PREACH CHRIST IN A CHRISTLY MANNER.
AN ADDRESS BY C. H. SPURGEON, DELIVERED AT THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE.
THOMAS Aquinas and others wrote commentaries upon the works of Peter the Lombard, who was surnamed Magister Sententiarum, or the Master of the Sentences. I will for a while join these schoolmen, and discourse upon a sentence. I know not whence it came, but it is floating in my brain; here it is: “PREACH CHRIST IN ACHRISTLY MANNER.” It comes to me in association with another, “Preach the cross in a crucified style” an equally weighty word, which we may handle at another time. Ministers of the gospel, let Christ be your subject, and let Christ be your model: find in him not only the truth you utter, but the way and life of your utterance.
As for Christ’s being our subject, I have spoken upon that theme so many times that there is the less need on this occasion to dwell upon it at any length. What other topic can engross a Christian minister’s attention? He is certainly untrue to him who called him if he puts his Master into any but the chief seat, or overshadows him with other themes. Whatever else you leave out, let Christ Jesus never be forgotten. Preach all that you know about Christ—all that you have learned from the Scriptures, all that you have experienced at his hands, all that his Spirit; has enabled you to perceive and enjoy. “:Not a bone of him shall be broken”: set him forth in his entirety. Give each of his doctrines a fair share of your attention, for blessed are they who keep his sayings. Preach all that Christ set forth in his life; all that he commanded, all that he (lid, all that he suffered, and all that he was. Is not this range enough, even for those who, like Solomon, have “largeness of heart even as the sand which is on the sea-shore”? What a work is before you if you preach all that Jesus was as to his person, offices, relationships, works, and triumphs. The central sun of your whole system must be his glorious sacrifice for sin. As the starry cross holds the chief place among the southern constellations, so let it be the main glory of your ministry. Let there be no muddle nor mixture about the doctrine of substitution; say plainly that “he was made a curse for us,” that he bare the iniquities of his people, and died “the just for the unjust to bring us to God.” Set before the; people not only Christ, but Christ crucified, and when you are engaged upon the work, not only preach him in a dull, didactic manner, but, by a lively, spiritual, earnest, hearty mode of address, set him forth “before their eyes evidently crucified among them.” You can never grow weary of this subject; it is an inexhaustible fountain of wonder; angels desire to look into it, and glorified spirits fall down in adoration as they think of it. Like a fair landscape, it will grow upon you; and the more you look into it the more you will see in it. God fed his people for forty years with manna, and it was only their lust which made them long for flesh: their every-day diet was all that they really needed, and all that God ever gave them in love,—the quails were sent in anger. The gospel is manna, human speculations are but flying fowl, and often does it happen to those who feed thereon that, while the meat is yet in their mouths, the wrath of God comes upon them. We are not authorized to hand out anything but the bread which came down from heaven, and the true Israel will never weary of it. If the mixed multitude sigh for the leeks, and garlic, and onions of Egyptian philosophy, let them buy their provender at the stall of the nearest “intellectual preacher,” but as for you, I beseech you, deal in nothing but the bread of life. Nothing else will stand you in such good stead for profitable discourses as the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nothing else will keep a congregation in a gracious condition. Nothing else will win souls. Nothing else will bring you a soft pillow when you are nearing your last account. Let your motto be, “None but Christ.”
But my sentence bids us preach Christ in a Christly manner. Every piece of music has its own proper key, and the proper pitch for the gospel is to be found in the gospel itself. Every man should speak in his own tongue, and we must let the gospel speak its own language and use its own tone. “Never man spake like this man,” and this is the man whose speech it best becomes us to copy, if we would prove to men that we are his disciples.
How, then, did Christ preach? I cannot attempt to describe his style and manner at length; but here are a few hints.
Did he not preach most solemnly? There was weight about every word that he said, meaning in every gesture, force in every tone. He was never a trifler, he did not show off his abilities nor aim at winning applause: he was in solemn, self-forgetting earnest. His accents were those of conviction, his voice was as the voice of God, his very attitudes pleaded with men. What shall I say of him? Oh, that we could speak always as in the presence of God as he did? O that we came fresh from prevailing with the Father in prayer, to prevail with men in preaching, then should we work the works of him that sent us.
Although our Lord always spoke solemnly, yet never drearily, there is a pleasant interest about his words, for he preached glad tidings joyfully. It was evidently his meat and his drink to do the will of him: that sent him. He delighted in his ministry, and in it he found refreshment. I cannot imagine our Savior during those three years wearing the aspect of one who was tired of his work, or as speaking merely because he was expected to do so, in a dull, monotonous, lifeless manner. His heart was in his sermons, and parables, and gracious talks; he loved to be God’s ambassador, and would not have exchanged his office to rule empires. He would not be diverted from his life’s great mission, and when other work was set before him, he said, “Who made me a judge or a divider over you?” O men of the world, how could you invite him to such a task? Wist ye not that he must be about his Father’s business? He said, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”
He found a satisfaction in his mission so great that even for the most painful part of it he sighed, saying, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” God forbid, my brethren, that we should ever say of our pulpit or pastoral work, “What a weariness it is?” For in it the joy of the Lord is our strength, and our love to our service will be the life of it by God’s grace. Let us joy in our high vocation, and never follow it as if we had made a mistake, and would be glad to rectify it by getting out of the ministry if we dared. Let your joy in your service impart an interest to your discourses, making them fragrant with the peace which reigns in your own soul. “The fruit of the Spirit is joy:” let your hearers see many a specimen of that fruit in your sermons. Preach Christ from the constraints of love, or not at all. Your Lord was no slavish herald, forced to unwilling labor, and he will not have his gospel of liberty proclaimed by hirelings, who have no delight in their message.
Our Lord Jesus also preached very meekly. Gentleness was an eminent characteristic of his manner, for he was himself meek and lowly in heart, stooping to the lowest of men without appearing to condescend, taking the little children in his arms and blessing them, and doing it so naturally that you might admire but could not wonder. He did not speak to the poor and ignorant like a very great man, who was so very high up that he had to come down a great many. steps to them; but he addressed them as a friend, and entreated them as a brother. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him,” because there was no affectation of superiority about him. He had no need to assume the airs of superior purity, for the superior purity was really there. He lovingly cried, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We must try to possess his meek and quiet spirit, for he says to us especially, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” We carry his cross, let us copy his lowliness. Of him it was written, “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” Contention and strife were not for him, he was the Preacher and the Prince of Peace. Scolding in the pulpit, bitterness in conversation, asperity of manner, and domineering over others are not for us, for they are not Christly things.
Yet if we preach Christ in a Christly way we must preach him courageously. There was nothing cowardly about our Lord, no shirking or shrinking, no cultivation of soft speech to win favor from men. He was never anxious to cut the gospel diamond into a shape which should please the taste of the period. He was brave as a lion though gentle as a lamb; keen as the surgeon’s knife, though tender as a mother’s hand. How bravely he rebuked the sins of the Pharisees I He never trembled before any of his hearers, not even when they took up stones again to stone him; nor, what is sometimes harder to avoid, (lid he flinch when he was in the midst of his own acquaintance, and, like every other preacher, was without honor among his own countrymen; for he came unto his own and his own received him not, but took him to the top of the hill on which their city was built that they might cast him down headlong. I never heard anybody say that our Lord was brave, because the remark would be altogether superfluous: there is a cool, calm, self-possession about Jesus which it would be hard to match in the life of any other man. He does not brace and rouse himself up to heroism, he is always a hero; but it is always in a way so natural to him that his grandest actions seem only such as you would expect from so sublime a nature. It is the natural calmness of his heart which makes Christ’s life so serenely brave. Be you like him. Never go into the pulpit timidly, so as to be afraid of men’s faces, lest you be put to shame before them; but, without uttering or feeling defiance, confront the multitude on God’s behalf with the fearlessness which becomes the ambassador of God. If what you say be of God, say it out like a man; nay, rather like “the Son of man.”
Recollect that one point of Christ’s style was his simplicity of language.
