“PRECIOUS FAITH.” 2 Peter 1:1 A SERMON BY THOMASSPURGEON. SIMON PETER, above all other servants and apostles of Jesus Christ, was aware of the value of faith. We often learn to value things by lacking them as well as by possessing them, and Peter, had been thus instructed, for on several occasions he had to regret its absence. Once he walked the waters with his Master for a while, “but when he saw the wind boisterous he was afraid,” and though the outstretched hand of Jesus prevented him from sinking he had to suffer the kind reproof, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” How precious would that grace have been that could have kept him walking in spite of winds and waves! And when in Pilate’s hall the tauntings of a servant-maid provoked his hasty tongue to oaths and curses, was not his faith at fault? If he had trusted once he would not have denied twice. As soon as he ceased relying he began denying. Had his eye of faith been “looking unto Jesus” no after-glance from Christ would have filled his eyes with tears. But Peter was not always deficient of this grace; he knew its worth by having and by exercising it; for instance, he could not well forget how in the obedience of faith he did, at Christ’s command, let down the net, although exhausted and discouraged by a night of unrewarded toil. How precious was the faith that filled the ship with fishes, and resulted in that miraculous draught which was to Peter the beginning of yet greater things, for then Christ said — “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
Not only from such experiences as these, but also from the direct teaching of his Master, did Peter learn to value faith. “Simon, Simon,” said his loving Lord,” Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” What other conclusion could Peter come to than that a gift specially prayed for by his Savior — a grace which evidently could foil the devil if it did not fail — was, indeed, worth the having? There is little cause for wonder, then, that when the sifting was over, and he was converted and stablished, the should endeavor to strengthen the brethren who had obtained “like precious faith.”
Thus had the apostle learned to hold in honor — for such is the true meaning of his words — the faith for which his Master prayed. It shall be my endeavor to give some reasons why this grace was counted so worthy of esteem by Peter, and why we who have obtained a faith equally honorable should value it as much as he. Its worth, I trust, will increase to us as we consider, first, its divine origin; secondly, the precious objects to which it is directed; and thirdly, the rich blessings it procures.
I. FAITH IS PRECIOUS AS TO ITS ORIGIN.
Every good and perfect gift cometh from above, but in an especial sense “faith is the gift of God.” When the King of kings unlocks his treasuries he gives no choicer gift than this. From his Providence proceeds a train of blessings, and men are everywhere enriched with bounty from his generous hand. He is ever giving. In the morning he scatters seeds of kindness, and at eventide he does not withhold his hand. With unerring wisdom he throws the shuttle of our daily life, and adds by every throw another thread of mercy to the fabric, framed and fashioned by his favor. To his people he is specially gracious. He is as the dew unto Israel, and shines with love on every drop; but these are a portion only of his ways, his Treasury of Grace is stored with blessings richer far than ever Providence can offer. When Jesus rose triumphant o’er the grave, he sat at his Father’s side “to receive gifts for men,” and faith must reckon first within the catalogue. It is the joint present of a mighty God and a merciful Savior. We obtain it from God, the gracious donor, by way of the nail prints of the Mediator, and back it flies as soon as it is ours to the same wounds by which it came, and thus to God who gave it. So heavenly a gift cannot, be too highly estimated. This is the choicest of “the precious things of heaven” allotted to sinful men by a sovereign God. Certain it is that we could not attain it; it could never be ours to prize did we not obtain it as the gift of God. The Father and the Son are thus the sources of this heaven-born stream. While it is the Father who gives this good gift unto his children, it is the Son who prays for its preservation in his disciples. The faith that enables me to say, “Lord, I believe,” has come from God; and now to Christ I pray, “Lord, help my unbelief.”
Nor must we forget the Holy Spirit here. Was he not sent “to convince the world of sin because,” said Christ, “they believe not on me “? Is it not he, “the Spirit of Truth,” who shall guide us into all truth, and thus to faith in Jesus who is “the Truth.” Remember, also, that after “ye heard the word of truth, and after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” “By his Spirit God garnished the heavens,” and by the same divine energy he has kindled in our hearts the faith which, alas, too often flickers like the twinkling stars, but which shall at length outshine them. We look upon God as the giver, to Jesus as the author and finisher, and to the Spirit as the sealer of our faith.
What wonder, then, that we call it precious!
