MEALTIME IN THE CORNFIELDS.
SERMON NO. 522 BY C. H. SPURGEON ALSO FROM THE “FARM SERMONS”
“And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.” — Ruth 2:14.
WE are going to the cornfields, as we did last year, not however, so much to glean, as to rest with the reapers and the gleaners, when under some wide-spreading oak, they sit down to take refreshment. We hope there will be found some timid gleaner here, who will accept our invitation to come and eat with us, and who will find confidence enough to dip her morsel in the vinegar. May they have courage to feast to the full on their own account, and then to carry home a portion to their needy friends at home.
I. Our first point this morning is this —THAT GOD’ S REAPERS HAVE THEIRMEALTIMES.
Those who work for God will find him a good master. He cares for oxen, and has commanded his Israel, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Much more doth he care for his servants who serve him. “He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.” The reapers in Jesus’ fields shall not only receive a blessed reward at the last, but they shall have plenteous comforts by the way. He is pleased to pay his servants twice: first in the labor itself, and a second time in the labor’s sweet results. He gives them such joy and consolation in the service of their Master, that it is a sweet employ, and they cry, “We delight to do thy will, O Lord.” As heaven is made up of serving God day and night, so to true workers, their constantly serving God on earth brings with it a rich foretaste of heaven.
God has ordained certain mealtimes for his reapers; and he has appointed that one of these shall be when they come together to listen to the Word preached . If God be with our ministers, they act as the disciples did of old, for they received the barley loaves and fishes from Christ as he multiplied them, and handed them to the people. We, of ourselves, cannot feed one soul, much less thousands; but when the Lord is with us, we can keep as good a table as Solomon himself, with all his fine flour, and fat oxen, and roebucks, and fallow-deer. When the Lord blesses the provisions of his House, no matter how many thousands there may be, all his poor shall be filled with bread. I hope, beloved, you know what it is to sit under the shadow of the Word with great delight, and find the fruit thereof sweet unto your taste. Where the doctrines of grace are boldly and plainly delivered to you in connection with the other truths of revelation; where Jesus Christ upon his cross is ever lifted up; where the work of the Spirit is not forgotten; where the glorious purpose of the Father is never despised, there is sure to be food for the children of God. We have learned not to feed upon oratorical flourishes, or philosophical refinings; we leave these fine things, these twelfth-cake ornaments, to be eaten by those little children who can find delight in such unhealthy dainties: we prefer to hear truth, even when roughly spoken, to the fine garnishings of eloquence without the truth. We care little about how the table is served, or of what ware the dishes are made, so long as the covenant bread and water, and the promised oil and wine, are given us. Certain grumblers among the Lord’s reapers do not feed under the preached Word, because they do not intend to feed; they come to the House of Bread on purpose to find fault, and therefore they go away empty. My verdict is, “It serves them right.” Little care I to please such hearers. I would as soon feed bears and jackals, as attempt to supply the wants of grumbling professors. How much mischief is done by observations made upon the preacher! How often do we censure where our God approves. We have heard of a high doctrinal deacon, who said to a young minister who was supplying the pulpit on probation, “I should have enjoyed your sermon very much, sir, if it had not been for that last appeal to the sinner. I do not think that dead sinners should be exhorted to believe in Jesus.” When that deacon reached home, he found his own daughter in tears. She became converted to God, and united with the Church of which that young man ultimately became the minister. How was she converted, think you? By that address at the close of the sermon, which her father did not like. Take heed of railing at that by which the Holy Ghost saves souls. There may be much in the sermon which may not suit you or me, but then we are not the only persons to be considered. There is a wide variety of characters, and all our hearers must have “their portion of meat in due season.” Is it not a selfishness very unlike the spirit of a Christian, which would make me find fault with the provisions, because I cannot eat them all? There should be the unadulterated milk for the babe in grace, as well as the strong substantial meat for the full-grown believer.
Beloved, I know that however murmurers may call our manna “light bread,” yet our gracious God does “in this mountain make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”
Often, too, our gracious Lord appoints us mealtimes in our private readings and meditations . Here it is that his “paths drop fatness.” Nothing can be more fattening to the soul of the believer than feeding upon the Word, and digesting it by frequent meditations. No wonder that some grow so little, when they meditate so little. Cattle must chew the cud; it is not what they crop with their teeth, but that which is masticated, and afterwards digested by rumination, that nourishes them. We must take the truth, and roll it over and over again in the inward parts of our spirit, and so we shall extract divine nourishment therefrom. Have you not, my brethren, frequently found a Benjamin’s mess prepared for you in a choice promise of your God? Is not meditation the land of Goshen to you? If men once said, “There is corn in Egypt,” may they not always say, that the finest of the wheat is to be found in secret prayer? Private devotion is a land which floweth with milk and honey; a paradise yielding all manner of fruits; a banqueting house of choice wines. Ahasuerus might make a great feast, but all his hundred and twenty provinces could not furnish such dainties as the closet offers to the spiritual mind. Where can we feed and lie down in green pastures in so sweet a sense as we do in our musings on the Word? Meditation distills the quintessence from the Scriptures, and gladdens our mouth with a sweetness which exceeds the virgin honey dropping from the honeycomb. Your retired seasons and occasions of prayer, should be to you regal entertainments, or at least refreshing seasons, in which, like the reapers at noonday, you sit with Boaz and eat of your Master’s generous provisions. “The Shepherd of Salisirury Plain ” — you who have read that excellent book will remember — was wont to say, “That when he was lonely, and when his wallet was empty, his Bible was to him meat, and drink, and company too.” He is not the only man who has found a fullness in the Word when there is want without. During the battle of Waterloo, a godly soldier mortally wounded, was carried by his comrade into the rear, and being placed with his back propped up against a tree, he besought his friend to open his knapsack, and take out the Bible which he had carried in it. “Read to me,” he said, “one verse, before I close my eyes in death.” His comrade read him that verse: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you;” and there, fresh from the whistling of the bullets, and the roll of the drum, and the tempest of human conflict, that believing spirit enjoyed such holy calm, that ere he fell asleep in the arms of Jesus, he said, “Yes, I have a peace with God which passeth all understanding, which keeps my heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” Saints most surely have their mealtimes when they are alone in meditation.
