INAUGURAL ADDRESS AT THE EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE ASSOCIATION, APRIL 18, 1882.
BY C. H. SPURGEON . MY dear Brethren, — I greatly value your prayers, and I feel intensely grateful for that Benjamin’s share in them which is ever my portion. I never consciously needed your intercessions more than I do just now, for I may say with the Psalmist, “He weakeneth my strength in the way.” After my severe illness I am trembling like a child who is only commencing to use his feet; it is with difficulty that I keep myself up; what can you expect from one who can scarcely stand? During the last six weeks I have considered from day to day what to say to you, but nothing has come of my consideration. My mind is out of gear, my memory is like the leaking buckets of the daughters of Danaus, and consequently my meditations have been as great a failure as the labors of Sisyphus, when the stone which he rolled up hill rolled back again into its place. I have gone to the pits and found no water, and returned with my vessel empty. My brain has been so occupied with sympathy for the poor body that it has not been able to mount aloft with the eagle, nor even to plume its wines for the lower flight which I must needs attempt this morning. One thing, however, is clear, — I am in special communion with my subject, and can speak, as the good old people used to say, “experimentally.” I cannot, however, draw much aid from that fact, but I cast myself upon the power divine, which has so many times been displayed in weakness. “The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us.”
I draw my subject from the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “When I am weak, then am I strong.” I shall not be guilty of uttering anything fresh upon my theme, neither shall I be able to say anything forcible upon it. The weak side of the experience will come out most observably: I can only pray that the strong side may not be hidden. My own feelings supply me with a commentary upon the text, and that is all the exposition I shall aim at. Our text is not only written in the Bible, but it is inscribed upon the lives of the saints. Though we are not apostles, and shall never be able to claim the inspiration of Paul, yet in this one particular we are as instructed as he was, for we have learned by experience, “When I am weak, then am I strong.”
This sentence has passed into a Christian proverb: it is a paradox which has ceased to perplex any child of God: it is at once a warning and a consolation, bidding the strong behold the weakness of power, and setting before the feeble the strength of weakness.
Let it be understood at the commencement that OUR TEXT IS NOT TRUE IN EVERY SENSE in which it might be read. Some brethren are weak with an emphasis, and always so; but I have never yet discovered that they are strong, except in the sense of being headstrong and willful If obstinacy be strength, they are champions; and if conceit be strength, they are gigantic; but in no other respect are they strong. Many are weak, and yet not strong: we must alter the text concerning them, and say, “When they are weak, they are weakness itself.” There is a kind of weakness which we may well dread, it may steal over us insensibly; but it brings no strength, no honor, no virtue with it; it is evil, only evil, and that continually. With it come unfitness for holy service and want of success, and unless infinite grace avert the calamity there will arise out of it failure of character and defeat in life. May we never know the weakness which befell Samson after he had told his secret, and had lost his locks. He could not say, “When I am weak, then am I strong,” but rather, “When I am shorn I am weak as other men.”
See what befalls him! “The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!” He cannot now smite them; he cannot protect his own limbs; he cannot guard his own eyes; he cannot obtain his own liberty. Blinded, he toils at the mill; the hero of Israel is become a slave to the uncircumcised! Alas, that such weakness should be possible to a man who had slain his thousands, and laid them heaps upon heaps I Oh that such weakness should be possible to a man who had carried the gates of Gaza away on his shoulders, posts, and bars, and all! And yet it is so, and may be so with us. “Howl, fir-tree; for the cedar is fallen!” Brethren, we must strive against all weakness which leads to sin, lest to us also some Delilah should bring destruction. Samson’s unshorn locks denoted his Nazarite consecration, and if we ever become weak through failure of consecration, such weakness will be fatal to true usefulness. If the man who had “none of self and all of God” grows downward till he craves for “some of self and some of God” he is in a sad condition. If he who once lived to win souls now lives to win silver and gold, his money shall perish with him; if he that once was famous for his Master becomes his own master, he shall be infamous; for I trow that, even if we do nothing wrong in the eyes of man, it is wrong enough to have declined from the whole-hearted service of God. It is this that demons laugh at and that angels marvel at; a man of God living like a man of the world! Even the Lord himself stays a while to ask, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” The holy and the zealous grieve if they see a minister of Christ ministering to his own ambition. We are only strong as our consecration is perfect. Unless we live wholly for God our strength will suffer serious leakage, and our weakness will be of that kind which degrades the believer till the ungodly scornfully inquire, “Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us?”
