OUR FIRST SERMON.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
WE remember well the first place in which we addressed a congregation of adults, and the wood-block which illustrates this number of the magazine sets it dearly before our mind’s eye. It was not our first public address by a great many, for both at Newmarket, and Cambridge, and elsewhere, the Sabbath-school had afforded us ample scope for speaking the gospel. At Newmarket especially we had a considerable admixture of grown-up folks in the audience, for many came to hear “the boy” give addresses to the school. But no regular set discourse to a congregation met for regular worship had we delivered till one eventful Sabbath evening, which found us in a cottage at Teversham, holding forth before a little assembly of humble villagers.
The tale is not a new one, but as the engraving has not before been seen by the public eye we must shed a little light upon it. There is a Preachers’ Association in Cambridge connected with St. Andrew’s-street Chapel, once the scene of the ministry of Robert Robinson and Robert Hall, and now of our beloved friend Mr. Tarn. A number of worthy brethren preach the gospel in the various villages surrounding Cambridge, taking each one his turn according to plan. In our day the presiding genius was the venerable Mr. James Vinter, whom we were wont to address as Bishop Vinter. His genial soul, warm heart, and kindly manner were enough to keep a whole fraternity stocked with love, and accordingly a goodly company of true workers belonged to the Association, and labored as true yoke-fellows.
Our suspicion is that he not only preached himself, and helped his brethren, but that he was a sort of recruiting sergeant, and drew in young men to keep up the number of the host; at least, we speak from personal experience as to one case.
We had one Saturday finished morning school, and the boys were all going home for the half. holiday, when in came the aforesaid “Bishop” to ask us to go over to Teversham next Sunday evening, for a young man was to preach there who was not much used to services, and very likely would be glad of company. That was a cunningly devised sentence, if we remember it rightly, and we think we do; for at the time, in the light of that Sunday evening’s revelation, we turned it over, and vastly admired its ingenuity. A request to go and preach would have met with a decided negative, but merely to act as company to a good brother who did not like to be lonely, and perhaps might ask us to give out a hymn or to pray, was not at all a difficult matter, and the request, understood in that fashion, was cheerfully complied with. Little did the lad know what Jonathan and David were doing when he was made to run for the arrow, and as little knew we when we were cajoled into accompanying a young man to Teversham.
Our Sunday-school work was over, and tea had been taken, and we set off through Barnwell, and away along the Newmarket-road, with a gentleman some few years our senior. We talked of good things, and at last we expressed our hope that he would feel the presence of God while preaching. He seemed to start, and assured us that he had never preached in his life, and could not attempt such a thing: he was looking to his young friend, Mr. Spurgeon, for that. This was a new view of the situation, and I could only reply that I was no minister, and that even if I had been I was quite unprepared. My companion only repeated that he , even in a more emphatic sense, was not a preacher, that he would help me in any other part of the service, but that there would be no sermon unless I gave them one. He told me that if I repeated one of my Sunday-school addresses it would just suit the poor people, and would probably give them more satisfaction than the studied sermon of a learned divine. I felt that I was fairly committed to do my best. I walked along quietly, lifting up my soul to God, and it seemed to me that I could surely tell a few poor cottagers of the sweetness and love of Jesus, for I felt them in my own soul. Praying for divine help, I resolved to make an attempt. My text should be, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious,” and I would trust the Lord to open my mouth in honor of his dear Son. It seemed a great risk and a serious trial, but, depending upon the power of the Holy Ghost, I would at least tell out the story of the cross, and not allow the people to go home without a word. We entered the low-pitched room of the thatched cottage, where a few simple-minded farm-laborers and their wives were gathered together; we sang and prayed and read the Scriptures, and then came our first sermon. How long or how short it was we cannot now remember. It was not half such a task as we had feared it would be, but we were glad to see our way to a fair conclusion, and to the giving out of the last hymn. To our own delight we had not broken down, nor stopped short in the middle, nor been destitute of ideas, and the desired haven was in view. We made a finish, and took up the book, but to our astonishment an aged voice cried out, “Bless your dear heart, how old are you?” Our very solemn reply was,” You must wait till the service is over before making any such inquiries. Let us now sing.” We did sing, and the young preacher pronounced the benediction, and then began a dialogue which enlarged into a warm, friendly talk, in which everybody appeared to take part. “How old are you?” was the leading question. “I am under sixty,” was the reply. “Yes, and under sixteen,” was the old lady’s rejoinder. “Never mind my age, think of the Lord Jesus and his preciousness,” was all that I could say, after promising to come again, if the gentlemen at Cambridge thought me fit to do so. Very great and profound was our awe of those “gentlemen at Cambridge” in those days.
Are there not other young men who might begin to speak for Jesus in some such lowly fashion — young men who hitherto have been mute as fishes?
Our villages and hamlets offer fine opportunities for youthful speakers. Let them not wait till they are invited to a chapel, or have prepared a fine essay, or have secured an intelligent audience. If they will go and tell out from their hearts what the Lord Jesus has done for them, they will find ready listeners.
