AN ADDRESS FOR SAD TIMES.
BY C. H. SPURGEON DAVID in his sixty-first psalm prays, “When my herart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” It is a very wise and appropriate prayer. He is in great sorrow, and asks to rise above it; he has great faith and therefore is sure that there is a safe refuge for him; and he is conscious of great weakness, for he does not speak of climbing the rock of safety by himself, but implores divine leading that he may come to it. His prayer wilt well befit the lips of men like ourselves who dwell where troubles rage and toss their waves on high.
By many forces the heart may be overwhelmed. A sense of guilt may do it.
Carelessness and indifference are swept away when the Holy Ghost. works conviction of sin upon the conscience, reveals the justice of God, and leads a man to see that he is in danger of the wroth to come: then heart and flesh fail, courage and hope depart, and the man is overwhelmed. Such a season is the fittest time for crying, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” If you can but find shelter in the rifts of the Rock of Ages what security will be yours! The rock of atoning sacrifice rises higher than your sin, and upon it the most guilty may stand far above the surging billows of vengeance.
Led by the divine hand to cling to the great Redeemer and Substitute, the utterly shipwrecked soul is safely landed and may sing because of his escape.
Sometimes, however, believers in Jesus, though quite secure from divine wrath, are, nevertheless, overwhelmed with trouble. They should not be so, for if their faith acted as it ought no fear would fasten upon them; but through the infirmity of the flesh, and, partly, also through inbred sin, unbelief comes in like a flood and drenches and deluges the anxious heart.
At times also the trials of life roll onward like enormous Atlantic billows, and toss our poor barque till we reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man. The ship becomes waterlogged, and does not answer to the helm of reason; she drifts with the adverse current whithersoever it pleases to hurry her, and eternal shipwreck seems near at hand. It is good for a Christian then to cry, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;” for though a rock is to be avoided in a natural storm, yet in our spiritual tempests there is a high rock which is to be sought unto as our shelter and haven. Truly that rock is higher than we are, and its very height is our comfort. God, the infinitely high and glorious, is not troubled nor dismayed, his purposes are far above and out of our sight, and they are also far beyond the operation of evil; hence by confidence in God we leave the storm beneath us and smile at the hurly-burly down below.
To me, my brethren, the most overwhelming thoughts do not come to my heart from my own personal sin, for I know it is forgiven, nor from worldly trouble, for I am persuaded that all things work for my good; but I am deeply distressed by the present condition of the church of God. Men who are called of God to care for his flock are grievously bowed down when the signs of the times are dark and lowering. Moses carried the whole people of Israel in his bosom in the wilderness, and they were sometimes a heavy load to him; and thus each true minister bears the church upon his heart, and is often sorely burdened. At this moment I can sorrowfully cry with Jeremiah, “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart. I cannot hold my peace.”
It is overwhelming to my spirit to see the growing worldiness of the visible church. Many professed Christians — the Lord alone knows whether they are true believers or no — give us grave cause for apprehension. We see them tolerating practices which would not have been endured by their fathers: my blood chills when I think of how far some fashionable professors go astray. There are families in connection with our churches in which there is no household prayer; but much luxurious eating and drinking and extravagance. I have my suspicions that there are among professors a considerable number who attend the theater, spend their evenings in card playing, read the most frivolous and foolish of books, and yet come to the Lord’s table. If they differ from the world it is hard to see how or where.
Neither in their dress, nor in their speech, nor in their mode of trading, nor in their habits at home are they at all superior to the unconverted. Is not this an evil under the sun? When the church descends to the world’s level her power is gone. Yet we cannot root up these suspected tares; we are even forbidden to do so lest we root up the wheat with them. If false professors were more open in their conduct we should know them, but their evil is secret, and therefore: we are obliged to let them grow together with the wheat: yet sometimes the sorrowful husbandman goes to the great owner of the farm and cries, “Didst thou not sow good seed in thy ground?
From whence, then, hath it tares?” The answer is that “an enemy hath done this,” and we are overwhelmed in spirit because we fear that our sleeping gave the enemy the opportunity.