We must, dear friends, never become weak in another sense, namely, in our communion with God. David slackened his fellowship with God, and Satan vanquished him through Bathsheba; Peter followed afar off, and soon denied his Lord. Communion with God is the right arm of our strength, and if this be broken we are weak as water. Without God we can do nothing, and in proportion as we attempt to live without him we ruin ourselves. Alas! that the man who has seen the face of the Strong One, and has been made mighty, should forget where his great strength lieth, and so become sick and enfeebled! He who has suspended his visits to the banqueting-house of hallowed fellowship will be ill-fed, and cry out “My leanness! My leanness! Woe unto me!” He that walks not with the Beloved will soon be a Mephibosheth in the feet, and a Bartimeus in the eyes; timorous in heart, and trembling on the knee. If we are weak in communion with God, we are weak everywhere. If a man can be strong without God, such dangerous strength may fall to the lot of the man who is out of communion; but if it be true that only as we hang upon the Lord we are strong, then broken fellowship will soon bring broken strength.
And, dear friends, there is a kind of weakness which I hope none of you will ever cultivate, though it seems greatly in favor at the present day, namely, weakness of faith; for when I am weak in faith, then I am not strong in the Lord. When a man doubts his God, he weakens himself. A little time ago persons who were full of distrust and unbelief were regarded as the possessors of a deep experience; but I hope the age has for ever gone by in which unbelief shall be regarded as a qualification for eminent saintship. If the gospel message were, “He that doubteth, and is not baptized, shall be saved;” there are many who have made their calling and election sure; but while ours is a gospel of faith, unbelief can never be regarded with complacency. Faith is our battle-ax and weapons of war; woe to the warrior who forgets it. Therefore, brethren, let us separate between weakness and weakness — the weakness which is the token of strength, and weakness in faith which is the indication of spiritual decay.
I pray that we may never be weak in love, but that we may become like Basil, “pillars of fire.” Love is the greatest of all the powers which can possess the human breast. I must not compare love with other graces so as to depreciate any virtue; yet of all active powers love is the most forceful; for even faith worketh by love. Faith does not overcome men’s hearts for Jesus until it takes to itself this wondrous weapon, and then believingly loves them to Christ. Oh, for a passionate love, a love which shall be a pure flame, burning to a white heat, and consuming us. May this flame burn in the very center of our being. May we love our God intensely, and love the people for his sake. Brethren, be strong there! Depend upon it, if you leave off loving the people to whom you preach, and the truth you are ordained to proclaim, the state of the church will be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. There may remain to you strength of passionate temper, strength to offend, and strength to scatter; but the power of God will be withdrawn.
You will, like Phaeton, bind the horses to the chariot of the sun, but they shall only hurry you to swift destruction.
We want, brethren — oh how we would pine for it to be delivered from all weakness of the spiritual life. We want to outgrow the weakness natural to us as babes in Christ, so that we may become young men who are strong; yes, we need to go beyond this, and to become fully developed men in Christ Jesus, “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” If we are weak in that respect we are strong nowhere. As ministers we ought to covet all the spiritual strength which God is ready to bestow. Would to God that the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in us found nothing within to impede him, and nothing to restrain his influences! O that the full Godhead of the blessed Spirit might as much manifest itself in these mortal bodies of ours as once the Godhead of the second Person manifested itself in the person of Christ Jesus, the Son of man. I mean not, of course, miraculously, nor in any way to make us rival the incommunicable glories of our divine Master; but even to its fullness I would that our nature, like the bush in Horeb, were aglow with the indwelling Deity. Never mind though the bush should be consumed; it were well to be consumed so long as the Spirit of God would dwell in us and manifest his power.
Thus, you see, there are senses in which we contradict the text flatly, and thereby establish its true meaning. If it were true that all who are weak are strong, we might straightway find a vigorous ministry by ransacking our hospitals, enlisting a troop from our idiot asylums, and calling together all of weak brain and garrulous tongue. No, no, it is not given to the fearful and unbelieving, the foolish and the frivolous to claim that their mental, moral, and spiritual weaknesses are a fit platform for the revelation of the divine strength.
A second observation must be brought before you before I actually come to the text.THERE IS ANOTHER FORM OF IT WHICH IS CLEARLY TRUE. “When I am strong, then am I weak.” That is true, almost as true as, “When I am weak, then am I strong”; of course, not true in all senses, but so nearly correct that I would recommend its acceptation as a proverb worthy to be quoted with the text itself. Look at the tyro who has just commenced preaching in a village chapel or in a mission-room, and admire his boundless confidence in his own strength. He has collected certain anecdotes and telling metaphors, and he propounds these as if they were the Summa Theologica, the very flower and essence of wisdom. He is voluble and energetic, though there is nothing in it. See him stamp his feet and clench his fists! He is a wonder unto many, for they see no sufficient cause for his powerful self-assurance. Possibly he comes to College; he enters the class-room feeling that for once a man treads the College floor.
The inhabitants of London shall know that verily there is a prophet among them. We hear about this gentleman very soon, for he is not appreciated; his brethren are not willing for a season to rejoice in his light; they even show a disposition to snuff him out. Yet how perfectly self-satisfied he is! I have heard such a brother deliver himself of nothing at all at extreme length, and sit down full to the brim with satisfaction. I have almost envied and altogether regretted him! Many an abler man is weeping over his shortcomings, while this poor soul is wondering at his own triumphs. Like Cowper’s poor believer, “Pillow and bobbins all her little store,” he knows this much, and nothing more — his abilities transcendant and his knowledge vast. How self-content he is. But he is not strong for all that.
