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  • CHARLES SPURGEON -
    THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL - APRIL,


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    A CHURCH WE KNOW OF.

    BY C. H. SPURGEON APTNESS to discover and report faults is a very common gift. A good nose for heresy and a quick ear for slander are very ordinary endowments. In the Book of Record there are innumerable entries concerning the worldliness, discord, and general declension of the churches, and some of these are as full of lamentation as the prophet’s roll. If it be faithfulness to publish failures and sins on the part of God’s people, there has certainly been no lack of faithfulness in these last days; it even strikes us that the virtue has been a little overdone. Wise men and fools have been alike eager to try their pens at writing bitter things against the degenerate church of God.

    One could have wished that there had been more plentiful traces of tears blotting the record, and that the penman’s hand had quivered a little with sorrowful emotion; but still the memorial has been made with stern fidelity, and nothing has been extenuated. A ruthless severity which has never fallen short of the truth has drawn the indictment, collected the evidence, and commented thereon unsparingly. Well, there may have been a need for all this; at least it will be wisest for the church to receive it all in the spirit of the saint who said, “Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness, and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil which shall not break my head.” At any rate let us, hope that those who penned the charges and reported the evil deeds were themselves all the easier when they had relieved their minds.

    Let the way of the faithful faultfinders shine with honor: we have, however, no wish to follow in their track while speaking of a church and people that are just now in our thoughts, and we could not if we would, for it would require us to be false to facts and untrue to our own heart. If all churches were as a church we know of, if all manifested the same unity, concord, and zeal, the very smallest drop of gall which ever entered into the composition of ink would be far too much to write out the complaints of a century. The reader may accuse us of partiality, but we cannot help it: if others have taken leave to vilify dissenting churches, both in the measured language of distinct accusation and by the sneering caricatures of fiction, we also will have our say and give forth our opinion and experience concerning the one church of which we are better able to judge than any other living man. Facts are facts, and ought to be as freely stated to honor as to dishonor. Is detraction necessarily more impartial than praise? Must justice of necessity condemn? Is it not as faithful to praise the good as to censure the evil? So far as we can judge, the popular part is that of the censorious critic, while he who praises will certainly be suspected and will probably be condemned as a flatterer, or an injudicious partisan. We accept the difficult and unenviable position, and will speak the truth come what may of it.

    The pastor of a church which we know of was weary in mind and needed rest. He had but to intimate the need, and he was urged to seek repose at once. He felt that he could not leave his post just then, but no tie held him to his work except such as he himself felt to be binding. Not a whisper laid a constraint upon him. All his friends wished him to do as he judged best, and what is better, they furnished him with the means to make holiday whenever he pleased. Quietly and unostentatiously this was attended to as a matter of course, but it was none the less gratefully received. No one had any wish but that the pastor whom they loved should find refreshment from mental strain, and come back full of the blessing of the gospel of peace.

    In due time the pastor was gone — what then? Did matters flag, congregations fall off, and prayer-meetings decline? Far otherwise. Of course there was less of a crowd of outsiders at Sabbath services, but the people, the flock, did not wander; it was their point of honor to fill the house, and let the good men who occupied the pastor’s place feel that they were appreciated. Good old Dr. Liefchild used to tell a merry story of his chapel-keeper, which is worth repeating. “Ah, Doctor,” said the old lady, “there is one point in which I admire you above all the preachers I ever knew, for the most of them when they go away fill up their pulpits with any sticks they can find, but you never do that. I was only saying the other day that you never go out but what you sent us a better preacher than yourself.” The pastor we are writing of always endeavors to imitate Dr. Liefchild in this point, and if he does not elicit quite so outspoken an eulogium he at any rate tries to deserve it. Yet even with the best substitutes, certain fickle ones will not be kept at home, and therefore it is the more pleasant to meet with a church which is free from this fault.

    Nothing can be worse than to see a people scattered hither and thither because their elect preacher is unavoidably absent; it looks as if the work depended upon a single life, and it raises the suspicion that the faith of the hearers stands rather in the force of human teaching than in the power of the Holy Ghost. If ever a church member should vacate his seat it should not be in the minister’s absence, for it sets an ill example and tends greatly to the discouragement of the servant of the Lord who has undertaken to minister temporarily in the congregation. The people of whom we write escape all just remark on this score, though from the absence of the strangers and the mixed multitude of curiosity-hearers some have taken opportunity to offer ungenerous and untruthful insinuations.