We have sometimes seen a picture painted by two or more artists. One skilled in landscape produces rolling clouds or flashing sunlight, waving fields and a rippling stream. Another pencil drives the cattle to slake their thirst at the crystal brook, while yet a third enlivens all the scene with a ruddy peasant boy or a smiling village girl. Now, if each artist is a master of his own peculiar branch of art, the product of their united efforts will indeed be valuable — the signatures of three distinguished men enhance its worth. What if I say that Jehovah — three in one — has in some such sense worked with his Son and Spirit to perfect in us this grace. Great artist, finish thou thy work! Nor lay thy palette down till faith is lost in sight! O Trinity of love and power, we covet earnestly this best gift! It has a triple value from its threefold source.
II. CONSIDER,SECONDLY,THE PRECIOUSNESS OF FAITH AS TO THE OBJECTS BELIEVED IN.
The value of any article depends considerably upon circumstances surrounding it. A house, however substantial or ornamental, is valueless if its situation be unpleasant; and an anchor, be it never so strong, is useless if sunk in shifting sand. There is a hope that is not real, and faith which is not worth the name. Many earthly confidences are beautiful, but beauty is not value. They are ingeniously devised, cunningly constructed, but being of the earth, earthy, they prove “like a spider’s web.” Ours is a precious faith, in that we trust to things imperishable. Our hope shall never shame us, for we “have faith in God.” “O Lord God of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” To us who believe, Christ is precious, and hence the faith itself is priceless. That man is most valued by his employers who brings to light from ocean’s depth the choicest pearls, and our faith, like such a diver, has found a pearl, to us the goodliest of all and of great price, and, while the prize is precious, the faith that grasped it is held in honor too.
How can we ever prize enough the confidence which made us open a longclosed door, and let our Savior enter? Unbelief had kept him waiting, and we loathe it: faith raised the latch, perchance with trembling fingers, and we love it.
Oh, to have a confidence so honorable that it relies on nothing else but Jesus, and, like Noah’s dove, finds rest alone within the ark! Dear Lord, my faith would keep her hand on that dear head of thine. Thou blessed Scapegoat, thou hast borne my sins away, and ever must I prize the faith by which I laid my sins on Jesus. Is not this confidence most precious, too, from its connection with “the precious blood of Christ”? For ever honored be the look by which I saw his wounds, and found they bled for me. Many a time before he had bidden me “look and live,” but my eyes were holden till “precious faith” removed the veil, and made me know “it was the Lord.” What a view it was as first it burst upon my midnight gloom! Then did I behold “the King in his beauty.” The King thorn-crowned was beautiful with blood; he had within his hands and on his side the price of pardon, and I perceived ‘twas all for me. Precious is the blood that cleanses us, and precious, too, the hyssop-branch wherewith it is applied.
O for grace to trust this precious blood still more and more, till, like the feasting Israelites within their blood-stained doors, we fear no sword of vengeance, and only wait complete deliverance from the land of death and darkness. The blood is precious that provides so sweet a passover, but the faith that trusts the blood is priceless too.
Think, also, of “those exceeding great and precious promises which are given unto us,” and which are inherited by faith. Like ships of merchandise, our hopes go forth ballasted with expectation, but soon return with riches from afar. We send the reapers forth in faith, and, behold, they return at eventide, “bringing their sheaves with them.” But for the vessels the treasure could not be ours, but for the reapers the harvest would be unappropriated, and hence the value of the agents which make the gold of Ophir, or the golden grain, or these golden promises, our very own.
In the old days of falconry the hunter prized that bird the most which seized the choicest prey. So train your faith that it can grasp the promises, and it will grow in value daily. Fain would I keep thee, O my faith, upon my finger’s end, not chained and hooded, as the falcons were, but waiting and watching, ready any time to fly in search of spoil. Go, grasp that promise; far distant as it seems, and hardly meant for me, my faith shall bring it near. Secure that prize, and make that pleasure mine. O for a falcon faith to go a-hunting for us! How precious it would be!
We love the faith by which we learn to love the best Beloved, to trust his blood, and to inherit the promises. Faith is thus to us a brooch of gold which clasps a sinless Savior in the center — the pearl of great price.
About him and above are rubies rich and rare, — “his precious blood”; and diamonds sparkle round, — the greatest and most precious of his promises, all glittering with blest anticipation, flashing with the light of coming joy.
III. Let me remind you, lastly, of THE BLESSINGS FAITH PROCURES.
They are numberless and all of wondrous worth. O how sweet the faith that makes them ours! The key is valuable, although it be not one of gold, which yet unlocks the treasury; and the thread is greatly prized, however common, which penetrates the labyrinth, and leads to wealth and joy.
Faith is as precious as the air we breathe, for “the just shall live by faith.”
