THE PEARL OF PATIENCE A SERMON PREACHED IN HIS OWN ROOM AT MENTONE, TO AN AUDIENCE OF FOURTEEN FRIENDS.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” — James 5:11.
WE need to be reminded of what we have heard, for we are far too ready to forget. We are also so slow to consider and meditate upon what we have heard that it is profitable to have our memories refreshed. At this time we are called upon to recollect that we have heard of the patience of Job.
We have, however, I trust, gone beyond mere hearing, for we have also seen in the story of Job that which it was intended to set vividly before our mind’s eye. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord.” The Romish priest professes to make men hear the voice of the gospel by seeing, but the scriptural way is to make men see the truth by hearing. Faith, which is the soul’s sight, comes by hearing. The design of the preaching of the gospel to the ear is to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. Inward sight is the result of all fruitful hearing.
Now, that which is to be seen in the Scriptures is somewhat deeper, and calls for more thought than that which is merely heard. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job” — an interesting history, which a child may understand; but it needs divine teaching to see to the bottom of that narrative, to discover the pearl which lies in the depths of it. It can only be said of enlightened disciples, “Ye have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” At the same time, that which is seen is also more precious to the heart, and more bountifully enriches the soul than anything which is only heard. I count it no small enrichment of our mind to have heard of the patience of Job, it comforts and strengthens us in our endurance; but it is an infinitely better thing to have seen the end of the Lord, and to have perceived the undeviating tenderness and pity which are displayed even in his sorest chastisements. This is indeed a choice vein of silver, and he that hath digged in it is far richer than the more superficial person, who has only heard of the patience of Job, and so has only gathered surface-truth. “The patience of Job,” as we hear of it, is like the shell of some rare nut from the Spice Islands, full of fragrance; but “the end of the Lord,” when we come to see it, is as the kernel, which is rich beyond expression with a fullness of aromatic essence.
Note well the reason why the text reminds us of what we have heard and seen. When we are called to the exercise of any great virtue, we need to call in all the helps which the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us. All our wealth of hearing and seeing we shall have need to spend in our heavenly warfare. We shall be forced full often to gird up the loins of our mind by the recollection of examples of which we have heard, such as that of Job, and then to buckle up that girdle, and brace it fast with what we have seen.
The patience of Job shall gird us, and that “end of the Lord” which we have seen shall be the fastening of the band. We shall need all ere our work is done. In the present case, the virtue we are called to exercise is that of patience, and therefore to help us to do it we are reminded of the things that we have heard and seen, because it is a grace as difficult as it is necessary, and as hard to come at as it is precious when it is gained.
The text is preceded by a triple exhortation to patience. In the seventh verse we read, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord”; and again, “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Further on, in the tenth verse, we read, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” Are we thrice exhorted to patience? Is it not clear that we have even now much need of it? We are most of us deficient in this excellent grace, and because of it we have missed many privileges, and have wasted many opportunities in which we might have honored God, might have commended religion, and might have been exceedingly profited in our own souls. Affliction has been the fire which would have removed our dross, but impatience has robbed the mental metal of the flux of submission which would have secured its proper purification. It is unprofitable, dishonorable, weakening; it has never brought us gain, and never will.
I suppose we are three times exhorted to patience because we shall need it much in the future. Between here and heaven we have no guarantee that the road will be easy, or that the sea will be glassy. We have no promise that we shall be kept like flowers in a conservatory from the breath of frost, or that, like fair queens, we shall be veiled from the heat of the sun.
The voice of wisdom saith, “be patient, be patient, be patient; you may need a three-fold measure of it; be ready for the trial.” I suppose, also, that we are over and over again exhorted to be patient, because it is so high an attainment. It is no child’s play to be dumb as the sheep before her shearers, and to lie still while the shears are taking away all that warmed and comforted us. The mute Christian under the afflicting rod is no everyday personage. We kick out like oxen which feel the goad for the first time; we are most of us for years as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. “Be patient, be patient, be patient,” is the lesson to be repeated to our hearts many times, even as we have to teach children over and over again the selfsame words, till they know them by heart. It is the Holy Ghost, ever patient with our .provocations, who calls us to “be patient.” It is Jesus, the unmurmuring sacrifice, who charges us to “be patient.” It is the longsuffering Father who bids us “be patient.” Oh! you who are soon to be in heaven, be patient for yet a little while, and your reward shall be revealed.
So you see that it is not without reason that we are by the text called to strengthen ourselves by what we have heard of things encouraging and stimulating. We shall need ere we become adepts in the science of patience to learn from what we have heard of the patience of Job, and we shall need to fortify ourselves with the clearest perception of the exceeding pitifulness of the chastening Father.
Upon these two things we will indulge a brief meditation. Firstly, we are bidden to be patient, and it is not an unheard of virtue — “ Ye have heard of the patience of Job “; and, secondly, we are bidden to be patient, and it is not an unreasonable virtue — for ye “have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
I. IT IS NOT AN UNHEARD OF VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT:
“Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” Observe well that the patience of Job was the patience of a man like ourselves, imperfect and full of infirmity; for, as one has well remarked, we have heard of the impatience of Job as well as of his patience. I am glad the divine biographer was so impartial, for had not Job been somewhat impatient we might have thought his patience to be altogether inimitable, and above the reach of ordinary men. The traces of imperfection which we see in Job prove all the more powerfully that grace can make grand examples out of common constitutions, and that keen feelings of indignation under injustice need not prevent a man’s becoming a model of patience. I am thankful that I know that Job did speak somewhat bitterly, and proved himself a man, for now I know that it was a man like myself who said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; and blessed be the name of the Lord.” It was a man of flesh and blood, such as mine, who said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Yea, it was a man of like passions with myself who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Ye have heard of the patience of your Lord and Master, and tried to copy it, and half despaired; but now ye have heard of the patience of his servant Job, and knowing as Job did that your Redeemer liveth, ye should be encouraged to emulate him in obedient submission to the will of the Lord. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job,” that is, the patience of a greatly tried man. That is a very trite yet needful remark: Job could not have exhibited patience if he had not endured trial; and he could not have displayed a patience whose fame rings down the ages, till we have heard of it, if he had not known extraordinary affliction. Reflect, then, that it was the patience of a man who was tried in his estate. All his wealth was taken!
Two or three servants were left, — left only to bring him evil tidings, each one saying, “I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” His flocks and his herds were gone, the house in which his children had met was a wreck, and the princely man of Uz sat upon a dunghill, and there were none so mean as to do him reverence. Ye have heard of the patience of Job in loss and poverty; have ye not seen that if all estates should fail God is your portion still? Job was caused to suffer sharp relative troubles. All his children were snatched away without a warning, dying at a festival, where, without being culpably wrong, men are usually unguarded, and in a sense unready, for the spirit is in dishabille. His children died suddenly, and there was a grievous mystery about it, for a strange wind from the wilderness smote the four corners of the house, and overthrew it in an instant; and such an occurrence must have connected itself in Job’s mind either with the judgment of God,. or with satanic influence, — a connection full of the most painful thoughts and surmises. The death of his dear ones was not a common or a desirable one, and yet all had so been taken. Not a son or daughter was left him. All gone! All gone! He sits among the ashes a childless man. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” Oh, to have patience under bereavements, patience even when the insatiate archer multiplies his arrows! Then, and I here speak most to myself, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job” under personal affliction. It is well said by one who knew mankind cruelly well, that “we bear the afflictions of other people very easily”; but when it touches our bone and our flesh trial assumes an earnest form, and we have need of unusual patience. Such bitter pain as Job must have suffered, we have probably none of us known to anything like the same degree: and yet we have had weary nights and dreary days. Each limb has claimed a prominence in anguish, and each nerve has become a road for armies of pains to march over. We know what it is to feel thankful tears in our eyes merely for having been turned over in bed. Job, however, far excels us; “Ye have heard of the patience of Job,” and ye know how he sinned not when from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot he was covered with irritating boils.
In addition to all this, Job bore what is perhaps the worst form of trial — namely, mental distress. The conduct of his wife must have much grieved him when she tempted him to “Curse God, and die.” However she meant it, or however her words may be translated, she evidently spoke like a foolish woman when her husband needed wise consolation. And then those “miserable comforters,” how they crowned the edifice of his misery! Coldblooded mortals sneer at sentimental grievances, but I speak from my heart when I affirm that griefs which break no bones and take not a groat from our store may yet be among the sharpest whips of sorrow. When the iron enters into the soul we know the very soul of suffering. See how Job’s friends fretted him with arguments, and worded him with accusations. They rubbed salt into his wounds, they cast dust into his eyes, their tender mercies were cruel, though well-intentioned. Woe to the man who in his midnight hour is hooted at by such owls; yet the hero of patience sinned not: “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.”
Job’s was in all respects a most real trouble, he was no mere dyspeptic, no hysterical inventor of imaginary evil; his were no fancied losses nor minor calamities. He had not lost one child out of a numerous family, nor a few thousands out of a vast fortune, but he was brought to sad bereavement, abject poverty, and terrible torment of body and mind; but, despite it all, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job”; heard more of his patience than of his afflictions. What a mercy to have heard of such a man, and to know that one of our own race passed through the seven-times heated furnace, and yet was not consumed!
The patience of Job was the patience of a man who endured up h the very end. No break-down occurred; at every stage he triumphed, and to the utmost point he was victorious. Traces of weakness are manifest, but they are grandly overlaid by evidences of gracious power. What a marvelous man was he with all those aches and pains, still bearing witness to his God, “But he knoweth the way that I take when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” He reasons well even in the heat of his passionate zeal for his character, he reasons bravely too, and catches up the points of his adversaries like a trained logician. He holds fast his integrity, and will not let it go, and best of all, he cries, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Oh, glorious challenge of a dying man to his immortal Kinsman!
The enemy could not triumph over Job, he threw him on a dunghill, and it became his throne, more glorious than the ivory throne of Solomon. The boils and blains with which the adversary covered the patriarch were more honor to him than a warrior’s gilded corslet. Never was the arch-fiend more thoroughly worsted than by the afflicted patriarch, and, instead of pitying the sufferer, my pity curdles into contempt for that fallen spirit who must there have gnawed his own heart, and drank deep draughts of gall and wormwood as he saw himself foiled at all points by one who had been put into his power, and one too of the feeble race of man. Surely, in this he experienced a foretaste of the bruising threatened at Eden’s gate as to be given him by the woman’s seed. Yes, Job endured unto the end, and hence he stands as a pillar in the house of the Lord. Cannot we endure unto the end too? What doth hinder grace from glorifying itself in us?
We may once more say that the patience of Job is the virtue of one who thereby has become a great power for good. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job,” yes, and all the ages have heard of the patience of Job, and heaven has heard of the patience of Job, and hell has heard of it too; and not without results in each of the three Worlds. Among men, the patience of Job is a great moral and spiritual force. This morning, when musing upon it, I felt ashamed and humbled, as thousands have done before me. I asked myself, “What do I know of patience when I compare myself with Job?” and I felt that I was as unlike the great patriarch as I well could be. I recollect a minister who had been somewhat angered by certain of his people, and therefore preached from the text, “And Aaron held his peace.” It was remarked that the preacher’s likeness to Aaron reached no further than the fact that Aaron held his peace, and the preacher did not.
May we not penitently confess that our likeness to Job is much of the same order: he was patient, and we are not? Yet, as I thought of the patience of Job, it caused me to hope. If Job was patient under trial and affliction, why should not I be patient too? He was but a man; what was wrought in one man may be done in another. He had God to help him, and so have I; he could fall back upon the living Redeemer, so can I; and why should I not?
Why should not I attain to patience as well as the man of Uz? It made me feel happy to believe in human capacity to endure the will of God, the Holy Spirit instructing and upholding. Play the man, beloved friend! Be not cast down! What God hath done for one he can do for another. If the man be the same, and if the great God be the same, and be sure he is, we too may attain to patience in our limited circle; our patience may be heard of among those who prize the fruits of the Spirit.
II. I will not detain you, lest I weary you, except just to say, in the second place,IT IS NOT AN UNREASONABLE VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT, for according to our text there is great love and tenderness in it, “Ye have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” We must have seen in Job’s story, if we have regarded it aright, that the Lord was in it all.
It is not a narrative in which the devil is the sole actor — the great Lord of all is evidently present. He it was who challenged Satan to consider Job, and then questioned him as to the result. Less seen than the evil one, the Lord was nevertheless present at every act of the drama. God was not away while his servant suffered; in fact, if there was any place where the thoughts of God were centered more than anywhere else in providence at that time, it was where the perfect and upright man was bearing the brunt of the storm. The Lord was ruling too. He was not present as a mere spectator but as still master of the situation. He had not handed over the reins to Satan; far from it, for every step that the enemy took was only by express permission from the throne. He allowed him to strip his servant, but he set the limit, “Only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” When to complete the test the enemy was permitted to plague his body, the Lord added, “But save his life.” The ruling hand is always on the curb. The dog of hell is allowed to snap and snarl, but his chain is not removed, and the collar of omnipotent restraint is on him. Come, dear friends, you that are in trouble, remember that God is in your sorrow, ruling it to a desired end, and checking it that it should go no further than according to his will; and you neither have suffered, nor in the future will suffer, any more than he in infinite love permits.
Moreover, ire Lord was blessing Job by all his tribulation. Untold blessings were coming to the grand old man while he seemed to be losing all. It was not simply that he obtained a double portion at the end, but all along, every part of the testing process wrought out his highest good. Now have we seen the end of the Lord, and that end is unmingled goodness. The Lord was standing by every moment to stop the refining process when it had come to the proper point, so that no more of it should happen than was really beneficial, and at the same time no less than should secure his gracious purpose. True mercy is bound at times to seem untender, for it might be a great and life-long evil for the surgeon to stop the knife before its work was done: the Lord was wisely tender and tenderly wise with Job, and even in his case the sore affliction was not allowed to proceed a single degree beyond the needful point of intensity.