    But what of the prayer-meetings? The church which is now in our mind’s eye has always been given to prayer, and its assemblies for supplication constitute its main peculiarity and its source of strength. Some have hinted that interesting addresses are the potent attraction and that the presence of the pastor is a lodestone to many. How then did the preacher’s absence tell upon the gatherings? Did the numbers dwindle down? No, they were greater rather than less. The praying people felt all the more their responsibility to sustain the sacred work of intercession, and therefore they mustered in full force; they would not desert the junior pastor, and the deacons and elders, rather did they feel that they must rally round them, and make the meetings for supplication more hearty and more prevalent.

    The senior pastor was prayed for with all the greater freedom because of his absence, and all his helpers were also the more fervently commended to the divine keeping because of the extra duties which devolved upon them.

    The Holy Spirit gave life to the supplications, and the praying brethren being many, and well led by earnest officers, the prayer- meetings were memorably excellent, and full of refreshment.

    But it will at least be imagined that special efforts would slacken, or perhaps be suspended. Cruel sneers at the “one-man ministry” are often backed up by the question, “If the one man were gone, what would you do?” The church of which we are now writing is a fair specimen of this much-decried one-man ministry, and what is its fruit, what are its capacities when the despised “one man” is out of the way? Why, it is so soundly vital, so universally at work, so independent of any one individual, that it of its own accord selected the period of the senior pastor’s vacation for the holding of special services that there might be no call upon him for extra exertion, and that there might be an additional hold upon the young people to compensate for his absence. Those services under the divine blessing were attended with the best results. At the very commencement interest was excited, and very soon enthusiasm was amused; the officers were punctually at their posts, and the members who are addicted to soulwinning were there too; speakers were found among themselves, and, supplemented by brother ministers, sufficed to arouse and sustain the revival spirit. Week after week the services went on with growing energy, backsliders were restored, saints quickened, and sinners converted. The brethren, as one man, put their necks to the work of the Lord, and labored with double diligence. Beloved leaders were to the front, but there was no lack of the rank and file. The people needed no eloquent appeals or pressing exhortations, they had a mind to the Redeemer’s glory, and therefore each one conscientiously took his place and filled it, and the Lord smiled on the united and earnest work of his people. No one could ascribe honor to the one man in the conversions wrought during his absence, and at the same time there was no fear of his instrumentality being despised among so attached a people, and therefore it seemed good unto the Lord to bless the efforts of his servants very remarkably. What a joy is this to the minister! How deeply he loves, and how greatly he honors the brethren who have thus dealt faithfully to the great Head of the church! What union of heart he feels with his noble band of helpers! God is very gracious in having raised up such men, and in having made them able to go in and out before the Lord’s people with zeal and discretion clothed with the divine power.

    Content, yea, delighted, to consecrate their substance and their gifts to the common cause, some of them labor more abundantly for the church than for their own secular business, while others to whom worldly possessions are denied do not envy their fellows, but heap up such things as they have upon the altar of the Lord, and by the unceasing sacrifice of time and toil for the good of the church earn unto themselves a good degree. Strife as to which shall be the greatest is altogether banished, but a sacred emulation as to which shall best conduct his own department still remains. Imperfect tempers, and erring dispositions are kept in check by the divine Spirit, and a powerful public sentiment of love and unity rules the little commonwealth, so that incipient evils are nipped in the bud. The Lord has done it, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Poor human nature could never compass a score years of peaceful fellowship, but a baptism into the one Spirit has accomplished it, and works mightily still to the same end. Glory be to God for it.

    But did no work flag? None. The over-looking eye doeth much; did not some things drag when in some measure let alone? No, not so much as one. The workers were more than ordinarily diligent, and the various agencies were rather quickened than retarded. Contributions did not fall off, the weekly offering was up to its general average; in fact, in the direction of liberality certain special matters were devised, arranged, and carried through with peculiar promptitude, and were reported to the pastor only as accomplished facts. The watch-man’s eye fails to detect a failure anywhere, and it is lifted to heaven in adoring gratitude because “all is well.”

