CHOOSING OUR CROSSES
“I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them.” — 2 Samuel 24:12.
All God’s children are chastened, but it seldom happens that they have the choice of the rod. No tribulation for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, but very rarely are men left to select their own tribulation so as to have the least grievous out of three. In most cases men quarrel with their cross; they wish it had been something else, and they tell you, “I could not expect to be without some form of affliction, but my present distress is the worst possible. If it had been another, then I could have borne it; but this I cannot endure, for it cuts me to the quick.” We have before us the case of a man of God who had in some degree the option of his trouble. We will for awhile commune with him.
Let us begin by remarking that the choice of our affliction will not be given to you or to me. God’s appointment, and not our choice, will determine the form of our chastisement. We may sit down and foolishly say to ourselves, “We would prefer our cross to be pain of body;” or, “We would sooner enjoy health and endure poverty;” or, “We would be glad rather to suffer reproach from the ungodly world than to be in penury; or, we would choose to bear exile, bereavement, or hardship rather than sickness;” but say what we will, our lot is fixed, and our whims will not alter it. In our Father’s house we are not the head of the household, but each one of us is a child whose place is that of obedience. The Lord reigneth and appointeth all things. We may propose as much as we like, but his disposal rules the day. We may sit down and sketch and scheme, but the wheels of providence swerve not from their course to meet our wishes. We put our hand upon the tiller of life and declare that we will steer the vessel according to our own mind, but there are currents which laugh at our steering, and bear us whither we would not, and there are winds which whirl and twist us about contrary to our devices. You may say in your heart, “This and that shall be;” but the counsel of the Lord shall stand, and his eternal purpose shall be fulfilled. Wherein we are bidden to choose this day it will be well for us wisely to make the election, but concerning our trials it is not left for us to determine their character or form.
For a moment suppose that we had such a choice. It is ordained that we must each carry some cross, but imagine that each one is to select for himself: what then? The selection would assuredly be a grim and painful task. You are called to look upon the various forms of trouble, and you are bidden to take one of them. David has his choice of three, and he knew enough to make him dread each one of them. First, he might choose seven years of famine: blasted fields, withered trees, empty storehouses, woman and children pining in agony, dropping in the streets by hundreds from starvation, to lie there unburied, because the living were too feeble to cover the dead; the wolf prowling; the whole land given to desolation.
David could not choose such a horror nor endure that such a scourge should come upon his people. But the second was no better: he must flee three months before his enemies. He had known what it was to be hunted like a partridge upon the mountains. He knew the misery of being a fugitive, having no rest by night or by day, but bound to keep the watchfires always burning, and the hand always upon the drawn sword, while the victorious foe gave no quarter, and enacted horrors on the women and the children. He could not bear the idea of bloodshed, for he had seen too much of it. Nor was it less terrible that pestilence should descend with its invisible sword, and sweep down thousands at a blow, till the grave became gorged with dead. It was a hard hard choice; and long might a man deliberate between the three furies of famine, war, and plague.
Now suppose, beloved Christian friend, that you stood before a similar series of troubles at this moment, and you were asked first, “Do you choose sickness of body?” Do not be very quick to answer “Yes,” for I know what it is, and I cannot give it a word of commendation. What then; shall we select poverty? Many now present could tell you that penury is hard to bear, and is by no means a trifling evil. It is not a desirable experience to be in doubt whence your food and raiment will come when the morning dawns, and to be dependent upon the scant gifts of charity.
What, then, shall we select slander and reproach? These are enough to break a strong man’s heart. Do you in any degree lean towards sickness in the family, or do you count bereavement to be a less evil than some others?
