INAUGURAL ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE, PASTORS’ COLLEGE ASSOCIATION, BY C. H. SPURGEON, PRESIDENT, ON TUESDAY, MAY 3RD, 1881. (CONTINUED FROM PAGE 264.)
IHAVE now, in the second place, to plead with you that you gather and use in your ministry much heavenly FIRE.
Upon this subject you will perhaps expect me to speak guardedly; for you have seen the mischief of wild fire, and the perils of. strange fire, and perhaps you are anxious to know’ what I think of a certain “army” which abounds in fire, and blazes away most marvelously. I shall express no opinion, except that none of the supposed evils of fire are equal to those of lukewarmness. Even fanaticism is to be preferred to indifference. I had sooner risk the dangers of a tornado of religious excitement than see the air grow stagnant with a dead formality. It is far better for people to be too hot than to be lukewarm. “I would thou went cold or hot” is Christ’s word still, and it applies to preachers as well as to others. When a man is freezingly cold in the things of Christ we know where he is; and if another is red-hot, or even at a white heat, and is thought to be too enthusiastic, we know where he is; but when a minister preaches in such a way that at the close of his sermon you say, “this is neither cold nor hot,” you go away feeling that you have had enough, or even too much of it. There was nothing to excite you; you could almost wish to have been made angry rather than to have been lulled by such discoursing. A lukewarm sermon sickens every healthy mind.
Nor is this evil to be found in the pulpit alone. I should gravely question whether if an angel were to take a thermometer and go round the dissenting churches in London he would not find a large proportion of them certainly not cold, most decidedly not hot, but somewhere else. How is it with you, dear brother? Do you say, “Well, I am not the warmest of all, but then I am not the coldest of all?” Then I have a suspicion as to your temperature; but I leave the matter to your own judgment, only remarking that I have never yet met with fire that is moderately hot. Should any of you discover such an article you will be wise to patent the article, for it might be of service in many ways. The fire with which I have been acquainted has been such that I have never given it my hand without remembering its warm embrace. Fire is incorrigible in the matter of carrying matters very far: moderation it will never learn. I am told that it is wrong to go to extremes, and upon that ground fire is certainly guilty; for it is not only intensely hot, but it has a tendency to consume and destroy without limit. When it once commenced with this city in the olden time it left little of it but ashes; there was no keeping it within bounds. May God grant us grace to go to extremes in his service. May we be filled with an unrestrainable zeal for his glory. May the Lord answer us by fire, and may that fire fall on the ministers and then upon the people. We ask for the true Pentecostal flame, and not for sparks kindled by human passion. A live coal from off the altar is our need, and nothing can supply its place; but this we must have, or our ministry will be in vain.
Brethren, we must first of all take care that we have the fire burning in our own souls. I am happy to know that there are very few, if any, among you that are utterly cold; for you go to be warmed into earnestness if we set about it aright. It is very hard to warm a stone. You ]nay clothe a man in blankets until he is fairly warm, because there is life in him, but you cannot heat a stone in that fashion; life always begets a measure of warmth and the possibility of more, and as you have life there are capacities for heat. Some preachers are of such a cold nature that no known means could warm them. The attempt to find heat in some sermons reminds me of Aesop’s fable of the apes and the glowworm. The apes found a glowworm shining on the bank, and straightway gathered round it to warm themselves. They placed sticks over it, and tried to make a fire, but it did not burn. It was a very pretty thing, and looked like flame, but they could not warm their cold hands with its cold light. So have I known ministers, whose light was destitute of heat, and consequently the poor sticks around them have never kindled into a flame, nor have frozen hearts been melted by their influence.
It is dreadful work to listen to a sermon, and feel all the while as if you were sitting out in a snow-storm, or dwelling in a house of ice, clear but cold, orderly but killing. You have said to yourself, “That was a well divided and well planned sermon, but I cannot make out what was the matter with it;” the secret being that there was the wood, but no fire to kindle it. A great sermon without heart in it reminds one of those huge furnaces in Wales, which have been permitted to go out; they are a pitiful sight. We prefer a sermon in which there may be no vast talent, and no great depth of thought, but what there is has come fresh from the crucible, and like molten metal burns its way. I once knew a lad who when he used to go home from the smithy where he worked was roughly handled by the boys of the village, till his master suggested to him a plan of defense, which was wonderfully efficacious. He took a rod of iron, and just before he went home he blew up the fire and made the iron hot. When the boys came round him he warned them not to touch his stick, and after one trial of the same they obeyed the admonition, and reverently kept their distance I do not quote the example with any commendation of the actual flint, but with this moral in view—heat your sermon red hot, and it will be likely to be remembered by all who come into contact with it. Everything gives way before fire.
Energy still remains an essential, whatever else in oratory may have changed since the days of old. It is said that the oft-quoted reply of Demosthenes to the question, “What is the first thing in oratory?” was not “action,” but “energy.” What is the second thing? “Energy.” What is the third thing? “Energy.” I will not pretend to decide the classical question, but I am sure that as a matter of fact energy is the main thing in the human side of preaching. Like the priests at the altar, we can do nothing without fire. Brethren, speak because you believe the gospel of Jesus, speak because you feel its power, speak under the influence of the truth which you are delivering, speak with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and the result will not be doubtful.
Let it be carefully remembered that our flame must be kindled from on high. Nothing is more to be despised than a mere painted fire, the simulation of earnestness. Sooner let us have an honest death than a counterfeit life. The imitation of Baxter is detestable; but to be like Baxter is seraphic. If you would be like Whitefield, I would say be Whitefield. Let the fire be kindled by the Holy Ghost, and not by animal passion, the desire of honor, emulation of others, or the excitement of attending meetings. Let the terrible example of Nadab and Abihu for ever put away strange fire from our censers. Burn because you have been in solemn fellowship with the Lord our God.
Recollect also that the fire which you and I need will consume us if we truly possess it. “Spare yourself,” may be whispered by friend’s; but it will not be heeded when this fire is burning. We have given ourselves up to the work of God, and we cannot go back. We desire to be whole burntofferings and complete sacrifices to God, and we dare not shun the altar. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” We can only produce life in others by the wear and tear of our own being. This is a natural and spiritual law,— that fruit can only come of the seed by its spending and being spent even to self-exhaustion. Why are many ministers worn and weary till heart and brain give way? They would be of little use if they did not run such a risk.