    These things are not written to magnify man, nor out of mere personal affection, but that they may stimulate others. This church prospers with the increase of God, and do you wonder? Where there is little love between pastor and people can the good work succeed? Where everything depends upon incessant whip and spur can there be real prosperity? Where the work of the Lord is official business, and the members find little else to do except to gossip, dispute, and quarrel, can the Holy Spirit dwell with them? There must be the graces of love, unity, zeal, or we cannot expect to see the hand of the Lord stretched out in power. We are afraid that there are churches still in existence where every church-meeting is anticipated with anxiety lest it should be made a season of debate, where family feuds poison the springs of Christian fellowship, and where differences of opinion upon vital doctrines effectually prevent any approach to spiritual unity. Under such conditions edification may be sighed for in vain, and the conversion of sinners may be regarded as most improbable. Surely there has been enough of that scrupulosity which wars a fierce warfare about microscopic points, and it is time to turn our care and energy into a more profitable direction.

    To remove everything which genders unto strife, to overcome evil with no weapon but love, to be eager to do service to the least of the Lord’s people, and to be on a blaze with zeal for his cause — this is far, far better than cold decorum and watchful suspicion. Whatever else is lacking in a church, love must be present, or the best sign of blessing is absent. How sweetly does the inspired poet rehearse the praises of fraternal unity! But his warmest expressions are justified by experience. “Behold how good a thing it is, And how becoming well, Together such as brethren are In unity to dwell.” Let churches do less in criticizing their minister, and do more in praying for him; let them expect less from him and more from God; let them, as a whole, arise and put on strength; let them have no strife but which shall best serve the brotherhood to edification, and they will yet see the windows of heaven opened and a blessing poured out upon them unspeakably beyond their largest hopes. “The same God over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” He is a sovereign, but yet he acts according to recognized rule, and when a people are loving, living, laboring, and longing for his presence, that presence will be vouch-safe. When church fellowship is not a mere name, but a blessed, joyful, active reality, when those who are called “brethren,” are really so, then may we look for the blessing which maketh rich. Only the Lord can give to a church the condition requisite for success, but when he gives it he will not fail to send the corresponding increase.

    Churches need to be more loving within if they would be more powerful without. They must be more hearty, and more like a family; the shepherd and the flock must be on more tender terms, and brotherhood must be brotherhood indeed, and then shall we see greater things than these.

    We have not space to give the letters which the pastor from Sabbath to Sabbath addressed to his loving people, but one telegram which he sent and the reply are worthy to be remembered, as they fairly express the mutual love and esteem which fills their hearts. The telegram from the pastor ran thus: — “To my beloved church. Johns Second Epistle, third and twelfth verses. ” This, when written out in full, reads as follows: — “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink; but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.”

    The answer sent was as follows: — “Yours to hand. Our reply. To our beloved Pastor. We give thanks always to God for you, making mention of you in our prayers. Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”

    THE PALM TREE.

    GATHERINGS BY C. H. SPURGEON.

    When staying at Mentone the visitor is sure to observe a sunny promontory which juts into the sea at the extreme east. It is so constantly bright, and catches the sun so long after the shadows have fallen elsewhere, that it is quite impossible to avoid noticing it, and inquiring its name. “That is Bordighera,” is sure to be the prompt reply; and if you take a carriage and go to the aforesaid Bordighera you will find it to be like Jericho, the city of palm trees; plenteously endowed no doubt with those noble plants because it basks so continually in the beams of the sun. There are forests of palms around the town, supplying such a spectacle as can be rarely seen out of the West Indies. Other towns along the Riviera possess a few stately date, palms and boast in them, but in Bordighera they abound, and mark: out the spot as altogether peculiar. The grand ceremonials of Palm Sunday and Easter at Rome require many leaves of the palm, and to Bordighera is given the honor of supplying St. Peter’s and the Pope’s Chapel. We were happy in seeing the palms before their fronds had been stripped off for papal uses; but had we been there after the stripping we should have been somewhat compensated by the story which is told of the way in which Bordighera obtained its peculiar Easter privilege. We had heard the anecdote told concerning a British tar, but that is an invention of our national vanity, the truth being as we now tell it. An immense multitude had assembled in Rome to witness the raising of a huge obelisk. Silence was enjoined upon all, on pain of death, while a host of laborers tugged at the cables of the lifting machinery. There was a suspense, the stone would not settle on its base, all the strength applied to it seemed insufficient, and yet the work was so nearly accomplished that the hitch was all the more deplorable. There was a sailor in the throng who saw it all, and knew the remedy; but the sentence of death held him in prudent silence. All men grazed with excitement while the monolith still resisted all force, and it seemed probable that the strain must be relaxed and the task abandoned. At last, death or no death, our sailor friend could restrain himself no longer, but shouted with all his might, “Wet the ropes !” It was done, and the obelisk was in its place, but the seafaring man had been seized by the papal guards, and was now to answer for his daring breach of infallible rule. He turned out to be a man of Bordighera, and being pardoned for his offense was also rewarded for his courage and common sense by being allowed to ask any favor he chose. He only asked that his native town might be favored to supply his Holiness with palms; upon what terms we know not, but from the fellow’s shrewdness we may be sure that they were not to be disposed of without money and without price. Our inference from the legend is, that he who knows how to do the right thing at the right moment is the man who will bear the palm. Many men have wit, but they have left it at home; they know that the ropes should be wetted, but they do not happen to think of it at the time.