Did you fear him when you first came into contact with him? Did you look upon him as an ironclad, utterly impregnable? The delusion did not last long. “Man being in honor abideth not.” If I remember rightly, you in the College room began to try your prows upon this man-of-war. You found that it was only a wooden ship after all. There is a grim pleasure in seeing the mighty collapse; and that fell to your share. We felt a degree of happiness in seeing the great man lose ounce by ounce his boasted strength, till he died outright. We never buried the body of vainglory, for we never knew precisely what became of it; but we were glad to find in its place a diffident youth who needed cheering lest he should too much depreciate himself, — a lowly spirit whom in due time the Lord exalted. As he grew consciously weak he became strong, and discovered that when he was strong in his own opinion he was in many ways weak.
Since we left the College benches we have seen many strong men. I think I see one sitting down in his study. He has been reading the reviews and quarterlies, and a little of the latest modern thought: now he is looking out for a text. He perfectly understands it, whatever it may be. At any rate, if he does not understand it, who does? When he falls upon his text he interprets it, not at all desiring to know what the men of God who lived before him have said upon it, for they were of a darker age, and he lives in the nineteenth century, that world of wonders, that region of wisdom, that flower and glory of all time. Now you shall see what you shall see when this cultured divine comes forth from his chamber as a giant refreshed with new wine. No dew of the Spirit of God is upon him, he does not require it; he drinks from other fountains. He speaks with astounding power, his diction is superb, his thought prodigious! But he is as weak as he is polished, as cold as he is pretentious: saints and sinners alike perceive his weakness, and by degrees the empty pews confirm it. He is too strong to be strengthened of the Lord, and therein too weak to bless a congregation.
He seeks another sphere, and another, and yet another, but in no position is he powerful, for he is too strong in self. His preaching is like a painted fire, no one is either cheered or alarmed by it. We have known other men that were not so strong, who felt that they could not even understand the word of God without divine illumination, and who went to the great Father of lights for that illumination: trembling and afraid they have asked to be helped to speak the mind of God, and not their own mind, and God has spoken through them; and they have been strong. They were weak, for they were afraid lest their thoughts should stand in the way of God’s thoughts, fearful lest their mind should darken the word of God; and yet they have been truly strong, and humble people have listened to them and said that God spake through them; and sinners have listened, and though they have become angry, they have come again, and at last have yielded themselves to Christ. Verily God spoke through that man; he had neither hurricane, nor earthquake, nor fire, but he was a still small voice, and the Lord was in it.
I have known preachers who have been very weak, and yet they have been used of the Lord. For many, many years my own preaching was exceedingly painful because of the fears which beset me before entering the pulpit. Often my dread of facing the people has been overwhelming. Even the physical feeling which came of the mental emotion has been painful; but this weakness has been an education for me. I wrote many years ago to my venerable grandfather, and told him of many things that happened to me before preaching, sickness of body and terrible fears which often made me really ill. The old gentleman wrote back and said, “I have been preaching for sixty years, and I feel still many tremblings. Be content to have it so; for when your emotion goes away your strength will be gone.” When we preach and think nothing of it, the people thing nothing of it, and God does nothing by it. An overwhelming sense of weakness should not be regarded as an evil, but should be accepted as helpful to the true minister of Christ.
Look at the preacher who has no burdens. His sermon is in his pocket; there cannot happen any mischief to it unless a thief should steal it; he has rehearsed all his action, he is as safe as an automaton. He does need to pray for the Spirit of God to help him in his preaching, and though he uses the form one wonders what the prayer can mean. He surveys the congregation with the complacency of a gardener looking at a bed of flowers. He has something to say, and he knows what it is going to be, every word of it, and therefore he says it with ease, and comes down the stairs as pleased with himself as heart could desire: the notion of trembling is far from him, he is not so weak. Yonder is a poor brother who has been tugging away with his brains, wrestling on his knees, and bleeding at heart; he is half-afraid that he may break down in the sermon, and he is fearful that he will not reach the hearts of the people; but he means to try what can be done by the help of God. Be you sure that he will get at the people, and God will give him converts. He is looking up to God, for he feels so feeble in himself. You know which of the two preachers you would sooner hear, and you know who is the really strong man of the two; the weak man is strong and the strong man is weak. An American divine, who says a great many things that are wise, and a few which are otherwise, says that the best preparation for preaching is to get a good night’s rest, and to eat a good breakfast. According to his opinion, a fine constitution is a most efficient help to preaching the gospel. If you know nothing of the headache, and nothing of the heartache, and never allow anything to disturb the equilibrium of your mind, you may expect to be a very successful minister.