All men who are eminently useful are made to feel their weakness in a supreme degree. Can the Spirit of God, even the Infinite Deity, ride in such frail chariots as these, without straining the axle and making the whole machine to quiver, as if it would be utterly dissolved beneath its sacred burden? When God visits us with soul-saving power, it is as though devouring flame came forth from heaven and made its abode in our bosoms; and where this is the case there may well be a melting away of all strength. Yet let it be so: we humbly invite the sacred burnings, Herod was eaten of worms, being cursed of God; but to be consumed by God for his own service is to be blessed to the full. We have a choice between these two, to be eaten up by our corruptions, or by the zeal of God’s house. It needs no hesitation, the choice of every man among us is to be wholly the Lord’s—ardently, passionately, vehemently the Lord’s servants, let the divine fervor cost us what it may of brain, and heart, and life. Our only hope of honor, and glory, and immortality lies in the fulfillment of our dedication unto God; as devoted things we must be consumed with fire, or rejected. For us to turn aside from our life-work, and to seek distinction elsewhere, is absolute folly; a blight will be upon us, we shall not succeed in anything but the pursuit of God’s glory through the teaching of the word. “This people have I formed for myself,” saith God, “they shall show forth my praise,” and if we will not do this we shall do less than nothing.
For this one thing we are created, and if we miss this we shall live in vain.
Good Dr. Wayland, the other day, walking in my garden, saw the swans out of the water, and he remarked that they were the true representation of persons who are out of their proper sphere, and attempt to do what they were never made for. How ungainly the swans are on land, they waddle in a ridiculous manner; but as soon as they are in the water how gracefully they glide along; each one is the model of a ship, the image of beauty; every line about it is perfect. So is it with a man who is content to find in the ministry waters to swim in. As God’s sent servant he is everything that is beautiful; but as soon as he dabbles in trade, or becomes a secular lecturer, or seeks his own aggrandizement, he ceases to be admirable, he often becomes notorious, and is always awkward. Brethren, you are not mean for anything but God, therefore surrender yourselves to God, and find in him your wealth, your honor, and your all. If you do this, you shall be the head, and not the tail; but if you start aside you shall be lightly esteemed. Let the fire of perfect consecration be heaped upon you, for so shall you glow and shine like molten silver, which brightens amid the heat.
Let us not subject ourselves to the shame and eternal contempt which will be the portion of those who quit the service of their Redeemer for the bondage of self-seeking. He that sayeth his life loseth it, but he that loseth his life for Christ’s sake shall find it unto life eternal.
III. The next thing necessary to us is FAITH; I might say the first, second, third, and last thing is FAITH.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and if we are pleasing God, it is not by our talent, but by our faith.
Just now we much need faith in the form of fixity of belief. We know more than we did some time ago; at least I hope we do. I just now heard one of you say to another, “How broad you get!” Well, we do widen out; but not as some men; for we are not of the broad school who believe little or nothing aright because they desire to believe everything. We have cast our anchor, it has taken a firm grip; we have ceased to drift; we remain at rest.
Some men have no creed, or, if they have, it is altered so often that it is of no use to them. It must be like the blanket of a gentleman who came from the Emerald Isle, of which he said, “See here! Our skipper has given me a shamefully bad blanket. Just look at it: it is too long at the top and it is too short at the bottom; it gets over my head, and yet my feet are always cold.
I cut a whole foot off the top, and I sewed it on to the bottom, but it is not altered a bit; it still comes over my eyes, and is too short to cover my feet.’“ That is what certain “thinkers” do with their creed, they keep cutting it off at one end, and putting it on at the other, but it never gets right—it is always forming, never formed. Modern creeds are like the clothes of Italian peasants, which I have gazed upon with wondering inquiry. It would puzzle the most learned geologist to discover the primary formation of a pair of trousers which have been patched and mended with cloth of all patterns and colors from generation to generation. Such and so varied are some men’s beliefs and unbeliefs; an agglomeration of philosophic rags, metaphysical tatters, theological remnants, and heretical cast-offs. Certain thinkers have reached the blessed ultimatum of believing nothing at all with anything like certainty of belief. When these cultivated persons speak of us they manifest great scorn, and affect to believe that we are natural fools. Ah, dear! People are not always what they are thought to be, and it may happen that a man sees himself as in a glass when he thinks he is looking out of window at a neighbor. It is a sign of great weakness when persons are full of contempt for others. If in any review or pamphlet a writer parades his culture, you may be sure that he has been lying fallow of late, and his affectations are the weeds which have come of it. If it came to a fair contest upon the matter of education and culture, the orthodox would be quite able to hold their own. Boasting is sorry work; but sometimes persons must be answered according to their folly, and I say boldly that in any sort of mental tournament we should not tremble to tilt with the men of “modern thought.” Be it so or not, it is ours to believe..
We believe that when the Lord our God gave forth a revelation he knew his own mind, and that he expressed himself in the best and wisest manner, and in terms that can be understood by those who are teachable and truthful. We therefore believe that no new revelation is needed, and that the idea of other light to come is practically unbelief in the light which now is, seeing the light of truth’ is one. We believe that though the Bible has been twisted and turned about by sacrilegious hands, it is still the infallible revelation of God. It is a main part of our religion humbly to accept what God has revealed. Perhaps the highest form of adoration possible on this side the veil is the bowing of our entire mental and spiritual being before the revealed mind of God; the kneeling of the understanding in that sacred presence whose glory causes angels to veil their faces. Let those who please worship science, reason, and their own clear judgments; it is ours to submit ourselves before the Lord our God, and say, “This God is our God for ever and ever: he shall be our guide even unto death.”
Brethren, rally to the old standard. Fight to the death for the old gospel, for it is your life. Whatever forms of expression you may use as you advance in knowledge, ever keep the cross of Jesus Christ in the forefront, and let all the blessed truths which gather around it be heartily maintained.