Many of our young folks want to do great things, and therefore do nothing at all; let none of our readers become the victims of such an unreasonable ambition. He who is willing to teach infants, or to give away tracts, and so to begin at the beginning, is far more likely to be useful than the youth who is full of affectations and sleeps in a white necktie, who is studying for the ministry, and is touching up certain superior manuscripts which he hopes ere long to read from the pastor’s pulpit. He who talks upon plain gospel themes in a farmer’s kitchen, and is able to interest the carter’s boy and the dairymaid, has more of the minister in him than the prim little man who talks for ever about being cultured, and means by that — being taught to use words which nobody can understand. To make the very poorest listen with pleasure and profit is in itself an achievement, and beyond this it is the best possible promise and preparation for an influential ministry. Let our younger brethren go in for cottage preaching, and plenty of it. If there is no Lay Preachers’ Association, let them work by themselves. The expense is not very great for rent, candles, and a few forms: many a young man’s own pocket-money would cover it all. No isolated group of houses should be left without its preaching-room, no hamlet without its evening service. This is the lesson of the thatched cottage at Teversham.
CROOKED PALM TREES
“UPRIGHT as the palm tree” is an accurate proverbial expression, yet we have seen many palms which have been crooked and twisted as if they suffered from spinal curvature. Did these disprove the general statement?
Far from it. “Upright as a palm-tree” is a perfectly correct expression. In the same way it is true that Christians are the excellent of the earth, though there are some among them who are far from being worthy examples. The exceptions cannot justly be made to disprove the rule. It is only prejudice which would quote one or two failures against a whole community. Candor does not permit us to condemn a class because of a remnant who dishonor it. No one says that the palm is a crooked tree because here and there one may be contorted, and only those who are unjust will say that Christians are cants and hypocrites because occasionally some professors are found to be so. “THE HORNLESS DEACON.”
WE notice in an American newspaper a letter signed “THE HORNLESS DEACON.” There is no accounting for our Transatlantic cousins, but what can the good man mean by such a title? A hornless buffalo or a hornless cow we could understand, but what is the reason for applying that adjective to a deacon? We have been lying back in our most serious arm-chair, and have been revolving in our meditative soul the various senses which can be drawn out of this expression, or imputed to it, but we cannot make head or tail of it, and without a head there may well be no horns. The owner of the signature is evidently a deacon, and therefore he must be fully aware that deacons do not possess horns and hoofs. Some pastors, when hardly driven, have thought they did, but this was a clerical error. We believe that all evil reports about deacons arise from nightmare, and are slanderous and absurd; but still they do arise, and therefore this good deacon may have felt it necessary in his own case to assert that he had no horns, and was not related to any individual whose head is thus adorned. Had not deacons been a much-abused order of men the foul insinuation as to horns would never have cropped up, and none of the race would have found it needful to claim to be hornless. Our own opinion is that when deacons have horns it will generally be found that the minister has a tail. There is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other in most cases of disagreement between the two classes of church-officers.
We would earnestly hope, however, that our friend, “The hornless deacon,” had no thought of the evil one, but simply meant to say that he was not a fighting man, but was of necessity peaceful because he had no provision in his nature for making an attack.
A horn is an offensive weapon, and a hornless deacon is one who cannot give offense, resent an injury, or inflict a wound. What a splendid acquisition to a quarrelsome church! He would be sure to rule well, and reduce chaos to order by the mere force of Christian patience. Few men believe in the power of non-resistance, but our faith in it is unbounded: he who can yield will conquer, and he who will suffer most for the sake of love will wield the greatest power if he will but bide his time. The longest horns that were ever borne aloft will yet be broken by the submission of “the hornless.” To be utterly unable to give offense to anybody would be a sublime incapacity, most useful in these ticklish days when nine people out of ten are ready to take offense where none is intended. We hope “the hornless deacon” is not such a gentle, inoffensive body that he would let people forget quarter-day, and their subscriptions, or would allow the minister to draw twice the amount of his salary. This would be carrying a virtue to an extreme, and would be a grave fault, especially in the latter case. We are bound to add that we have never met with such a want of principle as would be implied in this instance: the former error is far more common. The kind, gentle, but earnest deacon is invaluable. He is as an angel in the church, and does more than angel’s service. Excellent man! We cannot say, “May his horn be exalted!” for he has none; but we trust that the place where it ought to be will never ache through the ingratitude of those whom he serves.
Feeling that we had not translated this signature satisfactorily, and not liking to give it up, we consulted a learned friend, who gave us the following elucidation of the mysterious title of “The hornless deacon.” We are not quite sure that we believe in it. He says that it is the minister’s place to carry the horn and blow it, and that “the hornless deacon” was evidently a non-preacher, one who minded his own business, and left his minister to blow the ram’s horn. We do not think any the better of him for this, for we like a man all the more if, like Stephen, he can both care for the widows and preach the gospel. It would be well for our country churches if more of the deacons would exercise their gifts, and keep the village stations supplied with sound doctrine. Our learned friend suggests that there may be in the term “hornless deacon” a covert allusion to the modesty of the individual who never blew his own trumpet, who in fact had not so much as a horn of his own to blow. This may be, and it may not be. We had excogitated that idea before, and did not feel very proud of it, but there rosy be something in it. Certainly we know of deacons who from year to year plod away at the pastor’s side, glad to perform services of any kind so long as God is glorified, and the church is prospered. Seldom are their names mentioned in public, and yet they are the mainstay of the church, the regulators of her order, and the guardians of her interests. Some of them have held the fort in troublous times: they have seen a dozen pastors come and go, but they abide at their posts, faithful under discouragement, hopeful under difficulty. They deserve great praise, and as they are “hornless” we would for once sound the horn for them.
