WHAT IS ECCENTRICITY?
A LECTURE, BY C. H. SPURGEON.
OUGHT I not to be very timid in speaking upon eccentric preachers when I am somewhat sarcastically requested by an anonymous letter writer to look at home? I do look at home, and I am glad that I have such a happy home to look at. Trembling has not seized upon me upon receiving my nameless friend’s advice, for two reasons; first, because I am not horrified by being charged with eccentricity, and secondly, because I do not consider myself to be guilty of that virtue or vice, whichever it may be. Years ago I might have been convicted of a mild degree of the quality, but since so many have copied my style, and so considerable a number have borrowed my discourses, I submit that I am rather the orthodox example than the glaring exception. After having lived for a quarter of a century in this region, I am not now regarded in London as a phenomenon to be stared at, but as an old-fashioned kind of body, who is tolerated as an established part of the ecclesiastical life of this vast city. Having moved in one orbit year after year without coming into serious collision with my neighbors I have reason to believe that my pathway in the religious heavens is not eccentric, but is as regular as that of the other lights which twinkle in the same sky I have probably done my anonymous correspondent more honor than he deserves in taking so much notice of him; indeed, I only mention the man and his communication that I might bear witness against all anonymous letters.
Never write a letter to which you are ashamed to put your name; as a rule only mean persons are guilty of such an action, though I hope my present correspondent is an exception to the rule. Be so eccentric as to be always able to speak the truth to a man face to face. And now to our subject.
It is not the most profitable business in the world to find fault with our fellows. It is a trade which is generally followed by those who would excuse themselves from self-examination by turning their censures upon others. The beam in their own eye does not appear to be quite so large while they can discover motes in other men’s optics, and hence they resort to the amusement of detraction. Ministers are the favorite prey of critics, and on Sundays, when they think it right to talk religion, they keep the rule to the letter, but violate its sense by most irreligiously overhauling the persons, characters, sayings and doings of God’s servants. “Dinner is over.
Bring the walnuts, and let us crack the reputations of a preacher or two. It is a pious exercise for the Sabbath.” Then tongues move with abounding clatter; tales are told without number, and when the truth has been exhausted a few “inventions” are exhibited. One saw a preacher do what was never done, and another heard him say what was never said. Old fictions are brought up and declared to have happened a few days ago, though they never happened at all, and so the good people hallow the Sabbath with pious gossip and sanctimonious slander. There is a very serious side to this when we remember the fate of those who love and make a lie; but just now we will not dwell upon that solemn topic, lest we should be accused of lecturing our audience in more senses than one. So far as I am personally concerned, if the habit we are speaking of were not a sin, I do not know that I should care about it, for after having had more than my fair share of criticism and abuse, I am not one jot the worse for it in any respect; no bones are broken, my position is not injured, and my mind is not soured.
From the earliest period it has been found impossible for the messengers whom God has sent to suit their style of utterance to the tastes of all. In all generations useful preachers of the gospel have beer objected to by a portion of the community. Mere chips in the porridge may escape censure, and mildly win the tolerance of indifference, but decided worth will be surrounded with warm friends and redhot foes. He who hopes to preach so as to please everybody must be newly come into the ministry; and he who aims at such an object would do well speedily to leave its ranks. Men must and will cavil and object; it is their nature to do so. John came neither eating nor drinking; he was at once a Baptist and an abstainer, and nothing could be alleged against his habits, which were far removed from the indulgences of luxury; but this excellence was made his fault, and they said, “He hath a devil.” Jesus Christ came eating and drinking, living as a man among men; and this which they pretended to desire in John became an offense in Jesus, and they libeled him as “a drunken man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” Neither the herald nor his Master suited the wayward tastes of their contemporaries. Like children playing in the market-place, who would not agree about what the game should be, so were the sons of men in that generation. They rejected the messengers because they loved not the God who sent them, and they only pretended to object to the men because they dared not avow their enmity to their Master. Hence the objections were often inconsistent and contradictory, and always frivolous and vexatious.
Filled with the same spirit of contrariety, the men of this world still depreciate the ministers whom God sends them and profess that they would gladly listen if different preachers could be found. Nothing can please them, their cavils are dealt out with heedless universality. Cephas is too blunt, Apollos is too flowery, Paul is too argumentative, Timothy is too young, James is too severe, John is too gentle. Nevertheless, wisdom is justified of all her children. At this time, when God raises up a man of original mind who strikes out a course for himself and follows it with success, it is usual to charge him with being eccentric. If his honesty may not be suspected, nor his zeal questioned, nor his power denied, sneer at him and call him eccentric, and it may be the arrow will wound.
Let us now pay our attention to this dreadful word eccentric , and then see by what means it has been fixed upon certain preachers of the gospel, and those not the least in usefulness.
What is it to be eccentric? The short and easy method for determining the meaning of a word is to go to the dictionary. Dr. Samuel Johnson, what say you? The sage replies, “It signifies deviating from the center, or not having the same center as another circle.” The gruff lexicographer proves his definition by quoting from an astronomer who charges the sun with eccentricity. “By reason of the sun’s eccentricity to the earth and obliquity to the equator, it appears to us to move unequally.” Eccentric preachers are evidently in brilliant society. Now I am free to admit that the word has come to mean singular, odd, whimsical, and so forth; but bygoing a little deeper into its etymology, we discover that it simply means that the circle in which an eccentric man moves is not quite coincident with that which is followed by the majority: he does not tread the regular ring, but deviates more or less as he sees fit. It would be easy to prove that a movement may be eccentric, and yet quite regular and effective. Every man who has to do with machinery knows what it is for one wheel to be eccentric to another, and he knows also that often this may be a needful and useful arrangement for the purpose of the machine. It does not seem so very horrible after all that a man should be eccentric. I suppose the popular meaning is that a man is off the circle, or in more vulgar phrase “off the square.” But the point is, who is to tell us what the square is, and who is to decide which circle a man is bound to follow? True, this second circle is not concentric with the first, but it is not therefore more eccentric than the first, for each one is eccentric to the other. It may be that A is eccentric to B, but B is quite as much eccentrics to A. A man called me a Dissenter the other day, and I admitted that I dissented from him, but I charged him with being a Dissenter, because he dissented from me. He replied that I was a Nonconformist, but I retorted that he also was a Nonconformist, for he did not conform to me. Such terms, if they are to be accurately employed, require a fixed standard; and in the case of the term “eccentricity” we need first to settle a center and a circumference, from which we may depart.
This will be no easy task: indeed, those who attempt it will find it to be impossible in matters of taste and deportment, according to the old adage, “de gustibus, etc.” (concerning matters of taste it is idle to dispute) and the well-worn proverb, “every man to his taste.”
In morals conscience has fixed the center and struck the ring; and in religion revelation has used the compasses and given us a perfect sphere.
God grant that we may not be eccentric towards God, either as to holiness or truth, for that were fatal: but when fashion and custom mark out illproportioned imitations of the circle of perfection, or even dare to impose curves of their own, it may be grandly right to be eccentric, for all the saints have trodden an eccentric path as they have tracked the narrow way in the teeth of the many who pursue the downward road.
From such consecrated eccentricity come martyrs, reformers, and the leaders of the advance guard of freedom and progress. Breaking loose from the shackles of evil customs, such men first stand alone and defy the world; but ere long the great heart of manhood discerns their excellence, and then men are so eager to fall at their feet that the idolatry of heroworship is scarcely escaped. To us the men seem grander in their solitary adherence to the right and to the true than when they become the centers of admiration: their brave eccentricity is the brightest gem in their crown.
The slavery of custom is as hard and crushing as any other form of human bondage, and blessed is he who for the truth’s sake disdains to wear the galling chain, preferring rather to be charged with singularity and held up to ridicule. It is clear, then, that eccentricity may in certain cases be a virtue. When it touches the moral and the spiritual it may be worthy of all honor.
As to preachers and their mode of procedure, what is eccentricity? Who is to fix the center? I say to all those professed critics who tell us that certain preachers are eccentrics” Who is to fix the center for them?” Shall this important task devolve upon those gentlemen who buy lithographed sermons and preach them as their own? These men are in no danger of violating propriety in the excess of their zeal, for their discourses are cut and dried for them at wholesale establishments. Do you ask, “Is this true?”
I answer, undoubtedly; for the other day, to test the matter, I sent my secretary to a certain bookseller’s, and he brought home to me specimens of these precious productions, lithographed or written by hand, at prices descending from a shilling to sixpence each: a choice variety, believe me.
Some of these invaluable discourses are carefully marked in places to indicate the degree of emphasis to be used, and spaces or dotted lines are employed to indicate the pauses and their suggested length. No one calls the users of these pretty things eccentric; are we, therefore, to regard them as the model preachers to whom we are to be conformed? Are we all to purchase spiritual food for our flocks, at the liberal rate of half-a-guinea a quartet for thirteen sermons, to be exchanged at Lady-day, Midsummer, Michaelmas, and Christmas? If these things be so, and this trade is to be continued and increased, I suppose that we who think out our own sermons, and deliver them fresh from our hearts, will be regarded as odd fellows, just as Mr. Wesley was stigmatized as eccentric because he wore his own hair when all the fashionable world rejoiced in wigs. Well, my brethren, if it should ever be the fashion to wear wooden legs, I shall be eccentric enough to keep to those which nature gave me, weak as they are, and I trust that the number of eccentric people will be sufficient to keep me in countenance.
Who is to fix the center of the circle? Shall we give the compasses into the hand of the high-flying brethren whose rhetoric towers into the clouds and is shrouded and lost in them? Certainly these do the business very grandly, dealing in the sublime and beautiful quite as freely as Burke himself. No common man understandeth or so much as dareth to attempt understanding these gentlemen of the altitudes and profundities. Their big words are by no means needful on account of the greatness of their matter, but seem to be chosen upon the principle that the less they have to say the more pompous must be their phrases. In their magniloquence they “Set wheels on wheels in motion — such a clatter — To force up one poor nipperkin of water!
Broad ocean labors with tremendous roar To heave a cockle-shell upon the shore.” Mr. Muchado is still engaged in whipping his creams into a froth of the consistency of half a nothing; and we may hear the Rev. Mr. Prettyman in many a pulpit exercising the art of spread-eagle to a coterie who do not suspect him of eccentricity, but consider him to be the model divine.
Not in words only are the high-fliers comparable to masses of floating cloud, but in doctrine they are equally beyond all comprehension. They are philosophical gentlemen, superior persons of special culture, though what has been cultivated in them, except an affectation of learning, it would be hard to say. They confuse those whom they ought to confirm, and stagger those whom they should establish. Bishop Blomfield tells us that a certain verger said to him, “Do you know I have been verger of this church fifty years, and though I have heard all the great sermons preached in this place I am still a Christian.” Now, are these dealers in words and dreams to fix the center? If so, we intend to be eccentric; and blessed be God we are not alone in that resolve, for there are others who join with us in the opinion that to be studying the prettinesses of elocution, and the fancies of philosophy, while men are perishing around us is the brutal eccentricity of a Nero, who fiddled while Rome was burning, and sent his galleys to fetch sand from Alexandria while the populace died for want of bread. If the center is to be up in the clouds, let a few of us who care for something practical stop down below and be regarded as eccentric. It is an odd thing that some men prefer to speak upon topics of which they know nothing, and from which no benefit can possibly arise, while themes which might edify are disregarded. Timbs tells us of an eccentric “Walking Stewart,” who had perambulated half the world but would never talk of his travels, preferring to descant upon “The Polarity and Moral Truth,” whereon he spoke so wildly that no one could make head or tail of it. Like this departed worthy, certain men are most at home when they are all abroad, and most important when their subject is insignificant. We do not choose their center, for it is far more suitable for will-o’-the-wisps than ministers of the eternal word. When all souls are saved and all mourners comforted we may venture to discuss recondite theories, but not while graveyards are filling with those who know not God.
Where, then, is the center to be found? Am I directed to yonder vestry? I beg pardon — sacristy. If you open that door, you will perceive a considerable number of cupboards, presses, and recesses. Where are we? Is this a milliner’s shop, or a laundry, or both? Those linen garments reflect great credit upon the washerwoman and ironer; but the establishment is not a laundry, for here hang black gowns and white gowns and raiment as fine as Joseph’s coat. And what a variety? Here, young man, fetch the ecclesiastical dictionary! Here we have an alb and an amice, a cope for the parson, and a corporal for the bread and wine, and — well, there’s no end of the concerns! We are not well instructed in the terminology of these drapery establishments, but we are informed that these things are not to be treated with levity, seeing that therein. abideth much grace, which ministereth to the establishment of the saints. In truth, we have small care to linger among these resplendent rags, but assuredly if the center of gravity lies with gentlemen who thus bedizen their corporeal frames, we prefer to be eccentric, and dress as other mule humanities are wont to do.
It has seemed to us to be needful to discard even the while necktie. While it was the ordinary dress of a gentleman, well and good; but as it has grown to denote a personage of the clerical sort, or, in other words, has become a priestly badge, it seems best to abjure it. This may be done the more readily because it is also the favorite decoration of undertakers and waiters at hotels, and one has no wish to be taken for either of these deserving functionaries. Some young preachers delight in cravats of extreme length, and others tie them with great precision, reminding us of Beau Brummel, who produced miraculous ties, because, as he said, he gave his whole mind to them. I was much aided in the summary dismission of my tie by an incident which happened to me when I first came to London. I was crossing the river by a penny steamboat, when a rude fellow said to me, “How are you getting on at Hitchcock’s?” I could not imagine what he meant; but he explained that he supposed I was in the drapery line, and was probably at that eminent firm. He tried hard to find out where I was serving, and when I gave him for answer that I knew none of the houses in the City, and was not in the drapery, “Then,” said he, “you’re a Methodist parson”; which was a better shot by far, and yet not quite a bull’s-eye.
