THE VOICES OF OUR DAYS A MEDITATION FOR THE NEW YEAR. BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.” — Job 32:7.
IN the discussion between Job and his three friends Elihu was present, but though by far the wisest man he remained quiet. Sometimes a still tongue proves a wise head. In our text he gives his reason for refraining from speech. He felt inclined to deliver his mind, but being the younger man he modestly said “These gray-headed men ought to know better thanI. Perhaps if I speak I shall display my ignorance, and they will say, ‘Be silent, boy, and let your fathers teach you.’“ Therefore he said to himself, “Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.”
Elihu had, however, been disappointed. His words plainly say that he had heard but little wisdom from the three ancients, and he added, “Great men are not always wise, neither do the aged understand judgment.” He was not the only man who has been disappointed when looking to his seniors for wisdom, for it is a sorrowful truth that the lapse of years will not make us wiser apart from the grace of God. Though width the teaching of the Holy Spirit every year’s experience will make the Christian riper, yet without that teaching it is possible that each year may make a man, not more ripe, but more rotten. Among all sinners the worst are those who have been longest at the trade; and among saints he is not always the best who has lived long enough to grow cold. We have known some exhibit ripeness of experience in their very youth through divine teaching, and by growing on the sunny side of the wall of fellowship; while others who have been far longer on the tree are still sour, because they hang out of the blessed sunlight of the divine presence, in the cool shade of worldliness.
You cannot measure a man’s wisdom by the baldness of his head, or the grayness of his hair; and yet if the Spirit of God were with us to sanctify each day’s experience it ought to be so. “Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.”
This. then, is our new year’s theme — the teaching of our years as they pass over our heads. What are we learning from them?
Our first remark shall be that DAYS HAVE AVOICE.
Elihu said, “Days should speak.” Every day, as a day, has its own lesson. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” The sun never breaks upon the earth without light of a superior order for those who have intelligence, and especially for those who have the Holy Spirit. For instance, the mere fact of our beginning another day teaches us to adore the mercy which kept us alive when the image of death was on our faces during the night, An extraordinary mercy indeed: for sleep is near akin to death, and waking is a rehearsal of the resurrection. When the day begins it tells us that God has already provided us with mercies, for there are our garments ready to put on, and there too is the morning meal. Each day in its freshness seems to hint that the Lord would have us attempt somewhat new for him, or to push forward with that which we have already commenced, or to draw nearer to him than we have ever been before. The Lord calls us to learn more of him, to become more like him, to drink more fully into his love, and to show forth that love more clearly. Every hour of the day teaches us its own lesson, and till the shadows fall the voices speak to us if we have ears to hear. Night, too, has its teaching. Does it not bid us pray the Lord to draw a curtain over the day and hide the sin of it, even as he draws the curtain across the sky, and makes it more easy for us to fall asleep? Do we not delight, as we go to our beds, to ask to be unclothed of all our sins, even as we are stripped of our garments, and should we not pray to be prepared to fall asleep, and lie in our last bedchamber, till the everlasting morning breaks upon us and we put on our glory robes? Did we but exercise sanctified thought, each day would bring its precious dower of wisdom, and make us better acquainted with the Lord.
What a message do our Sabbath-days bring to us! To those who toil all the week long the light of the Lord’s-day seems fairer and fresher than that of any other day. A person at Newcastle who had a house to let took an applicant for it to the top of his house, spoke of the distant prospect, and added, “We can see Durham cathedral on a Sunday.” “On Sunday,” said the listener, “and pray why not on a Monday?” “Why,” said he, “because on the week-days great furnaces and pits are pouring forth their smoke, and we cannot see so far; indeed, we can scarcely see at all; but when the fires are out our view is wide.” Is not this a true symbol of our Sabbathdays when we are in the Spirit? The smoke of the world no more beclouds the heavens, and we see almost up to the golden gates. Such days do speak, indeed, and tell us of the rest which remaineth. They sing in our ears with soft and gentle voice, and tell us that we shall not always need to bow like galley slaves, tugging at the our of this world’s work, but may even now look up to the place where our home awaits us, and the weary are at rest. These peaceful Lord’s-days call us away to the top of Shenir and Hermon, whence we may view the land of our inheritance. They cry to us, “Come up higher.” They beckon us to commune with “him whom, having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” All days speak, but Sabbath-days speak best, — they are orators for God! These resurrection days, these days of the Son of man, these have angel voices. he that hath ears to hear let him hear.
While each day speaks, some days have peculiar voices. Days of joy speak, and bid us bless the Lord and magnify his name. Days of sorrow speak and cry, “Depart ye, depart ye, this is not your rest, for it is polluted.” Days of communion with God speak, saying, “Abide with me”; and days of lost communion cry in warning, “Are the consolations of God small with thee?
Is there any secret thing with thee?” Days of health say, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”; and days of sickness say, “In the day of adversity consider.” Each day, whether bright or dim, clear or cloudy, festive or desolate, has its own tone and modulation, and speaks its message. Some of these days are great preachers, and from them we have learned more than in months before. Solemn days of decision when sins have been abandoned, joyous days of manifestation when Christ has been precious., triumphant days of victory in which God has been exalted — these speak indeed, and like prophets claim a hearing in the name of the Lord. Whether common or special, each day is to us a new page of sacred history, a new window into the truth, another halting place in the march to the celestial city.
Here let us add that all our days have had a voice to us. There were youthful days, and we thought they said, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and we listened all too eagerly; yet we misunderstood those voices.
Had we hearkened to the end of their sermon we should have heard them say, “But know that for all this God will bring thee into judgment.” To some of us our youthful days were full of blessed teaching, for they called us to seek him early in whom we have rejoiced and found our all in all.
Days of middle life have a voice, which we hear as we buckle on our harness for stern fight, and find but little space for rest, and none for selfcongratulation.
What do these days say to us but “Work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work.” Those gray hairs scattered upon our brows warn us that our sun will not remain at noon for long. I hear a voice which cries to me, “Quick! quick! quick! The night cometh.” As to those later days, to which our text more pointedly alludes, they say to you, dear brothers and sisters, who have reached them, “Make sure work for eternity. Hold time loosely. Lay hold on eternal life.” The declining strength, the teeth long gone, the limbs trembling, the eyes needing the optic glass to aid them, the hair snowy with many winters — all these are messages of which the purport is, “Be ye also ready, for the Bridegroom cometh.” Knowing our frailty, each day sounds in my ear the trumpet call, “Boot and saddle. Up and away. Linger no longer. Press on to the battle.”
One of the loveliest sights in the world is an aged believer waiting for the summons to depart. There is a lovely freshness in the green blade; the bloom upon the ripening corn is also fair to look upon, but best of all we delight in the golden ears drooping down from very weight of ripeness, expectant of the sickle and the harvest home. We have some among us who are so lovely in their lives and heavenly in their conversation that they seem like shining ones, who have lingered here a little late; they ought to be in heaven, but in mercy to us they tarry here to let us see what the glorified are like. I have heard of stray sunbeams, and these are such. It is well when our old age is such a voice from heaven, but with the unconverted man or woman how different are all things! To them we must tenderly but faithfully give warning. “You must soon die. The young may die, but you must: you know you must. Be wise, therefore, and prepare to meet your God.” The eleventh hour with iron tongue calls to you, hear it, or you will have to hear it sound your condemnation for ever.
Our days all have a voice, and those which mark the different stages of our life and the flight of time have voices which demand special attention.
