UNTO THE END BY C. H. SPURGEON.
FINAL perseverance may well be regarded, as . one of the crowning gifts of divine love. It is the Kohinoor among the jewels of mercy. It is an attainment which will test to utmost the noblest graces, and display the grandest attributes of God. Perseverance in itself is admirable, but carried on to the last hour it will be glorious. Happy and honored will he be who endures till the end.
Men in middle life are best able to judge of the strain involved in being “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” To mount up with wings as eagles, and even to run without weariness, are by no means such attainments as to “walk without fainting” from year to year.
It may be true that “it is the pace that kills,” but for our part we find it no small test of life to continue in the race from youth to age. “Having done all, to stand” is such a thing as God alone can work in us, even the God who for ages has sustained the heavens and the earth.
The element of “stay” is a fine one, and if it be altogether lacking in a man’s character its absence is fatal. Often have we seen the best intentions, the most earnest resolves, and the most sensible schemes dissolve into thin air because patient endurance was not called into action. The new minister, when he took the pastorate, projected a grand enterprise, started a journal, opened new rooms, delivered courses of lectures, gathered various classes, commenced a crusade, inaugurated several societies, and did, — well, everything possible and impossible — upon paper . Where are his projects now? Where the societies, the classes, the journal, the aggressive movements? They suture in the radiant memories of those who live on the past because the present affords them little or no provender. A boy’s crackers on a bonfire night are the fit emblems of many “a great work,” which in our time has been for a moment “seen of angels,” and then buried, man knows not where. Yet, is not permanency in religion the test of sincerity and reality? and may we not judge that things which have a speedy and untimely end cannot be of God? In this light the flashes of the moment and the coruscations of the hour are not so much things to smile at as to mourn over. Have not many things which seemed to be of the Lord proved to be poor human notions, since they have consumed away like smoke, and passed from us as the morning cloud? Alas for the faded hopes and withered projects which strew the ground thick as leaves in autumn!
Surveying the wrecks of others, the cautious sailor thinks of his own vessel, and prudently considers whether his barque may not one day be added to the register of ruin. God grant that it be not so. Yet it would be no small wonder if such were to be the case, for who shall for ever swim where so many drown? Certainly, it will need all the strength that can be had to keep the head above water year after year. It is easy enough to stand fast for a while, but to remain as a pillar i, the house of the Lord, — this is the work, this is the difficulty. A man might not find it easy to burn at the stake in a sharp fire, and yet that would be a small feat as contrasted with standing hour alter hour amid the smoking faggots, and having limb by limb consumed by the gnawing fires of green wood. One might joyfully lay down his head on the block, to offer up his life by one stroke of the axe; but how different it would be to die a piecemeal death of long-drawn agony, a week of torment apparently never to end!
A great statesman, the other day, celebrated his seventieth birthday by a retrospect of his life; it is meet that old age should look back. To us, however, in the middle of the stream, it seems more natural to look around on present circumstances. Years ago, at a younger age, our tendency was to look ahead, and long for a great future; nor would we forego the habit, but still the pressure of long years, and growing burdens, and a sense of diminishing strength unite to keep the eyes occupied with the things of today, and the connection of the present with the infinite and eternal. It appeared to us when looking forward that the Christian life-work would require a power far beyond our own, but now we more intensely feel the certainty of that fact, and were it not for divine help we should give up in despair. If still sustained, after all these years of conflict, grace must indeed have the glory of it, and here upon the altar of the present we would offer the calves of our lips, giving glory to the Lord, the God of our salvation.
Doubtless divine love will be glorified in the closing hours of the mature Christian, but it is emphatically magnified in the stern period when the burden and heat of the day are on the laborer, when the novelty and romance of youth are over, and the nearness of the reward is not yet vividly certified by old age. Of all parts of the stream, the hardest to ford is the middle: there the water is deepest, the current swiftest, and the footing least secure. Lord, hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. This is the prayer which oftenest leaps from our lips. “Thus saith the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” We have lived long enough to experience the hollowness of earth, and the rottenness of all carnal promises. Our work, though it be holy, presses heavily upon the shoulder, and we see not all the fruit of it which we expected in earlier days. Many strong helpers have been taken away by death, and the enthusiasm which made our earlier friends leap forward with their aid is not repeated to the full at a second sound of the clarion. The decline is only apparent to fear; but apprehension has the eyes of a hawk, and spies out the smallest discouragement. The world grows better very slowly: we sometimes fear that it grows worse. The church relapses to her former sloth; the good are weary, and the wicked wax impudent; the times are out of joint, and evil days are threatening. What can happen better to a man than to go home? Happy is he who is taken from the evil to come, or hears the sound of his descending Master’s coming ere yet the shadows of the day are lengthened to the utmost.