Having no desire to be lifted into the clerical order, or to claim any distinction above my fellow church-members, I dress as they dress, and wear no special distinguishing mark. Let men of sense judge whether this is one-half so eccentric as arraying one’s self so that it is hard for spectators to guess whether you are a man or a woman, and very easy to say that your garnishing is not manly, but ostentatious, and oftentimes meretricious and absurd. The center is not here. They that wear soft raiment are in king’s houses, but the King of kings cares nothing for the finery and foppery of ecclesiastical parade.
According to common talk, the center of the circle is fixed by the dullest of all the brotherhood, for to be eccentric means with many to have anything over half a grain of common sense, or the remotest flavoring of humor.
Have anything like originality, anything like genius, anything like a sparkle of wit, anything like natural whole-souled action, and you will be called eccentric directly by those who are used to the gospel of Hum-drum. The concentric thing with many is to prose away with great propriety and drone with supreme decorum. Your regular man says nothing which can by any possibility offend anybody, and nothing which is likely to do anyone good.
Devoid of faults, and destitute of excellencies, the proper preacher pursues his mechanical round, and shudders at the more erratic motions of real life.
Far be it from us to depreciate the excellent brother, his way is doubtless the best for him, yet are there other modes which are quite as commendable though more likely to be censured. If you will be as dry as sawdust, as devoid of juice as the sole of an old shoe, and as correct as the multiplication table, you shall earn to yourself a high degree in the great university of Droneingen, but if you wake up your soul and adapt an energetic delivery, and a natural, manly, lively, forcible mode of utterance, all the great authorities of that gigantic institution will say, “Oh dear, it is a pity he is so eccentric.” Common sense decidedly objects to have the center for an eagle fixed by an owl, or the circle for a waxwork figure forced upon a living man.
As to this supposed center of the circle, which we have tried in vain to settle, it may be as well to remark that it is not fixed, and never can be fixed; for climes and times and circumstances involve perpetual change.
Some hundred or more years ago Mr. John Wesley stood on his father’s grave to preach in Epworth churchyard, and he was thought very eccentric for proclaiming the gospel in the open air; as for Mr. Whitefield, he was considered to be demented, or he would never have taken to the fields. Our Lord and his apostles had long before preached under the open heavens, and, persecuted as they were, no one in those days called them eccentric because of that particular practice; and, to show how the ideas of men have changed again, no one is now considered to be eccentric for open-air preaching, at least, not in these regions. I might preach standing on a gravestone tomorrow, and none would blame me. Yes, I forgot, it must not be in a national graveyard, or I should be liable to something dreadful. We must neither stand on an Episcopal tombstone nor be laid under one with our own funeral rites. Those orthodox worms which have fattened on correctly buried corpses so long, would be taken ill if they fed on bodies over which the regular chaplain has not asked a blessing. This care for the worms is to my mind rather eccentric, but let that pass, it will soon be numbered among the superstitions of a dark age. As times roll on, that which is eccentric in one era becomes general and even fashionable in another. The costume and general cut of a preacher of Queen Elizabeth’s day would create a smile if it should be copied under the reign of Queen Victoria, and even the knee breeches, silk stockings, and silver buckles, which I have myself seen upon my venerated grandfather, would create many a smile if they were to reappear at the next meeting of the Congregational Union. “The nasal twang learned at conventicle” was once regarded as the holy tone of piety, and yet the man who should use it now, if he were an Englishman, would be thought an odd being. Indeed, much of the oddity of the famous Matthew Wilks lay in that particular habit; he made you smile, even when speaking with all solemnity, by the strangeness of his voice, and yet I never heard that our Puritanic ancestors were otherwise than grave while listening to the same peculiar form or utterance.
Time was when it was accounted one of the outrageous deeds of a certain Jack Hanway, that he actually walked down a street in London on a rainy day, carrying a new-fangled kind of round tent to keep off the wet; yet no one quotes this action now as a proof of extreme eccentricity, for umbrellas are as common as mushrooms.
The following incident, which happened to myself, will show the power of race and climate in producing the charge of eccentricity. A Dutchman, who from the very orderly style of his handwriting, and the precision of his phrases, should be a very exemplary individual once wrote me a sternly admonitory letter. From having read my printed discourses with much pleasure he had come to consider me as a godly minister; and, therefore, being in London, he had availed himself of the opportunity to hear me.
This, however, he deeply regretted, as he had now lost the power to read my sermons with pleasure any more. What, think you, had I said or done to deprive me of the good opinion of so excellent a Hollander? I will relieve your mind by saying that he considered that I preached exceedingly well, and he did not charge me with any extravagances of action, but it was my personal appearance which shocked him. I wore a beard, which was bad enough, but worse than this, he observed upon my lip a moustache! Now this guilty thing is really so insignificant an affair that he might have overlooked such an unobtrusive offender. But no, he said that I wore a moustache like a carnal, worldly-minded man! Think of that. Instead of being all shaven and shorn like the holy man whom he was accustomed to hear, and wearing a starched ruffed collar all round my neck, about a quarter of a yard deep, I was so depraved as to wear no ruff, and abjure the razor. His great guy of a minister, with ruff and bands and gown, and a woman’s chin was not eccentric, but because I allowed my hair to grow as nature meant it should, I was eccentric and frivolous and carnal and worldly-minded, and all sorts of bad things. You see, what is eccentric in Holland is not eccentric in England, and vice versa. Much of the eccentric business is a matter of longitude and latitude, and to be quite correct one would need to take his bearings, and carry with him a book of costumes and customs, graduated according to the distance from the first meridian.
Moreover, we may not forget that as in religion there have been times of persecution, and times of toleration, so has it been with the pulpit. At one date propriety ruled supreme, and men were doomed to instant ostracism if they passed beyond the settled line; while at another date a sort of Eccentric Emancipation Act is passed, and every man does what is right in his own eyes. At the present moment great latitude is allowed; and several persons are now saying and doing very remarkable things, and yet are escaping the charge of eccentricity. It is well for them that some of us lived before them, and for far smaller liberties were set in the pillory. For myself, I venture to say that I have been severely criticized for anecdotes and illustrations of the very same kind which I meet with in the very excellent discourses of my friend, Mr. Moody, whom I appreciate probably more than anybody else. Many dear, good souls who have heard him with pleasure would not have done so twenty years ago, but would have regarded him as very eccentric. As to Mr. Sankey’s singing, of which I equally approve, would not that have been unpardonable even ten years ago? Would Ned Wright and Joshua Poole, and brethren of that order, have been tolerated in 1858? According to the rules which judged Rowland Hill to be eccentric, I should say that these brethren, are quite as far gone, if not further, and yet one does not hear an outcry against them for eccentricity. No, the bonds are relaxed, and it is just possible that they are now rather too slack than too tight. It is, however, very curious to watch the moods of the religious public and see how what is condemned today is admired tomorrow. Such an observation has a great tendency to make a man rise superior to the verdict of the period, and choose his own path. To promote a manly, courageous course of action in such matters is our main object in delivering this lecture.
Let us, if we are ministers, do that which we believe to be most likely to be useful, and pay little heed to the judgment of our contemporaries. If we act wisely we can afford to wait; our reward is in a higher approbation than that of men; but even if it were not, we can afford to wait. The sweeping censures of hurried critics will one day be blown away like the chaff of the threshing-floor, and the great heart of the church of God will beat true to her real champions, and clear their reputations from the tarnish of prejudice and slander. The eccentricity of one century is the heroism of another; and what is in one age cast out as folly may be in the next revered as a wisdom which lived before its time. Well said the apostle, “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.”
To return to our circle and con centricity: It would be a very great pity if the center of the circle could be fixed by a decree like that of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not If we could settle once for all what is concentric and what is eccentric it would be a very serious evil, for the differences of utterance and modes of address among God’s ministers serve a very useful purpose. When Dr. John Owen said that he would give all his learning to be able to preach like the tinker, John Bunyan, he spake not wisely, unless he meant no more than to extol honest John; for Owen’s discourses, profound, solid, weighty, and probably heavy, suited a class of persons who could not have received Bunyan’s delightfully illustrated preaching of the plain gospel. No, Dr. Owen, you had better remain Dr. Owen, for we could by no means afford to lose that mine of theological wealth which you have bequeathed to us. You would have looked very awkward if you had tried to talk like the marvelous dreamer, and he would have played the fool if he had imitated you. It is pitiful to hear comparisons made between the different servants of the same Lord. They were made by their Master, the one as well as the other, and set in different spheres to answer his own designs, and the same wisdom is displayed in each. I heard the other day of a discussion which may have answered its design in educating youthful powers of debate, but intrinsically it was an idle theme; it was this — Does the world owe most to the printing-press or to the steam engine? The machines are alike useful for the purposes intended, and both essential to the world’s progress, why contrast them? Why not as well raise a controversy as to the relative values of needles and pins? Robert Robinson, of Cambridge, had a terse, vigorous, and somewhat homely style of preaching, and I heard it asserted that it was more effective than that of Robert Hall, by whom he was succeeded, who was grandly rhetorical and overwhelming. Who is to judge in such a matter? Who in his senses would even tolerate the question? We claim for Robert Hall a master’s seat in the assembly of divines, nor would we place Robert Robinson below him, for each man suited the condition of the church. We admire every man in his own order, or even in his own disorder, so long as it is really his own. He has some end to serve in God’s eternal purpose, let him answer that end without carping criticism from us. Who are we, that we should even condemn what seems to us odd and singular? How many souls were won to God by Mr. Rowland Hill’s “eccentricities,” as they called them, the judgment day alone will reveal. You have, doubtless, heard of the young man who was about to go to India, and a pious friend was very anxious that he should not leave the country in an unconverted state. He induced this young man to stay a week with him in London, and took him to hear a minister of much repute, a very able man — a man of sound argument and solid thought, in the hope that perhaps something which he said would lead to his friend’s conversion. The youth listened to the sermon, pronounced it an excellent discourse, and there was an end of it. He was taken to hear another earnest preacher, but no result came of the service. When the last night came, the godly friend, in a sort of desperation, ventured with much trembling to lead his companion to Surrey Chapel, to hear Mr. Hill, praying earnestly that Mr. Hill might not say any funny things, that he might, in fact, preach a very solemn sermon, and not say anything whatever that might cause a titter. To his horror, Mr. Hill that night seemed to be more than ever lively, and he said many quaint things. Among the rest he said that he had seen a number of pigs following a butcher in the street, at which he marveled, inasmuch as swine have usually a will of their own, and that will is not often according to their driver’s mind. Mr. Hill, upon inquiring, found that the aforesaid pigs followed the leader because he had peas in his pocket, and every now and then he dropped a few before them, thus overcoming their scruples and propensities. Even so, said Mr. Hill, does the devil lead ungodly men captives to his will, and conduct them into the slaughter-house of everlasting destruction, by indulging them in the pleasures of the world. The sober gentleman who had brought his friend to the chapel was greatly shocked at such a groveling simile, and grieved to think of the mirth which his young friend would find in such a dreadful observation. They reached the door, and to his surprise the youth observed, “I shall never forget this service. That story about the pigs has deeply impressed me, for I fear it is my case.” A happy conversion followed, and the critic could only retract his criticism in the silence of his own grateful heart. Well, then, let each servant of God tell his message in his own way. To his own Master he shall stand or fall.
If God moves a Rowland Hill to speak of pigs, it will be better than if he had descanted upon purling brooks, or blue-eyed seraphim. Taste may be shocked, but what of taste when men are to be aroused from the fatal slumbers of indifference! If you are living without Christ in the world, your state and condition are far more shocking in themselves than any arousing words can possibly be. It is sin which is vulgar and in bad taste; so they think who best can judge, — the purest of our race and the angels in heaven. It disgusts me to see a man whom God’s word declares to be “condemned already” giving himself airs, and affecting to be too delicate to hear a homely sentence from one who desires to save him from eternal wrath, He is coarse enough to despise the altogether lovely One, brutal enough to reject the gospel of love, and base enough to rebel against his Creator and Preserver, and yet forsooth he is a connoisseur in religion, and picks over every word which is spoken to him for his good! This spiritual prudery is sickening to the last degree.
I have given the story of Mr. Hill because it is a type of many which are considered to be eccentric and coarse, but which are not so at all, except to shallow minds. There is nothing essentially vulgar in an allusion to pigs any more than to any other animals, for our Lord himself spoke of “casting pearls before swine,” and the apostle Peter alluded to the sow that was washed wallowing in the mire. Nor is there anything essentially coarse in the simile of the hogs following the butcher; in fact, it is less coarse than Peter’s metaphor which we have quoted, especially when coupled with the dog’s returning to his vomit. No creature, truly represented, is common or unclean. It is only a sort of Phariseeism of taste which makes it so. Real vulgarity lies in foul allusions and indelicate hints, and these are to be found among men of dainty speech, such as Lawrence Sterne, and not among holy and homely minds after the order of Rowland Hill. Tinge your stories or your figures with dirt, Mr. Slop dash! and we abandon you: nothing which is indelicate can be endured in the service of a holy God. Come home to the heart in your own genial, homespun manner, and I, for one, will delight in you, Mr. Slap dash! and bid you God speed. So much difference is there between slop and slap that it might furnish a theme for a lecture, and yet there is only the change of a vowel in the words. So may disgusting vulgarity and homely force wear much the same aspect, and yet they differ as much as black and white. There is a charming poetry in many a simple figure which unsophisticated minds delight in. If a smile is raised it only shows that the soul is awake, and is pleased to be taught so plainly.