He used great plainness of speech. Though under one aspect of truth it; may be said that he veiled his meaning under parabolic curtains so that men did not see it, yet the veil was so thin that those who desired to see the light did see it all the better for that veil, which did but make the light more suitable for feeble eyes. If his gospel was hid it was hid to them that were lost, for now that with opened eyes we read the New Testament we see in it most clearly the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Certainly Jesus had no preference for hard words. You do not find him puzzling his hearers with the terms of the schools or the refinings of the scribes; his language was such that the common people heard him gladly. I wonder what our Lord would have done with some of the books translated from the German with which we have been favored in past years. Devour stones and grind granite rocks between your teeth, and then hope to feed upon some of the great thoughts of the learned mystifiers of the age, whose thought-creation is chaos, and whose word-utterance is as darkness itself. “Brethren,” said a negro preacher, “I am going to confound a chapter to you.” Verily, I say unto you, that is what too many critics are doing; their explanations explain away the Scriptures: they hide the wisdom of ,God behind the foolishness of men. Jesus, the light of the world, was most luminous in his style. Had he been an Englishman I am sure that he would have drawn his language from the pure well of English undefiled, sparkling with Saxon idiom, dear to the people. Always preach with clearness of thought and word. If you are learned men, to whom Greek and Latin studies are familiar delights, save your classics for yourselves and your fellow collegians; but give the people, words which can be readily understood: you will do so if sour scholarship has brought you real wisdom. Your shallow scholar’, like a scantily flowing brook, reveals every glittering grain which lies within it; but where we find depth and fullness the pure current of the water of life alone is seen, and even pearls and sands of gold lie undisplayed below.
Preachers of the age of Thomas Adams and Lancelot Andrewes bespattered their periods with Latin phrases, till one hardly knows whether they were preaching to Romans or to Britons; and this reprehensible practice is but an exaggeration of a habit which is found among certain divines at this hour, which leads them to quote metaphysical passages from Tennyson and hard sayings from Carlyle, as if they were royal dainties for believing minds. Not that I plead for the rags or nakedness of mental poverty: let goodly truth be arrayed in fit apparel; but I decry the Babylonish garment and the meretricious finery with which some would disguise the virgin daughter of Zion. Aspire to be understood rather than to be admired. Seek not to produce a wondering but an instructed audience.
Obscurity more befits the Delphic shrine than the oracles of God. Be as plain as a pikestaff in your doctrine and clear as the sun in the heavens in your gospel. Let there be nothing difficult about what you preach, except that which naturally and inevitably surrounds truths of surpassing sublimity and spirituality.
Yet, while our blessed Lord preached very plainly and simply, you must remember that there was much instruction in every discourse. I have heard the expression “simple gospel” used by persons who seemed themselves to be simple enough by nature, and far beyond the necessity of making violent efforts in that direction. I do not believe in a simple gospel which is suited for simpletons because there is nothing in it. Let your teaching be clear as crystal, but deep as the sea. Our congregations are not to be treated as if they were the infant classes of a Sunday-school. Foundation truths are to be taught frequently; but there must be building up as well. Let there be real teaching in what you have to say, or you will create dissatisfaction among your best hearers. The notion that we have only to cry, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” and repeat for ever the same simplicities, will be fatal to a continuous ministry over one people if we attempt to carry it out. The evangelical party in the Church of England was once supreme; but it lost very much power through the weakness of its thought, and its evident belief that pious platitudes could hold the ear of England. If you knew that as much gold as could be purchased for threehalfpence had been beaten out so as to cover a ten-acre field, you would not be surprised if people said that the metal was rather thin; yet such was the quantity of thought to be found in many “evangelical” books and sermons. I have seen enough of the writings of one or two evangelical bishops not long deceased to wonder how they came to be printed, much less sold; for there is really nothing in them. It was, I suppose, the proper thing to purchase such books and set them on the shelf, and therefore they obtained a sale; but what an imposition upon the public! Can anyone tell me why Archbishop Sumner’s comments were ever submitted to the press?
Did weakness of thought ever reach a deeper degree of imbecility? I conceive that, by giving the people mere pap and milk-and-water, our brethren lost their vantage ground, and gave the Ritualist and Broad Churchman an opportunity of which they readily availed themselves. Leave off thinking and you may as well leave off preaching. Our Lord Jesus was no repeater of a parrot cry: the poor had the gospel preached to them; but it was not a poor gospel. What condensed thought he uttered? What massive, masterly expressions he used: such as, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; or that other grand announcement, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” A fullness dwelt in him, and fullness therefore flowed from him. His was no shadow of empty oratory; he gave to men the substance of eternal blessing. In simple language he proclaimed infinite mysteries, and none who heard him could say that he ever wasted time with barren words, or poured forth vain repetitions of worn-out phrases. Do, brethren, be as solid in matter as you are simple in manner; let your apples be apples of gold, and the baskets, baskets of silver; no wild crabs thrown into hampers will suffice for the service of the Great King.
There was also in the Savior’s preaching a wonderful mixture of devotion.
He might have prayed his sermons; he did pray in his sermons; his sermons were the result of his prayers, and were followed by his prayers. His public discourses were the children of his midnight devotions; they were born in the morning, but he travailed with them all night, and. agonized until they were brought forth. This is the way to preach. Pray the divine message into yourself, and then preach it out of yourself. Speak with God for men, and then speak with men for God. To turn from prayer to preaching and from preaching again to prayer was most natural with Jesus; when he was alone with God his heart was pleading for men, and when he was in the midst of the throng his soul was pleading for God. He was always with God, and God was always with him. You never find him for a single moment in a condition in which he was not fit to deal with men’s souls, for you never find him out of communion with God.
The only other remark I will now make is that the distinguishing trait in the Savior’s preaching was Ms love. He had an intense affection for his hearers. He had no need to say so, for he looked it, he spoke it, he lived it, he died to prove it. He was incarnate love, and his preaching was his heart set to words. Some men seem to be incarnate dignity. Christ was dignified; yet men saw more of his affection than of his glory. Some men are like embodied tempests. Oh, how they storm? But God is not in the wind, and he is not often in the fire: the still, small voice of tender love is usually the medium of divine communication. I have known brethren who have appeared to take for their example, not Jesus, but the prophet Jonah; and these would seem to care more for their ministerial honor than for the fate of men. They have a sharp, short, spiritual bark about them, as if they suspected everybody, and most of all those who came to confess their faith in Christ. A churlish and cynical manner is by no means uncommon among men; but Jesus was full of love both in heart and manner, and he would have his ministers to be intensely affectionate to their flocks. He desired men to become his followers for their good, and when they rejected him his great grief was because they were losing the blessing which would have come to them if they had received him as their Savior. I do not know that I should point to any one sermon and say, “How loving our Lord was in that”; but I would bid you look at the whole of his ministry, and tell me where was ever such devoted love to men. When he has to speak sternly, as well as at every .other time, his tenderness is apparent. He laments even while he condemns. If Jerusalem must be doomed, its sentence is pronounced by a voice that is choked for utterance. He bathes the furbished sword in a flood of tears. Nay, he went far beyond weeping, for he was ready to die, and did die, to finish the work which he had undertaken for our sakes. In some sense he was dying throughout the whole of t, is career, looking forward to death, shut up for death within his own spirit, dying daily for those whom he loved. In such a spirit let us proclaim the gospel of the loving God.
Thus, my beloved brethren, I hold up to you Jesus Christ as the model preacher. I hold up no man beside, and I earnestly advise you never to become slavish copyists of any living preachers. Do you reply that you need a living teacher? I reply that Jesus is a living model; for, blessed be God, he ever liveth. There is also this choice advantage about him, that he is an accessible model; for at all times we may sit at his feet. What is equally important, he is an inimitable model, and not as certain among us, whom it would be ridiculous to copy. Many good men I despair of imitating; but the character of Jesus can be transcribed upon the pages of our own lives. You may find faults in all other preachers, for the best of men are men at the best; but there are no flaws, eccentricities, or infirmities in him, for he is perfection. You may regard the ablest of preachers as your beacons as well as your guiding-lights; but in Jesus you will find nothing to avoid, and everything to admire. Preach Christ, then, in a Christly way, and you shall enter into your Master’s joy, and share in your Master’s glory at the last.
WHAT AGNOSTICISM LEADS TO MANY of you have heard that wondrous opening passage of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” in which the musician tries to represent the despair of a whole people perishing from thirst, a despair which finds vent for a while in sullen, restless murmuring, until at length, gathering a terrible cumulative strength, it bursts forth almost appallingly in cries of heartrending and importunate agony. So can I imagine the voice of a deceived and terror-stricken humanity, having sought in vain to slake its thirst at the dry wells of modern positivism, sending upward at length to heaven the broken-hearted cry, “Give us back the Christ that we have lost.” Away with the ghastly specter, the hideous phantom, the “It” that has usurped his throne, and let us learn again to love and worship a God who is heart to heart.—Bishop of Neath.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO STREET AN INCIDENT RELATED BY MR. SPURGEON AT THE TABERNACLE PRAYER-MEETING.
IHEARD just now a little story which may encourage those of you who preach in the street. One of our friends called in upon a tradesman not far from here, bought some goods of him, and seeing in his shop a text, or a temperance motto, he asked him if he was a Christian. The reply was “Yes, blessed be God, I am.” A conversation began at once, in the course of which the tradesman inquired, “Do you know a minister of the name of Medhurst?” The other said he knew him well, for he was the first student in Mr. Spurgeon’s College. “Well, he was once in Glasgow, the minister of North Frederick-street Baptist Church, and he often went out to preach in the open air. Two sisters, in rather humble circumstances, were living together in Glasgow, and neither of them had any concern about religion.