It may be so. I would not depreciate health, appetite, a bounding spirit, and a good Saturday night’s sleep; but these things are not all, nor much. Mens sana in corpore sano, by all means; but where that has been a good deal relied upon it has displayed itself in fine sensational sermons; but, brethren, I question whether the next generation will say that it has proved itself fruitful in spiritual teaching which will feed the soul or move the conscience. Many of the noblest specimens of our sermonic literature have come from men who were patient sufferers. Men who have had the most touching pathos, the deepest spirituality, the most marvelous insight into the deep things of God, have often known little of bodily health. Calvin labored under many fierce disorders. Shall we ever see his like? Robert Hall was rarely free from pain. Who ever spoke more gloriously? And here I would mention one whom all of us love, Charles Stanford, who grows sweeter and sweeter as he grows weaker and weaker, and who sees all the more clearly now that his eyes grow dim. My brethren, physical force is not our strength, it may be our weakness. Health is to be desired, and carefully preserved where we have it; but if we lose it, we may count it all joy, and look forward to be able to exclaim with Paul, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” In some form or other we must be tried. A preacher who has no cross to carry, a prophet of the Lord without a burden, is an unprofitable servant and a burden to the church.
It would be a dreadful thing to be a pastor without cares; I do not address any such, I am happy to believe; but I do address some who, as pastors, are overloaded with cares, and overweighted with sorrows. Perhaps the largeness of your church, or more likely the smallness of it, may be to you a daily trouble. Do not ask to be otherwise than troubled. The shepherd who can always go to bed regularly at night, and who is able to say, “I do not have much trouble with my flock,” is not the man to be envied. He coolly says, “A few lambs died last winter; we must expect that kind of thing. It is true that some sheep died of starvation; but if the meadows failed, I could not help that.” That is the kind of shepherd who deserves to be eaten by the next wolf; but the man who is able to say with Jacob, “By night the frost devoured me, and by day the heat,” is the true shepherd. He is most irregular as to his rest; the only thing regular about him is his labor and his disappointment, and yet faith makes him a happy man. When you grow very weak as a pastor, and your charge utterly overcomes you, do not repine at such weakness, for then you will be at your full strength; but when you are strong as a pastor, and say, “I think that to be a minister is an easy matter,” you may depend upon it that you are weak.
Permit me here to say that whenever a brother gets to be so strong as to talk much of his own holiness then also he is weak. I have not observed yet that anybody who has had grace to make into flags has won the more victories in consequence. I have required, as far as I am concerned, all my grace to make into a sword; I have wanted all my power for real fighting; but as to making a single banner out of it to display before men, I have not yet attained unto it, and must take a very lowly position among the servants of God. Coleridge was once asked whether he believed in ghosts, and he said no, he did not, for he had seen too many of them. If anyone asked me if I believed in perfect men I should have to say that I have seen too many of them to believe in them. A ghost is a wonderful affair, and when you see it at first it makes each particular hair of your head “to stand on end, like quills upon the fretful porcupine” But this does not occur a second time, for a suspicion of hollow turnip and candle steals over you.
We heard of one the other day who even dared to squirt carmine over a spirit which had been conjured from the vasty deep at a seance. I have sometimes ventured to oppose a perfect man, and the warmth of his temper has been evidence to me that while he may have been upon the verge of perfection among his own friends, he had not absolutely reached that consummation when exposed to the colder judgment of strangers. The pretender to perfection has usually avoided me from a distaste to my protestantism against his holiness; and I have not bewailed my loss. I am not in love with that perfection which talks about itself. There is little virtue in the beauty which calls attention to itself: modest beauty is the last to extol its own charms. A number of persons in company were boasting of their graces and attainments, and only one brother sat silent. At last one said to him,” Have you no holiness?” “Yes,” he said, “but I never had any to boast of.” All the holiness that can be had let us have, and let us press towards perfection; but let us still recollect the fact that when we are strong then we are weak, that when we think we have reached perfection the blue mould of pride is coming over us. We have not afforded ourselves a complete inspection, or we should have found some fault to repent of, some evil yet to struggle against. (To be continued .)
LARGE MEN WANTED FOR SMALL CHURCHES WE have heard of a race-boat made so narrow and so easy to overset that the oarsmen had to part their hair in the middle before they took their seats in it, so as to keep it in trim. Even so there are some churches, some little churches, in which the pastor needs to walk very circumspectly, so as not to put more weight on one side than the other. It is a very great mistake to suppose that it takes more grace and skill to manage a large church than a small one. Far otherwise. Christopher Columbus had far more trouble with his three little galleys than Horatio Nelson had with his ships of the line.
But the discovery of America was something grander than the victory of the Nile or Trafalgar. A man who can be pastor of a small church, and do his work well, has skill enough for any employment under heaven. Any land-lubber can haul away at a rope’s end, especially if there be a crowd to haul with him; but it is only the “able-bodied seaman” who is able to stand at the wheel, or furl the main-royals in a gale. The largest man is needed for the smallest place. And God can raise up just the kind of men that are needed, men of faith and of the Holy Spirit. If the weak churches would pray to God more earnestly, he would send that kind of men as pastors. All the gifts needed by any church are in the hand of Christ, and can be had for the asking. — Examiner and Chronicle.