I look again and see numbers of professors apostatizing altogether. In this great London persons who were members of churches in the country fall into the habits of their neighbors, and absent themselves altogether from the means of grace, or treat the worship of God on the Lord’s-day as if it were optional, and when they attend to it they go tripping from one place of worship to another, and forget the duties of Christian fellowship. Many others are content to hear noted preachers, not because they preach the gospel but because they are reputed to be “clever men.” Once men were esteemed for soundness, unction, and experience; but now men crave after popularity and cleverness. Some who call themselves Christians make fine music their grand requisite. If they need that gratification why do they not content themselves with a week-day concert in the proper place for such displays? God’s house was never meant to be made a hall where tweedledee and tweedle-dum may vie with each other in pleasing man’s ears. Not a few choose their Sunday resort because the “church” is an imposing structure, and the congregation is composed of “very respectable people.”
If they seek society, let them go where the elite may fitly gather, and keep themselves select; but in the worship of God “the rich and poor meet together, and the Lord is the maker of them all” It is an ill sign when God’s poor saints, are despised; but so it is in this day. If tradesmen save a little money they grow too great for the assembly in which they were once at home and must needs make part of a more fashionable congregation. These things also cause my spirit to be overwhelmed, not because in one single instance it has happened to members of my own church, but because the fact is open to the view of all and is the subject of general remark.
Equally grievous to the heart is it to see the spread of superstition. You can hardly go down a street but you will pass some popish joss-house, called an Episcopal church, where self-styled priests entice silly women to the confessional, and amuse them with masses and processions. Vile impostors! Clergy of an avowedly Protestant church, and supported by this nation, they are yet ravenous to eat out the very vitals of Protestantism.
Fools enough are found to believe in these priests, and bow before their crucifixes, and their stations of the cross and the like rubbish, and the abomination evidently spreads like the leaven among the meal as described by our blessed Lord. Heaven alone knows where this England of ours is going, and he who loves his country feels his spirit overwhelmed within him.
Nor do I think this to be the worst sign of the times. All around us there is growing up in tangled masses the ill weed of “modern thought,” which is nothing better than an infidelity too cowardly to wear its proper name.
There are preachers in Christian pulpits who deny the authenticity of various books of the Bible, and reject plenary inspiration altogether. There is not a doctrine of the gospel which is not denied by some “thinker” or other, and even the existence of a personal God is by the more advanced regarded as a moot point; and yet the churches bear with them, and allow them to pollute the pulpits once occupied by godly preachers of Christ.
After having denied the faith, and plunged their daggers into the heart of vital doctrines as best they can, they still claim to be ministers of the gospel, and ask to be received into union on the ground of some peculiar inward virtue which exists in them apart from all doctrinal belief. Men who might justly he prosecuted for obtaining property under false pretences by violating the trust-deeds of our churches may well wish to abolish creeds and articles of faith, because these are perpetual witnesses against their knavery. I would not care what became of the pelf if the churches Were saved from error. I see this leaven of unbelief working in all directions, and many are tainted with it, in one point or another; it eateth like a cancer into the very soul of the churches. God deliver us from it! It is hard to know what to do, for no one wishes to suspect his fellow, and yet a pest seems to be in the very air, so that it penetrates into the best guarded chambers. We hear of this man and then of another breaching strange notions, and those who were thought to be pillars suddenly become rolling stones. Who next?
And what next? In the midst of this confusion our heart is apt to be overwhelmed within us. Is there not a cause? It is not our household, it is not our estate, it is not our bodily health which is in danger, or we would bow in silence and bear it; but it is the household of God, it is the estate and kingdom of Christ, it is the church of God on earth, which is thus suffering; and well may those who love the Lord and his Christ and his truth tremble for the ark and feel a holy jealousy burning within them. At such a time the prayer of David is priceless, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Let us see how this petition meets the case.
First, let us remember that God lives. Glorious thought! The Lord sitteth upon the floods, yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice. Still he effects his purposes and accomplishes his will. It would be very childish if we were afraid for the moon because dogs bay her when she walks in her splendor; it would be very absurd to fear for the eternal mountains because the winds blow upon their granite peaks, and it would be equally idle to tremble for the truth of God. The stable things will stand, and those which cannot stand are better gone. God liveth, and everything that is of God liveth in his life. On this rock let us rest. “Error must die, and they who love her most, And suck the poison from her venomed lips, Will find her vaunted strength an empty boast, And share the horrors of her last eclipse. “But truth is strong, and worthy of our trust, And truth shall stand when time no more shall be, And man is leveled to his native dust, For God is truth to all eternity..” Next, let us remember that God’s truth is still the same. It does not matter whether fifty thousand espouse its cause, or only five, or only one. Truth does not reign by the ballot box, or by the counting of heads: it abideth for ever. All the tongues of men and angels cannot make truth more true; and all the howlings of devils and doubters cannot transform it into a lie. Glory be to God for this! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
The eternal verity hath its deniers in derision, for they are as the chaff which the wind driveth away. “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
Another rock may also afford us shelter, namely, the high doctrine that, the Lord will save his own. The much despised truth of election stands us in good stead in troublous times. We sigh and cry, because so many worship the deity of the hour, but the Lord answereth, “Yet, have I reserved unto myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then at lifts present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” The words of the apostle are true at this moment, — “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded, according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day.” I bow before the awful sovereignty of God, and the clamor of the people comes not into mine ears.