One of them was very ill, and near to die. The other having to go out to a shop to get some necessary for her sister, wished her sister, as she lay alone, to be amused, and therefore gave her a novel to read while she was away from her. She herself hurried along, but her curiosity made her stop for a few minutes to listen to a young man preaching out of doors. The Spirit of God blessed the few sentences which she heard, so that she saw her past life in a true light, and was fully and deeply convinced of sin. In a few seconds—perhaps fewer than it takes to tell it—she was in an agony of soul about her condition before God. The congregation moved off into the chapel, and she dearly wished to go in with them; but she recollected her sister whom she had left sick at home, and so she quickened her steps towards the shop. She was, however, so bowed down and wretched that she felt ready to faint, and, pausing a while, she took hold of the rails of an area, and cried, ‘O God, have mercy upon me. I will have it any how? I will have it now.’” Scotch people, you know, even if they are godless, are usually well acquainted with the Bible: precious texts came to her recollection, and in a few moments by faith in Christ Jesus she found peace with God, and went on her way light of foot and joyous of heart. As soon as she reached home she cried to her sister, “My dear sister, I have never spoken to you about your soul; you will soon be with God, and you are not prepared to die any more than I was myself a few minutes ago. That book is no good; I will get you the Bible; and oh that you may feel your state by nature, and seek and find the Savior as I have done!” It is a short story, for the invalid died within a few months, happy in Jesus, saved through the instrumentality of her sister, who had been brought to God in the street by hearing Mr. Medhurst preach in the open air. The survivor became a Biblewoman, and went to work in a town in Scotland where she remained for years a great soul-winner, remarkable for usefulness, considering her station and opportunities. What cannot the Holy Spirit accomplish even by a few words ]heard in the street? One soul can be won, and that soul may win another, and so the light may be passed on for many a mile and through many a year. Do not think when you preach at the street corners that you will at once see the harvest of your seed-sowing, although the Lord may so favor you. If you see no immediate results your’ labor may, nevertheless, have been owned of God. Street hearers perhaps live far away from the preacher’s residence, and they may have no idea of who he is or where he resides, and so they may obtain eternal benefit and yet never speak with the man who was their spiritual father till they meet him in heaven. I am not aware that Mr. Medhurst knows anything at all about this case, though probably he will hear of it now; but whether he is informed of it or not is a small matter, for the deed is done, heaven is enriched, and God is glorified.
MRS. SPURGEON’S BOOK FUND REPORT WE have watched from day to day for months the agonies of author-ship us this Report has been produced. Our beloved wife has the lowest possible idea of her own powers of composition, and hence every line has been written in grief, criticized in despondency, and condemned without mercy. Not that there was ever the slightest occasion for all this, for in our judgment no language is more pure or pleasant; but so it has been, and therefore “the Report” is a child of sorrow. No one would think it, nor ever dream it; nobody has thought so out of all who have seen it, for the style and manner of the report are every way as good as the subject could possibly require,—as good as any subject could suggest. At any rate, the flower has emerged from the bud, and all who gaze on it can judge of its beauty for themselves. All that now remains is that it be widely scattered and attentively read. The smallness of the price (sixpence) will, we hope, enable all our friends to purchase it, and we want them to make a point of doing so for several reasons.
First, it will do them good to read the narrative. A friend, with tears in his eyes, told us that it had been a sweet means of grace to him. To hear how the Lord answers prayer, comforts his mourners, and glorifies his own name, must be beneficial; and there are plenty of instances in the little book by which faith will be confirmed and hope encouraged. But, secondly, we want poor ministers to have more sympathizers, and nothing upon earth that has ever issued from the press is more likely to make friends for the Lord’s needy servants. Read, and let your heart break, if you will, for the sorrows of those who feed the flock of God, and are in return but scantily fed themselves.
Our third motive is that other workers may be stimulated to exertion by seeing how a simple effort can be made to grow till it becomes as “streams from Lebanon.” They will see that brethren of all denominations have. drunk at this well in the desert, and that many more are pressing forward to be refreshed, and yet this much-valued fountain was once no more than a trickling drop of crystal, hastening to hide itself from the heat. Where once it trembled as a tiny globe it now flows in floods. The Lord’s way is ever from good to better; he can in this fashion help the weak things of the trembling beginner till they grow into strength and size altogether unexpected.
We should like to give our readers a few extracts to tempt them on, but we do not know how to manage it: we cannot dig out pieces with the trowel, nor cut them out with the sword: we would, if we had the space, transfer all the pages bodily to our own. Here, however, is a little narrative which may come away whole, like a primrose removed with roots and soil:— “One of ‘ our own’ men, who has long been ailing, has at last been obliged to resign his charge, not alone on account of feeble health, but also because his people are utterly unable to keep their pastor in the common necessaries of life. ‘ You must go to Australia,’ said one doctor after another, ‘ it is your only chance for life?’ But what was to be done with the dear but very sickly wife and the three mites of children? Long they pondered ways and means, and the conclusion they arrived at was a hard one for loving human hearts, and cost them many a struggle,—the poor wife consented to remain in England, working at her needle for a subsistence for herself and babes, while her husband would seek in a far-off land the strength to labor for means which should reunite them. “At this juncture she wrote to me, acquainting me with the above arrangements, and there were certain facts in her communication which led me to desire intensely to overturn these present plans of theirs, and secure the emigration of the entire family. But how was this to be accomplished?
The expense is great to convey so many to the Utopia of feeble folk, and the funds of the ‘ Pastors’ Aid ‘ could not be made available for such heavy and unusual charges. I wrote again, suggesting and inquiring, and, meanwhile, the Lord sent me quite unexpectedly a sum of money which I could do no less than consecrate to him or this matter. With even this, however, there was still a deficit of some sixteen pounds in the amount needed, and now it was that the wonderfully tender dealing of our God became so manifest. The very morning on which I received a rapturous agreement to my proposal that the whole family should go out, and the good news that the passage could be effected under exceptionally cheap rates, my dear husband came joyfully into my room exclaiming ‘ Here’s the rest of the money to take your proteges to Australia!’ and to my amazed delight he explained that on opening his morning’s letters he found £15 as a personal gift to himself from an unknown correspondent, and forthwith felt that it was sent from the Lord for this very purpose about which our minds had been so exercised and anxious. Those notes seemed to come straight from Heaven’s mint into our uplifted hands, and the morning’s hours were hallowed by a sweet sense of the nearness of an invisible and watchful love. “Nor did the Lord’s thought for these poor exiles exhaust itself in this sole benefit, for I afterwards received a parcel of new clothing from a gentleman, a stranger, containing the very articles which were needed to complete the out, fit of the husband, and I was enabled to obtain all that was requisite for the comfort of mother and children. What joy to see the hand of the Lord sustaining, directing, and providing in so blessed and unmistakable a manner. Can eyes which have seen so clearly the goodness and lovingkindness of our God ever be obscured by the wicked mists of distrust and doubt?”
Many such things are in this record, and others painful or pleasant, as the case may be, but all setting forth the goodness of the Lord, and the way in which his own right hand leads those who put their trust in him. His people are not a regiment of ornamental guards, whose chief delight is to be admired by all the weak minds around them:; “they all hold swords,” and are expert in war of the most trying kind, and yet not one of them is overcome by the enemy. We are more than conquerors, through him that hath loved us. Believers in the living God shall not fail nor be discouraged, but they shall see and admire the wonderful faithfulness of the Lord their God.
COLLEGE AND ORPHANAGE THIS engraving is intended to remind our readers of the two major works which are supported by their liberality.THE PASTORS’COLLEGE has about one hundred students in training for the ministry, and more than two hundred men in the evening classes, who spend their evenings in gaining an education by which .they shall be better fitted for out-door preaching, Sunday-school teaching, and other gracious work. Besides this, a large Sunday-school meets in the building, and all sorts of societies for the benefit of the young people of the Tabernacle. Hitherto the expenditure has always been met by the providence of God. We usually spend £1500 per annum more than the income from donations, but this has been specially furnished from time to time by considerable legacies, which have enabled us to go on with the work without hindrance. How our God may deal with us in the future it is not for us to prophesy, but he is sure to do that which is right. More than five hundred ministers of the gospel have been trained in the College, and the work still goes on. Many will give to an orphanage out of natural compassion, who will not contribute to a college out of zeal for the truth; and yet we have never lacked friends who have seen the needs of this work supplied, nor shall we ever find ourselves forsaken, for the work is the Lord’s. While departures from orthodoxy startle us on all sides, it would ill become the lovers of the old-fashioned gospel to withdraw their aid from an institution which keeps to the Puritanic lines of doctrine, and has no ambition to be held in repute for “progressive ideas,” and “advanced thought;.”