We must have faith not only in the form of fixity of creed, but also in the shape of constant dependence upon God. If I wire asked what is the sweetest frame within the whole compass of human feeling, I should not speak of a sense of power in prayer, or abundant; revelation, or rapturous joys, or conquest of evil spirits; but I should mention as the most exquisite delight of my being, a condition of conscious dependence upon God. It has been often associated with great pain and humiliation of spirit, but it is inexpressibly delightful to lie passive in the hand of love, to die into the life of Christ, It is deep jay to feel that you do not know, but your heavenly Father knows; that you: cannot speak, but “we have an Advocate “; that you can scarcely lift a hand, but that he worketh all your works in you. The entire submission of our soul to our Lord, the full content of them hear with God’s will and way, the sure reliance of the mind upon the heavenly presence and power,—this is the nearest approach to heaven that I know; and it is better than. rapture, for one can abide in it without strain or reaction. “Oh, to be nothing, nothing; Only to lie at his feet.” It is not so sublime a feeling as soaring aloft on the wings of eagles; but for sweetness—deep, mysterious, indescribable—it bears the palm. It is a blessedness which can bear to be thought of, a joy which never seems to be a stolen one; for surely a poor, frail child has an unquestioned right to depend upon God, a right to be nothing in the presence of the allsupporting One. I love to preach in such a mood, not as though I was about to preach at all, but hoping that the Holy Spirit would speak in me.
Thus to conduct prayer-meetings, and church-meetings, and all sorts of business, will be found to be our wisdom and our joy. We generally make our worst blunders about things that are perfectly easy, when the thing is so plain that we do not ask God to guide us, because we think our own common sense will be sufficient, and so we commit grave errors; but in the difficulties, the extreme difficulties, which we take before God, he gives young men prudence, and teaches youths knowledge and discretion.
Dependence upon God is the flowing fountain of success. That true saint of God, George Muller, has always struck me when I have heard him speak as being such a simple, childlike being in his dependence upon God: but, alas, the most of us are far too great for God to use us; we can preach as well as an)body,, make a sermon with anybody—and so we fail. Take care, brethren; for if we think we can do anything of ourselves all we shall get from God will be the opportunity to try. He will thus prove us, and let us see our nothingness. A certain alchemist who waited upon Leo X. declared that he had discovered how to transmute the baser metals into gold. He expected to receive a sum of money for his discovery, but Leo was no such simpleton; he merely gave him a huge purse in which to keep the gold which he would make. There was wisdom as well as sarcasm in the present. That is precisely what God does with proud men, he lets them have the opportunity to do what. they boasted of being able to do. I never heard that so much as a solitary gold piece was dropped into Leo’s purse, and I am sure you will never be spiritually rich by what you can do in your own strength. Be stripped, brother, and then God may be pleased to clothe you with honor, but; not till then. (TO BE CONTINUED. ) SEASIDE NOTES BY A MINISTER ON FURLOUGH THALASSE! Thalasse! shouted Xenophon’s little army of heroes as, after innumerable perils and privations, they had made their way to the coast. “The sea!” “The sea!” shouted the minister, his wife, and boy, as looking from the window of the railway carriage they became assured that the blue at the horizon line was water, not sky. Dissimilar as their circumstances, there was something of the same relief, the same exhilarating sense of freedom, in the modern as in the ancient cry. The weary brain, the strained nerves, the sympathetic heart, all need rest and recreation. These may be found in woodland retreat, in breezy upland, or, best of all, at least for some, by the grand old sea.
We eagerly and kindly greet it as a familiar friend. Gleaming in the morning sunshine, dyed in the rich hues of sunset, gloomy under cloudy, and intensely blue under bright skies, wavelessly smooth, freshened into ripples, or hurrying to the shore in mound-like billows, it possesses for us a fascinating interest. It suggests, as but few material objects can, ideas of abundance, of freedom, and of infinitude. Though its face retains no scar of battle, and it lends itself less easily than the land to historical reminiscence, yet it needs no vivid fancy to dot the Downs with Caesar’s galleys when, on that August afternoon, B.C. 55, he attempted, near where we now write, to force a landing, or at noon of November 29th, 1652, to hear the shock and thunder of conflict between the Dutch under Van Tromp and the English under Admiral Blake. The wild waves might babble out to the instructed ear half the history of this great maritime nation. How strangely novel a minister’s first experience at the seaside is. It is difficult at once to realize the withdrawal of mental burdens, and, as the evening deepens, to believe that no service is to be taken or meeting addressed.
Walking on the beach watching the waves as they uncoil, and listening to the delightfully soft music they make, the minister’s thoughts, like the limbs of the overtaxed traveler,-which move even when he sleeps, go back to work, and the morbid conscience begins to question whether in a perishing world, and with the church’s urgent claims, it is right and Christlike to rest at all. Paul’s utterance of lofty experience comes to one at such a time with a startlingly new application: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content,” It’ we are to be content with the “state” of labor, responsibility, and even of suffering into which Providence brings us, we may well at the beginning of a holiday call a truce to subtle questions of casuistry, and say to our heart, “Learn to be content, to be silent, restful, receptive—open thyself to the unhindered influences of the great, beautiful world.” We are surely most in harmony with the divine will, and best consulting the interest of that church we delight to serve, when we try for a while to shut out or forget the sound of the murmuring wheels of wonted work. He who steeps the wearied senses in kindly sleep will not fail in pity for our need and response to our prayer to hide our work in temporary and partial oblivion. While the minister lay idly resting on the pebbly beach, he saw his little boy with spade and pail busy at work. He asked him, “Harry, what are you doing? Why, father,” he said “gathering shells to take home to my dear little sister.” And the thought came to the minister, Why may not I, too, pick up, in the shape of illustrations, a few mementos of this seaside run? And so, at times, a jotting or two was made. Similes and illustrations are proverbially favored with criticism. Some who can neither make nor use them are highly gifted in pulling them to pieces. I therefore somewhat shrink from putting a few of my hasty jottings into public prominence. Yet I am led to do so from the feeling that prompted the little shell-gatherer. What is in itself valueless may transport in thought, for a moment, the inland reader. Here are a few cullings:— I was interested in noticing three kinds of sea locomotion, The little boats with difficulty pulled hither and thither by oarsmen, who sweat and finally grow weary at their work; the steamers seen far out at sea by the volumes of smoke emitted; the merchantmen spreading their sails like snowy wings, and beautifully dying out of view in the distance. Fire, wind, and human arm. How much stronger the two first than the last. When we have the fire of God we are steamers unwearied]y ploughing our way through the deep.