Birthdays, as often as they come, have a chiding voice, if we are lingering and loitering; and they have also a voice appealing to us for gratitude for years of mercy past. They have a voice calling to us for more strenuous exertions, and bidding us draw nearer to God than before. There is always a buoyancy and gladness about the first days of the year, they speak of thankfulness, and call us to devote ourselves anew to God, and seek new grace to make the coming year more holy than the past. The dying hours of the last day of the year are well kept as a watch, for by their fewness we see their preciousness. There are also last days to a lift; and it will depend upon what that life is whether they will be rang out with joyous peals or knelled with despair. Let days speak, then, for they have much to say to us.
The next thing in our text is, that INCREASING YEARS SHOULD INCREASE OUR WISDOM — “multitude of years should teach wisdom.” A man ought not to be at this moment; as foolish as he was twelve months ago. He should be at least a little wiser. Christian men ought to learn several things by the lapse of years.
We ought to learn to trust less to ourselves. Self-confidence is one of the commonest faults of the young: they judge themselves to be better than their fathers, and capable of great things. Untried strength always appears to be greater than it is. For a man to trust himself in the beginning of his Christian career is very unwise, for Scripture warns him against it; but for him to trust himself after he has been twenty or thirty years a Christian is surely insanity itself — a sin against commonsense. If we have spent only a few years in the Christian life, we ought to have learned, from slips, and follies, and failures, and ignorances, and mistakes, that we are less than nothing. The college of experience has done nothing by way of instructing us if it has not taught us that we are weakness itself. To rest upon yourself, or upon any particular virtue which you possess, or upon any resolution which you have formed, is vanity itself. Brother, has that spider’s thread already failed you so many times, and do you still call it a cable? Has reed after reed broken beneath you, and do you still rest on them as though they were bars of iron? Are you an aged Christian, and yet self confident?
Surely this cannot be.
Age should teach every man to place less and less confidence in his fellow men . I do not mean that we are to lose that legitimate confidence which we should place in our fellow Christians, and in the moral integrity of those we have tried and proved, but I refer to that carnal confidence which makes flesh its arm: this should be cured by age. When we begin the Christian life we are like feeble plants needing a support. We cling to our minister, and everything he says is gospel; or we follow some superior person, and place our admiring confidence in him. Alas! it often happens that helpers fail, and unless we have in the meantime learned to do without them the consequences may be very serious. In the course of time I think most Christians had their idols among men broken before their eyes. They at one time said, “If such a man were to fall, I should think that there was no truth in Christianity;” but they have learned better now. God will not have us make idols of his saints or ministers, and years prove to us that those are cursed who trust in man; but he is blessed that trusteth in the Lord.
We ought to learn, again, that there is no depending upon appearances.
Have you not found out, as far as you have now gone, that the direst calamity that ever overtook you was our greatest mercy? And have you not found that what you thought would have been a choice blessing would really have been a terrible danger to you if it had been bestowed? You have judged the Lord by the outward manifestation of his providence according to your folly; have you not now learned to believe in his tried fidelity, and to trust him at all times, let him do what he may? In this, age should instruct us. We ought not to be afraid because the day is cloudy, but remember that, if there were no clouds there would be no rain, and it no rain, no harvests. Surely it is time that we had done judging each inch of time by itself, and began to see things upon a broader scale. We should neither be too much depressed nor too exultant, because of our immediate present condition, if we knew that things are not what they seem.
Years also should teach us greater reliance upon the divine faithfulness. It ought every day to be easier for a Christian to trust in God. The young believer is like a young swimmer who, for the first time, feels his feet off the bottom, and scarcely knows what will become of him; but the old swimmer feels like a fish in its native element, and he is not afraid of drowning. The little waves which, in his boyhood, he thought would swamp him, he takes no notice of whatever, and even if huge billows roll he mounts them like a sea bird. Oh, it is a grand thing to be established in the faith, grounded and settled, so as to be able to say, “ Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed.’ So it ought to be with us. “Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.”
And truly, dear friends, we ought to attain a deeper insight into the things of God , as every year rolls over our heads. The conversation of mature Christians is always very delightful. Young Christians sparkle most, at old Christians are diamonds of the first water. You shall get good fruit from a young and earnest Christian, but it lacks the mellowness and full flavor of the ripe believer. I love to talk with aged Christians, even when they are uneducated people. Many holy women may be met with among the poor of the church who know a world of sound divinity; and if you will but listen to them you will be surprised. They do not deal in theories; they tell you matters of fact. They do not explain points like the school men, but they illustrate by their experience what else seemed dark. They have been instructed by living near to God, by feeding upon truth, by lying in Jesus’ bosom like the poor man’s ewe lamb, which did eat of his bread and drink of his cup: this makes men wise unto salvation, and, in such cases, years sanctified by grace teach them wisdom.
I shall have to speak long if I have to show in what respects Christians ought to grow wiser. They ought to grow wiser with regard to themselves — to be more watchful against their besetting sins, more intent in that particular department of service for which they find themselves most qualified. They ought to be wiser towards Satan, more aware of his devices, and of the times when he is likely to assail them. They ought to learn how to work better with others; to manage more easily people with queer tempers; to get on better with those who are under them, or with them, or above them. They should be learning how to deal with trembling sinners, with hard hearts, and with tender consciences; with backsliders, with mourners, and the like. In fact, in all things every year we ought to be more fully equipped; and, under the blessing of God’s Spirit, years should teach us wisdom.
Brethren, we ought to learn, if we remember who it is that has been teaching us, if we are Christians. It is the Holy Ghost himself. If your boy goes to a school two or three years, and does not make progress, you do not feel satisfied with the master. Now, you cannot, in this case, blame the teacher. Let the pupil take much blame to himself then. “Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom,” since the Holy Ghost dwells in us who are converted to God. Let us remember how sweetly he has taught us by means of the choicest mercies. They used to teach their children the alphabet in the olden times by giving them A B C on pieces of gingerbread, and when the boy knew his letter he ate the gingerbread for a reward. That is very like the way in which we have been taught doctrine: it has been sweet to us, and we have learnt it by feasting upon it. I know it has been so with me. The mercy of God has been a divine instructor to my soul. “Thy gentleness,” says one of old, “has made me great.” With such sweet teaching, kind teaching, loving teaching, forbearing teaching, we ought to have learned something in all these years.
And then, sometimes, how sharply the Holy Ghost has taught us. I have heard say that boys do not learn so well now, because the rod is so little used. I should not wonder; but in God’s school the rod never has been put aside. Some of us do not go long without a stroke or two; and if you have been very much tried and troubled, and yet have not learned, my dear brother, my dear sister, what can be done with you? What with all this smarting, with all this sickness, with all these losses and crosses, and yet no profiting? O vine, with all this pruning, are there so few clusters? O land, with all this ploughing and harrowing, is there so slender a harvest? Let us mourn before God that it should be so. And let us remember again how much teaching we have had front the ministry, under the blessing of God’s Holy Spirit. I should not wonder if some Christians do not profit, because their Sabbaths are very dreadful days to them. All the week they are hard at work, and on Sunday there is nothing to feed upon in what they hear, and they come home from public worship dissatisfied and troubled. Now, if your souls have been fed, — if you have often said, “ Surely, God was in this place, and I knew it,” and you have gone home with your souls fed with the finest of the wheat, should there not be some wisdom to show for it? Consider the position which some of you occupy as teachers of others, as heads of families and instructors If you do not learn, how are you to teach? And if there is no learning with you, you cannot wonder if your scholars make no progress under your instructions. With God as our teacher, if we do not learn we cannot blame others if they do not learn from us who are but men and women. May God grant that instead of losing time in frivolities, or “killing time” as the world calls it, we may seek to increase in the knowledge of God and in likeness to Jesus, so that every day we may be better heirs of heaven.
