A NEW YEARS WISH.
“But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ” — Philippians 4:19
THE Philippians had several times sent presents to Paul, to supply his necessities. Though they were not rich themselves, yet they made a contribution, and sent Epaphroditus with it, “all odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing unto God.” Paul felt very grateful: he thanked God, but he did not forget also to thank the donors; he wished them every blessing, and he did as good as say, “You have supplied my need, and my God shall supply yours. You have supplied my need of temporal food and raiment out of your poverty: my God shall supply all your need out of his riches in glory.” As he says in the eighteenth verse, “I have all and abound. I am full,” so, he adds, “my God shall supply all your need.” You have sent what you gave me by the hand of a beloved brother, but God will send a better messenger to you, for he will supply all your need “by Christ Jesus.” Every single word sounds as if he had thought it over, and the Spirit of God had guided him in his meditation, so that he should to the fullest extent wish them back a blessing similar to that which they had sent to him, only of a richer and more enduring kind.
Now, on this New Year’s day I would desire, somewhat in the spirit of Paul, to bless those of you who have supplied according to your abilities the wants of God’s work in my hands:, and have given, even out of your poverty, to the cause of God, according as there has been need. I count myself to be personally your debtor though your gifts have been for the students, and the orphans, and the colporteurs, and not for myself. In return for your kindness, after the manner of his gracious love, “my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
This verse is particularly sweet to me, for when we were building the Orphanage, I foresaw that, if we had no voting, and no collecting of annual subscriptions, but depended upon the goodness of God, and the voluntary offerings of his people, we should have times of trial, and therefore I ordered the masons to place upon the first columns of the Orphanage entrance these words, “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The text therefore is cut in stone upon the right hand and upon the left of the great archway. There stands this declaration of our confidence in God, and as long as God lives we shall never need to remove it, for he will certainly supply the needs of his own work. While we serve him he will furnish our tables for us.
The text might suggest to us a field of gloomy thought, if we wished to indulge the melancholy vein, for it speaks of “all your need.” Behold A
GREAT NECESSITY, — all your need. What a gulf! What an abyss! “All your need. ” I do not know how many believers made up the church at Philippi, but the need of one saint is great enough: what must many need?
It would not be possible to tell the number of God’s children on earth, but the text comprehends the need of the whole chosen family — “All your need. ” We will not ask you to reckon up the wonderful draught upon the divine exchequer which must be made by all the needs of all the saints who are yet on earth: but please think of your own need; that win be more within the compass of your experience and the range of your meditation.
May the Lord supply your need and all your need.
There is your temporal need, and that is no little matter. If we have food and raiment we should be therewith content, but there are many of God’s people to whom the mere getting of food and raiment is a wearisome toil; and what with household cares, family trials, sickness of body, losses in business, and sometimes the impossibility of obtaining suitable labor, many of God’s saints are as hard put to it as Elijah was when he sat by the brook Cherith. If God did not send them their bread and meat in a remarkable manner, they would surely starve; but their bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure. “My God shall supply all your need.” You have, perhaps, a large family, and your needs are therefore greatly increased, but the declaration of the text includes the whole of your needs personal and relative.
After all, our temporal needs are very small compared with our spiritual needs. A man may, with the blessing of God, pretty readily provide for the wants of the body, but who shall provide for the requirements of the soul?
There is need of perpetual pardon, for we are always sinning; and Jesus Christ’s blood is always pleading and cleansing us from sin. Every day there is need of fresh strength to battle against inward sin; and, blessed be God, it is daily supplied, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. As soldiers we need armor from head to foot, and even then we do not know how to wear the armor, or how to wield the sword, unless he who gave us these sacred implements shall be always with us. Warring saint, God will supply all your need by his presence and Spirit. But we are not merely warriors, We are also workers. We are called, many of us, to important spheres of labor, (and, indeed, let no man think his sphere unimportant,) but here also our hands shall be sufficient for us, and we shall accomplish our life-work. You have need to be helped to do the right thing at the right time in the right spirit and in the right manner, your need as a Sundayschool teacher, as an open-air preacher, and especially as a minister of the gospel will be very great: but the text meets all requirements — “My God shall supply all your need.” Then comes our need in suffering, for many of us are called to take our turn in the Lord’s prison-house. Here we need patience under pain, and hope under depression of spirit. Who is sufficient for furnace work? Our God will supply us with those choice graces and consolations which shall Strengthen us to glorify his name in the fires. He will either make the burden lighter, or the back stronger; he will diminish the need, or increase the supply.
Beloved, it were impossible for me to mention all the forms of our spiritual need. We need to be daily converted from some sin or other, which, perhaps, we have scarcely known to be sin. We need to be instructed in the things of God, we need to be illuminated as to the mind of Christ, we need to be comforted by the promises, we need to be quickened by the precepts, we need to be strengthened by the doctrines. We need, oh, what do we not need? We are just a bag of wants, and a heap of infirmities. If any one of us were to keep a want-book, as I have seen tradesmen do, what a huge folio it would need to be; and it might be written within, and without, and crossed and re-crossed, for we are full of wants from the first of January to the end of December: but here is the mercy, “My God will supply all your need.” Are you put in high places? Have you many comforts? Do you enjoy wealth? What need you have to be kept from loving the world, be kept from wantonness, and pride, and the follies and fashions of this present evil world. My God will supply your need in that respect. Are you very poor? Then the temptation is to envy, to bitterness of spirit, to rebellion against God. My God shall supply your needs. Are you alone in the world? Then you need the Lord Jesus to be your companion: your companion he will be. Have you many around you? Then you have need of grace to set them a good example, to bring up your children and manage your household in the fear of God: “My God shall supply your need.” You have need in times of joy to be kept sober and steady: you have need in times of sorrow to be strong and quit yourselves like men; you have needs in living, and you will have needs in dying, but your last need shall be supplied as surely as your first. “My God shall supply all your need.”
Come, then, brethren, and look down into this great gulf of need and exultantly say, “O Lord, we thank thee that our needs are great, for there is the more room for thy love, thy tenderness, thy power, thy faithfulness, to fill the chasm.”
That first thought, which I said might be a gloomy one, has all the dreariness taken out of it by four others; equally true, but each of them full of good cheer. The text not only mentions great want, but it mentions also a great helper — “ My God;” next, a great gift — he “shall supply all your need; “thirdly, an abundant store out of which to draw the gift, — “according to his riches in glory;” and lastly, a glorious channel through which the supply shall come — “by Christ Jesus.”
First, then, for our enormous wants here is AGREAT HELPER: M y God shall supply all your need.” Whose God is that? Why, Paul’s God. That is one of the matters in which the greatest saints are no better off than the very least, for though Paul called the Lord “My God,” he is my God too.
My dear old friend who sits yonder, and has nothing but a few pence in all the world, can also say, “and he is my God too.” He is my God, and he is as much my God if I am the meanest, most obscure, and weakest of his people, as he would be my God if I were able, like Paul, to evangelize the nations. Is it not delightful to think that my God is Paul’s God, because, you see, Paul intended this; he meant to say, “You see, dear brethren, my God has supplied all my wants, and as he is your God he will supply yours.” I have been in the dungeon in which Paul is said to have been confined, and a comfortless prison indeed it is. First of all you descend into a vaulted chamber, into which no light ever comes except through a little round hole in the roof; and then in the middle of the floor of that den there is another opening, through which the prisoner was let down into a second and lower dungeon, in which no fresh air or light could possibly come to him. Paul was probably confined there. The dungeon of the Praetorium in which he was certainly immured is not much better. Paul would have been left well nigh to starve there, but for those good people at Philippi. I should not wonder but what Lydia was at the bottom of this kind movement, or else the jailer. They said, “We must not let the good apostle starve;” and so they made up a contribution, and sent him what he wanted; and when Paul received it he said, “My God has taken care of me. I cannot make tents here in this dark place so as to earn my own living; but still my Master supplies my need, and even so when you are in straits will he supply you.” “My God.” Now, it has often been sweet to me when I have thought of my orphan children and money has not come in, to remember Mr. Miller’s God and how he always supplies the children at Bristol. That God is my God, and I rest upon him. When you turn over the pages of Scripture, and read of men who were in sore trouble, and were helped, you may say, “Here is Abraham, he was blessed in all things, and Abraham’s God will supply all my need, for he is my God. I read of Elijah, that the ravens fed him: I have Elijah’s God, and he can command the ravens still if he pleases.” The God of the prophets, the God of the apostles, the God of all the saints that have gone before us, this God is our God for ever and ever. It seems to be thought that God will not work now as he used to do. “Oh, if we had lived in miraculous times,” say some, “then we could have trusted him. Then there was a manifest declaration of God’s existence, for he pushed aside the laws of nature, and wrought for the fulfillment of his promises to his people.” Yet that was a rather coarser mode of working than the present one, for now the Lord produces the same results without the violation of the laws of nature, it is a great fact that without the disturbance of a single law of nature prayer becomes effectual with God, and God being inquired of by his people to do it for them does fulfill his promise and supply their needs. Using means of various kinds he still gives his people all things necessary for this life and godliness. Without a miracle he works great wonders of loving care, and he will continue so to do.
Beloved, is the God of Paul your God? Do you regard him as such? It is not every man that worships Paul’s God. It is not every professing Christian that really knows the Lord at all, for some invent a deity such as they fancy God ought to be. The God of Paul is the God of the Old and New Testament — such a God as we find there. Do you trust such a God?