Thus does middle age prose when it is under the influence of its most somber hour. The ink grows thick, and the pen is clogged, and makes black strokes and heavy. The subject should be treated in a more believing manner, and written of, not according to the flesh, but after the spirit.
Doubtless length of days tries our graces, but what length of days have we to speak of? We who are sighting fifty, or passing beyond it? Half a century is a trifle in the life of God. True, there is a flagging of human energy, and the warm blood of youth cools down; but our Christian life never stood in the strength of the creature, and hence it cannot flag, since the Creator grows not old, nor is his arm waxed short. The same power which begat will preserve. Omnipotence first made the believer rise into newness of life, and until it fails his life will continue ever fresh and young.
Well said the Psalmist, “All my fresh springs are in thee.” What if others suffer shipwreck, yet none that sail with Jesus have ever been stranded yet.
Purposes, plans, and achievements of men may all disappear like you cloud upon the mountain’s summit, but, like the mountain itself, the things which are of God shall stand fast for ever and ever. Now is the time, in the lull of natural energy, to prove the power of the Holy Ghost. The trees of earth as they pass their prime decrease the quantity and quality of their fruit: it is a mark of the trees of grace that they still bring forth fruit in old age to show that the Lord is upright. The faithfulness of God may be relied upon to work a growing faithfulness in his people. Never so conscious of dependence as in this middle passage, never so certain of the all-sufficiency of God as in this noontide of the day, we joy in the Lord and look for even richer mercies than ever.
Young men trust God, and make the future bright with blessing. Old men trust God, and magnify him for all the mercies of the past. As for us, we mingle gratitude and expectation in equal portions, and pray to stand in this present hour, faithful to the Master in whose grace we trust.
NOTES So far as these notes are personal to the Editor they must needs be brief.
Little can be said of a good night’s rest; when you can talk about sleep it must have been un-refreshing, and in our experience the most complete restfulness is that in which there are no incidents worthy of record. We have been in a land where the sun’s first beams call you to open the window and let in the balmy air; where in midwinter the flowers which exist in our conservatories are flourishing and flowering in the open garden, — this alone is a joy. Added to this the people speak no English, and do not know us by repute, so that when we walk the streets we are not questioned or begged of by every third person. Quite enough of callers are on hand to keep the day from stagnation, but one is sometimes left alone, and this is no mean blessing. Besides, there are the olive gardens and the woods, and here one can be lost to every human eye. As far as perfect repose can be had on earth we have had five weeks of it, and we are thankful. On returning to London we look up with deep anxiety and fervent hope, longing for, and expecting, a blessing. Mr. Moody’s Sabbath at the Tabernacle must be recorded, for we are greatly obliged to him for undertaking the service in the midst of his pressing engagements. The enormous crowds that gathered created a great and serious danger which would have driven most men to despair, but our deacon, Mr. Murrell, faced the difficulty and pushed through it.
Extraordinary precautions had to be taken to preserve life and limb. If you have twelve thousand people all eager to get into a building which cannot hold more than six thousand, what can you do? Our seat-holders in the evening most commendably lent their tickets to others, and thus gave a second set of people the opportunity of hearing the great evangelist; but this, of course, did not lessen the heavy pressure of the eager multitude.
We see clear evidence that if Messrs. Moody and Sankey again visit London no building will be sufficiently capacious to hold the crowds who will gather to hear them. Their hold upon the multitude has by no means diminished. May the Lord send a great blessing upon their efforts, and may London, on this occasion, have a double portion of the resulting benefit.
While lingering at Cannes upon our way to Mentone, we heard of the lamented death of John Best, and we exclaimed at once, “What will the epileptics do now?” Three years ago he was in Mentone with us, and we wrote of him as one of the three mighties who visited us in our cave: and now he is with God! Who would have said that he would go first? Yet we are spared, and this riper brother has been taken. The Lord grant that it may be for the benefit of his church and the glory of his name. We hear that Mr. Best was taken home by a stroke, the second which had befallen him.