    Of course at Bordighera the palm is grown more for ornament than for use, and a most stately adornment it is to any street, or garden, or plain, where it may be found; but it is in other lands famous beyond measure for its usefulness. Beauty and utility are nowhere more completely united than in the date palm. In Kirby’s “Chapters on Trees” we read, “The blessings of the date palm are without limit to the Arab. Its leaves give a refreshing shade in a region where the beams of the sun are almost insupportable.

    Men, and also camels, feed upon the fruit, and sweet liquor is obtained from the trunk by making an incision. It is called the milk of the palm tree, and by fermentation it becomes wine.

    The wood of the tree is used for fuel, and as a material for building the native huts; and ropes, mats, baskets, beds, and all kinds of articles are manufactured from the fibers of the leaves. The Arab cannot imagine how a nation can exist without date trees; and he may well regard it as the greatest injury that he can inflict upon his enemy to cut down his date trees. “There is rather an amusing story told of an Arab woman, who once came to England in the service of an English lady, and remained there as nurse for some few years. At length, however, she went back to her own country, where she was looked upon as a great traveler, and a person that had seen the world. Her friends and relations were never tired of listening to what she had to tell them, and of asking her questions. She gave such a glowing account of England, and the fine houses, and rich people, and grand clothes she had seen, that the Arabs became quite envious, and began to despise their own desert land, with its few villages scattered here and there. Indeed, the effect of the conversation was to make them very low spirited, and to wish they had been born in England. But happily this state of things did not last. The woman chanced to say as a kind of after- thought, that one thing was certainly a drawback in the happy country she had been describing. In vain she had looked for the well-known date trees, and she had been told that not one single tree grew in England. It was a country without dates. ‘Ah, well!’ said her neighbors, much relieved, and their faces brightening up, ‘that alters the case. We have no wish now to live in England!’” The Israelites were very fond of calling their daughters Tamar, or palm tree, the stately beauty of the tree appearing to be peculiarly symbolical of a queenly woman. What a sight must Tadmor or Tamar in the Desert have been! The Greeks rightly turned the Hebrew name into Palmyra; it was a palm city in the center of the wilderness where the caravans halted on their journey between the luxurious East and the needy West. Scarcely would the two thousand five hundred columns of pure white marble, all gleaming in the brilliance of an eastern sun, have rivaled the glory of the palms which lifted their pillar-like trunks into the air two hundred feet, and then threw out their graceful fronds, light as the feather of the ostrich, yet strong to resist the storms from heaven. Alas, the watercourses which feed the gardens of that magnificent city are broken up, the tanks which supplied the caravans of the merchants have been destroyed by war or by earthquakes, and, since the discovery of the passage by sea from Europe to India, the march of the caravans in that direction has ceased, there is no one to repair the stations of the desert, to dress the gardens, or to renew the palms.” In vain do we mention the names of Solomon, and Zenobia, Adrian and Aurelian, the palm-treed city of the wilderness is dead, and the Bedouin prowls around her tomb. Have we not seen flourishing churches also pass away in the same manner? Neglect, forgetfulness of the sacred irrigation of prayer, failure of spiritual life, and other causes, have caused the glory to depart, and made the city to become a heap, and the garden a desolation. May such evil never happen in our day, but may we see the Lord’s hand stretched out still to prosper his people.