Can you rest upon him? “There are such severe judgments mentioned in Scripture.” Yes, do you quarrel with them? Then you cast him off; but if, instead thereof, you feel, “I cannot understand thee, O my God, nor do I think I ever shall, but it is not for me, a child, to measure the infinite God, or to arraign thee at my bar, and say to thee, ‘Thus shouldest thou have done, and thus oughtest thou not to have done.’ Thou sayest ‘Such am I,’ and I answer ‘Such as thou art, I love thee, and I cast myself upon thee, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of thy servant Paul.
Thou art my God, and I will rest upon thee?” Very well, then, he will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Just think of that for a minute. If he will supply you, you will be supplied indeed, for God is infinite in capacity. He is infinitely wise as to the manner of his actions; and infinitely powerful as to the acts themselves. He never sleeps or tires; he is never absent from any place, but is always, ready to help. Your needs come, perhaps, at very unexpected times; they may occur in the midnight of despondency or in the noonday of delight, but God is ever near to supply the surprising need. He is everywhere present and everywhere omnipotent, and he can supply all your need, in every place, at every time to the fullest degree. Remember that omnipotence has servants everywhere, and whenever God wishes to send you aid he can do it without pausing to ask, “How shall it be done?” He has but to will it, and all the powers of heaven and earth are subservient to your necessity. With such a helper what cause have you to doubt?
The next point in the text is, AGREAT SUPPLY. “My God will supply all your need.” Sometimes we lose a good deal of the meaning of Scripture through the translation, in fact, nothing ever does gain by translation except a bishop. The present passage might be rendered thus, — “My God will fill to the full all your need.” The illustration which will best explain the meaning is that of the woman whose children were to be sold by her creditor to pay the debts of her late husband. She had nothing to call her own except some empty oil-jars, and the prophet bade her set these in order and bring the little oil which still remained in the cruse. She did so, and he then said to her “Go among your neighbors and borrow empty vessels not a few” She went from one to another till she had filled her room full of these empty vessels, and then the prophet said, “Pour out.” She began to pour out from her almost empty cruse, and, to her surprise, it filled her largest oil-jar. She went to another, and filled that, and then another and another. She kept on filling all the oil jars, till at last she said to the prophet, “there is not a vessel more.” Then the oil stayed, and not till then. So will it be with your needs. You were frightened at having so many needs just now, were you not? But now be pleased to think you have them, for they are just so many empty vessels to be filled. If the woman had borrowed only a few jars, she could not have received much oil, but the more empty vessels she had the more oil she obtained. So the more wants and the more needs you have, if you bring them to God, so much the better, for he will fill them all to the brim, and you may be thankful that there are so many to be filled. When you have no more wants (but oh, when will that be?) then the supply will be stayed, but not till then. My God will fill up to the brim all your needs, according to the riches of his glory by Christ Jesus. How gloriously God gives to his. people! We wanted pardon once: he washed as, and he made us whiter than snow. We wanted clothing, for we were naked. What did he do? Give us some rough dress or other? Oh no, but he said, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him.” It was a fortunate thing for the prodigal that his clothes were all in rags, for then he needed raiment, and the best robe was brought forth. It is a grand thing to be sensible of spiritual needs, for they will be supplied. A conscious want in the sight of God — what is it but a prevalent request for a new mercy? We have sometimes asked him to comfort us, for we were very low, but when the Lord has comforted us, he has so filled us with delight that we have been inclined to cry with the old Scotch divine, “Hold, Lord, hold! It is enough. I cannot bear more joy. Remember I am only an earthen vessel.” We, in relieving the poor, generally give no more than we can help, but our God does not stop to count his favors, he gives like a king. He pours water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.
We must pass on to the next thought, and consider for a minute or two
THE GREAT RESOURCES out of which this supply is to come. “He will supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory. ” There, the preacher may sit down now, for he cannot compass this part of the text. God’s riches in glory are beyond all thought. Consider the riches of God in nature? Who shall count his treasures? Get away into the forests: travel on league after league among the trees which cast their ample shade for no man’s pleasure, but only for the Lord. Mark on lone mountain and far reaching plain the myriads of flowers whose perfume is for God alone.
What wealth each spring and summer is created in the boundless estates of the great King. Observe the vast amount of animal and insect life which crowds the land with the riches of divine wisdom, for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Look towards the sea: think of those shoals of fish, so countless that when only the fringe of them is touched by our fishermen they find enough of food to supply a nation. Mark, too, the sunken treasures of the ocean, which no hand gathereth, but that of the Eternal. If you would see the wealth of the Creator, cast your eye to the stars: tell ye their numbers if ye can. Astronomy has enlarged our vision, and made us look upon this world as a mere speck compared with innumerable other worlds that God has made; and it has told us that probably all the myriads of worlds that we can see with the telescope are a mere fraction of the countless orbs which tenant infinite space. Vast are God’s riches in nature. It needs a Milton to sing as he sang in “Paradise Lost,” the riches of the Creating God. The riches of God in providence are equally without bound. He saith to this creature “Go,” and he goeth, and to another “Do this, and he doeth it, ” for all things serve his bidding. Think of the wealth of God in grace. There nature and providence stand eclipsed, for we have the fountain of eternal love, the gift of an infinite sacrifice, the pouring out of the blood of his own dear Son, and the covenant of grace in which the smallest blessing is infinite in value. The riches of his grace! “God is rich in mercy,” — rich in patience, love, power, kindness, rich beyond all conception. Now, you shall be supplied according to the riches of nature and the riches of providence and the riches of grace: but this is not all; the apostle chooses a higher style, and writes “according to his riches in glory. ” Ah, we have never seen God in glory. That were a sight our eyes could not behold. Christ in his glory when transfigured was too resplendent a spectacle even for the tutored eyes of Peter, and James, and John. At the too transporting light darkness rushed upon them, and they were as men that slept. What God is in his glory do ye know, ye angels?
Does he not veil his face even from you, lest in the excessive brightness of his essence even you should be consumed? Who amongst all his creatures can tell the riches of his glory, when even the heavens are not pure in his sight, and he charged his angels with folly? “Riches in glory.” It means not only the riches of what he has done, but the riches of what he could do: for if he has made hosts of worlds he could make as many myriads more, and then have but begun. The possibilities of God omnipotent who shall reckon? But the Lord shall supply all your need according to such glorious possibilities. When a great king gives according to his riches, then he does not measure out stinted alms to beggars, but he gives like a king, as we say; and if it be some grand festival day, and the king is in his state array, his largesses are on a noble scale. Now, when God is in his glory, bethink you, if you can, what must be the largesse that he distributes — what the treasures that he brings forth for his own beloved.
Now, according to his riches in glory, he will supply all your needs After that, dare you despond? Oh, soul, what insanity is unbelief! What flagrant blasphemy is doubt of the love of God! He must bless us; and, blessed by him, we must be blest indeed. If he is to supply our needs according to his riches in glory, they will be supplied to the full.
Now, let us shut up our meditation with the fourth remark, and that is —
THE GLORIOUS CHANNEL by which these needs are to be supplied. “According to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ” You shall have all your soul’s wants satisfied, but you must go to Christ for everything. “By Christ Jesus.” That is the fountain-head where the living waters well up. You are not to keep your wants supplied by your own care and fretfulness, — “Consider the lilies, how they grow.” You are to be enriched “by Christ Jesus. ” You are not to have your spiritual wants supplied by going to Moses, and working and toiling, as if you were your own Savior, but by faith in Christ Jesus. Those who will not go to Christ Jesus must go without, for God will give them nothing in the way of grace except through his Son. Those who go to Jesus the most shall oftenest taste of his abundance, for through him all blessings come. My advice to myself and to you is that we abide in him, for since that is the way by which the blessing comes we had better abide in it. We read of Ishmael, that he was sent into the wilderness with a bottle, but Isaac, dwelt by the well Lahairoi, and it is wise for us to dwell by the well Christ Jesus, and never trust to the bottles of our own strength. If you wander from Christ Jesus, brother, you depart from the center of bliss.
All this year I pray that you may abide by the well of this text. Draw from it. Are you very thirsty? Draw from it, for it is full, and when it is pleaded the Lord will supply all your need. Do not cease receiving for a minute. Let not your unbelief hinder the Lord’s bounty, but cling to this promise, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I know not how to wish you a greater blessing. If you are enabled by the Holy Spirit to realize it, you will enjoy what I earnestly wish for you, namely — AHAPPY NEWYEAR. IT IS A QUESTION WHETHER WE SHALL ALL GO TO HEAVEN ANUMBER of intimate friends being at dinner together, on the Lord’s-day, one of the company, in order to prevent improper discourse, said, “It is a question whether we shall all go to heaven or not. ” This plain hint occasioned a general seriousness and self-examination. One thought, “If any of this company go to hell, it must be myself,” and so thought another and another; even the servants who waited at table were affected in the same manner. In short, it was afterwards found that this one sentence proved, by the special blessing of God upon it, instrumental to their conversion. What an encouragement is this to Christians, to give a serious turn to the conversation, when in company! It should be observed, however, that the Lord’s-day was not instituted for the visiting and entertainment even of Christians. How is their conduct, who make a point of meeting and feasting on the Sabbath, to be distinguished from the Sunday parties of the profane? Our place of meeting, on that day, is the house of God; and our feast, the rich provisions of the everlasting gospel.
How we wish that all professors would remember this!
GRACE SHOULD PERMEATE THE ENTIRE MAN IN the camphor tree every part is impregnated with the precious perfume; from the highest twig to the lowest root the powerful gum will exude.