— During the past month the following students have become pastors:-Mr. P. Blaikie, at Newcastle-under-Lyme; Mr. W. Bonser, at Burslem, Staffordshire; Mr. J. G. Gibson, at St. Andrew’s, N. B.; and Mr. W. Smolden, at Lochee, N. B., in place of our Brother Cameron, who has been obliged to resign in consequence of prolonged illness. Mr. Yeatman has gone to superintend for a time the mission carried on by Mrs. Robert Gladstone, near Liverpool.
The President has also peculiar pleasure in announcing that another Pastors’ College student, his son, Thomas Spurgeon, has accepted the pastorate of the church at Auckland, New Zealand, lately raider the care of Pastor A. W. Webb.
Mr. S. H. Akehurst has removed from Harston to Arthur-street, Camberwell. May he enjoy a divine anointing for this most important sphere. Mr. C. Chambers moves from Stoke-on-Trent to Perth, N. B.; Mr. T. G. Gathercole, from Martham to East-street, St. Neot’s; and Mr.J. Spanswick, from Northampton to Long Buckby.
We are glad to learn from Mrs. Grattan Guinness’ magazine, The Regions Beyond, that when the last news arrived our late student, Mr. Billington, was in charge of the Banana station on the Congo.
Another of our brethren, Mr. D. Lyall, of the Cameroons Mission, has fallen a victim to the terrible climate of Africa. Very earnestly do we pray that his young widow may be divinely sustained under this sore trial. In this African Mission the world may clearly see the patience of the saints, and the unconquerable heroism which will die to will Africa for Christ. The Missionary Herald for last month contained the joyful news that Brother W. J. White had baptized another Japanese convert. This fruit of his labors greatly cheered him when he was in deep waters through the death of his wife.
The students re-assemble after the Christmas holidays on Monday, Jan. 16.
Several have settled lately, and others are preaching with a view to the pastorate, but we have not judged it wise to receive any fresh men with the exception of a few whom we have long promised to admit when we could find room for them. The funds of the College have not been augmented much during the President’s absence, although the outgoings have been as heavy as usual; but he supposes the donors have been waiting for his return, and that there will now be a golden ram upon this portion of the Lord’s vineyard committed to his care. Even his love to the Orphanage cannot make him place the College in the second rank. No amount of sympathy for the widow and the fatherless will ever make him forget the important work of training men to preach “the glorious gospel of the blessed God.”
Our esteemed friend, Professor Selway, who has for twenty years delivered courses of scientific lectures to the students of the College, now finds that his other work takes up all his time; therefore he has asked us to find a substitute, and we have secured the services of Mr. Frank R. Cheshire. We cannot allow Mr. Selway to retire without expressing our profound regard for him, and our sincere gratitude for his faithful and zealous services.
The students’ secretary reports that he has received for the College stall at the Bazaar a box of articles from Mrs. Sims, Nottingham; a contribution from “an old student and his wife”; parcels from Miss Coope, Somerton; Pastors M. Mather, Holbeach; E. Morley, Halstead; H. A. Fletcher, Aylesbury; and G. D. Cox and friends, Melton Mowbray; and promises of help from Brethren Mackey, Southampton; Marshall, Birmingham; Rankine, Guildford; Sharp, Twerton-on-Avon; Kemp, Langham; Anderson, Dalton-in-Furness; Wilson, Iredcar; and Jeffery, Folkestone. We feel sure that the College will in this case, as in all past instances, occupy a first-class position in the common effort for the orphans.
— One of our helpers, who has attended almost all Messrs.
Smith and Fullerton’s services at the Tabernacle, has sent us an interesting summary of the meetings; but as Tabernacle friends have been upon the spot we will only say in print that we rejoice in the evident blessing which has rested upon the labors of these two admirable servants of God. The attendance upon the services has not been all that the brethren looked for, but the eases of blessing are many. In all places to which they have gone these brethren have won the confidence and love of those with whom they have labored, and none have spoken against them but those who know nothing of them.
