INAUGURAL ADDRESS AT THE SIXTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE ASSOCIATION, BY THE PRESIDENT, C.
BELOVED fellow-servants of Christ, our work requires us to be in the best possible condition of heart. When we are at our best we are feeble enough, we would not, therefore, fall below our highest point. As instruments, we owe all our power for usefulness to the divine hand; but, since tools should always be kept in order, we would have our spirit free from rust, and our mind sharp of point and keen of edge to answer at once to the Master’s will. It is because I fear we do not always keep up to the mark that the subject for this morning’s address shall be “A New Departure,” or in other words, a renewal, a revival, a starting afresh, a return to our first love, even the love of our espousals, when first our soul was wedded to our Redeemer’s work.
The subject is exceedingly needful to us all because the process of running down is such a very easy one. Upon that topic let me speak for a few minutes. To run down requires no care or effort: it can be accomplished without a wish; it can come to pass, in a measure, in opposition to our wish: we can decline and decay without so much as being conscious of it, and all the more easily because we fancy that we are rich and increased in goods. By a law which asks no help from us we gravitate to a lower level.
Do not wind up the weights, and the wheels will soon cease to move, and the old clock on the stairs will remain motionless, useless, silent, dead, like a coffin set on end. To keep a farm in good order needs constant labor and watchfulness, but to let the land get out of heart till it would starve a lark is a very simple matter, which can be accomplished by any sluggard: simply let it alone, or take crop after crop from it and give it neither manure nor rest, and you will change a fruitful land into barrenness, and turn a garden into a desert. It is just so with ourselves. Only do not wind up your soul with daily prayer, and you will soon run down; only neglect the culture of the heart, and thorns and briars will grow uninvited. Neglect your inner life, and your whole being will deteriorate.
I do not know, my brethren, that we can expect to see energy continuous at its fall in any one of us. I suspect that he who burns like a seraph knows moments in which the flame somewhat abates. As the sun itself is not at all times alike powerful, so the man who like the shining light shineth more and more unto the perfect day is not uniformly bright, nor always at his noon. Nature does not hold the sea for ever at flood; ebbs intervene, and ocean pauses a while ere it returns again to the fullness of its strength. The vegetable world has its winter, and enjoys a long sleep beneath its bed of snow. It is not wasted time, that ebb or that winter; flood and summer owe much to ebb and frost. I suspect that because we are in affinity with nature we, too, shall have our changes, and shall not abide at one elevation. No man’s life is all climax. Let us not despond if our spirit is at a low ebb: the tide of life will roll up as before, and even reach a higher point. When we stand leafless and apparently lifeless, our soul having become like a tree in winter, let us not dream that the ax will cut us down, for our substance is in us though we have lost our leaves, and before long the time of the singing of birds will come, we shall feel the genial warmth of returning spring, and our lives shall again be covered with blossoms, and laden with fruit.
It will not be wonderful if there should be lulls and pauses in our spiritual work, for we see the like in the affairs of men. The most eager after worldly objects, who can by no means be accused of a want of earnestness in their endeavors, are yet conscious that, by a sort of law, dull times will come, wherein business necessarily flags. It is not the tradesman fault that sometimes trade must be pushed, and that after pushing it remains as dull as ever. It seems to be the rule that there should be years of great prosperity, and then years of decline: the lean kine still devour the fat kine.
If men were not what they are there might be a perpetuity of equable progress, but it is evident that we have not reached that point yet. In religious affairs history shows us that churches have their palmy days, and then again their times of drought. The universal church has been thus circumstanced; it has had its Pentecosts, its Reformations, its revivals; and between these there have been sorrowful pauses, in which there was much more cause for lamentation than for rejoicing, and the Miserere was more suitable than the Hallelujah. I should not, therefore, wish any brother to condemn himself if he is not conscious just now of all the vivacity of his youth, — he may find it return before our meetings close. I would have the husbandman long for spring, and yet not despair because of the present cold; so would I have a man lament every degree of decline, and yet not despond. If any man walk in darkness, and see no light, let him trust in God, and look to him for brighter days.
Still, taking all this into account, and allowing all margin and discount, I fear that many of us do not maintain our proper elevation, but sink below par. Many things tend that way, and it may do us good to think of them. A degree of running down in spirit may be purely physical and arise out of the evaporation of our youthful vigor. Some of you enjoy all the force of your early manhood; you are fleet of foot as the roes of the field, and swift of movement as birds on the wing; but others of us wear a tinge of grey in our locks, and middle life has sobered us. Our eye has not yet waxed dim, nor has our natural force abated; but yet the flash and flame of our youth have departed, and from the style of our speech and the manner of our action men miss that morning dew which was the glory of life’s young hours.