And when we come to look all Job’s life through, we see that the Lord in mercy brought him out of it all with unspeakable advantage. He who tested with one hand supported with the other. Whatever Satan’s end might be in tempting the patriarch, God had an end which covered and compassed that of the destroyer, and that end was answered all along the line, from the first loss which happened among the oxen to the last taunt of his three accusers. There was never a question in the heights of heaven as to the ultimate issue. Eternal mercy was putting forth its irresistible energy, and Job was made to bear up through the trial, and to rise from it a wiser and a better man.
Such is the case with all afflicted saints. We may well be patient under our trials, for the Lord sends them; he is ruling in all their circumstances, he is blessing us by them, he is waiting to end them, and he is pledged to bring us through. Shall we not gladly submit to the Father of our spirits? Is not this our deepest wish — “Thy will be done”? Shall we quarrel with that which blesses us? Shall we repine when the end of the trouble is so near and so blessed? No, we see that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy, and therefore we will be patient.
Beloved, let us accept future sorrow with joy, for it is love divine which will add to our years whatever sorrowful seasons may yet come to us.
Job’s life might have ended in the first period without the trial, but if the patriarch, with perfect knowledge of all things, could have had his choice, would he not have chosen to endure the trial for the sake of all the blessing which came of it? We should never have heard of the patience of Job if he had continued in his prosperity; and that first part. of his life would have made a very poor commonplace history as compared with what we now find in the pages of Scripture. Camels, sheep, servants, and children make up a picture of wealth, but we can see this any day; the rare sight is the patience, this it is which raises Job to his true glory. God was dealing well with his faithful servant, and even rewarding his uprightness, when he counted him worthy to be tried. The Lord was taking the surest and kindest way to bless and honor one who was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil.
It was pitiful of the Lord to permit sharp trial to come upon Job for his good; there was more tender mercy in subjecting him to it than there would have been in screening him from it. False pity would have permitted the good man to die in his nest, but true pity put a thorn into it, and made him mount aloft as the eagle. It was great mercy after all which took him out of the state in which he washed his steps with butter, and cast him into the mire, for thus he was weaned from the world, and made to look the more eagerly for a better portion.
No doubt in Job’s character the Lord saw certain failings which we cannot see, which he desired to remove, and perhaps he also marked. some touches of grace which needed to be supplied; and divine love undertook to complete his perfect character. Perhaps his prosperity had. sunned him till he had grown somewhat hard in tone and sharp in judgment, and therefore the Lord would soften down and mellow his gracious spirit. The things lacking were no common virtues, for in these he was perfect, but certain rich and rare tints of the higher life; and these could not be imparted by any other means than severe suffering. Nothing more could really be done for Job but by this special agency, for doubling the number of his camels and sheep would only enlarge his cares, since he had enough already; of children, too, he had a sufficient family, and of all earthly things abundance; but to give him twice the grace, twice the experience, twice the knowledge of God, perhaps twice the tenderness of character he had ever possessed before, was a mode of enrichment which the tender and pitiful Lord adopted out of the greatness of his wisdom and favor. Job could only thus be made doubly rich in the rarest of all treasures, and the All-merciful adopted that method.
Examining the matter from another point of view, it may appear that Job was tried in order that he might be better able to bear the extraordinary prosperity which the Lord had resolved to pour in upon him.. That double portion might have been too much for the patriarch, if he had not been lifted into a higher state. If abundance be hard to bear, superfluity is even worse; and, therefore, to those he loves the Lord giveth more grace.
Job by his trials and patience received not only double grace, and double wealth, but double honor from God. He had stood very high in the peerage of the excellent as a perfect and an upright man before his trial, but now he is advanced to the very highest rank of spiritual nobility. Even our children call him “the most patient man under pains and sufferings.” He rose from the knighthood of sincere goodness to the peerage of heroic endurance. At first, he had. the honor of behaving admirably amid wealth and ease, but he was. in the end elevated to sit among those who glorify God in the fires’ Benevolence, justice, and truth shone as bright stars in the sky of his heavenly character, but now the moon of patience silvers all, and lights up the scene with a superior beauty. Perhaps the Lord may love some of us so specially that he means to put upon us the dignity of endurance, he will make us knights, not of the golden fleece, but of the iron cross.. What but great pitifulness and tender mercy could plan such a lot for our unworthy selves?
Once more, Job by his trials and the grace of God was lifted up into the highest position of usefulness. He was useful before his trial as few men of wealth and influence have been, but now his life possesses an enduring fruitfulness which blesses multitudes every day. Even we who are, here this afternoon “have heard of the patience of Job.” All the ages have this man for their teacher. Brothers and sisters, we do not know who will be blessed by our pains, by our bereavements, by our crosses, if we have patience under them. Specially is this the case with God’s ministers, if he means to make much of them: their path to usefulness is up the craggy mountain’s side. If we are to comfort God’s afflicted people, we must first be afflicted ourselves. Tribulation will make our wheat fit to be bread for saints.
Adversity is the choicest book in our library, printed in black letter, but grandly illuminated. Job makes a glorious comforter and preacher of patience, but no one turns either to Bildad, Zophar, or Eliphaz, who were “miserable comforters,” because they had never been miserable. You, dear sisters, whom God will make daughters of consolation to your families, must in your measure pass through a scholarship of suffering too; a sword must pass through your own hearts if you are to be highly favored and blessed among women. Yet, let us all remember that affliction will not bless us if it be impatiently borne; if we kick at the goad it will hurt us, but it will not act as a fitting stimulus. If we rebel against God’s dispensations we may turn his medicines into poisons, and increase our griefs by refusing to endure them. Be patient, be patient, be patient, and the dark cloud shall drop a sparkling shower. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job”: imitate it. “Ye have seen the end of the Lord”: rejoice in it. “He is very pitiful, and of tender mercy”: yield yourselves to him. Divine Spirit, plant in us the sweet flower of patience, for our patient, Savior’s sake. Amen.
THE JIBBING HORSE THE carriage would have ascended the hill very pleasantly, but one horse of the pair refused to pull. The other was a first-rate creature, but what could it do alone? Everything was kept waiting by the one jibbing animal While our patience was having its perfect work we thought upon families where happiness and prosperity would be enjoyed were it not for the willfulness of one individual. In most, cases it is the husband whose drunken habits pull down with both hands what his frugal wife endeavors to build up.
Were we cruel when we wished a horse-whip could have been brought to bear upon a brutal fellow who sold the furniture which his wife had earned, and drank up the money which he thus procured? A little touch of the cat might not be too severe a medicine for such a rascal. Very rarely, we have known the wife to be the hindrance to success. A slovenly house and an extravagant expenditure have wasted the substance of an industrious man, and made his labor of no avail. Great pity is needed by a team which has a jibbing horse in it, but we have no pity for the jibber. Surely, if either man or woman could see how the case appears to an onlooker, for very shame jibbing would be given over, the neck would press the collar, and the family coach would climb the hill.
THE PULPIT AS A WARMING APPARATUS “IN
addition to the pulpit there is a hot-air warming apparatus.” This sentence occurred in the description of Mr. Culls Tabernacle at Shoreditch, which we inserted in last month’s magazine, and a gentle critic at once pounced upon it as a singular combination. So indeed it looks, and we may perhaps confess that it was a slip of the pen, but at the same time it is a highly suggestive one: the pulpit and the hot-air apparatus may be fitly put together. We remember once preaching in a small chapel, and after the sermon was over, and the collection was about to be made, we inquired of the pastor to what object the contributions were to be allotted. He replied that they were to purchase a stove for warming the chapel. Knowing that the congregation was exceedingly slender, and the minister remarkably dull, it occurred to us that the best place in which to put the stove would be the pulpit, for if the minister could be warmed, the people would not long be cold in so small a place.
Full many a discourse is enough to chill a man in the heat of summer, but on the other hand we know of places where the crowded congregations suffice to warm themselves, and a thoroughly red-hot sermon makes the hearers almost forget the weather. A pulpit may be a refrigerator, but it ought to be a furnace, or rather it should be the fire-place in the house to which all the family turn for warmth. What can be done to stoke the pulpits? The fire in many instances burns very low in that quarter, how can the expiring hearths be turned into more useful sources of heat?
The first thing needed is a live coal from off the altar. One will do to begin with if a seraph will but bring it. This coal will have a wonderful effect.
Sermons set on fire in this fashion are glorious flare beaux burning up all that chills and freezes. Without this fire what a dreary thing preaching may become! Who can stand before its cold? Many discourses are comparable to salmon packed in ice, with the one exception that there is no salmon when you come to unpack, the parcel. When his words are cast forth as morsels of ice, and his sentences hang like icicles around his lips, the preacher is not likely to create fervor in the audience. A very proper style, a drawling utterance, a lifeless spirit, and common-place matter make up a fine freezing mixture. Under such influences the spiritual temperature falls far below zero, and abides there. Fire is wanted, and fire from heaven is at once the purest and the fiercest flame. Oh, for an Elijah to bring it down As we cannot give the preacher this, it may be more practical to remark that some of our Lord’s servants are doubtless chilled in their hearts by a want of love on the part of their churches. They see prayer-meetings deserted, all good work left to them alone, and an utter indifference to them and to their office, and they are depressed. A few kind words of approbation fitly and seasonably spoken would set many a preacher on a glow, and the knowledge that he lived in the hearts of his friends would stimulate him, set him in the sunshine, and melt his frost. Let those who have been quick at blaming try the effect of a little love, and see what wonders it will work. If it does not benefit him who receives it, it will bless him who gives it, and so there will be no loss.
A larger measure of generosity on the part of those who support the man of God would also be well spent in many instances. The farmer who saw his neighbor using the whip very lavishly was as wise as he was merciful when he cried out, “Put the whip in the manger, neighbor. Give the poor creature fewer cracks and more corn.” Instead of finding fault with your minister find the good man more provender A burdened mind cannot exhibit the fertility and vivacity for which hearers are craving. In many a case it may be said of the preacher- “Chill penury repressed his noble rage, And froze the genial current of his soul.” The knowledge that one’s children are badly clad and scarcely shod, that the cupboard is bare and the purse is empty, is enough to kill the enthusiasm of an otherwise burning spirit, especially when it is coupled with the fact that in the pews there are those who can indulge themselves in luxuries, and who could remove the pressure of their pastor’s want without suffering a self-denial. Thoughtlessness about this matter is one of the crying sins of the age, and tends greatly to withhold the blessing from the hand of God. It’ men care so little about the servant that they half starve him, the Master is not likely to pour out a blessing so large that there shall not be room enough to receive it. When the priests fainted at the altar for want of bread, the Lord frowned on Israel, and when his ministering servants are exposed to needless poverty he will not smile upon his church.
If those who are able to do so would make our poor pastors the objects of their guardian care and constant liberality, it would be one of the surest and swiftest modes of securing a genuine revival.
A few well-chosen books, sent as a present to the pastor, would in many cases, by the divine blessing, kindle quite a beacon flame in the pulpit, and, without knowing why, the whole church would perceive with astonishment that cold platitudes had fled, and that holy freshness had taken their place.
They must be good standard books, mind, and not a litter of old magazines, not worth the carriage. The best are the cheapest. Better one real book than a score of the sham volumes with which the press teems every day of the week. Send in a few pounds’ worth, or even less, of solid literature, and watch the result. If any doubt the success of this method, we would urge them to try it once, and if it does not succeed to try it again, and if still there is no beneficial result, to use in addition more frequently the bellows of prayer, and see if the holy breath does not excite the flame.
Paul bade Timothy stir up the gift that was in him, and we would add to the apostolic advice that our brethren in the churches should stir up the gift which is in their pastors, not by cold words of criticism and fault-finding, but by such kindly methods as we have here suggested, and as many others as affection and wisdom can devise. You cannot get a good fire without fuel. Heap on abundance of glowing coals, and while you are hoping and praying, cheering and refreshing, the fire will burn. C.H.S.
HOLY ARITHMETIC SERMON BY C. SPURGEON, PREACHED AT SOUTH-STREET, GREENWICH. (Abridged from short-hand notes.) “Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. “ — Jude 2.
ATRINITY of blessings is often to be met with in God’s word. Here we have three choice gems — mercy, peace, and love — which seem to sparkle as we gaze upon them, and happy is the man who, while looking on them can say, “They are mine.” It is God’s happiness to crown all his people with goodness. For awhile, indeed, we may have to wear a crown of thorns, as our Master did; but even this shall be a glory to us. What is it you have on your brow now? Is it not a golden diadem wrought by a gracious Lord? It is as if God would weave a wreath for our heads out of his mercy, and intertwine it with the lily off peace, and adorn it with the rose of love. May this trio of blessings be given to each one of us, and be multiplied. God’s gifts always come in company, lie is God, and gives as a God. Man, indeed, has limited means, and so must be limited in his gifts; but God’s blessings are unbounded, and they come in triplets to us. Mercy is accompanied with peace and love, and since God blesses his children thus, when we come to him in prayer let us ask for a full supply of his favors. Jude would crave for a three-fold benediction to abide upon the saints of God. Do you. say, “If we have mercy, that is enough”? No, there is more to be enjoyed, for peace and love are to follow. When we are speaking for others let us be very bold. We may be somewhat backward when we seek blessings for ourselves, we are so sinful, and we know it; but when we ask for others “large petitions let us bring “ — for them let us seek mercy, peace, and love.
I want now to indulge in a little holy arithmetic. First, there is aSUM IN ADDITION — “ Mercy, and peace, and love.” Add these together. Then there is aSUM IN MULTIPLICATION. — “Mercy, and peace, and love, be multiplied; and then, by way of application, aSUM INPRACTICE. I. In the first place, we have aSUM IN ADDITION. As Christians we must never be content with the measure of our grace. Do not be satisfied to remain dwarf trees, but seek to be growing higher and higher, and at the same time sending your roots deeper and deeper. Like giant palms let our heads be lifted up to heaven, where the warm sunshine of divine love shall cherish growth, while our roots derive nourishment from the deep springs of secret grace. A sacred thirsting and hungering after celestial delicacies is what the Christian should at all times possess. We have sipped of the precious liquid only; let us take the cup salvation which overflows and drink it dry if we can: a crumb will not feed a famished soul; let us partake to the full of this heavenly bread. The first figure in this sum is “mercy,” and it is a very high number indeed. It stands foremost, for it is the chief of God’s dealings with us, whereby he pities us in our helplessness. We have already received much, but we are to add to it: for” He hath not dealt with us after our sins,” but favor has been shown to the undeserving, mercy to those who are full of sin. He has shown not only clemency in bestowing pardon, but his bountiful mercy whereby he supplies sufficiently our wants, “even the sure mercies of David.” So that whatever we need let us seek the stream bearing on its tide blessings for our souls to-day. Pray for this to God, who is rich in mercy, and he will add mercy to mercy. The best way to complete this sum is by coming to the mercy seat. Therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy. The Father of all mercies will hear and bless. We cry, “Have mercy upon us according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies.”