Pause and consider before you decide. Would you be willing that the partner of your life should be taken from you, or that your children should be plucked from your bosom? No, this we would not choose. If it were put to us to select a cross we should be as painfully embarrassed as the fond parents to whom it was offered that one of their children should be taken for adoption. They had only ten, but the first could not go because he was the son and heir; the second certainly could not, because she was a very delicate little girl; the next could by no means be spared, because she was the image of her mother; and the next, child must remain, for he was of so sweet, a disposition. The question passed on to the very last at the mother’s breast, and, of course, no one would dream of its being taken from her. There were always good arguments for keeping the whole tribe at home. And so there is a reason why no form of the cross should be desired; and if any one shape of trouble were spread out before a man so that he really trader stood it, he would say, “Save me at least from that sharp sorrow.” Thus it is plain that the choice of grief would be in itself a grief most harassing, and we may rejoice that it is not left to us. Next, it is more than probable that if we had a choice of our crosses we should, each one, choose a worse than we have already. Our first instinct would be to be rid of this one, anyhow. We are utterly weary of it, and think that any alteration would be a change for the better. We would take our brother’s cross right willingly. We have often envied him. We saw him sitting in his seat on the Sabbath-day, and we heard his cheery voice at the prayer-meeting, and we said in our heart, “Oh, that my soul were in his soul’s stead.” Yet if we had to bear his burden and to maintain his cheerfulness we might not be equal to the task, and might wish ourselves back again to our quieter position and less robust appearance. It is quite certain, brethren, that God has fitted our burdens to our backs, and our backs to our burdens; so that no man could exchange with advantage. A barter of trials would be a loss all round. We should few of us improve by shifting places, and none of us by changing trials: the Lord has ordained our inheritance for us with far more wisdom than we could possibly manifest if we had to choose our own.
Besides this, the cross, if it became a matter of choice, would lose its main characteristic. What is a cross, or a chastisement, or a trial, but a something which comes athwart our wills to grieve us, and by that grief to work our good? It is through its being contrary to our own wishes and desires that it is a trial at all; and, therefore, if we could arrange it according to our mind it would cease to be a chastisement. Well, therefore, may we be asked in Scripture, “Should it be according to thy mind”? Do fathers give their children the choice of the rod, and leave it to their judgment as to how or when they shall be chastised? This would simply mean playing at chastisement, and there would be no discipline at all. It is necessary to trial that it should not for the present be joyous, but grievous; and the idea of making a choice of troubles would destroy the essential characteristic of the cross, which is the crossing of our will. While it destroyed the main ingredient of affliction it would altogether alter trial in other essential respects; for if a person, suffers that which he chooses to suffer, the tonic quality is taken from the medicine. I have heard of certain nuns who have arranged to sleep in their coffins every night, the said coffins being set in an almost upright position against the wall. Habit soon renders the position endurable, and probably even pleasant: the mortification of their flesh is more apparent than real. Nobody pities these ladies for carrying out their eccentric habit, since they might lie on beds like reasonable mortals, if they pleased. I saw near Brussels, in a monastery, the whips with which the monks of La Trappe scourge themselves, and I could but hope that they enjoyed the exercise, and used the scourge right heartily. A self-imposed flagellation is a sham suffering. A sorrow chosen is a trifle; it may readily be petted into a joy: even John Fletcher goes so far as to sing— “There’s nought in this life sweet, If man were wise to see’t, But only melancholy:
O sweetest, melancholy!” Let those have melancholy who like it, but call it not a trial. Let us save our tears for real sorrows, for where choice comes in the utmost gall is not in the bitterness. If it is my own will that I should suffer, suffering does not subdue my will nor tame my pride; but if it is of the Lord’s will that I should bear daily pain, or poverty, or bereavement, then in taking the cup of anguish and drinking it with patience, saying, “Thy will be done,” I honor God and derive benefit from the grief. So you see that the choosing of the cross would be the breaking up of the cross; why then should we wish to have it?
Again, suppose we could choose our cross, what a responsibility it would involve upon us, and what pain it would bring while we were bearing it.
We should be sure to say to ourselves, “What an ill choice I have made!
This is my own choice, and I can only blame myself for it.” If the young man upon starting in life were to say, “Of all the raisons trials which fall to the lot of man, I have the power to select one and I do select this”; then when it came upon him, he would cry out, “Alas, for my foolishness, I have plunged myself into the saltest sea of all.” And then he would chide himself, and refuse to be comforted. As it is, when the affliction comes, we accept the will of the Supreme, and by his grace endeavor to bow before the inevitable storm. The sight of our Father’s hand amid the tempest supplies us with comfort, and the sweet sound of his voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid,” sustains us amid the hurricane. When the Lord chooses the cup and holds it to us, we drink it down in peace. We feel no responsibility about it, but we enjoy a solid confidence that he who appointed the sorrow will cause it to work our good.
