evidently gone about with her eyes open, and therefore her book will command readers. She has a flowing style, and a pen which we hope will be used again. The favorite expressions of young ladies occur pretty often, but then the writer is a young lady, and as kind and good, and withal as brave a young lady as we know. Those who want to know how the world looks to an “unprotected female,” who is not of an uncertain age, but very young and full of spirit, will find their desires fulfilled if they read “By Land and Ocean.” The Flowers and Fruits of Sacred Song and Evangelistic Hymns. Edited by VERNON J.CHARLESWORTH and J.MANTON SMITH.
Prefatory note by C. H.SPURGEON.
Passmore and Alabaster.
THE penny edition of this hymn-book will be very suitable for gospel services, and the shilling edition, with the music, will be welcomed in the family as well as in the choir. Both books are marvelously cheap. Intended for the use of our evangelists, Messrs. Clarke and Smith, they will, we trust, commend themselves to other leaders of congregational singing. Mr. Charlesworth, of our Orphanage, is both poet, composer, and singer, and therefore is eminently calculated to edit the work with Mr. Smith. If our readers buy the shilling edition with music they will find some beautiful new pieces and the best of the old ones. Christmas Carols. Music and Words arranged by W. H. Essex, Organist.
Religious Tract Society.
AMIRACULOUS pennyworth. We ought to have carols enough next Christmas. Here are more than a score, with the music in the tonic sol-fa, for a penny. How is it done ? The Sunday School Teacher’s Pocket Book and Diary for 1878. Sunday School Union. WE have for years found this a very handy pocket-book, and feel sure that to teachers it must be of great service. The Baptist Magazine fights its way gallantly under difficulties. The General Baptist is full of vigor. The Gospel Magazine contains good spiritual matter, but is at times rather prosy. The Baptist Messenger is a full pennyworth. The King’s Highway means well, but to our mind it ministers more to spiritual pride than to true holiness. The Appeal is a very useful halfpenny periodical for general distribution: at fifty for a shilling the back numbers make good readable tracts. The Presbyterian Monthly only began in November, price 6d. It represents orthodoxy, and has its armor on, and its sword drawn. We hope it will outlive the enemy it defies. Devon’s Theology. By a Ploughboy. Or, A Voice from the Downs of Freshwater. Printed for the Author.
THIS is a comment upon the catechism of the Council of Trent, principally with a view to show that Romanism, with all its pretensions to infallibility, has not always been the same. The ploughboy is quite capable of reasoning with Romanism if Romanism would listen to reason, but if it will not, he fighteth as one that beateth the air, and so wastes his own strength without producing any effect upon others.
FIRST and foremost, — Christmas day at the Orphanage. We have had very particular and special injunctions not to forget a little bit in the magazine, to beg our friends to provide the roast beef and plum pudding, oranges, and so on, so that the orphans may have a high day at Christmas.
Of course the boys see no reason why the festivities of the season should ever be forgot; and we confess that we see eye to eye with them in the grand doctrine, that as Christmas comes but once a year, our friends will be sure to remember it. Does not the president dine with all the matrons and the masters, and the boys, and when he comes there shall the cupboard be bare ? Now is the time to replenish the general funds of the Orphanage, and we hope it will be done so well, that when the president is away on the Continent he may not have one careful thought, or be like the old lady in the shoe, feeling that he has so many children he does not know what to do. Special gifts for Christmas should be accompanied by the information that they are so designed, as they go to a separate account.
NOV. 9. — Our young friends, the Collectors, had a happy evening at the Orphanage. It was quite a family gathering. We wish many more would take cards, to be brought in next March, when we hope to have another evening together. The boys of the Orphanage were all made very happy by good Mr. Lobb, who sent them each a copy of his “Uncle Tom.” Thank you, Mr. Lobb, for this and many other kind acts. What with this presentation, and the bell-ringers, and the boys’ mimic drum and fife band, and the fireworks, which some friends gave us, we were a very merry party of young folks; and we hope next March to be equally so, if we are alive and well. So let the boys and girls collect, and then bring in their moneys for the orphans.
NOV. 11. — This day the Tabernacle was open to all comers; but the night was as dreary, windy, and wet as can be well conceived. Notwithstanding the boisterous weather the house was filled by a congregation mostly of men, and the Lord was with the Word.
NOV. 14. — We had great delight in opening a new chapel at Streatham, which has been presented by the sons of our late friend, Mr. Caleb Higgs, as a memorial of their departed father. What better form can be given to a monument ? It is precisely such as our departed friend would have approved. Here is an example for others. The chapel is a remarkably beautiful specimen of the taste and common sense of our deacon, Mr. William Higgs, who carried out the work.
NOV. 19. — This day was spent as a day of prayer by the church at the Tabernacle. There were four gatherings. The first from 7 to 9 was for the early risers; the second from 12 to 2 enabled many to sanctify the dinner hour; the third from 4 to 6 gave an opportunity to persons of leisure; and then from 7 to 9 we welcomed the members of the other Baptist churches in our district, with whom we united in prayer and breaking of bread.
Owing to the extremely bad weather our meetings were smaller than usual, but in the evening, when the rain had ceased, the number assembled far exceeded any previous occasion. The Lord was with us, prayer was wrought in us by the Spirit was heard and will yet more fully be answered.
— Mr. Paige has accepted the pastorate at Truro, and Mr. Coller leaves us for Melbourne, owing to feeble health. We commend him to the churches there. More young men than usual are offering themselves to the College just now with the view of becoming missionaries. We have as many as we think it wise to take upon the funds, but this does not seem to keep the men back, for quite a number have come forward who offer to support themselves. The missionary spirit is increasing, and will, we trust, continue to seize upon gracious men and women. Last month we were in error in mentioning Miss Kemp as in membership at the Tabernacle, she belongs to the Baptist church at Rochdale. So many of that beloved family have been with us for a season that we reckoned her still as ours. May many young ladies be moved to follow her noble example, and devote themselves and their all to the service of the Lord.
— The secretary bewails the fact that we have an offer of part support for twenty new men, but the amounts needful to meet the offer are not forthcoming. Shalt God’s work be hindered for lack of the gold which is in the possession of his own children? Colporteurs can at once be appointed to some twenty places, on application to Mr. W. Corden Jones, the College, Temple-street, Newington. He will be happy to furnish terms. Men who volunteer for Colportage work should apply to the same person.
Our notes are short this month, for we have placed some matters in the magazine as little articles which else would have figured here. Perhaps we have occupied too much space in that way, but the last month of the year is a sort of clearing up time; we hope to do better in January.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by J. A. Spurgeon: — November 1st, twenty-one; November 15th, nine.