Then add to mercy “peace.” What a glorious numeral is this! As soon as we gain pardon there must come peace. For what soul shall dwell ill at ease that feels its sins forgiven? It is iniquity that causes pain; when this is removed there is a holy health of soul. The peace of God rules in our hearts, and keeps them too. Now are we reconciled to God through the death of his dear Son — we are at peace with him. The enmity of our hearts has been slain, and it is our delight to be in his company. We want to have more of this peace; how shall we gain it? Only by seeking to hold more communion with our God. If this fair flower is to grow within our hearts the dew of heaven must fall upon it during the hours of calm fellowship with God. We must dwell in him and he in us. Then there will come also a peace with self. Having no longer the consciousness of guilt, but of satisfaction; being right with God we are happy in ourselves, and peace pervades our spirits. The uprising of evil is quelled by the tranquilizing influence of a clear conscience, and so a holy peace abides within our hearts. Reign on, O powerful yet pacific Prince, and peace shall evermore crown us with prosperity! Have we got that peace with God? It is only by justification that we can obtain it. Through Jesus Christ, who is our peace, we enjoy this blessing. Shall we not add, then, to our heart’s content? In him are the springs of peace and love. Oh that this peace may flow as a river within us!
Yet again, there is another figure to add, and it is “love.” Surely there is no more room! We are already full now that we have the “mercy of God” and the “peace of God;” what more can we have? Add to all this the “love of God,” a boon beyond all calculation, a prize of infinite value. Many have got a little of this treasure: would to God all had more. Love lies smoldering in our hearts. O breath divine, blow these sparks into burning fires! Grace changes all within us, for while we receive such mercy and enjoy such peace from the hands of our loving Lord we feel we must love in return. “We love because we are loved,” and this love is a habit wrought in us by God himself, who is love. Do we hear the Master say, “Lovest thou me?” We answer, “Lord, thou knowest that we love thee;” and we might add more than Peter said, “We do not love thee as we should, nor even as we would.” The true mother would not have her child divided, neither would God have the hearts of his true children divided in their affections. “Burn, burn, oh, love, within my breast Burn fiercely night and day, Till all the dross of earthly loves Is burned and burned away.” Let the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts as the sunlight gleaming through the painted window of a cathedral sheds a beauty upon all, adorning yet not disarranging aught. So the love of God should shine in our hearts, making everything beautiful, our thoughts, our words, our actions all being lit up with his love. Now, put these three together — mercy, peace, love — and what a grand total they make! Items in the grace of God for all to enjoy.
II. Now we come to our SUM IN MULTIPLICATION. If I want to increase rapidly let me have the multiplication table, and let it be by compound multiplication too. Multiply by that which has been itself multiplied. Mercy, and peace, and love, multiplied by mercy, and peace, and love, which have been multiplied. Is this shard sum? God can help us to do it if we also help ourselves. The first thing that affords aid is memory. Think of the mercies of yesterday, put them down, then multiply them by the mercies of to-day, and so on and on, meditating upon the favors of years past, and you will find by this mental exercise that the mercy you now enjoy will be multiplied. Let every mercy have a dot over it to show that it is a recurring one. And memory will refresh you concern-Lug peace too. Remember when the heart was broken, and the spirit was tried with anguish, how Jesus spake to you in words of tender love and blessed comfort. After the thunder and the whirlwind there was the “still small voice” which whispered peace. The dashing billows bore upon their crested summits the all-powerful voice of a loving Savior, who said, “It is I; be not afraid,” and immediately there was a calm. Recollect the morning of bright joy which followed the nights of sadness. Love, too, must be remembered if it is to be multiplied. Review all the tokens received in the past, all the choice souvenirs. Take down that bundle of letters, and let memory refresh herself by re-reading all the words of love written by a gracious God. Thus shall memory help us in our multiplication.
Another help we may have is mutual intercourse. As a boy at school runs to another older and wiser than himself when a sum is hard, and he needs help in doing it, so should Christians endeavor to find counsel and support from intercourse with their fellow-saints. A brother may tell you something you never knew before, for he has just received a mercy that you are wanting, and the way he obtained it may serve as a direction for you. Then get into the peaceful company of believers, and you will find your peace will be multiplied. Do not lie down with the lion, or you may learn to fight, but rest beside the lamb, and peace shall abound. Love also begets love, and in the fellowship of those who love the Lord you will derive much benefit and an increase to your love.
But the very best way is to go to the Master. If the sum is difficult, it may be well to take down the exercise-book and see the examples already worked out, Study God’s word and see how mercy, and peace, and love have been multiplied to others, so shall you learn the way to have your own multiplied, if you cannot get on with this aid, go straight away to the Headmaster.
He is merciful, he is full of mercy, he is plenteous in mercy. Here, then, shall you find a way out of your difficulty. If you cannot multiply, he will do it for you; he is the Prince of Peace, submit yourself to his gentle reign, and peace shall be yours. Dwell in the atmosphere of his love and this grace shall be more and more in you. Thus, Teacher Divine, help thy scholars to rise and make progress while here below, until it shall please thee to call us home for the holidays, where our lessons shall be at an end, for then shall we enjoy the fullness of thy mercy, the sweetness of thy peace, and the bounties of thy love.
III. Now, aSUM IN PRACTICE, and a very short one too. Unto you who have been called, sanctified, and preserved, are these words of exhortation sent. Be merciful, for “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Be peaceful for “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Be loving, for “Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Evermore may this trinity of blessings abide with us: the mercy of the Lord which is from everlasting to everlasting, the peace of God which passeth understanding, and the love of God which passeth knowledge, for his name’s sake. Amen.
The Person of Christ: the perfection of his humanity viewed as a proof of his deity. ByPHILIP SCHAFF, D.D.NISBET AND CO. “THE object of this book is to show, in a popular style, that the person of Christ is the great central miracle of history, and the strongest evidence of Christianity. The very perfection of his humanity is a proof of his divinity.”
This design the author has earnestly pursued, and the result is a valuable treatise which is as complete as the size of the book would permit. It is a very useful thing to have collected into a handy form impartial testimonies to the character of Christ, such as were borne by Tacitus, Julian, Chubb, Rousseau, Napoleon, Goethe, Strauss, Theodore Parker, Stuart Mill.
Renan, and others. That men of all sorts, and even those who have rejected his claims, have been compelled to admire, and almost adore his perfections is a wonderful proof that though our Lord was man he was more than other men. Think of Rousseau, saying, “If the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God.” Why, then, did he not believe on him? Since he did not believe, what must have been the dearness of truth which forced an unbeliever to make such a confession? How plainly is Jesus in character surpassingly great when he brings from the lips of a Napoleon such words as these — “ Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me. From the first day to the last he is the same, always the same; majestic and simple infinitely firm, and infinitely gentle? Our Lord needs no witnesses, but it is refreshing to hear from one man and another of varied character and constitution the common confession that his character has convinced them, and that “truly this is the Son of God.” Dr. Schaff has produced a very admirable book for young students, and to them we earnestly recommend a thoughtful reading of his pages. The more they can store away in their memories the facts which he here records the better for the establishment of their faith, and the more thoroughly will they be armed against the adversaries of the gospel.
January 15th. — Just as we send off these notes from Mentone we receive the following telegram from Mr. Charlesworth, who was conducting a service of song with our boys in Bath. The telegram started on the 14th, but they do things leisurely in France. “Mrs. Hillyard passed away while our meeting was proceeding. Her last words were, ‘My boys! My boys!’“ So falls asleep an almost unknown saint of God, whose life was spent in the Redeemer’s service, and to whose memory thousands of orphan children for years to come will be living monuments. Further particulars shall be given in our next. She was ripe for the garner.
Writing on January 15 we are able to report more than six continuous weeks of dry, warm, sunshiny weather at Mentone, and therefore, by the good hand of the Lord, we have shaken off the gout and rheumatic pains, and hope to start for home on February 2. God has been very gracious in renewing our strength, and we hope to pass the rest of the winter in full home work, though we cannot venture much abroad. We have been refreshed by calls from some of the best of Christian people, and by innumerable communications from many lands, full of sympathy and love.
A letter has followed the telegram from New York, which we insert among our “personal notes,” hearing the heartiest salutations of one hundred or more Baptist ministers. What can we say but thank God and take courage?
Every report has been cheering. Some of the ablest divines have filled the pulpit, and maintained the congregations. Our thankfulness is great to each one of them, and to the beloved people who have remained faithful to their place, and to its work and servicer The offering to the College for the year was made up to £1879, some of the collections being very. special love-tokens to the pastor. Mr. Murrell’s telegrams have been much in little, every word breathing encouragement and comforting our spirit. Nothing but love have we received, and what but love can we return?
SPECIAL SERVICES. We have had several detailed accounts of the services at the Tabernacle conducted by Messrs. Fuller-ten and Smith: they all agree in praising the Lord for these two valued workers, and in the expectation that very large in-gatherings must follow the present series of meetings.
The sketches of Mr. Fullerton’s addresses which have been sent us manifest great power of thought, soundness of doctrine, and zeal for the salvation of souls. Mr. Smith’s music and singing also occupy a very important place in the work. All the gatherings have been marked with the divine blessing, but that which most of all surprises us is the noon prayer- meeting, which we feared would not succeed, but which has reached the number of five hundred. Our good people are mostly engaged in the City, and Newington ‘seemed to us rather an unlikely place for a noon-day meeting; but where there’s a will there’s a way, and accordingly the people did come, and are coming still. This ought to encourage other churches which think themselves to be awkwardly located, nevertheless, to announce special seasons for prayer. To alter the usual hour is often a good thing. A meeting which has been held for years at 7 p.m. with a scanty attendance might .greatly rally if held on a summer’s morning at 5, or in the depth of winter at 3 in the afternoon. Anything is better than ruts.
There has evidently been great prayerfulness and hearty union of spirit, and these working under energetic commonsense leadership will be sure to win a bless-rag; for by such means the Holy Spirit usually works.
As a mere summary of meetings would not interest our readers we give the telegrams as they came to us from Mr. Murrell: — Dec. 30. Evangelistic meetings began well Congregation hearty. Noon prayer-meeting successful.LAUS DEO. Pax vobis.
Jan. 6. All goes well Meetings increase in numbers, interest, power, and blessing. Monday prayer-meeting largest ever held. Collection for Colportage £90 last Sunday morning.
Jan. 13. Vitality, power, interest, numbers keep increasing. Rest contented.
Thank the Lord you are better.
Here is a history in few words, which will be all the more complete if we add: the officers are all united and earnest, the church aroused, and the people full of expectation. Inquirers come forward after each service, and many are anxious to be united with the church. Oh that their minister, who is growingly conscious of his own weakness, may return to them in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of peace!
We insert the following letter which we sent home, because it may show to other churches how all the members can aid special services, and under the divine blessing secure success:— “My beloved Friends, — Now that our Special Services are beginning I entreat you to labor as one man to make them a success. It is the Lord’s work to send the blessing: but as a rule he begins to work upon sinners by first of all arousing his own people. We believe in grace, and in grace alone, but we know by experience that true revival is not a gourd which springs up on a sudden while men sleep, but like the angel of Bethlehem it visits those who keep watch over their flocks by night. Grace to us is as new wine, refreshing and inspiring, and not as a soporific potion creating the slumber of inaction. Messrs. Smith and Fullerton, who conduct the Services, have proved their fitness for the position by their success in other congregations. If the pleasure of the Lord does not prosper in their hand among us, it will be our fault, and not theirs. What is wanted is, first, much prayer. In this, all the Lord’s people can join. Attend the noon Prayermeeting, if possible, and if not, pray all the same. Without the Holy Spirit we are nothing, and prayer alone can win his aid. The next practical step is to make the meetings known . The people cannot come to the services if they do not know of them. The expense of advertising is very great if left to be done by the home authorities; but if every person will spread the news, this method of gaining publicity is the most effective, and it can be done on the largest scale with very little outlay. If you cannot preach the gospel you may yet win a soul by letting it be known that the gospel is preached. The third needful work is to bring in the people. Persuade friends and neighbors to attend.’ Canvass a district. Visit from house to house with invitations, ‘ Compel them to come in,’ and when this is done, give a personal word. Speak for Jesus, if it be with faltering lips, both before and after the addresses of the preachers. Good sermons need following up by personal entreaties. God often blesses feeble efforts; indeed, he suffers no true endeavor to fall to the ground. How I wish I could persuade ALL the church-members to rally to the Holy War ] God knoweth how much I wish I could be with you myself. My infirmities detain me from the field of sacred action, but my heart watches you. As ye have served the Lord in my. presence, so do I pray you much more in my absence; that if possible my lack of service may be made up by your overplus of labor. You have not only your own work to do, but mine also.
Be pastors to the lambs, and to the wandering sheep. If you cannot fill the pulpit, yet tell out the same ‘old, old story’ which is the one sole message with which it has for many years resounded. To your beloved deacons and elders, and to you all, I send my fervent Christian love, beseeching you all, all together, with all your strength, to unite in the service of love. “Yours most heartily, “
Mentone, December 28, 1879.”
— The workers at the Tabernacle spontaneously united in giving a token of their esteem to our worthy friend and brother, Mr. Murtell, to whose energetic services we are all so much indebted. It was well done of the brethren, and well deserved of the receiver. That we have worshipped in comfort these many years, without accident or disturbance, is mainly due to the prudent management of our honored friend. We cannot love too much the man who is the servant of us all for Christ’s sake. His pastor, his fellow-deacons, the elders, the workers, and all the brotherhood know that he does for us what none of us would feel able to attempt, and therefore we .glorify God in him, and wish him long life .and happiness.