Older men are apt to ridicule young fellows for being too zealous: let them not retaliate, but cautiously abstain from ever charging the elder brethren with excess of fervor. Surely malice itself would not dare to invent such a libel. For my own part, I would have remained a young man if I could, for I fear I am by no means improved by keeping. O that! could again possess the elasticity of spirit, the dash, the courage, the hopefulness of days gone by! My days of flying are changed to those of running, and my running is toning down to a yet steadier pace. It is somewhat cheering that the Scriptures seem to indicate that this is progress, for such is the order which it prescribes for saints — “They shall mount up with wings as eagles”; away they go, out of sight. In your first sermons — how you mounted up!
Your first evangelistic efforts-what flights they were! After that, you slackened and yet improved your pace, but it grew more steady, and perhaps more slow, as it is written — “They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” God grant that we may not faint, and if our running days are over, may we walk with God as Enoch did, till the Lord shall take us home.
Another cause which frequently conduces to the abatement of vigor is the possible cessation of early success. I do not mean that it is always so; but usually when a man goes to a new field, there are many un-reaped portions, and he gathers a large harvest, which he does not find afterwards because there is less to reap. If you have a narrow pond you cannot keep on catching as many fish as you did at first, because there are not so many fish remaining. In London we are, as it were, in an ocean, and we may spread our nets as often as we please, but in a small town or village a man may soon have done all his direct converting work if the Lord greatly blesses him, and if after a time more souls ax not saved it may be because few unconverted persons attend his ministry. God may have given the brother all those whom he intended to bless by him in that place, and it may be wise for him to fish in other waters. I have read of a lighthouse-keeper who puts a rope round the lighthouse, and then to this line he attaches a number of lines and hooks. These are all under water at high tide, and at favorable times the fish bite, and when the tide goes down the lighthouse is festooned with fish of all kinds; there they hang, and the successful fisherman has nothing to do but to gather the spoils. Thus it was at first with us: we baited our hooks, and we drew in the fish without stint. But perhaps later on the lighthouse-keeper peers out from his tower, and he cannot see, for the fog is dense, the storm-cloud has settled down around his light, and the wind rages furiously;. he is obliged to keep every door and window dosed, or he could not live, and then he thinks it hard to be a lighthouse-keeper, and wishes himself ashore. We also are, at times, in a similar condition. We are asked, “Watchman! what of the night?” And the answer is, “No morning cometh, but the night thickens, and the darkness grows denser.”
We do not every day draw the net to land full of great fishes, but we experience dreary intervals of fruitless toil, and then it is no wonder that a man’s spirit faints within him. The natural wear and tear of an active life also tend to our running down.
Some of our people think that we have little or nothing to do but to stand in the pulpit and pour out a flood of words two or three times a week; but they ought to know that if we did not spend much time in diligent study they would get poverty-stricken sermons. I have heard of a brother who trusts in the Lord and does not study, but I have also heard that his people do not trust in him; in fact, I am informed that they wish him to go elsewhere with his inspired discourses, for they say that when he did study his talk was poor enough, but now that he gives them that which comes first it is altogether unbearable. If any man will preach as he should preach his work will take more out of him than any other labor under heaven. If you and. I attend to our work and calling, even among a few people, it will certainly produce a friction of soul and a wear of heart which will tell upon the strongest. I speak as one who knows by experience what it is to be utterly exhausted in the Master’s service. No matter how willing we may be in spirit, the flesh is weak, and he who made a tender apology for his sleeping servants in the garden knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. We need that the Master should say to us every now and then, “Come ye apart into a desert place and rest awhile;” and he does say so, for he is not a hard taskmaster, and whoever may use the lash and cause the weary steed to die in harness, our gentle Lord doth not so.
Besides this, we are very apt to run down through our duty becoming routine work, by reason of its monotony. Unless we are careful we shall be likely to say to ourselves, “Monday evening here again, I must give an address at the prayer-meeting. Thursday evening, and I have to preach, although I have not yet a topic! Sunday morning, Sunday evening: I have to preach again! Yes, preach again! Then there are all those extra engagements; it is for ever preach, preach, preach! I am always preaching.
What a weariness it is!” Preaching ought to be a joy, and yet it may become a task. Constant preaching should be constant enjoyment, and yet when the brain is tired pleasure flies. Like the sick boy in the prophet’s day, we are ready to cry, My head. My head!” We ask, How can I keep up my freshness? It is hard to produce so much with such scant leisure for reading; it is almost as bad as making bricks without straw. Nothing can maintain us in the freshness of our beginnings but the daily anointing of the Spirit.