Thus grace should permeate our whole nature, and be seen in every faculty, every word, every act, and even every desire. If it be “in us and abound” it will be so. An unsanctified part of our frame must surely be like a dead branch, deforming and injuring the tree. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name” — when praise is truly spiritual it pervades the whole man.
HOW THE BOOK FUND PROSPERS.
BY MRS. C. H.SPURGEON
“ARECORD OF COMBAT WITH SIN,AND LABOR FOR THE.LORD.” These words on the cover of our magazine startled me the other day as I sat thinking over my work and what I should say about it. I felt almost ashamed of my audacity in presuming to ask a place again amidst these pages, seeing that I am not strong enough to bear a “sword,” and my “trowel” is such a very little one that it can only hope to gather enough mortar to supply some few of the laborers who build up the living stones.
But I remembered with exceeding comfort that, when the wall of Jerusalem was repaired, in Nehemiah’s time, the work of the daughters of Shallum was as faithfully recorded as the labor of the princes and the priests.
So I take courage to tell again of the Lord’s great goodness to me, and how marvelously he has continued to help and bless the “Book Fund.” As certainly as if he had stretched forth his hand from the heavens and given me a written commission for the service, so surely do I know that this work came to me through his indulgent love, and from the first moment of its existence to the present, he has guided and supported and blessed it, and every atom of the glory shall be his. He sent me the needful funds to carry it on, by moving the hearts of his people to help me, for not one penny of that £926 was solicited except from him. And he has heard and answered the prayer that a great blessing might follow the books into the homes of his dear servants, comforting their hearts and refreshing their spirits, as well as aiding them in their preparation for the pulpit. I have two great heaps of letters from them, so heavy that I lift them with difficulty, and if all the joy and gratitude to God therein expressed could be written out it would fill some volumes. Knowing how deeply interested in these letters the readers of The Sword and the Trowel have hitherto been, I propose in this paper to give a series of extracts from them, (When the writers of these letters recognize their own compositions they need have no fear of betrayed confidence, for with my own hands I have prepared all the copy for the printer, so that their names might be unknown.) a set of word pictures as it were, which I shall call — AGLIMPSE AT SOME ENGLISH INTERIORS Years ago, when I had the felicity of sharing my dear husband’s annual holiday, one of our chief pleasures consisted in visiting the picture gallery of every continental town we entered. There, “walking circumspectly” over the shining, treacherous floors, we spent many happy hours, and enjoyed to the full the works of the grand old masters, but I am not ashamed to confess that I at least used to linger longer and more lovingly over a “Dutch Interior” by Teniers or Ostade, than I cared to do over any “Madonna and child” that Raphael or Rubens ever painted. These latter never stirred any d evotional feelings within my soul, and failing this, they ceased to interest, and even grew tiresome by constant repetition. But it was charming to be absorbed in the “little beautiful works” (as an authority on painting calls them), which the Dutch masters loved to draw with such wonderful and tender minuteness of detail. The interior of a fisherman’s hut, with its quaint wooden cradle, and its basket of freshly-caught fish, would on close inspection reveal unsuspected objects of interest, and the picturesque farm kitchens with their glittering array of bright pans, their wealth of delf ware, their chubby children, and their comely Vrows, were so homelike and so natural that the more one gazed at them the more vividly real they became, and it was an easy task to weave a tale of family joy or sorrow around each glowing canvas.
But now I want to show my friends, by pen in lieu of pencil, some scenes of English home-life where the tale of gladness or of suffering is even more plainly pictured, and needs no effort of the imagination to unfold it. A hasty glance into a parlor, at the moment when a gift from the “Book Fund” has arrived; a peep into a study where the four portly volumes of the “Treasury of David” have just enriched the scanty store of books; a glimpse of a figure with bowed head and clasped hands, pouring out a heartful of gratitude before his God, — these, and such as these, tell their own story, and as we pass from one picture to another will only need a word or two from me to introduce them. I could show some where tearful faces gather, and a little coffin occupies the foreground, but these are veiled, and my hand dares not withdraw the covering.
The first “interior” which I point out to you is shining with the brightness of domestic love. The little room may be poorly furnished, and the bookshelves I know are sadly bare, (how can they be otherwise when the minister’s income has the very uncomfortable habit of oscillating between £40 and £60 a year?) but you can see with what intense delight that kind and happy wife is assisting to unpack the treasure of new books which will cheer her husband’s heart and make him feel a richer man for some time to come. There is a “Sword and Trowel” lying on the table, and.... but you shall look for yourselves — “The receipt of your communication this morning was a surprise. A pleasing and agreeable surprise; for I had no idea that my kind, good wife had written to you. Often have I seen the ‘Treasury of David’ advertised, and have secretly desired to have it. But in order to be happy I am compelled to nip my desires in the bud, lest they should grow to be troublesome. My soul’s desire for books has to be slain, which is wearisome work, so that some passages of Scripture, in an improper sense, have a secret meaning to my soul. ‘My soul is weary because of murderers.’ ‘Happy is he that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones’; but in this case I have to thank you and my dear wife that my desire for the ‘Treasury of David’ has not perished with the rest; a little Moses saved, and I trust will prove a blessing. Please accept my hearty thanks. May the Lord abundantly bless you in your mission, and move the hearts of his children to contribute. Much pleased to see a sketch of your lemon plant, and to find it flourishing: I have often thought and wondered whether the little thing was still alive. No one but the Lord, and the partner of our joys and sorrows, knows the struggles of a minister. Thank God for a good wife. Minster churchyard, in Kent, has a monument to the wife of a minister, of whom it is recorded. ‘She cheered him with her smile, sustained him with her counsel, and aided him in his ministry for thirty-six years.’ And she is not the only one. After examining the work, I am constrained to write again and express my high appreciation of it. I am impressed with the immense amount of labor which must have been expended in its production — the mines of truth it contains. It is indeed a treasury of things new and Old — to me a treasure indeed. Others have labored, and I am favored to enter into their labors. It is the most valuable work I have, the Bible, of course, excepted. The whole church owes Mr. Spurgeon a debt of gratitude, not only for his own thoughts, but also for bringing up from the past of the thoughts of the thoughtful of other ages. It will, it must, be a lasting benefit to thousands, and ought to be on the shelf of every minister. Yours is a noble work, to distribute to those who cannot afford to purchase. Pardon me for writing a second time. If I were to hold my peace the stones would cry out.”
There is so much homely yet pathetic grace in the next picture, that it must attract all eyes, and hearts also, I hope. How true to nature, and how touching is the chief incident — the evening stroll down the brightlylighted streets of the town, the unmistakable gravitation of the poor minister’s mind and body towards the fatal bookstall, and the overwhelming anxiety of the tender wife to avert the threatened peril to her scantily-filled purse! “Being the wife of one of those ministers whom God has put it into your heart to help, I feel that I owe you a debt of gratitude, and as my heart is too full to hold all it feels, I pour it out before God and you whom he has chosen to carry out a work so noble. A thousand thanks for your timely aid .... I am the mother of seven children — six are yet with us — the eldest is fifteen, the youngest, just over eight. While rearing these children up to now, mine has been a life of hard work and self-sacrifice. Our salary in the past has been much lower than it is now, but still we have to struggle to make ends meet as family wants increase year by year. My husband is a great lover of books, and I am almost ashamed to confess that when walking in town with him I have very carefully avoided going into the streets where the book stores were kept, knowing it would be hard work for him to pass them by . Many times after receiving our quarter’s salary it has puzzled me to know how to divide it — the quarter’s school bills nearly due, one must have a new suit of clothes, another a dress, the twin boys must have new boots, caps, etc. I assure you that to spare a little for my husband’s library I have had to be servant, tailor, and dressmaker, and very frequently have my hands been in the dye-pot in order to send my family out respectable.”
We cannot help saying “Well done! good wife, good mother, the Lord reward thee in that day!”
Now we come to a small but choice picture. The minister sits in his study (a cozy one), and we rejoice to see his shelves moderately stocked with books; he has just had the pleasure of adding the “Treasury of David,” and “Watson’s Body of Divinity” to his store; he is writing rapidly, and this is what he says: — “This evening I have received the four much-desired vols. Heartily, I thank you, and unfeignedly bless the Lord, joining in the prayer so kindly recorded in Vol. 1 that the precious contents may avail me. Here is a mine of gold — I hope to dig up nuggets for my people. How the cream of the gospel stands thickly on this unadulterated milk! Prayer and meditation shall churn it into butter; nay, shall I not give them butter and honey till they all know how to refuse the evil flesh-pots of Egypt, and choose the good things of the land where David dwelt, where milk and honey flow?
Your noble efforts for ministers will be a blessing to both mind and body. It is rather trying to the nerves to be clearing the ground with a borrowed ax, carving wood with one’s fingers, and working at the pump when the sucker is dry. But now, through Mrs. Spurgeon’s loving work, poor men whose thoughts stand still for want of gear-oil will have heart and mind set spinning like the ‘Chariots of Amminadib’!”
There is one difficulty I experience in arranging this little gallery of home scenes, which arises from the loving gratitude of the sketchers themselves.