This guess hardly satisfied us, and so our friend gave us another. We sometimes drink out of a horn; and a deacon, according to the apostle, is not to be “given to much wine.” Is it, therefore, claimed by our friend that if he erred at all he erred on the right side, for he had no horn at all, and was a pledged teetotaler? Very good, Mr. Deacon. The more of your brethren who will copy you in this the better, so long as they do not make the water-jug the symbol of their lives, and pour cold water over everything and everybody, in season and out of season.
This interpretation we feel also to be a failure, and therefore we will try once more on our own account. Can it mean that the good deacon did not sound a trumpet before him, as the hypocrites do, when he was distributing his alms? Was he so quiet in his generosity that not even a penny whistle or child’s horn proclaimed his deed of liberality? Let him be blessed in secret if this was his true character, but surely the very taking of the name of “hornless” is a little like blowing a horn. He who denies a fault claims a virtue; did you forget this, my unhorned friend?
The above expository observations, so far as they come from our learned friend, are exceedingly clever, tolerably far-fetched, and in all respects worthy of his breadth of forehead; but they do not quite enable us to see through the expression, and we abandon it for the present with the consoling reflection that our Yankee brethren have a vivacious style of speech which needs one of themselves to interpret it. C. H.S. VISITING THE POOR JOSEPH Cook says, “In every great town there are six or ten strata of society; and it is, one would think, a hundred miles from the fashionable to the unfashionable side of a single brick in a wall. Superfluity and squalor know absolutely nothing of each other, such is the utter negligence of the duty of visiting the poor in any other way than by agents. I do not undervalue these, nor any part of the great charities of our times; but there is no complete theory for the permanent relief of the poor without personal visitation. Go from street to street with the city missionary or the best of the police; but sometimes go all alone, and with your own eyes see the poor in their attics, and study the absolutely unspeakable conditions of their daily lives. Live one day where the children of the perishing poor live, and ask what it is to live there always. I know a scholar of heroic temper and of exquisite culture who recently resolved to live with the poor in a stifling part of this city (Boston), and who, after repeated and desperate illness, was obliged to move his home off the ground in order to avoid the necessity of putting his body underground. You cannot understand the poor by newspapers, nor even by novels.”
Rather a sly poke, Mr. Cook, at those who fancy they can see mankind through the spectacles of novels. The world which is depicted in fiction is strangely different from the realm of fact in which men and women starve and die, or end their days in the workhouse, of which they have felt from their childhood a mortal dread. Novel-readers know a great deal which it will cost them vast pains to unlearn. True knowledge of the poor will not come even out of “Jessica’s first Prayer,” and the like, it must grow out of actual contact with them.
There is much truth in what Mr. Cook has said; indeed, a great deal more than at first meets the eve. Wealthy Christians are to be educated in the most Christ-like of graces by coming in contact with the poor, and it is a great pity that they should refuse to enter the appointed school; poor saints are to be consoled and cheered by the presence of their richer brethren, and it is cruel for the ordained comforters to refuse their task. More would be given in charity if it were given personally, and it would be more wisely distributed and more gratefully received. The kindly word and sympathetic look would be worth more than the silver or even the gold expended upon the needy, and would often prevent the recipient from becoming a pauper, or rouse the pauper to a desire for independence. Personal visitation is good all round; like mercy, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Our churches have visiting societies connected with them, but we fear they are not quite so flourishing as they ought to be. A few ladies manage the whole business, and do all the work. We wish that all the members of the churches who have anything to spare would become visitors of the sick and the poor, either in connection with the societies or on their own account.
Of course, those whose time belongs to their employers, and those whose home duties occupy every minute, are to be excused, but we have hundreds of ladies without occupation who ought to spend their time in being true sisters of mercy And why not the gentlemen too? Men of leisure could not do better than hunt out needy merit in the back slums. It would afford more excitement and pleasure than shooting over the moors, or watching the fly on the rivers. Gentlemen could safely pioneer the way for ladies, and there are rooms which they might enter more safely than the gentler sex. When we speak of ladies and gentlemen we mean men and women of gentle hearts and generous hands, who would go really to pity and help the poor; we mean working-men’s wives who would sit up at night with a sick neighbor, and artisans themselves who would not mind whitewashing a sick man’s room, if needed, to make it sweet and healthy. Anyhow, the salt wants to be rubbed in, and not to be kept by itself in the salt-box. There is the city with its sorrows, and here is the church with its heaven-born love; the question is, how shall these be brought into contact so that the evil shall find its remedy and the medicine shall reach the disease?