My last word shall be a short one, and it is this: according to my text, THOSE WHO HAVE WISDOM SHOULD COMMUNICATE IT TO OTHERS. “I said, days should speak” — not be silent, “and multitude of years should teach wisdom;” that is to say, those who have days and multitude of years should try to teach the younger folks what they know. Now, it is a fault with some of our brethren that they do not teach us young people enough.
They are too quiet. I should not like them to die and go to heaven without having told us all they know: and yet when a venerable saint is buried who has been very reticent in speech, and has never used his pen, what a mint of teaching is buried with him! It always seems to me to be a pity that anything should be lost through the hand of death; it should rather be a gain. There are some of us who have. told people all we know, and we are always repeating it, so that if we die no secrets will sink into oblivion; but there are others of the opposite sort, a great deal goes into them, and there must be a. deal of wisdom in them, for none ever comes out. Doubtless many believers have been walking with God and enjoying the means of grace for so long a time that they are quite able to teach others, but they are of small service to us because they are so retiring. I never like to see a Christian like an old-fashioned money-box, into which you put the money, but from which you cannot get it out again unless you break the box. It ought not to be so. Does not our Savior tell us that the well of water in us is to become rivers of water streaming out from us? As we receive we should give. The more we learn the more we should teach; and if God teaches us it is because he expects us to instruct others.
Now, brethren, I presume to speak to those who are older than I am. Try and teach somebody, dear brethren; ask yourselves how did you learn what you know? You were taught. Return the blessing by teaching somebody else. You were taught. Did your mother teach you? Are you a mother yourself? Then teach your own children. Did you learn from your father?
Then, father, be not ungenerous to your family. Hand on the inheritance: what your father gave you, pass on to your sons, that they may teach the same to their heirs. Or did you learn from a Sunday-school teacher? Be a Sunday-school teacher yourself, and teach the rising generation. Remember that according as you have ability you are a debtor to the church of God, by whose means you received the truth, and to the church of God pay back, in the shape of instrumentality, the teaching which you have received by teaching those around you.
Note, next, that you are bound to do it, for without this the truth cannot be propagated in the land. There is not a tree that stands at this moment leafless and bare in the winter’s blast but what has within itself preparation for casting its seed into the earth next year. Take off a bud, and you will find concealed within it the flower and everything preparatory for the creation of another tree like itself when the fullness of time shall come. The violet and the foxglove in the bank are waiting for the time to cast seed abroad, that the species may be continued on the face of the earth, each after its kind. In like fashion should each believer, by making known the truth of God, secure a succession of the faithful among men. Are those of ripe years among us attending to this as they should?
Again, remember that the devil is always teaching, and his servants are always busy. When the sons of Belial invent some new blasphemy their lips ache to tell it. Let but a loose song be sung in any music hall in London, and before many hours it will have a thousand voices occupied with it. The devil has his missionaries ready to teach iniquity wherever they go, and they neither lack for zeal nor courage. And shall Satan have such busy servants and Christ’s cause languish for want of agents? God forbid! If you have learned a great truth, go and tell it. If you have found out something that is fresh to you, concerning the Lord and his love, do not wait till the morning light, but tell it at once. If you have found the Savior, tell about him; tell about him; tell about him with all your might whenever you have opportunity, and spread abroad the gladsome news of his salvation.
Remember that to tell to others what you have known is often the very best way of deepening and increasing your own knowledge. Holy occupation is one of the most important things for our spiritual health. If you see a church sinking low the last persons to leave that church are the Sundayschool teachers, and others, who are practically occupied with serving God; and the first to go are those fluffy professors who are neither use nor ornament, but cling to a church like dust to your coat. Very largely will you find that, in proportion as you serve Christ, Christ will serve you; therefore seek you to feed his lambs, and he will feed you.
At the beginning of this year I would urge each one of you to say, “Cannot I make next year better than this? Can I not pray more, believe more, love more, work more, give more, and be more like Christ?” Was last year an improvement upon 1876? Whether it was so or not, let 1878 be an advance upon 1877. It ought to be, for it is a year which lieth somewhat nearer heaven than its predecessors. If you have lived up till now without a Savior, end that dangerous state. Listen to the gospel message — “Believe and live.” Ere New Year’s Day is over look unto Jesus Christ, and be saved. He will have glory and then shalt have happiness, and thus shall you begin aright another year of our Lord, and his Holy Spirit will make it to you a year of grace.
CHRIST ALL AND IN ALL.
A DISCUSSION ON THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST. BY TWO BROTHERS. ELLIOTSTOCK.
AVERY excellentlittle book to give to young people of Socinian tendencies. The arguments used appear to be fair and conclusive, though, like the most of such dialogues, the discussion is necessarily all on one side, and one wanders what the Unitarian could or would have said if he had been well drilled in Socinian reasoning. Whatever he might have said would not have destroyed the force of the statements on the right side, and therefore the book is quite as well as it is. THE TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS; OR, THE CONFLICT AND VICTORY OF THE SON OF MAN . BY E.REEVES PALMER, M.A. JOHN SNOW ANDCO. MR.PALMER has handled his subject as a devout and thoughtful man would do, and the result is an able treatise. We do not, however, care for speculations as to whether the human soul of Christ was in his earlier days conscious of its union with his Deity. It is a question which was originally started by a certain foolish and presumptuous unbelief, which went the length of asserting that our Lord was not divine till his baptism; and to meet this it is proposed to concede that he may not as man have known his own Deity. Faith would never have raised the point, and is instinctively shocked at the concession proposed. It is to deprive the sacred manhood of all reason, and almost of consciousness, to conceive that it was not aware of its union in one person with the Divine Word. We wish good men would not rush in where angels fear to tread. The high mystery of our Lord’s nature is not a fit subject even for devout speculation, for the line of reverence is so soon overpast. We have indicated a fly in the pot of ointment, but there is sweet ointment left after all.
INSPIRED ETHICS: BEING A REVISED TRANSLATION AND TOPICAL ARRANGEMENT OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. BY
JOHN STOCK, LL.D. ELLIOTSTOCK.
IN this fashion the Proverbs may be more handy for reference, but we scarcely think that there will be much demand for the work. The arrangement is elaborate, and must have involved much careful thought, but we like the Proverbs best as they are.
NOTES AT the time for making up the magazine Mr. Spurgeon is completely laid aside and in a condition of pain which prevents his doing anything: hence the notes are few and rough.
EVANGELISTS. We have an excellent report from our friend Mr. Anderson of Reading: — “Our brethren Messrs. Clarke and Smith have been in Reading and the surrounding neighborhood for three weeks. You will doubtless be pleased to have some account of their meetings. Their work among us began with a Christian workers meeting which, though necessarily smaller than the others, formed a fitting introduction to them.
The time was mainly occupied in stirring up believers to seek conversions, counseling them how to deal with the anxious and in making appeal to the King of kings for blessing. We could not help hoping that the connection between the upper room and the day of Pentecost might among us receive some parallel. The few first meetings were less numerously attended than we had anticipated. This was fully accounted for by the stormy state of the weather and the biscuit factory, which gives employment to several thousands, working overtime. Even this however worked us good, as it led to greater fervor of prayer and effort. Towards the close of the first week much power was felt in the meetings and several professed having found the Savior. On Monday night you, dear sir, visited and preached to us.