THE STOCKWELL ORPHANAGE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS is the second work, and a great one it is. Our bird’s-eye view is nearly all to be seen a; the present moment, but it does not quite show all that must be built before the Institution is complete. The entrance and dining hall for the boys, on the left, are familiar objects to our readers. Something similar will be required on the right hand for the girls, with a chapel or large hall for our great public meetings, to be placed where the artist has sketched a thicket of trees. For this expense we have not even made an estimate at present, but it will be met, we hope, by the Bazaar next Christmas. The left-hand range of houses is all occupied by our two hundred and fifty boys, and the handsomer pile on the right, with covered way in front of the lower windows, contains the houses and schools for two hundred and fifty girls.
We do not wish to see the Orphanage increase beyond this size; for this number of children the ground-space is admirably adapted, and we may say of it, “there is room enough and to spare.” The number of children is quite enough for one management, if we only consider the domestic arrangements, while financially the burden is quite sufficient, and we shall need extraordinary help to carry the work to completion. So much, however, has been done that no excuse for unbelief remains, this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Friends will scarcely need to be told that the great square which makes the Orphanage is not surrounded by fields, as our woodcut would imply; that is a freak of the draughtsman’s imagination; yet the site is open, airy, and healthy; and, being’ under the eye of the people and friends at the Tabernacle, it is more likely to be cared for than if it stood shivering alone upon some bleak hillside. The advantages of a country site are very great, but for convenience of oversight, for securing sympathy, and for command of the markets our position could not be excelled. The Stockwell Orphanage can be seen at any time by dropping a note to Mr. Charles-worth, the Head Master.
Our friends have cared for our boys, and we have suffered no lack, or scarcely felt an anxiety; surely the girls will cast around their hearts a second and yet stronger chain, and the family of half a thousand will eat and be filled and gather up of the fragments.
We have sought only the glory of God, whether we have taught men or fed children, and God has been glorified. To him, therefore, be praise that he has permitted us to bring any measure of praise unto his name.
NOTES THIS month our notes are few, for more wearisome days have been appointed us, but yet the Lord has been very gracious, and we have good hope of permanent recovery when frosts and damps; become fewer. Our ever-careful church officers have urged us to go .away for a month’s rest; but, with overflowing gratitude for their kindness and the greatest deference for their judgment, we mean to try and be at our post as much and as often as strength permits: for where can we go in this land of damp, and what rest is there for us while such a charge is upon us? We should only lose home comforts, and like a snail carry our lead on our back wherever we might crawl. Work gets sadly behind, and while it is undone where could we rest? Even if the Garden of Eden could be found on earth the Serpent would he at us till our arrears are pulled up, and till we see the Lord’s work going on again with its usual vigor. On Tuesday Evening, Feb. 8, the Annual Church Meeting was held at the Tabernacle. It was a very joyous occasion, though the senior Pastor was disabled in both arms. The warm love of his attached people cheered his heart, and though another season of, suffering awaited him, it was a sunny oasis in the desert of pain. The statistics presented at the meeting were as follows: —Increase, by baptism, 314; by letter, 101; by profession, 38; total, 453. Decrease, by dismission, 147; by dismission to form new church at Tooting, 5; by joining other churches with letters, 50; emigrated, 12; died,74; excluded for non-attendance, 106; removed for other causes, 5; total, 399—leaving a net increase of 54, and making the number of members on the books 5,284. An error was made in the total announced last year; this has been corrected in the present returns. A happy meeting was held, and the reports showed that the hardness of the times and the illness of the pastor had not materially damaged the finances. As to spiritual progress, it was hoped that, in earnestness, unity, and prayerfulness, the Church was never in a healthier state.
— Mr. J. C. Brett, late of Wellington, expects shortly to sail for Australia, where he will be glad to hear of a Church needing a pastor. Mr. W. H. Burton, pastor of the church at Daiston Junction, also hopes soon to go to the Antipodes his church having given him a year’s leave of absence in the hope that during that time his health will be sufficiently restored for him to return to his work in England.
Mr. H. Rylands Brown also sails early this month for Darjeeling in company with Mr. J. Gelson Gregson, who is once more returning to India.
May this brother be the precursor of many others; but as yet we have no funds forthcoming. To evangelize among the English-speaking population of India seems to us to be a good life-work for any man. If we could send out a few men soon, we should be glad.
Mr. J. Stubbs, whose health gave way in Allahabad, has reached England in safety. He will be glad to get to work again as soon as possible. Mr.D. Lyall has also returned from the Cameroons, invalided. These are sad blows; but men are not made of iron, and the climate is trying.
We learn from Australia that Mr. F. G. Buckingham has settled at Emerald Hill, Melbourne; and that Mr. E.G. Ince has removed from Echuca to Stawell.
Mr. Jas. Smith has removed from York Road, Leeds, to Tunbridge Wells.
May he there build up the Church of God?
Another of our brethren, Pastor T. Colville, of Diss, has fallen asleep in Jesus. The Annual Conference will (D.V.) be held in the week commencing Monday, May 2nd. Dear readers, pray that we may enjoy the Divine presence, and that every minister may return to his people filled anew with the Spirit.
— During the past month Messrs. Smith and Fullerton have been holding a series of services at Annan, in connection with the Young Men’s Christian Association of that town. A local paper states that the services have been well attended.
From Sheepshed we learn that Mr. Burnham’s services have again been highly appreciated. Crowded meetings were held alternately in the two chapels, and on the last evening about 900 persons, or nearly one-:Fourth of the whole population, were present. The spiritual results of the meetings are very encouraging, many having been led to decision, and great numbers to ask what they must do to be saved. On the 13th ult., Mr. Burnham commenced his engagement in Yorkshire, to which we referred last month.
Mr. Welton, of Driffield, asks us to correct the statement that was made in our last number with respect to the new chapel at Cranswick. He says that half the cost of the building had been raised before Mr. Burnham’s previous visit, and that the new chapel is the result of four years’ hard work. The Evangelist’s services helped to secure the desired end, and we meant to say no more than that.
— Another dear lad has “gone home” from the Orphanage during the past month. Mr. Charlesworth has written an account of his life and experience while in the institution, which will probably appear in the next number of the magazine.
A Collectors’ Meeting will be held on March 23rd at the Orphanage, when specially interesting matters will be attended to, and the President hopes to be in the chair. Will all Collectors make a note of this ‘.; The following note came one morning when the President was very ill, and its contents greatly comforted him:—” Dear Sir,—I have been wishing for some time to send you a donation for the Stockwell Orphanage, and I now ask you to accept the enclosed cheque for £500. Will you kindly enter it ‘ In Memoriam’ without name? I have much pleasure in sending this gift as I believe the dear children are trained in the best possible way for their present and future welfare.
There is no truth in the statement that an anonymous donation of £1,000 has been sent, but we have received (luring the mouth the amount (£1,000) promised by W. R. Rickett, Esq., for “The Limes,” and since the lists were made up the lady and gentleman mentioned in the last magazine have sent us a cheque for £1,000 for the new hall which will be needed for the girls.
This is a noble beginning.
— During the past month one of our most devoted and successful Colporteurs has been called from the labors of the field to his eternal rest. A local paper notices his work as follows:—
DEATH OF MR. W.MATTHEWS,THE COLPORTEUR.—-During the week there has passed away from our midst a worker in a humble, but most important department of Christian labor. We allude to Mr. W. Matthews, the local colporteur from Mr. Spurgeon’s Colportage Association. whose death occurred, at the Cottage Hospital, early on Sunday morning. The deceased will be remembered by many persons in the scattered villages and hamlets around Evesham as one who, at times of sickness or sorrow, would be ever ready with a word of religious counsel and Christian sympathy and to many he has been the means of leading them to decide to pursue a new, moral, and spiritual life; while at the side of many a deathbed he has been able to offer true comfort to the departing one. His proper work was to sell and give away books and other kinds of literature, selected for him by the society as being of a moral or religious character. In following this employment, Mr. Matthews had to visit 74 villages, lying within a radius of seven miles front Evesham. During the, course of the rather more than six years since his appointment he has sold about £1,000 worth of books, besides distributing to purchasers over 1,000 periodicals monthly, re accomplish this work many long and weary journeys bad to be undertaken; and the deceased cheerfully continued his work with scarcely an intermission from week to week, weather rarely deterring him. He mapped out his district so as to traverse the whole within the mouth; and when sometimes persuaded to give himself a little rest, he would always excuse himself by stating his earnest wish that not one of his rounds should be omitted, even for a month. Besides the houses of the poor, the colporteur with his pack of books was welcomed at some of the country parsonages, the clergy showing thereby their appreciation of the value of his work. The strength and bodily health of Mr. Matthews visibly declined towards the close of the last year, and at the urgent entreaty of his friends, and of Mr. Thomas White, the local superintendent of the Colportage Association, he temporarily gave up his work the week before Christmas, and another agent—who now remains to continue the work—came to relieve him. Mr. Matthews then went to Matlock, hoping by the change and rest, and with skillful medical treatment, to recover his strength. After remaining at Matlock a short time, he found himself worse, and anticipating the event which has taken place, expressed his desire to return to Evesham, where he arrived on Thursday week. The long journey during such inclement weather, it is feared, proved too much for his strength, and he died on Sunday morning.”