It is of no use waiting till one universal Charity Organization scheme shall be carried out; we might as well tarry till an organized providence drops quartern loaves and pats of butter at every householder’s door. Schemes and plans are all very well, but he who waits till a scheme has put a chicken into his pot will go without a pullet for a life-time. The better way is for those who visit to go on with their work, and for those who do not visit to begin at once, and make one call a day if possible. Just take a walk down Paradise Place, as a commencement. Look up Jinks’s Rents and down Sheridan’s Alley, and pick up an acquaintance with the woman who goes out chafing when she can get it, and the widow who has four children, one born since the husband’s death — the consumptive widow, we mean, who cannot earn a penny for herself because three of the little ones need nursing, and the eldest can barely run alone. To give up an evening party in order to make a call in the slums may seem to be insane advice, but we venture to back it up by the assertion that it would afford more sensible entertainment than the most of the stuck-up assemblies where twaddle and ceremony sicken thoughtful minds. Life is never slow to those who live to do good. True romance comes in the way of those whose hearts love the sorrowful. Nobody ever complains of ennui who spends his strength in relieving human need for Jeans’ sake. Gratitude for our own favored lot is excited by the inspection of a hospital, a workhouse, or the squalid dens where poverty herds with vice.
Society wants to be made into a stir-about. We must mingle for mutual advantage. The walls are getting higher and the ditches deeper, let us each one try to scale the ramparts and bridge the moats. We are one family, and we refuse to be divided. We cannot be content to be pampered while our brethren pine in want. Down with the barriers, and let the rich and poor meet together, for the Lord is the Maker of them all. C. H.S. NOTES OUR SICKNESS.
— The way appointed of the Lord is surely right, but sorely sorrowful, to many of his chosen. We fled from the land of cold to escape from our annual assault, and in this we acted upon the best judgment of human foresight, and yet we missed our aim. A wandering blast swept round the Mediterranean and found out our retreat, and we fall before it like the sere leaves, which still were lingering on the trees.
Doubtless the attack was less in force and duration than it might have been at home, but even in its mitigated form it has brought us very low, depressed a spirit far too often given to be sad, and left us so weak that every word we write costs a pang, and every thought is a labor. This is our portion, and the Lord’s will be done in it. We value greatly the prayers of our readers and friends, and believe that restoration will the more freely be given to as if they will seek it in prayer on our behalf. It is to us a great sorrow to be thus annually laid aside by severe pain; what can the end of it be? Either we shall have to count upon a certain period of retirement every year, or we may look for the close of a life whose wheels go round with a motion clogged and painful. If the last, we should at least hope to see all our enterprises kept in good order even to the final hour. The Lord send it may be so. One thing seems pretty certain, we cannot be at our post at the expected time, but must take time to recover strength. This is no matter of choice, but of sheer necessity: these heavy blows take a great deal out of a man, and he cannot soon shake off their effects. MR.GLADSTONE’ S SPEECHES.
— The grand blasts from Mr. Gladstone’s war-horn should arouse our nation. Their one note is a call to make righteousness and peace the guides of the nation instead of selfishness and blustering. Will men hear the call? Alas, it is to be feared that self and pride have greater charms. “British interests “are regarded as solid matters of consideration, while humanity and justice are treated as mere sentimental superfluities. “The Times,” which is ever the faithful mirror of the national mind, says about Afghanistan, which we have been so wantonly trampling under foot, — “ whatever is done must be done with a sole view to the future safety of India. No notion of what may be best for the Afghans ought to come in the way. It is their business, and not ours to pay attention to this.” It is our business to destroy all settled government in their country, and after we have ravaged the land to leave the poor wretches to make such arrangements as they can. Under such tutors we shall soon become a nation of demons. Time was when high principle ruled British hearts, and all parties in the State paid homage to liberty, to justice, and even to humanity; but now we are another people, ruled by other lords.
Can there be too .much speaking against this? Can Christ-runs be too excited and too eager to save their country from the evil which now sits dominant upon it? We think not. he who shall be backward when the time comes to deliver his land, let this great sin cleave unto him. If’ he will not rise to rescue his people from the huge crimes into which her present rulers are plunging her, he will be himself a partaker in their sins, and on his own head must the curse descend.
— The results of the School Board elections in London are worthy of study. There were no great party questions to arouse controversial zeal, and consequently, the affair was left to drift. Never did results more fully illustrate the blind way in which the public rushes hither and thither, unless led and guided. Our fellow-electors are willing enough to vote aright, but they do not know who is who, and consequently, the man who will spend a few pounds in advertising himself can secure his own election. It would not be impossible in the present condition of things for an organization of Papists, or Atheists, to secure places for all their candidates. As it is, some of the best men were not elected, and we mean by best, the most popular and most valued men, who would have headed the poll for certain if there had been a real contest, and the mass of the electors had voted. Many such men are elected, but they do not occupy leading positions on the list. This is a serious business. The education of our youth has been by Providence entrusted in part to us as Christian men.