Critics may take out their penknives to gore and gash, but honest hearts delight in the natural expressions, the instructive comparisons, and the heartfelt utterances of the earnest man whom the world sets down as
AN ECCENTRICPREACHER.THE SERPENT IN PARADISE:
OR, GAMBLING AT MONTE CARLO WE must apologize to our readers for introducing to their notice a subject which will neither minister to their edification nor increase their pleasure, a subject, moreover, in which the bulk of them. have no personal interest whatever. Our apology is the necessity of doing something towards ending an abomination which reeks before high heaven, and has been too long permitted to defile the earth; an abomination which has survived the removal of all others like it from among civilized men, as dangerous to society and ruinous to public morals; an abomination for which there is no excuse but the depraved appetite of the immoral public, and no remedy but its universal denunciation by all respectable men. Those who have set up the gaming tables of Monte Carlo have no conscience; it remains for the public to find them one, and this can never be till an enlightened public opinion is formed and expressed. We cannot tell where the following protest may make its way, we do, however, entreat all lovers of common decency, all lovers of their race, to use such influence as they have in assisting the effort to put down this bane of the Riviera, this pest-house of Europe, the gambling establishment of Monte Carlo.
Thousands every year resort to Nice, Mentone, Cannes, and other towns in the sunny south of France to escape the rugged winters of their own land.
Many of these are invalids, but a considerable number are wealthy persons who are accustomed to foreign travel, and are attracted by the exquisite scenery which they have the health and strength to enjoy. Numbers of wellto- do people come with their families, and the young folks make up pleasure excursions for the valleys and the mountains, and spend their time most agreeably, with undoubted benefit to their health. Who can blame them for resorting to such a Paradise, which seems indeed to have been specially prepared to give health to the sick, and pleasure to the active?
Possessing a balmy air, a dry atmosphere, lovely landscapes, and a brilliant sun, the land is the garden of the world, an Eden which has survived the Fall. What more could be desired? Alas, there is a serious drawback to the enjoyment of the region, and this is of a most insidious and deadly sort. At Monte Carlo, which is generally confused with Monaco, of which it is a part, the insignificant Princelet has set up a public gaming establishment in the finest conceivable position, in the choicest spot in all this choicest of lands. The establishment is surrounded with magnificent gardens, which are free to all, and within there is a theater with the finest music in the world, with all its entertainments gratis, and superb rooms furnished with newspapers in all languages, and every convenience which luxury can desire — all for nothing.
This may seem a small matter at first sight, for no one is obliged to go near the spot, much less to enter the gaming rooms and lose his money; persons have only to keep clear of the nuisance, and there is an end of it. So it might appear, and yet on closer inspection the matter assumes a different aspect. Young men of respectable and even godly families go to Monte Carlo just to see the place; in fact, in many cases the parents take an early opportunity of going over to Monaco with their young people to enjoy the gardens and the delightful view. No harm is dreamed of; the most respectable persons go into the rooms just to see the game and the gamesters; they take no part in the proceedings, they look on and retire, and have no thought of doing wrong. In many instances, however, young men have gone again, have put down a five-franc piece or a Napoleon, and have acquired a taste for gambling. Gentlemen of fortune, merchants of position, and persons of moderate competence have found themselves penniless after a course of attendance at these rooms, and our young friends who commence with modest losses are learning the way to the same consummation. Moreover, while lingering at Monte Carlo and watching the wheel of fortune, young gentlemen become aware of other Charms which are placed around them, as a snare is set for a bird, and connections are formed polluting to character and fatal to virtue. We know of cases where Monaco has been the moral death of hopeful youth. The way of destruction was smoothed even to the jaws of hell: first, there was a walk in the lovely gardens with mother and sisters; then the music in the hall was enjoyed in mixed society; next came a sly visit to the rooms and a trifling speculation, followed by frequent sittings at the table, diversified with wine and questionable company, and in the end brought to a climax by actual vice and ruin. Parents are afraid to bring their families to Nice and Mentone lest their children, drawn to Monte Carlo by simple curiosity, should succumb to its temptations, to their endless sorrow.
Their fear is not an idle one, for in numerous cases the dreaded evil has actually occurred. Ought such a man-trap to be tolerated? Should it be permitted that such a moral pestilence shoulddesolate so many households that prudent fathers shun the spot as full of peril to their sons? What right has the Prince of Monaco to drive away persons of character from this region of health and beauty because he finds the wages of iniquity a convenient addition to his income? The Bishop of Gibraltar says, “All the Christian churches of the Riviera, from Marseilles Genoa, have condemned with one consentient voice this establishment at Monte Carlo, as a curse to the neighborhood, a scandal to our Christian religion, and a disgrace to the civilization and culture of the age.” Why, then, does France allow it to continue, when it could in a moment put it down?
It is not only that Monte Carlo is a gaming house, but that it is so conspicuous. There are, no doubt, many secret haunts of gamblers, but this is public and ostentatious. What the Crystal Palace is to London this establishment is to the health resorts of the Riviera; and if our readers will only imagine the Crystal Palace transformed into what is called “a hell,” with all its fascinating surroundings, they will have some idea of the prominence and perilous power which Monte Carlo possesses. In the month of February of this year 43,905 strangers visited the place, a tolerably large flock of pigeons for the devil to practice upon. These people did not all go to Monaco to gamble, but they were all subjected to a temptation which, over many persons, exercises a fascination from which they cannot escape. Of course, those who gamble are fools; but then fools are very numerous, and it is for fools that we must legislate. Let a man look around hint before he stakes his money, and what will he see? A tiny territory free from duties, possessing public buildings of the most sumptuous character, and roads smooth as a billiard table; a casino, with gardens, theater, music, all gratuitous because all paid for by the profits of the gambling table; a prince with a palace, army, and so forth, maintained in like fashion, and a clear gain of eight millions of francs, or £320,000 sterling, to the “Societe Anonyme,” which manages the whole concern.
Surely, if a man must gamble, he might find some way of doing it with out being quite so heavily weighted. Every thinking man must know that though an occasional visitor to the tables may possibly gain, yet if persons stay long enough it is as sure as death and doom’s-day that all they have must be raked into the treasury. Even if the odds which make the commission were only one per cent. the bank must, as a matter of absolute fact, in the long run, suck up the capital in a hundred times of playing. The odds are, however, far greater, and yet the tables are crowded. Surely, in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird, but these fools of all nations are eager to be destroyed. The feathers are plucked from them, and they call it “play.” Mr. Brock, the English chaplain at Mentone, in his earnest pamphlet gives several instances of crushing losses at Monte Carlo. Of course these are usually concealed, but they must amount to a great number in a year, and many of them are far worse than those which we now quote from our excellent friend. “I was traveling last December,” said a French friend to me, “with a young German returning home. He came to Nice for his health with seven thousand francs to bear his expenses. Soon after his arrival he was tempted to Monaco, where he lost all. Some kind people raised sufficient to pay his expenses home, whether to live or die they know not. “A somewhat similar case recently happened. A nice young fellow went one day to the hell. His visits were repeated, became more frequent; a carriage was next, daily hired to drive to Monaco. His money went: his landlord was imperious. One, two, three, four weeks bills unpaid! ‘You must pay, sir.’ At last action was taken. The landlord detained what of property he had, bought him a through ticket home; and so the young man left, money and reputation gone. “A German in England had made in business £15,000. He thrice came to Monaco, in the hope of retrieving his first loss of £5,000, and at the close of his last visit found himself minus the whole sum. He returned to London, committed forgery, and again tried his fortune at the Tripot . A Lord Mayor’s warrant was put into the hands of a detective, who laid hold of the wretched man one night on his return to Nice. So ended his guilty course. “A gentleman purchased a property on the Riviera, but leaving before the purchase was concluded lodged the amount (several thousand pounds), authorizing certain parties to draw, and pay the amount. They drew the money; but overcome by the tempting vicinity of Monaco squandered it all there. “We do not expect to put down gambling: that will ever exist. But this gambling ‘made easy,’ at Monaco, we will do our best to suppress. “‘I never played in my life, I have no taste for play whatever,’ said a Russian prince to his friends, who were dissuading him from his intention of settling at Monaco; however, in vain. And what was the consequence?
Naturally, he used to lounge into the hall; naturally, this became a habit; naturally, he came to play; naturally, he lost all he had; naturally, he got into debt; and, as naturally, decamped, leaving creditors to look in vain for the thirty thousand francs he owed them. “‘Come,’ said a companion to a poor invalid who had saved £70 for his winter expenses at Nice, ‘before you settle down in your room let us go over and hear the music at Monaco.’ They went. From the concert room they entered the gambling room, and before they left that place of infamy the poor invalid had lost his all.”
It will be seen from these incidents that losses at Monte Carlo are the root of other evils. Continually persons are brought before the police courts, who plead their losses at the gaming table as the reason of their departures from honesty. Frequently, also, the money which should be paid over to the hotel-keeper by his guest is lost at play, and the debtor absconds without paying his bill. There is no doubt, also, that a taste for gambling has been fostered, that many clandestine roulettes are in full action, and that at the clubs men play very high. It was said that by tolerating this one den all gambling would be confined to Monaco, and would there be under control: the contrary is the case, the whole region is polluted by it. Well did one of the magistrates of Nice exclaim, “This gaming is the plague of the country, and the plague is gangrened. The ravages of this vice extend every day.”
Although the local press is charged with venal silence yet these matters come out in the courts of justice, and are made occasionally a public topic by the agitation of those who deplore the giant evil. A letter addressed to the French senators and deputies by certain inhabitants of Nice, Cannes, and Mentone contains such an indictment against Monte Carlo as should secure its instant condemnation, especially as it is sustained and abundantly proved by a terrible array of facts, which are placed in an appendix.
That part of the appendix which has made the most impression upon our mind is the list of suicides of whom, in less than three years, twenty had been recorded in Monte Carlo and the region near at hand. Deaths by pistol shots, hanging, placing the head upon the railway, and casting one’s-self from a rock make up the principal items of the ghastly list. A commercial traveler coming on business to Mentone went to Monaco. As usual, he just put down a five-franc piece. His own money soon went. That of his employer followed, and there he was! He could not bear the disgrace, and, therefore, putting a pistol to his head he rushed, at the early age of thirty, unbidden, into the presence of his Maker, a self-murderer. Another poor wretch, before taking his own life, wrote these words on a blank leaf — “ Monaco, thou wilt yet slay many others!” A third, who destroyed himself with a pistol, wrote upon a photograph of the casino these words — “House of perdition, fit only to be burned!” In sight of the blood-stained halls of Monte Carlo we are constrained to join in the verdict of the unhappy victim. Those suicides which are mentioned as happening at Nice, Monaco, and the neighborhood cannot be the only ones; there are, doubtless, others who reach home as beggars and commit the same horrible deed with less publicity. We fear there is much truth in the assertion of the public procurator — “The ruined player can scarcely avoid one of two ends, dishonor or death. If he has a heart, he kills himself; and if he has none, he becomes a swindler and a thief.” Such thieves every now and then turn up at the tables themselves, and are led to the borders of the little territory and dismissed with a kick; as for the corpse of the suicide, it is buried by stealth after sundown. In the case which happened on March 25, 1876, a gentleman had lost his all at roulette, and blew his brains out near the casino itself: the remarks made by certain frequenters of the rooms contained no pity for their wretched fellow-creature, but expressed the refinement of their manners — “Poor Y — showed a shocking want of taste in killing himself so near the salon. He might have gone a little further off.” No sin hardens the heart like gambling. Inhumanity is only a natural result of it. The play burns the heart, and dries up the milk of human kindness. While it renders a man weary of ordinary labor, for he fancies he has found a swifter road to riches, it makes him fit for any villainy and vice.
It arouses covetousness, creates a selfish excitement, unfits for duty, and prepares for every iniquity. Need we say more against it? Can more be said?
Now, this hell-hall of Monte Carlo has its admirers and advocates, and we do not wonder at it, for unrenewed hearts are always ready to defend sin, but what we shall marvel at will be this — if Christian people who know the nature of the place are seen in connection with it. That they should go to hear “the finest band in Europe,” and to see gardens which are not to be surpassed for beauty is not at all surprising so long as they are unaware of the evil which they are thus patronizing, but if they continue to do this after due warning, it will be a great evil under the sun. The managers do not want all who visit Monte Carlo to play, they are wise enough to see that the ranks of the gamblers need to be recruited from among sober people, and wish for a fringe of play-hating people to shade off the company into sober respectability, and bring decent folk within range of the temptation.
Few would come within their grip if all the assembly consisted of brazenfaced females and worthless sharpers, but there are many steps to the descending stairs, and right glad are the directors to see upon the upper rounds ladies and gentlemen who on Sunday will be conspicuous at church, and are known on other days as the cream of respectability. The presence of such persons makes the road to perdition a genteel promenade, and therefore it pays the promoters to give them music and flowers for nothing.
The Bishop of Gibraltar did well to address his clergy in words such as these: “At the opening of another season I hope that you will endeavor to deepen the impression which your words then produced, by again speaking on the subject whenever you may see a suitable opportunity. You will have in your congregations many fresh hearers, who will know little about Monaco and the ruin it is causing, and who, like their predecessors, might visit the place without a thought that they were dipping into danger or dabbling in sin, without a thought that they were frequenting haunts where no person of right principles should be seen, without a thought that they were giving respectability to the vice of gambling, adding to those wages of iniquity by which the establishment is supported, and decoying brothers and sisters to their ruin; but simply for the love of fun and amusement, for the pleasure of hearing good music and gazing at lovely scenery, for the fascination of witnessing for once a novel and strange sight. Many such persons, as I believe, only want a word of warning. Tell them of the remorse, shame, misery, and ruin which Monte Carlo is daily working; tell them of the separations which it causes in families between son and father, between husband and wife; tell them of the deceit and other vices which gambling fosters; tell them of characters which at the start of life gave promise of a good and useful career, but now are wrecked beyond recovery; tell them how the plague spreads from place to place, how the excitement pursues and haunts its victim, how it draws together the very scum of society; tell them it is the respectable, who are the real supporters of Monte Carlo, and that without their patronage the establishment would become bankrupt; and, if they have ears to hear and hearts to understand, they will restrain their curiosity, practice a little self-denial, and in spite of the attractions which Monte Carlo offers, they will not only abstain from going themselves, but will endeavor by personal influence to prevent others from going. What is wanted of us all is that we should endeavor to form a healthy and righteous public opinion on the subject of gambling, draw away the veil which hides its guilt, and exhibit it to our congregations in its real deformity.”