The last entry made in the Journal of Mr. Matthews shows his confidence in the good being accomplished by his labors, and his unwavering trust in God amid failing strength. He says:—” The work is doing all classes good? the books sold and tracts given are good seed. It cannot die, for it is God word, and it must and shall prevail. A few here and there express their thanks for my visits; and they miss me very much if I do not go on the expected day. It is with much trouble I have gone about my work this month, but I have found the promises not to fail. ‘As thy day so shall-thy strength be.’TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY.”
AS might be expected the severe storms and heavy floods impeded the Colporteurs in their work, and many’ were laid aside; but still on the whole the districts were fairly worked. We have not received any applications recently for opening new districts, and would therefore realm! our readers that the Association is prepared to equip and send a Colporteur to a district for the small sum of £40 a year. There are many districts where a Pastor cannot be sustained, and in which the constant visitations and evangelistic help of the Colporteur would be invaluable. All communications should be addressed to the Secretary, W. Corden Jones, Colportage Association, Pastors’ College, Temple-street, Southwark, S.E.
— The New York Examiner and Chronicle, in reporting the ordination of a Baptist minister in Rhode Island, says that he was “formerly a Universalist preacher,” and that he “ascribes his convictions, that led to an evangelical change in him, to his bearing, while in London, a sermon from Mr. Spurgeon, on ‘ The resurrection of life, and the resurrection of damnation. ‘“ A Baptist minister in the West of England sends us the particulars of the conversion of a man who was deeply impressed by reading our sermons, which had been supplied for distribution in the village by the “Spurgeon’s Sermons’ Tract Society.” He seemed to be sinking in despair, when the pastor remembered our address, “Tempted of the Devil,” which he had read in The Sword and the Trowel, sent him. by Mrs. Spurgeon. It just met his case, and prepared the way for the sermon on “Precious Faith” by our sort Thomas in a later number of the magazine. Then our sermon, “A Wilderness Cry” (No. 1,427), was left by the distributor, and by the blessing of the Holy Spirit on the reading of it he was led into true peace, and departed rejoicing in the Lord. Thus does God devise means to fetch home his banished children.
A member of the church at the Tabernacle says:—“Since my removal to— it has been my happiness to become acquainted with the City Missionary in this district. I have been delighted with his expositions of divine truth, and it is my firm opinion that he is destined to be ere long a successful preacher of the gospel, he was brought up as a coalminer, but the sermon you preached from the words—’ Here am I, send me,’ was used as a call from God for him to go and preach the gospel. He felt after reading that sermon (‘ The Divine Can for Missionaries,’ No. 1,351,) that he would go anywhere where the Lord would open a door.”
A Christian farmer, who is now a Wesleyan class-leader, in sending us a donation for the Orphanage, writes:—” I was led to give my heart to God about twenty-four years ago, one evening, while at work in a mill, through reading a sermon preached by you from Psalm 125:2 (‘The Security of the Church,’ No. 161). I mention this as another illustration of the text,’ Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.’“ Another donor to the Orphanage says:—”My chest seems to be going fast, so that this may be my last opportunity of writing to you. Dear Mr. Spurgeon, I shall never forget you; no, not even in heaven. My eyes fill with tears of gratitude to our loving Father for ever leading me to take your sermons, and for the unspeakable blessings I have received from them these last sixteen years. My friends in New York also write me from time to time expressing their thanks that I was led to send them out to them. The Sword and the Trowel, too, has been a constant source of refreshment.”
SPURGEON’ S ILLUSTRATED ALMANAC.
— We have been recently trying to complete a set of our small almanacs, but find that we cannot get copies for the years 1857, 1860, 1862, and 1865. If any friends can oblige us with any or all of these we shall be extremely thankful to them.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle.—January 31st, eighteen; February 3rd: nine.
C.H.S. ON “TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS”
THERE was a little trouble in the church, and the young minister was sad about it. He sought advice, and one who loved peace begged him to let the matter alone, and in a short time the evil would die of itself, for, as Solomon says, “Where no wood is the fire goeth out.” The brother was of a fretful spirit, and could not take things quite so easily; it worried him that there should be a single weed in his garden, and he felt he would sooner plough it all up than let that weed remain. His friend begged him to do nothing in a hurry, but take counsel of his pillow, and repeat the operation for one calendar month at least. This the young pastor found it as hard to do as it would be to wait quietly while a clog has his teeth in our leg, or a red-hot coal is finding its way down the inside of our waistcoat, tie thought that the church pond was foul, and he longed to stir it to see how it would smell.. This young man’s tastes and mine by no means, agree, for I had rather run a mile any day than quarrel, and that is saying a good deal,:for miles are long to legs which have the rheumatism. This energetic pastor wanted to be setting things to rights, and therefore quiet counsels were not very kindly taken. Young men will have their will, and our friend resolved to have his own way, even if he ran over everybody else.
Off he went to a hot-headed gentleman who was more of his own age, and stated the case to him. His new adviser at once told him never to give in, or consent to be put upon, and closed his oration by telling him to take the bull by the horns at once. This counsel was more to our friend’s liking, and therefore he applauded it as wise and straightforward, and resolved to carry it out. What came of the rash performance we will not stop to relate in so many words, but it may be guessed from the usual result of taking bulls by their horns.
Our woodcut represents Scene I.: the brave man, regardless of consequences, boldly confronting his foe. Hurrahs and cheers from persons on the other side of the hedge! Considerable excitement in the mind of the hero, who believes himself to be infallible and invincible, Hercules and the Pope rolled into one.
Scene II. we have not drawn on the wood because it is easy of imagination: the bold man is off his feet and off the ground, rising in his own consciousness, rising into the air like Sancho Panza from the blanket.
Horns are pretty sure elevators when a bull apt)lies his wrathful strength to a transaction of the lifting order. Persons who are violently assailed often become violent assailants. It is very wrong of them, but it is a way they have.
Scene III. would be too painful for a drawing. The rising man has come down again, not in peace, but almost in pieces. He is badly gored, and will probably be crippled for the term of his natural life. He says that he will never take bulls by the horns again.
— Avoid strife, especially in a church. It’ the cause cannot prosper in quietude it certainly will not in an uproar. Tares are a trouble, but the rooting of them up may make worse trouble. Courage is a virtue, but a pugilistic tendency is not. It is well to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; but we must not wrestle with flesh and blood, nor fight the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons. “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
LOVINGKINDNESS OF THE LORD.
IN the first spare corner of the magazine let it stand recorded as my experience that the Lord is exceeding tender in his dealings with his afflicted. During the last six months he has tried me with sharp pains, but during that period he has kindly removed all cause for serious care as to the financial needs of my many institutions. Everything has been healthily sustained, and there have been no pitiful appeals by striking advertisement, or otherwise. I intend no censure of the plans of others, but I cannot help admiring the considerate providence of our gracious Lord that he has kept off the trial of straitened supplies from his suffering servant. “He stayeth Ms rough wind in the day of the east wind.”
Friends have come forth from the most unexpected quarters in the time of need,—nay before the need had actually come. Every fund, except that which supplies the College, is in better condition than before my illness, and even that is hardly an exception, for the outgoing in that direction will no doubt be made good at the Annual Supper. Prayerful trust is a way which the Lord will assuredly honor. I do but feebly trust and pray, but God most richly answers; and when in hours of crushing agony both supplication and confidence seem to need an effort beyond the strength of the tortured mind, the Lord deals with me after his own gracious fashion, “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or even think.” C.H.SPURGEON. THE WORTH OF COLLEGES The great importance of the work done in our educational institutions for young’ ministers was never more strikingly emphasized than by the Missionary Juddon who said, as he was approaching Madison University, “If I had a thousand dollars, do you know what I would do with it?” The person asked supposed he would invest it in Foreign Missions. “I would put it into such institutions as that,” he said, pointing to the college buildings. “Planting colleges, and filling them with studious young men, is planting seed corn for the world.” These are our sentiments, and to this end we have labored with all our heart, and soul, and strength to make the Pastors’ College a seed-garden for the church and for the world. In all other institutions doing similar work we take the deepest interest, and shall continue to do so. Whence comes the voice which questions the usefulness of these invaluable institutions?