By faith we take our infant steps as babes in grace, and growing stronger every day it leaves us not in death, but lights the face with heavenly glory, and inspires a longing” to be with Christ, which is far better.” May it be said of us, “These all died in faith.” Meanwhile, “we believe to the saving of the soul,” and “are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” and “shall receive an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith.”
Here are salvation, adoption, purification, and coming glory — all through faith.
Fellow soldiers of Christ, “By faith ye stand.” “Fight the good fight of faith,” “putting on the breastplate of faith and love,” “above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked,” and “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” See here a complete armory for the Christian warrior, and what is best of all, his victory too.
O blessed harness that thus ensures a triumph! I would be always clad in armor such as this. O precious panoply that promises I shall prevail! My helmet is my crown, my breastplate is my chain of gold, my sword becomes my sign of victory. ‘Faith is the spring-tide sunshine that sets our hearts a-singing — “believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is the porch of the Palace of Peace, for “we which have believed do enter into rest.” It is the crook in the great Shepherd’s hand that keeps us near himself, for “we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” Faith is the vestibule of the baptistery, for “if thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest.” It is the cord of unity which binds all faithful Christians to one another and to their Lord, as of old “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one mind” It is the Master’s “peace, be still,” that ends our toiling and stops our tossing, for “being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”
Think what faith has done for others and may do for us. It opens the mouth to show forth God’s praise, as saith the Psalmist,” I believed, and therefore have I spoken.” It also stops the “mouths of lions.” When creation was blotted by man’s sin, faith kindled Abel’s acceptable offering, and faith is still “the flame that lifts the sacrifice to heaven.” It took Enoch up to walk with God on golden pavements. It built the ark at God’s command and sheltered righteous Noah. The father of the faithful obediently prepared to slay his son — his faith in God stood even so severe a test. Faith benefits the young and old — it kept a guardian watch on baby Moses in his bulrush ark, and by it; “the elders obtained a good report.” Faith is a test of the preciousness or otherwise of earthly things — a balance in which even the reproach of Christ is found to outweigh the treasures of Egypt.
Faith blows the rams’ horns round the walls of Jericho until it brings them down; but while it thus destroys strongholds it does itself become the shelter and protection of a sinful Rahab. Many an one has faith helped in dying — it has brought some back to life. This grace is suited to all conditions and equal to all occasions, The strong find here their greatest power, and the weakest saint by its magic influence; “laughs at impossibilities, and cries ‘it shall be done.’ It pleases God and perplexes the devil. It honors Christ and humbles Satan. It enables man to do everything — it prevents Satan doing anything. It helps in sorrow — it blesses in joy.
No heart should be without it.
The troubled heart most have it. It turns bitter into sweet, and makes the mourner sing: — “What though a cloud o’ershade my sight, Big with affliction’s tear, My faith, amid the drops that fall, Discerns a rainbow there.” The anxious heart should have it, for nothing soothes so well. Faith like an unsuspecting child, serenely resting on its mother’s arm, reposing every care upon her God, sleeps on his bosom and expects no harm; receives with joy the promises he makes, nor questions to his purpose or his power.
She does not doubting ask “Can this be so?” The Lord has said it, and there needs no more.
The glad heart needs it. When all goes merry as the marriage bell “have faith in God.” Trust not these transient joys, for that same bell which peals thy pleasure now may toll thy trouble on the morrow. Keep us, O Lord, in joy or sorrow, “faithful unto death.” Let not “the subtle chain that binds us to the infinite” be ever snapped or even weakened. Sinful heart, thou needest faith although the want be never felt. Or, if thou dost acknowledge that this one thing is lacking, seek it straight from God.
It must ever be his gift. Howsoever foul or sick thou art thy faith shall make thee whole. Only trust him. Trust him only Question not the possibility of such a change: “All things are possible to him that believeth.”
Thy inbred sins shall be plucked up by the roots, yea, the mountain of thine iniquities shall be removed into the sea. Hear what thy Master saith who waits to heal thee: “Believest thou that I am able to do this?” If thou canst not say at once, “Lord. I believe,” present the hearty prayer, “Lord, help mine unbelief.” “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” O what a sweet and simple way of salvation, yet how secure — “trusting Jesus, that is all!” “Trusting as the moments fly, Trusting as the days go by, Trusting him whate’er befall, Trusting Jesus — that is all.” Thank God, we have learned that that is quite enough. Our faith is now so precious that we wish we had a thousand times as much, — “Lord, increase our faith.” Amen.
THE BEST CONDUCT TOWARDS UNBROTHERLY BRETHREN.