Brethren, here are good reasons for our rejoicing that no option is given to us. We could not envy David, but we do pity him, for it was a heavy trial to haute an option in the matter. How sweet is the thought that our God, in making the allotment of crosses, exercises the greatest care over us, and the tenderest consideration for us. No father can be so judicious and gentle as the Lord. In looking over the lives of your fellow Christians, and in considering our own histories, we shall often be made to admire the adaptations of the peculiar form of tribulation to the person called to endure it. It was well that a certain trial did not happen to Melancthon, for it would have broken his heart; but Luther was all the better for it. We can see that it was well for Bunyan to be in prison, well for Milton to be blind, and well for Baxter to be sick; these crosses came to the right men, and none would wish to have made them exchange. A gardener prunes each tree and trims each plant according to its quality. Would you have him use his knife upon a lily as upon a rose? The comfortable fruits of righteousness are forth by one process in one man and by another in his friend. “One man’s meat,” we say, “is another man’s poison,” and it is certainly so as to afflictions. When we get to heaven it will, perhaps, be one of our occupations to see how wisely the Lord dealt out to us all not only our portion of meat but our pelion of medicine. This much I know: before we reach heaven, we might almost now, if we have reached middle life, look back and see enough about ourselves, even amid the darkness and smoke of our unbelief and ignorance, to make us bless the Lord most heartily for the fires of the furnace, and for the blows of the hammer, and for the grating of the file: surely by all these hath he made us polished shafts for his quiver. The cross, that bitter tree, has budded, and blossomed and brought forth fruit for us. Yes, the very cross we dreaded most has been the most sanctified. Henceforth, then, let us be good friends with our afflictions, accept them as they arrive, rejoice in the love which appoints them, in the grace which comes with them, and in the growth which comes out of them, and never let us wish to have things other than they are so far as our Lord’s appointments are concerned. No more let us wish to choose, or, if a choice should come, let us imitate the afflicted psalmist and say, “I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord.” Everything is safe when it is left with God. “TRESPASSERS BEWARE.”
A PRAYER-MEETINGADDRESS. In proclaiming the gospel we endeavor to set forth both its fullness and its freeness. We put up no hedge, fence, or barrier; we raise no question and utter no prohibition, for the invitation runs thus — “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” We sometimes meet with the opposite of this in the world without, and the contrast serves to enhance our idea of divine liberality. This afternoon I saw a large board, conspicuously lettered and elaborately printed, which bore the following inscription, “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED.NO DOGS ALLOWED IN THESE WATERS.” The waters were a little miserable stagnant pond, green with duckweed, and rite estate into which no trespassers were allowed to enter was about a half an acre of what would have been a meadow if the grass had not been too much trodden down. I was cheered by the reflection that the dogs of the neighborhood must have been highly intelligent, and that there was no need for the School Board in that region, for of course it would have been no use to put up the notice, “No dogs allowed in these waters,” unless the dogs could read. I have before heard of learned pigs, but reading dogs are even more an evidence of the culture of the district.
The exclusiveness of the notice is not altogether new, but being placed so prominently, it struck my attention.
Frequently we are warned that. “trespassers will be prosecuted,” but there is no sentence of the gospel which breathes such a spirit. You cannot trespass there, for the rule is, “Whosoever will, let him come.” You may come to the richest banquets of the gospel; you may walk up and down through all the length and breadth of the land of promise, but you shall never be questioned as to your right to be there, for the Lord says, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” An open door is set before us which no man can shut, and we may enter freely. I know an hotel in a continental town in front of which there is a fine garden, and at the gate yon may read this notice, “Strangers not residing at this hotel are invited to enter and enjoy the garden at all times.” Now that is generous, and deserves all praise; it is indeed after the manner of the gospel — enter and enjoy yourselves, “Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without?”
The Lord draws men to him with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love, but he never did drive a soul from him yet, and he never will. So long as this dispensation of grace shall last, no trespassers can ever be found on the domain of grace, for all who come are invited guests. The Queen permits cerium favored persons to drive through her private park, but the Lord sets the gate of mercy open to all comers and gives all believers a golden key which will admit them at all hours to his own palace. Who then will refuse to come?