We cannot tell. But this we know, that if it should ever be regarded it will be a dark day for the churches, and for the world. Our word to all our brethren is—Encourage and help the colleges more and more, but see to it that those you aid are seminaries for the growth of unmistakable gospel preachers.
FROM AN UNEXPECTED SOURCE A NOTE BY C. H. SPURGEON.
Post says that a circus clown in Virginia took occasion, the other day, at the close of the performance, to speak plain and very searching words, which deserve the sober attention of many more than those who heard them. In his painted face and mottled garments he said: “We have taken six hundred dollars here to-day; more money, I venture to say, than many a minister of the gospel would receive for a whole year’s services. A large portion of this money was given by church members, and a large portion of this audience is made up of members of churches, I wonder what excuse they have for being here? When yore’ preacher asks you to aid him in supporting the gospel, you are too poor to give anything; but you come here and pay your dollars to hear me talk nonsense. I am a fool because I am paid for it; I make my living by it. You profess to be wise, and yet you support me in my folly. But perhaps you say you did not come to see the circus, but; the animals. If you came simply to see the animals, why did you not simply look at them and leave? Now, is not this a pretty place for Christians to be in? Do you not feel ashamed of yourselves? You ought; to blush in such a place as this.”
In addition to the rebuke for being at the circus, the professed Christians had a valuable hint as to their poor ministers, and it is to this that we would call attention. We are sure that the poverty now existing among Baptist pastors is net all inevitable: very much of it might be prevented by those giving who have it to give. In some instances the need only requires to be made known, and the meeting of it would be no difficulty; in many more, the matter wants forcing upon the thoughts of a few kind individuals, and they soon contrive to put an end to the misery, and make i; a pleasure to do so. We glory in our brother ministers for being willing to be poor, but we are vexed with the many of their hearers who thoughtlessly allow valuable servants of God to fret and pine in actual want. Do they really know that their pastor cannot afford to eat meat? Are they aware that he cannot buy clothes for his children? Are they content to live at case, and lay by considerable amounts, while their minister cannot get common necessaries?
We wish this clown could go round and talk to those who spend more on ribbons and roses than on the cause of God.
It is a very serious fact that the blessing of God is withheld from churches because of their cruelty to God’s servants. They have no prosperity, no holy joy, no increase;—how can they when those who teach them have scarcely bread to eat or raiment to put on? The people themselves are poor, and seem to grow poorer; and well they may, for God is measuring out to them their portion with their own measure. The tears ,of ministers’ wives are stopping the blessing; the shoeless feet of pastors” children are treading’ down all hope of spiritual prosperity. All this while we have those among us who are professedly too poor to give anything, and yet are actually worth their thousands. In country churches we see continually by the wills of deceased persons that members of churches die worth from three to fifty thousand pounds, and vet their ministers were aided by the charitable funds of the denomination! Oh, when will men be true to Christ, and truly live for him?
After all, what comes of the saving and hoarding which is practiced by so many? They starve themselves and the cause of God to amass a huge sum, and the net result is shown in our drawing below. We have seen the thing done scores of times. Poor old Baptist farmer, honest, laborious, parsimonious, toiling and moiling, scraping and saving; thinking himself quite unable to give to the Lord’s work more than the merest trifle. He dies, and then his son and heir, quite the gentleman, goes to church, and goes further still, making the old man’s money into golden wheels, on which to ride to destruction. Surely it can never be worth a man’s while to be nipping and screwing, and denying that which is due to the cause of God, merely to make it easier for his son to ruin himself.
LOOK WELL TO THE SIGNING INEVER give myself any trouble about the hymns,” said a minster. I let the organist take care of them.” It is to be hoped that there are not many pastors who follow the lazy and senseless example of the minister here quoted. Singing is just as much an act of worship and praise as prayer is, and the preacher who does not select his hymns with special reference to their appropriateness to the subject, of his sermon, loses at least half of their effect upon the congregation. Everything that is done in the Lord’s house ought to be done as well as it is possible for it to be (tone, and a careless, shiftless selection of the hymns to be sung is utterly inexcusable in any pastor.
So writes the New York Examiner and Chronicle, and we are glad to quote the passage. The whole spirit of the service may turn upon the reading of a hymn, and therefore it is a matter to be done in the best style.
If we cannot control the singers we can at least so choose, and so read the hymns that the people shall be helped to praise God intelligently, and the sacred worship shall not be careless and slovenly. C.H. S, TO JOHN PLOUGHMAN MY DEAR FATHER,—I am so glad you have had your likeness take n with your smock on and the big whip in your hand. There are ever so many portraits of you in your Sunday go-to-meeting suit; but this suits you best of all. I wish you could have got Dapper and Violet into the picture. All your friends in this part of the world are glad enough to hear the smack of your whip again. It cracks as many jokes as ever. We rejoice, too, that the sharp share is driven through the monster evil drink, and its attendant vices. “God speed the plough,” we pray, when it roots up such ill weeds.
There is any quantity of snakes in these colonies, and men either avoid or kill them; but this venomous viper they cherish and fondle till “at the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” It puzzles me why those who know and admit the danger still risk it. “Once bit, twice shy,” doesn’t hold good in such cases. They see the devil’s hook, and yet grab at the bait, and drink like fish Why, the very rooks in the trees might teach them a lesson. Let them but see a gun and off they fly; indeed, conceal the weapon as you may, they spy it out somehow, and take to themselves wings, not waiting to hear the report, or give a chance; but these black birds “tarry long at the wine” and “go to seek mixed wine.” They love to get within range of the Cannon Brewery or the Gunner’s Arms, and are willing targets for a shower of grape shot any hour of the day or night. What wonder that their eyes become blood shot, and that they themselves are “brought down” shattered, and tattered, and torn.
As to public-houses (hotels they call them here), they are as thick as gum trees in the bush, and, though Australia is free from wild beasts, the Red Lion does a roaring trade. And the stuff the topers swallow is, I heat’, abominable, especially up in the bush, where folks are not expected to be over particular. If all the colonial beer and spirits were of the best quality the harm would not be quite so great; but such mess as some of it evidently is must mean “death in the pot.” The best of intoxicants to my mind is bad, what must the worst he? Would to God the cursed traffic could be checked; a host of crimes would then. be stayed. Red rum spelt backward reads “Murder”; gin, the dictionary says, “is a snare,” and every-day facts prove it so to be. I feel sure that “the cold water cure” is the only remedy.
Moderation goes half-way, and therefore fails. Thank God, there are thousands of abstainers amongst us, so we will do the best we can, God helping us, to stem the tide.
I hear readers of your second edition comparing your last furrows with your first. Of course the novelty of such Plain Talk is not so keen, but the pictures are deemed a great improvement. Old Humphrey likes pictures as well as little Harry, and these are first-raters too. You remember I did a little ploughing on boxwood once on a time, so I reckon myself a bit of a judge. Here’s my opinion, if it’s worth the having. Your illustrations seem .just to fit the writing: they might have been drawn by your own horses, so handy are they to the plough, and the engravings might be cuts of your own whip.
Many a good laugh I’ve had over some of your quaint sayings and odd rhymes. They seem made to make one smile, and are more powerful than laughing gas. This is the beauty of the book, to my mind. I like a mixture of pleasure and profit, and of wit with wisdom. Just a drop or two of sauce with the cold mutton is a grand improvement. The meat is good enough by itself, you know; but it slips down sweeter somehow with a dash of “relish.” When will people learn the absurdity of fancying that, because we have faith, we mustn’t have any fun? I believe that holiness and humor can be yoked together, and pull finely, too, and I can’t bring myself to believe that it is impossible to love Jesus and have a laugh occasionally into the bargain. What would you have done, dear father, but for a natural merriment, sanctified by grace? It would be dreadful hard labor to be always ploughing without whistling a tune every now and then, and having a hearty laugh when we knock: off, or even during work. The plough doesn’t; go any better for being rusty, and the pilgrim isn’t a whit fitter for heaven because he’s crusty.