WE are bound to own as brethren all those whom God owns as children, and we may not fall into the ani-christian humor in which some abide who un-church, if they do not unchristianize, all who do not gather to their assembly. It is true we have among us a peevish, contentious sect, who in the name of unity denounce all but their own clique, but we may not refuse to love even these. If they will not unite with us we cannot help it; our only care must be to make sure that the disunity is all on their side. Inasmuch as they revile our church-order, and foolishly ridicule it as “system,” we must show that it is part of our system to bear patiently the hard speeches of weak-minded brethren. Even if they disclaim us it will be our duty to call them brethren, notwithstanding their disclaimer. Their conduct is now so well known that none will believe them when they claim to be the pattern community, and it will be the more sure of speedy condemnation if we, each one of us, live to unite all believers, the exclusive ones included, and so by a contrary behavior judge and condemn their schism. The worst harm that uncharitable brethren can do us is to render us as uncharitable as themselves. Remember that though they exclude others they may not themselves be excluded from our Christian love, for the most bigoted brethren are brethren still.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING THIS is a very silly business: stopping the plough and wasting the time of a man and a boy and four horses to catch a mouse. The reader smiles at the picture, but we have often felt ready to cry when we have seen the thing done in real life.
A number of Christian gentlemen on a committee, with business to do for the Lord which concerns thousands of souls, will wrangle over a point of order, or a matter of detail of the most minute importance, delaying great movements upon a subject not worth so much as one poor mouse. A whole denomination of Christians will debate and dispute over merely personal differences which only in the smallest degree affect the grand enterprise in which heaven and earth are concerned. A body of Christians will split into pieces over a petty quarrel, a personal feud, or an infinitesimal point of opinion, while all around them the masses are perishing for want of the gospel. Thus a miserable little mouse, which no eat would ever hunt after, takes them off from their Lord’s work. Good men will spend months of time and heaps of money in inventing and publishing mere speculations, while the great field of the world lies un-ploughed and the hemlock of vice is running to seed all over it. In other matters a little common sense is allowed to rule, but in the weightiest matters foolishness is sadly conspicuous. O that love to God and a concern for the salvation of men would lead good men to use their brains and their hearts, and leave little things alone while eternal matters call for their attention.
Reader, as for you and me, let us kill a mouse when it nibbles our bread, but let us not spend our lives over it. Let us give our chief attention to the chief things, the glory of God, the winning of souls for Jesus, and our own growth in grace. There are fools enough in the world, and there can be no need that Christian men should swell the number.
Friday evening, August 29, the annual meeting of the workers connected with GREEN WALK MISSION, Bermondsey, was held in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall. We hope next month to insert an article on this work, and therefore for the present we simply say that all goes well with the regiment under the leadership of our dear friend, Mr. William Olney, jun., and that we wish them every blessing upon their loving labors. Few churches have for their whole array such a valiant host as this which works the GreenWalk Mission, and yet this is only one detachment of the Tabernacle army. The Lord be praised! People must work for Jesus to be strong in the faith, and joyful in the Lord, as these brethren are.
On Friday evening, September 12, the annual meeting of Miss IVIMEY’ S MOTHERS’MEETING was held in the College Lecture-hall. Through the kindness of the esteemed sister who supports Miss Ivimey, and enables her to carry on this excellent work, two hundred poor mothers were entertained at tea, and we had the pleasure of providing for one hundred more of our Tabernacle neighbors. After tea we had a lively meeting, and amid the lifting up of the infant voices — music sweet to mothers’ hearts — we gave our guests the best advice we could. Having to leave to attend a second meeting, we left the chair to Mr. Charlesworth, who is more at home amid the blue-eyed cherubs. What with kind speeches and sweet singing the evening was filled up in a manner which will, we hope, be fraught with permanent blessing to many who were present. To get working people together, and prove our hearty sympathy with them, is a work of which the churches must do more and more. London and other great cities writ drift into absolute heathenism unless the church seeks out the indifferent and gathers in the poor. We must bring the people to ourselves if we would bring them to Jesus. We cannot save them by keeping them at arm’s length. At the same time, the annual meeting ofMR.PERKINS’ S BIBLE CLASS was held in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall. On his arrival from the other meeting the Pastor presided, and delivered an address or the necessary qualifications of soul-winners, if they are to be successful. These he summed up under seven heads: holiness of character, spiritual life, deep humility, living faith, thorough earnestness, simplicity of aim, and complete surrender to the direction of the Lord. Several of the young brethren gave addresses, and in the name of the class Mr. Perkins presented to the Pastor £14 for the College, which was gratefully accepted with the remark, that as the class supplied several of the students it was appropriate that it should help in supporting them — thus finding both men and means. Young men in London who are at liberty on Sunday afternoons will do well to connect themselves with this or one of the other Bible-classes which meet at the Tabernacle, or elsewhere. It is well for all young people, away from home, in large towns, to form holy, helpful associations for themselves, by joining with such bands of Christian people. We must all have some society, and this sort of society is a blessed preservative from the many temptations of the world, and is often a means of comfort in times of trial. When young people come to London their parents should direct them to some minister or Bible-class leader, and at the same time write to these good people to request them to look after their sons. Many would thus be saved from the evil influences of London life.