UNPROFITABLE LITERARY WARES.
THE late James T. Fields, while an active partner in the firm of Ticknor and Fields, was waited upon by a young sugar merchant who had poetic aspirations. The mercantile man complained that his manuscript poems had been rejected by the firm, and he wanted to know the reason why, inasmuch as all of his friends had heard the verses read, and unanimously declared them to be accessions to American literature. “Our reader decides that,” said Mr. Fields, in his blandest tones. “Then I would like to see the reader.” Always the personification of amiability himself, the publisher took the merchant upstairs to the reader. That mighty personage sat at a desk heaped high with manuscripts; he carefully read a few pages of each package, then dropped it into a basket at his side. Occasionally he became more than ordinarily interested; in that case he placed the package inside his desk. “Why, he goes through ‘em just as I sample sugar!” exclaimed the would-be poet in amazement. “That’s because he’s familiar with literary wares as you are with sugar,” rejoined Mr. Fields. “I’m satisfied, let us go,” said the merchant. They went, and the disappointed bard gave up verse-making, but he made a large fortune in sugar.
We cut this from the Chicago Standard. It is a revelation of the horrors of our own editorial chamber, our waste-paper basket is always in full use, and it has a singular tendency to devour rhymes which writers call “stanzas.” Poetical effusions are for the most part prosy delusions. Good poetry charms us, but limping verses worry us, and we are often worried.
Let true poets sing all day and all night, but let pretenders hush. How glad we should be if this paragraph would wean some minor poet from rhyming, and inspire him with love to his drapery, grocery, carpentry, or bakery! The retail trade is far more useful than wholesale poetizing. Guessing at the dates of prophecy, and making poor verses, are two of those unprofitable devices which we rank with getting blood out of gate-posts and extracting sugar from bitter aloes. We mean this scrap to act as a warning.
TRESPASSERS BEWARE! AWASTE BASKET IS KEPT ON THESEPREMISES.C. H. S.
INTERRUPTIONS TURNER, the artist, said to one who interrupted him with a question, “There! you have made me lose fifty guineas!” Sir Walter Scott says in his diary: “Various visitors began to drop in. was sick of these interruptions.
God send me more leisure, and fewer friends to peck it away by teaspoonfuls.” Others besides Sir Walter have had to breathe this prayer.
People call on a well-known minister out of the idlest curiosity, and invent the most perverse excuses for dragging him away from his work. One would think we were wild beasts to be stared at. Just as a sermon is shaping itself, in comes a pasteboard from an old lady who has nothing on earth to do but to call round on everybody she knows, and rob them of their time, — wretched thief that she is. We have seen her, and lo! another knock; no message can be sent in, the party must see the minister himself, as his business is strictly private: that means begging. Here’s another, whose pretended errand is to ask if we knew the Rev. Mr. Jones, of Llwwffi, for he was her mother’s uncle’s cousin by marriage. Why should we be thus at every mortal’s beck and call, and have neither space for meditation, nor time for devotion? People do not call on doctors or lawyers at this rate, and our time is quite as precious as theirs. We cannot protect ourselves by fees, and yet if we do not see every one, there will be such an outcry. All we can say is — they must cry, for we cannot neglect our Master’s business to play lackey to everybody who is moved by the powers of darkness to call us away from the word of God and prayer.
C. H. S.
NOTES FRIENDS will please to notice that we have eight pages extra this month for accounts. When we occupy so much space with the record of donations, we do not deprive our subscribers of their reading-matter. Our aim is to keep the Magazine thoroughly interesting. Will those who think we succeed give us a little help by obtaining new subscribers for us?
We thought that friends might like to see the pattern of the keys which were presented at the opening of the Infirmary and the Play-hall of the Girls’ Orphanage. Silver trowels have been given in hundreds of cases, and this is a little variation upon a well-worn custom.
The prayer-meeting held before the Lecture on Thursdays to pray for the Pastor evidently grows in favor with the people. It is a season of refreshing both to preacher and hearers. Would it not be well for other churches to try this method, and spend an hour before service in praying for the divine blessing to rest upon the preaching of the word? Anything which tends to increase the prayerfulness of the church should be regarded with favor.
On Sunday, June 18, the beloved president of one of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Adult Male Bible-classes, Elder W. Perkins, fell asleep in Jesus.
Although called away from the work he so much loved, his influence will long be felt by those whom he either led to the Savior, or helped onwards in their Christian life. His life and death preach a powerful sermon to us all.
We saw him covered from head to foot sore boils, and exhibiting in his own both the patience and the suffering He lived well, and died well. Such he are few, and their deaths are precious. By the unanimous vote of the members, and with the Pastor’s hearty acquiescence, Elder J. T. Dunn has accepted the post of leader of the class, and under his able management we anticipate a new career of usefulness for the earnest body of young men who are here banded together for mutual edification. During the past month we have received from the class £23 for the College, and £30 for our Indian Evangelists’ Fund.