The board also said, “No dogs allowed in these waters.” But no such intimation is given concerning the living waters of divine grace, for the poorest dog of a sinner that ever lived may come to drink, and swim, and wash here. No doubt it is advisable to keep dogs out of little shallow pools, for the water would soon become defiled, and the cattle would refuse it; but we do not need to preserve a great river, and no one cares to put up a notice informing the dogs that they may not wash in the sea, because there is no fear whatever that however many dogs may come they will ever pollute old Father Thames or defile the boundless sea. Where there is infinite abundance there may well be unlimited freeness. The vilest dog of a sinner that ever ate the crumb which fell from the Master’s table is invited to plunge into the river of the water of life, which is clear as crystal still, though thousands of uncircumcised and defiled lips have drunk of it, and myriads of foul souls have been washed whiter than snow in its streams. “Come and welcome, come and welcome,” is the note which sounds from Calvary, from the wounds of the expiring Savior; yea, it sweetly comes upon mine ear from the lips of the glorified Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father. “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” No one can be an intruder when the call is so unconditional, and whoever tries to keep any sinner back is doing the devil’s work. They are trespassers who keep away from Jesus, and not those who come to him. Some are afraid that they would be presumptuous should they believe on the Lord Jesus, but presumption lies in the opposite direction: it is the worst of presumption to dare to question the love of God, the efficacy of the blood of atonement, and the saving power of the Redeemer. Cease from such proud questionings, and trust in Jesus. Come hither, bring thy boding fears, Thy aching heart, thy bursting tears; ‘Tis mercy’s voice salutes thine ears — O trembling sinner, come.
Who is the Apostate? A Passover Story. Translated from the German, by Rev.ADOLPH SAPHIR, B.A. London: The Religious Tract Society. A CHARMING little story, designed to show to the Jews the danger of allowing the Rationalist to explain away the personality of Jehovah, or the orthodox Jew to deny the Son of David. In quarters where Pantheism is the fashionable belief, or where a trust in ordinances is looked upon as the way of salvation, this clever little tractate will provide an antidote. Its brevity will ensure its being read where larger works would be cast aside. The style is fascinating, clear, convincing: the pages full of Scripture proof handled with profound reverence. May many a Jew be turned into “an Israelite indeed” through the reading of this book.
The Church: an Essay. By ARTHUR PRIDHAM.
James Nisbet and Co., 21, Berners-street.
ALABORED, and in some respects ingenious, attempt is here made to show that the term church in the Scriptures is not of different applications as to particular churches, or to the number of the redeemed at any one time on the earth, or to those who have entered into rest, or to the completion of the redeemed at the last day, but is limited in its meaning to the saints both of the advent of the Lord. That this is one meaning of the term church we admit, and so far as it serves the purpose of the author in refuting the notion of any essential and permanent distinction between the saints of the Old and New Testament we agree with his design; but we do not regard this as the sole meaning of the term church in the Scriptures. The Battle of Unbelief.
By Rev. GAVIN CARLYLE, M.A. Hodder and Stoughtnn.
A SERIES of papers designed to show the fallaries upon which the opposition to the supernatural in religion rests. The papers are calculated to be useful to studious minds in exposing the cool assumptions of the rationalistic school. The author’s word is not like a fire, but like the hammer that breaketh the rock into pieces. The third paper in the series on “The inner harmony between the Old and New Testament” is powerful and conclusive; and is, perhaps, the best of all. On the whole we should say, if you wish to be entertained or amused, do not buy this book; but if you want good tough Scotch theology, with a large share of philosophy, unrelieved by a single gleam of the imaginative, this is the right sort of reading for you. The work is so printed as to allow of marginal notes being made ad libitum.
NOTES On Wednesday Evening, Sept. 25, a large number of friends assembled at the Tabernacle to bid public farewell to our colored brethren, Messrs.