Jehovah’s purpose shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. No drop of the redeeming blood shall be spent in vain, no line of the everlasting covenant shall be erased, no decree of the Eternal shall be disannulled. This angers the adversary, but in its divine truth we find our consolation while the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing.
A rock that is higher than I may be useful not only for shelter but for elevation. If you stand upon high ground, though you may be a dwarf, you can see farther than the tallest man who remains below; and now, standing upon the high rock of God’s word, what do we see? Look! Clear your eyes of doubt and mist, and look! Forget the present far awhile and gaze through the telescope of faith. What do we see? Systems of error broken in pieces, superstitions given to the moles and to the bats, the clouds vanishing, the darkness of night disappearing, and the beasts going back to their dens, for the Sun of Righteousness a rises with healing beneath his wings. A day of the triumph of the truth must dawn. If it do not come before the advent of our Lord it shall come then , to the confusion of his adversaries and to the delight of his saints, and there shall be “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” If this old earth will still reject the truth, and the old heavens still look down on a reign of error, they shall be utterly consumed with life, and on this very earth on which we stand, renewed and purified, there shall be placed a throne as glorious and terrible as the cross of Christ was ignominious and shameful. The blood of Jesus has fallen on this word and guaranteed its redemption from the curse, and one day, when he has delivered the subject creation, our Lord will dwell here, and reign amongst his ancients gloriously. We can afford to wait, for eternity is on our side. We can afford to see the ranks of the Lord’s army pushed back awhile, we can afford to see the standard fluttered by the rough winds, we can afford to hear the “Aha! Aha!” of the Philistines, for when the Prince cometh they shall know his name and the power of his might. If they will not yield to him now and kiss his scepter silvered with love, they shall bow before him when they see the naked iron of hits rod breaking them in pieces like potters’ vessels. Oh to be on God’s side! The whole matter lies there. If a man knows that his heart and soul are given to the cause of God and truth, he is entrenched within an impregnable fortress, and he shall find in the eternal verities munitions of stupendous rock. He shall be steadfast “though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”
What then are we to do? We are to give all diligence: to make our calling and election sure. See to that for, though some denounce such holy care as selfishness, our Lord and Master knows best, and he charged his servants not so much to rejoice in their power over devils as in the fact that their names were written in heaven. Watch over your own spirit, and east not away your confidence. Then zealously in dependence upon God do the little you can do; do it well, and keep on doing it. You and I are not; called upon to regulate the world, nor to stay the raging sea of human sin. Let us not attempt to wield the divine scepter; it: befits us not. Naturally you would like to set all people right, and make all preachers orthodox. But, my brother, the task is beyond you. Be careful to be right yourself in your own life, and be resolute to bear your complete, honest, obedient testimony to all the truth you know; and there leave the business, for you are not responsible beyond your possibilities. No one of us is much more than an emmet on its little hill. Now, if yon tiny ant were to indulge in serious reflections upon the state of London and forget to assist in the labor’s of the insect commonwealth, it would be a foolish creature; but if it will let those great matters alone and go on doing its ant-work, as an ant, it will fill its little sphere, and answer the purpose of its Maker. A mother teaching her little ones, and doing all she can to bring them up in the fear of God; a humble village pastor with his score of two of people around him; a teacher with her dozen children; a quiet Christian woman in her domestic circle bearing her quiet godly testimony; a young man speaking for Jesus to other young men; — there is nothing very ambitions about the sphere of any one of these, but they are wise in the sight; of the Lord. Leave the reins of the universe in the hand of the Maker of the universe, and then do what he has given you to do in his fear and by his Spirit, and more will come of it than you dare to hope. We are like coral insects building each one his minute portion of a structure far down in the deeps of obscurity. We cannot, as yet war with those vaunted ironclads which sweep the ocean and hurl destruction upon cities, and yet — who knows? — we may build and build until we pile up a reef upon which the proudest navies may be wrecked. By the steady, simple, honest, Christian upbuilding of holiness and truth — defying no one, attacking no one — we may nevertheless create: a situation which will be eminently perilous to the boastful craft of falsehood and skepticism. A holy, earnest, gospel church is a grand wrecker of superstition and of infidelity. The life of God in man, patience in suffering, perseverance in well-doing, faithfulness to truth, prayer in the Holy Ghost, supreme zeal for the divine glory, and unstaggering faith in the unseen God — these are our battle-axe and weapons of war, and by the aid of the Holy Ghost we shall win the battle ere the day comes to its close. Till then, O Lord, when our heart is overwhelmed, lead us to the rock which is higher than we are.