Let us not forget, that there is one specially ordained mealtime which ought to occur oftener, but which, even monthly, is very refreshing to us, I mean the Supper of the Lord . There you have literally, as well as spiritually, a meal. The table is richly spread; it has upon it both meat and drink; there is the bread and the wine, and looking at what these symbolize, we have before us a table richer than that which kings could furnish. There we have the flesh and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereof if a man eat, he shall never hunger and never thirst, for that bread shall be undo him everlasting life. Oh! the sweet seasons we have known at the Lord’s Supper. If some of you really did understand the enjoyment of feeding upon Christ in that ordinance, you would chide yourselves for not having united with the Church in fellowship. In keeping the Master’s commandments there is a “great reward,” and consequently in neglecting them there is a great loss of reward. Christ is not so tied to the Sacramental table as to be always found of those who partake thereat, but still it is in the way that we may expect the Lord to meet with us. “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” is a sentence of touching power. “And his commandments are not grievous,” is the confession of all obedient sons.
Sitting at this table, our soul has mounted up from the emblem to the reality; we have eaten bread in the kingdom of God, and have leaned our head upon Jesus’ bosom. “He brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love.” On these occasions we may compare ourselves to poor Mephibosheth, who though lame and despicable in his own esteem, yet was made to sit at King David’s table; or we may liken ourselves to the little ewe lamb in the parable, which did eat of its Master’s bread, and drink from his cup, and slept in his bosom. The prodigal, who once fed upon husks, sits down to eat the bread of children. We, who were worthy to be esteemed as dogs, are here permitted to take the place of adopted sons and daughters.
Besides these regular mealtimes, there are others which God gives us, at seasons when perhaps we little expect them . You have been walking the street, and suddenly you have felt a holy flowing out of your soul toward God; or, in the middle of business your heart has been melted with love and made to leap for joy even as the brooks which have been bound with winter’s ice leap to feel the touch of spring. You have been groaning, dull and earth-bound; but the sweet love of Jesus has embraced you when you scarce thought of it, and your spirit, all free, and all on fire, has rejoiced to dance before the Lord with tabrets and high-sounding cymbals, like Miriam of old. I have had times occasionally in preaching, when I would fain have kept on far beyond the appointed hour, for my happy soul was like a vessel wanting vent. Seasons too you have had on your sick-beds, when you would have been content to be sick always, if you could have your bed so well made, and your head so softly pillowed. “These are the joys he lets us know In fields and villages below:
Gives us a relish of his love, But keeps his noblest feast above.” Our blessed Redeemer comes to us in the morning, and wakes us up with such sweet thoughts upon our soul, we know not how they came; as if, when the dew was visiting the flowers, a few drops of heaven’s dew had fallen upon us. In the cool eventide, too, as we have gone to our beds, our meditation of him has been sweet. Nay, in the night watches, when we tossed to and fro, and could not sleep, he has been pleased to become our song in the night. “He is the spring of all my joys, The life of my delights; The glory of my brightest days, And comfort of my nights.” God’s reapers find it hard work to reap; but they find a blessed solace when they sit down and eat of their Master’s rich provisions; then, with renewed strength, they go with sharpened sickle, to reap again in the noontide heat.
Let me observe, that while these mealtimes come, we know not exactly when, there are certain seasons when we may expect them . The Eastern reapers generally sit down under the shelter of a tree, or a booth, to take refreshment during the heat of the day. And certain I am, that when trouble, affliction, persecution, and bereavement, become the most painful to us, it is then that the Lord hands out to us the sweetest comforts. As we said last Thursday night, some promises are written in sympathetic ink, and can only have their meaning brought out by holding them before the fire of affliction. Some verses of Scripture must be held to the fire till they are scorched, before the glorious meaning will stand forth in clear letters before our eyes. We must work till the hot sun forces the sweat from our face; we must bear the burden and heat of the day before we can expect to be invited to those choice meals which the Lord prepares for those who are diligent in his work. When thy day of trouble is the hottest, then the love of Jesus shall be sweetest; when thy night of trial is the darkest, then will his candle shine most brightly about thee; when thy head aches most heavily — when thy heart palpitates most terribly — when heart and flesh fail thee, then he will be the strength of thy life, and thy portion for ever.
Again, these mealtimes frequently occur before a trial. Elijah must be entertained beneath a juniper tree, for he is to go a forty-days’ journey in the strength of that meat. You may suspect some danger nigh when your delights are overflowing. If you see a ship taking in great quantities of provision, it is bound for a distant port. And when God gives you extraordinary seasons of communion with Jesus, you may look for long leagues of tempestuous sea. Sweet cordials prepare for stern conflicts.
Times of refreshing also occur after trouble or arduous service. Christ was tempted of the devil, and afterwards angels came and ministered unto him.
Jacob wrestled with God, and then afterwards, at Mahanaim, hosts of angels met him. Abraham wars with the kings, and returns from their slaughter; then is it that Melchisedec refreshes him with bread and wine.
After conflict, content; after battle, banquet. When thou hast waited on thy Lord, then thou shalt sit down, and thy Master will gird himself and wait upon thee. Yes, let the worldling say what he will about the hardness of religion, we do not find it so. We do confess that reaping is no child’s play; that toiling for Christ has its difficulties and its troubles; but still the bread which we eat is very sweet, and the wine which we drink is crushed from celestial clusters — “I would not change my bless’d estate For all the world calls good or great And while my faith can keep her hold, I envy not the sinner’s gold.”
Follow me while we turn to a second point. ToTHESE MEALS THE GLEANER IS AFFECTIONATELY INVITED.
That is to say, the poor, trembling stranger who has not strength enough to reap; who has no right to be in the field, except the right of charity — the poor, trembling sinner, conscious of his own demerit, and feeling but little hope and little joy. To the meals of the strong-handed, fully-assured reaper, the gleaner is invited.