Are we going to leave such a charge as if it were of no consequence? Is it, after all, a trifle how the rising generation shall be trained? Are Christian people so oblivious of their duties to their fellow-men that when asked to train the children, they reply, the work is beneath our notice, let the rowdies and the sectaries settle such worldly matters? It seems to us to be the bounden duty of each Christian man to vote for the best men for the School Board, and that it is equally the duty of some men among us of wealth and education to undertake the useful and philanthropic work of the Board. Ought not each district to have its own committee of Christian men, who shall meet before an election, consider the candidates, and advise the general public? Would not a good proportion of upright, God-fearing men, of generous sympathies and expanded views, be thus placed upon the Board? It is not for the Christian to descend into the dirt and trickery of politics, but in this case, as in others, to draw up politics into the light and power of the gospel of Christ. We advise that the Christian men of a district should form a Christian Consultation Committee, to watch for the public good upon such points. The United States has shown us what horrible corruption is engendered by Christian men refusing to be the salt of the world; let it not be so among us. Let us salt the meat before its corruptness utterly conquers us. VERY PERSONAL.
— As we must be absent through the Lord’s afflicting hand, we are compelled to make the following observations. For some reason or other subscriptions slacken and almost stop as soon as we leave home, nor do they rally till we return. If this continues we must come back at all hazards, for otherwise we shall have our ships aground. The Colportage is always the most in need, though one of the most deserving of our enterprises. The payment for the ground for the Girls’ Orphanage has made, we fear, but slow progress. For the other works little has come, but there are funds in hand which place us beyond absolute need. We are sure that the Lord will provide; but when one is very ill and weary, it is pleasant not to have your faith much tried. At such a time it is a double comfort to be remembered by friends, and to see that they will not allow the holy cause to suffer because the chief worker is laid aside. Satan loses one of his fiery darts when he can no longer whisper, “God forsakes you, and your friends forget you.” This weapon is forged out of lies, but he is none the less ready to use it in the dark and dreary hour.
— Each Friday afternoon after our departure, until the Christmas vacation commenced, Dr. Sinclair Paterson delivered a lecture to the students on behalf of the Christian Evidence Society. We have received most glowing accounts from many of the men of their appreciation of the Doctor’s discourses on “Theism and Science,” “Cause and Purpose in Nature,” “Evolution and Design,” and “Man and Conscience.” The high ability and intense earnestness manifested in the lectures will make the Doctor a great favorite with the Pastors’ College.
Mr. F. G. Marchant, pastor of the Baptist Church, Hitchin, will, after Christmas, become the Junior Mathematical and Classical Master of the Pastors’ College. Our friend has no intention of ceasing his ministry, but comes to work with us with the full consent of his church. Up till this date the vacancy has been most happily filled by the joint labors of Dr. Davies (York Road), and Mr. Wrench (Parish Street), from whom we part with most respectful regret.
During the past month Mr. J. S. Geale has accepted the pastorate of the church at Queen Square, Brighton.
Mr. C. H. Thomas, of Warwick, has come to London to help us in the secretarial work of the church, college, etc.
Mr. G. Stanley, of Whitstable, has removed to Eythorne, Kent; Mr. T.H. Smith, of Shefford, has gone to Hadden-ham, Cambridgeshire; and Mr.G. Dunnett, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, is going to Darkhouse Chapel, Coseley, Stafford-shire. Mr. H. Marsden, of Mansfield, Nottingham-shire, has been compelled, through ill-health, to resign his pastoral charge. Under medical advice he has sailed for Australia, where we hope, with renewed vigor, he will be able to get into harness again, He left on the 13th ult., in the Melanope, which is bound for Melbourne, but he thinks of going on to Brisbane. Friends in the colonies will please note that Mr. Marsden is a first-rate man, worthy of the utmost confidence, a man to be seized upon for a pastor by any church in need of a live minister.
The news has reached us that Mr. T. Cannon, late of Torquay, is dead. He was one of our earliest students, but inclined somewhat to the Plymouth Brethren. India. — Mr. Maplesden reports his safe arrival at Madras, after a very trying voyage. The members of the church, and ministers of other denominations, gave him a most hearty welcome, He writes that he considers the prospects of work are exceedingly encouraging.
Mr. Blackie has resigned the pastorate of the Lal Bazar church, Calcutta, having accepted the unanimous invitation of the church at Bombay. As the result of his. two years’ work in Calcutta, the church has prospered numerically, financially, and spiritually. The church writes to us for a pastor. May guidance from on high, be given us in making the choice. Africa. — Mr. Hamilton, of Cape Town, reports the opening of the “converted” wine-store at Rondebosch, five miles from the city where he lives. This is the first Baptist Chapel at Cape Town, and also in the western province of South Africa. Mr. Hamilton hopes soon to begin building his own chapel. Now that Mr. Batts has gone he greatly needs a co-pastor, as he has frequently three services on Sunday, and one every evening during the week, either in Cape Town or the surrounding villages. We are looking out for the man, and two of the Lord’s stewards promise the means to send him out.