On Wednesday evening, September 17, our dear friend, Pastor F.H. White, delighted a large audience at the Tabernacle by delivering his lecture on “Sermons in Trees.” It was a pleasure to us to take the chair, and to listen to the gracious words in which the lecturer explained the spiritual lessons from the natural objects represented by his beautiful dissolving views. If ministers give lectures let them be in the same line as their sermons. God’s servants have no right to become mere entertainers of the public pouring out a number of stale jokes and idle tales without a practical point. We are distressed at the entertainments now allowed in connection with places of worship, and aided, abetted, and assisted in by ministers. When the Lord comes to purge his temple, the scourge of small cords will be greatly needed in some places that we know of. To make religious teaching interesting is one thing, but to make silly mirth, without aim or purpose is quite another.
Those who wish for truly spiritual, gracious, profitable lectures should engage Mr. White. His lantern illustrations are in the best style of art.
— Lecture by Jon B. Gough. We would call immediate attention to the lecture which is to be given in the Tabernacle on. Friday evening, Oct. 3, on “Eloquence and Orators,” by the eloquent orator, JohnB. Gough. This esteemed brother, after spending an evening at our house, most generously offered to give a lecture in aid of any one of our institutions, and as the College expenditure is specially heavy just now, we have most gladly accepted his kind offer on behalf of that work. Seldom have we had a greater joy than in making the acquaintance of John Gough.
He is a deeply experienced man of God, and our communion with him was exceedingly sweet. We are greatly enriched by having won his heart as he has won ours. God speed him as a temperance man, for with him true religion leads the van.
Since our last notice Mr. W. F. Harris has settled as pastor of the church at Chesterfield, Derbyshire; and Mr. R. W. Ayres has returned to his mission work at Matching Tye, Essex. Mr. W. J. Tomkins has removed from Barking, Essex, to Ridgmount, Beds; and Mr. T. E. Rawlings from Wellington-road, Stoke Newington, to Boxmoor, Herts.
On Monday evening, Sept. 15, we had an unusually large number of friends at the Tabernacle prayer-meeting. Many were, no doubt, attracted by the announcement that three of our brethren would be present to say farewell before they left us for the foreign mission field. These brethren are Mr.R. Maplesden, who has now sailed for Madras, to become pastor of the English Baptist church there; Mr. Jno. Stubbs (late pastor at Eythorne) who will be leaving this month to take charge of the church in Allahabad; and Mr. D. Lyall (late pastor at Ocliham) who is about to sail for the Cameroons, Africa. Each of the missionaries gave a short address. Mr. Sampson, of Folkestone, spoke a few kind words, but most of the time was spent in prayer, and real prayer it was, too, each pleader seeming to lay hold of the Angel of the Covenant, determined not to let him go until a blessing was received.
Before these lines reach our readers we shall have had another triple farewell, for on Monday, Sept. 29, we expect to say “Good-bye” to our son Thomas, and the two ministers who are going with him to Australia, Mr. R. McCulloch, from the College, and Mr. J. S. Harrison, who left the College a few months ago and settled at Blackburn. Mr. Gibson, a generous Christian gentleman of Tasmania, pays the passage of these two brethren that they may labor in that island. It is a severe trial thus to be separated from a loving and beloved son, but the will of the Lord be done.
We commend our son again to the loving care of those Australian friends who so generously received him on his first visit. He will need rest, but after a while, we trust, he will resume his preaching, go through the Australian colonies, visit New Zealand, and then settle down somewhere in the southern world. Such is the program which our imagination has mapped out, but how little we know of the future! His parents surrender him to the Lord’s work abroad, hoping one day again to see him in the flesh, and firmly believing that he will do good service for the Lord in the colonies. Beloved by the church at the Tabernacle and by all at home, we fondly hoped that our son would have had a useful career in England; but infinite wisdom cannot err.