Johnson and Richardson, and their wives, who will very soon be on their way to Africa to preach the everlasting gospel among those of their own race. During their stay with us they have endeared themselves to us all, and have won a very high place in our esteem by their genuine piety, their unaffected simplicity, and their sincere desire to qualify themselves for their great work. We never remember having met with any of their countrymen in whom we had such unbounding confidence as in these good men; and though they go forth from us to a distant land they will always abide in our kindest memories. May the Baptist Missionary Society find in them able heralis of the cross, and may Ethiopia soon stretch forth her hands unto God. Other brethren in the College are thinking upon Africa, and from all we can see there will be no lack of men for missionaries; but the Christian Church must take care to provide the means for their sustenance. Mr. Johnson will be supported by the Baptist Mission, but Mr. Richardson wishes to remain free, that he may, if the Lord will, pioneer into regions beyond. Of course, he must live, and we shall be glad to unite with others in assisting to provide for him from time to time, us we see how the work proceeds.
On Monday evening, Sept. 30, our beloved brother in the Lord, Mr.J. Hudson Taylor, came again to the Tabernacle to seek the prayers of the church for another party of seven friends who were about to sail for China, in connection with The China Inland Mission. These were Mr. and Mrs. Stott, who have been home for a needful rest; and Miss Mitchell, Miss Snow, Miss Muller, and the Misses E. and F. Boyd, who are going out for the first time. We were very glad to see so many of our sisters setting out for the land where millions are perishing, but we regretted that they were not accompanied by an equal number of brethren. Can it be that our young men have less of the missionary spirit than is poured out on the daughters of the church? We trust that this is not the case. Christian women are greatly needed in “The Celestial Empire,” but so are Christian men.
We commend to all our brethren, and sisters, the earnest appeal of Mr. Taylor and Mr. Stott for more laborers not only in China proper, but also in Turkestan, Cabul, Thibet Mongolia, and other dark parts of Asia, where there are millions of people without a single witness for Christ. No mission so fully meets our ideas as that of Mr. Hudson Taylor. He is an apostolic man, and he has gathered around him men and women of a choice spirit, full of real faith in God, and determined to get at the Chinese in some way or other. Mr. Taylor evidently cares less for scholarship than for grace; and we note in all his brethren who address our meetings that there is no attempt at polish, but an abundance of practical common sense, a hearty belief in the gospel, and a full conviction that the Lord will bless it to the conversion of the heathen. Mr. Stott, a brother who has lost a leg, spoke to the audience at the Tabernacle in such a manner upon his various providential deliverances, that his testimony confirmed the faith of us all. A smile passed over the audience when, alluding to his loss of a limb, he said that it did not matter, for he never meant to run away.
Mrs. Spurgeon has now closed her special distribution to Irish pastors, all the special amount having been expended and much more.
Applications from poor ministers of all denominations are still pouring in, and as fast as a sickly frame enables the work to he done the much valued parcels of books are sent out. The famine for mental food is still sore in the land. Very touching are many of the letters. The Lord has a faithful, self — denying band of ministers among us, and they ought to be supplied with books, out of which they may feed their flocks. This good work must not flag. Can we allow it to do so?
COLLEGE, When we referred in a recent number of our magazine to the deaths of three of our brethren, we little thought that the next one would be our young friend James J. Mead, who only accepted the pastorate at Eceles, near Manchester, last June. Yet so it is; at the early age of twentyone, just as we thought he was prepared to commence his life’s work, it is all over, and he has been called home. lie was a gracious young man, beloved of all below, and ripe for the service above. Who will step in to fill up this gap in our ranks?
During the past month Mr. J. Clark has left us to continue his studies at Glasgow University, and Mr. W. Seaman has accepted an invitation to New Quay, Cornwall. Mr. H. Kidher has removed from Mumbles, Swansea, to Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, and Mr. T. Wheatley has become co-pastor with the Rev. G. Gould, Dunstable, Beds.
We have an extremely large number of applicants for the College: men are eager to enter upon the work of the Lord. At the same time we have no men in the College beyond their time, but on the contrary find it difficult to supply the churches wishing for students. There is, therefore, great need to maintain the College in full working order, and we do not intend to slacken in anything. We lay out our whole life in the Master’s cause, and we trust we shall find fellow-helpers who will find money while we supply labor and thought.
