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“They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” — Nehemiah 4:17-18 PREFACE IN this magazine the reader has not only the history of those religions and charitable agencies which have found their center at the Tabernacle, but an outline of the religious condition and activity of the period. This we would now summarize. At no time was so much being done in so many ways for the spread of religion of one kind or another; the reign of stagnation has ended, and everywhere things are on the move as to spiritual matters. This is so far good, for anything is better than lethargy; but we are naturally anxious to discover the result of all this stir: does error flourish, or does truth prevail? This, then, is our judgment, formed from observing our part of the spiritual world. Rome compasses sea and land to make one proselyte, and she snatches up here and there a pauper or a peer, but we do not believe that she gains so many as she loses. Our own observation can readily be corrected by that of others, but it leads us to the opinion that Popery pure and simple is not making much headway in England. We once lost a member to the Church of Rome, and we are informed that he has now deserted it: we cannot remember another instance, but we have baptized many Catholics who have not only escaped from the errors of their former creed, but are most decided and established believers in the great doctrines of grace. In fact, before the steady preaching of the gospel, and in the neighborhood of an earnest church, the hold of Popery upon the mind is in many cases relaxing, and in not a few it is gone for ever. There is far more reason to fear the Ritualistic party in the Anglican Establishment: these double-faced gentlemen are making good their ground in the English Church, and are becoming more firmly planted every day. They gain both by their defeats and their successes, and advance none the less surely in places where apparently they are repressed. It is their connection with the National Church which is their strength, allowing them, under the prestige of authority, to lead men astray. Our Episcopalian neighbors at first disliked the Popish revival, then they tolerated it, next they excused it, and now to a large extent they admire it. It seems incredible that in so short a space a body of daring men should have set up the old idols, and brought back the entire Romish paraphernalia; if within the next ten years the church should reunite with that of Rome we should not be one whit astonished — nothing but the secular interests involved therein, and the dread of disestablishment, appear to us to prevent it. The National Church is drunken with the wine of Rome’s abominations, and reels towards the confessional and other filthinesses.
What of the Dissenters? The morning cometh and also the night. To our view there is a predominating faithfulness to the gospel among our brethren, but there are spots of rationalism which should cause great searchings of heart. We cannot be made to believe that Scotch Presbyterianism is largely affected, but we know a denomination in England which is sadly gangrened with a pseudo-intellectualism which counts it manly to doubt, and reckons the believer in the orthodox faith to be a weak-minded creature, worthy of their sublime pity. If this thing goes on, the prospect for those who indulge therein is none of the brightest; their fine notions will alienate the people and make many feel that even superstition is better than cold negations and the chill of perpetual questioning. Where this modern thought comes, it is the hand of death, and all things which are worth preserving wither before it. However, the truth lives and influences millions, and we believe that its profession is more vital and more extensive than ever it was. It cannot be frowned down or sneered down; never did it more prevail than now. Never had we a firmer hope or a brighter expectancy.
Concerning our own work, we render thanks that we have had a year of great mercy in connection with every department of it. Both in men and means the College has grown; the Orphanage has been blest with sufficient supplies, and the orphans have enjoyed remarkable health; the Colportage, though greatly crippled and straitened for money, has made progress; Mrs. Spurgeon’s Fund has scattered happiness among the poor pastors more plentifully than before, and the church has steadily increased and all its agencies have been strengthened: in fact, all things have prospered with the increase of God. Blessed be his holy name for evermore.
One word only. Old and faithful friends have gone home, and we need new helpers. Our donors have decreased in numbers lately, and had it not been that the amounts given have been larger, we should have had a deficiency.
We do not like losing the love and the prayers of the small givers. Where are they? Is this the work of the Lord? May he not, therefore, design that the reader whose eye now glances over the page should become a helper in our labor of love? It is a great enterprise — read our shilling “History of the Tabernacle” and see for yourself — and it needs many helpers. The Lord will direct them to us. Is he now directing you?
C. H. SPURGEON.