Some of the most interesting and touching letters I receive contain so many gentle and gracious personalities that I am obliged to conceal them from public view, and for this reason many a bright picture enshrined in the privacy of my “sanctum” can never leave it to touch other hearts as it has touched mine. I hope, however, that those I am able to present to my friends will interest them greatly, and next in order I place two stereoscopic views which need no comment. “For nine full years I have toiled along as pastor here, my salary having generally been £80. I married soon after settling in this place, and have now five children besides one who is gone to the “better land.” I have been obliged to eke out my scanty means by taking a few pupils. My library I need scarcely say is, for a minister, ridiculously small. It is impossible for me to purchase books which I should greatly value, and the possession of which would be a benefit not to myself alone, but also to the people to whom I minister. “It is indeed kind of you to send me so munificent a present. I wish to express my very best thanks and to assure you that I shall value your generous gift very highly. Nor shall I alone reap the benefit; those to whom I minister are sure to participate in the blessing. I must tell you that yesterday was my birthday, and today is the birthday of my eldest little girl — six years old — so that your kind gift comes as a most seasonable present.”
It is several long years since I have been able to replenish my small library with a new volume. With the strictest economy we find it is all that we can do to keep up an appearance suitable to our station and pay everyone twenty shillings in the pound, which, thanks to our heavenly Father, we have done. My stipend is £62 a year, with a house. I have had a great deal of affliction in my house — five have passed away by death, and now my wife is ill and has been under medical care for eighteen months, so that, what with doctors bills and extra expenses, new books appear to be among the last things I can find money for. A grant ever so small will be thankfully received. “When opening the parcel and beholding its precious contents I cannot express to you the emotions of my soul, nor will words convey to you the thanks I wish to express. I can only say that I happened to my study, and on bended knee poured out my gratitude to my heavenly Father, who has Supplied my need. Nor did I forget to invoke the benediction of heaven upon the kind donor.
The next picture has two aspects — winter and summer — for thanks to the kindness of dear friends, I was able, for a time at least, to make the sun shine in the hitherto cheerless prospect. Would to God I could do more, not only for this “good wife,” but for the many others who I know have terrible reason to be “afraid of the snow, for their households.” Just think of the dear little children patiently lying in bed while their scanty clothing was being washed! “Forgive me for troubling you with a statement of our poverty. Many times I have felt prompted to ask if you have a fund for supplying poor ministers’ wives and children with clothes. If so, I sincerely trust you will have compassion on us, for we are in great need. My husband has been in the ministry more than twenty-six years, and has never received more than £5 per month. We are seven in family, and I am such a sufferer from rheumatics that I cannot do the housework, and as we cannot pay for hired help, our eldest girl, who was in a situation, is obliged to come home again.
If you can help us in any way, it will be very, very acceptable, for the winter is near, and firing and house-rent are high, and my dear husband’s clothes are getting as bare as our own. “I am going to try to drop you a few lines, but do not know how sufficiently to thank you and dear friends for your great kindness to us. We were all of us overjoyed; it is an old saying that it is always darkest before the dawn, and we found it is so, for when your present came to hand the dear little ones were in bed, that we might wash their clothes, as we had not change of raiment for them. But you may depend there was no more sleep for that day when they were told that Mr. Spurgeon had sent money to buy them new warm clothes. Since then we have received a cheque from Mr.____, and a box of very valuable clothing from Mr.____ which we feel sure is through your sympathy..... We sincerely hope that none of the kind friends who have helped us will ever know one-tenth of the trouble that we have had, yet we never had so much joy as this week has brought us!”
One more picture I must give which has just come into my hands. This time not an “English Interior,” but a French one. A night-scene evidently, for the midnight-oil is in full flow and the earnest student be-comes so fascinated by his studies that the early dawn finds him still input upon his treasure. There is a great dearth of theological literature in France, and this good pastor having acquired somewhat of the English language, ardently desired to enrich his mind and feast his soul on the fat things of English divinity. He wrote to Mr. Spurgeon asking for the “Treasury Of David” at a reduced price, and of course I gladly sent it as a gift from the Fund. His gratitude is intense, but he is far from being satisfied. His appetite is whetted, and he hungers for more of such substantial food. In the latter part of the following letter, which I have translated for my readers, he not only announces his determination to obtain the two volumes of “Treasury” (which alas! do not yet exist) but also begs to be informed what would be the cost, of the twenty-one volumes of the “Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit,” which he thinks a necessary part of the equipment of every Christian pastor. I wish I could give them to him.
“I must tell you that I felt utterly amazed when I found that these precious and valuable volumes were actually a present to me, a perfect stranger! It is impossible for me to express my gratitude; but I do thank you with all my heart, and I wish I could see my greatly revered brother, to tell him with my own lips how much I owe him. Assure your dear husband, madam, that his books will be a real ‘treasure’ to me, and not to me only, but also to the people whom the Lord has confided to my care. I received the parcel at eight o’clock in the evening, and I spent the whole night in devouring the contents! I shall pray earnestly that Mr. Spurgeon may soon accomplish the work so successfully commenced, and that then every English-speaking Christian may be the happy possessor of the ‘Treasury of David.’ I dare not ask you to think of me when the work is completed, that would be abusing your kindness, but I shall not fail (though I am very poor) to procure the other vols. for myself as soon as they appear, and appear they will I am certain, for the Lord would not allow so precious and useful a work to remain unfinished.”
Although I have scores more of such letters, I am afraid I must close my collection here lest I tire my readers’ patience, and trespass too far on my Editor’s precious pages. It has been a joy inexpressible to minister even in the least degree to the crying needs of the pastors who have sought the aid of the “Book Fund,” but I cannot forget that there are hundreds still unsupplied, and if the Lord permit and spare me, I hope to do more this year than was accomplished in the past. I depend wholly on the Lord to move the hearts of his people to help me, and I know he “will not fail me,” nor “forsake the work of his own hands.” The amount of work already done stands thus — 4,967 volumes distributed. Of these 1,950 were “Lectures to My Students.” 1,346 volumes “Treasury of David.” 820 volumes of “Sermons.”
And the remaining 851 volumes comprised works by other authors, some valuable secondhand books presented to me by friends, and the lesser writings of Mr. Spurgeon. 701 ministers have received grants of books (varying from 4 to 8 volumes each) and as I am corresponding secretary, as well as treasurer, manager, etc., my friends can imagine I have had full employment. The only part of the work delegated to another is the packing of the parcels, and this service is always performed as a “labor of love” by the willing hands of the dear friend to whose devoted affection I already owe so much. Who should be my “director in chief” and my “referee” in all perplexities but my dear Mr. Editor? To him I run in search of counsel, comfort, or wise advice, and need I say I always find it?
Let me direct the attention of contributors to the fact that the only expenses incurred in this work are the carriage of books and the postage of “Lectures” (at 3d. each). These two items are heavy, but fully justified, for I consider the prepayment of parcels and books as part of the present, and think the gifts would be robbed of half their grace if they did not reach the recipients franked and free! The postage of the many letters written is more than covered by a donation of £610 from my beloved husband.
Dear friends, farewell. As on former occasions, so now I must beg that the effort to place before you some details of my work may be viewed with lenient and indulgent eyes. “John Ploughman’s Wife” may well be forgiven when she humbly acknowledges that the “pen of a ready writer” is not to be wielded by her feeble fingers; yet, notwithstanding conscious inability and weakness, she confidently hopes that some “honor, and glory, and blessing” will be laid at the Lord’s feet by this tribute to his wonderful lovingkindness, shown so manifestly in the continued prosperity and rigor of the “Book Fund.” — “REMEMBER ME, OLORD,FOR GOOD.”
THE SCHOOL BOARD VICTORY.
BY C. H. SPURGEON WHEN we saw the polling lists for the London School Board we confess that we were as much astonished as delighted. The victory for the undenominational party was so complete, so universal, so far beyond the most sanguine expectations, that we could only look at the list again and again, and then thank God and take courage. We have from the first differed from the Birmingham platform, for we feel that if Government may educate at all it ought not to leave out the essential element of religion. The reading of the Scriptures from day to day we hold to be of the utmost importance if teaching is to have any moral influence whatever, and it is mainly upon the ground of moral influence that the nation educates at all.
Moral teaching apart from the Bible we have no faith in, and education without moral teaching will not answer the design which the State aims at, namely, the production of intelligent and orderly citizens. In London we have no question about the use of the Bible in the schools; that is regarded as settled, not only by the authority of the Board, but by the practically unanimous consent of the parents. The contest therefore was not between the Church party and the secular party, but between the Church with the Prayer-book, and the Old School Board with the Bible: the issue is to us all the more pleasant, and to true Christians in the Establishment it ought to be all the less disagreeable. The people have decided that the truly National System, which knows nothing of sects, should not be held in fetters in order to leave space for the sham National System, which is in truth only the adjunct of the Episcopal denomination. This decision has been given, not in London alone, but in almost every constituency, and it will be wise on the part of our opponents to accept the verdict, and never raise the question again; but we fear such wisdom can hardly be expected of them.
The Nonconformists of London did not desire to make the School Board the arena of controversy. Upon this last occasion the conflict was forced upon them, and they entered upon it with the resolve to do their best, but with grave fears as to the result. The common opinion among the voters in Lambeth was that we should be defeated, and there was some talk of accepting the situation and allowing the Anglican candidates to walk over the course. A compromise which would have divided the representation would have been cheerfully accepted; indeed, that was the only result aimed at or desired. But no, the opposition felt itself to be exceedingly strong, and must have four out of six representatives at the very least, and so they marched on with heads aloft to a defeat so overwhelming that the mere naming of it grieves some of them as much as the mention of a rope vexed the man whose father was hanged. They find to their amazement that their despised antagonists could easily have returned four members, and might possibly have even secured five. We do not care to “sound the loud timbrel,” but we do wish to gather up the lesson: let us know our strength and never give way to discouragement. Better far to fight well when things look dismal, and so gain an unexpected victory, than to glory before the event and meet with defeat; but it is best of all to be hopeful and daring from the very first. The fact is that Nonconformists do not know their own political strength, and consequently do not put it forth as they might; they will do well henceforth to feel their feet and take up their position without hesitation. We can do more if we will. In Parliament, as well as upon the School Board, if we have candidates who truly represent us, we can return them in scores of places where mere Liberals will fail, because they excite no enthusiasm, and have at present; no essential principles to maintain.