On Monday evening, June 26, at the Tabernacle prayer-meeting, Mr. J.S. Harrison, one of the two students who went out to Australia with our son Thomas, gave an account of his work as the first pastor of the church at Deloraine, Tasmania, and afterwards as an evangelist in the colonies. His report of the various College brethren whom he had visited was very cheering, but he most of all delighted us with his recital of the success of Mr. A. J. Clarke at West Melbourne, and our son Thomas at Auckland. He was able to bear personal testimony to the urgent need of a new chapel for the, large congregation already gathered in Auckland.
This is perhaps the best place in which to insert an extract from a recent letter from our son to his mother. Writing concerning the Bazaar, which is to be held at Christmas time, in aid of the building fund of the new Auckland Tabernacle, he says: — “ We shall have a struggle to make the sale much of a success; but a success it must be, so now for the struggle. I am going in for the Young Men’s Stall, and wonder if any of my eager Sword and Trowel readers will find it in their hearts to help me. A case from the home Tabernacle would be welcome for the new Tabernacle. If you should hear of any such desires, give my address. I will gladly pay carriage and duty for such good goods. When I write this, mind you, hardly expect anything of the sort, but there is no harm in suggesting possibilities, is there?”
A case will be sent from the Tabernacle, so that any friends who wish to help will have an opportunity of doing so. Parcels should be sent on as speedily as possible, and addressed to Mrs. Evans, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, London, for Mr. Thomas Spurgeon’s Bazaar.
Moreover, it would be peculiarly pleasant to the father if many friends would rally to the help of the son. Our readers must have been interested by the papers which have been contributed by Thomas Spurgeon, and as he has now a needful but heavy work in hand, we should be glad to see him largely helped. He has taken up his position in a most important part of New Zealand: it is important that a good church should be built up there, and to that end the people must have a house to meet in. Help our son for his own sake, for he is worthy, and for our sake, if that argument will weigh with you. A bazaar in Auckland is all very well, but it would be far better to send money than goods. Combine the two, and the best thing is attained.
On Monday evening, July 3, a meeting of the ladies of the church and congregation was held in the Lecture Hall, for the purpose of forming a Tabernacle Auxiliary for Zenana Mission Work. Pastor C. H. Spurgeon presided at the meeting, and after a brief address, called upon Mrs. Rouse, of Calcutta, who described the condition of the women of India, and gave many interesting and encouraging details of her own work, and the labors of other lady missionaries among the women and children in the Zenanas and schools. Mrs. Rouse pleaded with great pathos and earnestness the claims of the work. Mrs. Allison responded to the pastor’s request to state the steps which had led to the present movement. It was proposed that the sum of at least £120 should be raised annually at the Tabernacle for the support of a Female Missionary, who should give all her time to the work.
Mr. W. Olney and Mr. Allison also explained the plans of the friends who had interested themselves in the matter, and a list of subscriptions was read, which was considerably extended at the close of the meeting. Mrs.C. H. Spurgeon has consented to act as President, Mrs. Allison as Treasurer, and Mrs. Charles Murrell as Secretary, to the committee about to be formed. The Pastor is delighted to see this new vessel launched under such favorable circumstances.
At the prayer-meeting in the Tabernacle, the same evening, a party of missionaries from the China Inland Mission attended, and asked for the prayers of the church on their work. Among them was one of our former students, Dr. E. H. Edwards, who has been trained at the Edinburgh Medical Mission.
— Mr. T. I. Stockley has accepted the pastorate of the church at Port Mahon, Sheffield, and the following brethren have removed: — Mr. W. Bonser, from Burslem, to Fenton, Staffs., where we hope to build up a Baptist cause; Mr. W. Glanville, from Egremont, to Newport, Isle of Wight; Mr. C. Gomm, from Kilburn, to Soham, Cambs.; Mr. G.B. Richardson, from Charlbury, to Eynsford; and Mr. Albert Smith, late of Esher, to West Drayton.
Mr. S. A. Dyke has resigned his pastorate in Toronto, in order to become Business Manager of the Canadian Baptist and book-room.
One of our medical missionary students, Mr. E. H. Edwards, B.M., has been accepted by the China Inland Mission, and has sailed for China.
On Tuesday, July 18, the President preached an open-air sermon in connection with the laying of the foundation stone of a new chapel at Hornchurch, where Mr. E. Dyer is laboring with much success. About half the amount needed for the building is already in hand, and £100 more is promised, leaving about £270 still to be raised. Mr. Abraham, who laid the stone, has been the means of the formation of a Baptist church in Hornchurch.