The gleaner is invited, in the text, to come . “At mealtime, come thou hither.” We have known some who felt ashamed to come to the House of God; but we trust you will none of you be kept away from the place of feasting by any shame on account of your dress, or your personal character, or your poverty; nay, nor even on account of your physical infirmities. “At mealtime come thou hither.” I have heard of a deaf woman who could never hear a sound, and yet she was always in the House of God, and when asked why, her reply was, “Because a friend found her the text, and then God was pleased to give her many a sweet thought upon the text while she sat in his House; besides,” she said, “she felt that as a believer, she ought to honor God by her presence in his courts, and recognizing her union with his people; and, better still, she always liked to be in the best of company, and as the presence of God was there, and the holy angels, and the saints of the Most High, whether she could hear or no, she would go.” There is a brother whose face I seldom miss from this house, who, I believe, has never in his life heard a sound, and cannot make an articulate utterance, yet he is a joyful believer, and loves the place where God’s honor dwelleth. Well, now, I think if such persons find pleasure in coming, we who can hear, though we feel our unworthiness, though we are conscious that we are not fit to come, should be desirous to be laid in the House of God, as the sick were at the pool of Bethesda, hoping that the waters may be stirred, and that we may step in and be healed.
Trembling soul, never let the temptations of the devil keep thee from God’s House. “At mealtime come thou hither.”
Moreover, she was bidden not only to come, but to eat . Now, whatever there is sweet and comfortable in the Word of God, ye that are of a broken and contrite spirit, are invited to partake of it. “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners ” — sinners such as you are. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly ” — for such ungodly ones as you feel yourselves to be.
You are desiring this morning to be Christ’s. Well, you may be Christ’s.
You are saying in your heart, “O that I could eat the children’s bread! “You may eat it. You say, “I have no right.” But he gives you the invitation! Come without any other right than the right of his invitation. I know you will say how unworthy you are. “Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream.” But since he bids you “come,” take him at his word; and if there be a promise, believe it; if there be rich consolation, drink it; if there be an encouraging word, accept it, and let the sweetness of it be yours.
Note further, that she was not only invited to eat the bread, but to dip her morsel in the vinegar . We must not look upon this as being some sour stuff. No doubt there are crabbed souls in the Church, who always dip their morsel in the sourest imaginable vinegar, and with a grim liberality invite others to share a little comfortable misery with them; but the vinegar in my text is altogether another thing. This was either a compound of various sweets expressed from fruits, or else it was that weak kind of wine mingled with water which is still commonly used in the harvest-fields of Italy, and the warmer parts of the world — a drink not exceedingly strong, but excellently cooling, and good enough to impart a relish to the reapers’ food. It was, to use the only word which will give the meaning, a sauce, which the Orientals used with their bread. As we use butter, or as they on other occasions used oil, so in the harvest-field, believing it to have cooling properties they used what is here called vinegar. Beloved, the Lord’s reapers have sauce with their bread; they have sweet consolations; they have not merely doctrines, but the holy unction which is the essence of doctrines; they have not merely truths, but a hallowed and ravishing delight accompanies the truths. Take, for instance, the doctrine of election, which is like the bread; there is a sauce to dip that in. When I can say, “He loved me before the foundations of the world,” the personal application, the personal enjoyment of my interest in the truth becomes a sauce into which I dip my morsel. And you, poor gleaner, are invited to dip your morsel in it too. I used to hear people sing that hymn of Toplady’s, which begins — “A debtor to mercy alone, Of covenant mercy I sing; Nor fear with thy righteousness on, My person and offerings to bring.” And rises to its climax — “Yes, I to the end shall endure, As sure as the earnest is given; More happy, but not more secure, The glorified spirits in heaven.” And I used to think I could never sing that hymn. It was the sauce, you know. I might manage to eat some of the plain bread, but I could not dip it in that sauce. It was too high doctrine, too sweet, too consoling. But I thank God I have since ventured to dip my morsel in it, and now I hardly like my bread without it. I would have every trembling sinner be prepared to take the comfortable parts of God’s Word, even those called “HIGH.” I hope, brethren, you will never grow as some Christians do, who like all sauce, and no bread. There are some high-flying brethren, who must have nothing but the vinegar; and very sour it turns upon their stomachs too. I hope you will love the bread. A little of the vinegar, a little of the spice, and much savor; but let us keep to the bread as well; let us love all revealed truth; and if there be a trembling gleaner here, let me invite and persuade her to come hither, to eat the bread, and to dip her morsel in the sauce.
Now I think I see her, and she is half prepared to come, for she is very hungry, and she has brought nothing with her this morning; but she begins to say. “I have no right to come, for I am not a reaper; I do nothing for Christ; I did not even come here this morning to honor him; I came here, as gleaners go into a cornfield, from a selfish motive, to pick up what I could for myself; and all the religion that I have lies in this — the hope that I may be saved; I do not glorify God; I do no good to other people; I am only a selfish gleaner; I am not a reaper.” Ah! but thou art invited to come. Make no questions about it. Boaz bids thee. Take thou his invitation, and enter at once. But, you say, “I am such a poor gleaner; though it is all for myself, yet it is little I get at it; I get a few thoughts while the sermon is being preached, but I lose them before I reach home.” I know you do, poor weak-handed woman. But still, Jesus invites thee. Come! Take thou the sweet promise as he presents it to thee, and let no bashfulness of thine send thee home hungry. “But,” you say, “I am a stranger; you do not know my sins, my sinfulness, and the waywardness of my heart.” But Jesus does; and yet Jesus invites you! He knows you are but a Moabitess, a stranger from the commonwealth of Israel; but he bids you. Is not that enough? “Eat the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.” “But,” you say, “I owe so much to him already; it is so good of him to spare my forfeited life, and so tender of him to let me hear the gospel preached at all; I cannot have the presumption to be an intruder, and sit with the reapers.” Oh! but he bids you. There is more presumption in your doubting than there could be in your believing. HE bids you. Will you refuse Boaz? Shall Jesus’ lips give the invitation, and will you say me nay? Come, now, come. Remember that the little which Ruth could eat did not make Boaz any the poorer; and all that thou wantest will make Christ none the less glorious, or full of grace.
What! are thy necessities large? Yes, but his supplies are larger. Dost thou require great mercy? He is a great Savior. I tell thee, that his mercy is no more to be exhausted than the sea is to be drained; or than the sun is to be rendered dim by the excess of the light which he pours forth to day. Come, thou. There is enough for thee, and Boaz will not be hurt thereby.