COLLEGE. Mr. E. L. Hamilton, of our · College, has received a unanimous invitation to the church at Hay Hill, Bath. Mr. W. Thomas, who still remains in College, fills up the vacancy at Putney caused by Mr. Geale’s removal to Brighton. Mr. J. J. Knight has accepted an invitation to the pastorate of Circus Baptist Chapel, Bradford-street, Birmingham.
Mr. J. Cole, late of Coseley, has accepted the pastorate of the churches at Marlborough and Salcombe, Devon; Mr. R.J. Beecliff, formerly of Bedale, Yorkshire, has become pastor of the church at Leeds-road, Bradford; sad Mr. D.C. Chapman, of Oakengates, Salop, has removed to Acre Mill, Bacup, Lancashire. Canada. — Mr. H. F. Adams, having finished his college course, has gone to take charge of a newly-formed church at Lewis-street, Toronto. Mr.R. Holmes, who has done a most satisfactory work at Minesing, has removed to Aylmer, Ontario; and Mr. H. Cocks, late of Bally-mena, has become pastor of a newly-organized church at Walkerton, Ontario. India. — Mr. Norris, of Bedminster, has accepted an invitation to the church in Circular Road, Calcutta; and we expect that Mr. G. H. Hook, of Thaxted, will sail in the same vessel to become pastor of the church in Lal Bazar, in the same city. Australia. — All our friends will rejoice with us to hear that the good ship Sobraon, which carried our son Thomas, and Messrs. McCullough and Harrison, arrived at Melbourne on December 16th. May he and his comrades become a living seed for the church of God in the southern world.
Mr. Edgar Booth, who came to us from Victoria, Australia, has just sailed for Melbourne. He intends devoting himself, for a time, to evangelistic work in the country districts of the colony.
Australian papers to hand contain a glowing description of the reception of Mr. A. J. Clarke, our late evangelist, by the church at West Melbourne. He has evidently entered into a sphere for which he is well adapted, and will we trust prove to be a great blessing to the colony. Mr. Garrett, who sailed with him, has settled at Brighton, Victoria.
EVANGELISTS. — Pastor J. Kemp, who is himself an earnest evangelist, sends us the following account of Mr.BURNHAM’ S visit to Bures; — “ It was a time of refreshing to us all. The attendance throughout the week was very good, and the interest seemed to deepen at each meeting. Two services were held at a village two miles away, where we have a chapel which was well filled each evening. The closing meeting at Bures was just simply delightful. The prayers were full of thankfulness, and some very touching letters were read from those who professed to have found peace in believing during the week. Mr. Burnham was once more the means of blessing to two of the youthful inmates of the home in which he stayed.
The two most special features of the work were the large attendance of strangers, and the earnest prayerfulness of our own people. What fruit we have already seen greatly cheers us, and we are confident there is much more to follow.”
One incident will show the effect of the work of Mr. Burnham at Melford.
The day after he left the hall a band of strolling players, who before had been great favorites in the place, arrived in the village. At the first performance very few were present, and on the second evening only three, so they were glad to move on to another place, where the gospel had not been so recently preached.
Mr. Burnham has since visited Eye, where a most gracious work was effected by the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of our brother. Each evening the audience increased, and inquirers were seen after every service.
On the Sunday night the chapel was packed full, and there were so many seeking souls that Mr. Burnham could not personally speak with each one, The meetings were only arranged for one week, but the interest and blessing seemed so manifestly on the increase that the services were continued for a week longer.
From Eye Mr. Burnham went to Driffield and Cranswick, and this month is to visit Sheepshed and Preston.
Mr. E. J. Parker, one of our students who is being trained for the work of an evangelist, has been singing the gospel at the special services conducted by Mr. A. G. Brown and Dr. Seddon, at Burnley, where he tells us many souls were added to the Lord. The best helpers of the evangelists were a number of young people who were converted during the visit of our brethren Smith and Fullerton.
During the Christmas vacation Mr. Parker sang and spoke for Jesus on the sea-shore, and in the drawing-room of a lady who had gathered together some of the neglected upper classes to hear the gospel. Many of them seemed to be impressed by the touching song, “So near to the Kingdom,” and it is hoped that some who listened to it will not be content until they are “safe within the Kingdom.”
As funds are entrusted to us, this brother and others whom the Lord has evidently intended for evangelists, will be set apart and sent out on their mission of mercy to those who will never be reached by any other agency.
ORPHANAGE. —CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES.
— The best thanks of the orphans and of the President of the Orphanage are due, and are hereby heartily tendered, to all those who by their generous help made Christmas at the Orphanage to be a time of great enjoyment. Our son Charles, who took our place on Christmas-day, sent us the following lively account of the day’s proceedings: — “Dear Father, “Christmas has vanished fleeting, Gone its merry hours of meeting; Hearty fun and hearty eating, Gone like Christmas-days of yore. so I write to tell you how happy all were at the Stockwell Orphanage. To commence with, the morning service at Newman Hall’s was very good.
The fog was very dense, so a large congregation could not be expected, but all were gratified to see so many there. The collection will realize £50.
A fine Christmas-box indeed! The walk, no doubt, gave the lads a keen appetite for the beef.:Before they set to I read your kind letter, amid perfeet silence (for a pin might have dropped, as Tom used to say) until I had finished the first sentence — ‘ I wish you all a merry-Christmas.’ Then they burst out, ‘ The same to you, sir,’ and Mr. Charlesworth observed that it was no fault of yours if you did not hear it. There was not one heart that did not fervently desire joy for you while absent from the Orphanage. The boys did the cheering well for everybody named in the note, but none exceeded the hurrahs given for the eleven little girls when, with Miss Moore leading the foremost, they walked down the hall to dinner. Dear little mites, they stood on the form for the boys to look at them, and then listened to your loving words. As per usual, ample justice was done to the dinner. Then the grandees had their dinner. A vacant chair again occupied the center position at the table; I could not fill it, and regretted that my dear father was not there to do so, although I am truly glad you are away from these awful fogs. None forgot the President when they spoke, but all mourned his absence. It fell to my lot to receive a present from the ‘ old boy’s’ consisting of a case of cutlery — a very handsome gift indeed, and one that will be useful, too, by-and-by. In the evening we heartily enjoyed ourselves. May the time come-round when you will be there to rejoice with those who do rejoice.”
The following is the letter which we sent to the Orphanage: — “Mentone, Dec. 20. “Dear Boys, — I wish you all a merry Christmas. My son, Mr. Charles Spurgeon, will tell you that it is a great trouble to me to be away from you all at Christmas, but I hope you will all enjoy yourselves none the less, and be as happy as kittens. I am very pleased to hear that as a rule you are a good let of fellows, obedient, teachable, and true; therefore you have a right to be happy, and I hope you are. I always wish everything to be done to make you love the Orphanage and feel it to be your home, and in this all the Trustees join, and so does Mr. Charlesworth. We want you to be very jolly while you are with us, and then to grow up and go out into business, and to turn out first-rate men and true Christians. “Boys, give three cheers for the Trustees, who are your best friends, and then the same for Mr. Charlesworth, the matrons, and the masters. Don’t forge; the gentlemen who send the shillings and the figs. Hip, hip, hurrah! “Where are the girls? “Dear Children, — I hope you will be happy too with Miss Moore and the other kind folks. You cannot make quite so much noise as those uproarious boys, but your voices are very sweet, and I shall be glad one day to hear them when I get well and come home.
Enjoy yourselves all you can, and try to make everybody happy in your new home. I hope my first little girls will be specially good ones. Ought not the first to be the best? “Your friend always, “C. H.SPURGEON. “Any old boys about? God bless the young men, and make them our strength and honor.”
On Friday, January 9. the Quarterly Collectors’ Meeting was held at Stockwell, and, considering that it was the coldest and dullest of dull days, a goodly number of friends brought in their Collecting Books and Boxes.
Our young friends were greatly in the majority, and we heartily thank the children of our many helpers for their loving and earnest help in collecting for their orphan brothers and sisters. Mr. Charlesworth, who well deserves the honorable title of “The Children’s Friend,” had thoughtfully provided an amusing entertainment for he juvenile collectors in the school-room, after which all gathered for tea in the dining-hall. After tea, Mr. J.J. Headington gave a very interesting Lecture, entitled “A Visit to the Afghans and Zulus,” illustrated by seventy Dissolving Views, which were among the best we have ever seen. The amount brought in was slightly over £ 70.
— Among the many expressions of brotherly kindness and sympathy which have reached us during our sojourn abroad, one calls for special mention. Just as we were retiring to rest one night, a soft pillow for our head and heart arrived by telegraph from the other side of the Atlantic. This was the form in which the sweet love-token came to hand: — “To C. H. Spurgeon, Mentone, France. From New York Baptist Ministers’ Conference. — Prayers. Sympathy. 2 Corinthians 1:2,7 — Potter, Secretary.” The full text of the message is as follows: — “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ..... And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”
May the ever-blessed Giver of peace and Lover of concord return to these brethren ten-thousand-fold this their deed of love towards their afflicted fellow-servant-Such costly acts of spontaneous sympathy go far to prove that, degenerate as the age may be, there is life and love in the old church yet.
This telegram was followed on Jan. 15 by the following most touching letter, for which we feel the utmost gratitude: — “Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon: — Beloved Brother, — The sorrowful tidings reach us that you are entirely prostrated, not being able even to address your weekly epistle of love to your own church. Your sufferings touch the hearts of your American brethren most tenderly, and the New York Conference of Baptist ministers, numbering more than one hundred, has appointed the undersigned a committee to express their de? sympathy with you in your present “Be assured, precious brother, that this expression is most heartfelt and real: you live in our hearts so truly that your affliction is ours, on the divine principle that if one member suffers all the members suffer therewith. In health, you have sent thrilling words of cheer to the afflicted disciples of the Lamb all round the globe. And now, in the hour of your darkness, their affections cling closer to you than ever. Your pain meats with little mitigation through the live-long day and night while the sun makes his rounds over all lands, and we believe that in most of the nations that see his light the prayers of your brethren are rising to the God of all consolation as from a common altar, that divine succor may be vouchsafed to you every hour. “Truly, infinite grace has chosen you in the furnace of affliction.
How far your terrible pains in the past have contributed, as a holy discipline, to the creation of that noble Christian manhood which has marked your life and labors so long, can be known only to our heavenly Father. But we believe that as our Captain was made perfect through sufferings, be will so sanctify yours, that even a more mellow and gentle ministry will mark your coming years than those which are past. Should our hopes be thus gratified, the sorrowing people of God will draw strength, once more, from your weakness, and sweetness out of your bitter cup. “Dearly beloved one: we commend to you now those broad and bright promises of our Lord which you have so forcibly applied to the souls of his people in their distresses. Let your Christian fortitude bind you indissolubly to the fidelity of your covenantkeeping Savior, till a holy courage can humbly say, ‘Though thou slay me, yet will I trust thee.’ We shall not cease to pray that our sympathetic Redeemer will be at your right hand, that he will fill your room with heavenly light, and your heart with sacred joy. ‘Be of good cheer’; lift up thine eyes, and see thy Lord coming to thy help on the wave, and in the darkest watch of the night. Can he not say to the crazy, creaking vessel that years are added to its days P This he has said in similar stress heretofore. And we confidently hope that your valuable life will be still spared to do a glorious work for that general Church of Christ which claims you as its pastor, in common with the brethren at the Tabernacle. The Conference tenders its Christian condolence to your beloved household, in these days when with them hope and fear are struggling so hard for the mastery. May Jehovah keep and bless you all. “Yours affectionately, “THOS.ARMITAGE. “CHRISTOPHER RHODES. “JESSE B.THOMAS —COMMITTEE. “New York, Dec. 30, 1879.”
We have had a singular request concerning our sermon “Among the Lions” (No. 1,496). A Christian sister, who has read the sermons for thirteen years, felt that this one exactly fitted her experience, and she asked permission to have it reprinted, that she might frame it, and hang it up where it might be seen by the workpeople in her neighborhood. We consented at once to the proposal, but suggested that instead of having it reprinted, two copies should be cut and the portions pasted together in a form suitable for framing. It is right and natural that we should wish others to read that which has been useful to ourselves.
Our excellent contemporary The Freeman says: — “The New Year’s gift of the proprietors of the little French monthly, L’Echo de la Verite, to the subscribers, is a translation of Mr. Spurgeon’s 1,500th published sermon.
The promoters of the enterprise wish to be placed in funds to repeat the gift, for they desire the continuance and extension of the wonderful blessing vouchsafed through these sermons. It may well cheer the heart of our dear brother, during his forced retreat, to know that the gospel, through the instrumentality of these addresses, is ever active, and that he is truly transmitting the divine influence and light whilst in his darkened chamber, as much as if he were in the face of day. The vitality of the truth concerning the work of Christ is equaled only by its continual novelty. It is exceedingly appropriate that in this manner Mr. Spurgeon should now be daily speaking to the French in their own tongue whilst enjoying the benefit of their sunny shores.”
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: Dec. 18th, 1879, seven.
REASON FOR A SONG OF PRAISE THE reflective mind finds objects of interest everywhere: in the stones of the beach, the dust of the road, the flowers of the field, or the stars of the midnight sky, it sees instruction and finds delight. The ignorant and the unreflective tread under their feet a thousand causes of pleasurable thought, and pass through a very paradise as drearily as if it were a desert.
It is much the same with the emotion of gratitude. The mass of mankind seem never to praise the name of the Lord; and many among them are perpetually murmuring and grumbling, and even more are steeped in dissatisfaction. God’s goodness surrounds them on every hand, and they perceive it not. For the heart which is full of gratitude there are a thousand well-springs of thankfulness: among them is one which is very common, and is as commonly forgotten. If it were removed, the wail would be pitiful; but being present, the song which it deserves is frequently stifled in forgetful silence. When we are reasonably healthy, relieved from acute pain, and free from depression of spirit, we ought to be profoundly thankful. Even if we are poor, or toil-worn, or aged, health is in itself an unspeakable boon. Many would give a fortune to possess it, and yet thousands live from year to year with scarce an ache or a pain, and have hardly the common decency to say,” Thank God.” Like swine they tread the pearls of health and strength under their feet, and perhaps by misusing their powers they even turn again and rend the Giver of these priceless jewels. To balance such ingratitude, the writer of these lines cannot refrain from paying his personal thanks to the All-bountiful Lord. To me it is a cause of overwhelming joy to find myself delivered from the anguish caused by a painful disorder. It is enough of pleasure to be free from pain.
