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    “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” — Nehemiah 4:17-18.


    OUR preface is written after the volume is finished, and therefore it must be rather a summary than a program. We cannot come forward like the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his budget for the forthcoming year, but we put, in an appearance as a steward who renders in his account for the year which is just past. Our one feeling in doing so is gratitude, — gratitude both to God and men.

    First of all, we bless and adore the great Father of all good that he has continued to employ so feeble an instrument for the accomplishment of his gracious purposes, and has removed difficulties out of our way, and continually supplied the necessities of the work. Truly we serve a faithful God, who never tries his servants above what they are able to bear, and who makes it his delight to deliver them out of all emergencies in a manner least expected by them. To his sacred name be all the honor of work done and success achieved.

    But the law of gratitude has two tables, and it is not enough to render that which is due to God; we must do justice to man also. Happy are we to comply with this requirement, for if ever a man owed much to his fellow Christians it is the editor of this magazine.

    Breaking away from all modes of speech which are usual in such circumstances, I must upon this point speak in the first person singular.

    Beloved readers, I am under deep obligations to many of you. Some of you are my hearers, and I thank you for bearing with my “often infirmities,” and remaining content with a crippled minister, who has been away from his pulpit more than three mouths out of the twelve. Dear helpers at the Tabernacle, you are kindness itself; the Lord reward you. Many more Sword and Trowel subscribers are readers of the weekly sermon. I am grateful to all who help me to preach to an immense congregation of persons whose faces I have never seen. I am glad to have my discourses widely circulated: if a truth is worth preaching it is worth hearing, and if worthy to be heard by six thousand why not by six hundred thousand?

    My gratitude breaks forth at the remembrance of a cloud of prayers which have ascended on my behalf from all parts of the earth. Of this fact I have abundant personal assurances, and the comfort which these have yielded me no tongue can tell. Nor is this all. I am bound to express personal thanks of the most fervent kind for the generous help rendered to all the institutions under my care. Whenever there has been a need some one has hastened to supply it: hence the usual efforts have been carried on during the year 1880 without flagging, and fresh work has been joyfully attempted and accomplished. Kind friends evidently watch the whole enterprise, and consider what they can do to keep it all in healthy operation. God bless them one and all, and give a thousandfold return. How much certain donors have relieved my care, and cheered my heart, I will not attempt to write. The College has steadily proceeded on its way, educating suitable men and sending them forth. In this department there has been no lack either of new men or of spheres for them when their terms of study have ended. Our brethren all over the world are doing good service for the Master, and in some instances singular blessing has rested upon their endeavors. In these days of laxity in doctrine, it is of the utmost importance to keep up those Colleges which hold by the old orthodox faith, and give forth no uncertain sound. The Evangelists have had an eminently successful year, and have aroused in my heart the desire to see many more such agents occupied in this admirable service. Hundreds, and even thousands, profess to have found the Savior through the testimony of our three brethren. The Colporteurs have had a hard year, but a better one than 1879. Their number has somewhat diminished, for we cannot get friends to take up this branch of service with enthusiasm, though it is one of the cheapest and most efficient means of scattering gospel light in the darkest places. It is no small thing to have kept more than seventy men hard at work selling good books and instructing the poor. The Orphanage has had sufficient supplies for current expenses, and besides this, the Girls’ Orphanage has been in process of erection. All the money for the first contract has been provided by a grand burst of generosity, some few having surpassingly distinguished themselves by noble gifts. We shall need several other buildings to render the whole of the girls’ houses available as dwellings and schools. Infirmary and dining hall must be built, and a large building is needed to serve us on our great days of public meetings, and to be on ordinary occasions the chapel for the whole of the children, their teachers, and other friends. It may be that some one friend will give this or that building, and if not, a bazaar at the end of 1881 will go far towards it. Then there will be five hundred children to keep: an anxious look out if faith in God did not perceive infinite supplies. Mrs. Surgeon’s Book Fund has sent into poor ministers’ libraries hundreds of parcels of books. The gratitude expressed is abounding. Congregations must be the better for their ministers having a fresh store of mental food. I am very grateful to all who have aided my invaluable wife in this specially useful work, and I hope that others will be found who will see how this agency waters the very roots of the tree, for it’ preachers are supplied with sound literature, which they value, their ministry must be influenced for good.

    I cannot mention all the other agencies, all of which have received liberal help from my many friends, but for all such aid I feel myself a debtor — a debtor who has nothing to pay with but good wishes, prayers, and thanks. “Oh that we could do more for Jesus.” This was the sigh of last year, and it is my inward groaning now. Perhaps the Lord may entrust me with more means, and it’ not, if he is pleased to send a larger blessing I shall be equally content.

    Dear Readers, I Am Yours To Serve For Christ’s Sake, C. H.SPURGEON.


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