Our brethren, Smith and Clarke, have been down in Cornwall for the greater part of the last month. From Falmonth comes a very delightful letter flora J. Douglas, pastor, in which, after mentioning the crowds and the conversions, he adds: — “Suffice it to say that I never saw Calvinistic truth better handled in gospel meetings than it is by Mr. Clarke. He goes in for a whole salvation, a salvation that covers the future as well as the present, with a decision that I never saw even distantly approached in evangelistic work. Not only does Mr. Clarke set forth the gospel in a way that excludes all legalism from the time present, but which equally decisively rids the King’s highway of it all the way through.”
Redruth seems to have taken fire, and all denominations felt the glowing heat. Out of several letters we select that of Mr. Kench, the esteemed minister of the United Methodist Free Church. “Redruth, Cornwall, Oct. 15, 1878. “Rev. and Dear Sir, — You will, I am sure, pardon me for troubling you with, this letter, but I feel that you should be informed of the good work doing in this town and district by means of your evangelists, as they are called, Messrs Smith and Clarke. From Falmouth I hear of glorious things being accomplished in the name of Jesus, but I wish to say a word with reference to this town and their work in it.
Before they came your minister, the Rev. Mr. Abraham, applied to me for the use of our chapel, which will hold near 2000 persons, and our trustees in the most cheerful manner said Yes, and on Friday evening they began their labors, when, notwithstanding it being market day, some seven or eight hundred persons came together. On Saturday the number was increased, but on Sunday afternoon Mr. Smith conducted a children’s service when some 2500 children and adults filled the chapel in every part.
The address was most interesting and powerful Last evening the chapel was again filled, and at the prayer-meeting several persons sought and found Christ. Throughout the whole of the services held in our chapel (all of which I have attended) there has been a moss powerful influence pervading the meetings. We are greatly cursed in this town by what is called ‘ modern thought,’ and this makes us the more grateful for your evangelists, who stand boldly in ‘ the old paths,’ and with great faithfulness and power’ warn every man’ of the danger to which sin has exposed him. I hear that the other services which were held in the Baptist chapel were crowded, and an overflow meeting was held in the Druid’s Hall, which was also packed, each service being full of God.”
We cannot refrain from adding part of a deeply interesting letter from Mr. Abraham, the Baptist pastor of Redruth, who is unfortunately obliged to leave on account of health. We feel sure that he would be a great acquisition to some vacant church where the climate would be more suitable, The whole letter is most cheering, but space forbids our giving it all. Our friends who are acquainted with the book of hymns entitled “Flowers and Fruits” will appreciate the allusions to the various songs in the paragraphs about the descent into the mine: — .. “Mr. Clarke’s sermon on the well-worn text, ‘Escape for thy life,’ on Tuesday evening seemed to come with the freshness and force of a heavenly inspiration. Then, and often at the other services, my heart sent up almost involuntary (but by no means unwilling) cries to God for his blessing upon the gospel which was so dearly set forth, and my experience was like to that of many others. It seemed marvelous to us all that any could hear the truth so eloquently spoken and so expressively sung, and continue in the service of the father of lies. On the Sunday, morning and evening, Brother Clarke preached in our chapel to as many people as the place could contain; and in the evening a neighboring hall was opened, and Brother Smith had it thronged with those who were eager to hear his triple endeavors to bring the good news to their hearts — by cornet, sermon, and song. The service for children, conducted by Mr. Smith, on Sunday afternoon, will never be forgotten by those who were present. The sight itself still lingers like a beautiful vision in my brain; and that the racy illustrative address went ‘ home’ was evident by the happy, eager, interested faces of the children. All the schools of the town were with us, and there must have been between 2000 and 3,000 individuals packed in the building. We are exceedingly grateful to the United Methodists for so willingly lending us their beautiful and spacious chapel, and to the Rev.T. Kench for the hearty and invaluable assistance which he gave. I have as yet said nothing about the spiritual results, but they have been uppermost in my mind all the time I have been writing. They have been exceedingly cheering, and of course they form our chief source of joy. ‘We are not letting the work cease: I preached in my own chapel on Wednesday night, and it was a difficult matter to get the people to go home. Indeed, the place was not clear till half-past eleven; and then five or six who had come sorrowing because of their sins went away rejoicing in Christ as their sinbearer and risen Lord. The work has been a weariness to the flesh, but a strengthening to the spirit; and, although I am feeling almost ‘ done,’ it is nevertheless a blessed thing to be fatigued and worn in such a glorious cause. Last night I assisted Mr. Kench in a service at his place. By the coming of Messrs. Clarke and Smith I am able to understand more fully than ever I could before how ‘ both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.’ I now regret the necessity for my removal more than ever, but I am very hopeful for the success of the next servant of the Master who shall labor here. “Before the brethren left for Truro on Wednesday, we paid a visit to the East Poole tin and copper mine. After looking about for an hour above ground we commenced preparations for a trip below. The process of dressing in miners’ costume was an exceedingly interesting one. After a considerable amount of stitching and lacing we succeeded in accommodating a suit to Smith’s bulky form; and if you could have seen us when thoroughly equipped you would certainly have thought that some of the Pastors’ College students were prepared for rough work. Two captains accompanied us, and we all wore veritable Mambrino’s helmets, on each of which a piece of moistened clay did duty for a candlestick. Spare candles were attached to the buttons of our jackets. When all was ready we marched across the yard to the shafts, to descend. Having taken our place in the gig, a two-storied cage, three in each compartment, we commenced the descent: down, down, down — through one hundred and fifty fathoms of blackness, We tried to sing, and I have a shrewd suspicion that we did so for the purpose of keeping our spirits up while our bodies were going down; but the ‘Flowers and Fruits’ were not in a congenial atmosphere, and required much forcing before they flourished. Smith commenced with, ‘‘Tis the good old way, By our fathers trod,’ but we could not get; on with that, although a party of young miners might have used the words, for their fathers had to tread the way upon ladders before the gig came into use. ‘ So near to the Kingdom’ was unpleasantly suggestive, while ‘ Heavenward I wend my way,’ and ‘ We’ll journey together to Zion, That beautiful city of light,’ seemed peculiarly inappropriate. At last we started, ‘ I feel like singing all the time,’ and only ceased our song when the carriage stopped.
Then our underground ramble commenced, during which we did not sing ‘ How beautiful upon the Mountains.’ With one captain before, and the ether behind way we went, groping along by the solid granite walls, crawling through narrow passages, climbing ever heaps of debris; now knocking our heads, or rather hats, and giving ourselves the opportunity of singing ‘ Our lamps are gone out, and the daylight is past’; and now standing in uge caverns from which the precious metals have been removed to enrich those, who dwell above. Thirty fathoms deeper we went by the aid of ladders placed at every conceivable angle; until we had I reached a depth of one thousand and eighty feet below the surface, and stood among the foundations of the everlasting hills. Ever and anon we were startled by the bang and rumble and roar of the blastings, and partially suffocated by the smoke. (Captain Bishop promises to suspend blasting operations, and get the mine clear of smoke, if ever he should have the pleasure of taking the President where he conducted the students.) The pitmen hailed our arrival with evident joy; and, when we sat in the midst of a swarthy group, the singing by Mr. Smith of ‘ Always cheerful, always cheerful! Sunshine all around we see,’ did not seem to be at all unsuitable; for there was a brightness about the brown faces of the men, which seemed almost to eclipse the dull glimmer of their candles, like the clear light of open day.
After spending a little time in prayer we commenced our upward climb, and we shall not he likely to forget the candlelighted group of sturdy follows who stood at the one hundred and fifty fathoms level to see us take our places in the gig and start for ‘ grass ‘ again. Clarke nearly fell into an ugly chasm while we were. below, and during the ascent he was very quiet; but when the first gleams of daylight came to us down the shaft we all joined in singing heartily, ‘ Happy day, happy day.’ We were soon able to sing, ‘ Sweetest fellowship we know In the light,’ — with a suggestive emphasis. upon the ‘sweetest.’ Having employed the sun to make a record of our adventure we were soon able to resume our original characters, and although we enjoyed the trip immensely, not one of us was desirous of being anything more than an amateur miner.”
Mr. Burnham, our other evangelist, has had good meetings during the past month at Sandy, Blunham, Ridgmount, Cranfield, Shefford, and Stotfold, Beds; and is engaged from Nov. 3 to 8, Bexley Heath; Nov. 10 to 15, Sevenoaks and Eynslord; Nov. 17 to 22, Woolwich; Dec. 2 to 15, Bower Chalk, near Saltsbury; Dec. 30, Southampton. Application for his services on any vacant evenings should, be made to C. H. Spurgeon, Nightingale Lane, Balham. S.W.