Long before the time advertised for the opening of the doors crowds from the neighboring towns and villages, as well as from Reading, gathered in the street, and afterwards, as a policeman at the gates remarked, ‘More people went away than got in.’ Several cases of quickening among Christians and conversions have come to our knowledge as the result of the sermon then preached on ‘the angels hastened Lot.’ On Thursday evening about thirty of the Stockwell Orphanage boys sang at the service, and Mr. Charlesworth, in conjunction with the evangelists, addressed the crowded congregation. Tears of joy gathered in the eyes of many as they looked upon the happy home-like appearance of the boys and thought of what they might and indeed would have been but for the Orphanage. The meetings of our brethren in Reading closed on Sunday night with a crowd which overflowed the chapel, filled the large schoolroom, and even then many had to go away. At the close of the service the chapel remained full to the prayer-meeting, and afterwards many inquirers came into the vestries, several of whom profess there to have closed with Christ. Two crowded children’s services and two Saturday night men’s meetings were addressed by Mr. Smith in a bright, racy, gracious manner, which could not fail to effect great good, while the earnest, solemn and heart-searching appeals made and truth spoken by Mr. Clarke night after night will we feel sure yield yet a still larger harvest than even now appears. Services were also held with similar success in Wokingham, Henley and Pangbourne.
Again thanking you for so generously helping us, and praying for the prosperity of your many works. I am, yours, etc., W.ANDERSON.”
The following brethren have gone forth from the College: Mr. W. Hobbs to Norwood New Town, Mr. McNab to Great Broughton, Cumberland. Mr. Dean also leaves us to study medicine at Glasgow, for medical mission work.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — Nov. 26th, sixteen; 29th, twenty; 30th, one.
MRS. SPURGEON’S BOOK FUND OUR readers have all along taken such a hearty interest in Mrs. Spurgeon’s endeavor to replenish the libraries of poor ministers, that we feel it to be their due that they should read a portion of her new Report, which will be sent to all subscribers, so that they may see the money duly acknowledged, the balance-sheet properly audited, and the number of books distributed set forth in detail. Twelve hundred and eighty odd pounds, all given without personal solicitation, make up the account for the year, and with this amount (less the balance) six thousand three hundred and forty-eight volumes have been purchased and sent carriage paid to pastors’ libraries.
Almost all the Christian denominations, including the Church of England, have shared in the division. Our own students have very properly led the way, but Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists have had no stinted share; in fact, all needy ministers who have applied have received a grant; and we trust that for many a day there may be no need to deny any hungry applicant a portion of mental meat. Personally we thank all the donors for their kindness, and having said this, we leave the extracts from the Report to speak for themselves. — C. H.S.THE BOOK FUND: ITS OBJECT.
The Book Fund aims at finishing the bare bookshelves of poor pastors of every Christian denomination with standard works of divinity by various authors; books full of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, the study of which shall enrich their minds, comfort their hearts, quicken their spiritual energy, thereby enable them to preach with greater power and earnestness “all the words of this life.” How deeply needed this service of love has long been, what an urgent and painful necessity it has become, is fully proved by the intense eagerness shown on every hand to obtain the proffered boon.
The writer could point to many a faithful servant of the Lord, who, toiling on in secret poverty for years, has not even seen a new book (except in the shop windows), till a grant from the Book Fund tilted his heart with joy and his lips with thanksgiving. “These books have brightened my hope, and quickened my faith,” writes one such pastor, “I will not trouble you with my difficulties for want of a commentary to stimulate and guide my poor thought, they are too sad to tell, but they have helped me to appreciate your gifts.” Those whose resources enable them to enjoy without stint the luxury of a new book, can scarcely realize the longing and craving which gnaws at the heart of a poor minister when he sees beyond his reach — the help and refreshment he so sorely needs. His brain is weary with producing unaided thoughts; his mental powers are flagging for want of stimulus and encouragement; his spirit is burdened with the pressure of cares, which stern poverty brings upon him; and yet, though a few sterling, solid books would be a specific for much of this misery, the purchase of such blessed potions is as impossible to him as would be the acquisition of the “Elixir of Life” itself! Many a one has told me that the books sent seemed to “put new life” into him, and it is not difficult to read in those three words a sad and sorrowful story of mental faintness and famine. “Read good suggestive books,” says the President of the Pastors’ College in his “Lectures to my Students,” “and get your minds aroused by them. If men wish to get water out of a pump which has not been. lately used, they first pour water down, and then the pump works. Reach down one of the Puritans and thoroughly study the work, and speedily you will find yourself like a bird on the wing, mentally active and full of motion.” But what if there is no water at hand to coax the up-springing of the living stream? or rather, what if the bookshelves are bare, and no Puritans can be reached down? This is a question which the Book Fund seeks to answer in the only satisfactory manner, by placing as a free gift in the hands of poor pastors that nourishment for their brains which is as absolutely necessary to mental vigor as food for their bodies is essential to physical existence. “Ten thousand, thanks,” said a dear brother, writing lately, “for sending the books when you did. Their coming brought deliverance and salvation to my mind. I was in an agony of spirit — at my wits’ end for a text. I opened one and found, ‘ The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock.’ This was just what I wanted; it took hold of me, and the Lord helped me to take hold of it.” “I have very little to spend in books,” says another. “My salary is only £60 per annum; so that when a new book comes, it is like bread to the hungry. I do not say this to make you think I am a martyr — if so, I am a very happy one, for I have chosen willingly Christ’s service, and my very wants are a means of grace to me.” Again, another pastor writes, “I cannot tell you how much the receipt of these useful and suggestive volumes cheered me. The sight of a refreshing spring never more gladdened a weary traveler.”
No one who knows anything of the position and means of our country pastors can doubt that the “object” of this Fund meets, and, as far as it is able, alleviates a sadly overlooked evil. After more than two years’ daily correspondence width ministers all over the land, the writer feels that she speaks with sad and serious certainty on the matter, and she is grieved to know that everywhere the want is felt, and the same cry is heard. “Oh for some books to help me in my pulpit preparation,” says one, “I have to preach before the same people three, perhaps four times a week, and though the Lord has promised that my ‘branch shall not wither,’ it sometimes gets very dry.” “I know we should depend upon the Spirits aid;” says another — “and so I do, but if I could read some of the burning thoughts which are recorded by God’s earthly seraphs, my lips, too, might glow with holy rapture, and give forth ‘goodly words.’ I never dare now to think of a new book,” writes a third, “two or three times I have begun to save a little money towards the purchase of a long-coveted work, but every time it has gone for something else; Johnny and little Harry and Walter must have boots, or mother is ill, or the girls’ frocks are getting shabby, and so the precious volumes are still unattainable.” And yet a fourth most touchingly says: “When I witness the self-denial, and hard unremitting labor to which my wife so cheerfully submits herself to keep our household moving comfortably in the sphere God has given, I cannot, with any pleasure add to her difficulty by purchasing the books I often covet, though this doubtless hinders the freshness and variety of my ministry.”