It is a delight to wake in the morning and find that I can use my limbs, that I can dress myself without assistance, and that I can go down the stairs without aid. What a holiday it seems to take a walk, leaning a little on my staff, but yet able to pace the garden! When I can enjoy my food without suffering from speedy indigestion, and can sit down with a clear brain to pursue my literary labors, I feel as if a stream of joy rippled through my veins, and my whole nature was bathed in peace. Then my soul lives hymns, and breathes psalms. What if stern toil lies before me, and scanty rest, and the care of a flock numerous beyond precedent; yet because pain is gone, and the head is clear, my heart rejoices before the Lord.
Perhaps it needs that we should suffer much before we can be duly grateful for the boon of health. There are few joys equal to those of convalescence after months of suffering. It is something like beginning to live anew, and being introduced into a new world. The poet did not exaggerate when he said: — “See the wretch that long has lost On the thorny bed of pain, At length repair his vigor lost, And breathe and walk again.
The meanest floweret of the vale, The simplest note that ‘swells the gale, The common sun, the air, the skies, To him are opening paradise.” To make honey sweeter than its natural sweetness one must have tasted gall. There was true philosophy in the language of Socrates when he discoursed with his friends in prison, and stroked his leg, which had been chafed by the galling of his fetters, and said, “What a wonderful thing is this which we talk pleasant and agreeable; and what a wonderful relation does it bear to that which seems its contrary! The pain which was before in my leg, through the stricture of the fetter, is now succeeded by a pleasant emotion.” Do the nerves gain tone and tune for the melody of pleasure by the rough strokes of anguish? Is there a tenderness infused into them by agony, which else they would never have known? It may be so, or it may not: but this is certainly the fact, that every man who is in good health is a great debtor to his Maker, and should take care daily to acknowledge his immense obligation. If you need to be stirred up to cheerfulness and thankfulness, think of the hospital, of the painful operation, of the iron bed of pain, of the sleepless nights, of the weary days, and of the heaviness, the weariness, the torment and dread which may come to the soul through an encumbering frame. If these thoughts do not suffice to make you thankful, go to the spot and see with your own eyes the sufferings we have asked you to imagine. Look on the sufferers, and wonder that this poor, mortal frame should be capable of so much woe, that even one poor limb of the body should contain such awful possibilities of misery. Remember, too, that much of human disease is endured by those whose poverty denies them necessary alleviation: they are forced to toil for bread, and to die as they toil. The eye is failing, but the day’s needlework must be done, though blindness should succeed; the head is aching, and the heart is palpitating, but yet hourly the burden must be borne till death shall bring relief. The family would starve if the invalid did not perform the labors of sturdy health; at what expense of agony must those labors be achieved! What must it be to be sick and penniless, to need all your strength to bear your pain, and yet to be loaded to the last ounce with a burden only fit to be borne by giant strength? Have we bread to eat, and raiment to put on, and health and strength with which to perform our daily labors? Let us then arouse ourselves to praise. One of our revival ditties says, “I feel like singing all the time,” and that is the kind of feeling a healthy man should cultivate. We do not sing enough. We should be healthier, stronger, richer, gladder, if we would abound in the praises of our God. The man who told us the other day that he was near sixty, and had never spent a couple of pounds on a doctor, should give the fees which he has saved to the Lord’s work, and then lead the song of the grateful The working man who finds his daily labor easy and agreeable should be one of the chief musicians in the house of the Lord. Frederick of Prussia executed a picture by way of amusement, and then wrote at the bottom of it, “Painted in torments!” What that man must have known of the gout! How glad ought we to be who can write an article, or preach a sermon, or plane a deal, or plough a field, and then say, done in comfort! If we have forgotten the salt of gratitude, let us flavor our life with it more abundantly, and in this we may follow the liberty given in the words of the old Book — “ Salt without prescribing how much.” C.H.S.
UNDER HIS SHADOW A BRIEF SACRAMENTAL DISCOURSE DELIVERED AT MENTONE TO ABOUT A SCORE BRETHREN. BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” — Psalm 91:1.
IMUST confess of my short discourse, as the man did of the ax which fell into the stream, that it is borrowed. The outline of it is taken from one who will never complain of me, for to the great loss of the church she has left these lower choirs to sing above. Miss Havergal, last and loveliest of our modern poets, when her tones were most mellow, and her language most sublime, has been caught up to swell the music of heaven. Her last poems are published with the tide, “Under his Shadow,” and the preface gives the reason for the name. She said, “I should like the title to be ‘ Under his shadow.’ I seem to see four pictures suggested by that: under the shadow of a rock in a weary plain; under the shadow of a tree; closer still, under the shadow of his wing; nearest and closest, in the shadow of his hand.
Surely that hand must be the pierced hand, that may oftentimes press us sorely, and yet evermore encircling, upholding, and shadowing.” “Under his shadow,” is our afternoon subject, and we will in a few words enlarge on the scriptural plan which Miss Havergal has bequeathed to us.
Our text is, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The shadow of God is not the occasional resort, but the constant abiding-place, of the saint. Here we find not only our consolation, but our habitation. We ought never to be out of the shadow of God. It is to dwellers, not to visitors, that the Lord promises his protection. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”: and that shadow shall preserve him from nightly terror and ghostly ill, from the arrows of war and of pestilence, from death and from destruction. Guarded by omnipotence, the chosen of the Lord are always safe; for as they dwell in the holy place, hard by the mercy seat, where the blood was sprinkled of old, the pillar of fire by night, and the pillar of cloud by day, which ever hangs over the sanctuary, covers them also. Is it not written, “In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me “? What better security can we desire? As the people of God we are always under the protection of the Most High. Wherever we go, whatever we suffer, whatever may be our difficulties, temptations, trials, or perplexities, we are always “under the shadow of the Almighty.” Over all who maintain their fellowship with God the most tender guardian care is extended. Their heavenly Father himself interposes between them and their adversaries. The experience of the saints, albeit they are all under the shadow, yet differs as to the form in which that protection has been enjoyed by them, hence the value of the four figures which will now engage our attention.
I. We will begin with the first picture which Miss Havergal mentions — namely,THE ROCK sheltering the weary traveler. “The shadow of a great rock in a weary land ” (Isaiah 32:2).
Now, I take it that this is where we begin to know our Lord’s shadow. He was at the first to us a refuge in time of trouble. Weary was the way, and great was the heat; our lips were parched, and our souls were fainting; we sought for shelter and we found none; for we were in the wilderness of sin and condemnation, and who could bring us deliverance, or even hope?
Then we cried unto the Lord in our trouble, and he led us to the Rock of Ages, which of old was cleft for us. We saw our interposing Mediator coming between us and the fierce beat of justice, and we hailed the blessed screen. The Lord Jesus was unto us a covering for sin, and so a covert from wrath. The sense of divine displeasure, which had beaten upon our conscience, was removed by the removal of the sin itself, which we saw to be laid on Jesus, who in our place and stead endured its penalty.
The shadow of a rock is remarkably cooling, and so was the Lord Jesus eminently comforting to us. The shadow of a rock is more dense, more complete, and more cool than any other shade; and so the peace which Jesus gives passeth all understanding, there is none like it. No chance beam darts through the rock shade, nor can the heat penetrate as it will do in a measure through the foliage of a forest: Jesus is a complete shelter, and blessed are they who are “under his shadow.” Let them take care that they abide there, and never venture forth to answer for themselves, or to brave the accusations of Satan.
As with sin, so with sorrow of every sort: the Lord is the rock of our refuge. No sun shall smite us, nor any heat, because we are never out of Christ. The saints know where to fly, and they use their privilege. “When troubles, like a burning sun, Beat heavy on their head, To Christ their mighty Rock they run, And find a pleasing shade.” There is, however, something of awe about this great shadow. A rock is often so high as to be terrible, and we tremble in presence of its greatness.
The idea of littleness hiding behind massive greatness is well set forth; but there is no tender thought of fellowship, or tenderness: even so, at the first, we view the Lord Jesus as our shelter from the consuming heat of welldeserved punishment, and we know little more. It is most pleasant to remember that this is only one panel of the fourfold picture. Inexpressibly dear to my soul is the deep cool rock-shade of my blessed Lord, as I stand in him a sinner saved; yet is there more.
II. Our second picture, that of THE TREE, is to be found in the Song of Solomon 2:3, — “As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste .”
Here we have not so much refuge from trouble as special rest in times of joy. The spouse is happily wandering through a wood, glancing at many trees, and rejoicing in the music of the birds. One tree specially charms her: the citron with its golden fruit wins her admiration, and she sits under its shadow with great delight; such was her beloved to her, the best among the good, the fairest of the fair, the joy of her joy, the light of her delight. Such is Jesus to the believing soul.
The sweet influences of Christ are intended to give us a happy rest, and we ought to avail ourselves of them: “I sat down under his shadow.” This was Mary’s better part, which Martha well-nigh missed by being cumbered.
That is the good old way wherein we are to walk, the way in which we find rest unto our souls. Papists and papistical persons, whose religion is all ceremonies, or all working, or all groaning, or all feeling, have never come to an end; we may say of their religion as of the law, that it made nothing perfect; but under the gospel there is something finished, and that something is the sum and substance of our salvation, and therefore there is rest for us, and we ought to sing, “I sat down.”
Dear friends, is Christ to each one of us a place of sitting down? I do not mean a rest of idleness and self-content — God deliver us from that; but there is rest in a conscious grasp of Christ, a rest of contentment with him, as our all in all. God give us to know more of this. This shadow is also meant to yield perpetual solace, for the spouse did not merely come under it, but there she sat down as one that meant to stay. Continuance of repose and joy is purchased for us by our Lord’s perfected work. Under the shadow she found food; she had no need to leave it to find a single needful thing, for the tree which shaded also yielded fruit; nor did she need even to rise from her rest, but sitting still she feasted on the delicious fruit. You who know the Lord Jesus know also what this meaneth.
The spouse never wished to go beyond her Lord. She knew no higher life than that of sitting under the Well-beloved’s shadow. She passed the cedar, and oak, and every other goodly tree, but the apple-tree held her, and there she sat down. “Many there be that say, who will show us any good? But as for us, O Lord, our heart is fixed, our heart is fixed, resting on thee. We will go no further, for thou art our dwelling-place, we feel at home with thee, and sit down beneath thy shadow.” Some Christians cultivate reverence at the expense of childlike love; they kneel down, but they dare not sit down. Our divine Friend and Lover wills not that it should be so; he would not have us stand on ceremony with him, but come boldly unto him. “Let us be simple with him, then, Not backward, stiff, or cold, As the’ our Bethlehem could be What Sinai was of old.” Let us use his sacred name as a common word, as a household word, and run to him as to a dear familiar friend. Under his shadow we are to feel that we are at home, and then he will make himself at home to us by becoming food unto our souls, and giving spiritual refreshment to us while we rest.
The spouse does not here say that she reached up to the tree to gather its fruit, but she sat down on the ground in intense delight, and the fruit came to her where she sat. It is wonderful how Christ will come down to souls that sit beneath his shadow; if we can but be at home with Christ he will sweetly commune with us. Has he not said, “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”?
In this second form of the sacred shadow, the sense of awe gives place to that of restful delight in Christ. Have you ever figured in such a scene as the sitter beneath the grateful shade of the fruitful tree? Have you not only possessed security, but experienced delight in Christ? Have you sung, “I sat down under his shadow, Sat down with great delight; His fruit was sweet unto my taste, And pleasant to my sight”?
This is as necessary an experience as it is joyful: necessary for many uses.
The joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is when we delight ourselves in the Lord that we have assurance of power in prayer. Here faith develops, and hope grows bright, while love sheds abroad all the fragrance of her sweet spices. Oh! get you to the apple-tree, and find out who is fairest among the fair. Make the light of heaven the delight of your heart, and then be filled with heart’s-ease, and revel in complete content.
III. The third view of the one subject is, —THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS — a precious word. I think the best specimen of it, for it occurs several times, is in that blessed Psalm 63:7: “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. ” Does not this set forth our Lord as our trust in hours of depression? In the psalm now open before us, David was banished from the means of grace to a dry and thirsty land, where no water was. What is much worse, he was in a measure away from all conscious enjoyment of God. He says, “Early will I seek thee. My soul thirsteth for thee.” He sings rather of memories than of present communion with God. We also have come into this condition, and have been unable to find any present comfort. “Thou hast been my help,” has been the highest note we could strike, and we have been glad to reach to that. At such times, the light of God’s face has been withdrawn, but our faith has taught us to rejoice under the shadow of his wings. Light there was none; we were altogether in the shade, but it was a warm shade.
We felt that God who had been near must be near us still, and therefore we were quieted. Our God cannot change, and therefore as he was our help he must still be our help, our help even though he casts a shadow over us, for it must be the shadow of his own eternal wings. The metaphor is of course derived from the nestling of little birds under the shadow of their mother’s wings, and the picture is singularly touching and comforting. The little bird is not yet able to take care of itself, so it cowers down under the mother, and is there happy and safe. Disturb a hen for a moment and you will see all the little creatures huddling together, and by their chirps making a kind of song. Then they push their heads into her feathers, and seem happy beyond measure in their warm abode. When we are very sick and sore depressed, when we are worried with the care of pining children, and the troubles of a needy household, and the temptations of Satan, how comforting it is to ran to our God — like the little chicks to the hen — and hide away near his heart, beneath his wings. Oh, tried ones, press closely to the loving heart of your Lord, hide yourselves entirely beneath his wings.
Here awe has disappeared, and rest itself is enhanced by the idea of loving trust. The little birds are safe in their mother’s love, and we, too, are beyond measure secure and happy in the loving favor of the Lord.