Moreover, let me tell thee a secret — Jesus loves thee; therefore it is that he would have thee feed at his table. If thou art now a longing, trembling sinner, willing to be saved, but conscious that thou deservest it not, Jesus loves thee, sinner, and he will take more delight in seeing thee eat than thou wilt take in the eating. Let the sweet love he feels in his soul toward thee draw thee to him. And what is more — but this is a great secret, and must only be whispered in your ear — he intends to be married to you ; and when you are married to him, why, the fields will be yours; for, of course, if you are the spouse, you are joint-proprietor with him. Is it not so? Doth not the wife share with the husband? All those promises which are “yea and Amen in Christ” shall be yours; nay, they all are yours now, for “the man is next of kin unto you,” and ere long he will spread his skirt over you, and take you unto himself for ever, espousing you in faithfulness, and truth, and righteousness. Will you not eat of your own? “Oh! but,” says one, “how can it be? I am a stranger.” Yes, a stranger: but Jesus Christ loves the stranger. “A publican, a sinner;” but he is “the friend of publicans and sinners.” “An outcast;” but he “gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.” “A stray sheep;” but the shepherd “leaves the ninety and nine,” to seek it. “A lost piece of money;” but he “sweeps the house” to find thee. “A prodigal son;” but he sets the bells a ringing when he knows that thou wilt return. Come, Ruth! Come, trembling gleaner! Jesus invites thee: accept the invitation. “At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.”
III. Now, thirdly — and here is a very sweet point in the narrative.BOAZ REACHED HER THE PARCHED CORN.
“She did come and eat.” Where did she sit? You notice, she “sat beside the reapers.” She did not feel that she was one of them — she “sat beside” them. Just as some of you do, who do not come down here this evening to the Lord’s Supper, but sit in the gallery. You are sitting “beside the reapers.” You are sitting this morning as if you were not one of us — had no right to be among the people of God; still you will sit beside us. If there is a good thing to be had, and you cannot get it, you will get as near as you can to those who do ; you think there is some comfort even in looking on at the gracious feast.” “She sat beside the reapers.”
And while she was sitting there, what happened? Did she stretch forth her hand and get the food herself? No, it is written, “HE reached her the parched corn.” Ah! that is it. I give the invitation, brother, to-day; give it earnestly, affectionately, sincerely; but I know very well, that while I give it, no trembling heart will accept it, unless the King himself comes near, and feasts his saints to-day. He must reach the parched corn; he must give you to drink of “the juice of the spiced wine of his pomegranate.” How does he do this? By his gracious spirit, he first of all inspires your faith .
You are afraid to think it can be true, that such a sinner as you are accepted in the beloved; he breathes upon you, and your faint hope becomes an expectancy, and that expectation buds and blossoms into an appropriating faith, which says, “Yes, my beloved is mine , and his desire is toward me .”
Having done this, the Savior does more; he sheds abroad the love of God in your heart . The love of Christ is like sweet perfume in a box. Now, he who put the perfume in the box is the only person that knows how to take the lid off. He, with his own skillful hand, takes the lid from the box; then it is “shed abroad” like “ointment poured forth.” You know it may be there, and yet not be shed abroad. As you walk in a wood, there may be a have or a partridge there, and yet you may never see it; but when you startle it, and it flies or runs before you, then you perceive it. And there may be the love of God in your heart, not in exercise, but still there; and at last you may have the privilege of seeing it — seeing your love mount with wings to heaven, and your faith running without weariness. Christ must shed abroad that love; his spirit must put your graces into exercise.
But Jesus does more than this; he reaches the parched corn with his own hand, when he gives us close communion with him . Do not think that this is a dream; I tell you there is such a thing as talking with Christ to-day. As certainly as I can talk with my dearest friend, or find solace in the company of my beloved wife, so surely may I speak with Jesus, and find intense delight in the company of Immanuel. It is not a fiction. We do not worship a far-off Savior; he is a God nigh at hand. We do not adore him as one who is gone away to heaven, and who never can be approached; but he is nigh us, in our mouth and in our heart, and we do to-day walk with him as the elect did of old, and commune with him as his apostles did on earth; not after the flesh, it is true, but after a real and spiritual fashion.
Yet once more let me add, the Lord Jesus is pleased to reach the parched corn, in the best sense, when the Spirit gives us the infallible witness within, that we are “born of God .” A man may know that he is a Christian infallibly. Philip de Morny, who lived in the time of Prince Henry of Navarre, was wont to say that the Holy Spirit had made his own salvation to him as clear a point as ever a problem proved to a demonstration in Euclid could be. You know with what mathematical precision the scholar of Euclid solves a problem or proves a proposition, and just the same, with as absolute a precision, as certainly as twice two are four, we may “know that we have passed from death unto life.” The sun in the heavens is not more clear to the eye than his own salvation to an assured believer; such a man would as soon doubt his own existence, as suspect his interest in eternal life.
Now let the prayer be breathed by poor Ruth, who is trembling yonder.
Lord, reach me the parched corn! “Draw me, we will run after thee.” Lord, send thy love into my heart! “Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove, With all thy quickening powers, Come, shed abroad a Savior’s love, And that shall kindle ours.” There is no getting at Christ, except by Christ revealing himself to us.
IV. And now the last point. After Boaz had reached the parched corn, we are told that “SHE DID EAT,AND WAS SUFFICED,AND LEFT.” So shall it be with every Ruth. Sooner or later every penitent shall become a believer.