When we have the freshening gales of the Spirit our sails are filled; but, alas! when we are left to row away with merely human effort, what sorry, painful work it is.
I could not help being struck with the number of little pleasure-boats beached upon the shore. Now and again they dotted the sea for a quarter of a mile, but in an hour or two were back quietly beached again. How like many of our hearers, who are moved a little, and that little only for a while.
They venture out on the sea of Christian experience as for a pleasure row.
But yonder, like true Christians, go the great ships, leaving us for strange seas, and bound for other and foreign lands.
Opposite Deal we saw small steamers anchored, and on inquiry found they were waiting on the look-out for merchant ships that needed tugging to their ports. So let the Christian be on the alert, to tug any uncertain or weary soul, first to Christ, and then to the quiet haven of the church’s fellowship.
This is written on the chalk cliffs, in full view of the French coast. For such a sight two things are necessary, a clear day and a sufficient elevation. Both now combine, and between the two countries there is only the gleaming streak of silver. On the low levels of jealousy and prejudice, and when the mist of misunderstanding thickly falls, Christian denominations fail even to recognize each other’s existence. But when enabled to climb the heights of Christian experience, and under the clear and sunny sky of divine approval, differences dwindle, and to the eye of love “there is one flock and one Shepherd.”
Other shells are in the “pail,” but fearing lest the reader should be tired, I forbear.
Not the least benefit of a minister’s outing is that, for a while, it throws him into close contact with nature. ‘It is not enough that we should become acquainted with the thoughts of the mighty dead, or be brought into living contact with the movements of our own time. It will not even suffice to read books that photograph nature. Wordsworth makes mountain, lake, and lamb to live before the eye. Bible psalmist and prophet, with master stroke outline, and ‘with delicate touch fill in, the sketch of starry sky, roaring seas, long rich grass, and billowing hills; but not even these can supply the place of personal and prolonged intercourse with nature. I do not wish to suggest that a holiday should be spent in the study of natural science, that flowers should be pored over, classified, and named, book in hand; that as we say, with the Laureate, “Break! Break! Break!
On thy cold grey crag, O sea.
I would that my lips could utter The thoughts that arise in me.” I would not suggest that by having Hugh Miller and Lyall as our companions they should be entreated to help our “lips to utter” the thoughts stirred by the wave-worn, cold, grey crags. I am somewhat skeptical of the saw that is by many considered as certain as a demonstrated problem in mathematics, that “change of work is rest.” It is one of those half truths to which common sense instinctively assigns limits.
Nor would I suggest that, note-book in hand, we should gaze on every scene consciously desiring that it should help us in our after ministry, and light up or point the truth of our sermons. While we lie, or sit,, or saunter on the beach, the incidents that happen around interest and absorb. Sea and sun, ship and cloud, revolving light and gleaming star, ancient castle and modern pier, pebbly beach and chalky cliff—all mirror themselves in the sensitive soul; and in after hours of study will not fail to crystallize around and illustrate our themes. With increased bodily vigor, returning mental tone, and that spiritual sensitiveness which is engendered by quiet communion with the Master, we begin to anticipate a return to our work, and venture to reconsider the methods and motives, the tone and temper of our ministry. Is there to be any modification in our message? This is a lull in life’s battle. We may reconstruct, or modify, or with augmented force proceed upon the old lines. Which shall it be? Shall we strive after culture in our sermons? It is surely not unseemly to see the learned and hoary heads of the Magi bent before the “child that was born kin,-,,” and to find them offering to him the rare products of their own land. Shall we attempt to mould the movements of national life? There is something grand in the battle words of Elijah to Ahab, and in the fearless rebukes administered by John to Herod. I; surely is fitting that the precepts of the inspired Statute Book should be interpreted for the guidance of the nation. Shall we seek the enrichment of experience, the upbuilding of character, the grounding and settling of the church in doctrine? We wistfully regard John as he dwells in the placid deeps of fellowship with his divine Lord. We admire Paul as he leads the saints on to “comprehend” the limitless love of God.
We are half repelled, but chastened, into appreciation of the severe and almost dewless moral purity and virtue inculcated by James. As wise master builders we must see that the stones are fitly framed together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord. We are not, however, left to surmise or guess at our duty.
Coming back to our risen Lord, we listen with eager and obedient heart to the commission, the great, unabrogated commission, the commission which has the pathos and power of being among the Master’s last utterances on earth: “Preach the gospel to every creature.” Here then is our message, “The gospel.” We would give no contracted meaning to “the gospel.” Its center is Calvary, but its circumference includes the paradise lost of Genesis, and the paradise regained of Rev.. Its depth, its sweep, its far-off issues no finite mind can comprehend. Yet its salient and saving features stand out cleat’ and simple to the very babe in grace. This, then, is the message of our ministry, Here, too, is an indication of the method of conveying the message—” Preach the gospel.” It is not ours to excogitate or amend, but to preach the gospel.