PLACING OUT THE BOY BY C. H. SPURGEON.
ONE of the most critical periods in a boy’s life is the time when he leaves home to become an apprentice or to take a situation. Parents should be specially upon their guard in the selection of new homes for their sons, for on that choice may depend their entire future. Placed with a firm, kind Christian master a young man may happily develope powers and faculties which might have remained dormant in the less stimulating atmosphere of home. Self-reliance and manly courage have been gained by removal from the too tender care of a fond mother, and the struggle of life has been commenced under more advantageous circumstances by emerging from the narrow limits of home affairs. If our boys could be for ever bound to their mother’s apron strings it might be safe for their morals, but it would be fatal to their growth. They must go out into the world as their fathers did before them, and it is for their good that they should do so; but care must be taken that they are not subjected to needless risks in the operation. A lad should not be sold into temporary slavery by being bound to a brutal master, nor driven into duplicity and cowardice by subjection to a morose employer, nor tutored in vice by being located in a godless and immoral household. All this is clear enough, and yet it is not always considered: the business is a good one, or the premium is small, or the master is a distant relative, and so the child, tenderly reared under godly influences, and altogether unused to the world’s courser mood, is thrust out into the chill blasts of sin, and made to bear the unfeeling rudeness of vulgar natures, and the result is at first misery, by-and-by defilement of conscience, and ultimately depravity of life. Of course the grace of God may interpose, but that is no excuse for the want of thought which placed the young mind in such peril. “Lead us not into temptation” should be cur daily prayer, and we should carefully remember the precept which it suggests. To tempt a child is infernal, and to place it where it will be tempted is next door to it.
We would not place our sons or daughters in a lion’s den or near a viper’s nest, and yet we do worse if we commit them to the care of ungodly men and women, whose whole spirit and conduct will have a corrupting influence.
We have been led to make these remarks by reading a passage in the lately published Life of our friend William Brock. His experience was a very bitter one: he records it in his own words. “I had been forced as a schoolboy to rough it — roughing was still to be my lot, and such roughing, that I remember it almost with dismay. My master was illiterate and profane, His wife was ill-favored, ill-bred, illmannered, and ill-disposed; a wrangler with her husband, and with all who came within her reach. My fellow-apprentices were ignorant, boisterous, and debased, knowing nothing more about literature or religion than the beasts which perish. Until I entered the house I do not believe there was a book within its walls. Whatever talk there was, either in the shop or at the table, never rose above vulgar twaddle, The domestic arrangements were beggarly and bad. Neither food nor beverage was tolerable in quality or sufficient in amount. I had to sleep on the stairhead for years. Of the commonest; conveniences there were hardly any; of the ordinary comforts there were none at all. The material and the moral wretchedness of the place was complete. It troubles me to remember it, I have not overcharged my representation in the least. “For a while it was more than I could bear. To my mother I wrote piteous complaints. She sent me the means to buy some necessary food; and ones she interfered. By degrees, however, I became inured to the domestic hardships, and things which I could not help I tried to bear as best I could.