Dear Christian friends, these are no fancy pictures which I am painting, these are no silly tales of fiction, told for the purpose of exciting emotions as worthless as they are weak, but I write of living, suffering realities of flesh and blood, our brethren in Christ, and men moreover who claim and bear the title of the “King’s ambassadors,” and I ask, “Ought they to be thus treated?” I want you to ponder for a moment the sad fact that throughout the length and breadth of this dear England of ours there are hundreds of Christ’s ministers so poor that they can scarcely find proper food and clothing for themselves, their wives and their little ones, out of the miserable pittance which is called their “salary!” Books, which ought to be “common things” with them, littering their rooms in “most admired disorder,” crowding each nook and corner with mute but matchless companionship — are, through their poverty, unattainable luxuries, vainly coveted blessings, the very thought of which must be laid aside, lest the longing should lead to repining, and the desire deepen into distress. Such things ought not to be, but unhappily they are , and till the churches of Christ shall awaken to a sense of their responsibility in this matter, and their moral obligation to provide their ministers with mental food, I will rejoice that my Book Fund does at least lighten a little the pressure of the famine. I read the other day a description of the late Bishop Thirlwall’s library at St. David’s, and among other things the writer says: “It was a little room very plainly furnished with mahogany and horsehair, but it was literally covered with books. They were everywhere — on the chairs, on the window-sills, on the mantel-piece, on the coal-scuttle, by the fireplace, even inside the fender! Still he knew where to find any book that he wanted.” I am afraid I thought with almost jealous pain of the ludicrous contrast which would be presented, could the “bare bookshelf” of a poor Baptist pastor’s parlor be brought for a moment into comparison with any bishop’s overflowing library! Perhaps the pain at my heart was not harmful, for it brought the prayer to my lips, “Oh Lord, give me greater strength and larger means to continue and extend this urgent work which thou hast given me to do.” Happy will the day be both for pastor and people, when “books for the minister” shall be as acknowledged necessaries as his daily bread, and when both the study and the dinner-table shall be more liberally provided for.
“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.”
The Book Fund has been nourished and fed from the King’s Treasury, and I must “make my boast, in the Lord” that all needful supplies for the carrying on of the work have plainly borne the stamp of heaven’s own mint. I say this because I have never asked help of any one but Him, never solicited a donation from any creature, yet money has always been forthcoming, and the supplies have constantly been in the due proportion to the needs. Once only during the year did the Lord try my faith by allowing the grants of books to outnumber the gifts of money, and then it was only for a “small moment” that a fear overshadowed me. The dark cloud very speedily passed away, and fresh supplies made me more than ever satisfied with the resolution I had formed to draw only on the unlimited resources of my heavenly Treasurer. None of the friends whose hearts have “devised liberal things” on behalf of my work will reproach me with ingratitude towards them when I lay my first loving thanks at his feet; they will rather join me in praising him for so sweetly inclining their hearts to help his needy ones, and will joyfully say: “O Lord, of thine own have we given thee!”
I recall with glad satisfaction the very first donation which reached me, “for sending books to ministers.” It came anonymously, and was but five shillings worth of stamps, yet it was very precious, and proved like a revelation to me, for it opened up a vista of possible usefulness and exceeding brightness. The mustard seed of my faith grew forthwith into it “great” tree, and sweet birds of hope and expectation sat singing in its branches. “You’ll see,” I said to my boys, “the Lord will send me hundreds of pounds for this work.” For many a day afterwards mother’s “hundreds of pounds” became a “household word” of good-humored merriment and badinage. And now “the Lord has made me to laugh,” for the hundreds have grown into thousands; he has done “exceeding abundantly above what I asked or even thought:” and faith, with such a God to believe in and depend upon, ought surely to “smile at impossibilities, and say ‘it shall be done.’” After praising him “from whom all blessings flow,” my loving thanks are due to the friends who, by their generous gifts, have co-operated with me in this blessed work. Money has come to me from all quarters, and always with congratulations and good wishes. Many dear personal friends have liberally aided me; some of my dear husband’s constant and devoted helpers have been pleased, when sending him a check, to make it a little larger for the “Book Fund,” while quite a number of strangers (though strangers no longer), whose names were previously unknown to me, have sent very considerable donations to my beloved work. God bless them all!
And if only a tithe of the happiness their gifts have secured to me and my poor pastors be returned into their own hearts, their cups will be full to overflowing, and their joy will abound. Oh! how sweet some of these sums of money have been to me! Real “Godsends” I may truly call them, for the gold has seemed to lose its earthly dross when consecrated to him and has often shed a light as from heaven’s own “golden streets” upon my pathway! Coming sometimes in seasons of great pain and suffering, these gifts have been like precious anodynes to soothe my weary spirit, and hush my restless thought, for they plainly showed the Lord had not “forgotten to be gracious.”’ They have almost charmed away my sorrow by teaching me to plan for others’ joy, and ofttimes they have been truly, “means of grace” to me, leading to blessed commerce with heaven, by supplying frequent occasions of prayer and praise. Surely, after so much mercy past, if I did not bless his name, “the very stones would cry out.”
Judged by the benefits and blessings it has conferred, its success will be best told by extracts from letters received in acknowledgment of gifts, and as the “Book Fund” has become entirely unsectarian in its operation, it will perhaps be interesting and pleasant to introduce some “kind words” from ministers of different denominations who have joyfully accepted this service of love. It has been no easy matter to restrain my hand in making these selections from the many hundreds of letters I possess; I have felt a veritable embarras de richesses, and most unwillingly have omitted many a passage brimful of joy and gladness, lest I should weary my readers; but when they have perused these thankful, loving words, they may rest assured the “half has not been told” them. Having commenced the year by offering six volumes of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons to all ministers formerly students of the Pastors’ College, first speech is accorded to two of their number. “My dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — I feel deeply grateful to you for the six volumes of sermons which reached me this morning. When I opened the parcel I experienced such a rush of emotion as made me kneel down instantly and thank God for his goodness to me, as well as to pray for his blessing to descend upon you. Many times when a few brethren have met together at my house, or I have gone to theirs, have we mentioned, your work in our prayers, and the best expression of my gratitude, I feel, will be in the fervency and faith of my petitions. I trust you will accept my thanks, though they are so imperfectly conveyed. My heart glows, but my pen fails.” “The six volumes that you sent me last February were a precious boon.
They were most opportune to my moral and spiritual state; for I was racked with doubts on many matters, and my spiritual life was low. When those volumes came they brought to my remembrance the joyful seasons I used to spend at the Tabernacle, and I could not refrain from crying out in agony of soul, ‘Oh that I were as in months past.’ Then I said I will see what my old teacher says, I will apply my heart unto his instructions; so for weeks I read the sermons, and studied them hard to see if I could find an answer to the questions which vexed my soul and weakened my grip of gospel truth: and, blessed be God, I have found an answer. I have found peace, satisfaction, increasing delight. The truths which those sermons contained have been marrow and fatness to my soul. They have kindled my zeal, they have directed my energies, they have strengthened my arm for the fight. Such a change as this affected my preaching. It made me more earnest, more decided, more affectionate in my appeals, more importunate in entreating men to accept Jesus as their Savior. Many persons noticing the change came to thank me for the gospel truth with which my sermons were charged, and to join me in earnest prayer for the conversion of souls.
Our prayers and desires have been answered in the increasing congregations we get, and in the deep attention they give to the preached word. We labor on, believing the blessing will come according to the promise. The members of our church display a quickened zeal in the service of Christ, and we are now watching for souls as those who must give an account. I have thus, my dear Mrs. Spurgeon, told you briefly and very poorly the good I have received from the volumes you have sent me, and the good which, by God’s help, I have been able to do. Should you be able to send me some more, I can promise you a very attentive reading, and an ardent study.”