Steeped in tenderness, ringing with confidence, believing that it will fully meet the world’s need, this is our supreme business—to “preach the gospel.” Paul stirred Europe by “preaching the gospel.” Luther moved Germany by “preaching the gospel.” The Erskines and Chalmers shook Scotland by “preaching the gospel.” Edwards and Payson roused America by “preaching the gospel.” Not to mention men of our own day, Whitefield and Wesley touched the heart of England by “preaching the gospel.” As David said of the sword of Goliath, so does the minister returning to his work say of “preaching the gospel”: “There is none like it; give it me.” On these lines, and on these lines alone, do we wish the ministry of our entire life to move. In the great commission we have, too, the measure or limit of our ministry: “To every creature.” We have sometimes heard it covertly hinted that the gospel may, perhaps, do for the masses; but if we wish to reach the young men of our universities, if we would secure the wealthy, the thoughtful and cultured, we must appeal to the speaking splendors of cathedral windows; we must soften and render idealistic the mind by the cadences and mystic mazes of music; we must play upon the imagination, and draw it into the invisible by the witchery of oratory; or we must grasp and enchain the intellect by the mastery of keen argument and profound thought. We cannot entertain for a moment these suggestions or counsels, as they may be called. He who gave us the conception of beauty, and in the fair earth and spangled heavens created what may satisfy it; he who bestowed the ear and soul for music, and then granted the mellifluous voice, and the skill to unfetter the hidden harmonies of material things; he who formed the human mind, and poured the grace of oratory into favored lips; he has said, “Preach the gospel to every creature “; whether the “creature” be cultured or uncultured, civilized or uncivilized, of patrician or plebeian birth, rich or poor, to him we must “preach the gospel”; and as we obey the command of him who wisely adapts the means to the end, in the bosoms of those apparently so different, the gospel will make “Cords that were broken To vibrate once more “; and the uplifted Christ will still draw “all men” unto him. Before closing I cannot refrain from making an appeal on ‘behalf of those to whom a holiday is a rare experience. Shortly after coming to the seaside, and while enjoying a beautiful walk, my wife said, “How delightful this is! There is but one drawback, that all our friends are nowhere.” This drawback is sadly greater than any of us know. Many are bound to bed and chamber by bands of weakness and pain, and many, alas! of one’s self-sacrificing and hard-working brethren are forced to foot the unpausing treadmill of toil. The Sword and the Trowel for July may possibly fall into the hands of generous deacons, magnanimous members, or helpful hearers in our congregations; some of them preparing for their annual outing, others sitting by the sounding sea enjoying the cool, refreshing breeze,—how quietly kind a thing it would be if they would send to their minister, for a holiday, a five or ten pound note. As he opens it on some Saturday or Monday morning, it would rustle out the echoes of the Master’s own thoughtful words, “Come ye apart, and rest a while.” On some winter Sunday when the skies are leaden, and the trees are bare, illustrations will come from the pulpit as gleams of summer sunshine, or the sound of autumn leaves. Pictures will be drawn in the sanctuary that will revivify fading memories; the sea will sound in the sermon, and the bracing breeze be felt in the prayer, and it may not make your enjoyment of them the less, secretly to know, that but for your help such illustrations had not been culled, nor the strength found to lend them force SLANDER.
ALADY presentedherself to Philip Neri one day accusing herself of being a slanderer. “Do you frequently fall into this fault?” inquired he. “Yes, father, very often,” replied the penitent,. “My dear child,.” said Philip, “your fault is great, but the mercy of God is still greater; for your penance do as follows: Go to the nearest market and purchase a chicken, just killed, and still covered with feathers; you will then walk to a certain distance, plucking the bird as you go along. Your walk finished, you will return to me.” Accordingly, she repaired to the market, bought the fowl, and set out on the journey, plucking it as she went along, as she had been ordered to do. In a short time she returned, anxious to tell of her exactness in accomplishing her penance, and desiring to receive some explanation of one so singular. “Ah,” said Philip,” you have been very faithful to the first part of my orders; now do the second part, and you will be cured. Retrace your steps, pass through all the places you have traversed, and gather up one by one all the feathers that you have scattered.” “But, father,” exclaimed the poor woman, “I east the feathers carelessly on every side; the wind carried them in every direction. How can I recover them?” “Well, my child,” replied he, “so it is with your words of slander: like the feathers which the wind has scattered, they have been wafted in many directions; call them back now if you can. Go, sin no more.”— From G. W. M’Cree’s “Bows and Arrows for Thinkers and Workers.”
NOTES OUR work has lost one of its oldest, firmest, and most generous friends in the person of Mr. John Edwards, of Hilldrop Crescent, Camden Town. He was our prompter in several enterprises in chapel building, and ready with his own money to aid the work. He had the fire of youth and the stability of age. He was at times brusque in expression, but this arose from the warmth of his temperament and the zeal of his spirit. He denied himself many of the comforts of life that he might give to his Master’s service. He was a strong believer, and if ever we expressed a feeling of discouragement he was sure to drive it away by his courageous assurance that in God’s hands the work must succeed. If we can collect the materials we shall write a short memoir. Mr. Edwards was hardly known so well as he should have been. It would be hard to find a more true-hearted, devoted man of God. He has left a portion of his property to the Orphanage and College, but nothing can compensate us for his loss except it be the remembrance that our old friend has entered into the joy of his Lord.
The past month has been a very busy time for several of the societies which have their headquarters at the Tabernacle, for they have passed in review before the General. We can only briefly mention each meeting, but we can assure our readers that we could easily occupy many pages in recording interesting incidents in connection with each of the beneficent operations carried on by our faithful and earnest “fellow-laborers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
On Monday evening, May 30, the half-yearly meeting of the
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE EVANGELISTS’ASSOCIATION was held in conjunction with the usual prayer-meeting, Pastor C. H. Spurgeon presiding. Mr. Elvin, the secretary, stated that either in their own halls, or in chapels where’ their services were requested, the members of the Association were holding on an average forty services every Sunday, and thirty on week nights, thus conducting about three thousand six hundred and fifty meetings in a year with the direct object of evangelizing some part of London. He said that they still wanted more men and more money. They had been obliged, among other cases, to refuse to take charge of a missionhall which had been started by a beloved brother now in Brompton Hospital, as the funds at their disposal would not warrant them in under taking any fresh responsibilities. Several of the members of the Association offered prayer, or gave short addresses in such an excellent manner that we could see how well fitted they were for the work to which they had given themselves. Mr. Elvin is constantly receiving testimony to the usefulness of the evangelists sent out under his direction. One of these has come under our own notice, and we reproduce part of it. After referring to a week of services which were believed to have been the means of the conversion of some twenty persons, the writer says · “Would that other large and influential churches, besides that at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, would organize bands of evangelists to mission our great and sin-stricken cities. Are there not churches with many hundreds of members that are doing scarcely anything in this direction for the godless crowds among whom they are located? And are there not thousands of the Lord’s people in those churches with gifts and leisure who might be induced to enter upon such a mission? We believe there are numbers, not only of young converts with their warm, fresh, yearning firstlove, but of Christians of matured experience, whose talents now lie buried, who are ready to throw themselves into this work, if only the organizations existed. May God stir up his church to care more for the perishing; and may he lay upon his beloved believing ones the burden of souls so greatly that they shall be led to ‘ travail’ for them.”