We have received the good news of the safe arrival in New Zealand of our esteemed student, Mr. H. Wood. He had a splendid voyage, which seems to have materially benefited his health. Though very ill at first he was able to preach on the third Sabbath, and from that time conducted a service on board every Lord’s-day until he landed, and the word was blessed to the conversion of at least one of the passengers. As soon as he reached Auckland he received an invitation to preach at Willoughby Street, Thames, with a view to the pastorate, and we hope by this time he is hard at work in his new sphere. Thus does the Lord call forth our young brethren to all parts of the world, and our heart is glad, because we know that wherever they go they will preach Christ crucified.
Our colored friends, Messrs. Johnson and Richardson, report that they are laboring on in Africa, “teaching and building,” but they are rather unsettled on account of threats of war from neighboring tribes, who seem jealous because the missionaries settled at Bakundu. While writing, we are informed that Mrs. Johnson has died of fever. We trust the news will not be confirmed, but our heart aches for our brother at the very idea of such a crushing blow. They were a happy pair, and the survivor will keenly feel the separation.
Mr. N. Papengouth, of Naples, writes: “We are going on steadily in spite of all the difficulties that arise from the ignorance, superstition, and corruption of the people. We are now seriously thinking about starting night and day schools — the young are the hope of Italy.” He reports the arrival of his brother, Alexander, at Hayti, and says of him: “He seems to be in good spirits, and humbly trusts in God’s help.” May the Baptist Mission find in Alexander a valuable missionary!
From Rio de Janeiro Mr. J. M. G. dos Santos sends us an account of the mischief wrought by the Plymouth Brethren in the church gathered by the disinterested labors of Dr. Kalley. How sad that in the presence of Romanists Christian men should overthrow a good work by their unpractical peculiarities! O that their grace were but equal to their knowledge! As they cannot agree among themselves we cannot wonder that they agree with nobody else.
Mr. Hamilton writes to tell us that he is back again at Cape Town, after a fine, quick voyage, and sweet season of rest. He had a most hearty reception, and found that during his absence the work had been well maintained by Mr. Batts, about twenty persons having joined the church while he was in England. He hopes to begin building his new chapel at once.
Mr. Batts sends us word that his health has improved, and that he expects shortly to go to Port Elizabeth to relieve Mr. Stokes, who is returning to England for a time in order to gain fresh strength for his work in Africa.
J. A.SPURGEON. — A card has reached us from our brother in New York, stating that he has arrived safely. He has arranged to meet all our Canada men in Toronto on September 26. All our brethren in Canada seem to be doing well and enjoying the divine blessing.
— Messrs. Smith and Fullerton have been at Burnley, Lancashire, during the greater part of the past month. The services have been very largely attended from the commencement. Our brethren estimated that 20,000 people were reached during the first week. In one of Mr. Smith’s letters he says — “We are touching just the class we cater for, the rough men who go nowhere. We have nightly in our meetings the men who twelve months ago were rioting on strike, and they give us no trouble, but sit as still as Mr. Murrell’s coalies.” On two of the Sunday afternoons, when the meetings were especially for men, one of Spurgeon’s sermons was given to each person through the kindness of our friend and deacon, Mr. Murrell. As the time for closing the services drew near the evangelists were en-treated to remain longer, and this they have consented to do. It is too early to calculate the spiritual results, but we anticipate that Burnley will retain the remembrance of our brethren’s visit for many a day to come.
A local paper says — “Throughout the week large crowds have filled the Mechanics’ Hall every evening, many having been unable to obtain admission. On Wednesday evening the crowd was so great that an overflow meeting had again to be arranged in Salem School-room, and the earnest spirit of the people was very apparent, for whether addressed by the evangelists themselves, or as in the case of the overflow meeting, by local ministers, the same evident interest and attention were shown.
Besides this, a noon prayer meeting has been held in the Mechanics’ Hall every day, and considering the time and object of the gathering, it has been remarkably well attended — increasing as the days go on. All the meetings are of a most interesting and useful character. A cheerful spirit always prevails, but this is never allowed to degenerate into mere trifling, and indeed there is often a deep solemnity in the midst of some earnest appeal from the preacher or some touching song from the singer.”
This month, from the 5th to the 19th, the evangelists are to visit Stafford, and in November they will once more hold special services in the Tabernacle. Mr. Burnham, our other evangelist, has been, for the past three or four weeks, in Kent, amongst the hop-pickers. The wet weather has caused the picking operations to be later and lighter than usual, and consequently the evangelists have at present had fewer opportunities of reaching the people who are usually found in the hop-gardens at this time of the year. Still, from his head-quarters at Goudhurst, Mr. Burnham, accompanied by Mr. Kendon, the pastor of the church in that village, and Mr. Kipling, of the London City Mission, has made several holy raids into the surrounding districts, and we trust that in this way some of the devil’s slaves will be converted into good soldiers of Jesus Christ. For the present month Mr. Burnham’s engagements are as follows: — October 5 to 12, Chepstow; to 19, Leamington; 20 to 26, Markyate Street; 27 to Nov. 2, Bedford.