    We did not commence writing with the intention of saying all that can be said upon the palm tree, for many have been over this ground before us, and have brought out a vast variety of useful lessons; ours is but a leisure paper of odds and ends, perhaps not quite so well known to our readers as other matters about the palm may be. We have seen them growing in the Bordighera nurseries, and have borne upon our shoulder weighty branches pulled from growing specimens; we have also seen the male, or barren tree planted where it could fertilize its fruit-bearing neighbors; we have marked the little ferns growing upon the decayed ends of the fronds, and watched the happy lizards sporting in the crevices, and we seem now to be at home with palms, at least as much so as a man can be who has never been in Egypt or Persia. Probably there are as many instructive uses in the palm tree as there are actual uses in its material, but we are too idle to work them out just now, and so we open a book written at Calcutta by the Rev. J. Long, and transfer a page to our magazine to let our readers see what an Indian missionary makes out of this oriental tree. He, says, “The righteous are like the palm.” 1. “The palm tree grows in the desert. Earth is a desert to the Christian; true believers are refreshed in it even as a palm in the Arabian desert, so Lot amid Sodom’s wickedness, and Enoch who walked with God amongst the antediluvians. 2. “The palm tree grows from the sand, but the sand is not its food; water below feeds its tap roots, though the heavens above be brass. Some Christians grow, not as the lily, Hosea 14:5, by green pastures, or as the willow by the water-courses, Isaiah 44:4, but as the palm of the desert. So Joseph among the cat worshippers of Egypt, Daniel in voluptuous Babylon: faith’s penetrating root, reaching the fountains of living waters. 3. “The palm tree is beautiful, with its tall and verdant canopy, and the silvery flashes of its waving plumes; so the Christian virtues are not like the creeper or bramble, tending downwards, their palm branches shoot upwards, and seek the things above, where Christ dwells, Colossians 3:1; some trees are crooked and gnarled, but the Christian is a tall palm as a son of the light, Matthew 3:12; Philippians 2:15. The Jews were called a crooked generation, Deuteronomy 32:5, and Satan a crooked serpent, Isaiah 27, but the Christian is upright like the palm. Its beautiful unfading leaves made it an emblem of victory, it was twisted into verdant booths at the feast of tabernacles, and the multitude, when escorting Christ to his coronation in Jerusalem, spread leaves on the way, Matthew 21:8. So victors in heaven are represented as having palms in their hands, Revelation 7:9. No dust adheres to the leaf as it does to the battree; the Christian is in the world, not of it, the dust of earth’s desert adheres not to his palm leaf.

    The leaf of the palm is the same — it does not fall in winter, and even in the summer it has no holiday clothing, it is an evergreen. 4. “The palm tree is very useful. The Hindus reckon it has 360 uses. Its shadow shelters, its fruit refreshes the weary traveler, and it points out to the pilgrim the place where water may be found. Such was Barnabas, a son of consolation, Acts 4:36, such Lydia, Dorcas, others, who on the king’s highway showed the way to heaven, as Philip did to the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 9:34. 5. “The palm tree produces fruit even in old age. The best dates are produced when the tree is from thirty to one hundred years old; three hundred pounds of dates are annually yielded; so the Christian grows happier and more useful as he grows older: knowing his own faults more, he is more mellow to others; he is like the setting sun, beautiful, mild, and enlarged; or like Elim, where the wearied Jews found twelve wells and seventy palm trees.”

    This is very good, and has somewhat of freshness in it. It reminds us of what Dr. Thomson says in “The Land and the Book,” upon the text, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” He says, “The palm grows slowly but steadily, from century to century,” uninfluenced by the alterations of the seasons which affect other trees. It does not rejoice overmuch in winter’s copious rain, nor does it droop under the drought and the burning sun of summer. Neither heavy weights which men place upon its head, nor the importunate urgency of the wind can sway it aside from perfect uprightness. There it stands, looking calmly down upon the world below, and patiently yielding its large clusters of golden fruit from generation to generation. They bring forth fruit in old age. The allusion to being planted in the house of the Lord is probably drawn from the custom of planting beautiful and long-lived trees in the courts of temples and palaces, and in all ‘high places’ used for worship. This is still common; nearly every palace and mosque and convent in the country has such trees in the courts, and, being well protected there, they flourish exceedingly.