If I remember rightly, those two favored evangelists from America were both cheerful, happy men; but I often think it’s a good plan if I feel Moody to sing Sankey, and let solemnity and song blend together. If I should feel a bit down at any time I mean to have another look at your pictures, and if’ the white egg of the black hen, or the fiddle without the stick, or the cart before the horse don’t liven me up—well, I must read some more. Here’s a receipt for melancholy which beats half the tonics and enliveners” all to pieces.” If you’re down in the dumps, or given to grumble, If things go awry, or all in a jumble, If storms should grow thicker, and thunder clouds rumble, And clown the big drops like cats and dogs tumble, It’s surely no good to murmur and mumble, Nor yet to commence to flurry and fumble, Accept my advice—nor think it too humble— (I give it to all you good gloomy folks), Invest in a volume of John Ploughman’s jokes.
I am often asked if you are likely ever to come out here. Your horses say “neigh,” and I feel obliged to return the same answer. How I wish you could though! What rejoicing there would be, and how the people would flock to welcome you! I fancy see even the kangaroos hopping down to town to hear some of your “plain talk.” Will you ever plough the South Atlantic Ocean, think you? We’ve got some good workers here, but we should all be the better for a look at your way of doing it, and a specimen of your straight furrow, just to guide us a bit.
You will be glad to hear we have got our new chapels up and opened. Our minister calls them tabernacles, after yours. Of course they’re not quite so big. A good deal of rough ground has been broken up: now we can go in more readily for sowing and reaping a crop which is already appearing. I think of going to New Zealand shortly to turn up some ground that is new, at least to me.
I need not tell you that my thoughts often fly home. I have put my hand to a colonial plough, but, truth to tell, I constantly “look back,” not from the work, but across the deep blue sea to “Home, sweet home.” “Every bird loves its own nest,” and this “seagull” is no exception.
Give my love to dear mother. She has a work of her own, and a right good one too; I wish all were as well employed in the field. She does her plough share, and no mistake. The Master help her in it! Brother Charles still ploughs at Greenwich, I suppose. There’s plenty of ground to work upon there. God bless him. Remember me to Will Shepherd, and give Dapper and Violet an extra feed on my account.
I fear I’ve kept you too long reading this. It is something like stopping the plough to catch a mouse. I think it’s time I gave over; so God be wi’ ye, and fare thee well, dear father. Your loving son, Tom (the ploughboy).
Tasmania, December, 1880.
Personal affliction has continued through the month of March, and it has been with difficulty that the weekly sermon and the monthly magazine have been prepared. Intervals of possible effort have been granted, and then all sail has been crowded on, so that we are not compelled to lie high and dry on shore, and tell our readers that there will be no sailing for the next month. O for health and strength? We are apt to think that we could do a great deal if we had these, and yet it may be a greater and a better thing to bow the head in silence and say, “It is the Lord, let him do as seemeth him good.”
We have had many deaths at the Tabernacle. Eleven deceased members were reported at one church meeting. We are .growing older, and our death-rate must increase, for the children must go home sooner or later.
We have often wondered at the fewness of our deaths, far below the average of the life-tables, and we have noted that godliness, bringing with it temperance, peace, and purity, has a tendency to produce long life.
Among our older friends who have gone home is our aged brother Mr.B. Vickery. Although by no means a man of wealth, he was a man of great liberality, and he liked to give in his own way. He erected a fountain at the Orphanage, of which we give an engraving. Wishing to see the lamps at the Tabenacle improved, he gave all the opal glasses. We confess we like to see persons undertaking to care for some part of their accustomed place of worship. Our meeting-houses should not become gaudy, but they might be kept neat and reputable if God’s servants cared a little more to have his worship conducted without slovenliness. We prefer those donors who quietly give their portion in the way which seems to them the wisest, and make no fuss about it. The good man has gone to his rest, in joyous hope of the resurrection in Christ, and we can but sorrowfully bid him “farewell.”
It was as an obituary notice that we read the words” Final Closing of Surrey Chapel.” There is a sadness about the end of this renowned structure. It is doomed, and must be swept away. To the last it was best known as “Rowland Hill’s Chapel,” and it is in connection with that man of God that; its greatest glories shine; but yet under Messrs. Sherman and Newman Hall its history was no mean one, nor did its leaf wither.
Translated to a fine position, and known as Christ Church, Surrey Chapel still flourishes elsewhere, and it is only its outward form that now awaits the stroke of the destroyer; yet what a shame it seems to pull down the old octagon, or round house, the center of so much usefulness, the focus of so much reverent memory. Why would not the owners sell the freehold? Ah, there’s the rub. But they would not, and so there’s an end of it. When first built the chapel was in the fields, but now it is miles away from grass and corn, with two railways running close to it, causing a traffic the noise of which is enough to distract any but the regular hearers. With two sides street, and the other two sides railway, “old Surrey” is not so attractive a place of worship to strangers as to render it a very bitter regret that it should be given over to some other useful purpose. Our Primitive Methodist friends who boldly took the fag-end of the lease will, we hope, succeed better in a building of proportions more suited to their number. Of all possessions one of those most ]hike to a white elephant is a large chapel for a small congregation. Your congregation can grow, and your chapel can grow with it, as a little snail grows, shell and all; but you cannot easily make a little congregation swell out so as to fill a huge chapel, for that is like putting a tiny snail into a big shell, and expecting him to expand according to his habitation. We do not, therefore, very much regret the remoral of our earnest Methodist brethren to another building; but wish them larger success in a smaller room. Farewell, old Surrey: thou hast had a noble career. When we, too, shall come to be taken down, may there be memories about each one of us as fragrant as these which will long linger around the hallowed spot in the Blackfriars Road where thousands have been born to God. On Monday evening, Feb. 28, the usual prayer-meeting at the Tabernacle partook of a highly missionary character, for on that occasion was inaugurated the effort to send out evangelists to the English-speaking people of India. Being enabled to occupy the chair, we tried to show that a great and effectual door was opened before us. Working in all things heartily with the Missionary Society, we wish to help young brethren to go out for five years, and preach the word. We say “help,” for we hope they will go to places where the laborer will by degrees be welcomed and supported. There are many towns where a church could be formed and a minister supported if there were only some one to begin: we wish to begin.
Mr. Gregson, long a worker for our Lord in India, in a full and fervent speech proved the need of such an agency alike for the English, the halfcastes, and the educated Hindoos, and noted the usefulness of getting preachers to India, who after five years could honorably return and spread the missionary spirit, or could remain as missionaries if they felt a call in that direction, as they probably would. Then followed Mr. H. R. Brown, who is now on his way to Darjeeling, where warm-hearted brethren are waiting to co-operate with him; and the meeting closed with a touching word from Mr. Stubbs, who has returned invalided from Allahabad. Many of our brethren commended this new effort to the Lord in earnest, believing prayer, and now we invite our readers to join their petitions with those of our own church. O or the blessing of the Lord upon the effort.
With no desire but our Master’s glory do we enter on this project; it is forced upon us by his voice and his providence, and we cannot keep back. The sailing of Mr. Henry Rylands Brown for India has been a gleam of sunlight amid the darkness of our sickness, He goes ‘bravely hoping in the Lord, and if he can succeed in rinsing a church, and in finding, to a large extent, his own support, we shall feel that this work is of the Lord, and that; many other brethren must be helped to follow him, as the Lord may raise them up. To keep the English-speaking people in India well supplied with the gospel is surely a grand necessity, and we shall feel our heart dance for joy if, by God’s grace, we may have a humble portion in the service. As vet we have only received the small sum of £34 towards this effort, and to this we have added £50 from our own proper substance; but if this thing be of the Lord, he will send the silver and the gold. We shall far more greatly need men of the right sort. Where are they? On Monday evening, March 7, the Annual Meeting of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Ladies’ Working Benevolent Society was held in the Lecture Hall. Pastor C. /t. Spurgeon presided, and after tea addresses were delivered by Pastors C. H. and J. A. Spurgeon, and Messrs. B. W. Carr and C. F. Allison. The receipts of the Society during the past year amounted to £93 11s. 8d.. and the payments to ,£91 17s. 2d. It would be well if this could be largely increased, for these benevolent societies are among the best of our gospel agencies, following in their operations the line pointed out by our Lord when he fed the hungry people as well as taught them. To bring our Christian sisterhood into contact with the poor is good for both parties, perhaps best of all for those whose happy portion it is to be the givers. How are we to keep any hold upon the masses of our great cities now that they seem to shun our places of worship? Surely it must largely be through the personal visitations of Christian people; and among the very poor this can only be done when we are prepared to relieve their necessities as well as to speak to them the word of life. Friends who cannot personally be visitors might supply the funds for those who can. Send the shot if you cannot fire the gun. On Friday evening, March 11, the Annual Meeting of the Tabernacle Sunday-school was held in the Lecture Hall, which was crowded. The meeting throughout was of a stimulating and encouraging character. In the absence through illness of his brother, Pastor J. A. Spurgeon presided, and spoke of the benefits of unity among the teachers, and also between the church and the school. He had always found Sunday-school teachers among the been members of the church; he, supposed the exercise of teaching gave them an appetite for spiritual food. After some further remarks addressed to parents, asking their co-operation in the teachers’ efforts, he called upon Mr. Pearce, as superintendent, to make his report.