The extract next subjoined is also from an old student, but it claims special notice because the writer is one of those who are laboring in a distant land, and a gift of books to such is truly “as cold water to a thirsty soul.” It is not often that the opportunity is afforded of ministering to their necessities, on account of the heavy expense of transit; but when friends are found to take charge of a parcel, we have the rare pleasure of receiving, in due time, such answers as these: — “Dear Mrs. Spurgeon. — I have to acknowledge, with gratitude and pleasure, the receipt of six volumes of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons, which you so kindly forwarded by Mr.—— of this village. May the Lord reward you a thousandfold for this great, and I might almost say, unexpected kindness to a stranger in a strange land. When settling here rather more than three years ago, I often found an American volume of the sermons, well worn, and highly appreciated; and I assure you they made me feel more at home than otherwise I should have done in this rugged country You can scarcely imagine the joy I felt in receiving the sermons fresh from England; but this you may rest assured of both yourself and your dear husband were prayed for that night with more than usual fervor and feeling, and special thanks were given to him ‘from whom all blessings flow.’“ If space permitted I could give extracts of letters from France, Sweden, Spain, Nova Scotia, Nebraska, Cape of Good Hope, Sydney, Adelaide, Bengal Jamaica, Barbadoes, and many other “strange lands,” which would delight and interest my readers, but I must content myself and them with the following much-prized communications from Church of England missionaries, one on leave of absence for awhile, the other just starting to his work in that country, India. The first-mentioned writes thus: — “Many
MANY thanks for the four volumes of the ‘Treasury of David,’ I prize them much. I doubt not that, if not already, these volumes will soon become standard works on the Psalms. Every one knew and felt that there must be a feast of fat things for mind and soul in the Psalms, but Mr. Spurgeon has dished them up in a way so superior to what anybody else has ever done that both mind and soul receive lunch more from his ‘Treasury’ than from any other work. I am thankful to find the books in the libraries of Church of England clergymen at D—— and K——, with less dust on them than ‘Browne on the Articles,’ or theological works akin to ‘Den’s Theology,’ etc. The day of Christ will reveal the great good the Lord has been doing through Mr. Spurgeon’s instrumentality. When a student at —— College I used to visit some of the Irish courts around the neighborhood. In one of these dens of villainy and iniquity there lived a man who was my terror, and who more than once sent me flying out of the court, pushing me by laying his hand to the hack of my neck. My heart sank every time I entered the place if I met this man. He was all that was wicked and iniquitous. One day, to my surprise, instead of cursing me, he asked me to his filthy darkroom. I entered it with fear, not knowing what was in store for me; but, thank God, it was to tell me that he had found Jesus, and had resolved in his strength to follow him. The message of love, and mercy, and peace had been conveyed to this man’s heart by the lips of your good husband. He heard Mr. Spurgeon preach in some public place or other, and there Jesus met him and called him. From that day till his death he lived the life of a Christian, and died glorifying the depths of Jesus’ love.
I do not think you can hate ever heard of this case, and there must he many unknown to you who on the great day will welcome your dear husband as the one who was the means of leading them to the feet of Christ.” “Dear Madam, — The books arrived safely on Saturday night. May God bless you for your kindness and liberality to a perfect stranger. I have long been under deep obligation to your honored husband, since it was through reading a passage in one of his books in South India that I was first awakened out of a sinner’s natural self-complacency to cry, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Though we may never meet on earth, and may differ on minor points, ever shall my prayers ascend to God for you both, and we shall assuredly meet where partings are unknown.”
I may just say here that many missionaries of different denominations, have, on leaving England, applied to me for the “Treasury” to carry with them to their distant stations (Damascus, Madrid, China, the Punjanb, Ceylon, Delhi, Lagos, and Timbuctoo, recur to my mind at this moment, but there are many more) and it has given peculiar satisfaction to grant the requests of these dear brethren, and to receive from them assurances of the great comfort and refreshment they have derived from the perusal of the precious volumes when toiling far from home, and friends, and country.
About the middle of the year an unexpected and most delightful impetus was given to the “Book Fund” by a very kind and generous friend, who desired that all the ministers in Argyleshire should possess the “Treasury of David,” and entrusted the writer with funds to carry out his wishes. We wish we had space for some of the grateful letters which acknowledged the gift.
This year, too, Ireland has been a sharer in the benefits of the work: many Presbyterian and Wesleyan ministers there having hailed with enthusiasm the offer which I was enabled to make to them by the kindness of a lady, whose generosity has often made my heart to sing aloud for joy.
Returning to home-work, I will quote a letter from a Congregational pastor, a specimen of hundreds, for my Book Fund has had the privilege of ministering to very many in the Independent denomination. “Dear Madam, — I am at a loss for words wherewith to express my gratitude to you for your kindness in forwarding to me the ‘Treasury of David.’ But I can commend you and your work to my Father in heaven, praying that he may abundantly enrich you with the treasures of his grace, and that he may so bless and prosper you in your work of love, that you may be enabled to make the hearts of hundreds of my brethren beat for joy as mine did when I received your present. The volume will certainly be a ‘treasure’ to me. I have already feasted my soul upon the precious words which are contained therein, and am looking forward to many such occasions as I carry out my intention of reading the books through again and again. None but myself and God can know what a help the ‘Treasury’ will be to me in my labor. May the Lord enable me to use the gift to his glory.”
Being fearful of over-taxing the patience of my readers, I must pass without notice the epistles received from Evangelists and Home Missionaries, some of which would certainly vie in interest and pathos with any that have been already given, and I will introduce but one other letter, making it do duty as the representative of kind and appreciative words from the many divisions of Methodism, Wesleyan, Primitive, and so forth.
It is from the pen of a “Bible Christian” minister, and it tells the same “old story” of deep need of books and utter inability to procure them. “Dear Madam, — Your very valuable and welcome present came duly to hand, and positively made my heart leap for joy, and outflow with a thousand blessings upon the kind donors. I can never express in words the deep feelings of gratitude I am the subject of, for your great kindness in thus shedding sunshine upon the difficult pathway of one who is trying, amid all his unworthiness, to serve his generation faithfully and to do the work assigned him by the Master; but what I cannot put into language I can breathe in heart at the heavenly throne, that Jehovah’s benedictions in ever-increasing richness may fall upon you and your honored husband, until taken to the eternal home. The Psalms have always been my favorite resort for meditation and exposition, and I should long ago have purchased the ‘Treasury of David’ had I been able, but a salary of £80 a year allows but a very small margin for books, and though my mind often craved for them, the luxury was not enjoyed.”
It is not easy by culling extracts to give a fair idea of a report which has been carefully written, but if the above passages should assist in creating, maintaining, or increasing an interest in the mind of a single reader we shall be exceedingly glad. An appeal for bread and clothing touches the hearts of all, but it needs a measure of mental and spiritual culture to appreciate the dire necessities of a bookless preacher; to those who possess such power to sympathize we commend our dear wife’s earnest effort. From all those who wish to see our poorer pastors helped, and especially to see their mental furniture improved, we expect continual aid for the indefatigable worker who has the holy task in hand.
THE LAST DAYS OF DR. JOHNSON.
IT appears that it was a letter from the Rev. Mr. Winstanley, Rector of St.