    Solomon covered all the walls of the ‘Holy of Holies’ round about with palm trees. They were thus planted, as it were, within the very house of the Lord; and their presence was not only ornamental, but appropriate and highly suggestive. The very best emblem, not only of patience in welldoing, but of the rewards of the righteous — a fat and flourishing old age — a peaceful end — a glorious immortality. The Jews used palm branches as emblems of victory in their seasons of rejoicing, and Christians do the same on Palm Sunday, in commemoration of our Savior’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. They are often woven into an arch, and placed over the head of the bier which carries man to his ‘long home,’ and speak sweetly of victory and eternal life.”

    We were thinking of the way of climbing a palm tree, and noted how easy it would be to step from the notch of one departed frond to another, but we could not see our way clear to read the lesson of the physical fact till, turning to good Moody Stuart’s “Song of Songs,” we found him thus sweetly expatiating upon the eighth verse of the seventh chapter: — “I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof.” This is for the purpose of gathering the fruit, or rather it is the grasping of the fruit itself, for the laden boughs of the palm are little else than vast fruit-stalks. No tree presents a more beautiful picture of abundance; the single, branchless, untapered stem, the magnificent crown of branching leaves at the summit of the stem, and beneath the leaves the boughs or fruit-stalks, each of them clustered round with innumerable dates, and sometimes hanging downward not far from the outstretched hand. The fruit of the palm is so abundant that in some of the oases of the great African desert, it is said to form the principal food of those sons of Ethiopia, ‘who will soon stretch out their hands to God,’ and pluck living fruit from a nobler palm. In these last days we sometimes look back with desire on the patriarchal infancy of the church ere the palm tree had attained its present height, and when our fathers in the faith gathered the ripe fruit from the low summit of its still slender stem. “Sweet were the days when thou didst lodge with Lot, Struggle with Jacob, sit with Gideon, Advise with Abraham, when thy power could not Encounter Moses’ strong complaint and moan; Thy words were then, Let me alone.

    One might have sought and found thee presently, At some fair oak, or bush, or cave, or well.” — Herbert.

    But if the tree has grown taller, its fruit is more abundant, in words of life multiplied tenfold to us and to our children; its thickened stem is more easily grasped, and is notched round year by year with helpful footsteps by the very gathering of the laden boughs. Each successive produce of the tree both prepares for a greater, and leaves like the palm a permanent step in the ladder by which we may reach the ample fruit, all the past a handmaid to the future.”

    Our musings and gatherings must now end. We must go from the palm trees of a sunny clime to the oaks and elms of Old England, which also have their teaching, and one of these days we may perhaps put it into words for our readers.

    THE STAGE THE Bishop of Manchester, whose manliness compensates for many faults, may nevertheless do a great deal of mischief if he continues to endorse the stage. Surely he cannot be so dazzled by the virtues of one or two eminent performers as to forget the manifest tendency of the whole institution. His grace need not go inside a theater in order to correct his present opinions; let him only pass by a playhouse between the hours of eleven and twelve and see what he shall see. If he should be in need of a housemaid, or a cook, or a butler, would he select a person whose character was endorsed — is a frequent attendant at the theater? Would the bishop in his heart think any the better of a young man for becoming an habitue of the pit?

    Would he wish his own daughter to become a prima donna, or would it gladden his heart for his son to become lessee of a royal opera? His grace has spoken upon the boards of two theaters — will he now introduce Mrs. Fraser and family to the ladies and gentlemen of the green-room, requesting the latter to feel themselves under no restraint whatever? Has the Right Reverend Father in God found grace and holiness promoted among his flocks by the plays they have seen? If so, would he be so good as to publish the titles of the dramas? Will communion with God, and likeness to Christ be most promoted in renewed hearts by tragedies or comedies? Dr. Fraser ought some times to think before he speaks; and not only to have the courage of his convictions, but convictions worthy of so much courage. C.H.S.

    A NEW VERSION OF AN OLD HYMN THE following hymn has been sung at the Tabernacle with remarkable effect. We print it in the Sword and Trowel because we hope that other congregations will be glad to use it. They can have it of our publishers for sixpence per hundred. Of course the eighth verse can only be sung where there are orphans, but all the rest, if only the voices mentioned are allowed to join in their appointed verses, will go very sweetly, and make up a charming variety of praise unto the Most High. “CROWN HIM LORD OF ALL.’