We furnish this excellent Evangelists’ Association with about £100 a-year, and it is expended in a way which produces more preaching of the gospel than by any other means. And it is the gospel.’ there’s the joy of it.
On Wednesday evening, June 8, we had the great joy of being present, with several of our deacons and elders, at a thanksgiving meeting held in the chapel of our beloved brother, J. A. Spurgeon, at WEST CROYDON, to celebrate at the same time the pastor’s forty-fourth birthday, and the extinction of the debt on the whole of the property belonging to his church.
One of his generous helpers had offered £500 towards the removal of all existing liabilities, another promised £250, and from the richest to the poorest of the flock thankofferings flowed in so freely that there was literally enough and to spare. After paying off the last £1,000 due on the chapel and mission premises, there remained £550 with which to defray the cost of various improvements and extensions, which had in the meantime been ordered to be executed.
It was a happy meeting, and well it might be while so much favor shone upon pastor and people. It would be impossible for C. H.S.. to say how greatly he values J. A. S. To God be praise that for the great work and service of the Tabernacle such a brother-helper has been provided. Long may he be spared in/health and strength to be a master workman in the temple of the Lord. He who has such a brother may well pray for him, and equally praise God for him.
On Friday evening, June 10, a large and representative meeting of the ladies and gentlemen who are likely to take part in the ORPHANAGE BAZAAR AT CHRISTMAS time was held at the College, the Pastor occupying the chair. Several friends stated that they were authorized to promise stalls on behalf of those whom they represented; and others who cannot do much for the Bazaar reported that they had begun to make weekly collections, in order that they may not be behind hand when the time comes. The editor of The Sword and the Trowel undertook to stir up with his sword the readers of the sermons and magazine to give him mortar for his trowel; and he hereby redeems his pledge. Many of his most faithful and constant helpers are found amongst those whom he has never seen, but to whom he speaks week by week and month by month through the printed page. They have helped him to carry on all his institutions up to the present time, and he has no fear that they will desert him now. It is not possible to tell exactly how much will be needed to complete the Girls’ Orphanage, as the plans are not yet fully matured, but Mr. Charlesworth stated at the meeting that from £10,000 to £12,000 would he wanted, and we are hoping that by the beginning of next year, by the Bazaar and other means, a good portion of this sum will be in hand. All goods for the Bazaar should be addressed to Mr. Charlesworth Stock-well Orphanage, Clapham Road, London. From this good hour we hope to hear daily from friends who will help us. It would be well to have immediate information as to what we may expect.
Dear friends, write us at once and say that you are going in for this work with all your hearts. You know the Editor’s address, and you may direct your letters to him and gladden his heart.
Our free service at the Tabernacle, on Sunday evening, June 12th, was to our mind the most successful of our efforts in this direction to get at those who are not in the habit of attending any place of worship. On former occasions we have feared that most of those present had only run away From their own churches and chapels for the evening, but this time a large portion evidently belonged to the class that we have been most anxious to reach. The number who did not know the tunes was joyfully great; and the general aspect of the attendants was not of the usual religious order. Oh that God would capture these outsiders, and hold them fast by his grace!
Importunate prayer was offered about this, and we expect answers from our God. Unusual heaviness rested on the preacher before entering the pulpit, and the deacons pleaded with God for him before he left the vestry.
Utterance was graciously given, and after the service the same brethren lovingly gathered around their pastor and prayed a second time for the blessing. Surrounded by a body-guard of praying men the Lord’s servant cannot fail.
On Monday evening, June 13, the annual meeting of THE MISSIONARY WORKING SOCIETY was held in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall, the Pastor, as usual, presiding in the enforced absence of the President, Mrs. Spurgeon; and addresses were delivered by the chairman, Pastor J. A. Spurgeon, and Messrs. C. F. Allison and B. W. Carr. The report stated that the object of the society was to aid the families of poor ministers and colporteurs by sending them clothing, and contained the following statement and appeal from the pen of Mrs. Spurgeon: —”There is, alas! no improvement in the position of our poor country brethren, poverty and privation seem rather on the increase than otherwise, for the general depression in trade and agriculture tells upon their scanty salaries, and adds bitterly to their heavy burdens. Never were the loving gifts of this society more needed than at the present time, never did its Christlike efforts more deserve or claim the kind and practical help of all those who love the Master’s servants. We used to think, in times gone by, that the stipends of our poor pastors were at their lowest ebb; but, pitiful as they were, they did receive them! Now, we hear of cases where the money is owing quarter after quarter, and the poor man is driven to his wits’ end—and to debt, for the necessaries of life for himself and his children. We know of some servants of God so destitute that they seldom taste meat more than once a week, and there are many families where, but for the nice and suitable clothing given by this excellent society, the children of the minister could not have appeared in the house of God, their garments were so shabby, and an utter want of means prevented any renewal of their scanty wardrobe ..... How gratefully that help has been received Mrs. Evans will joyfully tell, how much more assistance is needed will be a sadder theme, and while we rejoice greatly in the success which God has given to this sweet womanly work, we would earnestly ask for it an increased and extended operation. If our Christian sisters all over the land were but to take to heart the deep needs of Christ’s ministering servants, and help them with resolute purpose and love, they would very soon wipe away this sad blot from the page of our history, and in so doing bring down a rich reward into their own hearts, and an unexpected blessing on their .lives.’ ‘ During the year 48 parcels have been sent to ministers and 7 to colporteurs, 202 children have been clothed, 1,901 ready-made garments have been given, and various miscellaneous articles, bringing up the estimated value of the grants to £262 11s. 0d. The expenditure for the year has been £75 ls. 5d., and the balance of £187 9s. 7d. has been received in clothing and materials to be made up at the meetings of the society. All communications and contributions should be addressed to Mrs. Evans, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, London.