Dunstan’s in the East, which was the instrument permitted by God to bring his mind to a quiet trust. In answer to the anxious question written to Mr. Winstanley by the dying moralist, — “What must I do to be saved?” Mr. Winstanley wrote, “I say to you in the language of the Baptist, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’” That passage had been often read by him, and had made but a slight impression, but now being pressed home by the gracious Spirit, it went straight to his heart. He interrupted the friend who was reading the letter, “Does he say so? Read it again.” He then earnestly begged that the writer might be sent for that he might hear from him a confirmation of the truth. The state of Mr. Winstanley’s health and nerves made an interview impossible, but he wrote enforcing the truth. We have no doubt that this was well for Dr. Johnson’s mind. He whose life had been passed among men; who had derived his chief pleasure from their society and had leaned upon their friendship, was taught that he must look for comfort in religion from a different source; and that as Christ only was the Mediator, the Spirit of God alone could be the Comforter. A little before he died Dr. Johnson turned to Mr. Brocklesby with great earnestness. “Doctor,” he said, “you are a worthy man, but I am afraid you are not a Christian. What can I do better for you than offer up in your presence a prayer to the great God that you may become a Christian in my sense of the word.” Instantly he fell upon his knees and offered up a fervent prayer. When he rose he caught hold of his hands with great earnestness and cried, “Doctor, you do not say amen.”
The doctor looked foolish, but after a pause said “amen.” Johnson said, “My dear doctor, believe a dying man, there is no salvation but in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.”
With that witness he died. With his reason unclouded, he gave this remarkable testimony to a simple faith in Christ, a testimony specially valuable at the time it was delivered. — The Christian Observer, January, 1859. CHINA’S MILLIONS.
BY J.HUDSON TAYLOR. MORGAN ANDSCOTT.
THE annualvolume of this deeply interesting magazine is now to be had all gloriously arrayed. It would be a worthy work if some wealthy Christian were to present a copy to all our great merchants and rich professors and let the book plead for China’s millions. How vast the area, how profound the need, how urgent the claims of that great empire.” The Christian church has net begun to think of it yet in a thoroughly earnest spirit. Widen will the wail of the dying millions be heard? THE BRITISH WORKMAN, THE BAND OF HOPE REVIEW, THE WEEKLY WELCOME, THE FAMILY VISITOR, THE FAMILY FRIEND, THE CHILDREN’S FRIEND, AND THE INFANT’S MAGAZINE . S. W. PARTRIDGE AND CO., 9, PATERNOSTERROW. A WONDERFUL set of periodicals, all owing their existence and maintenance to the genius and zeal of one man. No society has been able in excel the British Workman, or to rival the Weekly Welcome. Whichever of this sevenfold series we select we can do no other than extol it: whether for children or adults, the matter is sure to be suitable, attractive, and practical.
These serials are their own best advertisement and recommendation. HEAVEN NOT OUR HOME, BUT THE RENOVATED EARTH THE ETERNAL ABODE OF THE REDEEMED SAINTS , ELLIOTSTOCK. If this good man does not want heaven to be his home, he, is quite at liberty to tarry elsewhere; but we would respectfully remind him that he may go further and fare worse. His book is mere dreaming. There is nothing either in his style or in his matter to deserve our readers’ attention. Were half the ink thus vainly spent In sober extortation spent, Reviewers’ tasks would tighter be And readers’ time press pleasantly.
DAY UNTO DAY: AN ILLUMINATED DIARY . RELIGIOUS TRACTSOCIETY.
ALOVELY notebook, well suited to bear upon its page memorials of the Lord’s goodness. Ladies, for once take our advice and buy this dainty morsel; it you use it to record special mercies it will become a treasure indeed. THE MEDITERRANEAN ILLUSTRATED.
PICTURESQUE VIEWS AND DESCRIPTIONS OF ITS CITIES, SHORES, ANDISLANDS. BY THE AUTHOR OF “THE BURIED CITIES OF CAMPANIA.”
T. NELSON AND SONS.
THIS is an extraordinary volume, worthy of a palace. It seems to us to be perfection in all respects — letterpress, engraving, and binding. The subject is a wide one, and is well set forth. As though we were sailing on the sea itself, we glide by the sunny shores of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Africa always entertained with condensed history, pithy anecdote, and pleasing information. Those who think of making the tour of the Mediterranean, or even of visiting a portion of its shores, should be sure to carry with them this unrivaled guide. MISSIONARY STORIES, NARRATIVES, SCENES AND INCIDENTS.
BY REV. W.MOISTER, WESLEYAN CONFERENCE OFFICE, AND 66, PATERNOSTER ROW.
“Now, Arthur, why are we sure that this is not a dry book?” “That’s no riddle at all, my learned brother, for the book may be all the drier because its author is Moister. Mark you, I don’t say it is so; but what’s in a name?”
The narratives are mostly in connection with Wesleyan missions, and are many of them very charming. Christians of any denomination are all the better for being well acquainted with the doings of their brethren in other churches, and therefore we should advise those who are not Methodists to read these missionary stories and put them in their Sunday School libraries.
The book is prettily bound and well illustrated. BRIC-A-BRAC STORIES.
BYCHERITH . AUTHOR OF
“HOMESPUN STORIES.” HATCHARDS,PICCADILLY.
EXCEEDINGLY well-told stories. Very affecting to tender hearts. The first story, entitled “Sam,” sets forth the evils of “treating” in an unusually vivid manner; and truly the evil of making others drunk out of generosity or custom is a very grievous one. Prettily got up, and touchingly written, this little book is worthy to be read in my lady’s boudoir, and in his lordship’s lounge. MILTON’S POETICAL WORKS.
THE GLOBESERIES.MACMILLAN AND CO.
THERE, young man, you have Milton in as neat a from as you can desire well edited and printed in a fair, clear type, for three shillings and sixpence.
What would you have more? We do not know a handier form of Milton, and yet it is tit for a library; nothing can be cheaper, and yet there is no touch of meanness about the volume. BIBLE -CLASS TEACHING.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
“THE OLD, OLD STORY.” HATCHARDS,PICCADILLY. THE author is evidently of the Church of England but truly of the Church of Christ. Teachers will thank us if we induce them to buy this helpful little book. Its theme is “Jesus Himself” its style is pleasing, its spirit devout, its teaching sound, its manner suggestive. Its twenty-five lessons would furnish a sensible teacher and his class with half a year’s rich instruction. GOOD WILL; A COLLECTION OF CHRISTMAS STORIES. BY
MARK GUY PEARSE. WESLEYAN PUBLISHING HOUSE, 66, PATERNOSTERROW.
HERE isMark Guy Pearse at it again! He never ceases to tell his tales. But he is not a bore; not a bit of it. He and Daniel Quorm will live for ever and a day; and those who buy this lot of tales will laugh and cry, and say — May Mark Guy and Mister Horn and his friends have plenty of delighted readers. THE EXPOSITOR’S COMMENTARY:
ILLUSTRATED NOTES ON ST. PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS. BY THE REV. C.NEIL, M.A.; R. D.DICKENSON.
LIKELY tobe very helpful to Bible-class teachers. It is a lively commentary, and adorned with many a fitly chosen illustration and well-selected explanation. It belongs to an order of works of which the more the better: not standard and first class, and therefore above ordinary comprehension, but plain and popular, and therefore useful to the thousands.
NOTES Worn out with weariness of brain Mr. Spurgeon has left home for a period of rest, and asks the prayers of his many considerate friends that he may soon recover, and may be permanently strengthened for his work. Certain symptoms, which recur each year with painful force, appear to indicate that the strain upon the mind must be lessened or the periods of rest lengthened.