    A HYMN ARRANGED FOR VARIOUS VOICES, BY C. H. SPURGEON. TO BE SUNG BY ALL BELIEVERS — 1 All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

    Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown him Lord of all. 2 We who compose his court below, And wait his gracious call, In marshall’d ranks before him bow, And crown him Lord of all.

    MEN’ S VOICES — 3 Let men and sires loud praises bring To him who drank the gall; Adore their now ascended King, And crown him Lord of all. 4 Lo, in our strength and vigor we Would crowd his royal hall, Bring forth our sweetest minstelsy, And crown him Lord of all.

    WOMEN’ S VOICES — 5 Now to the Lord, of woman born, Who slept in Bethlehem’s stall, Matrons and maids lift up their song, And crown him Lord of all. 6 For unto us a Son is given, To save from sin and thrall; We join the angelic choirs of heaven, And crown him Lord of all.

    CHILDREN AND THE ORPHANS — 7 Because he suffers babes to sing, And smiles on children small, We make our loud hosannas ring, And crown him Lord of all. 8 We who had else been fatherless, Our Jesus “Father” call; and by his care his name we bless, And crown him Lord of all.

    TO BE SUNG BY ALL — 9 Now in one glad exulting song We at his footstool fall, Unite with all the bloodwashed throng, And crown him Lord of all.

    NOTES OUR sojourn at Mentone has greatly refreshed us mentally, but the extreme cold of the mistral at Marseilles laid us up with rheumatism, and has caused us intense pain and weakness. Will friends accept our thanks for their great kindness, but will they be so good as not to send us any more remedies: we know now of at least fifty infallible cures, and are embarrassed with medical riches which, like the miser, we hoard up for the benefit of others. We had hoped and expected to be able to fulfill all our engagements, and work at high pressure, but it is now evident that home work is all that we shall be able to attend to.

    A learned M. D. writes to the Christian World to complain of our theology and science, because we believe that our affliction, which was the result of a cold wind, was also of the Lord’s sending. Now it so happens that the error, both in science and theology, lies at the door of the M.D., and not at ours. We believe that the mistral wind is sent for some wise end, but certainly not for that which Adelphos, M. D. supposes. It is the scourge of Province, and is neither the friend of fruits nor flowers, but is regarded as the enemy of man, beast, and plant. However, let that be as it may, even if the wind be sent to promote vegetation, yet this by no means prevents its answering other divine purposes as well. A special providence, even in the lighting of sparrows, and in the number of the hairs of our head, is the doctrine of the Bible, and it is also matter of fact. While winds blow for great, far-reaching purposes the infinite Jehovah also sends them for special and individual designs. We, like the M.D., do not see how art unchanging, loving God can ordain ill weather to afflict his servants, but we do not want to see, we are quite able to believe it, and do not for a moment doubt that he does all things in love. The fact that wind and weather can be scientifically predicted, and that they are produced by fixed laws we know quite as well as M.D.; we are quite scientific enough for that: but this by no means opposes the grand doctrine that the hand of the Lord ordereth all things. Fixed laws do not operate apart from divine power; the hand of God is as certainly present in the ordinary operations of nature as in what we call miracles. True science teaches more truths than one. The unscientific inferences belong to M.D. and not to us. We trust we are not less reverent and scientific when we behold God in everything than those are who see him only here and there. When we testify to our faith in God’s love it is hard to be accused of representing God as a capricious and vindictive ruler. Adelphos, M.D., writes in too friendly a spirit to have intended so scandalous an accusation. No, blessed be the name of the Lord, though he slay us yet will we trust in him. We loathe the very idea of calling our God vindictive.

    COLLEGE.

    The Annual Conference of the ministers educated at the Pastors’ College will be held during the week commencing April 9. Our longing is for the manifest presence of God. If the brethren shall all return to their churches full of the Holy Ghost we may expect great things for our land.

    We earnestly entreat the prayers of the Lord’s people that it may be so.

    Mr. Phillips will give his usual supper, and we trust the Lord will incline the friends to furnish the funds as on former occasions.

    Mr. Gooding, from our College, has settled at Burnham, Essex.

    We are delighted to hear of conversions and baptisms in connection with Mr. Silverton’s work at Nottingham.