There may be a space of deep conviction, and a period of much hesitation; but there shall come a season, when the soul decides for the Lord. If I perish, I perish. I will go as I am to Jesus. I will not play the fool any longer with my buts and ifs , but since he bids me believe that he died for me, I will believe it, and will trust his cross for my salvation. And oh! whenever you shall be privileged to do this, you shall be “satisfied .” “She did eat, and was satisfied.” Your head shall be satisfied with the precious truth which Christ reveals; your heart shall be content with Jesus, as the altogether lovely object of affection; your hope shall be satisfied, for whom have you in heaven but Christ? your desire shall be satiated, for what can even the hunger of your desire wish for more than “to know Christ, and to be found in him.” You shall find Jesus fill your conscience , till it is at perfect peace; he shall fill your judgment , till you know the certainty of his teachings; he shall fill your memory with recollections of what he did, and fill your imagination with the prospects of what he is yet to do. “She was satisfied, and she left.” Some of us have had deep draughts; we have thought that we could take in all of Christ; but when we have done our best, we have had to leave a vast remainder. We have sat down with a ravenous appetite at the table of the Lord’s love, and said, “Now, nothing but the infinite can ever satisfy me; I am such a great sinner that I must have infinite merit to wash my sin away;” but we have had our sin removed, and found that there was merit to spare; we have had our hunger relieved, and found that there was a redundance for others who were in a similar case. There are certain sweet things in the Word of God which you and I have not enjoyed yet, and which we cannot enjoy yet; we are obliged to leave them for a while. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” There is a knowledge to which we have not attained — a place of fellowship nearer yet to Christ. There are heights of communion which as yet our feet have not climbed — virgin snows upon the mountain untrodden by the foot of man. There is a yet beyond, and there will be for ever.
A verse or two further on we are told what Ruth did with her leavings. It is a very bad habit. I believe, at feasts, to carry anything home with you; but she did, for that which was left she took home; and when she reached Naomi, and showed her the quantity of wheat in her apron, after she had asked “Where hast thou gleaned to-day?” and had received the answer, she gave to Naomi a portion of that which she had reserved after she was sufficed. So it shall be even with you, poor tremblers, who think you have no right to any for yourselves; you shall be able to eat and be quite satisfied, and what is more, you shall have a morsel to carry to others in a like condition. I am always pleased to find the young believer beginning to pocket something for other people. When you hear a sermon, you think, “Well, poor mother cannot get out to-day, I will tell her something about it. There now, that point will just suit her; I will take that, if I forget anything else; I will tell her that by the bedside. There is my brother William, who will not come with me to chapel; I wish he would; but, now, there was something which struck me in the sermon, and when I get close to him, I will tell him that , and I will say, ‘Will you not come this evening?’
I will tell him those portions which interested me; perhaps they will interest him.” There are your children in the Sunday-school class. You say, “That illustration will do for them.” I think sometimes, when I see you putting down my metaphors on little scraps of paper, that you may recollect to tell somebody else; I would fain give more where they are so well used; I would let fall an extra handful, on purpose that there may be enough for you, and for your friends. There is an abominable spirit of self among some professors, prompting them to eat their morsel alone. They get the honey; it is a wood full of honey, like Jonathan’s wood; and yet they are afraid — afraid, lest they should eat it all up; so they try to maintain a monopoly. I do know some congregations which seem to me to be a sort of spiritual protectionists; they are afraid heaven will be too full, that there will not be room enough for them. When an invitation is given to a sinner, they do not like it — it is too open, too general; and when there is a melting heart and a tearful eye for the conversion of other people, they feel quite out of their element; they never know what it is to take home that which is left, and give to others. Cultivate an unselfish spirit. Seek to love as you have been loved. Remember that “the law and the prophets” lie in this, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself.” How can you love him as yourself, if you do not love his soul? You have loved your own soul; through grace you have been led to lay hold on Jesus. Love your neighbor’s soul and never be satisfied till you see him in the enjoyment of those things which are the charm of your life and the joy of your spirit. I do not know how to give my invitation in a more comfortable way; but as we are sitting down to feed at his table in the evening of this day, I pray the Master to reach a large handful of parched corn to some trembling sinner, and enable him to eat and be satisfied.
A GOOD STAYER HERE is an account of a pretty little fix for a cargo of passengers by a mail coach. The anecdote may be found in Anthony Trollope’s “Editor Notes,” in the chapter devoted to the literary adventure of “Mrs. Brumby”: — “There is, however, nothing more difficult to achieve than the expulsion of a woman who is unwilling to quit the place she occupies. We remember to have seen a lady take possession of a seat in a mail-coach to which she was not entitled, and which had been booked and paid for by another person.
The agent for the coaching business desired her with many threats to descend, but she simply replied that the journey to her was a matter of such moment that she felt herself called upon to keep her place. The agent sent the coachman to pull her out. The coachman threatened with his hands as well as with his words, and then set the guard at her. The guard attacked her with inflamed visage and fearful words about Her Majesty’s mails, and then he set the ostlers at her. We thought the ostlers were going to handle her roughly, but it ended by their scratching their heads, and by a declaration on the part of one of them that she was ‘the rummest go he’d ever seen.’ She was a woman, and they couldn’t touch her. A policeman was called upon for assistance, who offered to lock her up, but he could only do so if allowed to lock up the whole coach as well. It was ended by the production of another coach, by the exchange of the luggage and passengers, by a delay of two hours, and an embarrassing possession of the original vehicle by the lady.” We give the above because it has its parallel in certain ministers who cannot be induced to move although everybody is eager to see them gone. One by one, deacons, subscribers, and friends withdraw, but the ministerial old ladies stick to the empty coach, as if it were part and parcel of themselves, as much as its shell is an integral portion of the snail Hence the new chapel, which springs up, and makes two churches where one would have been quite enough if it had not been for the adhesiveness of an individual. It is a great sorrow that churches should be ruined because worthy men cannot see that the time is come for a change. But what is the use of our writing this? We shall only put removing into the head of some brother who ought to stay where he is, while those whom it behoves to move will stick like limpets. — C. H.S. NOTES MR.EDWARD WHITE, the earnest and able advocate of the doctrine of Conditional Immortality, says: — “ No one yields to me in hearty admiration and affection for the Rev. Chas. Spurgeon. But his refusal to listen to the doctrine of Life in Christ has formed a more serious obstacle to its popular diffusion than that of any other living man during the last twenty years.” We are fully prepared to take all the responsibility of the conduct ascribed to us, and only trust that we may have power to be a more serious obstacle still. With the most profound regard for Mr. White, and something more tender than regard, we cannot help mingling our regret that he should be teaching such mischievous doctrine, an that so many should follow him in it.