Mr. Batts sends us good news from Port; Elizabeth. where he seems to be filling Mr. Stokes’s place very satisfactorily. He thinks there is a fine field for the right sort of men in South Africa. “The climate is almost perfect, we have in reality perpetual summer; fruits are plentiful, so is money, and above all, the fields are white unto the harvest . . . I could mention several places in which a work would at once open up if men could only get their passage expenses provided for them.” Now is the time for Baptists in South Africa, and as the Lord enables us we will not let the tide pass by us.
Our beloved friend, Mr. Johnson, sends us a very touching account of the illness and death of his dear wife. a few extracts from which will, we feel sure, evoke the heartiest sympathy and prayers of those of our readers who made their acquaintance while they were with us. It appears that the journey from Victoria to Bakundu occupied nearly three weeks, in consequence of the opposition raised by the king of Mungo to the passage of the missionaries through his dominions. They were within six hours’ march of their destination when they were stopped by a large band of armed natives, who compelled them to return to Mungo, where they were heavily fleeced, and sent back to Victoria. The exposure to the hot sun by day, and the heavy dews by night, together with the threatening attitude of the natives, seriously injured the health of the whole party. After a week’s rest they started again, Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Richardson being carried in hammocks. The men who were carrying Mrs. Johnson stumbled over a stone or stump of a tree, which hurt her back very much; and, to crown all, poor Mr. Johnson was seized with fever, so that he also had to ride in a hammock. After they reached Bakundu Mrs. Johnson took the fever; and, although she rallied for awhile, she was never really well. Much of the time both husband and wife were ill together, and so unable to help each other.
Of the later weeks of Mrs. Johnson’s life her sorrowing yet rejoicing partner thus writes: “The blessed Bible, which gives comfort and consolation such as nothing else can do. was her constant companion. Day utter day and night after night she would seek to know more of its contents. The rest which remains for the people of God was a theme she much delighted to dwell upon. The ‘Morning by Morning; or, Daily Bible Readings,’ was indeed a source of great comfort to her. The ‘Sermons,’ which are sent to me every month by Mr. Wigney’s class, were read and reread by her. About six weeks before her death she was much better, and the fevers all left her. Her favorite text was. ‘I shall be satisfied when I awake With thy likeness.’ On Sunday morning, June 29, while Brother Richardson and his wife were at the service, I was not well, and she came and sat by my bed and talked over our married life of over fifteen years.
The following Friday she was taken with a chill, followed by a severe fever.
On the Monday she slept all day. and complained at night that it had been lost time, as she had been unable to read the daily portion. As she had previously read the one for that day I selected, mother passage, ‘ I will never leave thee,’ which she enjoyed very much. During the night she was delirious, but in the morning she said. ‘Although my mind leaves me at times I have not lost sight of that rest. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.’ Just before noon her speech failed her, and she never spoke again.
On Wednesday afternoon I said, ‘Henrietta. do you love Jesus?’ Her lips moved, but she was too helpless to lift her hands. Just before candlelight I asked her if I should read the Bible. Her lips again moved, so I read part of John 14. At eight o’clock she commenced to breathe hard, and looked at me as though she wanted to speak. This lasted just a minute or two, and then she went home to live with my blessed Jesus. She is indeed now at rest and free. Little did I think when she sang with us, ‘Wait a little while, and then we’ll sing the new song,’ that she would leave us to sing it so soon.
But so it seemed good in the sight of our Father to call her home from the land of her fathers to be crowned. Since the death of my dear wife I thought at one time that I should soon follow her. My heart seemed to be affected in some way, and I suffered also from fever and neuralgia; but God has seen fit to raise me up again. I am match better, but far from being well. I wish sometimes I could come home and stay five or six months. I sometimes fear that I shall not be able to do the good I had hoped to do in Africa. but my Father knows all about it. If he wants me to serve him in this way, Amen God’s way is always the best way. . . Please ask the friends at the prayer-meeting to pray for the success of our work at Bakundu. I am now praying for the conversion of the young king. “Yours truly for Africa. “THOMAS L.JOHNSON.”
— After we had completed our “Notes” for the December magazine we received from Scarborough even more cheering news than that already published. The success of the services was so great that the evangelists were entreated. to remain a week beyond the time allotted. To this they gladly consented, and the re-suit proved the wisdom of the arrangement. As the circus was not available for the week-night services, the two next largest buildings in the town were simultaneously occupied each. evening, and. even then hundreds were unable to gain admission. The attendance at the noon prayer-meetings increased to seven hundred, Mr. Fullerton’s afternoon Bible readings attracted all congregations, while the closing meetings were of a very remarkable character. Nearly two thousand people attended the early morning prayer-meeting, and at least as many had to be shut out of the circus at the evening service. During their visit Messrs. Smith and Fullerton had their usual special gatherings for children, and for working men; and, in addition, they held a meeting for Band of Hope children, to which the little ones from the workhouse were invited.
Some of the spiritual results of the mission may be gathered from the fact that the invitations to tea were given to about two hundred persons who were believed to have been brought to a knowledge of the truth through the instrumentality of the evangelists. At one of the services they collected over £14 for the local Dispensary, and we are to receive as a thankoffering to our Evangelistic Fund the noble contribution of one hundred guineas.