IV. The last form of the shadow is that of THE HAND, and this it seems to me points to power and position in service. Turn to Isaiah 49:2, — “And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me ,” This undoubtedly refers to the Savior, for the passage proceeds: — “And said unto me, thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Our Lord Jesus Christ was hidden away in the hand of Jehovah, to be used by him as a polished shaft for the overthrow of his enemies, and the victory of his people. Yet, inasmuch as it is Christ, it is also all Christ’s servants, since as he is so are we also in this world; and to make quite sure of it, we have got the same expression in the sixteenth verse of the fifty-first chapter, where, speaking of his people, he says, “I have covered thee in the shadow or’ mine hand.” Is not this an excellent minister’s text? Every one of you who will speak a word for Jesus shall have a share in it. This is where those who are workers for Christ should long to be — “ in the shadow of his hand,” to achieve his eternal purpose.
What are any of God’s servants without their Lord but weapons out of the warrior’s hand, having no power to do anything? We ought to be as the arrows of the Lord which he shoots at his enemies, and so great is his hand of power, and so little are we as his instruments that he hides us away in the hollow of his hand, unseen until he darts us forth. As workers, we are to be hidden away in the hand of God, or to quote the other figure, “in his quiver hath he hid me”: we are to be unseen till he uses us. It is impossible for us not to be known somewhat if the Lord uses us, but we may not aim at being noticed, but, on the contrary, if we be as much used as the very chief of the apostles, we must truthfully add, “though I be nothing.” Our desire should be that Christ should be glorified, and that self should be concealed. Alas! there is a way of always showing self in what we do, and we are all too ready to fall into it. You can visit the poor in such a way that they will feel that his lordship or her ladyship has condescended to call upon poor Betsy; bat there is another way of doing the same thing so that the tried child of God shall know that a brother beloved or a dear sister in Christ has shown a fellow-feeling for her, and has talked to her heart.
There is a way of preaching, in which a great divine has evidently displayed his vast earning and talent; and there is another way of preaching, in which a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, depending upon his Lord, has spoken in his Master’s name, and left a rich unction behind. Within the hand of God is the place of acceptance, and safety; and for service it is the place of power, as well as of concealment. God only works with those who are in his hand, and the more we lie hidden there, the more surely will he use us ere long. May the Lord do unto us according to His word, “I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of my hand.”
In this case we shall feel all the former emotions combined: awe that the Lord should condescend to take us into his hand, rest and delight that he should deign to use us, trust that out of weakness we shall now be made strong, and to this will be added an absolute assurance that the end of our being must be answered, for that which is urged onward by the Almighty hand cannot miss its mark.
These are mere surface thoughts. The subject deserves a series of discourses. Your best course, my beloved friends, will be to enlarge upon these hints by a long personal experience of abiding under the shadow.
May God the Holy Ghost lead you into it, and keep you there, for Jesus’ sake.
POPE’S OFT-QUOTED LINE IT is a well-known and oft-used expression — “For differing creeds let godless bigots fight, He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.
Not to notice the somewhat unnecessarily hard words, and confining ourselves to the sentiment, what is the conclusion? Of course he cannot! “He can’t be wrong,” as it is put so antithetically if his “life is in the right.”
But is it? That is a subject for previous inquiry If a man’s creed is that of Mahomet, “the Koran or the sword”; or that of the Ultramontanes, that every Pope is, and has been, infallible; or that of the Mormons, that polygamy is a most Christian institution; — if it be any false creed; will his life be right if he acts up to it? Will he be an honest man if he does not? It is a poor compliment to humanity to say that “men are better than their beliefs.” But, in fact, you might as well put a disturbing mass of iron ‘by a magnet, and then insist that the ship can still be steered safely, as think to have a man’s “life in the right,” while he has no fixed principle, or when his creed is “in the wrong.” There is scarcely any crime that has not been committed, and justified, at the bidding of a false, creed, and under its authority. We would say to Mr. Pope, “Sweet poet! cease thy most mistaken song!
He can’t live right whose creed directs him wrong!” Canon Ryle says, “The man who wrote the famous line, ‘ He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right,’ was a great poet undoubtedly, but he was a wretched divine.” — From Proverbial Folk-Lore. By Alan B. Cheales, M.A.
MRS. SPURGEON’S BOOK FUND.
CONDENSATION OF THE REPORT FOR 1879.* Mrs. Spurgeon’s Report is sent to all her subscribers, and to very few beyond that circle. We so enjoyed its perusal that we determined to give our readers a part of it. The great interest of the subject claims for it a prominent place in a magazine which treats of “service for the Lord,” and we may also add that the intrinsic excellence of the writing will be an enrichment to our pages.
How deep is our own interest in Mrs. Spurgeon’s most useful and needful work we need scarcely tell; we trust that our readers will feel a measure of the same sympathy, and exhibit it in tangible form.
A famine of books to a teacher of others is almost as distressing as want of bread. Want of good books has, we doubt not, tended greatly to impoverish the ministries of many preachers. How could they fill the minds of ethers when they had no food for their own?
To our friends and readers we commend these extracts most earnestly, but we sincerely wish that we could have issued the whole report without abridgment, for it is deeply interesting throughout. A report will be sent gratis to any one who becomes a subscriber, and those friends who wish to know about the work and cannot at present send a donation can obtain a copy of the report by sending sixpenny worth of postage stamps to Mrs. Spurgeon, Nightingale-lane, Balham, London. — C. H. S. IN 1880 the Book Fund enters upon the fifth year of its existence. Very many of the old friends, who saw its formation, have lovingly watched its advance, and generously contributed to its increase; they are as well acquainted with its aims and ambitions as with its origin; but for the sake of the new friends who may be led to sympathize with me in the endeavor to help “poor bookless ministers,” I will give a brief account of the nature of the work which has become so dear to many hearts.
The Book Fund makes grants to “poor pastors of every evangelical denomination, who are in actual charge, wholly devoted to the ministry, and whose income from all sources does not exceed £150 per annum.”
These grants consist of seven or eight volumes, and usually comprise the “Treasury of David,” or some of Mr. Spurgeon’s Sermons — not to the exclusion of other books, but chiefly because they are the works most sought after by applicants to the Fund, — and, I am not afraid or ashamed to say it, because I know I could not, with the slender means at my command, give any more precious or more helpful. Seldom are requests made for other authors, nor do I profess to supply them, but if reference be made to the titles, at the close of this report, of books distributed, it will be seen that when opportunity offers, I gladly make the addition of new and standard works to my stock. There are several special books for ministers which I would at once add to my list if friends who wish for their circulation would supply me with the means.
It is sad to know that the limit of £150 in income gives me as wide a field as I can compass for the bestowal of these coveted blessings. -Poor ministers are the rule, not the exception; they are not restricted to the Baptist denomination, or to our own land, but abound in every connection and in all climes — their needs are very urgent, their prospects seldom brighten, and their ranks never seem to thin; my work for them is as great a necessity now as it was at its commencement; nay, I think its importance has increased with its extension, the latent thirst for knowledge has been developed by its gifts, and a keener appetite for mental food has been produced by the provision it has furnished. I need not enlarge on the absolute necessity which exists for a minister to possess books, — if he would be an efficient teacher and preacher, — the mind which is itself not fed, cannot very long feed others; but I would point out the impossibility of procuring these essential helps and appliances, when a man has to provide for himself and a wife and family on a pittance of £60, £80, or £100 per annum.
To such weary “workers with a slender apparatus” my Book Fund stretches forth a helping hand: it fills the empty basket with tools, gives a key to a well-stocked storehouse, replenishes an exhausted brain, supplies ammunition for the combat with evil, makes sunshine in shady places, and by God’s own blessing does a vast amount of good wherever its gifts are scattered.
It is the joy of my life thus to serve the servants of my Master, and the daily blessings and tender providences which surround my work are more precious to me than words can express. “Some of the subjects of my thankfulness may seem small and inconsiderable to others, but to me they are of constant interest and importance”; my retired life shuts out the usual pleasures of social intercourse, but opens wide a world of glad delight in thus “ministering to the necessities of the saints.” I have scores of friends with whose circumstances I am intimately acquainted, yet whose faces I have never looked upon. I hope to know and greet them on the “other shore;” and, meanwhile, their love and prayers are a sweet reward for such pleasant service as the Lord enables me to render to them. In these pages will be found some of the expressive outpourings of grateful hearts, and though the letters here given fore but a small portion of the great mass of affectionate correspondence connected with the Fund, they will serve to reveal some of the daily comfort and encouragement I receive through this channel. Ah! if by His grace we can but win from our Master the approving words, “Y e did it unto me,” the joy of service is then only “a little lower” than the supreme felicity of heaven! January. — Two years since a few thoughtful, kindly friends proposed a regular distribution of the “Sword and Trowel” Magazine to a certain dumber of poor country ministers who could not afford to take it in, and they generously forwarded donations for this special purpose. I find written in the report for that year that “the prospect of this indulgence has greatly cheered many hearts,” and that one to whom the offer was made, remarked, “I have not been able to take in a religious periodical for five .years; the monthly visit of the magazine will indeed be a great boon.” The new work then commenced has been continued, but not increased, though there can be no doubt as to its value and good influence, and I regret that it only comes to my hands as a divergence from the main business which fills my heart. All my time and strength are given to what I feel to be the more urgent work of furnishing empty book-shelves, and the profit and pleasure which would undoubtedly arise from a well-ordered monthly distribution of religious literature by the Book Fund is but partially developed on this account. We must hope for better things by-and-by; meanwhile I believe that those pastors now receiving the magazine are greatly pleased and delighted with their visitor, and I hope not only to retain all the names .at present on my list, but during the year to add to their number. March. — The following tenderly kind little note contains such a testimony to the value of the Book Fund that I am tempted to give it, even though I have to include its unmerited commendation of my own small service: — My dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — Please accept the enclosed mite toward the Book Fund. -If it please God, may you long be spared to carry on this great and blessed work, which has been sanctified to the good of so many of the Lord’s servants, and through them to so many of His people. Surely this must redound to the praise and glory of the Lord .Jesus, whose we are and whom we serve. I believe, dear Mrs. Spurgeon, that every day there is praise ascending to Almighty God for the blessings many have received through the books you have been enabled to send, and also through the encouraging little notes you write. I have to thank God for two or three of those little notes, and, oh! how precious they are! I shall ever treasure them, for they have been made a means of great blessing to my soul. May God’s richest blessing continue to rest upon you may you be sustained by grace divine when called upon to suffer and endure: if it be in accordance with God’s will, may you be relieved from pain altogether. Perhaps this may never he on this side Jordan. How precious you must have found those words, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Good Matthew Henry says that if God is pleased to lay a heavy burden upon us at any time, and yet fits the shoulder to the burden, we certainly can have no reason to complain, however heavy the cross may be. Is not true? I pray that all the strength and grace you need may be given from on high, supplied by a loving Father out of His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
To ministers who are not quite so necessitous as those for whom the Book Fund was specially founded, yet who can ill spare the published price of the “Treasury of David,” or the Sermons, I offer these books at a somewhat reduced rate, and I have much satisfaction in knowing that the privilege is warmly appreciated. The following letters are fair samples of the spirit in which the favor is sought, and the warm gratitude evoked by itsaccordance: — My dear Mrs. Spurgeon, — In the libraries of my friends I have very frequently-perused that most choice and savory work of your husband, “The Treasury of David”; and if I have not actually incurred the guilt of breaking the tenth commandment I fear I have come near to doing so, and from time to time I have been looking how I could contrive to purchase it, but have found as often that my income has been fore-stalled by family and other claims. I have long known that you have been doing a most valuable work for the Master, by helping poor pastors to some good books, but hitherto I have not ventured to write lest I should be standing in the way of some brother more necessitous even than myself. This week, however, I was in the library of one of my brethren, and again looking over some parts of the “Treasury,” the desire to possess it for myself returned with such strength that I felt somewhat as I suppose a hungry ox would feel tethered outside, but just in sight of, a luxuriant field of clover! After ruminating over the matter again and again, I came to the conclusion that I could manage part of the price, so I have determined to say to you that I should esteem it a great favor indeed to receive a copy from your hands, if I shall not stand too much in the way of some other poor brother.
It was, indeed, a great joy to open the gate of the clover field! May the good brother “go in and out and find pasture.”
On the same subject a pastor in one of our great Midland towns writes: — I note on page 30 of your little Report for 1878 that “When an applicant is able to purchase, books are sent on the most advantageous terms.” Now, I hope from time to time to be able to purchase a volume of the “Sermons,” whose true. gospel ring is indeed music to one’s soul. Will you -kindly jot down on enclosed post card the price at which I might get the sermons through your hands, so that I may know what to lay by from time to time, in order to add to my store? I am almost ashamed to trouble you so soon after receiving so much from you, but I am hungry for books, and cannot help it.
There is also a goodly number of workers for the Lord, evangelists, local preachers and others, who, having no pastorate, are ineligible for the free gift of the “Treasury,” yet covet earnestly this precious aid in their work; these, many of them, save up a little money, and sending it to me by degrees have in time the joy of receiving the longed-for treasure, which, doubtless, they value none the less for the self-denial which has procured it.