As a humble contribution to the end proposed by the bishop we have inserted this article in our magazine, and we shall be glad if it should be copied into the newspapers, and should help to make a stir. Anyone is at perfect liberty to reprint the present article, and the more it is spread abroad the better shall we be pleased. Since writing as we have done we have been delighted to see The Times hurling its thunder-bolts against the evil, and we feel all the more the necessity of keeping the matter before the public mind. C.H.S.
A SERMON FOR SERMONIZERS.
WHILE Dr. Manton was minister at Covent Garden he was invited to preach before the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, and the Companies of the City, upon a public occasion, at St. Paul’s.
The doctor chose a very difficult subject, in which he had an opportunity of displaying his judgment and learning, and appearing to the best advantage.
He was heard with the admiration and applause of the more intelligent part of the audience; and was invited to dine with my Lord Mayor, and received public thanks for his performance. But upon his return in the evening to Covent Garden, a poor man following him, gently plucked him by the sleeve of his gown, and asked him if he were the gentleman who had preached that day before the Lord Mayor. He replied, he was. “Sir,” says he, “I came with an earnest desire after the word of God, and in hope of getting some good to my soul, but I was greatly disappointed, for I could not understand a great deal of what you said: you were quite above me.”
The doctor replied, with tears in his eyes, “Friend, if I did not give you a sermon, you have given me one; and, by the grace of God, I will never play the fool by preaching before my Lord Mayor in such a manner again.”
NOTICES OF BOOKS
ANECDOTES OF THE WESLEYS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF THEIR CHARACTER AND PERSONAL HISTORY.
BY THE REV. J.B.WAKELEY, WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE REV. J. M.
CLINTOCK, D.D., LL.D. HODDER AND STOUGHTON.
TENTH edition, and no wonder, for the stories are well selected and the book is gorgeously clad. The book has attractions for others besides Wesleyans; as it well may have, for the Wesley family were instinct with life, and begat notable incidents, as fat pastures bring forth king-cups and daisies. For a quiet leisure hour commend us to such a book, and, oh, for more sweet leisure to quaff from such a goblet: more rest would make toil more effectual, and the heart more fresh for holy labor. SHAKSPEARE’S DEBT TO THE BIBLE: WITH MEMORIAL ILLUSTRATIONS.
BY THE REV. CHARLES BULLOCK, B.D. 1, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS.
THE samematter, so far as Shakespeare is concerned, has been arranged by other hands in volumes well known to the public, but Mr. Bullock has even more fully Christianized it. We are glad to see how wisely our author deals with the theater, which we dare not hope can ever be redeemed from its alliance with vice. Shakespeare, with all his blemishes, is purity itself compared with most stage-writers, and the quantity of wholesome truth, and even Scriptural doctrine which he has worked into his plays is very remarkable. The book is worthy of a wide circulation.
— The Fifteenth Annual Conference of the Pastors’ College Association was commenced on Monday afternoon, May 5, at three o’clock, by a well attended prayer-meeting at the College, at which Pastor W. Williams (Upton Chapel) presided. (Everything should begin with prayer.) At seven, the regular prayer-meeting at the Tabernacle was made a season of special supplication for a blessing upon the engagements of the week is good for the church to pray for its ministers.) The vice-president was in the chair, several of the brethren prayed, and addresses were given by Pastor T. W. Medhurst. Landport; and Mr. Clarke, of Spezzia.
Meanwhile, during the same afternoon, about two hundred of the pastors and students were entertained at tea at Trinity Chapel, John Street, Edgware Road, by invitation of Pastor J. O. Fellowes and his friends. At seven, the chattel was crowded for a public meeting, the president was in the chair, and a right good, warm-hearted meeting it was. Mr. Norris’s (Bedminster) appeal for men to go to China, and Mr. Hamilton’s account of the work in Cape Town, were memorable notes in a meeting where each of the addresses had a special charm. It was a glorious beginning of a happy week. At the suggestion of the chairman the collection, which amounted to £20, was given to Mr. Hamilton for his new chapel in Cape Town, for which he needs liberal help at this present. On Tuesday morning, May 6, at the College, the first hour was spent in special thanksgiving and prayer. The president, whose entry was the signal for the “band of brothers” to sing the doxology, referred in his inaugural address to the fraternity existing amongst the members of the Conference, glanced at the general outlook, and then spoke with special reference “To the discouraged.” These were counseled (1) not to be so discouraged as to feel satisfied without success, (2) to remember that others have their burdens, (3) not to judge themselves by others, (4) to take care of their own piety, (5) to be themselves happy in the Lord, (6) to be patient in labor, (7) to have a single eye to God’s glory, and (8) to encourage others even when they were depressed themselves. The address, which lasted more than an hour and a half, was closed with the expression of the speaker’s prayer that those who fell asleep with a great heaviness upon them might be encouraged through some such visions as were given to Abraham, Jacob, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and Paul. After a short interval prayer was offered by Mr. W. P. Lockhart, of Liverpool; and the Conference business was transacted, among which record was made of the falling asleep in Christ of our beloved brethren Ness, Wills, Burtt, Gregory, and Mead. The names of thirty-six students were added to the Conference roll, and the officers were unanimously re-elected.
In the evening a Soiree was held at the Orphanage. Our sweet singers, Messrs. Mayers, Smith, Burnham, Chamberlain, and Parker, and the orphan boys sang us many of the songs of Zion. It was meet that we should praise the Lord for his goodness to ms all through another year, and we all rejoiced with full hearts. Mr. Fergusson gave us a soul-searching address on the inquiry, “What is ministerial success?” Mr. Hamilton told us more about his wonderful work in Cape Town; Charles Davis, one of the orphans, recited, “The blind boy,” as a prelude to Mr. Chamberlain’s solo, “Shew me thy face”; Pastor J. Dodwell (Middleton Cheney) read his paper on “John the Baptist and ourselves,” and a most enjoyable meeting was brought to a close by a few earnest words from Mr. Lockhart. It was a love feast indeed. On Wednesday morning, May 7, after a season of devotion, the Vice- President spoke upon the words of the Lord Jesus to his disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants; . . . but I have called you friends.” It was indeed good to be there. We next had the privilege of listening to a delightful paper from our esteemed friend Pastor H. O. Mackey (Southampton) on “Inward qualifications for the ministry: how to develop and maintain them.” We need not say more about the paper now, as we hope soon to present it to our readers in full. The morning session was solemnly but suitably closed by Mr. Gracey’s trenchant essay on “Our present position with regard to the doctrine of future punishment.” We separated, feeling that our hearts were the better for the instruction which we had received, and for the solemn truths which had been laid before us.
In the evening, the subscribers to the College partook of tea together, and afterwards assembled for the annual meeting, under the able presidency of T. A. Denny, Esq. Prayer was offered by Mr. G. T. Congreve, the annual report was presented by the President, addresses were delivered by the Chairman, our venerable tutor, Mr. Rogers, Pastor W. Hamilton, Messrs.
Charles and Thomas Spurgeon, Messrs. Clarke and Smith, Mr. Alderman McArthur, M.P., and Mr. Thomas Blake, M.P., and solos were sung by our evangelists, Smith, Burnham, and Parker. The company then adjourned to the lecture-hall under the Tabernacle, to partake of the supper once more provided by Mr. Phillips, and before the proceedings closed more than £2,000 had been presented to the College funds. Praise ye the Lord. Thursday morning, May 8, commenced with special thanksgiving for the mercies of the previous evening, and prayer for future blessings. PastorS. Pilling (Black-pool read a paper on “Spiritual Stagnation: its cause and cure,” and after a brief discussion, Pastor R. F. Jeffrey (Kingsgate Street Chapel, Holborn) read his paper on “The Pentecostal prayer meeting: its Place and Power in the Primitive Church.” These important papers were followed by a number of short speeches upon the way to make prayermeetings interesting, and it was agreed that one day in the year should be set apart by every member of the Conference far simultaneous prayer to God by the whole of our associated churches. We recommend the brethren to arrange for this year to have one meeting or more for special prayer on Monday, June 23, which is probably the most convenient day in the proximity of Midsummer. We shall immediately issue a paper upon this day of prayer, and we beg all the brethren to observe the day with great earnestness.
In the evening, as many friends as we could accommodate were present at tea, and afterwards we had the largest public meeting that we have ever had during our conferences. The President referred in detail to the work of the College, which continues to be most cheering and successful. Mr. Gracey presented to the President the College contribution to the Testimonial Fund — £414 8s. 9d. (This amount is included in the larger sum which was presented to us afterwards.) The gift of love was affectionately accepted for the Lord’s work, to which it is to be all applied, while the words of praise that accompanied it were passed on to the noble band of co-workers without whom the work could never have grown to its present dimensions. Shortly afterwards Mr. Martell came on the platform to speak to us, and we gladly seized the opportunity of saying how much we owe to his thoughtful and untiring help in almost every department of our vast enterprise. In his reply he very earnestly thanked the contributors to the weekly offering, which last year realized £1,878, and asked them still to continue in that way to show their love to the College. “Remember,” said our friend, “when the money comes in week by week, we are able to pay our way just at the right time. There is nothing like the weekly offering, so mind you keep it up.” (Blessed be God for this brother’s zeal for the weekly offering which is right in principle and noble in practice.)
Addresses were delivered by Pastors W. Hamilton:, C. A. Davis, (Bradford), W. Usher (Dacre Park), and G. Samuel (Penge); and the evangelists again led the singing. The ministers and students were then once more feasted on the good things prepared by Mr. Phillips, who was heartily thanked by the President in the name of the whole assembly. A right royal day had this been all along. Friday, May 9, the last and best day of the feast, began with a sweet season of prayer; after which the President read and expounded Philippians ii., and then our dear old Father Rogers spoke to us for more than an hour from the words of the apostle Paul: “I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” It was one of the raciest, wisest, and most faithful addresses to which we have ever listened.
Our venerable friend will soon retire from his regular College work, but he will be with us in heart and soul as long as he lives. He certainly gives us his best things last. Having listened to the oldest member of our College family we were very pleased next to have an address from Mr. Thomas Spurgeon, the last admitted student. His subject was part of Mark 6:1: “His disciples follow him.” All felt that the Master himself spoke to us by his youthful servant and our hearts were touched with holy emotion. Then followed the communion, and the closing psalm was sung as usual by all present, who stood with hands linked in token of the union existing between them. At the dinner table it was reported that the students and their churches had contributed over £433 during the year to the College funds, in addition to the amount added to the Testimonial. Thanks were given with hearty cheers to many of our generous helpers, and especially to Mrs. Spurgeon for the books with which so many poor preachers’ libraries have been enriched. Here ended another of the Feasts of Tabernacles, and every man went unto his own home strengthened and made glad.
On Monday, May 12, the prayer-meeting was turned in the direction of foreign missions, and our hearts were cheered by a letter from a missionary in China who had been one of the Tabernacle Sunday-school teachers, and from another missionary who had gone from the College Evening Classes.
It was a young man’s night, and it was refreshing to observe how the missionary feeling is kindled in the church and the College, and promising brethren are yielding themselves to the divine call.
THE TESTIMONIAL PRESENTATION.
— The services held in commemoration of the completion of the twenty-fifth year of our pastorate were continued from Sunday, May 18th, to Tuesday, the 20th. On the Sunday we preached in the morning from Habakkuk 3: 2, and in the evening from Psalm 65:11.
Both the sermons will be published, together with the papers read, speeches delivered, and hymns sung at the meetings held in connection with the presentation of the Pastoral Silver Wedding Testimonial. We shall, therefore, give here only a brief outline of the proceedings. The meeting on Monday evening was set apart exclusively for praise and thanksgiving. It was preceded by a tea in the school-room, to the poorer members of the church, as it was the pastor’s especial wish that if any persons should have more joy than others at the various gatherings, it should be the poor of the flock, who are dear to the Lord. The meeting in the Tabernacle was beyond all former experience joyful. The prayers, or rather praises, were offered as far as possible by representatives of the various sections of the church. The pastor and co-pastor expressed the gratitude of the whole membership as well as their own: Mr. William Olney gave thanks in the name of the deacons, Mr. Perkins in the name of the elders, Mr. Allison for the members and Colportage workers, Mr. Thomas Spurgeon for the young Christians, Mr. Pearce for the Sun-day-school, Mr. Charlesworth for the Orphanage, and Mr. E. J. Parker for the College. The pastor then delivered his address of thanksgiving, which is printed in full in the report of the proceedings, to which we would direct our readers. All the while hymns and psalms varied the strain, and the whole assembly made a joyful noise unto the Lord who dwelleth in Zion.
The following evening, as many of the contributors to the testimonial fund and bazaar as could be accommodated in the lecture hall and schools met for tea, and afterwards adjourned to the Tabernacle, which was soon crowded to its utmost capacity in every part, not alone by members of the church, but by loving friends from all parts of England. Joyful hymns were sung while the congregation was gathering, and when every inch of space was full, prayer was offered by the pastor, and Mr. Stott (St. John’s Wood). Mr. B. W. Carr, one of our deacons, then read a very valuable paper on “The Church during the Ministry of Pastor C. H. Spurgeon,” Pastor J. T. Wigner and Mr. W. Higgs presented a letter of congratulation from the Committee of the London Baptist Association, and Mr. Wigher also expressed his delight at being permitted to convey such a communication on such an occasion. Our brother and beloved co-pastor followed in a brief expression of his gratitude to God and his love to us, and then came Dr. Stanford with a wonderful paper on “The Baptist Churches twenty-five years ago and now.” All this was interspersed with gladsome song. At length came deacon Wm. Olney, who made the presentation in the name of the treasurers and contributors of the fund.