We might fill many pages with interesting accounts of the work in Scarborough, but we must insert an extract from a report of services sent to a local paper by Mr. Adey: — “ Of the character of the preaching we can only say that both brethren have been trained in Mr. Spurgeon’s school, and that they have imbibed the steady faith and indomitable perseverance of their tutor and director. Conscious that they have following them the prayers of three thousand Christian people at the Metropolitan Tabernacle itself, who frequently send telegrams to them from their London meetings; conscious of the fact that their beloved pastor at Mentone, laid aside as he is by exhausting labors and painful sickness, is ever watching their work with interest; and, above all things, sustained by their own firm belief in the promise, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,’ these brethren, whether singing or preaching the gospel, are not plagued with doubts as other men are, and God is clearly blessing alike their faith and their works. Their theology is that of the old Puritans. They preach ruin by the Fall; redemption, regeneration, and justification by faith, in the old style and. with the old results. Mr. Fullerton, who is young, a circumstance which his critics cannot forget, and which his friends thankfully remember, has a grasp of the great primary truths of Christianity which is simply wonderful, and a power of adapting himself to the varying needs of each audience, that can only be appreciated fully by those who have followed him from place to place as we have done. “They have left behind them in Scarborough work for the churches of the town in gathering up the fruit of their labors, which will occupy the ministers and helpers of the Scarborough churches for a long time to come.... Whilst Christian people must rejoice as they see the old gospel winning its way victoriously, there are many people not professing Christianity who acknowledge that a work has been wrought in the town which demands record, which promises well for its true prosperity, and which shows that steady, unselfish, and well-directed efforts to reach the masses of the people meet with a rich reward.”
Mr. Fullerton mentions one very interesting instance out of many answers to prayer received at Scarborough. Special subjects were selected for each day’s petitions, and on the morning assigned to “seamen” prayer was asked for the crews of some boats long overdue, and almost given up in despair.
At the last meeting a man came to give thanks that in answer to prayer he had been rescued by the lifeboat, and it turned out that all the men prayed for had been brought into port in a most remarkable manner.
From Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, the evangelists were engaged at Cambridge, where they held daily noon prayer-meetings in the Congregational, Wesleyan, and Baptist chapels; and services every evening, and twice each Sunday, in the Barnwell Theater. This month they will be hard at work on the home farm, where we trust they will reap greater results from their sowing of the good seed of the kingdom than in any place they have visited before. MR.BURNHAM was at Thetford, Norfolk, from Nov. 10 to 16. PastorG. Monk writes, — “ At our meetings for prayer for several weeks before he came the burden of our petitions had been that much good might result from his coming. Our largest hopes have been more than realized. At no time during my pastorate have I seen so much interest awakened and sustained as during our brother’s stay with us; the chapel was well filled every evening except Saturday; several inquirers remained to speak with us, and best of all’ souls were saved and enabled to rejoice in Christ.”
From Nov. 17 to 30 Mr. Burnham was at Burton-on-Trent. The special feature of the services there was a daily open-air meeting in front of the chapel, which faces a large factory. Every day during the dinner hour, from three to four hundred working men were thus induced to listen to the gospel in song or story, the result of which cannot be known at present, but it must be productive of good. The indoor services were also well attended, and an earnest spirit prevailed, although but few actual cases of conversion were met with at the time. Mr. Burnham has since visited Naunton and Ginting, near Cheltenham, and Melford, Suffolk; and for this month he is fully engaged at Eye, Suffolk; Piss, Norfolk, and Driffield and Cranswick, Yorks.
— It was a golden hour for the Orphanage when Mr. Charlesworth proposed to train a choir of boys who should hold services of song for the Institution. The project has succeeded delightfully. We accord to Mr. Charles-worth and his helpers, and the orphans, all the credit which is due to them, and then it remains to be said that the main cause of success lies in the love of our many friends. During our illness we have had deep draughts of refreshment through the tours made by the boys in Kent and Hampshire. The boys have been treated like little princes, and the cause has been helped as by princes and queens. We had a long account prepared of the success of the meetings at Folkestone, Dover. Deal, and Chatham, but after reading it over, and feeling very moist about the eyes at the remembrance of many dear names in those places, whose kindness never fails, we thought it would not be well to print it. It seemed as if we should be sure to forget somebody if we entered into details, and as high-constable and mayors, churchmen and dissenters, all united with our special friends, we think we had better bow our sincere acknowledgments all round, and say, “God bless you all.” £82 4s. 6d. appears to be the net results of this week’s tour.
At South Street, Greenwich, the choir sang £20 into the treasury: at the same time aiding our dear son. May our children after the flesh and after the Spirit partake in one common blessing. At Dacre Park, Lee, our brother Usher entertained the choir, but the weather was unutterable. Proceeds unknown as vet.
The Hampshire tour commenced December 2nd. Mr. Medhurst’s friends, ever among our foremost helpers, received the lads right gladly. The collection came to £22 10s. The members of Mr. Medhurst’s Bible Class have during the year collected £50 thus., thus bringing up their help in one year to the noble amount of £73 6s. The first student is not to be excelled in his love to his old friend. How sweet, how uplifting to our heart is such true brotherly love! We invoke a thousand blessings on our brother and on the many who deal to us according to the same spirit.