On Monday evening, May 22, the half-yearly meeting of the
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE EVANGELISTS’ASSOCIATION was held in conjunction with the usual prayer-meeting. Pastor C. H. Spurgeon presided, and commended the work to the sympathy and support of all present. Mr. Elvin, the indefatigable secretary of the Association, gave a brief description of the work carried on by his earnest band of unpaid evangelists, two of whom, Messrs. Pullen and Shurmer, also spoke. Mr. Elvin expressed the fear that the services held by the Association this year will not exceed the number reported at the last annual meeting — i. e. , 3,380; but even if his anticipations are realized — what a grand work will be accomplished! This is one of the most useful and economical agencies for the spread of the gospel in the metropolis, and deserves the help of all Christians who desire to see the millions of London converted to Christ.
More young preachers are needed by the society, and more funds with which to hire halls and pay traveling expenses: all the rest is gratis work.
The Society’s design is to work with the churches, and for them, and not to be an outside agency to draw men away from their regular places of worship. Ministers in or near London wishing for a week of special services can apply to Mr. Elvin, 30, Surrey-square, S.E., who will send suitable evangelists.
On Friday erecting, June 9, the annual meeting of the METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE COUNTRY MISSION was held in the Lecture Hall, under the presidency of Pastor C. H. Spurgeon. The stormy weather that prevailed during the afternoon and evening reduced the attendance somewhat, but did not lessen the enthusiasm that is usually manifested at this meeting. Mr. G. Goldston, the secretary of the Mission, presented the annual report, and Mr. R. Hayward, the treasurer, read the balance-sheet. There are twentyone members, and services are being held in North Cheam; Bell Green, Sydenham; Thornton Heath; Shoreham, and Halstead, Kent; Teddington; South-gate; Stratford; and Bedport and Hatton; while in the following places the work is being caddied on without the assistance of the Mission, in most cases churches having been formed, and in some instances chapels built: — Tiptree Heath, Putney, Carshalton, Walthamstow, St. Mary Cray, Lower Tooting, Little Paris-street, Pope-street, and Willesden. The total expenditure of the Mission for the year has been £168 12s., the principal items being traveling expenses of the preachers, who give their services freely; and the rent, furniture, and fittings of chapels and halls. To meet this amount the Pastor has been pleased to find £48 10s.; subscriptions and donations have realized £31 13s. 8d.; offerings and collections at the stations, £64 16s.; and at the date of the meeting a small balance was due to the treasurer. Addresses were delivered by the chairman, and Messrs.
Millidge, Durbin, Greenstreet, Chalmers, Crathern, McLauchlan, and Clark; Mr. Chamberlain sang a sacred solo; and Mr. Keys was presented with a gold pencil as a token of gratitude for his services at Teddington.
This Country Mission is a sort of twin-sister to the Evangelists’ Association, and is doing a most useful work in the villages around London. It merits far more help than it receives. It is also an excellent training-school for earnest Christian young men who desire opportunities for exercising their gifts as preachers of the gospel. Friends in destitute localities in the suburbs would do well to communicate with this Society. Stranges’ Sunday Evening, June 11. — This service was crowded. All sorts and conditions of men were there; but we judge from the universality of the singing that the bulk of the attendants were such as usually attend places of worship. Before the multitude had dispersed our scouts had pleasing proof that when Christ is lifted up men are drawn to him. Certain brethren scattered over the Tabernacle are ever on the watch for those who ax wounded, and many a case is thus speedily cared for, which otherwise might have been left to suffer in secret.
On Monday evening, June 12, the annual meeting of the METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE HOME AND FOREIGN MISSIONARY WORKING SOCIETY Was held in the lecture-hall. Pastor C. H. Spurgeon presided, and spoke of the continued need of the society’s work in sending parcels of clothing to poor ministers and their families, many of whom, especially in the country districts, are in more straitened circumstances than ever, as the consequence of agricultural depression. Addresses were also delivered by Pastor J. A. Spurgeon, Mr. Harrald, who read the report, and Mrs. Evans, the esteemed treasurer and manager of the society. She asked very earnestly for additional subscribers, and expressed the wish that every member of the church would give at least one garment during the year. (This is a capital practical hint. From a coat to a pinafore there is a wide range of articles, suited to all pockets.) The report referred to the loss the committee had sustained by the death of Mrs. Scott, an invaluable friend, and included a short letter from Mrs. Spurgeon, the beloved President of the Society, and also copies of the grateful epistles that had been received from several of the applicants who had been relieved during the year.
Mention was made of the kind help of the Shooter’s Hill Baptist Chapel Auxiliary, which has contributed 269 articles of clothing since the last anniversary. Forty-seven parcels have been sent to ministers, and nine to colporteurs, the total value of the gifts amounting to £298 9s. 1d., about 230 children have been clothed, and 1707 ready-made garments have been sent, 580 yards of dress material, besides sheets, blankets, and other useful articles. The total expenditure for the year was about £110, and there was a balance of £10 18s. 8d. due to the treasurer, but this was more than. cleared off by a donation of £20 from the chairman. Contributions of money, or garments, or materials to be made up, will be gratefully received by- Mrs. Evans, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. Drapers could help us much by giving remnants, Half-worn garments are also acceptable.
The Tabernacle prayer-meeting held on the same evening was dedicated to missionary subjects. Our own work abroad constantly furnishes interesting topics. Two brethren were present who had given themselves to missionwork, and Mr. Harry Wood, having returned from Australia, gave some interesting details. We are greatly gratified to find that under the leadership of Mrs. Allison a society has been formed to support a sister in the Zenana work in India. We glorify God as we see how in every form our beloved friends lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of our Tabernacle work.
On Monday evening, June 19, at the Tabernacle prayer-meeting, the following resolution from the elders of the church was read by Mr. J.T. Dunn, and adopted by the whole assembly, who manifested their sympathy with its spirit by rising and singing the doxology: — “We, the elders of the church, in meeting assembled, on this nineteenth day of June, 1882, desire to present to Almighty God our heartfelt thanks for the continued preservation of our Pastor to the church and his much-loved work; and on this, his forty-eighth anniversary, we earnestly and heartily pray that his valued life may still · be preserved to labor in our midst, that with his ever-increasing consecration, he may enjoy renewed health and spiritual power, and that yet larger success may attend his ministry than it has hitherto been his joy to experience.”