I often regret that I cannot give books to all Christian workers, but a strict boundary line is absolutely necessary in a work carried on, not by a “Society,” but by one pair of hands, and those not over strong or capable. June 5. — To day £200 is mine from the great Testimonial Fund raised last Christmas; £100 is allotted to the Book Fund, and £100 to the Pastors’ Aid Society. My dear husband’s kindness secures this splendid help to my work, and I bless God both for him and his delightful gift. If “John Ploughman’s wife” might say here what she thinks of “John” in this, and all other matters, it would be an easy task to fill these pages with his praises; but since such a wifely eulogy might be deemed out of place, Mrs. J.P. may at least record in her little book her hearty and appreciative thanks to the hundreds of true friends who have lately done honor to the “Prince of her life,” (Name for Mr. Spurgeon suggested by a Welshman.) and furnished him with the means of more abundantly blessing all the poor and needy ones who look to him as their best earthly friend and comforter. If I knew anyone who doubted the truth of that Scripture, “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth,” I could bring no more unanswerable proof of its veracity than is found in the unselfish life and loving deeds of the Godhonored man I reverence as my head and husband. I find a graceful appropriateness in the gift of part of this money to Baptist pastors, seeing that to one of themselves the whole magnificent sum is offered as a tribute of devoted admiration and love. What a joy it will be to use this consecrated gold in their service! What heavy burdens it will lift! What aching hearts will be consoled! What praise to God will be given by joyful lips! When I think of all it will do, I wish it were ten times as much! I get greedy for their sakes — my poor weary, toiling brethren — but that only lasts a moment, for indeed I am most fully “satisfied with favor” on their behalf, both from the Lord, and from man. July 19. — These times of depression and disaster tell heavily on my poor friends the pastors of country churches. “Burdens grievous to be borne” seem laid on their hearts and lives, and with the universal social troubles, personal trials come in sad fellowship of suffering. Sickness, and consequent doctors’ bills, are heavy items in the sum of misery, and even those who do their best to “provide things honest in the sight of all men” are just now bowed to the very earth by the terrible pressure of obligations which they are powerless to avoid, and are equally unable to fulfill I have had some appeals lately which reveal a state of things among our country pastors greatly to be deplored, and though immediate relief was given, the problem of permanent amendment is still left unsolved. How is a man (and that man a minister) to house, and feed, and clothe, himself, his wife, and a varying (I was on the point of writing “unlimited “) number of children on £80 a year? I know scores who are trying to do it, but can we blame them if they fail? “I have had but one new suit for the last nine years,” writes one who knows what Paul meant by “enduring hardness.” How can the good man spare £4 or £5 for orthodox broadcloth when meat graces the table but once or twice a week, and the children’s clothes are almost too shabby for them to wear in the House of God? I heard of a good man the other day, who is thankfully wearing in the pulpit a secondhand coat of dark bottle-green, the gift of some commiserating friend, who noticed the pitiful seediness of his best suit! I do not suppose his sermons are deteriorated by the mere fact that he wears a bottle-green garment, but I do think that the man himself would be vastly bettered, and helped to a modest share of self- respect if he had becoming apparel in which to “minister in holy things.” Is it any wonder if sometimes the “cares of this world” choke and cramp the spiritual energies of poor needy pastors? “We have had a dull enough sermon this morning,” says a hearer, who has all that heart can wish for; “what can have come to our minister to make him so listless and uninteresting?” If that good brother were to try the effect of a little loving help and sympathy, (a £5 note for instance, delicately and tenderly given,) he would see a wonderful lifting and lightening of the clouds and darkness which encompass his pastor’s spirit, and be quite surprised at the life, and energy infused into his next discourse. “My people do all they can for me,” many a distressed pastor writes, and it may be so in some cases, but I question whether in the Master’s presence they would themselves dare to say this, for He still “sits over against the treasury,” and must note how little even “of their abundance” his people cast in for His servants and His cause. “It is a tale often told to you, I imagine, by such as myself, whose incomes are so pitifully small,” wrote a minister the other day, “that to buy books, when there are little hungry mouths and wistful faces at the table daily, is an IMPOSSIBILITY.” The good man has deeply underlined this last word, and well he may, for his church only raises £80 a year for him, while a grant from the Augmentation Fund barely rescues them from absolute need. Ah! some of us who can not only “make both ends meet,” but “have enough over to tie a bow and ends,” can scarcely realize the toiling and striving, the anguish of longing, which must tear at the hearts of a poor pastor and his wife, as they try to eke out the scanty store of coin, and make one shilling do the duty of a score ‘. “Wry wife sends you her heartfelt thanks,” says one of “our own” men, “she says you cannot know what good you are doing, or how much you gladden the hearts of poor pastors’ wives, though you cannot feel as they feel, for you have never been in the same position.”
No, not quite; yet I can tenderly sympathize with them, for well do we remember, in the early days of our married life, a time, nay, many times, when “God’s Providence was our inheritance,” and our mouths were “filled with laughter and our lips with singing” by the signal deliverances He afforded us when means were straitened, and the coffers, both of college and household, were well-nigh empty. August 14. — Though in these bad times there is not much money coming in for the Book Fund, the supplies have not by any means failed; there is just enough to show that the Lord has not ceased to care for it, and does not mean it to fall to the ground, and yet little enough to make me ask earnestly at His Treasury for more. I feel much encouraged by the steadfast kindness of some dear friends, who seem to have enrolled themselves as monthly, quarterly, or annual subscribers, and so send me constant and regular help. This is manifestly of the Lord; He has thus inclined their hearts to remember my work, for I never ask except from Him, and no articles in the “Sword and Trowel” this year have brought the Book Fund prominently into notice. More distinctly and blessedly than ever, therefore, the Lord has been my helper, and from His hand have proceeded the stores which have relieved and refreshed His servants.
I have been very pleased during this year to see my work extend among the poorly-paid curates of the Church of England, and I trust a great blessing will follow the introduction into their libraries of such books as the “Treasury,” the Sermons, and “Lectures to my Students.” These gifts are sought with avidity and welcomed with eager joy, and of all the pleasant letters which I receive none are more courteous in spirit or graceful in language than those penned by clergymen of the Established Church. “Two years ago,” writes one, “you presented me with the ‘Treasury of David,’ expressing a wish that it might prove a ‘ treasure ‘ indeed. Your wish has been more than gratified, and now I have an acute appetite for the whole of your respected husband’s works. I have the privilege of preaching the gospel five times every week, and if this is to continue to be a pleasure to me, I must keep my soul and mud well fed. Being still ‘ a poor curate ‘ I have to supply my wants on the lowest terms, so I write to ask whether in gratifying my ardent desire, any assistance may be obtained from that source of benevolence which formerly supplied the “Treasury of David.’” My readers will be rejoiced to learn that with some little help from the Book Fund, this clergyman has now on his shelves a complete set of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, in addition to the “Treasury of David,” and some smaller works of Mr. Spurgeon’s. Oct. 4. — Truly this has been a “red-letter day” in Book Fund experience. “My mouth has been filled with laughter and my tongue with singing.” My heart praises and extols the goodness of the Lord, and my hand shall at once record the mercy which, like a blessed rain on a thirsty land, has so sweetly refreshed my spirit. This afternoon a constant and generous friend brought £100 for the Book Fund. This was cause for devout thankfulness and great joy, for lately an unusually large number of books has been going out week by week, though funds have flowed in less freely. But it was not till a few hours after receiving this noble donation that I saw fully the Lord’s tender care and pitying love in sending me this help just when he knew I should most sorely need it. By the late post that night came my quarterly account for books, and so heavy was it, that in fear and haste I turned to my ledger to see the available balance, and with an emotion I shall not easily forget I found that but for the gift of £100 a few hours previously I should have been £60 in debt!
Did not the Father’s care thus keep the sparrow from falling to the ground?
A sleepless night and much distress of spirit would have resulted from my discovery of so serious a deficit in my funds, but the Lord’s watchful love prevented this. “Before I called he answered,” and though trouble was not very distant he had said, “It shall not come nigh thee.” O my soul, bless thou the Lord, and forget not this his loving “benefit!” A tumult of joy and delight arose within me as I saw in this incident, not a mere chance, or a happy combination of circumstances, but the guiding and sustaining hand of the loving Lord, who had most certainly arranged and ordered for me this pleasant way of comfort and relief. “I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” i fresh revelation of His wonderful love seemed to be vouchsafed to my soul by this opportune blessing, and a cheque became “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” I hastened to my dear husband that he might share my joy, and I found in him a willing listener to the sweet “old story” of his Master’s grace and power.
Then, after a word or two of fervent praise to God on my behalf, he wrote the following letter to the friend by whose liberal hand our gracious God had sent this notable deliverance: — Dear Friend, — I should like you to know why you were sent here this afternoon, and what an angel of mercy you were to my dear wife, and so to me. The Lord bless you. Soon after you were gone, my wife’s quarter’s bill for books came in for £340, and she had only £280 apart from your cheque. Poor soul, she has never spent more than her income before, and if you had not come, I fear it would have crushed her to be £60 in debt. How good of the Lord to send you in the nick of time! We joined our praises together, and we do also very gratefully join our prayers for you. God bless you, and make up to you your generous gifts above all your own desires.
I could not refrain from telling you this; it is one of the sparkling facts which will make happy memories to help to stay our faith in future trials if they come. Again, God bless you.
Yours heartily, C.H.SPURGEON. Oct. 28. — As part of the proceeds of his last lecture in London, I have the pleasure of receiving to-day £25 as the generous and graceful gift of Mr. John B. Gough to the “Book Fund.” Such a gift from such a man is precious and noteworthy, but not unusual, as I believe it is the constant habit of Mr. Gough to bestow blessings as well as to recommend them.
Long as his name has been honored in our household, and his special work admired and appreciated, it was not till his recent visit to England that we had the happiness of his personal acquaintance, Now he has been twice to see us, (once accompanied by his excellent wife,) and a friendship has been contracted between us which, though interrupted by absence from each other on earth, will find its true fruition and best enjoyment in heaven. The hours we spent in his company have left fragrant memories not only of pleasant mirth at the droll tales so inimitably told, but also of sacred joy in sweet and goodly words which “ministered grace unto the hearers.” Cannet my friends imagine that it was a rare treat to listen to the converse of John Ploughman and John Gough? No “pen of a ready writer” was there to record the good things they said, or to immortalize the brilliant “table talk” which graced each repast; but the sweet communion which knit our hearts together will never be forgotten by us, and so deep a flood of enjoyment came in upon my usually quiet life that day, that it will for ever ripple pleasantly upon the shores of memory. To our very dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gough in their far-away home in the West,! send loving greeting; and for this £25, which means so much joy and comfort for the Lord’s poor servants, I give the warmest thanks of a grateful heart. Nov. 1. — Two dear ladies brought me £50 to use in the Lord’s work as! please. What bountiful kindness, its preciousness enhanced by my necessity! I divided it between the “Book Fund” and the “Pastors’ Aid,” for in these times of universal pressure I can scarcely confine my gifts to books in those eases where! know that, though the daily bread is sure, it is often unaccompanied by more substantial nourishment. It was only the other day I heard of a minister whose last Christmas dinner was to have consisted of a loaf and steak because he could not afford better fare; and I know many whose most creditable fear of debt compels them not only to keep their book-shelves empty., but the cupboard very bare. One ceases to wonder at the oft-recurring sickness of many ministers’ wives, and the extreme delicacy of their children, when one remembers their many privations, their lack of nourishing food, and their need of suitable clothing. “My income barely enables me to find plain food and scanty clothing for my wife and three children,” writes a country Independent pastor. “Frequently I have saved a few shillings with the view of purchasing a volume of the ‘Treasury,’ but a pair of shoes or a little dress put the book aside.” In this last matter of clothing for pastors’ families there is very much now being clone by kind friends for their relief. I have elsewhere mentioned the many presents I receive for them, and to-day (mercies never come singly) a large chest arrived from Scotland containing the wardrobes of two deceased gentlemen, sent by the desolate wife and mother. It has been a somewhat sad work to allot this valuable gift to seven needy pastors, but their joy in receiving the good warm clothes will not be damped by any sorrowful remembrances of departed friends, and I rejoice beforehand in their joy.
Coming now to the conclusion of these sadly irregular chronicles, I should like to promise — if the Lord spare my life, and prosper the Book Fund — to do better next year. The “happy thought,” if it be a happy one, of reporting this little service in “diary-fashion,” ought to be more satisfactorily carried out, and I hope to gather more discreetly and carefully the material to be used at the close of the year 1880. Experience has taught me that there is sure to be a fullness of goodness and mercy to supply the record, but the same teacher sadly proves to me that the “recorder” fails and is at fault in not keeping her “book of remembrance” well posted up.
But what memory can keep pace with God’s mercies? or what uninspired pen can tell the thousandth part of Els loving-kindnesses? “If I should count them they are more in number than the sand.” Could I cull the choicest flowers of language, and bind them in one delightful bundle of thankfulness, it might be an acceptable offering of gratitude to the dear friends who have helped me; but how can I worthily praise and extol the bounty of my gracious, loving God? “Thou hast dealt well with Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word.” Blessed be Thy name, Thou hast daily loaded me with benefits, Thy hand has supplied all my need, Thy strength has been made perfect in my weakness. Thy loving care has watched over my work, and “there hath not failed one word of all Thy good promise upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.” And what can I say more unto Thee? “Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” Oh! poor dumb lips, that cannot speak His praise aright! Oh, faltering tongue, that as yet cannot “frame to pronounce” the syllables of heaven’s own language! “How shall I praise Him?
Seraphs when they bring The homage of their lyre, Veil their bright face beneath their wing, And tremble and retire. Lost in thy love, yet full of humble trust I close the worthless lay, Bow down my reverent forehead in the dust, And in meek silence pray.” Truly there are times when silence is more eloquent than speech, and we are constrained to worship “afar off” from very awe of His goodness. Such a season comes to me now as I sit pondering over all the Lord’s marvelous lovingkindness, and looking back on the great and manifold mercies of the fast-closing year; — my spirit is overwhelmed within me, — the weight of blessing seems almost too much for me, and I lay aside my poor, useless pen to bow the knee before Him in silent adoration and thanksgiving. “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant.”
NOTES FRIENDS will please note that as the accounts take up a considerable space we have added four extra pages. We are behind hand also with notices of books, but hope to give all the publishers their due before long.
On Sunday, February 15, it was our .great delight to return to the Tabernacle and its well-beloved work. This was a week later than we at first intended, but it was no less than a special providence which kept as out of the worst fog of the year, and brought us home just as the weather changed. How glad. were we to see old friends and fellow-workers! How glad. were they to see us! The mutual joy was felt too deeply to be expressed. The great house was thronged up to the utmost endurance, and hundreds, and even thousands, were turned from the doors because there was no more space in which to pack them. We are greatly refreshed by the rest, and glad to be at work again. Friends are requested to judge of the sermons preached at the Tabernacle by the printed copy, and not by extracts made by newspaper reporters, who, of course, can give only portions, and naturally select those which are most likely to excite remark.