It is with regret that we have seen in a Baptist newspaper certain criticisms upon our Evangelists. We cannot conceive that any useful purpose can be served by such strictures except that they will be overruled to drawing greater attention to these useful workers. We expect men of the world to find fault with well-intended endeavors to draw the masses to hear the gospel, but we hardly looked for it from brethren in Christ. When an assault comes from them, it is peculiarly trying, for one is apt to say, “It was not an enemy; then I could have borne it.” Yet, as the motive and intent of the criticisms were, no doubt, excellent, the best way is to learn all we can from them, and think no more of them. It will be long before all good men will be agreed upon modes of operation; almost as long, we fear, before all earnest men will cease from hard speeches; we must, therefore, gel; on as well as we can with our brethren, and love them none the less for being a little acid now and then. The extraordinary liberties which some are taking with all the proprieties may well drive our older friends into their growleries: we feel half inclined to go into our own when the wind is in the east, and when we have just read something specially outrageous.
One thing we have fished out of the sea of words which has lately surged around us, and this has been considerably to our comfort our brethren appear to, have been censured all the more heartily because their preaching has a decidedly Calvinistic tone. This reconciles us to all the censorious remarks. Evidently theft doctrine is the head and front of theft offending, and we hope they will always remain liable to the like condemnation. We might have found fault with zealous brethren for their Arminianism; but we have not done so, because we regarded it as a frequent infirmity of noble minds; we will not exact the like generosity from all upon the other side, but we wish they could manifest it spontaneously. Thank God, the bulk of them do so.
We have received, with many thanks, £50 for the Evangelists’ Fund from our Brother Sawday’s friends, as a thankoffering for Messrs. Smith and Fullerton’s services at Vernon Chapel; and a similar sum from Mr. Stott’s good people at Abbey-road.
Encouraging reports of Mr. Burnham’s visits have been received from Winslow, Bucks; Southwell, Notts; and Mirfield, Birkby, and Staincliffe, Yorkshire. It is very remarkable that for a long time nearly every account of our brother’s work has closed with the expression of regrets that, just when the greatest success and blessing have been attending his labors, he has been obliged to move on to fulfill his next engagement. This may suggest to brethren who are arranging services that, in most instances, even in villages or small towns, it will be wise to secure the evangelist’s help for a fortnight at least, as experience has proved that a week’s meetings, as a rule, bring the preacher and the people into full sympathy with one another and with the work, and prepare them for a greater measure of blessing than is generally realized at the beginning of the services.
— Before this number of the magazine can be in the hands of most of our readers, the Christmas festivities will be all over, though not forgotten by the boys and girls at Stockwell. At the time when these “Notes” were made up the contributions for this object were coming in, and doubtless all that will be needed will be forthcoming from one source or another. In the name of the lads and lasses we make a profound bow to all our kind friends, and say, “THANK YOU.” Then we wave our hat, and hundreds of voices shout out three hearty cheers for one and all who remembered the orphans.
Early in December Mr. Charlesworth and his choir visited Southampton and Portsmouth. They have always had a warm reception when they have gone to these places before, but Mr. Charlesworth says they never had such large and enthusiastic meetings as they have had on this occasion.
Very heartily do we thank our Southern friends for again helping the Orphanage so soon after having given us collections at the Baptist Union services. We are also very grateful to all at Southend and Maidenhead who contributed to the success of the orphans’ visits to those towns.
Just as we were threatened with another illness, the cheering news reached us that under the will of the late Robert Nicholson, Esq., of Dumfries, the Orphanage will receive from £1,500 to £2,000, as a thankoffering for the comfort derived by the testator from reading our sermons. We are very thankful for such generous remembrance of our work, but beg to inform our readers that the bequest only takes effect twelve months hence, and meanwhile our large family must still depend upon the constant care of numerous helpers who regularly send to us as the orphans’ Father prompts them. We are grateful to say that we have no cause for immediate anxiety, and all we desire is that as we increase the number of girls under our care our income should grow in like proportion.
The great event this month is, of course, the grand BAZAAR in aid of the fund for the completion of the Girls’ Orphanage. This is to be held in the Lecture-hall and Schoolrooms, which occupy the entire area under the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on Tuesday, Jan. 3rd, and three following days .