— Mr. Bax has written the following appreciative report of Messrs. Smith and Fullerton’s services at Salters’ Hall Chapel: — “Dear Mr. Spurgeon, — It is with very great thankfulness I write to inform you of the great blessing we have received at Salters’ Hall through the visit of our beloved brethren, Messrs. Fullerton and Smith. Our dear brethren were with us for three weeks, and the services seemed to increase in interest and power to the very last; and it was with the most sincere regret that we bade our friends farewell. Mr. Fullerton’s preaching is altogether remarkable. It is very pointed and illustrative, and appeals much more to the reason and conscience than to the emotions. To this fact probably is to be attributed the entire absence of anything like undue excitement.
People feel they are being addressed by an earnest, true-hearted man, who entirely forgets himself in his work. Mr. Smith’s singing adds greatly to the interest of the services, which are singularly bright and happy. The special services for children, conducted by Mr. Smith, are not likely soon to be forgotten by the little ones.
They abound in anecdote, and always have a good application.
Some of the meetings deserve especial notice, e. g. , the early Sunday-morning service for workers, the meetings for men only, and women only, and the excellent song-services on Saturday evenings, which I may say, in passing, are no mere entertainments, but full of the gospel, both spoken and sung. The results have been very blessed. Many persons have been pressed into active service for Christ, Christians have experienced a great revival in their spiritual life, and have been roused to deep concern for the salvation of their fellows, while a very large number profess to have found rest and peace in Christ. God is with our dear friends, of a truth, and the crowds which nightly filled our spacious chapel prove triumphantly that it is not at all necessary to resort to all sorts of vulgar and senseless expedients to gain the ear of the multitude.
Our treasurer will forward you in a few days a cheque as a thankoffering, and I only wish it were double the amount. “With very best love, “I remain, “Faithfully yours, “ALFRED BAX.”
Since the accounts were closed we have received a cheque for £46 as a thankoffering for the blessing received through our brethren’s visit.
During the past month the evangelists have been conducting very successful services in connection with nearly all the churches in Woolwich.
After a season of rest, which they both greatly need, they will again, visit the south-west of England, in which they can still arrange for a few more engagements. In response to Mr. Fullerton’s letter in last month’s Magazine he has received from “A Friend” £5 for the distribution of sermons, and a lady at Salters’ Hall Chapel gave Mr. Smith £5 for the same object. These are the only donations to hand at present towards the £200 that will be required for the proposed 100,000 sermons to be given away at the evangelists’ services.
— We have decided to proceed at once with the erection of the next portion of the Girls’ Orphanage buildings. We reported at the fete on June 21st that we had at that time a balance of £3,000 in hand on the building fund account, and during the past month we have received £1,000 from “A Friend,” who does not wish his name to be known. This enables us to go forward with confidence, assured that the rest of the money will be forthcoming as it is required. The plans for the laundry have been prepared, and the building will be commenced as soon as possible; the dining-hall, kitchen, and master’s house being left for the present. We can the more readily continue our building operations without anxiety as we have recently received for the general purposes of the institution two legacies amounting together to nearly £3,000. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
On Thursday afternoon, June 29, Mr. W. Ross entertained the whole of the Orphanage boys and girls at a strawberry-tea at the Horse-shoe Ironwharf, Old Kent-road; for which the President very heartily thanked him. A considerable number of visitors also partook of Mr. and Mrs. Ross’s kind hospitality, and then showed their interest in the orphans by making a generous collection in aid of the institution. Thus one friend after another helps us to make the little ones happy.
A country donor writes: — “Whenever I buy or sell a horse, or have one born or die, I always make a tithe of £1 for something which seems to claim it most (your institutions principally). I was very much tempted on one occasion not to do so; circumstances seemed to forbid, when one of my horses died; but a few days after I had an account sent to me which I never expected to get, showing me plainly that the old promise is as sure now as ever. Since the enclosed P.O.O. was obtained, the colt has died, so that is the reason you get the sovereign extra.”
We have experienced a great sorrow. Miss Hannah Moore, an invaluable worker, has for years served faithfully at the Orphanage, but having been for some time unwell it was the unanimous opinion of doctors and friends that a change and a sea-voyage would be of great benefit to her. Our kind friend, Miss Annie Macpherson, generously made an opening for Miss Moore, and she left us, as we all hoped, to return in a year or two, refreshed and well. She felt it to be a great sorrow, though the holy happiness of the home at Gait, Ontario, and the general kindness of Miss Macpherson and friends helped her to tide over the change; but alas! while she was speaking of her grief at leaving us, she died, in a moment, of heartdisease.
We never had a better sister among us, and her death is to us as sad as it is sudden; only when we look beyond this present scene we almost envy such a translation. We shall not soon see another like her, for in all respects, except health, she was exactly suited to her post, — kind, gentle, faithful, Christ-like, she was our ideal of a Christian worker; but for that very reason she was ready to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. There is a voice in this to all of us who are banded together at the Orphanage — “Be ye also ready.”
— The reports of work from the colporteurs continue to arrive, and many of them tell of the conversion of sinners through their labors. Some of them appear specially useful in the cause of Temperance.