On Friday evening, June 17, the annual meeting of THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE COUNTRY MISSION, of which Mr. Bowker is the leader, was held in the Lecture-hall, the Pastor presiding. After prayer, and an address by the chairman upon the great need of the pioneer work done by the members of the mission, Mr. Goldston, the secretary, reported the progress of the work at North Cheam, Tiptree, Willesden, Bell Green, Hatton, Little Paris-street, Teddington, Thornton Heath, and Southgate, and referred to the fact that through the agency of the mission churches had been formed and chapels built at Walthamstow and Tooting. Addresses were than delivered by the brethren who are laboring in most of the places mentioned, their earnest speeches being interspersed with selections from the songservice “Homeward bound,” sung by Mr. J. Courtnay and a choir of the Orphanage boys. Mr. Hayward, the treasurer, stated that the total expenditure for the year had been £195 15s. 7d., which had been exactly met by the receipts. The principal items of expense are for traveling, rent of chapels and halls, furnishing, cleaning, printing, etc., and as the preachers not only give their time, but also subscribe to the funds, and as the whole amount is spent directly in evangelistic efforts in the suburbs and country districts near London, we shall be glad to see the income grow far beyond its present limit. This also is a grandly useful and economical society.
Churches have sprung up through its operations, and, if supported, it will continue to work up little places till they become important stations, or self-supporting churches. London demands the labors of all who can preach Jesus. Some will do nothing unless they can do great things, but these brethren are content to begin With a dozen, and work on with a score, and so out of this come here and there congregations of hundreds.
Oh for more blessing! Blessed be God for so much! Friends may inquire what is the distinction between this Society and the Evangelists’ Association, under Mr. Elvin. We are not very clear about this; except that this Society sends the same meat to fixed stations to raise churches, and the other is more of an evangelistic order, assisting churches already in existence. They are equally excellent, and might wisely be united. Monday, June 20, was, we believe, generally observed by the churches connected with the Pastors’ College Association as a day of united prayer, in accordance with the resolution gassed at the last Conference. At the Tabernacle we had meetings at seven o’clock in the morning, at noon, at five in the afternoon, and at seven o’clock in the evening our usual prayermeeting was specially devoted to earnest supplication for our whole College brotherhood. Brethren from various churches report to us that they had days of power and joy. We shall do well to have another such day before the year closes. United pleadings must prevail.
— During the past month Mr. A. Billington, who has long set his heart on going to Africa, has been accepted by Mr. H. Grattan Guinness as one of a party of missionaries who will shortly start for the Congo. Mr. Jesse Gibson, who came to us from Canada, will sail early this month for St. Thomas, to take charge of the church during the pastor’s absence in Europe. He hopes afterwards to settle in the dominion.
Mr. B. Brigg has accepted the pastorate at Drummond Road, Bermondsey; and Mr. F. Tuck has succeeded him at the Providence Gospel Hall, Alvey Street. Mr. C. Ingrem leaves the College to settle at Wimbledon; and Mr. L. Humby at Coseley, Staffs.
The students are now away for their summer vacation, which will end on August 8th. Mr. T. Whiteside has, at the suggestion of the Secretary of the British and Irish Baptist Home Mission, removed from Athlone to Ballymena. Mr. G. W. Pope, late of Nottingham, has settled at Piss; and Mr. A. It. Morgan, late of Dolton, has gone to Fair-ford, Gloucester. Mr. J. C. Thompson, late of Paisley, has accepted the hearty invitation of the church at Brondesbury.
We are glad to learn from the Missionary Herald that Mr. and Airs. Lyall are sufficiently restored to health to return to their work at the Cameroons, West Africa.
Mr. Kendon writes very gratefully from Jamaica, acknowledging the receipt of various sums sent to us to help him in restoring what the hurricane destroyed. He has been holding evangelistic services in different districts in his diocese, which is twenty miles square, and for five weeks took part in an average of three meetings daily. On Good ]Friday he baptized sixty-seven believers at Jericho in the presence of several thousands of people, and on the previous Sunday six others put on Christ at Mount Hermon; and, when he wrote, his list of inquirers on probation contained two hundred and sixty names. Mr. Head, from Mr. Guinness’s College, is at present helping him, although it is not very clear how the support, which is barely sufficient for Mr. and Mrs. Kendon, can be made available for an additional worker. However, the Lord knows what is needed, and will doubtless supply it in his own time and manner.
Mr. Norris sends us word from Calcutta that in answer to prayer the way has been made clear for him to remain at his post. He earnestly prays that we may send out evangelists to the English-speaking people of India, and this will we do if God permit. Funds are slowly but surely coming in for this object, and information of suitable centers for work is also arriving, so that if we could only get the right men, something might soon be done in this direction.
Mr. H. Rylands Brown, the pioneer of this movement, finds plenty to be done at Darjeeling, and we believe he is the man to do it.
Our son Thomas, who is now preaching in New Zealand with great acceptance, its very anxious that we should let ore’ readers know that there has been a glorious revival at the Deloraine Tabernacle, which is one of the chapels built by his friend and ours, Mr. Gibson, of Perth, Tasmania... Mr. Harrison. who has now joined Mr. Isaac, as an evangelist, was greatly cheered during the last few weeks at Deloraine, by seeing converts every Lord’s-day. Mr. Harry Wood, who has left Saddleworth on account of the excessive heat, has had the same joyous experience since he took charge of the work at Deloraine. Our son says, “Mr. Gibson will feel amply rewarded, and ready for more service and sacrifice.”