Mr. Murrell and his army of assistants are working hard to prepare the rooms for the reception of the goods, the stall-keepers are all vieing with one another to see which can render most help to the orphan girls, and we do not know anything that is needed now except a host of purchasers to come and clear the stalls of the useful and ornamental articles that will be on sale, In addition to the contributions in cash and goods, acknowledged on other pages, we have received some choice Indian work from our good friend, Mr. J. Gelson Gregson, and another parcel is on its way from Constantinople. Several of the American denominational papers; have asked their readers to send help for he Bazaar Fund, and we expect many will respond to the appeal, for we have large numbers of friends on the other side of the Atlantic. While distant lands are thus remembering our work it is not likely that sympathy will be lacking at home, and we now give the heartiest possible invitation to all in town or country, who love the widow and fatherless, to come to the Bazaar, or to send us a brick, or a plank, or a window, or a door, or a room, that the whole block of buildings needed for the proper accommodation of two hundred and fifty girls may speedily be completed.
— At the beginning of another year we call attention again to the immense good which is being done by the Colportage Association.
Could the readers of The Sword and the Trowel visit the depot at magazine-time, when the monthly periodicals are ready to be despatched to the colporteurs, it would help them to realize more vividly how widespread is the extent of this work. Here are huge piles of all the best periodicals published, from the halfpenny monthly for the children to the sedate and erudite sixpenny and sevenpenny magazine for the more advanced. Many thousands of these, besides Bibles and other good books, are carried by our agents every mouth, some of them into remote country villages, and others into busy manufacturing towns; and God is blessing the reading of these silent messengers. Will our readers pray for the colporteurs, as they go on their ofttimes lonely rounds, now selling a book or giving a tract, then conversing with the laborer at work or the wife busy at home, about the welfare of the soul; now addressing a band of cottagers in some villagekitchen, then whispering words of comfort into the ear of the suffering or dying? Here is an evangelist and a bookseller in one person. We want to have at least one hundred colporteurs at work forthwith. Seventy-two are already employed; but what are these compared with the need existing?
Thousands of souls are perishing in our rural districts for want of a knowledge of the gospel. Ignorance and vice abound, while Ritualism and infidelity are busy trying to deepen the darkness already existing. The colporteur does not supplant, but helps all other Christian workers of whatever denomination.
Mr. R. E. Mackenzie, our recently-appointed traveling secretary, reports that he has received guarantees for a new colporteur in Tewkesbury and Cheltenham districts. Our general fund needs increased help to keep pace with the extra cost of opening new districts, consequently contributions, large or small, will be at all times thankfully received.
— Our son Tom, in a letter recently written to his mother from Auckland, enclosed a portion torn off an old Australian paper, concerning which he sends the following interesting particulars: — “This scrap of newspaper has been given to me by a town-missionary here, who regards it as a very precious relic. It came to him from a man who died in the hospital, and bequeathed it to his visitor as a great treasure. It is a portion of the Melbourne Argus. and of father’s sermon (‘ Loving Advice for Anxious Seekers,’ No. 735). The man found it on the floor of a hut in Australia, and was brought by its perusal to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. He kept it carefully while he lived (for it was discolored and torn when he found it), and on his death-bed he gave it to the missionary as the only treasure he had to leave behind him. I thought dear father might like to have it in his book; if not, send it back to me that I may return it to its owner, who says he often feels encouraged by glancing at it. It was his desire, however, that I should send it home, that the dear preacher might be encouraged.”
The following paragraph may be of use to those of our readers who distribute books and tracts. The parcels are marvelous, both for quantity, quality, and price.
Very great has been the desire on the part of clergymen and missionworkers to avail themselves of the liberal offer made by the “British Gospel Book Association.” Far more than the 20,000 volumes of Miss Hayer-gaps book will be needed to supply the requests for it, and therefore the same donor has not only decided to double the grant, and send out another 20,000 volumes, but also to pay the cost of distributing £2.000 worth of halfpenny and penny books at the same rate, viz.,QUARTER PRICE.
Many of these books are by Miss Havergal, and some by Mrs. Pennefather and Mr. Haslam, and they are among the most attractively got-up books that we have seen. Distributors can get a £2 parcel for 10s., or a £4 parcel for 20s. Applications for these books must be sent direct to the “Secretary,” British Gospel Book Association, 3, Hackins Hey (Exchange), Liverpool.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle. — Dec. 1st, seventeen. Pastors College, Metropolitan Tabernacle Statement of Receipts from November 15th to December 14th, 1881