It has been said since this late election that the contest was not between Church and Dissent: it may be that it was not altogether and purely so, but; had the event been different the Established Church would have claimed it as a victory peculiarly her own. We do not care to claim it, because we have it; still it was made very distinctly an ecclesiastical conflict. Else why did even our evangelical brethren hang out the boards of the denominational candidates upon the railings of their churches? And what was the meaning of the handbill, “Churchmen,VOTE FOR — ?” Why did a bishop and several canons go off so loudly at public meetings? They knew what they were at; they saw the education of the people slipping out of their hands, and they meant to stop the evil, for otherwise the masses might grow up unbiased to their peculiar views. This was their one concern, and the talk about economy was only a means to an end. The election did not declare for Dissent. God forbid that any election ever should be asked so to declare; we want no political favors, we only want equality; but it did thunder out the verdict of Englishmen that they do not intend to leave the education of their children in the hands of any sect, nor to allow a great national system to be hindered and thwarted by the partisans of a favored denomination. We never asked to have the children, we are content to see them read the Bible, and have no wish to intrude a book which would teach our special views. All we have ever asked is equality, not preference; our Episcopal friends must have favors, and the public have told them once for all that they do not intend to yield to their demands.
More than this, the polling lists of the School Board are in some districts not very far from the truth as a census of Church and Dissent. We are not in the minority, as we feared. So many churches have been erected, and the Establishment assumed such airs of greatness that we almost believed ourselves to be going back, though we could hardly tell how it was. High churchism boasted of its revival, and of the numbers crowding its churches, and we thought — surely the current has set in towards Rome, and pure religion will soon be hard to find. Our own churches are multiplied, enlarged, and greatly encouraged, but an undefined fear was upon us that after all we were not making headway. This did not dishearten us in the least, for it makes no difference to the truth of a cause whether its adherents are few or many, but we felt that we lived in “the day of small things,” and must be content to plod on and hold our own as best we could. Our view of matters is now altering. Upon inquiry we find that it is far easier to build a new church than to get a congregation, far easier to hold daily service than to secure more than the parson’s family, the sexton, and two ladies as a regular audience. We hear of huge churches in London, not in the city, where such things are general, but on our own side of the water, where, instead of a thousand hearers, there are not fifty. By means of endowments places are kept open long after they are resorted to, and thus the apparent strength of the Anglican system is far in excess of the reality. We have been informed by many witnesses that numbers of the edifices which were for a short time crowded by means of the scenic displays of the Ritualists are now miserably attended. We do not wonder at it, for what can there be in mere ceremonialism to retain a congregation; but we confess we are glad to hear that the decadence of the system has come so soon. Evangelical churches, where the preacher has any ability, are still full, and we have no doubt will remain so, a feature of the case which gives us unfeigned satisfaction; but there are plenty of parochial edifices in which a heartless service has by degrees alienated the people, and made them forget that such a building exists, except as the right place for being married in. We do not wonder that Episcopalians object to a census of attendance at places of worship. It is the fairest test of the religious character of the people, but it would reveal too fully the nakedness of the land, and therefore it is not to be borne with. Let us also have an account of the communicants if the attendance at worship is not thought to he a sufficient index. In either way, we believe that the numbers will be such as to show that the favored denomination does not occupy the position which it thinks it does.
If Nonconformists will but look well to the spiritual condition of the churches, maintain earnest piety, and proclaim sound doctrine, they need not be under any apprehension as to their ultimately gaining their full civil rights. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” If we have the divine blessing resting upon us, we may look forward with confidence to the future. Among an educated, reading people our principles will have a fairer hope of success: the increase of light is in our favor. The more free the masses become to inspect and examine for themselves the better for us, for we court the most rigid inquiry. The eddies of public thought may tend every now and again towards the maintenance of superstition, but the set of the main current is in the right direction. God is abroad among men, the influence of truth and justice is being more and more felt, and by God’s grace, if we are but true to our convictions the times of victory for the fight shall be hastened on.
CHARLES H. SPURGEON AND HIS WORK. f1 (FROM “THE FRIEND.”) WE know hardly any record of Christian work more worthy of perusal than that furnished in a shilling pamphlet, entitled “The Metropolitan Tabernacle, its History and Work, by C. H. Spurgeon.” The history of the Baptist congregation now represented by that worshipping in the Tabernacle is traced in the earlier chapters, from the time of the first Stuart kings of England, to a period, now twenty-three years ago, when Charles H. Spurgeon first preached in New Park Street Chapel. Soon after his settlement there as pastor it was found necessary to enlarge and improve the building, to accommodate the crowds who thronged to hear the young preacher. Whilst these alterations were in progress Exeter Hall was used as the place of worship, and the preacher’s fame was yet more spread abroad by the caricatures published about him. Some of these are transferred to the volume before us. After various changes the Tabernacle was erected, and entered upon as a place for public worship in the spring of 1861. It cost £31,332 4s. 10d., and was opened free from debt. It accommodates about 6,000 people without excessive crowding.
The membership of Charles Spurgeon’s congregation was at the close of 1854 — 1859 — 1,332 1864 — 2,937 1869 — 4,047 1875 — 4,813 Around the Metropolitan Tabernacle have sprung up an important group of auxiliary institutions. The Pastors’ College receives men who are believed to have received a call from the Holy Ghost for preaching the Gospel, and gives them a training to equip them better for the work. Upwards of £5,000 annually is expended on the Pastors’ College. The Stockwell Orphanage is another outcome of the Christian zeal of the Metropolitan Tabernacle congregation. Two hundred and forty boys are clothed, fed, and instructed, at a charge of £5,000 per annum. The Colportage Association was started under the conviction that the sale of bad books is most effectually counteracted by the diffusion of good ones. Forty-five men, under the direction of a secretary, are engaged in carrying literature — cheap, popular, and healthy in tone — from house to house in various districts of England and Wales. The colporteur is often missionary and preacher as well as hawker. Three hundred thousand visits annually, chiefly amongst our rural peasantry, must be an evangelistic agency of great power, irrespective of the permeating influence of the literature that is sold.
Bible classes, book funds, missions to the Jews, missions in various parts of London; services specially for the blind, for mothers, for ladies; Sundayschools, with 1,000 children in regular attendance; benefit societies, loan tract societies, are but a selection from the long list of affiliated agencies that cluster round the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
In the seventeenth century the Friends and the Baptists said many bitter things of each other. Yet their acts were often better than words. It is a beautiful episode in the dreary story of Nonconformist persecution, that John Bunyan owed his release from Bedford Jail to the kind offices of George Whitehead and other Friends. As time has passed the two denominations have often found it wiser to dwell on the many points in which they agree than on those in which they differ. Our last number contained an interesting notice of a breakfast given by the Mayor of Birmingham (George Baker) to some of the Baptist ministers who had been attending the autumn, meeting of their Union., The catholic tone of the meeting is echoed in last month’s Sword and Trowel.
C. H. Spurgeon says: — Oct. 6th — A number of leading Baptist ministers breakfasted with the Mayor of Birmingham, who happens to be a member of the Society of Friends. All the speeches went to show how near akin are the Baptists and the Quakers. One common fear of priestcraft, sacramentarianism, and ecclesiastical domination over the conscience possesses both bodies; and though herein others are partakers, none are so sensitive upon these points.
Several ministers said, “If I were not a Baptist I must become a Quaker, and we believe this to be the general feeling; certainly it is ours.”
In view of the priestcraft and sacramentarianism rife on every hand, it is impossible to regard without deep thankfulness the work carried on by Charles H. Spurgeon, and not to desire that grace, strength, and wisdom may continue to be largely bestowed upon him.
It is, too, a question of the highest interest — Wherein doth his great strength lie? In the volume before us we read the following words: — “We remark at once that at the Tabernacle we have no written code of laws but the Book of Inspiration, and we unhesitatingly assert that all such printed rules, as some have desired and others adopted, are only fetters at the best of times, and snares and traps in periods of dispute and difficulty.
We have faith in sanctified common-sense, resulting from an application to the source of all wisdom by prayer and reading the Scriptures. Acting in things temporal after a truly business principle, and in things spiritual as God’s word and Spirit dictate, no formal system of rules, in our opinion, will ever be required. Certain recognized courses of procedure, from which, without cause assigned, no deviation shall be made are certainly necessary for mutual cooperation and peace in any Church; but for emergencies, special action should be adopted to suit the exigencies of the case, and no rules or traditions must forbid the course which wisdom suggests, even though it should be, contrary to all the precedents of the previous history of the Church. A general understanding of leading principles, and an elastic interpretation of them as cases may require, will be all the rule, outside of the Scripture required in churches where confidence abounds between pastors, officers, and members; if this be wanting, no rules, human or divine, can make them work harmoniously together. We must have faith in each other’s intentions and integrity, or we shall loosen the pins of church action, and all will lapse into confusion and conflict.”