We have received the following report from the pastor of the Baptist church at Sandy, Mr. Thos. Voysey: — “The Baptist cause here and the village generally have been much benefited by tee visit of Mr. J. Burnham. His calm and earnest appeals with the touching gospel melodies sung with pathetic power, assisted by his ‘ American Organ,’ have gone home to the hearts of the numbers who crowded to hear him, leaving a lasting impression for good on the minds of very many. Truly his mission has been a season of refreshing to pastor and people.”
We have abounding evidence that our three brethren are most efficiently serving the churches. Our only trouble about the matter is that as yet no one seems moved to help us in the effort to any extent, for as will be seen by our accounts only £13 has been given to us during the month for a work so extensive and so needed. Still, we cannot believe that the Lord will leave the work to pine for funds.
The quarterly meeting of the collectors was held at the Orphanage on Friday evening, Oct. 4, when about £100 was brought in to help the funds of the institution. This is a smaller amount than usual, but we suppose many of our friends are keeping their boxes and cards until they have collected larger sums. How much more might be done if more people would become collectors! we would gladly forward boxes of books, We had quite a Scotch evening in the boys’ play hall. The Pastor and his son Charles gave an account of their summer holiday in Scotland, several Scotch views were shown with the aid of the dissolving view lanterns, and Scotch melodies were sung by the boys and other kind friends, who enabled Mr. Charlesworth to make up a thoroughly enjoyable program, We were glad to convey to Mr. Macgregor the hearty thanks of the trustees fur the help he has rendered by addressing the tads at the Orphanage on Sunday evenings for so long a time. Excellent speeches were given by Mr. J. M. Smith, Mr. Charlesworth, and Mr. A. G. Brown, who could not think of any better way of spending a holiday of two days than by visiting the Tabernacle and its associated institutions. A true-yoke fellow is our beloved friend.
Our choir of boys have made an excursion to the north, holding meetings at Middlesbrough, Stockton, Newcastle, and Bradford. We had hoped to give details of their journey; but we must be content to epitomize all by saying that everybody was kind to the boys, and that we desire to tender our personal thanks for the noble help which the institution has received from many generous hands. We are elton bowed to the earth by the affectionate respect which is shown to us, and by the love shown to our boys for our sake. We receive enough abuse to crush a man’s spirit, and more than sufficient love to make him alive again. Some good people write with pious horror to know if the organist at Leeds did really play such and such a tune upon our entering the, hall. We have no doubt he did, for the papers say so. But really it is too bad to blame us for that. We neither bought it, nor sought it, nor thought it, and if excessive kindness did commit an indiscretion when intending only a hearty welcome, it; ought not to be visited upon our head, nor we think upon any other. But to return to our orphans, they brought home a noble sum for the Orphanage, and they are ready to go out again on the same terms. The pleasure which it; gives their audiences to hear them sing, and the pleasure which we receive from seeing the Orphanage helped, make these singing trips a happy feature in the Orphanage work. Our deep gratitude is due to Mr. Charlesworth, who conducts these excursions with great enthusteem and sound sense. Correction . — We regret that in our notes last month we understated the amount of produce of Mr. Toller’s “Orphanage Acre” at Waterbeach. It should have been 35 sacks of potatoes and 3 sacks of flour (not 2). THE TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF MR.SPURGEON’ S MINISTRY.
— The committee earnestly call attention to the circular inserted in last month’s magazine. They have received several small amounts, besides one promise of 15250 and another of £50. It is obvious that if the presentation is to be made in January there must be a strong effort made within the next few weeks. It would spoil the intent of the testimonial if it became difficult to raise it. The object is the support of the aged members of the church in the Almshouses; it is at Mr. Spurgeon’s own desire that the object was selected, and the committee trust that the £5,000 which is needed will be readily forthcoming.
T. H. Olney and Thomas Greenwood, Treasurers, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington Butts.
Bazaar goods of all kinds will be thankfully received. The bazaar will commence on Tuesday, December 30.
Mr. Spurgeon’s son Thomas is expected home on the last day of October or first of November, in good health.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle, by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — September 30th, fifteen; October 3rd, fifteen.