    Mr. Cuff is hard at work with his proposed Shoreditch Tabernacle. The place is terribly needed, but the friends are poor and must be aided from outside. If rich churches do not help striving societies in poor localities, how are the masses to be evangelized? The best way to benefit the crowded parts of London is to help earnest churches rather than mere personal enterprises.

    We have received interesting accounts of the first baptism in Cape Town by our friend, Mr. W. Hamilton, who left us to form a Baptist Church in that colony. The work has from the beginning attracted attention, gathered to itself a goodly band of helpers and enjoyed the divine blessing. We should rejoice to hear of other colonies, cities, or towns, whether far or near, where there is need for a church after our order. If even a few brethren get together to form a nucleus, we are prepared to help during the commencement of the cause. There is very little enterprise abroad, or surely our principles would spread far more rapidly.

    ORPHANAGE.

    — We understand that a person is going about selling picture cards and stating that the profits or proceeds will go to the Stockwell Orphanage. As no person has bean authorized by us to do this, and as we believe the plan to be a fraud, we shall be glad of information which may enable us to call the party to account. All goes well with our orphan boys.

    Health excellent.

    We hope our friends will be as gratified as we have been by the following testimony of the inspector from the Local Government Board. It is something to have an Orphanage, but it is far more to have it in a condition which secures such approbation: — Report of F. J. Mouat, Esq., M. D., of the Local Government Board. “March 16th, “I have today visited for the second time the Stockwell Orphanage, and examined into the system of training and education pursued in it, with special reference to an inquiry in which I am now engaged, regarding the pauper schools throughout the country. In many important particulars this institution is well in advance of most kindred establishments which I have yet seen. The plan of feeding and clothing in particular is excellent, and the instruction of the class rooms is conducted with intelligence and life. The boys look healthy and happy, and I shall only be too glad if I succeeded in transplanting some of the advantages of this place to the pauper schools, in which they are much needed. I have seldom enjoyed a visit to any school more thoroughly than that of which I am now leaving this most imperfect record. “(Signed) F. J. Mouat, M. D., Formerly Secretary to the Council of Education, Bengal.”

    COLPORTAGE. — The work of the Colportage Association still progresses, and friends connected with various denominations apply for men, while sometimes a united local committee support the colporteur. The accounts received from the various districts are full of encouragement. Families are united in villages where otherwise the ritualistic priest would have full sway. The written word finds its way where the living voice cannot get the opportunity to speak, and will do its own work. Above all, numerous cases of conversion are reported. As the Annual Meeting will be held during the first week in May, and some of the colporteurs will then give details, we forbear to do so at present. Another £100 has been given by a friend towards the £1,000 needed for capital to work the society, and about £80 in smaller sums, for which we are very thankful, and trust that other friends will be moved to contribute the remaining £650. The need of this capital is really very urgent, and some of the Lord’s stewards will, we hope, consider the matter. How are we to enlarge this work on credit? It is not a right and safe principle to go upon. Additional colporteurs have been appointed to the following districts: — Walsall, Staffordshire, Sevenoaks, Kent, Nottingham, Notts; Shildon, Yorkshire.

    MRS.SPURGEON’ S BOOK FUND.

    — During our absence our beloved one has managed to get through a large amount of work, for a glance into her carefully kept records shows that she has distributed one thousand three hundred and eighty-eighty books since January 1, 1877. These are grand outgoings, and we trust that a like prosperity and success may attend her efforts during the entire year. An interesting little “Report” of the Fund has been printed and sent to every contributor whose address is known, and Mrs. Spurgeon will gladly post one (on application) to any friend interested in the work.

    There have long labored at the Tabernacle as general managers of our tea department an excellent couple, Mr. and Mrs. Pasfield. They did their work for the love of it, and nothing came amiss to them. We all feel under immense obligations to them, as humble, laborious, useful, and yet almost unseen servants of the church. To the intense sorrow of us all our aged sister was struck down while in the very midst of her labor, preparing for a large Sunday School tea in the midst of all the arrangements she died upon the spot. Who could wish to die in better case? In the full service of the church of God. No long illness, no enforced idleness, no sense of uselessness, but active to the last. We hope our dear brother Pasfield will be comforted concerning his departed one.

    Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle by Mr. J. A. Spurgeon: — March 5th, seventeen; March 15th, twenty.

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