— The friends and supporters of the Stockwell Orphanage will rejoice with us that another of “our boys” is studying with a view to the Christian ministry. This will be number three. The letter conveying the good news says, “His name is T. H. Williams. He left the Orphanage about seven years ago, and has just proved a successful candidate for admission to the Baptist College, Haverford-west. He stood third amongst the eleven who passed the examination.”
The following letter will answer the double purpose of proving the benefit of the Boys’ Orphanage, and the need for a similar institution for Girls: — “August 21, 1879. “Rev. Sir, — Permit me once more to offer my very sincere thanks for the great care and kindness bestowed on my son Alfred at your Orphanage. I feel I cannot be too thankful, nor speak too highly of the interest taken in my boy. I do not know what I should have done but for the care and kindness which provided for him in your happy home. The greatest comfort to my mind is that their spiritual welfare is so much thought of, for if there is one tiling more than another that I claim for my children it is that they may be good and useful in the world and in the church. I do believe that only the day of judgment will reveal the good done by your Orphanage alone. I only wish I had such a home for one of my little girls. I was left with six, one of whom was born a week after my husband’s death. I buried the eldest last year, and have still three depending entirely on my own exertions. Some months last year my rooms were unoccupied, which will take me a long time to recover, but the Lord will provide, my trust is in him. “Pardon me, sir, for again troubling you with my poor thanks, and may God spare you, and make you a still greater blessing in every department of your Christian work, is the earnest prayer and wish of, yours very respectfully, “Rev. C. H. Spurgeon.” “ — — — “Our quarterly collectors’ meeting being held on October 1, we must postpone an account of the proceedings until next month. But we hope on that day to take full possession of the ground intervening between the Hawthorns and the Orphanage, and thus the square piece of land will be in our possession for perfecting the institution.
— We are glad to be informed that our ever-faithful friends, Messrs. Wills and Packham, Sittingbourne, have decided to follow the good example of Messrs. Smeed, Dean, and Co., and present a freight of bricks for the Girls’ Orphanage. We heartily thank Messrs. Smeed and Dean; may they prosper!
Mr. G. E. Arnold, the pastor of Conduit-road Church, Plumstead, also promises us £25 worth of timber if we can use it in the new buildings, or if not, he will find another way of helping us. Friends who give us the option of using their gifts in this manner render us a double service, and we are all the more grateful to them.
— The secretary (Mr. W. Corden Jones) writes Sept. 12: — “It is with great regret that the Committee have been compelled to suspend operations in seven out of the ten districts occupied around Birmingham, but they trust that a revival of trade in that district will encourage local friends to subscribe the required amount of £40 a year for each man to resume operations. It is a pity that such a good work should be crippled in that locality. Last year the ten colporteurs stationed in the suburbs of Birmingham sold 31,253 publications to the value of £550 17s. 3d., visited 172,637 families, and conducted 137 services, besides visiting 493 sick and dying persons in out-of-the-way places. We are quite prepared to resume work in as many districts as will guarantee £40 a year. During the last month applications have been received for the appointment of colporteurs in Andover and Kettering, while inquiries of a hopeful nature have been received from others. A good work is progressing in many of the districts in the conversion of souls. A copy of the Annual Report will be sent to any address on receipt of a postage stamp.”
We have made many earnest appeals as to this Colportage work, which seems to us to be one of the most important departments of Christian service; but we have not succeeded in convincing many, or, at least, in leading them to give their aid. We must, therefore, we fear, abandon one sphere after another, and lessen the number of laborers. This will cost us many a pang, but it cannot be helped. We can only use the amount entrusted to us, and when this is diminished we certainly shall not spend money in pressing advertisements, but shall take it as a sign that we must slacken sail. The responsibility of this will not, however, rest with us, but with those who come not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. It is a painful subject, and we care not to enlarge. The Lord is good, and whether his stewards are faithful or not, he abides for ever true to those who trust in him.
— We rejoice to hear that our sermon on “The Divine Call for Missionaries” (No. 1351), has been the means of leading another young man, beside the one mentioned in our “Notes” for June, to consecrate himself to the work of foreign missions. Mr. Broomhall, of the China Inland Mission, sends us the following extract from the papers of an accepted candidate: — “What is your motive for wishing to become a missionary?” “The glory of God in the salvation of the heathen.” “What has led you to think of doing so?” “A sermon by Mr. Spurgeon on ‘ The Divine Call for Missionaries.’” One of the bandsmen of the 73d Regiment writes from India to say that he receives our sermon every week by post, and that on a Sunday evening the soldiers will read “Spurgeon’s Sermons” when they will read nothing else of a religious character. He states that after a sermon has gone the round of fifty or sixty men, it is returned to him all black and fringed through the wear and tear.