In this passage we have the clue to much of Charles H. Spurgeon’s strength. His sermons (of which more than a thousand have been printed, and millions of copies sold) tell the old, old story, much as Paul of Tarsus told it. He tells it with deep earnestness; he tells it with living faith in its power; he tells it in words ever seasoned with the grain of salt that prevents insipidity. He uses homely English speech. He has a voice that, without straining, makes itself heard through every part of the Tabernacle.
His addresses possess that indescribable authority that arises from spiritual unction. It is not often that these qualifications are combined in one man, who also possesses the faculty for organization, and a homely practiced sense, which would have made him successful as a railway manager or as the Home Secretary of State. He handles the trowel as deftly as the sword.
In the phraseology of Friends, the purpose of this article is not the exaltation of the creature.” It were an easy task to prove that the treasure is in an earthen vessel, It were easy to find, in the teachings of C.H. Spurgeon, views that do not commend themselves to our apprehension of Divine truth. It is easy to urge that he has nothing to say on some of the perplexing problems of nineteenth-century thought. So be it; and yet we repeat with confidence that few phenomena in the Christian life of our day are more teaching than the career of C. H. Spurgeon. The order of his mind is, in the best sense of the word, Friendly. His special talents are of a class that have been common amongst Friends, and are so at the present time, but which almost always find spheres of action other than that of Congregational edification and development. Why this should be so, it is simply impossible now to discuss.
The present writer once found himself in the Metropolitan Tabernacle instead of his wonted seat at meeting. The day was wild and stormy; the building was comfortably full; two-thirds of the congregation were men.
The preacher’s text was, “Ye serve the Lord Christ.” His discourse — admirably fitted for any congregation in England — was a powerful appeal for a spiritual, a practical, an every-day religion. As we wended our homeward way through the streets of Southwark, where there are now but few Friends to testify to these great truths, we could not but rejoice that so powerful a teacher had been raised up, in an age that is too prone to forget them. “The true way to serve the Lord in the common acts of life,” said Charles Spurgeon on the occasion referred to, “is to perform them as unto Himself; and this can be done with everything which it is lawful to do. God forbid we should maintain, as some do, a broad, unbending distinction between things secular and religious. This wicked age must, forsooth, have its holy place and its holy days. What is this but a confession that most of its buildings are unholy, and its days unholy too? Of heaven it is written, ‘I saw no temple therein,’ and we get nearest to the heavenly state when all superstitious notions about sacred places and sacred substances shall be swept away once for all. To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He puts on his work-day garment, and it is a vestment to him; he sits down to his meal, and it is a sacrament; he goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood: his breath is incense and his life a sacrifice. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the Divine presence.”
GETTING into a hammock is an art. I have seen a stranger attempt it and succeed so well that in getting in on one side he has fallen out at the other.
It is an amusing sight to see how simultaneous are the getting in and the tumbling out, but the sight suggested to us a sad parallel. Conversions are thought to be easy things by a certain enthusiastic school, and truly they ought to be, for they are soon over. We have known men converted just long enough to become apostates, — a week sooner and they could not have so dishonored the church, for they had not then been found in the inquiry room. Conversion is something more than this. It is a divine work. “Turn us, O God, and we shall be turned.”
WE have been most savagely assailed for praying the Lord to preserve peace, and if our rulers would not learn wisdom, to remove them. We fail to see any reason for altering the prayer, and only trust that it may be heard. To us mere party politics are nothing; but when we see war threatened on behalf of a detestable tyranny, contrary to all the dictates of humanity and religion, we cannot do otherwise than implore the Judge of all the earth to save us from such an astounding wickedness, and to remove from office the man whose rash bravados give rise to our fears. It is ours to pray, but it is ever with the deep feeling that the Lord of Hosts will accomplish his own purposes in his own way, and if the form of his servant’s prayers should not be answered yet the spirit of them will be acceptable with him. Many of the persons who have written us abusively have not signed their names, and we are glad that they did not, for there is hope that some sense of shame remains in them. Did they know how little their fierce language annoys us they would save their paper and postage.
One such note as the following from Slavonia makes amends for a thousand scurrilous epistles; we do not give the writer’s name because we have not asked his permission, but he is engaged in relieving distress among the fugitives from Bosnia. We suppose he alludes to our former prayer, that the Lord would break the power of the oppressor — “Palcratz, Slavonia, Austria. “Dear Sir, — I think it will interest you to know that the little quotation from our prayer which has appeared in the English papers has been translated into German and Serbian, and has been in most of the newspapers in those languages. While to the persecuted Christians of Turkey, and their brethren in race, language and faith, of other countries, the attitude of the English Government is so incomprehensibly hostile, a token of sympathy and pity, and the evidence that they are not despised and forgotten by the English people, is doubly precious. I write that you may have the pleasure of knowing that your words have cheered and comforted many sorrowful hearts. Oh, may they but be heard! and the thousands now groaning in slavery and exile, the victims of Turkish barbarism, be delivered from the hand and power of the wicked. I am sure I need not ask you to be unceasing in your supplications for them.”
FUNDS — Thanks be to God, we have no longer to watch the ebb. The Lord has stirred up a host of kind friends, and the Orphanage exchequer, which was more and more closely nearing a condition of vacuum, has now been replenished. We have seldom had such a number of donations in so short a time. Our heart is full of gratitude to God and to the donors. We have a wish, and we take leave to express it to those who take a loving interest in our work. We hope to go to the South of Europe in a few days, and we shall, if the Lord will, be absent for six Sabbaths. We should like to leave enough bread and butter in all the cupboards for orphans, students, colporteurs, and the poor blind, so that we need not even think about them while we are among the olive groves of the Mediterranean Sea. Our rest under such circumstances would then do us the maximum of service. The Colportage, the Blind, and the Orphans are the most in need.
We go to press before Christmas-day, but already we see tokens that the orphans will not be forgotten. Not by any means enough has come in as yet, but there is a beginning made. We intend next month, if all be well, to get Mr. Pike to describe our Christmas festivities. The poor boys are merry indeed on that day.
COLPORTAGE — With the new year additional districts will be started at Sittingborne, Cardiff, Coseley, Dudley West, Cradley, also Hadleigh in Suffolk. Several other districts promise fairly, and we expect to send colporteurs soon. Increased attention is being manifested towards the work, not only in fresh places, but also in existing districts. The General Secretary has visited Bacup during the past month, where he addressed several hundreds of the colporteurs’ friends, who had previously taken tea together. The owner of a cotton mill who presided said that he had sought the services of a colporteur because of the large number of injurious publications he observed in the hands of his employees, and much good had been done during the past year through the agent’s work. Our balance at the bank is very low, and we have heavy publishers’ accounts to meet in a few days. In this department the “ebb” continues, but must soon have reached the worst, for there will be nothing left. Tuesday Dec. 12th — We preached twice in Mr. Silverton’s new place in Nottingham, called Exeter Hall. Of all places we have ever preached in it is at once the most compact, easy for speaking and comfortable. We recommend all who are building to see it. The cost was the lowest we have ever heard of for a building of such capacity, so substantial, and so elegant.
It seats two thousand, and cost £4,700, apart from the site. Common sense is the characteristic of Mr. Silverton, and he has shown it in this case. The amount raised during the day was £500, and the giving and hearing were of the most enthusiastic order. Friday, Dec. 15th — The men of the Pastors’ College accepted the fraternal invitation of their brethren of Regent’s Park College to spend the afternoon and evening with them. There was very hearty intercourse between the students and tutors of the two Colleges, and much enjoyment in consequence. Mr. Spurgeon spoke upon culture, and Dr. Angus upon go . With prayers, hymns, addresses, and speeches the time passed away very pleasantly. The words of wisdom of Mr. Rogers, “the old man eloquent,” will probably abide in the memories of all present for many a year to come. May the two Colleges prosper with the rich blessing of God. and may the men while in training, and when actually in the field, never forget that “all we are brethren.”
From our College the following brethren have gone forth to pastorates, Mr. G. Dunnett, to Newcastle-under-Lyne, Mr. N. T. Miller to Huraley, Wotton-under-Edge, Mr. T. H. Smith to Shefford, Mr. C. Joseph to Small Heath, Birmingham, where a new interest is in process of formation. Mr. Davis to Ottery St. Mary, Mr. Blaikie to Irwine, Mr. Bloyto Forncett, in Norfolk, Mr. Sumner to Brentford.
Mr. Hamilton, who left us to form a Baptist church at Cape Town, has been well received, for we have met with the following paragraph in the Cape Times: “The Rev. Mr. Hamilton has preached for the last two Sundays, at Temperance Hall, to the Baptist congregation which is now forming in this city. The building is not large enough for the number of attendants, and it is now the object of the congregation to obtain a more commodious place of meeting. Mr. Hamilton is said to be an able and earnest preacher, and it would appear that, as a student in Spurgeon’s College, he has caught something of the master’s tact and power. The Baptists consider themselves very happy in having Mr. Hamilton’s ministrations, and we hope that they will succeed in procuring a more suitable tabernacle.”
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. V. J. Charlesworth: — Nov. 27th, seven. By Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — Nov. 30th, sixteen.
TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
PERSONS may be so lost on land or on sea as to need saving and not seeking; but we were spiritually lost, so as to need both saving and seeking too. I heard a little while ago of a party of friends who went to the lakes of Cumberland and endeavored to climb the Langdale Pikes. One of the company found the labor of the ascent too wearisome, and so resolved that he would go back to the little inn from which they started. Being a wiser man than some, in his own esteem, he did not take the winding path by which they had ascended. He thought he would go straight down, for he could see the house just below, and fancied he should pitch upon it all of a sudden, and show the mountaineers that a straight line is the nearest road.