From the 19th and onward we have received so many letters containing sums large and small, that we have scarcely known how to acknowledge all the messages of love. Writing as we now do, on the early morning of the 21st, we find that we have received, almost entirely in small sums, the large amount of £380 as birthday presents for the Orphanage. Much more will be put into our own hand to-day if the weather keeps fine. Perchance we can stop the press, and insert a brief paragraph this evening. We are very grateful to all these thoughtful friends; some of them live hundreds of miles away, and yet never forget the Pastor’s birthday. If this money were given to the Pastor for his own use he would feel humiliated by it; but now it comes with the blessing which maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow therewith. Poor orphans are thus helped, and we have the joy of it. Two friends send £48 each to mark our age; one of them says wittily that we grow dearer every year. On closing up the, accounts for the day we find that the Orphanage will be benefited to the extent of at least £1000. The fete was a grand success in every respect. Between seven and eight thousand persons were present, and everything passed off most happily.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
— Mr. C. Pearce, who has continued to be pastor of the church at Frogmore-street, Tring, while studying at the College, has now completed his course with us, and remains with the people of his charge; and Mr. A. H. Smith has settled at Coningsby, Lincolnshire. Mr.G. Simmons is removing from New Malden to Feet’s Cray.
Mr. A. W. Wood has been accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society for the pastorate of the church at Agra; and Mr. A. Fairbrother is going out to New Zealand as soon as possible, in response to a request from our son Thomas for a student who would devote himself to mission-work among the Maories. We should be glad of help towards the expense of sendingout this brother.
Mr. W. Mann, who has been for the past two years co-pastor with Mr. Hamilton at Cape Town, has returned to England. His voyage home was a pleasant contrast to his double shipwreck on the passage out. We hope he will soon find a suitable sphere in which he can turn to good account the experience he has gained in the colony. A letter will find him at the Tabernacle. Mr. J. S. Harrison, who has been greatly blessed as an evangelist in the Australian colonies, has come home, and is engaging in evangelistic work in the provinces. Mr. Harry Wood also is occupying himself in a similar manner until the way is made clear for his return to the Antipodes.
Mr. Kendon sends us a very cheering account of the progress of his work in Jamaica. In January he baptized twenty-five persons, and in April thirtythree more, and his church now numbers eight hundred and fifty members, about one-fourth of whom, however, are too old and feeble to get out to the services often. Financially, also, there is a great improvement in his position and prospects, and he hopes by the end of the year three of his mission-stations will be able to unite in forming a church, which will support another pastor. How great is our joy as we see our brethren thus blessed of the Lord!
On -Friday afternoon, May 26, Dr. Weymouth, the head master of Mill Hill School, delivered an admirable lecture to the students on “Reading aloud.” On the same day the London ministers connected with the Conference spent the afternoon and evening with the President at “Westwood,” and on the following Friday the students had a similar treat. On -Friday afternoon, June 16, Mr. Spurgeon presided at the Communion service of the students of Regent’s-park College, and had happy intercourse with Dr. Angus and the brethren. Monday, June 19, was generally observed throughout our Conference brotherhood as a day of special united prayer. We have heard from several brethren who experienced very gracious manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s influence in their meetings, and we look for corresponding results.
The College midsummer vacation ends on Monday, August 7. We have received only a few students since the summer session last year, and as many have gone out to the work since that time, our numbers have been decreased below our usual average. We have, however, accepted about twenty candidates out of the long list of applicants, and with this addition we do not expect to have any more vacancies during the present year. Our men are moved with missionary impulses, and with desires to open new churches, so that we hope we shall not in a single case increase the number of unemployed preachers. There is room in this guilty world for all the heralds of mercy that can be sent forth. We may not yet cease from crying to the Lord to send forth laborers into his harvest.
— The following letter from Mr. Fullerton so well explains the matters he wishes us to communicate to our readers, that we cannot do better than print it just as it is. We shall be happy to receive contributions towards the purchase of the sermons mentioned in the letter: — “45, Doddington-grove, “Kennington-park, S.E. “5th June, 1882. “Dear Mr. Spurgeon, — You will be pleased to know that the services at Trinity Chapel, Edgware-road, have been blessed remarkably to the salvation of souls, and that, notwithstanding the Whitsuntide holidays, most of the meetings have been well attended. To our Master be all the praise, as his is all the power. “Some interesting cases of conversion have come under our notice, one of which I must tell you. When at Abbey-road, St. John’swood, some months ago, we had several meetings for men only. As is our custom, we gave each man one of your sermons at the close of the service, in the hope that if the spoken sermon did not reach their heart through the ear, the printed one might through the eye.
One afternoon a man, who had not been to a place of worship for years before, took home a sermon, and his wife, who was very ill, read it eagerly, while he, interested in the first service, went again in the evening. At the end of the sermon were the lines — ‘I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all, But Jesus Christ is my all in all.’ “As the woman read, feeling the first line was true of her, she longed to experience likewise the truth of the second. When her husband returned, this time bringing with him one. of the little hymn-books used at our services, she was thoroughly aroused. On opening the book she noticed the words of an anthem, ‘I will arise,’ which being repeated when sung, are printed twice, thus: — ‘I will arise, -I will arise’; the italics lending a seeming emphasis to them the second time. This struck her, and she determined to say them the third time, which she did on her knees, until — her soul filled with the peace of God — she was able to add — ‘Jesus Christ is my all in all.’
This account I had from her own lips, as she felt she must come and confess what the Lord had done for her. “Thus the meetings are blessed of God far beyond the radius known to us at the time, and the sermons are once more made the instrument of leading souls to Christ. Seeing this, we are determined to continue. to scatter them more than ever, and have arranged with your publishers to have one hundred thousand laid aside for our use. This number will probably be sufficient for two years. They have kindly promised to supply them, bound in book form, for £250, of which amount they, with their usual liberality, will contribute £50. This leaves a balance of £200, towards which we should be very grateful to receive the offerings of those interested in the spread of gospel literature and the furtherance of evangelistic work. “Will you, dear Mr. Spurgeon, kindly bring the matter before your readers, and be so good as to receive any sums they may forward?
Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, 4, Paternoster-buildings, E.C., inform us that they will be pleased to place any amount forwarded to them to the credit of this account. Surely some loyal hearts, in view of the great blessing resting upon these sermons, and the eagerness with which they are received — of which the above is only one instance out of many — will be led to assist. No surer way could be conceived of sending a clear statement of the gospel into thousands of homes where it would otherwise be unknown. “On June 11 we leave our present work with good Mr. Fellowes to begin with Brother Bax at Salters’ Hall, whence we proceed on July 2 to friend Wilson, at Woolwich, where, in conjunction witch nearly all the churches, we hope to carry on a mission for three weeks. We shall then practically have completed a year’s work in London, and from the almost uniform success resting upon it, have disproved; in great measure, the idea that it is harder to labor in the metropolis than elsewhere, provided the same effort is put forth.
For all the blessing vouchsafed we adore the Giver of every good gift, and thank the beloved brethren who have received us so heartily in the name of the Lord. “After the summer interval, which Mr. Smith and myself alike require for rest after the continued strain, and preparation for future service, we propose to visit Bath, Gloucester, etc., in the autumn, and remain some months in that district. We hope still to make some further arrangements with places in the neighborhood, so as to concentrate the influence of the work; perhaps you will, therefore, let friends know that you will give the preference during the coming season to invitations from the southwest of England. “With hearty and affectionate greeting, “Believe me, dear President, “Very sincerely yours, “W. Y. FULLERTON.’’ Mr. Fellowes has also written as follows: — “My dear Mr. Spurgeon, — Knowing how much it delights your heart to hear of any good work done for the Lord, especially when the workers are those whom you have sent forth, I write to tell you how marvelously God has blessed the earnest labors of your beloved evangelists, Messrs. Fuller-ton and Smith, at Trinity Chapel. They were here three weeks, from the 21st May until the 10th June, and being at liberty — if conducting three large services on the same day before coming admits of the use of the word — they generously returned last night (June 18th), when the chapel was again filled to overflowing, and better still, many precious souls were led into the light, the liberty., and the love of God. Hallelujah! “We have good cause for thanksgiving and praise, for a full month of the choicest mercies has been graciously granted to this church and neighborhood. The first week was spent in humbling ourselves before God, confessing our shortcomings, beseeching him to put away the iniquities of our holy things, to consecrate us afresh for his service, and to abundantly bless the labors of the two devoted men we were expecting in our midst. “Ere the week had gone, we began to see and feel that the Lord is indeed very merciful, we experienced a return of first-love, a renewal of spiritual strength, and a holy, expectant joy which the wealth of worlds could not purchase, nor the choicest words describe. “Our beloved brethren came, and of the forty-seven services held during their stay you will be delighted, but scarcely surprised to hear, that not one was barren of remarkable blessing, or wanting in much, and we verily believe, lasting good. It is always too early to boast of results, but never too soon to praise God for them, so we had a praise-meeting on the Monday after the departure of the two faithful and true witnesses for God. Meanwhile each worker’s list had been collected and corrected, and it was found that we had the names and addresses of more than two hundred persons, the major part of whom profess to have been savingly converted, and the remainder to have been restored from a state of backsliding. Oh, sir, it is a time of blessing at ‘Trinity.’ We have seen the strong man, when smitten by the sword of the Spirit, in a perfect agony of soul, we have witnessed his great frame convulsed while in the throes of the new birth, and heard him crying most piteously for pardon and deliverance from the bondage of sin. We nave seen well-nigh twenty children leap into spiritual liberty, and listened to testimonies from their lips that none but the cynical believer or the captious unbeliever could gainsay or resist. Nor is this all, during this happy harvest-time of the church we have beheld in many, many cases the long-sealed fount of tears in the aged burst forth at the remembrance of a lifetime of sin, and been moved to tears ourselves as we heard their prayer offered in broken, but touching accents for a full forgiveness. Yes, and we have seen several such pass from spiritual death to everlasting life, and go on their way with a new song in their mouth, even praise unto our God. Nor can we ever forget the melting sight of poor drunkards in distress of soul, as on their bended knees, with pen in hand, ready to sign a pledge to abstain, by the help of God, from the drink that has wrought their social ruin — pausing in the act to pray for the pardon of sins committed against their wives and children, and then beseeching Christ to help them by his grace to keep the pledge till death. These, and a hundred other sacred scenes, have been witnessed by us. Husbands and wives have within one and the same hour believed on Christ, and gone home rejoicing; backsliders have left their broken cisterns of earthly pleasure, asked for the old ways, and returned to God as the eternal spring of all their joys; while in other instances, friends and neighbors have been blessed in answer to believing prayer. I am happy to say the good work is still going on, and sincerely do I pray that it may continue to do so, until it is possible for your two unwearying workers to pay us another visit.
Hoping in a few days to forward cheque for £25 or £30 — I hope the latter — and with every best wish, believe me, “Your comrade in arms for King Jesus, “J. O. FELLOWES.”
We hear from Mr. Bax that the services at Salters’ Hall have commenced most hopefully.
— During the past month the work of the Colportage Association has been vigorously carried on, and we note with gratitude that our friends have begun to respond more liberally to the appeal for aid for this deserving and increasing work. The Metropolitan Tabernacle Sunday-school has guaranteed £40 a year towards the support of another colporteur, who will reside at Tring, in Hertfordshire, and work the surrounding district. Another will shortly be sent to labor in the neighborhood of Tittleshall, in Norfolk, in connection with the Norfolk Association, which guarantees £40 a year towards the expenses.
Arrangements are also pending for other new districts. The last Annual Report, which contains much interesting information, can be had on application to the Secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones, Temple-street, St.
George’s-road, S.E., who will be happy to give any information about the Association, or receive subscriptions or donations in aid of its operations.
Mr. R. E. Mackenzie has resigned the post of Traveling Secretary, having accepted a commercial appointment in India.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: — May 29th, thirteen; June 1st, twelve.