When the lads moved on to Southampton, Mr. Mackey and his friends were equally alive and enthusiastic. Our dear old friend, Trestrail, with his glorious warm heart welcomed the lads at Newport, and with the aid of many friends made the matter a great success. The same may be said of Mr. Craig at Cowes, and Mr. Sparkes at West Cowes. In each case the institution was taken up either by the mayor or by some other leading gentlemen, while not only our own ministers, but those of other denominations joined in the effort of love. One who writes to us says, “You ought to be a very happy man.” Right, good friend, right.
Undeserved affection to us personally has been our happy portion, for the Lord’s sake, and we know that his love to us for Christ’s sake has produced much fruit for the orphans, and we are happy. We feel utterly unworthy of a thousandth part of the kind things which have been said and done, and we are glad that the friends make such a generous error in esteeming us far too highly, since it leads them to help the fatherless. Thank you, dear friends, thank you from the deeps of my heart.
During the present month Mr. Charles-worth has arranged meetings, commencing on the 12th, at Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, and Hereford; and he is negotiating a series in Liverpool through the kindness of the executive of the Local Baptist Union.
The first troop of girls has been received at the new Orphanage. We may therefore say that “The Hawthorns” have put forth their first blossoms in midwinter. Behold a miracle of grace!
Friends, please remember that the next Collectors’ meeting will be held at the Orphanage on Friday, January 9. Make it a good meeting to give the girls a hearty welcome.
Most generous was the impulse which led Dr. Parker on a sudden to make a collection for the Orphanage. May God bless him in return. Our intercourse with him has been but slender, hence the utter spontaneousness of his kindly deed was the more striking and refreshing to our heart. The cause deserves everybody’s help, but presented as a personal token of sympathy the Doctor’s unexpected aid is most grateful to our heart. This is the warm brotherly letter which came to us when in our lowest plight. It was not meant for the press, but we hope we do no wrong in printing it: — “Dear Mr. Spurgeon, — Last Thursday morning I asked my hearers to make a collection on behalf of the Orphanage, and they gave about £15 in the boxes. The matter was gone into without the slightest notice or preparation, or the result would have been larger.
We do not like to send a cheque for anything under £ 20, hence the difference between the collection and the enclosed. Use it for the boys or girls just as you like, and always remember that the City Temple pulpit is open when you care to occupy it in the interests of your Orphanage. t want you to be young for ever, and strong to do the work you love. God bless you with rest and hope. “Ever sincerely yours, JOSEPH PARKER.”
— This work is being car-lied on by the agents and Committee and Secretary with all their might, but nothing which we write about it seems to elicit sympathy or to bring help. There is great present need for this agency, God has greatly blessed it in former years, it is a work which deserves the earnest help of all Christian men: — but if others do not think so we must leave it. We will carry it on as we have means; but we confess that we are greatly disheartened. No other enterprise of ours has ever dragged along like this work, and yet there is not one which exceeds it in value.
— In recent numbers of The Sword and the Trowel several instances have been given of the good effects of “Spurgeon’s Sermons,” will you allow the writer to add one more? In one of our resorts for invalids in the Midland Counties is a man of almost world-wide distinction, but who was better known thirty or forty years ago than he is to-day. His history is brimful of interesting incidents, and, when written, will be one of the most remarkable in modern times. He has seen eightyeight summers, and though his natural force is abeted, and his eyes somewhat dimmed, he can, with the aid of a lens, see to read the daily papers, and is conversant with all the current events in national and social life. He is as sensitive as a barometer to any change in the diplomacy of the courts of Europe, and especially is this the case with anything connected with the tribes of Israel, and their restoration to their own land. He has crossed the desert to visit Palestine, and on his first visit was accompanied by Dr. Black (who spoke nineteen languages), McCheyne, and Bonar. He has been the contemporary of some of the most distinguished divines, physicians, and writers that Scotland has ever known. He is now confined to his bed, from which he knows he will never be lifted until he is carried to the place of sepulcher. Not a murmur, however, escapes his lips. He has the piety of a saint and the simplicity of a child; but you can see the old fire burn when the foundation truths are assailed by men of modern thought.
His chief joy on the Sabbath, dear Mr. Editor, is to hear one of your sermons. The reader is a little maid; and he avows that he has the best preacher and hears the best sermon in the town. Need I say that our aged friend is Dr. Alexander Keith, the author of “The Evidence of Prophecy” and other valuable works. I am not commissioned by the seer to send you the above, but I am commissioned to give you his grateful thanks for the rich feast you give him. He, moreover, wished me to say that, while spending the winter at the Bridge of Allan, two or three years ago, your sermons were read by invalids in five separate rooms of the same establishment every Sunday. Many prayers go up daily to heaven for the continuance of your health and life, but not the least fervent come from the lips of this dear old man. W.B.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle. — October 23rd, fifteen; 24th two: 27th, seventeen; 30th, thirteen; November 27th, fifteen; December 4th, twenty. Statement of Receipts from November 15th to December 14th, 1879.