Steps are being taken to remove some of the burden, to other shoulders. It is a great mercy that when weary the pastor is at this time able to leave without being burdened with care as to provision for any of his enterprises: all funds are in a healthy state, and loving hearts and hands will keep them so; above all, the great Lord will provide. The annual church-meeting at the Tabernacle is a great event in the commonwealth which finds its head quarters there. It was held January 9th.
A large number of members met for tea at 9, and then at 6.30 the business meeting began. All accounts, having been audited by two appointed brethren, were read before the church and ordered to be passed, and entered on the minutes. The statistics of the church were as follows:
By Baptism By Letter By Profession TOTAL 437DECREASE. By Dismission Do to form new Churches Joined other Churches without letters Emigrated Names removed for non-attendance etc. Deaths TOTAL Leaving a net increase of 100. Number at present on our Church Books 5045.
It is remarkable how large a gross increase is needed to make any clear increase. As a church grows older this difficulty increases, and great work must be done for but little statistical result: still souls are saved, and whether other churches on earth or the hosts triumphant above are the gainers it is equally matter for rejoicing.
The pastors and officers who spoke were received with such hearty enthusiasm as can be seldom witnessed. Love has not every day full opportunity to express itself, but on this occasion the cheers and other demonstrations of loyal affection were such as cannot easily be forgotten.
We are not frozen together, but melted into one mass by the fire within.
The pastor mentioned that he had virtually completed 24 years of his ministry; and had held office, not perhaps de jure , but certainly de facto for that period, for his preaching had been continuous, and though not actually elected till April 19, yet there had never been any doubt about the matter, and he had been from January, 1854, the actual shepherd of the flock. It was proposed and heartily carried by all that the deacons should consider how best to celebrate the pastor’s silver wedding when the 25th year should close, if God should spare the senior pastor to that time. Mr. Spurgeon then reminded the church that its heaviest burden was the Almshouses, which having been scantily endowed for 6 aged sisters, now accommodated 17 and made a heavy drain on the Sacramental Fund. It appeared from the balance sheet that the alms given away to the poor annually exceeded £1000, and, from the great number of the poor members, it had been needful for the pastor to find £120 and for other friends to give privately in order to balance the account. This was principally due to the large item for support of almswomen, and Mr. Spurgeon requested that if friends would make an effort to raise about £5000 this part of the church work would be put into proper shape, and he should regard it as a fit way of celebrating the anticipated event. He remarked that it was comparatively easy to carry the lead now , but that he should not like to leave such a heavy burden for his successor. Should he himself be suddenly called away, the church might find it no great cause for blessing Mr. Spurgeon’s administration if it found that houses had been built for the aged widows to starve in, but that their daily bread had been forgotten. He remarked that the good ship was in trim condition from stem to stern with this exception, and he would like to see the matter done, and done well. From the enthusiasm of the meeting there is little doubt that by many hands the needful amount will be brought in on or before January, 1879. The deacons meantime will deliberate and arrange, and report progress in The Sword and the Trowel : they are not men to let grass grow under their feet.
— Messrs. Clarke and Smith have continued their useful labors, and the most pleasing accounts have reached us from Reading, Trowbridge, and Landport In Mr. Medhurst’s large chapel great multitudes assembled, inquirers were numerous, and the Lord’s blessing was evident to all. We can hardly print the high praises which have been privately sent to us of these two brethren, whose fitness for this special agency is very remarkable. Without excitement the Lord works by them mightily, and the churches are refreshed and the outside world is impressed. A friend has promised help for two more evangelists; and if the right men are found, we shall not hesitate, for the need of such workers in connection with the churches is more and more apparent to us. This important branch of service has been left to unattached amateurs with serious results to church work; although the blame of this fact does not rest on the men themselves, but upon the slumbering churches, which did not soon enough perceive the need of the agency, and upon the officialism which frowned at anything like innovation. Evangelists in full harmony with the churches will be a great blessing, and prevent the disorder which arises out of the present disorganized mode of doing or pretending to do the work.
— We have worked during the last twelve months at double pressure, having had far more than our usual number of men. We have been obliged to keep many eligible candidates waiting till next August, for though at the present moment we have a considerable sum in hand, as the balance of a legacy, we do not see it right to spend it all in one year, but deem it best prudently to regulate the outgoings. We never had a better or mere diligent set of students, and we Lope by their means to open up new spheres, both in England and elsewhere. Since last report the settlements are: Mr. Pope to Thorpe le Soken, Essex; Mr. Foster to Braintree, Essex; Mr. Hobbs to Norwood New Town; Mr. McNab to Great Broughton, Carlisle; Mr. Hutton to Hawick. Mr. Dean has left to study medicine at Edinburgh, preparing for a medical missionary.
We have been greatly gladdened by seeing that our brother, Mr. Gammon, has formed a church and commenced building a chapel at Puerto Plata, San Domingo. We hope the Baptist Mission will now have great joy in this work.
A very kind letter from the church in Lal Bazaar Chapel, Calcutta, rejoices us with the welcome given to our late student Mr. Blackie, who has become their pastor. Truly our young brethren are spread abroad all over the world. God bless them all.
— The boys enjoyed their Christmas very greatly, and we thank all the generous friends who made it a merry day. May God bless them all, especially the princely donor of the shillings and boxes of figs.
Mr. Newman Hall and his congregation began our Christmas for us in a new way by a collection at Christ Church, which amounted to £50. A party of the boys attended the service and assisted in the singing. Mr. Hall writes us that the appearance of the boys and their behavior and singing were much approved by all Alas, for the President of the Institution, he was debarred the pleasure of joining in the mirth of his great family; but the trustees and the esteemed master saw that all was in order. Our aim has been to make the boys happy as well as orderly, and nowhere in the world are there more open countenances, joyful faces, or more obedient children than at the Stockwell Orphanage. The success in life of many who have gone out from the institution causes us un-feigned deight: the young men cling to their orphan home in a right loyal manner, and already donations from them are coming in. All friends who have assisted to make up our grand list of presents are hereby personally thanked by the President on his own account, and in the names of the trustees, and especially on behalf of the boys, whose hearty cheers might have been heard for many miles if the telephone had been in operation.
The work of the Colportage Association increases and extends rapidly. Availing themselves of the liberal offer from two gentlemen, alluded to in a previous number, the committee set to work energetically, and with the commencement of the new year twenty additional districts were opened and colporteurs at work. Ten of these labor in connection with the Town Mission in and around the important town of Birmingham. The Great Yarmouth Town Mission have also employed an agent, and other towns would do well to follow their example. The agency being entirely unsectarian is admirably fitted to cooperate with mission efforts. Associations of Christian churches, too, might employ colporteurs with great advantage, the written and spoken word being thus presented together.
These extended efforts will require increased pecuniary aid, which we trust will flow in as needed. By the end of February upwards of ninety districts will be occupied by men fully devoted to the work. We ask our readers to remember the colporteurs in their prayers. They distribute thousands of tracts; and parcels of gospel tracts for gratuitous distribution by them will greatly aid the Association. We append a list of the twenty districts.
New Districts opened January, 1878 — Oxfordshire — Oxford and Chipping Norton; Suffolk — Haverhill, Thurlow; Wiltshire — Chippenham, Bower Chalk; Lancashire — Southport; Essex — Tiptree; Nottinghamshire — Longeaton; Devonshire — Newton Abbot; Wales — Haverfordwest, Rhyl. Ten around Birmingham, as follow: — Smethwick, Shirley, Erdlington, Worst Bromwich, Yardley, Stichford, Minworth, Hampstead.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by J. A. Spurgeon: December 31st, eighteen; January 3rd, ten.