EVANGELISTS.— “Dear Mr. Spurgeon,—I have been pastor of Townheadstreet Baptist Church, in Sheffield, for nearly ten years. Feeling deep interest in the work of our brethren Fullerton and Smith, now in this town, I have thought you would be pleased to receive the enclosed account of Whit-week. “It was a week which will, I believe, be memorable in the history of the church of God in this town. Indeed, the whole work of our brethren here has been so manifestly marked by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that Christians with one accord give God the glory. A spirit of united, fervent, and importunate prayer has been awakened for the quickening of believers and the salvation of the lost, and God has appeared to revive his work in the hearts of his people, while not a few have been truly converted to Christ. Whir-week is in Sheffield, next to Christmas, the great holiday of the year. Most of our foundries and manufactories are closed—especially in these times of trade depression—nearly, or quite, the whole week through. Our brethren, therefore, desired to make special efforts to reach the working men who would then be unemployed, and the crowds of strangers who flock during the holiday into our town. The circus, a large building, was therefore engaged for the whole; week, the congregations were immense, and the exhibitions of truth, presented by our brethren in song and address, were peculiarly owned and blessed. It may interest; you to have a list of the special services held from the Saturday evening preceding Whir-Sunday until the following Thursday night, and I will mention the circus gatherings first:— “Saturday evening—’ Song service.’ “Sunday morning, at seven o’clock, a ‘ meeting for Christians,’ at which each of our brethren gave an address. “Sunday morning at eleven o’clock, a meeting, the admission to which was by ticket, in order, as far as possible, to exclude regular attendants at the House of God. “Sunday evening, at seven o’clock, a meeting similar to the morning one at eleven. “On Monday evening—’ Song service.’ “On Tuesday evening—’ Song service.’ “On Wednesday and Thursday evenings the ‘preaching of the word, the singing of the gospel, and prayer.’ “In addition to the gatherings in the circus during the week, there was a crowded meeting for ‘men only,’ on Whir-Sunday afternoon, in the large ‘ Albert Hall;’ and at noon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, our brethren conducted a special service in Queen-street Chapel; and on Thursday afternoon, at three o’clock, a Bible-reading in the Presbyterian Church. The whole week was a season of peculiar power, and such services as were held, and such addresses as were given, must be made a great blessing. We, as ministers of Christ in this town, hold our brethren in highest .esteem, and we shall ever lovingly remember their visit. “I am, dear Mr. Spurgeon, “Yours very sincerely, “RICHARD GREEN.”
Mr. Burnham’s labors at Rushden, in May, were crowned with great blessing, and once again the house of his host received a large share of the soul-saving power which accompanies our brother wherever he goes. This month he returns to follow up the very remarkable work already accomplished. Continuing his Yorkshire campaign, he visited Bedale and Masham, Salterforth and Earley, Malton, Morley, and Middlesbro’. After he has finished his work at Rushden this month he is going to help our Brother Mather in open-air and tent-work at Hol-beach and the surrounding villages.
We have not received any amounts lately from the places visited by the evangelists, but we are quite sure that the spiritual re-suits of Messrs.
Smith and Fullerton’s services at Sheffield will be followed by a .corresponding thankoffering; and we are informed that the Committee of the Yorkshire Association are waiting until the close of Mr. Burnham’s engagements to pay over in one sum the amounts received from the .churches which he has helped. Meanwhile, general subscriptions will be heartily welcomed for this work, which the Lord has so signally owned to the salvation of souls, and the edification and comfort of believers.
— The Secretary writes:—”Dear Mr. Spurgeon,—The Colportage Association is about to open several new districts. The friends at Vernon Chapel, King’s Cross, have promised £40 a year for a colporteur to work in that locality. This effort is, I think, to some extent the out-come of the work of the colporteur for whom our friend Pastor F. A. Jones, of Cross Street, Islington, is responsible. Also, through the kindness of Miss Hadfield, of Ryde, arrangements have been made for a third colporteur to labor in the Ventnor district, Isle of Wight. The whole island will thus be fairly worked. Will our friends pray for a blessing upon these new districts, and that we may be specially directed in these lection of suitable men? Why should not this valuable agency be extended all over the land’? If Scotland maintains over two hundred colporteurs, surely England should support at least five hundred. The committee will always be glad to employ a man in a district where £40 a year can be pro-raised. In the meantime, the General Fund is very low, and help has been received to a very limited extent during the past six months. The new districts will need more outlay from the General Fund; we there-fore look prayerfully to the Lord, through his people, to supply our need.”-Friends, please note the words which we have underlined. We shall be glad of immediate help for this object.
— A Christian sister in India writes:—” I enclose you a note which I received from a Mussul man to whom I had lent a book of your sermons, and I re-quest your prayers on his behalf that he may have grace given him to profess Christ openly, and to come out from Mahometanism.” Here is the note, “My dear Miss——. Your sermon-book has, indeed, converted me to Christianity. I do believe in Christ our Lord, and so long as my belief in him is firmly rooted, I do not care what I may be called in the outer world. Mr. Spurgeon appears to be an extra ordinary man.” We were very gratified when we received from Germany the following unsolicited testimony to the value of The Treasury of David:—“I mailed one volume of The Treasury to Dr. Zoekler, and requested him to give me his opinion of it. Dr. Zoekler is considered (even among German pastors) a great bookworm, and I was a little curious to see what he would say. He declared the Commentary to be ‘ a museum of spiritual treasures,’ and thought the publication of it would be to most German theologians like the discovery of ancient Troy by Schilemann. My Lutheran neighbors beg me to have the work done, if not for money, still for the good it would do, and they beg for the whine work There is nothing which might benefit Germany more than the publication of this work.” We would gladly aid in the publication, but cannot see our way to do so. Perhaps the German publisher may yet be able to bring it out, and make it pay its own costs.
A friend informs us that in Toulon, the great seaport and naval arsenal in the southeast of France, where there are many artisans, and multitudes of sailors, a work similar to that of Mr. McAll in Paris has been commenced by M. Massis, a Protestant pastor, assisted by his wife and a missionary.
Several rooms have been opened for preaching, and converts gathered for worship and work. Recently, when both M. Massis and his helper were compulsorily absent from the service, one of the converts undertook to lead the singing and prayer, but being unable to preach, he read the French translation of our sermon, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” (No. 1,491), and this was the means of the conversion of a ‘whole family.
Another friend, who conducts services in a Hampshire village where a new chapel is being built, tells us that every Sunday evening for the last four years he has preached there, but being engaged in business all the week he cannot give much time to study. He says that he has, therefore, taken our sermons regularly, got all the marrow he could out of them, copied out the leading thoughts, lived in the subject all the week, and then given out to the people the honey he has gathered, tie adds that God has blessed this system of working to the salvation of souls and the edification of believers, and that this way of proclaiming the truth has also interested the congregation.