From this report it appears that there are 109 teachers, all of whom are church members, such only being admitted; 19 have joined during the year and 15 have left, in some cases owing to removal from the neighborhood, in others from marriage. To those teachers about to marry Mr. Pearce’s earnest advice was, “Don’t—leave the school.” There are 1,250 scholars, 254 of whom are over 15 years of age; 96 are church members, 26 having joined during the year. Prayer-meetings, services for the young, preparation class for teachers (conducted by Rev. W. K. Rowe), Young Christians’ Association, Band of Hope, Dorcas Society, and Library and Periodical department were all reported to be in thorough ‘working order, and prospering under the divine blessing. The school had participated in the special meetings held last year in celebration of the centenary of Sundayschools, and had sent a sum of nearly £65 to the Centenary Fund for the extension of Sunday-schools. They had also raised during the year the sum of £175 for missionary objects, £20 of which had been devoted to the Colportage Association, and £20 to Mrs. Spurgeon’s Book Fund. The general finances of the school were in a satisfactory condition. They had started the year with a balance in hand of £8 17s. 3d., which with the grant from Tabernacle of £25, a donation from T. H. Olney, Esq. of £5, and Cash from Library, £1 15s., amounted to £40 12s. 3d. The expenses had been: Printing, etc., £19 16s. 3d.; Hymn Books and Rewards, £9 19s. ld; Subscriptions to Sunday-school Union, £3 12s. 6d.; and Rebinding Books for Library, £9 6s. 10d., showing a deficit of £1 2s. 5d. Mr. Pearce having referred to the regret which all felt at the enforced absence of our beloved Pastor and President, concluded by exhorting all to work for the Lord with ready mind and fervent will. Rev. Dr. Clemance and Pastor W. Stott also spoke, and between the addresses selections of sacred music were rendered by the Sunday-school choir, conducted by Mr. Wigney.
COLLEGE.—-Since our last notice Mr. J. L. Thompson his settled at Esher; and Mr. R. M. Harrison, who came to us from America, having completed his College course. has decided to return to that country, having received warm encouragements from leading brethren in the United States.
Mr. G. J. Knight, of Trinity Road, Tooting, is removing to Girlington, Bradford; Mr. J. Blake from Darwen to Marlboro’ Crescent, Newcastleon- Tyne; Mr. Z. T. Dowen from Beetle to Macclesfield; and Mr. R.T. Sole from Milton Hall to Harrow on-the-hill.
Mr. H. J. Baits has returned to his work in Port Elizabeth, S. Africa. Mr.F. A. Holzhausen, late of New Basford, has settled at Brampton, Ontario; Mr. W. Ostler, formerly of Morrisville, has settled at Woodstock, Illinois; and Mr. A. H. Stote has removed from Joliet to Sterling, Illinois. Word and Work informs us that Brother White, at Tokio, Japan, has recently received into church fellowship six new converts.
We are greatly grieved to learn that the wife of our brother Norris, of Circular Road Chapel, Calcutta, recently died of typhoid fever. He earnestly asks for the prayers of all his brethren for himself and his motherless children.
EVANGELISTS.— We have received several pleasing testimonies to the usefulness of Messrs. Smith and Fullerton’s services at Annan, to which we briefly referred last month. On February 24th they paid a flying visit to Bradford, and on the 27th recommenced at Halifax the work which was abruptly suspended in January through the prevalence of fever in the town.
At first the wintry weather somewhat affected the attendance, but before many days the crowd was as great as ever. The noon prayer-meeting was larger than any held by the evangelists for a long time, and the evening services were seasons of great power. Many decided cases of conversion have been witnessed, and others are seeking the Savior. The evangelists gratefully mention the sympathy and help they have received from PastorJ. Parker, M.A., and his church, and they regret that other ministers were not equally ready to co-operate with them. This month they go to Sheffield, where all the Congregational churches are uniting for the special services, and where consequently great blessing is expected.
A correspondent in Halifax writes:—” It is one of the master-strokes of the pastor of the Tabernacle to send out together two such brethren as these to preach, by song and speech, the unsearchable riches of Christ. He has been most happy in the choice of the men. Each of the brethren has his special sphere, and yet both would suffer by the absence of either. They work most thoroughly together, and their combined tact and power over large gatherings are extraordinary. In Halifax, as in other places where; the evangelists have been, the people have come in great numbers to hear the gospel preached by them. The largest meetings have been held in the Drill Hall, the most spacious building in the town, and this has been again and again filled. Of these brethren it may he truly said that they are ‘ always abounding in the work of the Lord,’ bearing the message of salvation from place to place, rousing the churches from spiritual apathy, and winning many souls by their plain, simple, and earnest preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Cheering reports of Mr. Burnham’s work in the villages of Yorkshire continue to reach us. He has visited Birkby, Staincliffe, and Normanton, and in each place many have been attracted to the meetings, and several led to the Savior, while backsliders have been reclaimed, the people of God edified and encouraged, and many aged and suffering ones cheered in their homes by our brother’s visits. One of the ministers writes: —”He is just the right man to help us poor, toiling pastors, and we are especially grateful to you for sending out such a man amongst our smaller churches.”
Mr. Parker has been holding a series .f very successful services in Waterhouses and Langley Park, Durham, where many young people have professed their faith in Christ. He has since been at Sheerness, and now is again at work in county Durham, where he says there is a. wide field for evangelistic efforts.
— We are very grateful to all friends at Humpsread, Salters’ Hall, and Westbourne Grove Chapels, who contributed to the success of the services of song given by the boys. These services cause great pleasure, and present to our friends a method of serving the Orphanage without drawing upon their own local funds. A visit from the boy-s does good, excites a warm interest, and brings in a stream of help which is not diverted from any other channel.
Mr. Charlesworth has arranged for meetings at Yarmouth, March 31; Norwich, April 1, 2. and 3; Cambridge, April 4 and 5; Bury St. Edmund’s, April 6; and Stow-market:, April 7. We shall be glad if all friends in these places will do what they can to make the visits of the boys remunerative.
— The Secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones writes as follows:— “Dear Mr. Spurgeon,—I am sorry to report this time that the amount received for General Subscriptions during the last few months has fallen off very seriously. After allowing for the collection in the Tabernacle, and two large donations in the first quarter of 1880, there is still £60 less received this quarter than in the corresponding three months of 1880.
Now, as the General Fund is the only source from which we can supplemerit the amount received for districts, it is evident that we cannot continue all the 73 Colporteurs now employed unless friends of the good work rally round us, and supply the necessary funds. This they have always done on former occasions when the need has been stated, and we trust they will do so now. Will the readers of The Sword and the Trowel kindly help to make the next three months’ receipts bring the half-year’s total at least up to that of 1880? “I could occupy more space; than you can spare with interesting facts, but, as we are preparing the Annual Report, forbear for the present. Suffice it to say that our primary object is being achieved, in spreading the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that many have cause to bless God for the visits of the Colporteurs.”
POOR MINISTERS’CLOTHING SOCIETY.— Mrs. Evans desires us to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of a parcel without the donor’s name and address, and another from “a woman who is a great sinner.” We looked in lately at one of the working meetings of this excellent society, and were delighted to see the number of willing helpers present, and the useful parcels about to be despatched to the homes of some of our poor pastors. Donations of money, or clothes, or materials for garments for the ministers, or their wives and children, will always be gratefully received by Mrs. Evans at the Tabernacle.
— A French Pasteur writes to tell us that a woman in the village of which he is minister has lately found the peace of God while reading a translation of our sermon, No. 227, “Compel them to come in.”
One of our members has recently visited the town where she used to live, and where she commenced the distribution of our sermons, and she now sends us a very cheering account of the blessing which is resting on the labors of those who took up the work when she left. One of the visitors tells of the conversion through the sermons of a poor, sick woman, who used to feel very lonely, but who is so no longer. Another distributor mentions the case of a butcher, who at first repulsed her, but afterwards received her joyfully. He said he had been reading the sermon entitled, “The Man of One Subject,” (No. 1264,) which had been greatly blessed to him. A poor woman, who had been a backslider for many years, for a long time refused the sermons, but they were put under her door, and one of them (“Beware of Unbelief,” No. 1238) was the means of reclaiming her from her sad condition,. Our friend says there are many other instances of blessing which might be mentioned, and concludes her letter thus:—”I wish those who have any of these precious messengers of mercy lying idle in their cupboards would lend them themselves, or give them to those who would circulate them among those who need the glorious truth that they contain.” Will some one take the hint?