The following letter will be read with interest. It is from a colporteur who has charge of a Sunday-school, and who also conducts the services in the village chapel: — “At the end of another quarter I submit a brief report of past labors. I have very much to be thankful for, although I cannot exceed the amount previously realized by the sale of books. When I consider that many of the families have been out of employment, and others do not care about purchasing books, I can still thank God, and take courage, and my daily prayer is that God may abundantly bless his word, and the different periodicals which I have been enabled to dispose of; also that I still may have an increased demand for the good and useful literature. “Upon the whole, I continue to be well received; there are a few exceptions, and some are as happy to see me as though I were one of their own family. In some of the villages we are having glorious times, and several, I feel sure, are under serious impressions. “God is also blessing our labors in the Gospel Temperance Movement, and in one of the darkest villages through which I travel glorious have been the results. One hundred have signed the pledge, and donned the blue ribbon.
Praise the Lord! All these are new recruits brought in during the last five months, and I am happy and thankful to God that nearly all of them are staunch and true; and, more than that, some of them are anxious about their souls’ salvation, and now instead of being found in the alehouse singing the devil’s songs, they are to be heard singing the songs of Zion. “Among those that we have been led by God to rescue is one of the greatest drunkards in the place, and another who, in a drunken spree, was stabbed, and nearly lost his life. But now they are respectably clothed, and in their right mind, and as the result we have been enabled to sell books to them, and others who before spent the greater part of their wages in strong drink and tobacco. “One man in particular deserves mention. He had been a regular attendant at the house of God for years, but the drink was a snare to him, also the pipe; but now as the result of talking to him he has thrown his pipe, etc., into the canal, given up his beer, and signed the pledge. Instead of spending his money as before, he has ordered from me “The Life of Christ,” and bought other books as well. On the whole, we have very much to be thankful for.”
The efforts of over seventy Christian men, engaged in various parts of the country, doing similar work to that described above, cannot but result in a mighty blessing, and when it is remembered that each man is a distributor of thousands of volumes and parts of religious and moral books, the influence for good of the Association can hardly be over-estimated. The committee will be glad to hear from friends in any districts willing to contribute £40 a-year towards the support of a man. This is one of the cheapest forms of Evangelistic work known.
Regular contributions are also needed for the General Fund, to continue the work already in hand. They may be sent to W. Corden Jones, Secretary, Colportage Association, Temple-street, London, S.E. METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE TOTAL ABSTINENCE SOCIETY.
— The regular meetings of this society, which are held in the Tabernacle Lecture - hall, every Wednesday evening, continue to be well sustained, and in every way successful. During the four months since the movement was started nearly 900 pledges have been taken, the signers being nearly all those who were not previously total abstainers; and, better still, many cases of conversion have resulted from the work. It has been carried on from the commencement on the principles of the Gospel Temperance Union, as advocated by Messrs. R. T. Booth, W. Noble, and F. Murphy, although the wearing of the blue ribbon badge is quite optional.
Arrangements have been made with Mr. Richard T. Booth to hold a series of Gospel Temperance Services in the Tabernacle, commencing on Sunday afternoon, September 3, and closing on Tuesday evening, September 12.
On the Monday and Thursday evenings the meetings will be held at the close of the usual prayer-meetings and service; and on Sunday evening, September 10, which will be the strangers’ quarterly free service, Mr. Booth will hold a special meeting at eight o’clock. Lord Mount Temple, Canon Wilberforce, Pastors W. J. Mayers (Bristol), and C. Leach, F.G.S. (Birmingham), and other able temperance advocates, have, we understand, promised to help Mr. Booth. Will all who desire to see the spread of the gospel and temperance pray that a rich and lasting blessing may rest upon the mission?
— Some time ago we published sixteen cases of usefulness of our sermons, which had come under the notice of one of our evangelists. The same brother has sent us the following additional incidents: — (17.) During my Yorkshire campaign, I met with an earnest worker who has been engaged in the Sabbath School for many years. In conversation it transpired that she was brought to Christ twenty-five years ago through reading your sermon on “India’s Ills and England’s Sorrows” (No. 150).
Until then thoughtless and unconcerned, the whole current of her life was changed by reading that sermon: and she was led to devote herself and her energies to the Savior’s service. (18.) In Northamptonshire, far removed from any place of worship, I have during the past year, repeatedly visited a poor old lady, who is nearly ninety years of age. Each visit has been a season of blessing to my soul; for the good woman is one of the happiest Christians I know. It is years since she was able regularly to attend the chapel where she is in membership; and during this long absence her weekly feast has been your sermons, which she reads and re-reads con amore. Though she has never seen you, she always inquires most eagerly of me concerning your work and your health. (19.) At A — , I heard of a military officer, who owed his conversion to reading one of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Sermons; and who, for years after, until removed to the service of the King of kings, bought half-adozen of the weekly issue for circulation among his brother officers — an example worthy of imitation by all who themselves profit by these sermons.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle. — June 26, eight; June 29, twelve.