As I remember, unto this day, it was trying to bear it, but the discipline, I dare say, did me good. “By the moral wretchedness which surrounded me, I was especially distressed. When Sunday came, I found that neither Mr. nor Mrs. B. was going to church. Mr. B. was going to the belfry to chime the people into church, but he was afterwards coming home again. This I found to be the general rule. In no way whatever was there any recognition of God. It had been arranged that I should attend the services, in the Independent chapel, the only place in the town with whose minister or congregation my mother had any acquaintance. Mr. Ward was then the minister — a good minister of Jesus Christ. I went on the first Sunday, both morning and evening, spending the intervals of service in the way that I knew my mother would approve. The next morning I was christened, as they told me, ‘Parson Brock,’ a designation, by the by, which adhered to me all through my Sidmouth life. Banter and chaff I might have borne easily enough, but it turned out that banter and chaff were to be by no means all. Mr. B. distinctly attempted to annul the arrangement for my going to chapel. ‘He wouldn’t have any of the saints about his place;’ and then he swore. My follow apprentices joined in the swearing and in its denouncings. ‘Trust them for making the place too hot to hold me, unless I would give my religion up!’ Correspondence a little mended matters, and, so far as violence went, I was to be let alone. One think, however, was carried out, and that was the determination that I should have none of my reading and praying, either in getting up or in going to bed. I was warned never to try that again but as I did not exactly see any reason why I should not, I just did what I had been went to do before getting into bed that night. Away came S’s shoe from his hand to my head, with an emphatic warning that, as often as I said my prayers like that, so often the shoe would be flung; and the harder it hit me the better should he be pleased.”
Now, it could not be right to expose a lad to all this; and if the result was not fatal to his youthful piety, the credit was not due to those who placed it in such serious jeopardy. Where is the use of our keep-ins our children out of evil company while they are with us at home and then thrusting them into it afterwards when we are no longer near them to advise or console?
Fathers should not only see that their sons are allowed the full privileges of the Sabbath, but should look out for masters who care for such matters for themselves. Of course there must be an eye to the secular advantages of the trade and to the peculiar recommendations of the particular shop or establishment; but it, is must not be all in all, nor the first thing. For others as well as for ourselves we should seek first the kingdom of God and whom righteousness; for our own flesh and blood, the offspring whom God has given us. we must deliberately elect the service of the Lord in preference to all earthly gain. If we do not act thus in the case of our own children, it will heroine questionable whether we have chosen the Lord for ourselves. If we do not wish to see our own sons grow up to be earnest servants of the Lord, we may justly doubt our own conversion; but how can we honestly desire such a result if we place them for years under influences which must powerfully work in the opposite direction.
It is not only upon grave questions of morality that parents should exercise thought, but also upon minor details of comfort and association, which may lead up to the weightier matters. We remember a well-behaved and hopeful youth who early fell into sin, to the deep horror o f the honest, godly family to which he belonged; and yet when we learned that he had eaten his meals, and spent the brief hours after shoptime, in the sole company of the one domestic servant, in the kitchen of a little general shop in a country village, we were not at all amazed: the offense was very grievous but had the youth been received at his master’s table, and had he been provided with fitting associates, it might never have been committed.
In London the custom still lingers, even in some large, and well-known establishments, for the young men to sleep on and under the counters in the shop. Of course, all sense of comfort and a considerable portion of the delicacy of decency vanishes under such a condition of things; and when loose talk leads on to loose living who is to wonder? In certain shops the assistants are expected to be more sharp than honest, and to stick at a round lie would involve their dismission no Christian parent or guardian should permit a youth to live under such regulations. These rules form an unwritten code, but are none the less rigidly binding on those subject to them, and a toad under a harrow has not a more uneasy life of it than the youth who is troubled with scruples. Very long and late hours ought also to be considered by those who are seeking situations for lads. We are not men those who would go to an extreme in crying out against hard work, for to some young men the most arduous labor is a far less evil titan the temptations of a leisure which they have not the sense to improve; but we feel certain that in many young people the seeds of consumption and other diseases are sown, and made to develop rapidly, by weary hours of standing in hot shops in the midst of dust and stagnant air, and sometimes amid smells and exhalations, from which they are not allowed a moment’s escape till the shop is closed. Can it be right to place our boys where they will be slowly murdered? Nor is injury to health the only danger, for, fagged and languid, the young people have no spirit to use aright the late interval after the shutters are put up and the stock cleared away: and therefore amusements which excite the baser feelings seize upon their condition of mind, and drag them down as by an iron chain. We could say a great deal more, but we forbear. There are trades or professions which suggest gambling and drunkenness, and are to be shunned at once, and yet we have known professing Christians offer their children to Moloch by placing them in such occupations. This is sad indeed!
Parents cannot discover much about the internal condition of families in which they place their sons and daughters, but they ought to learn all they can, and act with decision and prudence. A tyrant master can ruin a lad’s temper, break his spirit, and reduce him to a semi-imbecile; on the other hand, a negligent, easy, unscrupulous head of a house can, without intending it, place a thousand temptations in the way of youth, make vice easy, and dishonesty almost inevitable. Dangers lie on all sides, and how can they be avoided? Certainly not by negligence, or leaving the boy to take his chance, as some say.