Most appropriately he commenced by giving to the Lord the whole of the glory for all the success which had been achieved during the past twentyfive years, and then in affectionate terms he declared to us the love of the brethren, and made formal presentation of the magnificent sum of £6,233 10s. 5d. Our brother presented the bronze clock and ornaments which it was decided should be placed in our study as a memorial of the deed of love thus consummated. The reception given to us when we rose to express our thanks for this crowning act of twenty-five years of kindness, sympathy, union, and help cannot be described. What we said was quite unworthy of the occasion, but it was hard to speak at all. We have no doubt many of our readers will be pleased to possess the little memorial volume which will be to the present and future generations a record of the abounding mercy and grace of the Lord to one of his churches, and at the same time an encouragement to all those who determine to know nothing among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified.
— During the past month the following students have accepted pastorates: — Mr. E.G. Evans, at Regent-street, Belfast; Mr. W. Goacher, at Hather-leigh, Devon; Mr. J. Rankin, at Guild-ford; Mr. J. W. Nichol, at Horncastle; and Mr. M. Mather, at Holbeach, Lincolnshire. Mr. A.V. Papengouth has been accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society as a missionary to Hayti, West Indies; and Mr. Kendon proposes to sail for Jamaica. Mr. H. Cocks will remove from Ballymena to Canada to labor there.
Friends who are likely to visit Worthing this summer may be pleased to learn that a Baptist church was formed in that town last month with very encouraging prospects. Mr. W. F. Stead, the pastor, will be glad to see as many visitors as possible at the services in the Montague Hall.
— Thanks are heartily given to generous friends at St.
Albans, Leighton Buzzard, Chelsea, and John Street, Edgware Road, for so kindly assisting the Orphan Choir in their services of song. We are personally grateful to friends whom we will not mention by name, but whose names are on our heart. Please to take notice that the Annual Fete of the Orphanage will be held at the Stockwell Orphanage on the Pastor’s Birthday, June 19. We shall be glad to see country friends.
— We have received from the founders of the Stockwell Orphanage £50 towards A GIRLS’ ORPHANAGE, to which we have added another £50, and Mr. Galpin £50, besides two promises of £25 each. At the fete on June 19 there will be a sale of goods on behalf of the Girls’ Orphanage There will be no pressing of this matter, for we have a firm belief that it will grow of itself till we shall have sufficient funds to be able to move in it. EVANGELISTS.
— The fear we mentioned in last month’s magazine with respect to Mr. Clarke was only too well founded, for in the midst of the work at Bacup he had to be sent home invalided, and we had to find a substitute. In sending Mr. Fullerton, of our Tabernacle Evangelists’ Association, we felt that we could with confidence say that he was a brother like-minded, who would naturally care for the souls of the people.
We should scarcely like to publish all we hear concerning the labors of our beloved brethren the evangelists, and if we did publish it, many would not believe it. It seems to us that every place visited gets a larger blessing than those where our friends have previously been, and if we ever had any doubts as to the employment of this form of service the abundant tokens of the Lord’s approval would long ago have removed them. Services were held in no less than ten different places in Bacup, but none of them were large enough to hold the people who flocked to them. Although our brethren and their hearers had to contend against heavy snow-storms, more than once they had 2,000 people at the principal service, and 1,000 more at an overflow meeting. Messrs. Smith and Fullerton addressed both audiences in turn, and one Sunday evening conversed with more than one hundred inquirers. The full result of the mission will be a grand accession to the churches in the town. Our heartiest thanks are due to the local ministers, committee, and choir for the admirable arrangements made by them, and the help rendered by them, nor must we forget to mention our excellent colporteur, Mr. Allen, who assisted in no small degree in securing the success of the services.
Our evangelists were all with us at the Conference, and greatly cheered us with the tidings of what the Lord had done by them wherever they had gone. The following Sunday, May 11, Mr. Smith commenced a series of services in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and on Wednesday, the 14th, he was joined by Mr. Fullerton. Gildersome was the first place visited, and the only regret seems to have been that the evangelists’ stay was too short to secure the greatest amount of good. On the Sunday the crowd was so great that many of the regular congregation at the Baptist chapel were obliged to go to the parish church, as their usual seats were occupied by others. The clergyman was so surprised at the unusual addition to his audience that he sent to ask Mr. Smith to preach on his green. The offer was gladly accepted, on condition that the vicar would take part in the service. We have not heard whether the bargain was closed. The evangelists held one rather unusual open air service, the pulpit being a very old cart, and the musical accompaniments including a sharp shower, an east wind, cornet, trombone, bombardo, clarionet, and the shrill voices of numberless urchins.
These, combined with an earnest address, drew a large number of outsiders into the chapel, which was quite crowded. During one of the dinner hours a short but sweet service was held at St. Bernard’s Mill, at which all the work-people were present. Much good appears to have been done by this and all the other meetings of the week. On Friday, May 16, the evangelists were to be at Farsley, and from thence they were to go on to York.
— The Secretary writes, We beg to call special attention to the approaching Annual Meeting of the Colportage Association, which will be held at the Tabernacle on Monday Evening, June 9th. Through the liberality of several friends the committee have been enabled to invite thirty of the colporteurs to meet in conference for a day or two at the Tabernacle. This opportunity for prayer, and the interchange of experience in the work, has always proved a great stimulus to the men, and has been accompanied by much spiritual blessing.
Rev. J. Jackson Wray has promised to address the meeting, Mr. C.H. Spurgeon will preside, and several colporteurs will tell of their interesting labors. As the association is in special need of increased pecuniary help just now, it is earnestly requested that friends will come to the annual meeting in larger numbers than heretofore, and by their contributions enable the society to continue its present staff and open up new districts. The annual report will be printed and ready for the meeting. We thankfully acknowledge further subscriptions to the General Fund, received since the last published list in The Sword and the Trowel, to the amount of £214 5s., and trust that other friends will be moved to contribute until we have the additional £1,000 for the necessary working capital. Mr. Spurgeon has promised £100 from his testimonial, and looks forward with confidence to the making up of the capital required.
— Mr. Broomhall, who is conducting the home affairs of Mr. Hudson Taylor’s mission, brought us the other day a copy of our sermon on “The Divine Call for Missionaries,” No. 1351. It was scored and underlined, and had been carried about in his pocket by a brother who is now a missionary; the sermon having constrained him to devote himself to that work for the Lord. We prized the discourse more than if the princes of the land had covered it with jewels. To God be all the glory.
A nobleman of Alsace visited us at Mentone, and gave us copies of two of our sermons, which he has translated into French, and lithographed in running hand, to be read in congregations. We found our friend almost as well acquainted with our work as if he had attended the Tabernacle all his life. He came a long way for a short interview, bringing his wife and his son, and by this visit he greatly refreshed our spirit.
A minister, living at Wisbech, authenticates the following singular case of conversion through our sermon on “The Portion of the Ungodly,” No. 444.
The writer says in a recent letter to us, “Seventeen years ago it pleased the Lord to permit me to dream that the end of the world was come, and in my dream I saw the saints rising with the Lord Jesus to glory. I was left, and near me, upon a large quantity of stubble stood an acquaintance who addressed me thus: — ‘They used to say in the other world that we should be in fire, but it is not so.’ In a moment flames burst out, and in my fright I awoke. A few days after my dream my friend and I heard you preach at the Tabernacle. Judge how great was our surprise when you announced for your text, Isaiah 47:14, ‘Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” In August, 1876, a severe affliction, the dream, and our sermon resulted in our friend’s conversion.
One of our students writes to tell us about the conversion of one whom he has recently baptized, who thus refers to the channel through which the blessing reached her: — “Before I was brought to Christ I had a desire to hear Mr. Spurgeon; accordingly, I went to Exeter Hall, and afterwards to the Tabernacle, but still remained in my state of unregeneracy. One day I was entering the drawing-room, and looking upon the table my eye fell at once upon a printed sermon. Taking it into my hand I read the text, Psalm 51:4. I read a little of the sermon, was interested, and read on until I was not only interested in it, but in Christ — this was the means of my conversion.” It was our sermon, No. 86, on “Unimpeachable Justice.”
A Christian sea captain writes to tell us about the joyful reception of our sermons at St. Kitts, one of the West Indian islands. He says, “All my sermons that I had in the monthly parts I separated, for the people were, so eager for them they came from every quarter to ask for them. We gave some to the master of a little vessel that trades to different islands, and we saw several of the laboring men gather round him as he read the sermons to them. The natives seemed to drink their contents down with as much pleasure as a thirsty ox does water on a summer’s day.” The mate of our friend’s vessel went down among the very poor who do not go anywhere, and had two meetings among them, which the people very much enjoyed.
They wanted another visit, but before the next Sabbath the vessel had sailed.
England’s Royal Home: the Home Life of the Prince Consort; Memorials of the Princess Alice; with other Papers Illustrative of Royal Incidents. By the Rev. CHARLES BULLOCK, B.D. 1, Paternoster Buildings.
A RIGHT royal book from one who is at home with such subjects. We rejoice in all the good which can be said of the royal family, and it is not a little; though rumor continually babbles of one at least whose life casts a dark shade over the glory of the royal house. Whether those rumors speak truth or not we cannot tell; but if they do — shame on the profligate!
Happy is the land which has virtue on its throne; but woe to the nation whose princes can justly be charged with licentious folly! May such a calamity never overshadow our beloved country.
Long live the Queen, and may all her sons be like their father, whose memory is still sweet and blossoms from the dust. In times when other nations are darkened with the smoke of smouldering discontent, it is well done for our good author to foster loyalty, and say the best that can be said of a beloved queen and her royal issue.
NOTES THE testimonial which celebrated our twenty five years of pastoral work was presented on Tuesday, May 20, and there and then dedicated to the Lord. On the following Thursday evening we commenced a new period in our church history, and it is a singularly pleasing coincidence that at the church meeting held on that evening no less than thirty-seven candidates came before the church and confessed their faith in Christ, — the largest number that we have ever received at one church meeting. This was the more remarkable as it happened entirely without arrangement on the part of the pastor or anyone else. We regard it as “a token for good,” and look for greater things than these.
On Friday evening, May 30, the first annual meeting of Mrs. Allison’s Bible-class was held in the College. First came tea, and then a public meeting, over which Mr. Allison presided. Mrs. Allison presented to Mr. Spurgeon £16 18s. 6d. as a special thankoffering from the class for his restoration to health. She explained that this was quite distinct from the contribution of the class to the testimonial, and also in addition to their subscription for the colporteur at Crawley; but as the colportage work needed funds the class wished to relieve their beloved pastor of this care as far as they could by this extra gift. Mr. Spurgeon gratefully acknowledged this thoughtful deed of love, and then left for the Country Mission Meeting. Miss Henry then spoke on “Woman’s Influence”; Mr. Bellamy, the colporteur, supported by the class, gave an account of his work. Short addresses followed; and then Mrs. Gwillim, in the name of the class, presented a beautiful album to Mrs. Allison. This class is greatly refreshed with the divine blessing. Its generous thoughtfulness for the pastor in his many cares is worthy of all praise. On the same evening, the tenth annual meeting of the METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE COUNTRY MISSION was held in the Lecture Hall of the Tabernacle, — Mr. Spurgeon in the chair. It was a good, lively, earnest meeting; but instead of giving the details we refer our readers to the article upon the subject in this month’s magazine. Here is an agency exactly to our mind, which deserves the prayers and good wishes of all Christian people.
On Monday evening, June 2, our prayer-meeting was made unusually interesting by short reports of foreign missions presented by our students.
Mr, Maplesden gave us a very cheering account of Mr. Blackie’s work at Calcutta, Mr. Churcher described open-air services at Delhi, Mr. Billington told us of the wonderful blessing that has rested upon the Teloogoo mission, and we reported the tidings received from Miss Long, who is engaged in Zenana work at Surat. This; is the way to make prayermeetings interesting. We get seven or eight prayers, three or four short speeches and hymns between, and the people are refreshed.
— During the past month Mr. G. J. Moore has accepted the pastorate and settled at Grafton-street, Northampton.
Mr. J. J. Kendon has sailed for Jamaica to take charge of two small churches near Spanish Town, and Mr. A. J. Clarke is about to sail for Australia to become the pastor of the church at West Melbourne. May the Lord be with both our brethren. (See EVANGELISTS.)
Mr. John Collins, late of John-street, Bedford-row, is removing to Lymington, Hants; Mr. W. Sumner is going from Brantford to the church at South-street, Hull; and Mr. H. C. Field, of Burslem, has accepted the pastorate of the church at Cross Leech-street, Staleybridge.
The work of Messrs. Blackaby and Blocksidge, at New Brompton, Kent, has resulted in the formation of a church which gives good promise of soon becoming self-supporting. Will our friends in that region encourage the young church all they can? Monday, June 23, was observed as a day of prayer by the churches associated with the College Conference. “The Lord hath been mindful of us, he will bless us.” Telegrams and letters received from several pastors show that the day has been owned of God for reviving the prayerfulness of many.
The College summer vacation commenced on June 26, and will terminate on Aug. 11, when we expect to welcome a large number of new students.
We have spent several days in the difficult and responsible work of trying to select the most suitable men out of the host of applicants for admission.
Will our friends pray that we may be at all times guided in our choice, and that the admission of those who are selected may be wholly for the glory of God and the good of our fellow men?