Well, after descending, and descending, leaping many a rugged place, he found himself at last on a ledge from which he could go neither up nor down. After many vain attempts he saw that he was a prisoner. In a state of wild terror, he took off his garments and tore them into shreds to make a line, and tying the pieces together he let them down, but he found that they reached nowhere at in all the great and apparently unfathomable abyss which yawned below him. So he began to call aloud; but no answer came from the surrounding hills beyond the echo of his own voice He shouted by the half-hour together, but there was no answer, neither was there anyone within sight. His horror nearly drove him out of his wits. At last, to his intense joy, he saw a figure move in the plain below, and he began to shout again. Happily it was a woman, who, hearing his voice, stopped, and as he called again she came nearer and called out “Keep where you are. Do not stir an inch. Keep where you are.” He was lost, but he no longer needed seeking, for some friendly shepherds soon saw where he was. All he wanted was saving; and so the mountaineers descended with a rope, as they were wont to do when rescuing lost sheep, and soon brought him out of danger. He was lost, but he did not want seeking; they could see where he was.
A month or two ago you must have noticed in the papers an advertisement for a gentleman who had left Wastwater, some days before, to go over the hills, and had not been heard of since. His friends had to seek him, that, if still alive, he might he saved; and there were those who traversed hill and moor to discover him, but they were unable to save him, because they could not find him. If they could have found out where he was I do not doubt that, had he been in the most imminent peril, the bold hills’-men would have risked their lives to rescue him; but, alas, he was never found nor saved: his lifeless corpse was the only discovery which was ultimately made. This last is the true image of our deplorable condition; we are by nature lost, so that nothing but seeking and saving together will be of any service to us.
Let us see how our Lord accomplishes the saving. That has been done, completely done. My dear friends, you and I were lost in the sense of having broken the law of God and having incurred his anger, but Jesus came and took the sin of men upon himself, and as their surety and their substitute he bore the wrath of God, so that God can henceforth be “just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” This blessed doctrine of substitution, I would like to die talking of it, and I intend, by divine grace, to live proclaiming it, for it is the keystone of the gospel. Jesus Christ did literally take upon himself the transgression and iniquity of his people, and was made a curse for them, seeing that they had fallen under the wrath of God; and now every soul that believeth in Jesus is saved because Jesus has taken away the penalty and the curse due to sin. In this let us rejoice.
Christ has also saved us from the power of Satan. The seed of the woman has bruised the serpent’s head, so that Satan’s power is broken. Jesus has, by his mighty power, set us free from hell’s horrible yoke by vanquishing the prince of darkness, and has moreover saved us from the power of death, so that to believers it shall not be death to die. Christ has saved us from sin and all its consequences by his most precious death and resurrection. “See God descending in the human frame, The offended suffering in the offenders name; All thy misdeeds to him imputed see, And all his righteousness devolved on thee.” Our Lord’s saving work is in this sense finished, but there is always going on in the world his seeking work, and I want you to think of it.
He can save us, blessed be his name. He has nothing more to do in order to save any soul that trusts him. But we have wandered very far away, and are hidden in the wilds of the far country. We are very hungry, and though there is bread enough and to spare, what is the use of it while we are lost to the home in which it is so freely distributed? We are very ragged; there is the best robe, and it is ready to be put on us; but what is the good of it while we are so far away? There are the music and the dancing to make us glad and to cheer us, but what is the use of them while we still tarry among the swine? Here, then, is the great difficulty. Our Lord must find us out, follow our wanderings, and, treating us like lost sheep, he must bear us back upon his shoulder rejoicing.
Many need seeking because they are lost in bad company. Evil companions get around men and keep them away from hearing the gospel by which men are saved. There is no place to be lost in like a great city. When a man wants to escape the police he does not run to a little village, he hides away in a thickly populated town. So this London has many hiding-places where sinners get out of the gospel’s way. They lose themselves in the great crowd, and are held captives by the slavish customs of the evil society into which they are absorbed. If they do but relent for a moment, some worldling plucks them by the sleeve and says, “Let us be merry while we may. What are you so melancholy about?” Satan carefully sets a watch upon his younger servants to prevent their escaping from his hands. These pickets labor earnestly to prevent the man from hearing the good news of salvation lest he should be converted. Sinners therefore need seeking out from among the society in which they are imbedded; they need as much seeking after as the pearls of the Arabian Gulf.
The Lord Jesus Christ in seeking men has to deal with deep-seated prejudices. Many refuse to hear the gospel: they would travel many miles to escape its warning message. Some are too wise, or too rich to have the gospel preached to them. Pity the poor rich! The poor man has many missionaries and evangelists seeking him out, but who goes after the great ones? Some come from the east to worship, but who comes from the west?
Many more will find their way to heaven out of the back slums than ever will come out of the great mansions and palaces. Jesus must seek his elect among the rich under great disadvantages, but blessed be his name he does seek them.
See how vices and depraved habits hold the mass of the poorer classes.
What a seeking out is needed among working-men, for many of them are besotted with drunkenness. Look at the large part of London on the Lord’s day: what have the working population been doing? They have been reading the Sunday newspaper, and loafing about the house in their shirt sleeves, and waiting at the posts of the doors — not of wisdom, but of the drink-shop. They have been thirsting, but not after righteousness. Bacchus still remaineth the god of this city, and multitudes are lost among the beerbarrels and the spirit-casks. In such pursuits men waste the blessed Sabbath hours. How shall they be sought out? Yet the Lord Jesus is doing it by his Holy Spirit.
Alas, through their ill ways men’s ears are stopped and their eyes are blinded, and their hearts hardened, so that the messengers of mercy have need of great patience, it were easy work to save men, if they could but be made willing to receive the gospel, but they will not even hear it. When you do get them for a Sabbath-day beneath the sound of a faithful ministry, how they struggle against it. They want seeking out fifty times over. You bring them right up to the light, and flash it upon their eyes, but they willfully and deliberately close their eyelids to it. You set before them life and death, and plead with them even unto tears that they would lay hold on eternal life; but they choose their own delusions. So long and so patiently must they be sought that this seeking work as much reveals the gracious heart of Jesus as did the saving work which he fulfilled upon the bloody tree.
Notice how he is daily accomplishing his search of love. Every day, beloved, Jesus Christ is seeking men’s ears. Would you believe it? He has to go about with wondrous wisdom even to get a hearing. They do not want to know the love message of their God. “God so loved the world” — they know all about that, and do not want to hear any more. There is an infinite sacrifice for sin: they turn on their heel at such stale news. They would rather read an article in an infidel Review, or a paragraph in the Police News. They want to know no more of spiritual matters. The Lord Jesus, in order to get at their ears, cries aloud by many earnest voices.
Thank God, he has ministers yet alive who mean to be heard and will not be put off with denials. Even the din of this noisy world cannot drown their testimony. Cry aloud, my brother; cry aloud and spare not, for, cry as you may, you will not cry too loudly, for man will not hear if he can help it. Our Lord, to win men’s ears, must use a variety of voices, musical or rough, as his wisdom judges best. Sometimes he gains an audience by an odd voice whose quaintness wins attention. He will reach men when he means to save them. That was an odd voice, surely the oddest I ever heard of, which came a little time ago in an Italian town to one of God’s elect ones there, He was so depraved that he actually fell to worshipping the devil rather than God. It chanted one day that a rumor went through the city that a Protestant was coming there to preach. The priest, alarmed for his religion, told the people from the altar that Protestants worshipped the devil, and he charged them not to go near the meeting-room. The news, as you may judge, excited no horror in the devil-worshipper’s mind. “Ay,” thought he, “then I shall meet with brethren,” and so he went to hear our beloved missionary who is now laboring in Rome. Nothing else would have drawn the poor wretch to hear the good word, but this lie of the priest’s was overruled to that end. He went and heard, not of the devil, but of the devil’s conqueror, and before long was found at Jesus’ feet, a sinner saved.
I have known my Lord, when his ministers have failed, take out an arrow from his quiver, and fix upon it a message, and put it to his bow, and shoot it right into a man’s bosom till it wounded him; and, as it wounded him, and he lay moaning upon his bed, the message has been conned, and felt, and accepted. I mean that many a man in sickness has been brought to hear the message of salvation. Often losses and crosses have brought men to Jesus’s feet. Jesus seeks them so. When Absolom could not get an interview with Joab, he said, “Go and set his barley-field on fire.” Then Joab came down to Absolom, and said, “Wherefore have thy servants set my barley-field on fire?” The Lord sometimes sends losses of property to men who will not otherwise hear him, and at last their ears are gained.
Whom he seeketh he in due time findeth.
Well, after my Lord has sought men’s ears he next seeks their desires. He will have them long for a Savior, and this is not an easy thing to accomplish; but he has a way of showing men their sins, and then they wish for mercy. He shows them at other times the great joy of the Christian life, and then they wish to enter into the like delight. I pray that, at this hour he may lead some of you to consider the danger you are in while you are yet unconverted, that so you may begin to desire Christ, and in this way may be sought and found by him.
Then he seeks their faith. He seeks that they may come and trust him; and he has ways of bringing them to this, for he shows them the suitability of his salvation, and the fullness and the freeness of it; and when he has exhibited himself as a sinner’s Savior, and such a Savior as they want, then do they come and put their trust in him. Then has he found them and saved them. All this does his Holy Spirit work in men for their eternal good.