Dr. Carson, of Coleraine, says concerning the sermons — “In my professional calling I have had abundant opportunity of knowing the good they do. Space would not allow me to dwell on this point, but I mention the illstance of one of my own servants several years since. When he was waiting for me every day at the hospital gate I observed that he sat down on the step of the carriage and began to read. I asked him what he was reading and he said it was a tract his mistress gave him, and that it was the nicest thing he ever read, as he could understand every word of it, and he wished that every minister would preach like that. I looked at it and found it was one of Spurgeon’s sermons.”
Mr. Wilhelm Haupt, missionary to the Edinburgh Ladies’ Auxiliary to the German Baptist Mission, in his last quarterly report, writes as follows: — “My own son, Willy, now seventeen years of age, came from Barmen, where he is at school, to spend his Easter holidays with us. Shortly before, I had received some of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons from Dr. B., amongst which was one entitled ‘The Seven Sneezes ‘ (No. 1461), from the text Kings 4:35, ‘And the child sneezed seven times.’ Having read this sermon, and believing that it was well suited to his case, I asked my boy to translate it into German for me. During the work of translation I could plainly see that what I had hoped was taking place, the Lord was touching his heart and showing him his position. When he had finished the translation I asked him whether he too felt any signs of life, and he acknowledged he desired from his whole heart to become a Christian. He has not yet full assurance of faith, but the Lord has begun his work of grace, and I have every reason to believe he will complete it. I am very grateful for the gift of these splendid sermons, from which I have derived much blessing.”
A Scotch friend, in sending us a contribution for one of our works, explains that it is a thankoffering for the enjoyment and profit derived by him and his late wife from reading our sermons. He tells us that he is so deaf that he cannot hear his own minister’s voice in the service of the sanctuary, and his wife was too ill to go to church for two years before she died, so they were both very grateful to get every Saturday the sermon, which supplied them with spiritual food for the Lord’s-day. The writer further says, “Since my wife’s death I have, after reading your sermon, given it to a friend, whose wife is also in very weak health, and has not been able to go to church for nearly two years. They enjoy the sermon very much, and after reading it pass it on to a neighbor, who also enjoys it. I think you might take occasion to drop the hint that each reader might seek out some invalid person who is not able to go to church, and make a present of the sermon instead of allowing it to lie idle on the shelf, The sick friend above mentioned was visited by the late Rev. James Robertson a few days before his decease. She told him that her own minister called to see her so seldom that she might now say that she had no church connection; but she greatly enjoyed the reading of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons. ‘Oh, then,’ replied Mr. Robertson, ‘you will just consider you are one of Mr. Spurgeon’s people.’” One of our church-members, in thanking us for our recent sermon on Psalm 57:4, “My soul is among lions,” writes: “You may be sure when I had the beerhouse in — that my soul was among lions. You may not remember that your preaching was the means of my closing that house on the Sunday in spite of great opposition, persecution, and personal loss. I kept it closed on the Sunday with one exception, when the devil tempted me to open it, but Christ gained the victory, and enabled me to close ever afterwards on the Sunday. I closed on the same Sunday as you opened the Tabernacle. If every minister could be the means of closing one public house on the Sunday the victory would be won. The sermon on Zechariah 14:20 (‘A Peal of Bells,’ No. 399) decided me to join the church.”
A brother Baptist minister, in sending us a contribution for the Girls’ Orphanage, says, “During nearly twenty years’ ministry I have been often helped and encouraged by your sermons, which I regularly read and lend to others. May the Lord long spare you to his church!”
We were amused when we were informed of a notice that recently appeared in a shop window in Newcastle. Underneath a lithographic likeness, or what professed to be such, was the announcement, “SPURGEON REDUCED TO SIXPENCE.” The kind friend who sent us the intelligence expressed the hope that we were not quite so poor as the notice implied.
This leads us to remark that we shall be compelled to leave England in November and December to escape the fogs. At this time, or a little later, we have been ill for several successive years, and we are advised to go away before the illness comes, in the hope of getting strength to go through the rest of the winter. This we mean to do. Our only difficulty is that during our absence funds fall off, and therefore it would be a very great relief if the stores were well replenished before we went from home.
This would make our holiday doubly restful.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: — August 28th, fifteen; September 4th, twenty-three.