— During the past month a complete change has been made with respect to our esteemed evangelist, Mr. A. J. Clarke. We felt that the failure of his health indicated that for the present the Lord did not intend him longer to endure the excitement of evangelistic work. While we were waiting for guidance as to what the Lord would have him to do, an invitation came from the church at West Melbourne, and after due consideration Mr. Clarke accepted the pastorate. He will soon be on his way to his sphere of labor. We pray that in Australia this dear servant of the Lord may be the means of winning even more souls for Christ than he has won in the United Kingdom. Australian friends, please receive him heartily, and esteem him very highly in love for his work’s sake, for a better man never visited your shores.
Messrs. Smith and Fullerton have just completed their series of services in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Pastor T. E. Cozens Cooke sends us the following account of the work in York: — “My dear Mr. Spurgeon, — We have lately been favored with the presence of your two excellent evangelists, ‘Smith and Fullerton.’ The moral atmosphere of an old cathedral city is anything but favorable to these special efforts, and we were not surprised that some of our ‘cultured ‘ friends manifested their opposition by a warm newspaper correspondence.
This, however, did us no harm, but almost daily advertised our services free of charge. Mr. Smith’s attractive singing, and his colleague’s heartstirring addresses, were much appreciated, and the interest evidently increased. The meetings were largely attended every night, and considerably over one thousand copies of the hymn book were sold at the doors. Several persons professed to receive good, and we are trying to follow up the work. ‘We parted with our dear brethren with much regret, some of our friends gathering at the railway station, and singing their ‘Farewell’ as the train glided away. Their affectionate, genial society, and above all, their unwearying devotion to the Master’s work quite won our hearts, and we shall hope ere long to welcome them again. Our local expenses were heavy, but we are so glad to be able to send you (through Mr. Hillman’) £10 for your ‘Society of Evangelists,’ with the earnest prayer that the richest blessing may continue to rest upon this and every other agency associated with your noble work at the Tabernacle.” Leeds was the next place visited, from June 7 to 25, and a great stir has been made and good results are sure to follow. We have just received most glowing accounts, but these we must reserve for next month.
Mr. Burnham was engaged at Wootton, Beds, from June 1 to 6, but the meetings were so successful that they were continued a few evenings longer. There were large congregations every night, and on the Sunday the chapel was crowded in every part, and almost all who were present remained to the prayer meetings, which were held after each service. Our brethren McAllister (Cranfield) and Williams (Bedlord), and Messrs. Burr and Gammon spoke at some of the meetings. Many have been led to the Savior, and the minister’s family has been specially blessed. Mrs. Readman, the wife of the pastor, mentioned one evening after the service that the promise “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord” had been much on her heart all day. This enabled the evangelist to speak with special power to a daughter, who soon entered into gospel liberty. At the family altar thanksgivings for the salvation of one were mingled with prayer for the rest of the family, and by-and-by an answer came. One after another the members of the household were called to the room where a son was in terrible distress about his soul. Prayers and promises seemed all of no avail, and even the sweet experience of his newly converted sister brought no peace to the troubled heart. All through the night and part of the morning the conflict raged, but after a while Jesus conquered, peace was proclaimed, and the whole family sang Mr. Burnham’s hymn: “Tell it with joy! tell it with joy!
Oh the sweet rapture of pardon!” Mr. Burnham has engagements for services as follows: — July 6 to 13, Newport, Mon.; Sept. 5 to 26, among the hop-pickers at Goudhurst, Kent; Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, Naunton, Cheltenham; Oct. 13 to 19, Leamington; Oct. 20 to 26, Murkyate Street, Herts; Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, Bedford; Nov. 10 to 16, Thetford, Norfolk; Nov. 17 to 30, Burton-on-Trent, etc.: Jan. 19, 1880, to Feb. 1, Driffield and Cranswick, Yorkshire; Feb. 2 to 8, Sheepshed, Leicestershire. Applications for any of the vacant dates, except those needed for rest, may be made to Mr. Spurgeon. Will all friends who are likely to be corresponding with Mr. Burnham note that he has removed to 11, Dundas Road, St. Mary’s Road, Queen’s Road, Peckham. S.E. COLPORTAGE.
— About thirty of the Colporteurs came to London to meet the Committee and friends for prayer and conference on Sunday and Monday, June 8 and 9. They were addressed by Mr. Spurgeon on the Monday afternoon, and their visit was brought to a close by the annual meeting at night in the Tabernacle. We were glad to see a much larger number of friends present than we have had at this meeting in previous years, and we hope that this is an indication that the Colportage work is at last gaining its rightful place in the esteem of our friends and the public generally. After prayer by the pastor, co-pastor, and Mr. F. A. Jones (the late hon. sec. of the society), Mr. W. Corden Jones, the secretary, read some extracts from the twelfth annual report, copies of which he will be happy to forward to any friends who wish for them and will send a stamp for postage addressed to him at the Tabernacle. The progress of the work will be seen on a perusal of the following statistics: — During the year 1878 the ninety-four Colporteurs employed sold about 927,000 publications of various kinds, for which they received £8,276 0s. 4d., that being an increase of £1,325 2s. 21/2d. upon the previous year.
They also distributed upwards of 162,000 tracts, and visited 926,290 families. The subscriptions for the year have amounted to £4,148 15s. 53/4d., of which £3,052 4s. 101/2d. has been given for districts, and £212 10s. towards the Capital Fund. (That is up to Dec. 31, 1878).
The Capital Fund, of which we have often spoken, is much needed, but it is not yet forthcoming. We reckon that we have now received nearly £600 of it, and we wait for the rest of the £1,000. Without sufficient capital the working of this society cannot go on pleasantly. We have not run aground yet, but the sailing will not be clear till the capital reaches the sum we have asked for.
Subscriptions to the General Fund are still urgently needed, both to meet the necessary working expenses, and to supplement the deficiencies continually arising in most of the districts. Everybody ought to help this work, because the publications sold are entirely unsectarian, while the works of no evangelical denomination are excluded when ordered through the Colporteur. The Colporteurs themselves are members of the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Baptist Churches, and the several branches of the Methodist families. The preaching services which the Colporteurs conduct are not confined to any, but extend to all, branches of Christ’s Church willing to utilize Colportage in the extension of the Kingdom of God.
— The annual meeting was held on Thursday, June 19, the President’s forty-fifth birthday. Through the kind providence of God the weather was beautifully fine, and the whole fete was a great success. More than four thousand persons entered the grounds during the afternoon and evening, and though everybody seemed to be full of joy, the President and his beloved wife feel sure that no one could have been quite so happy as they were. It is a subject for the most grateful thanksgiving to God that the sick one, who has been so long confined to the chamber of suffering, was once more permitted to mingle with loving friends, who have for so many years rallied round us and helped us in the Lord’s work. To his blessed name be all the praise.
At half-past three o’clock Mr. John Macgregor (Rob Roy) gave an interesting account of some of his “strange adventures.” At its close the audience dispersed over the grounds, or gathered in the refreshment tents, and in the Bazaar, which was held for the Girls’ Orphanage. The total receipts at the stalls amounted to more than £150. Dr. Barnardo’s band was stationed in the grounds, and performed at intervals, in a most creditable manner.
In the evening, the crowd was so great that we were obliged to hold two public meetings simultaneously. Sir Charles Reed, Chairman of the London School Board, presided at one meeting, and our brother, J. A. Spurgeon, at the other. Some of the speakers kindly did double duty, and they therefore deserve our double thanks. We are heartily grateful to all the kind friends who thus ably assisted us to make known the needs and claims of the institution. The following is a list of those who took part in one or the other of the meetings: the Vice-President, Messrs. C. and T. Spurgeon, Dr. Macewan, E. Maclean, Burman Cassin, M.A., John Collins, and Dr. Barnardo. The announcement that we are enabled to go on with the GIRLS’
ORPHANAGE, under our present trust-deed, was received with hearty applause, which was repeated when we announced that we had already made a beginning by purchasing for £4,000 the adjacent house and grounds, called “Hawthorns.” Towards this amount we had received up to the 20th June, in addition to the profit of Bazaar, £309 16s. 2d., together with £200 towards a house to be called the Deacons’ House. We have also promises of £25 from one friend, £50 from another, £500 for one of the houses for girls, from a friend, £500 from a firm for another house, and £25 worth of painting and glazing work when it is needed. We shall be glad if the Lord inclines his stewards to send the rest of the £4000 before the purchase-money has to be paid, which must be done on July 15; but in any case we leave the matter in his hands, knowing that all will be well. With not more than £550 specifically given or promised for this object, it is rather daring to hope for the rest in a fortnight, but our Provider is a God of great resources.
The amount presented to Mr. Spurgeon in birthday gifts for the Boys’ Orphanage was £126 3s 9d., while collectors and subscribers paid in about £200 during the day. The fete was appropriately closed by the music of Mr. Courtenay’s and Mr. Frisby’s choirs, and the usual illumination of the grounds.
COLLECTING BOXES AND BOOKS.
— An anonymous donor asks how collecting boxes for the Orphanage can be obtained. Collecting boxes or books can be procured either from Mr. Blackshaw, at the Tabernacle, or Mr. Charlesworth, at the Orphanage.
— In The Preachers’ Annual of 1877, page 544, in an article by the Rev. G. T. Dowling on “Candidating,” we enhanced to read as follows: — “Charles Spurgeon was not even seriously thought of as a prospective pastor the first time he preached in London. Months passed by before he was again invited to spend a Sabbath, and when even a call was extended it was by no means unanimous. Some families even left the church because ‘that boy’ was called.”
This is given as a proof that successful preachers frequently produce a poor impression as candidates. This may be a general fact, but it was a pity to fabricate an instance. The truth is exactly the contrary. The moment after our first sermon was preached we were invited by the principal deacon to supply for six months, for he felt sure that at a church meeting, which would at once be held, such a resolution would be passed. We declined his offer, for we thought it too hasty, but promised to preach alternate Sabbaths during the next month, and this was done and followed up immediately by a further invitation. No one person left the church to our knowledge, and the resolution inviting us was as nearly unanimous as possible, one man and four women voting to the contrary, all of these becoming in after time most friendly to us. We only mention the incident as a specimen of the manner in which advocates of a theory too often manufacture their instances, and as a warning to our friends to be slow in believing anything which they may hear or read about public persons.
Our friend and former student. Mr. C. Dallaston, of Christchurch, New Zealand, writes to tell us that he has frequently met with persons who have been converted through reading our sermons, and he mentions one instance which had recently come under his notice. He was called in to see a woman who was at the point of death, and she told hint that when living away on the plains, where attending a place of worship was out of the question because of the distance, her husband read to her one of our sermons every Sunday, and God used the words thus read to bring her out of the bondage of sin into the glorious liberty of the Son. Mr. Dallaston adds: — “In many of our upcountry churches your sermons are read every Sunday.”
ARMY DISCIPLINE AND REGULATION BILL FROM the House of Commons we received the other day a printed memorandum, prepared for the information of the members, as to the offenses which according to military law are punishable with death. It struck us that the various items were eminently suggestive, and we therefore made them the heads of a sermon to the good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We hope to print the whole discourse for the use of soldiers, and meanwhile we give the Bill, and a few comments upon it, just as hints to our brethren as to its use for instruction. The private Christian may profitably trace the analogies for himself, and to the ministers of the gospel the items must be abundantly rich in symbolic teaching. We give the whole memorandum, though we did not find it possible to introduce the whole into our sermon, and it is not all equally suggestive. In these days, when so little beyond useless talk comes from the House of Commons, it is a mercy to snatch even one floating fragment from the general wreck.
A Person subject to Military Law, when on Active Service, is punishable with Death, if he commits any of the following offenses: — 1 Shamefully abandons or delivers up any garrison, place, post, or guard, or uses any means to compel or induce any governor, commanding officer, or other person shamefully to abandon or deliver up any garrison, place, post, or guard, which it was the duty of such governor, officer, or other person to defend.
It is disgraceful to give up any truth of doctrine, precept, or ordinance, all of which we are bound to maintain even to the death. Those who would have their ministers tone down any of the teachings of Scripture, or leave their posts because of persecution or slander, are guilty of this offense.
Even to desert the Sunday-school class, or the little village station, will bring us under this censure. He who would leave the smallest post assigned him would surely surrender the greatest if it were in his power. 2. Shamefully casts away his arms, ammunition, or tools in the presence of the enemy.
We are exhorted in Holy Scripture not to cast away our confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. It would be a proof that we were not true Christians if we forsook the faith, or cast off the fear of God, or threw down the truth, and fled out of selfish fear. We are to stand bravely before the foe in full armor, bearing our shield, and wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We may never lay down our tools till we lay down our bodies. We must either work or suffer till we die. 3. Treacherously holds correspondence with or gives intelligence to the enemy, or treacherously or through cowardice sends a flag of truce to the enemy.
Worldly conformity amounts to this, for it leads us to be friends to the world, and then we are the enemies of God. Thousands are trying to unite the church and the world, and for this purpose they encourage the enemy by finding fault with religion, and making out that God’s people are in no great degree different from other men; and at the same time they try to establish the truth of their own words by seducing Christians from the narrow way into worldly amusements and habits. Many professors not only send a flag of truce to the devil, but they are in covenant with him — you shall not hurt me and I will not hurt you. I will praise the theater and you shall call me “liberal.” Come halfway and be decent, and we will go the other half, and we will be “hail fellow well met.” This is fatal. 4. Assists the enemy with arms, ammunition, or supplies, or knowingly harbors or protects an enemy, not being a prisoner.
We supply the enemy with weapons against the Lord when we live inconsistent lives; they take up a reproach against the good cause and injure it greatly. We do the like when we report the failures and weaknesses of good men, and cause the adversary to blaspheme. If we indulge any known sin and harbor it in our bosoms we also greatly grieve our Captain. Sin will enter our doors, but it must be driven out by main force of grace; to make provision for it is to play the traitor. 5. Having been made a prisoner of war, voluntarily serves with or voluntarily aids the enemy.
We may be surrounded by ungodly men in our daily life, and they may try to force us to evil, but we must resist, even unto blood, striving against sin.