He seeks their hearts, for it is their hearts that he has lost. And oh, how sweetly does Christ, by the Holy Spirit, win men’s affections and hold them fast. I shall never forget how he won mine, how first he gained my ear, and then my desires, so that I wished to have him for my Lord; and then he taught me to trust him, and when I had trusted him and found that I was saved, then I loved him, and I love him still. So, dear hearer, if Jesus Christ shall find you, you will become his loving follower for ever. I have been praying that he would bring this message under the notice of those whom he means to bless, I have asked him to let me sow in good soil: I hope that among those who read these pages there will be many whom the Lord Jesus has specially redeemed with his most precious blood, and I trust that he will appear at once to them, and say, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” May the Eternal Spirit open your ears to hear the still small voice of love. By grace omnipotent may you be made to yield to the Lord with the cheerful consent of your conquered wills, and accept that glorious grace which will bring you to praise the seeking and saving Savior in heaven.
With profound gratitude to God we record not only the ceasing of the ebb in our funds, but the continuance of the flood. We also with warmest love thank the many generous friends by whose united contributions we are now placed at ease with regard to the College and Orphanage. They have relieved the care of one to whom care is just now as a poison, and we hope that now our rest will be real, and therefore the more beneficial, because we leave all in good trim. By a little thought such another great drain may be avoided in the future. Occasional help given with regularity would furnish all that is needed for these works of the Lord.
The Colportage, however, still needs capital, and is worked under great disadvantage. One friend gave £100, and another £50 towards the £1,000, which is absolutely needed; but this, though we are very thankful for it, is not a fifth part of the real need. How are we to go on with sixty colporteurs with no more capital than when we had ten? We cannot stop the work, but what are we to do? Can any friend show us how to make bricks without straw?
Our friends will be gratified to learn that the great wish of our beloved wife’s heart was granted, and the contribution list of the Book Fund made up to a thousand pounds on Saturday evening, December 20th, 1876. She intends having the list printed, and thinks that in the form of a nice little book it will be welcomed and read with interest by every contributor.
We are charged to make a special offer to ministers who were formerly students of the Pastors’ College, and to them only, of six volumes of the “Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit,” as a little help towards completing their sets. They may be obtained by writing to Mrs. Spurgeon, and mentioning the number of volumes already possessed. “G. B.” who sent some really good second-hand books, and desired an acknowledgment in The Sword and the Trowel, is hereby warmly thanked for the gift. December 22 — The College Evening Classes met to hold their annual meeting. A grand work is being done in these classes in the education of about 200 men, who remain at their trades, but thus become equipped for various branches of the Lord’s work. The President was ill and unable to be present, but his two sons did their best to make up the deficiency. The meeting was good throughout. Tuesday, Jan. 2 — was the Annual Meeting of the College. The ladies of the Tabernacle again gave the tea, the friends came up in great numbers, Mr. Mayors sang, and Mr. Silverton and Mr. J. A. Spurgeon spoke nobly.
We also gave such a lecture as our weary brain could concoct. There are now 380 ministers actually in the field who were trained in the College.
What hath God wrought! Our heart is very rejoiced to see how our Lord has made this good and needful work to prosper. Jan. 5 — We met our Church Officers to tea and conference on the Lord’s work, and had a most joyful season. Never church had better elders or deacons; never pastor so valuable a co-pastor. Never was any body of workers so hearty, so unanimous, in the work of the Lord. Points were discussed frankly and earnestly in such a spirit of love that it brought tears to our eyes to be one of such a band of true brothers. No heart-ache ever comes to us through our friends in office, they do us good and no harm all the days of their lives.
The same evening three friends gave a meat tea to 450 hard-working men, coal-heavers and others. They were the real sort, as any one could see at a glance: not regular hearers of the gospel, but outsiders. The singing of Mr. Evan Edwards of Wynne Road, and the various gospel addresses, riveted their attention. We never saw a more hopeful meeting. We liked to see men in their working clothes, and to talk to them in working man’s language.
More of such meetings ought to be held. All sorts are willing to come, and eager to listen: we could have had ten times the number without an effort.
We cannot expect them to hear on an empty stomach, and the cost of the food is a trifle compared with the joy of getting them to listen to the gospel. We felt equally at home with Stock Exchange gentlemen and coalhearers, and hope to find many more such opportunities of going outside all regular congregations. By the way, we did not tell our friends that on December 4th we addressed more than a thousand gentlemen of the Stock Exchange in the Pillar Room of the Cannon Street Hotel. It was a very cheering opportunity. Our address can be had of our publishers for twopence. Tuesday Jan 9 — C.H. Spurgeon addressed the prayer-meeting of the Evangelical alliance at the Wesleyan Centenary Hall. There was quite a convocation of Wesleyan ministers, and we are bound to thank them for their hearty reception of their Calvinistic friend. Wednesday, Jan. 10th — was the Annual Church Meeting at the Tabernacle. All accounts, having been duly audited, were read to the great host there present: the College accounts among them, as usual; for the College is part and parcel of our Church work. The Trust Deed of the College Buildings was signed in the presence of all, and that noble pile is now in the hands of trustees, with a sufficient sum of money to pay insurance, taxes, and repairs. Time has been taken to make the trust deed carefully, but, long ago, the Pastor executed a temporary instrument for fear his death might occur, or he might seem to wish to retain public property in his possession.
There are grave reasons why none of the great philanthropic works of the day should vest property in one person: everything ought to be in trust, and nothing should be done in a corner. Everything has been in the hands of trustees all along with the Orphanage; and at the first moment when we could frame a deed to which our wiser brethren could perfectly assent we have made it so with the College property. No person ought to give money for buildings which are not to be put in trust, and we wish all donors would see to this, making it a sine qua non No matter how zealous and faithful a man may be he ought not to be the sole holder of public property in any case one moment longer than is absolutely needful. We have grave reason for saying that the Christian public may yet see serious reason to regret having in certain cases neglected the ordinary rules of prudence, and allowed single individuals to hold its property in their own name.
Our friends are probably aware that the College is built upon ground held from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for a long term of years, These gentlemen have with great courtesy agreed to sell us the freehold, and we are now in process of completing the purchase. As we often hear of instances of refusal to sell to Dissenters on the part of the great ones of the earth, it is only right to let it be known that the conduct of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to us has been all that could be desired. We pay a handsome and adequate price for what we purchase of them, but they might have refused to sell had there been any intolerance towards us. In a few days we hope the Trustees will hold the College free and unencumbered for the service of God’s church till the Lord himself shall come.
The statistics of the Church at the Tabernacle are as follows — INCREASE By baptism From other churches Profession by persons already baptized Restoration TOTAL 474DECREASE.
Joined other Churches Emigrated Non-attendance Other causes Deaths TOTAL Net increase 146. Number on Church Books Thursday, Jan. 11 — In the afternoon we had great pleasure in addressing the clerks engaged at Messsrs. Peek and Frean’s Biscuit Works. We have since received a very hearty letter of thanks from those gentlemen. These special occasions will, we feel sure, produce great results. Tuesday, Jan. 1 — The London Baptist Association met at the Tabernacle and enjoyed a festival of brotherly love. God is with us in London and our churches are growing.
A gentleman sends us three different reports of one of our addresses, and asks which is correct and what are the public to do? We answer, no one of the reports is exactly accurate, and not one of them quite so faulty as usual.
As to what the public should do, we are sure we do not know. It would be wicked to shoot all the incompetent reporters, and till this is done newspaper reports will generally be incorrect. Only one thing we ask our correspondent not to do, and that is, do not make us responsible for anything we are reported to have said. We will abide by our own utterances, but not by any reporter’s notes, unless we know our man.
Special thanks are due for the hosts of friends who loaded us with favors at Christmas. “God bless you all,” says the chairman, and the boys join in with, “And so say all of us.”
To Cambridge friends a shower of thanks: for two good collections after sermons by Mr. Charlesworth, for entertaining a choir of hungry boys, for paying to hear the aforesaid boys sing in the Guildhall, for sending them home as happy as sand-boys and for making up in all £75 for the Orphanage. Old friends are sometimes the best of friends, and in this matter our Cambridge brethren have earned unto themselves a good degree. We would mention names, but perhaps we had better not, but return our thanks in the lump. Cambridge friends, we feel your kindness, and bless you for it. COLLEGE — Mr. Herries has left us for Consett, Durham, with our best wishes and prayers for his success. Mr. G. Samuel has accepted the pastorate at Penge, from which Mr. Collins lately removed to Bedford Row. Colportage Report — The secretary writes — “While I have nothing special to report this month, the work is steadily progressing. To encourage the colporteurs, and to obtain from them the best statement as to the need, value, and success of their work four prizes have been offered to them for the best Essays upon the subject; and it is hoped that much valuable information will thus be afforded to justify and extend colportage in England. We still need energetic Christian workers who have the business tact necessary to sell good literature, combined with some experience in Christian work and an earnest desire for the salvation of souls. Any such should apply to the General Secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones, Pastors’ College, S. E., who would also be very glad to receive the names and addresses of additional subscribers for the new year.” Friends will please note that Mr. Spurgeon is now absent for rest, and will be glad to be considered as having gone beyond reach for a season.
Will friends please note that our contribution list closes early this month, so that many sums may not be acknowledged in print till March. Will donors be a little more particular in sending correct addresses. We have many receipts returned by the Dead Letter Office.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — December 28th, twenty-three; January 1, nineteen; 4th, sixteen.