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    “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” — Nehemiah 4:17,18.


    AS we close the fourteenth volume of The Sword and the Trowel we also complete the first twenty-five years of our ministry in London. How swiftly time has fled, and how like a dream the retrospect appears! Yet it has been no dream, but a blessed and wonderful reality, for which may the name of the Lord be magnified.

    Twenty-five years ago we began this work for the Lord with a slender handful of friends, so slender, indeed, that it is easy enough to make a list of them. A few poor, godly people were the nucleus of the present great host. They were, however, as good as they were few. Having been for some years discouraged and disappointed, they were delivered from all unpractical squeamishness, and were ready to join heartily with their young leader in an effort for restoring their church and increasing the kingdom of Christ. Prayer was made unto God without ceasing for prosperity, and the prosperity came suddenly, like the bursting of a great rain cloud, but it did not pass away, or even abate. Year alter year there was still the sound of abundance of rain. The feeble folk at New Park-street soon felt strong enough to attempt an aggressive work by holding services at Exeter Hall, and, when this turned out to be more than a success, future progress was forced upon them rather than selected by them. From Exeter Hall to the Surrey Gardens, and from the Surrey Gardens to the Metropolitan Tabernacle has been an advance in which there has been the freest action of simple faith and honest common sense, and yet those who have been behind the scenes know that there has really been no choice at all, but the Lord has shut his servants up to one way and one method, and all they have had to do has been to go forward in his strength.

    College, Orphanage, Colportage Association, Society of Evangelists, might any one of them be regarded as works of Christian inventiveness, but it would be by far the smaller half of the truth to view them from that point of view. These enterprises have succeeded each other by a natural rule and order of Providence as inevitably as the links of a chain follow each other.

    We have heard kind friends speak of “genius for organization” and “great practical common sense” as abiding in the leader of these various works for the Lord; but, indeed, it would be far nearer the truth to say that he followed with implicit, and almost blind, confidence what he took to be the intimations of the divine will, and hitherto these intimations have proved to be what he thought them. At the close of twenty-five years we see a vast machinery in vigorous operation, in. better working condition than ever it was; and, as to means and funds, perfectly equipped, although it has no other resources than “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Gratitude bows her head, and sings her own song to her Well-beloved, to whom it belongs. What are we to see in the years which remain to us? It is not ours to supply an answer. Few and feeble the years may be which shall complete our pilgrimage here below.

    They may be but as seven lean kine, which shall eat up the fat kine that have gone before. Let the reader pray that such a wretched supposition may not be realized. Otherwise may we read the lines of destiny. According to the riches of his mercy our Lord will fulfill the promise, “Thou shalt see greater things than these”: and if spared for another quarter of a century each branch of the work will be stronger, the whole enterprise far more widely developed, and many new ends and objects hitherto unattempted will have been carried out to the glory of God.

    At any rate, with all our heart we thank the thousands of friends who have helped us during these twenty-five years. Our chief gratitude is due to the Most High; to him be it paid: but it would by no means be pleasing in his sight that we should be ungrateful to those of his friends and servants who have been our fellow-helpers. What could we have done alone? We are the debtor of all. There have been the regular contributors with their small amounts coming in constantly; these have been sweet as daily bread. There have been the occasional donors whose gifts have been special thankofferings of mercies received; these have been pleasant dainties. And there have been the brethren, true stewards of the Lord, who every year in dividing out their substance have made an item of each branch of our work, and have sent us large sums, so that the cause of God might not lack; these have been royal providers. Upon helpers of all sorts may the dew of the Lord descend; may they have their full share of the comfort which cometh of doing good. We should be willing, personally, to surrender our own portion of the pleasure if we could send it on to some heavy-hearted subscriber who needs good cheer at this moment.

    Brother, if you have helped by the College to teach many a young Apollos the way of God more perfectly; or if in the Orphanage you have provided for the widow and the fatherless; or if by the Book Fund you have helped the impoverished servant of God; or by the Colportage have joined in sending pure literature into the dark spots of your own country; or by the Society of Evangelists have enabled the earnest proclaimer of the gospel with his silver trumpet to sound out the word of life — if you have helped in any one or all of these works, let us rejoice together; let us give a grip of hearty fellowship, and with a song in our mouth and a prayer on our tongue let us go on our way till the end shall be.



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