A sentence in its connection reads very differently from what it does when set apart, and discussed as if it were an independent and complete utterance.
On Wednesday, February 18, the Annual Church Meeting was held. About eighteen hundred of the members were present to tea, and a much larger number assembled afterwards. It was a most delightful evening, full of affection and enthusiasm. Speech is free, and affection has greater liberty at a select meeting than upon occasions when “a chiefs among us taking notes.” The pastor’s spirits were raised, and his heart cheered by the loving words of his officers and people, and all were happy and grateful to God.
The financial accounts were exceedingly satisfactory, especially when we remember what a trying year 1879 has been in this respect to all institutions. Nothing is lacking to any branch of church work. All that is needed is a continuance of the blessing, and more grace.
The statistics were as follows: — Increase, by baptism, 305; by letter, 100; by profession, 37; by restoration,3; total, 445. Decrease, by dismission, 13l; by exclusion for non-attendance, 68; by joining other churches without letters, 43; removed for other causes, 11; emigrated, 4; died,65; total, 322; — leaving a net increase of 123, and making the number of members on the books 5290.
The annual meeting of our Tabernacle Sunday School was held in the Lecture-hall on Tuesday evening, February 10, Pastor J. A. Spurgeon presiding. The platform was occupied by a choir of the children, who sang several sweet hymns and anthems during the evening. Pastor J.A. Spurgeon, after explaining that this was the annual meeting of the home school, which only represented about one-fifth of the actual Sabbath schools associated with the church, gave an interesting address upon the necessity and influence of the work, and the great responsibility which rested upon teachers, parents, and the entire Church of Christ, in order that the great end of the work might be at-rained, that of sound scriptural instruction and the conversion of the young. Drs. MacAusland and Sinclair Patterson, Deacons W. Olney, and J. H. Olney, and Mr. Pearce, superintendent of the schools, also addressed the meeting. We extract the following particulars from the report read by the secretary: — “The school consists in the aggregate of 105 teachers and about 1,200 scholars; the large schoolroom in the Tabernacle basement being occupied by the juniors, and the two rooms in the college buildings by the seniors; beside which there are separate rooms for the infants, library, and elder scholars. There are 103 of our scholars who are members of the church, of whom 42 have joined during the past year. All the teachers are church members, this being a condition of service.”
The Missionary Society in connection with the school has raised during the past year the sum of £131 3s. 3d., which has been expended as follows: — Towards the support of Mrs. Brown, late a teacher in the school, now in the Zenana Baptist Mission, Calcutta, £50; to the Baptist Missionary Society, £25; to the Tabernacle Colportage Association, £20; to Mrs. Spurgeon’s Book Fund, £20; to the Continental Sunday-school Mission, £5; and to Messrs. Johnson and Richardson in Africa, £5; leaving a balance in hand of £3 17s. 9d. In connection with Mr. Wigney’s class, the sum of £50 is raised annually for the support of Mr. Easton, a missionary of the China Inland Mission, and formerly a scholar in the class.
There is a Band of Hope, in connection with which sixty pledges were taken during the past year; and a Dorcas Society, the object of which is to make up clothing for the poor, specially those connected with our own school. Scholars may purchase articles at the cost price of material only, by periodical payments of ld. or 2d. An annual grant of £5 is made by the church to this society. Scholars’ Examination. — At the Scripture examination held last February by the Sunday School Union, 47 scholars from our school attended, of whom 33 were successful in obtaining certificates.
COLLEGE — God is with us in this work, and all things move along in admirable order. We are well supplied with men and funds, and spheres open up for the brethren quite as rapidly as they are prepared for them: we should even be glad to retain the men a little longer, but the churches are not always willing to wait for the man of their choice, and are unwise enough to tempt men to begin running before they have fairly pulled their boots on. As to funds, we have now a solid balance. The large item of legacies — £ 4,112 — which appears in the Balance Sheet has put us into a wealthy condition. Our friends will see that we have spent more than £1,000 of the legacies during the year, and we shall be glad to have our expenditure continue at about that rate, so that this unusual item of income may last over four years.
On January 29 another of our students, Mr. R. E. Ludlow, fell asleep in Jesus before completing his College course. Thus happeneth it in the mystery of providence that one fights the battle for half-a-century and another falls asleep before his sword is well out of the scabbard.
Since our last notice Mr. A. Parker has accepted the pastorate of the church at Colne, Lancashire; and Mr. W. Osborne has resigned the charge of the Thrissell-street Church, Bristol, and has removed to Carlisle, with the view of forming a Baptist church in that important northern town. We beg our brethren in Carlisle rally to the standard, and make this attempt a success.
The following brethren have also removed during the mouth: — Mr.H. Abraham, to Lumb, Lancashire; Mr. F. Aust, from Coldstream, N.B., to Little London, Willenhall; Mr. E. P. Barrett, from South Wingfield to Cornwall-read, Brixton; Mr. G. E. Ireland, from Every-street, Manchester, to Eccles; Mr. W. Seaman, from Newquay to Hawick, N.B.; andW. Usher, from Dacre Park, Lee, to Great Victoria-street, Belfast.
Mr. J. J. Kendon, who went out to Jamaica some months since, has accepted the pastorate of the churches at Jericho and Mount Hermen.
Our colored friend, Mr. T. L. Johnson, has returned to England, through the failure of his health and the loss of his wife. He will probably go back to America to labor among his countrymen there.
A sister in Christ, near Torquay, sends us the following particulars of our highly-esteemed former student, Mr. T. Cannon, thinking we should be interested in hearing a little of his holy, godly walk. She judges rightly. We are much cheered by her account. “Although he did lean towards Plymouth Brethrenism (not exclusive), his heart was large enough to love all who loved the Lord Jesus, while of you he ever spoke with affectionate esteem.
As an evangelist he labored, more especially in Devonshire, for the last thirteen years; while his holy, blameless life was a true witness for God. Of him it may be truly said, ‘ he walked with God,’ not fitfully, but habitually; and wherever he visited, the savor of the Master’s presence was always felt. I can assure you that rich and poor alike deeply feel his loss. He was engaged up to the very last in the work he loved and did so well, ministering the word with unusual earnestness and power, at both services, on the last Sunday he was on earth, and visiting the sick until two days before his departure. For this Christlike work his loving sympathizing heart was specially adapted. He was only thirty-seven when the Master called him to rest, but he lived long enough to do a good work, and to do it well.
Four dear children are now left orphans.”
— The Services of Song held by our Orphan Choir have been remarkably successful. We are under renewed obligations to our ever generous-hearted friends at Liverpool for the noble help there given; nor may we forget the zealous aid of brethren in Bath, Stroud, Cheltenham, Bristol, Hereford, etc.
Mr. Charlesworth’s series of Services of Song we can heartily commend to the notice of all choirs who wish to utilize their abilities for the spread of the gospel, and the assistance of works of benevolence. His Stockwell Reciter also will be of great use to Sabbath-schools, Bands of Hope, and such like juvenile institutions. The Services are threepence each, and the Reciter is one penny each number.
No more forms of application either for boys or girls can be issued for the Orphanage. It would be cruel to encourage hope. We have many waiting to fill all vacancies which can possibly occur for months to come. -Please take note of this.
The next Quarterly Collectors’ Meeting will] be held at the Orphanage on Tuesday, March 30. EVANGELISTS.
— Messrs. Fullerton and Smith, having achieved under God a great work at the Tabernacle, rested a short while, and then commenced a series of services at Bradford in conjunction with our beloved brother, Pastor C. A. Davis. We are only able to report concerning the opening meetings, but these augur well for the future. The noon-prayer meeting was attended by 100 on the first day, 200 on the second, and 350 on the third; the chapel was crowded every evening at the services, and, best of all, souls were being saved. May Bradford see the arm of the Lord made bare.
At the Tabernacle the best results have followed the special meetings. ‘We have in type a lengthened account of a meeting of converts on January 30, but we cannot find room for it. God be thanked the seed sown has already sprung up!
Mr. Burnham’s visit to Driffield was the means of great blessing to Christians, but the outsiders were not so numerously in-gathered, for special services were being held at the same time by the two bodies of Methodists in the place. So long as souls are saved the agency signifies little. At the neighboring village of Cranswick, however, the chapel was not nearly large enough to hold the people, and therefore the board School was secured, and twice as many were accommodated. The pastor, BrotherC. Welton, found so many who were impressed at the services that he was occupied during a whole day in conversing and praying with them at their homes. The services were so successful, that on Mr. Burnham’s departure they were con-tinned for some time with the help of local ministers.
At Sheepshed, Leicestershire, the blessing was even more marked. On the Sunday evening, not only every part of the chapel but the school-rooms also were closely packed, and the word was accompanied with signs following. Mr. Burnham saw between fifty and sixty inquirers during the week, and many of them were led to the Savior. The evangelist attributes the success of the services to the prayerful and zealous efforts of the Christians in the place for some weeks before his visit.
From Feb. 16 to March 7 Mr. Burnham was to have been at Rawtenstall and Preston, but as he was too ill to go we sent our other singing evangelist, Mr. E. J. Parker: may the Lord be with him. We hope Mr. Burnham will be sufficiently restored to fulfill his engagements at Southwell from March 8 to 14, and Minchin-hampton from March 30 to April 4.
The labors of these three brethren are so largely used of God for saving sinners, and building up churches that we shall with gladness add to the number of this little band as soon as the sinews of war are in our hands.
The alteration of time of special services at the Metropolitan Tabernacle rendered it impossible for the Evangelists to hold meetings at Mr. Cuff’s Tabernacle. We regret this, and are anxious that the reason should be known and understood.
COLPORTAGE — Things are looking more hopeful for the Colportage Association, one feature of the outlook being that friends who had been compelled to suspend the work in some districts for lack of funds again apply for a colporteur, which shows that where the agency has been fairly tried, its great value was appreciated, though local circumstances compelled a temporary suspension of the work. Then again, the reports of blessing resting upon particular books sold and tracts given away are more than usually nume-rolls and encouraging. One special feature has been very noticeable in many of the cases of good reported, viz., the indirect yet continuous way in which the truth, has passed through one channel to another. There have been “branches running over the wall.” A book is sold and read, and has led the reader to Jesus. He lends it to another, who is also converted by its perusal — in one case a whole family was saved through reading a tract which had been left by the colporteur in a Shropshire district, and was sent by post to relatives in America. A gentleman who takes great interest in the work reports the following interesting case which occurred in the New Forest: — “A woodman and his wife living away in the forest, with no neighbors within a mile or so, were among those visited. We believe the visits (of the colporteur) were instrumental, through God’s blessing, in leading both into the light of the gospel. The wife died last year, rejoicing, and full of faith and hope; the husband, crippled with rheumatism, looks eagerly for the visits, and with tears of joy has said, ‘ bless God for putting it into your heart to come and see me, and pray God to bless those who sent you.’“ And our friend continues — “I can assure you from my own personal experience that the visits have in many cases been productive of the happiest results. Indeed, five or six thousand magazines and books cannot go into the homes of these people every year, replacing bad literature or none at all, without, through the divine blessing, gradually but surely elevating, refining, and Christianizing them.”
The Association has a very nice Bible-carriage, kindly placed at its disposal by a Christian lady, and would be glad to see it at work in London. Will any friends provide the £40 a year necessary to start a new colporteur in some Metropolitan or suburban district?
If the value and success of colportage are well pondered, our friends will soon enable us to again increase the staff from, our present number, sixtyfour, to at least the eighty employed during last year. Will friends in their own locality try and aid us by collecting, or giving a guarantee of £40 a year towards employing a colportour, or if unable to do this, by contributions to the general fund, which continually needs help?
— The following pleasing note comes to us from Russia : — “I came to this country about twenty-four years ago, and have been about in various parts of the interior ever since. Beyond having one volume of your sermons, I have not been much acquainted with the extent of your progress until the past year, during which I have taken in ‘ The Sword and Trowel.’ Through it I have watched you with great interest and earnest prayer, and the first thing I fly to now on receiving a new number is your ‘personal notes.’ I have a wife and eight children. A few weeks ago I explained to them the meaning of the Orphanage, and appealed to their feelings: the result was that I was authorized to go to their Savings’ Bank and take out 3 roubles 40 kopecks as the children’s contribution. We have now made up the sum to 55 roubles, which will be forwarded to you from St. Petersburg by a cheque. The amount should not be less than £5. Please accept it. I am so deeply interested in all your noble institutions that I scarcely know how to divide it, but I think if you will give £1 to Mrs. Spurgeon for the Poor Ministers’ Clothing Fund, £1 to the Colportage Fund, and the balance to the Orphanage, we cannot do better.”
A Methodist minister in Ireland writes: — “Many a time these few years I have wondered whether you know that you are preaching in unnumbered pulpits every Lord’s day, in many cases word for word as reported in your volumes. You are aware, I suppose, that the weekly sermon is read by two-thirds of the Portestants in Ulster. In some cases ten families join in taking it, and lend it from one to another.” The deacons of a church in South Australia, in sending a donation for the Girls’ Orphanage, say, “We have for years past received substantial help from your printed sermons.
Christians have been helped on their way, and others have through their instrumentality been introduced into the light and liberty of the gospel.” A sailor friend, who distributes our sermons and other works wherever his ship goes, writes from Jamaica: — “We have given away nearly all the books and sermons that we had. We are saving a few for the poor negroes at the other ports to which we are going. They were so thankful for them at the Falkland Islands, and enjoyed reading them so much. In one house I went in, I saw ‘ Morning by Morning,’ and ‘Evening by Evening’; they looked quite homely to me, as we use them every morning and evening on board ship.” F. J. S. informs us, “Though it may be known to you already, I venture to mention one incident which was brought to my notice. The little island of Bryher (one of the Scilly Isles), though it only has inhabitants, contains a church and a chapel. Service is held at the church occasionally, and then the chapel is closed. On other Sundays the service is held at the chapel, and the sexton, who is also clerk at the church, reads one of your sermons, and they sing ‘ Wesley’s Hymns.’“ Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle. — January 28th, seven; February 12th, thirteen.