The hour is critical for the young man, and full of responsibility for those who are his guides; let it be a season of doubly earnest prayer: and let it be postponed a score times sooner than once done in a manner which the Lord would disapprove. The boy’s temperament and character should be studied, and a thousand points taken into the reckoning, and it will be better to endure a dozen sleepless nights to arrive at a right decision, than to judge hastily and repent for a lifetime, and make our child mourn long after we are in our grave. “It is better,” said a statesman. “to spend six millions now in preventing war, than six hundred millions afterwards upon the evil itself”: as to the particular instance to which he referred we may debate upon his statement but the general fact is self-evident, and its moral is exceedingly applicable to the point in hand. Plant a tree carefully if you would have it flourish, and place out your son anxiously if you would see him prosper in the fear of the Lord.
THE ROD THAT BUDDED PAUL JOANNE ascribes amazing fertility to the soil of Mentone, and backs his assertions by a story which reads like a legend. He says that a stranger coming to pay a visit to his Mentonese friends stuck his walking-stick into the ground and forgot it. Coming back some days afterwards to seek his cane, he was surprised to and it putting forth leaves and young branches.
He declares that the little tree has grown vastly, and is still to be seen in the Rue Saint Michel. We have not seen it, and are afraid that to inquire for it in the aforesaid Rue would raise a laugh at our expense.
We may believe the story or no as we please; but it may serve as an emblem of the way in which those grow who are by grace planted in Christ. All dry and withered like a rod we are thrust into the sacred soil and life comes to us at once, with bud and branch and speedy fruit. Aaron’s rod that budded was not only a fair type of our Lord, but a cheering prophecy of ourselves. Whenever we feel dead and barren let us ask to be buried in Christ afresh, and straightway we shall glorify his name by bearing much fruit. C.H.S.
It is very difficult to write notes of work while one is altogether absent from the scene of action, and pledged to be as quiet as possible; but as our readers expect a little personal gossip we must give it.
We are thankful that no religious papers reach us here, for they are usually the least satisfactory of publications, and certain of them are among the heaviest afflictions of the church of God. Happily we do not here refer to either of the two Baptist papers. We do not at this present know what new heresy has been started during the last month, but we expect to find that “modern thought” has undergone some fresh development, and has produced another batch of falsehoods. When we left we heard on all sides the intelligence that the punishment of sin in the next world would be a mere trifle, and would soon be over, and some even went further and reported that all those who live and die without Christ were to be in due time admitted into glory; perhaps by this time the opinion may have been started that the devil himself is God. We venture no guess upon the subject, for theological hypotheses are now as wild as they are abundant, and no man living can tell where the advanced gentlemen will end. We are glad to get away from the continual smother of their deceitful teachings, and to have our Bible to read by sunlight. The more we turn to that volume the more are we confirmed in the old, creed, and the more certain are we that the modern spirit is deadly to grace, fatal to zeal, and hostile to the truth of God. Our first article will show how we felt when our heart was heavy, and now that we are in brighter spirits our impressions are not less solemn.
The daily papers have been welcome, for they have helped to answer the countless rumors with which from day to day the English colony in this place has been tortured. One day we heard that war was proclaimed, on anther it was only the Russians in Constantinople, and there again our ambassador was recalled from St. Petersburg and all Europe was in a blaze. “Wars and rumors of wars” have been the daily talk, and only by the somewhat greater sobriety of letterpress could we tell where we were. Far away from home report seems more busy than even in London, and it certainly lies at an astonishing rate — fifteen to the dozen, as the old ladies say. Amid all this hurly-burly Christians ought to learn that all the boasted influence of commerce and civilization in causing wars to cease is mere fiction, and that nothing but the kingdom of Christ can drive out the demon of war. We are also called upon to watch for the Lord’s coming: not to prophecy that he will come at once, or begin to cast up figures and guess at dates; but to be ready, because he will surely come when men look not for him. “Wars and rumors of wars” are warnings to keep us from slumber. “Awake, thou that sleepest.”