Children under ungodly parents, and wives with wicked husbands, are like prisoners of war, but they must take care to maintain their integrity, and never yield under pressure, however great. Even if we are surprised by temptation and so fall into the power of sin, our will must not consent to abide therein, but we must strive to escape from bondage. A Christian marching with the enemy against his Lord is a very Judas. 6. Knowingly does when on active service any act calculated to imperil the success of Her Majesty’s forces, or any part thereof This is very sweeping. We are to avoid any act which would of itself imperil the good cause. Even though the cause is safe, yet if there be an evil tendency in the act we are guilty. Non-profession of our faith, cowardice, slackness in prayer, absence from prayer-meetings, indolence, worldliness, carnal indulgence, and many other forms of evil may be censured under this head. Think what would become of the cause if all did as you do, and by this you may measure your conduct. 7. Misbehaves or induces others to misbehave before the enemy.
We are always before the enemy. The eagle eye of the world is upon us. “See that ye walk circumspectly,” for ye always walk before a cloud of witnesses. Cowardice, rashness, greediness, quarreling, pride, folly, etc., are forms of misbehavior in the soldiers of Christ. 8. Leaves his commanding officer to go in search of plunder.
This Demas did when he forsook the Lord, having loved this present evil world. To gain a good situation, a fair damsel, or a handsome profit many professors forsake the colors to their eternal shame. 9. Without orders from his superior officer, leaves his guard, picquet, patrol, or post.
Some plead distance, business, or age; others leave their work because of petty jealousies, discouragements, or self-denials. Christ’s soldiers should be ashamed to do this. Stand to your post so long as health and life will permit. See your successor, or see the post ready for a better man who is likely to come, before you leave it. 10. Forces a safeguard.
Whatsoever the Lord forbids we must carefully forego, what he reserves we must respect, and what he enjoins we must obey. Those who broke through the bounds of Sinai died; let us always keep the bounds of our Lord Jesus. We may not rush into a church or hurry out of it contrary to the laws of Christ, neither may we trifle with his ordinances lest we incur judgment. 11. Forces or strikes a sentry.
To oppose a man of God who stands for the defense of the truth is no mean sin. Many a time has this been done in ignorance, and the faithful have suffered thereby. Despise not the honest warnings of God’s ministers, and above all do not make them your enemies for telling you the truth. 12. Impedes the provost marshal, or any officer legally exercising authority under or on behalf of the provost marshal, or, when called on, refuses to assist in the execution of his duty, the provost marshal, or any such officer.
Order must be maintained in the church, and he who is set to exercise discipline should have the hearty support of all true Christians. The duty is often painful and irksome, and church officers should never be hindered in their efforts by unkind remarks and unseemly oppositions. A certain crew will have neither officers nor order, but we have not so learned Christ.
Flocks without shepherds and armies without officers are in a poor plight.
What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business. Christians who imitate Corinthian anarchy soon fall into Corinthian laxity and division. 13. Does violence to any person bringing provisions or supplies to the force; or commits any offense against the property or person of any inhabitant of, or resident in, the country in which he is serving.
We are to do good and not evil to those around us. The church often suffers from the world, but the world must never suffer from the church.
We are to fight for our Lord but not for ourselves. Those who come to us are to be welcomed and not despoiled. Pastors who bring us food are not to be abused. 14. Breaks into any house or other place in search of plunder.
Our great, Captain will provide for us, and it would be most unseemly for us to do any disobedient act by way of finding our own rations. Some break into other churches and destroy and steal, but we are not of the order of Plundering Brethren. 15. By discharging firearms, drawing swords, beating drums, making signals, using words, or by any means whatever intentionally occasions false alarms in actions, on the march, in the field, or elsewhere.
This may be done by scaring the brethren by the discoveries of science, or the doting dreams of learned men; it may also be accomplished by pretended explanations of prophecy of an alarming kind. Anything which distresses and dispirits without cause is exceedingly evil. To bring up scandalous reports, and to declare that the church is unloving, prayerless, dead, etc., as some do, is a wretched form of this offense. It is the little ones who suffer much from these false alarms, and therefore the sin is all the greater. 16. Treacherously makes known the parole or watchword to any person not entitled to receive it; or, without good and sufficient cause, gives a parole or watchword different from what he received.
We cannot too often repeat our parole, for we are to preach the gospel to every creature, but woe be to us if we falsify the word. “The blood of Jesus” is the watchword of the Salvation Army, and we must not substitute for it any other form of parole. 17. Irregularly detains or appropriates to his own corps or detachment any provisions or supplies proceeding to the forces, contrary to any orders issued in that respect.
We must beware of hoarding up comfort for ourselves and leaving others to perish forlack of knowledge. To forage only for our own denomination to the injury of other brethren is also contrary to the mind of him who hath called us to be his soldiers. 18. Being a sentinel, commits any of the following offenses (that is to say): — (a) Sleeps or is drunk at his post; or, (b) Leaves his post before he is regularly relieved.
We know who hath said, “Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” Watching and sobriety go together. He who is drunken with wine, or pride, or worldliness, or error ceases to watch. We have each a post assigned us, and to sleep or to be drunken there is to betray our Lord.
Leaving our post altogether is utterly un-soldierly. Jonah did so, and was saved by special miracle. If we imitate him we cannot be sure that a whale will be provided for us. 19. Causes or conspires with any other persons to cause any mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty’s regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or Navy. (Clauses 20, 21, 22 are of like effect.)
Troublers in Israel are many and busy. Quiet and happy churches are disturbed and even rent in twain by these ill-disposed professors, who seem to live for nothing else but to create or ferment discord. These go from house to house to spread ill reports, and to blow up jealousies and suspicions, and nothing pleases them better than to set good men by the ears. We would abolish the eat in the army, but a slight taste of it in church circles, in a spiritual or metaphorical sense, might be a salutary warning.
We have so much to do in combating the enemy that it is a shame to waste a moment in internal contentions; yet some are always creating mutiny and fomenting discontent. We cannot drum these people out of the regiment, but by keeping up a constant warmth of love we may make the place too hot to hold them. We cannot pitch the mutineer overboard, but we can give him a wide berth. If no one will join the maker of quarrels he will be powerless, and will either drop the habit, or remove to more congenial quarters. 23. Strikes or uses or offers any violence to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office.
Against elders we are not to receive an accusation without much deliberation, far less then may we speak ill of them without cause. Church officers are to be censured when they overstep their authority, but to resist their authority when they are carrying out their Master’s rule is more blameworthy than many think. The Scripture saith, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” 24. Disobeys any lawful command given by his superior officer, being in the execution of his office.
Our great superior officer is the Lord Jesus. “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Are all of us scrupulously obeying the words of our great Leader? The spirit which neglects a little command is not a little evil, for it is essentially rebellious. If the command be so small, why not keep it? 25. Deserts or attempts to desert Her Majesty’s Service.
Alas, that any should do this! Yet this is the test of distinction between real grace and its counterfeit. Many declare that they will follow their Lord whithersoever he goeth, and yet in a short time they leave his standard, and consult their own interests by finding another leader. Backslider, are you a deserter? A deserter is a son of perdition, and belongs to the breed of Judas. 26. Persuades, endeavors to persuade, procures, or attempts to procure, any person subject to military law to desert from Her Majesty’s Service.
When some men forsake religion they grow venomous, and fill others with their poison, never resting till they lead them into a like apostasy. It might surely suffice them to go to hell alone; but no, they must entice others thither. Lord, have mercy upon such.
These rules admit of a wider range of interpretation than our notes may indicate, but if they suggest holy caution, and lead our brethren to meditate in that direction, it is not in vain that we have placed them here.
NOTICES OF BOOKS
THE EARLY YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY.
VOL. I. THE APOSTOLICAGE. BY E. D.PRESENCE, D.D. Hodder and Stoughton.
The course of thought in the present day has compelled Christian men to study the historical proofs of the truth of Christianity. Next to the life of Jesus Christ, the history of the early Christian Church is of paramount importance, and in this volume, which treats of the apostolic age, we have a charming description of its progress and internal history. The author’s literary genius, scholarly research, fascinating style, and deep piety are all here used to make his subject plain. The volume is a fitting and worthy sequel to Presence’s “Life of Christ.” Most emphatically do we commend this first installment of a great work, and we shall eagerly await the remaining volumes. THOUGHTS FOR THE SICK (WITH PRAYERS AND HYMNS).
BY A. L. M. Hatchards.
A few short addresses, printed in clear, bold type, and selected specially for the sick. Some of the hymns are very beautiful and tender, but the prayers — but there — we are no judge of forms of prayer, and the less we say on that subject the better. The book is, on the whole, a praiseworthy attempt to minister to the suffering and afflicted.
On Tuesday evening, July 1, about three hundred of the Teachers of the Tabernacle and branch Sunday-schools met for tea in the College buildings by invitation of the pastor. After tea, a profitable evening was spent in prayer, exhortation, and conference on Sunday-school work. We believe it will do us all good if we can have similar meetings every quarter; at all events we hope to repeat the experiment, as we understood one teacher who was present offered to defray the cost of the next gathering. That teacher was Mr. Andrew Dunn, candidate for the parliamentary representation of Southwark, who for years has conducted a senior class at the Stockwell Orphanage.
On the same evening, the annual meeting of the SPURGEON’ S SERMON TRACT SOCIETY was held in the Tabernacle Lecture Hall. Mr. William Olney presided, and he was supported by Messrs. W. C. Murrell, C.F. Allison, J. T. Dunn, and T. Lardner, while the Orphanage choir sang suitable pieces between the speeches. The object of this society is to make known the way of salvation by means of the circulation of our sermons, which are issued as loan tracts. During the past nine years about 100,000 sermons have been thus circulated with gracious signs of divine approval.
The expenditure for the year amounted to £74 14s. 11d., while the balance in hand at the annual meeting was £3 2s. 10d. The Hon. Sec. of the Society is Mr. C. Cornell, 60, Hamilton Square, King-street, Borough, S.E., who will be happy to receive subscriptions or to give information concerning the work to persons who would like to form districts, and lend out the sermons around their own places of abode. This is an inexpensive way of doing good, and one which bears much fruit unto God.
On Monday evening, July 7, the annual meeting of the HOME AND FOREIGN MISSIONARY WORKING SOCIETY was held in the Tabernacle Lecture Hall.
During the year 1,512 ready-made garments have been sent out to ministers’ families, in addition to 585 yards of material for dresses, while 258 pastors’ or colporteurs’ children have been suitably clothed. The expenditure for the past twelve months has been £84 13s. 31/2d., the value of materials and clothing received £158 15s. l1/2d., and the estimated value of the parcels sent out £247 ls. 6d. A balance of £3 2s. 9d. was due to the treasurer at the end of May. The report of the society was largely written by Mrs. Spurgeon; and this intimation will, we hope, induce many friends to send a stamp for a copy, and afterwards incline them to forward substantial help to this most deserving work. All communications should be addressed to Mrs. Evans, Missionary Working Society, Metropolitan Tabernacle.
— The only student who has become a pastor since our last notice is our son Charles, who has accepted the unanimous invitation of the London Baptist Association Sub-Committee and the Committee of Southstreet Chapel, Greenwich, to become the minister of that place. A new church has been formed, the chapel is filled, and the prospects are most hopeful. If our kind friends will pray for our son as they have done for us, we may expect to see the work of the Lord in Greenwich greatly revived, a vigorous church gathered, and a young minister enabled to commence his work under the happiest auspices. To friends who have aided the Greenwich church in its distress great praise is due. May they have their reward in the future history of the place.
Dr. Hillier has removed from Princes Risborough to Wingrave, Bucks: Mr. A. Macdouga1l from Aberchirder to Oban, N.B.; Mr. H. A. Fletcher from Alford, Lincolnshire, to Appledore, Devon: and Mr. G. W. Pope has left Thorpe, Essex, to become assistant to Mr. E. J. Silverton, of Nottingham.
During the past month we have had quite a succession of farewell meetings at the Tabernacle. Mr. A. V. Papengouth has left us for work in connection with the Baptist Missionary Society in Hayti. Mr. A. J. Clarke has gone to become pastor of the church at West Melbourne; Mr. H. H. Garrett, late of Merstham, Surrey, has sailed with him for Australia; and Mr. W. Hamilton has returned to his bishopric at Cape Town. The mention of these matters at the prayer-meeting has greatly tended to keep these meetings real and lively. There is reason for prayer visible to the people’s eyes, and they do pray.
Mr. John Stubbs, of Eythorne, has accepted an invitation from the church at Allahabad to become their pastor; and Mr. D. Lyall, of Odiham, has been accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society for mission work: at the Cameroons, Africa.
Our new College tent has been consecrated by the presence and blessing of the Lord in the services held by our brethren Mather, Maplesden, and Gwillim at Holbeach, Lincolnshire, which have been altogether a success. Messrs. Wigstone and Blamire in Spain. — A letter recently received by Mrs. A. A. Rees, of Sunderland, from her daughter, Mrs. Wigstone, shows that our good brethren in Spain are still exposed to persecution of a most violent character. Returning from a very happy service in a village they were attacked in broad daylight by three different parties of Romanists under the command of priests, one of whom fired a gun at them from behind a tree, while the mob pelted them with stones. For a mile and a half our brethren had to run for their lives to get to the coach which was waiting on the high road to take them home. Through the protecting hand of God, Mr. Blamire was preserved from all harm, Mr. Wigstone’s arm was hurt by one of the stones, and a friend in the village, who had gone out to see what had happened to them, received a severe blow on the head.