From home we have received letters from a large number of our students, all of them most pleasing. We cannot help giving an extract from one of them, because it is very much a sample of other testimonies — “I cannot express my gratitude for all the benefits I have received during my two years at the College. It has been a precious two years to my soul: and instead of dryness and barrenness to my soul, as I almost feared, it has been a time of sweet refreshing and joy to my heart. I cannot say what a delight the College prayer meetings have been — times when I could say with the psalmist — ‘My cup runneth over.’ Although as you so kindly told us when first we saw you in the College, that it would take two years to show us what fools we were, is literally true in my case, yet I feel it has made me, if there can be such a thing, an intelligent feel. The last two years have been the happiest in my life, and the College has seemed more of a home than anything else, where it could be truly said, ‘one is our Master, even Christ, and all we are brethren.’ And it has been marvelous to me how much he helps. It seems quite a joy to learn a Greek lesson for Jesus, and even the verb is comparatively easy when learnt with him looking over one’s shoulder.”
Our evangelists, Messrs. Clarke and Smith, have been holding special services at the Tabernacle, and up to the time at which we write they have enjoyed marvelous success. Feb. 11, our good deacon, Mr. Murrell, sent us a telegram announcing a marvelous children’s service on Sabbath afternoon, Feb. 10, with 4,000 children and about 1,000 adults present, although, as the superintendent of the school afterwards informed us, “there was from morning to night nothing but gloom over the whole city, accompanied by dripping rain without intermission, and the streets were ankle deep in mud and slush.” It must, from all accounts, have been a very wonderful occasion.
Wednesday, February 13, brought us another telegram: — “Enthusiastic meetings. Tabernacle full on Tuesday night. Monday largest prayer- meeting ever held in Tabernacle.” This was as oil to our bones, and though rapidly gathering strength it was a better tonic than the wisest physician could have prepared, and none the less efficacious because it contained no trace of bitterness. The Lord’s name be praised that all goes well, and that for us to rest is no loss to his work.
Our beloved brothel J. A S., invaluable at all times, has proved himself a priceless gift from God to us, by bearing all our burden, and throwing all his energies into the work at home while we are forced into the rear rank.
The zealous aid of all our officers, and the loving prayers of our own people, and numerous friends, have all worked together to secure us perfect peace of mind, and, by the divine blessing, to lift us up to renewed health.
On Feb. 14 we received a loving letter from our deacons, requesting us to prolong our rest for two weeks more. This is brotherly forethought, and tender love, and we are very grateful to God: and to our brethren, but we hope that one out of the two weeks may suffice. We like to write down and publish these Christian courtesies and deeds of love, because such things are not universal, and there have been cases where pastors have been treated in a very different manner. If we ever die of grief it will not be caused by unhappiness at home or unkindness in the church, unless the whole of our past life should be succeeded by its exact reverse. Our deacons are remarkable men, not only for kindness to their pastor, but for individuality; one of them has preached in our absence on one occasion and made strangers inquire if the deacon preaches like this, what must the pastor be?” Another makes us smile while he writes. “My advice would be, take not only the two weeks, but twelve if necessary. Get thoroughly sound before returning to work, and when you do, take it as easy as you can. My experience has been that seven or eight weeks is not sufficient time to recover after being so thoroughly overworked. It was the case with my old horse, ‘Major,’ a good bit of stuff as ever lived, but too free (very like yourself) would overdo himself if he had the chance, and at last got queer in the legs and giddy in the head. A three months’ run on a suitable soil brought him round wonderfully, and on being sold he fetched the original price.”
The most cheering news has reached us from our son in Australia. He has been preaching incessantly to full houses in the region around Adelaide.
Here also is cause for thankfulness.
Personally we have experienced special mercy in restoration to health. We seem to get better every five minutes. Mentone is still to us a charming retreat, unsurpassed for its warmth, sunshine, and scenery. Nor must any one imagine that it is a spiritually barren spot; for we have seldom known a more happy fellowship. Here are ministers of Church and Dissent forming a practical Evangelical Alliance, besides esteemed brethren and sisters in Christ of no mean order. M. Delapierre, of the French Church, and his assistant minister and evangelist are doing much, not only for the visitors but also for the Mentonese, and they are always glad to manifest a loving interest in members of ether churches. One could readily work in Mentone as much as at home, for requests to visit the sick, preach, etc., are of constant occurrence. No one who is ill need fear coming to this place under the notion that they will find no friends and no opportunities for usefulness: if they should come here and make that complaint it will be their own fault.
— Mr. Charlesworth’s report is as sweet as it is short. “All well at the Orphanage.”