This is a specimen of Rome’s work where she has the power. Messrs. Johnson and Richardson in Africa. — We have news from our colored friends down to the middle of May. When they wrote they had been for some time settled at their new station, Bakundu, Victoria, Cameroons, where they had commenced work under the auspices of the chief of the village, which contains about 1,000 people. This worthy was very ill in April, and thinking he was going to die, made his will. In one of the clauses he commended his youngest son to the care of the missionaries, and in another commanded his subjects to obey and protect the preachers and their wives. He seems to have been still living when our friends wrote, and through his influence all the boys in the village had been sent to the mission school. On Sundays services are held in the hut which serves as a temporary schoolroom, and by this time Messrs. Johnson and Richardson are probably able to preach to the people in their own language, although at first they needed an interpreter. The people appear to be very favorably inclined to the missionaries, and ask them many questions about the gospel they bring.
The rainy season had commenced when the last letter was written, and Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Richardson were still suffering from the fever, from which their husbands had recovered. They send very kind messages for all Tabernacle and other friends, and ask our prayers that they may be sustained and blessed in their work. If any friends wish to help them they need not send money, as that is of no use where they are, but they require clothes for the naked population, cloth, prints, buttons, cottons, thread, medicines, etc., for barter and use, and books, slates, pencils, etc., for their school of one hundred and six boys.
— In another part of the magazine we have given Mr. Hill’s report of Messrs. Smith and Fullerton’s services at Leeds. This month, from the 9th to the 25th, they are to be at Blackpool.
Sir. Burnham was at Newport, Monmouthshire, from the 6th to the 13th ult., and at Blaenavon from the 14th to the 20th. At Newport the services were so successful that the friends there were induced to continue them with local help for another week, and Mr. Burnham, on his return from Blaenavon, on the 21st, conducted a meeting for praise and testimony. The following report of the services has been sent to us, and the donation (£5 5s.) to the Evangelists’ Society mentioned in the letter has come to hand, though too late to be included in our monthly list: — “STOWHILL BAPTIST CHURCH, “Newport (MON.), “July 14th, 1879. “Dear Mr. Spurgeon, — We have during the past ten days been favored with the assistance of your very efficient and attractive evangelist, Mr. Burnham. The week previous to his coming we had meetings for prayer every evening that a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit might accompany our brother’s efforts. We record to the glory of God that the large blessings which we had solicited, and expected to receive, have been bestowed. At most of the weekevening services five hundred persons were present. On Sabbath afternoons Mr. Burnham held services at which over one thousand pupils connected with the Sabbath schools of the Baptist churches of the town were present, accompanied by their parents, teachers, and other friends. On Sabbath evenings our chapel, which seats about one thousand, was well filled. Forty, chiefly young persons, have decided for Jesus. Our church-members, and ninny of the Lord’s people in connection with other Protestant denominations, have had the Divine life in their souls greatly intersifted by means of our brother’s visit. “Our treasurer will in a few days remit to your Evangelist’s Fund a donation, as an expression of the gratitude of this church and Sabbath-School for your kindness in sending us so amiable and efficient a brother. We regret we cannot do more. The local expenses have been considerable, and our town being on the confines of Wales, our members share in the terrible depression of trade which is so disastrous to the principality. “My earnest prayer, and also that of the Church over which the Lord has placed me, is that your valuable life may be long spared and your health confirmed, so that you may win many more victories for Jesus. “Respectfully yours, “JOHN DOUGLAS, Pastor.”
OUR goodfriend, Pastor G. D. Cox, sends us a very glowing account of the service of song by the Orphanage choir at Sittingbourne. The net profit to the funds of the institution amounted to £22 2s., and for that result we are deeply grateful to all who assisted in any measure. Messrs. Wills and Packham have made us more than ever their debtors by their kindness to the boys and their liberal help to the work at Stockwell. One result of the orphans’ visit is the promise of a freight of bricks for the Girls’ Orphanage from Messrs. Smeed, Dean & Co. Special Notice to Collectors — We shall be glad to have all collecting boxes and books brought in regularly every quarter, especially as we expect soon to have girls to provide for in addition to our two hundred and forty boys. The next meeting of collectors and friends will be held at the Orphanage on Wednesday, October 1st . We will try to prepare an attractive program for the occasion, and shall hope to see a large company present, as we expect then publicly to inaugurate the Girls’ Orphanage.
— Up to the moment of writing we have received towards the purchase of the “Hawthorns” £2,206 8s. 6d. In addition to this we have promises of £50 and £25 for the same purpose, and a notice has been sent to us that a poor widow who recently died had bequeathed nineteen guineas to the Girls’ Orphanage, and a similar amount to the Boys’. This will make a total of £2,301 7s. 6d. towards the £4,000 required for the house and grounds. We have also the premise of six houses when we are ready to build, a freight of bricks from Sittingbourne, and some gas fittings from Cheltenham. After we have paid for the ground we hope to take some girls into the house, and this will involve the furnishing of it, for which we have no means as yet. After this is done the funds for Boys and Girls will be one in all respects, except the expenses of the new buildings, and donors sending either for Boys or Girls will please to notice that their contributions will go into the same fund, for the Institution will be one concern.
We have been delighted with many of the letters which have brought us contributions for this latest development of our work, but we have not space to mention more than one or two. “A poor gardener with seven children” sends 10s., which he obtained for four pecks of gooseberries which he devoted to the Girls’ Orphanage. He says, “I have no doubt so many will be anxious to share in the honor of assisting you in this matter that you will have to cry, ‘Hold, enough!” We have not yet come to that stage of the work. “A Friend of the Orphans,” at Middlesbrough, sent us what he could afford, promised a monthly contribution, and wrote to a local paper to ask for subscriptions to be sent to us. We are much obliged to our unknown friend. A brother in the ministry asks us to send him some collecting cards in order that he may get various friends to collect a sovereign each, and adds, “If the brethren in the ministry will do likewise the amount will soon be raised.”
Several amounts have reached us since the list of contributions was made up, including Mrs. T., £200; and “A Miracle of Mercy,” £100. We have also received the following articles of jewelry for sale: — from C. P., a watch, chain, locket, and ring; from “A Sermon Reader,” a brooch; from A. P., Reading, a ring.
COLPORTAGE — It becomes increasingly evident that the objects and value of the Colportage Association are not known as they should be, beyond a very limited circle of friends who have watched its operations, and appreciated its value in spreading evangelical truth among the people.
Hence it is very important that the testimony of those who have experienced the worth of Colportage should be made widely known. The following extract from the recently published Report of the Southern Baptist Association is full of interest and encouragement, and it is hoped will stimulate other local associations to adopt the Colportage agency. The report proceeds — “The principal part of home mission work done by the association is that which takes the form of colportage. This has been carried on with unabated energy, and with results not less satisfactory than previous years. As the details of the work have been fully given in the reports of the last few years, it is scarcely necessary to repeat them now. A summary of this part of our work will, it is hoped, be deemed sufficient. There are six colporteurs employed in connection with this association. Their work is mainly to visit villages, hamlets, and isolated houses, in order to sellcopies of God’s word, and books and periodicals of a heal thy moral character.
The returns which have been received for the past year show the following results: of the Word of God, either the entire Bible, the New Testament, or in Scripture portions, there have been sold 1,472 copies; of books and periodicals, 22,474; of smaller publications, 3,072; and these sales have realized the sum of £539 17s. 2d. These returns are not complete, however; they include none at all from one of the six districts; and in another, owing to the recent appointment of a new agent, they represent only three months’ sales, Nor do these sales represent the entire work done. In one district 45 services have been held, in another 46, and in another 101. Thousands of Tracts have been distributed, two colporteurs alone report 13,965 visits made, whilst the Scriptures are read and prayers offered as opportunity is given. The pulpits, also, of some of our village chapels and stations are frequently occupied by our agents, and with great acceptableness, whilst work in the Sunday-school and in the week-night Bible class is also done. In connection with these manifold labors, it may not be uninteresting to note the following incidents: — One colporteur says that he ‘was never so well received as now, and the books are welcomed by all classes. In some cases clergymen are good customers, and several have inquired for Spurgeon’s works.’ Another reports that he is able to make sure sale at almost every house at which he calls, and he also speaks of happy results arising from his visits to the sick. Another tells of the manifest blessing of God attendant upon his preaching at one of our village chapels during the past nine months, leading two persons to unite themselves with the church of Christ, and awakening in others a desire for such union. From a fourth district it is reported that the sales skew an increase of nearly fifty per cent on last year’s report; and this, too, in spite of interruptions to the work of your agent — one of which was owing to seven weeks’ severe illness, brought on by overwork; and another through injuries received in an attack made upon him by three drunken men, and by whom he was left unconscious on the road during one of the most severe nights in the past winter. From the same district the superintendent speaks of having received from a poor woman ‘a halfcrown as a thankoffering to God’ for the spiritual light she had obtained from reading a book supplied by the colporteur. Another agent reports the hopeful conversion of an old man, to whom he had paid several visits. “Regarding these as fairly indicating the results arising from this part of our Home Mission Work, your Committee are more than ever confident, that it was a wise step taken when it was adopted by you, and that it will be evidence of progressive wisdom if you put it into the power of their successors to increase the number of your Colporteurs, and so widen the range within which the good influences of this agency shall be felt.” The italics are ours, and we call the attention of all thoughtful readers to the suggestions which they emphasize, but specially commend them to the secretaries and committees of local associations of Christian churches, believing that with great advantage they may “go and do likewise.” The colporteurs in many districts are feeling the depression of trade severely, while in others the sales continue very good. There are also inquiries from several new districts, which we hope will lead to the appointment of additional agents. As the friends in some localities are finding it difficult to obtain the necessary local subscriptions, it is to be hoped that they will not allow the colporteur to be withdrawn without making the most strenuous efforts to retain him, as we can only maintain a man as long as the local guarantee is kept up. We trust also that our friends will remember the General Fund, which has not yet reached the necessary amount to relieve the association of anxiety in its working, much less to continue the advance of the work into new quarters. Annual subscriptions are much needed, and will be gladly received.
— The following letter comes to us from Dundee, Natal, dated May 26th, 1879: — “My dear brother in Christ, — I cannot resist the temptation of spending a few minutes of my halting time on my way to join our soldiers on the Zulu border, to tell you of a little circumstance that will perhaps be cheering. In a small wayside hotel in a wild, lonely part of this colony I found some copies of your sermons, and The Sword and the Trowel lying on a side table. I asked the old landlady how they managed to reach that out-of-the-way place. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘Sir, I get them every month, and they are my best friends in the world.’ I had a good talk with the old lady, and found her a bright, happy Christian, and, although she never attends a public means of grace, and very seldom gets anyone with whom she can talk on things concerning her Savior, yet she maintains a quiet, settled peace, and it would have done you good to have heard her say, ‘The good I get out of those sermons is more than I can tell, and, although I have never seen dear Mr. Spurgeon, yet he preaches to me every Sunday, and I love him very very much.’ She also told me that she forwards your sermons after perusal to a Christian brother in some lonely place, and he, every Lord’s Day, gets his friends and neighbors together, and holds a service, and regularly reads your sermons to them, with the happy result of some three or four souls being soundly converted. “I am in the Wesleyan ministry myself, but always take in your sermons and periodical. I have had the pleasure of distributing many of them to the sick and wounded in the hospitals at Pietermaritzburg, and am taking some to the front, where I am going to try and do what little good I can to our soldiers. “It is time now to ‘inspan,’ and I will conclude.”
A lady sends us the following extract from a letter recently received by her from a Presbyterian sergeant in the 92nd Highlanders in Afghanistan: — “Thanks for sending us five of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons. I have hardly had time to read them myself; the men are all so anxious to have them, and not only the Christian brethren, but others of the men were glad to get them to read, and you may know how glad I was to let them have them. The sermons really set me a heart-searching: they went home to my heart with living power.”
A friend from the country who was at the Orphanage fete on June 19th writes thus: — “While waiting and hoping to have an opportunity of speaking to you. a respectable young sailor came up to me to ask if I could point out Mr. Spurgeon to him, adding, ‘I am all alone here, bat I do so want to look upon Mr. Spurgeon. I have just come home from sea, after having been away from England for thirteen months. Our steward was a true Christian, and he prevailed on nine of our crew to meet him to hear Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons read, and seven of the nine have now decided for Christ, and I do so want to look at the man whose sermons have led me to Jesus. When I left England, thirteen months since, I scorned the Tabernacle and religion.’ I was delighted with the young man’s earnest and intelligent conversation about the gospel, and was sorry that I lost him in the crowd.”
A friend, who sends us £1 for the Girls’ Orphanage as a thank-offering from his niece, says: — “She wishes me to inform you of the great spiritual good she has received from reading your sermon, ‘Eyes Opened.’ (No. 681.) Her case has been very remarkable: she has been very ill for more than twelve months in a decline, wasted to a mere skeleton, and not able to taste a bit of bread for a long time. She had long been very thoughtful and anxious about her soul, but could not obtain peace and satisfaction until reading the sermon the Holy Spirit illuminated her mind, and enabled her to see and embrace Christ as her Savior. From that time she began to improve in health, and is now, to the astonishment of all her friends, able to take daily walks for a considerable distance. When she had found peace she said, ‘I must now do something for Mr. Spurgeon.’ She heard of the Flower Mission, and has sent some flowers two or three times, and also wishes to send some money. I herewith send £1, and wish I could send a hundred.” Distribution of Gospel portions in Russia. — Our readers will be well acquainted with the political troubles of the Russian Empire, and with the fact that thousands of persons are punished by banishment to Siberia. It is little that we can do for those who suffer this dreadful fate, but it is possible to give the distressed people the Word of God. We are informed that a Russian nobleman who takers a deep interest in the circulation of the Scriptures has telegraphed from St. Petersburg. “Now is the time to distribute the Scriptures. What sum will you authorize me to expend?” In answer to this telegram Mr. Hawke sent £75, but £500 would not have been too much.
Every donor of £4 places 1,000 gospels in the hands of as many people.
Contributions may be sent to Mr. William Hawke, the Bible Stand, Crystal Palace.