I do not wonder that some brethren run down through want of association with others of warm heart and of kindred spirit. I will give you another lighthouse illustration: a gentleman who called to see the keepers of a lone light said to one of them, “I suppose, after all, you fellows are quite happy in this tower? .... We might be happy,” he replied, “if we had a chat with one another; but my mate and I have not changed a word with each other for a month.” If you are banished to a country place where you have no superior or even equal mind to converse with, no intellectual or spiritual friend near at hand, I can feel for you. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend,” and when that sharpening is missed, it is no marvel that the mind grows dull. We cannot live alone, brethren, and yet a dreadful solitude as to our higher cares is one of our sorest trials. O for a twin spirit to converse with’, The worst of it is that if we have few to refresh us with their conversation we have many to vex us with their chatter, and when we would fain be uplifted to noble themes, we find ourselves dragged down by the dreary gossip of a hamlet. What wonder if with such surroundings we lose force and run down!
Yet, dear brethren, none of these things furnish us with an excuse for falling into a low state, and it may possibly be true that our menial decline is the result of our weak spiritual condition. It may be that we have left our first love, that we have wandered away from the simplicity of our faith, that we have backslidden in heart, and grieved the Holy Spirit, so that our God walks contrary to us because we walk contrary to him. Perhaps the rain is withheld because prayer has been restrained, and the heavenly wind has ceased to blow because we have been too indolent to spread the sail.
Has there been no unbelief to hinder the blessing? We often talk of unbelief as if it were an affliction to be pitied instead of a crime to be condemned.
For us to give the lie to him who has unveiled the secret of his heart to us, and almost, I was about to say, gone out of his way to bless us in an extraordinary and unusual manner, must pain the great Father’s heart.
Perhaps we feel less love to Jesus than we once did, less zeal in doing his work, and less anguish for the souls of others; if so, it is no wonder that we enjoy less of the presence of God, and are soon cast down. If the root is not strong, how can the branches flourish?
May not self-indulgence have mixed with unbelief? Have we made provision for the flesh? Have we lost the intimacy with Jesus which we once enjoyed? Have we violated the consecration with which we started? If so, the blue mould will settle on the unsound place. Selfishness will mar our strength and destroy our usefulness. I will not suppose that this is the case with any of you, or at least I will suppose it, and let it remain a supposition.
It is a dreadful fact that sometimes these runnings down end in a catastrophe. After secret backsliding comes a sin which is publicly reported, and men cry, “Shame!” Yet it is not that one sin, but the general state of the man’s heart which is the saddest part of it. No man becomes bad all at once. True, the single lightning flash slew its victim, but the bolt had not fallen if there had been no previous gathering of the elements into the condition of storm. The overt scandal is only the development of what was in the man — the evil lies deeper still. When we hear of a man who has ruined his character by a surprising act of folly, we may surmise, as a rule, that this mischief was but one sulfurous jet from a soil charged with volcanic fire; or to change the figure, one roaring lion from a den of wild beasts. As you would on your bended knees cry day and night that no moral catastrophe may occur to you, beware of the sin which leads to it, beware of the backsliding which culminates in it; for if we have not the cause the effect will not follow. The Lord will preserve us if day by day we cry unto him to cleanse our way.
There is an evil under the sun which is as terrible as an open catastrophe — indeed, it works greater ill to the church in the long run, — and that is, when a man’s ministry is eaten through and through with spiritual dry rot.
I heard an old Indian describe the way in which furniture may be devoured by the white ants. The ants will come into the house and eat up everything, and yet to all appearance nothing is touched. The bookcases stand just where they did, and the trunks and everything else remain exactly as they were; at least, it is so to the eye; but directly they are touched they all crumble, for the ants have eaten the substance out of them. In the same way men still remain in the ministry, and yet the soul of their ministry has gone. They have a name to live and are dead: what is worse than this? One might almost sooner have an explosion and have done with it than see men continuing to maintain the form of religion after vital godliness has gone, scattering death all around them, and yet maintaining what is called a respectable position. God save us from this last as much as from that first.
If I am a rotten bough, let me be cut off; but to hang upon the tree all verdant with parasitical lichen and moss is deplorable. A respectable ministry devoid of spiritual life is little better than respectable damnation, from which may God deliver us.
When men drift into this condition they generally adopt some ex-pedant to hide it. Conscience suggests that there is something or other wrong, and the deceitful heart labors to conceal or palliate this fact. Some do this by amusing themselves with hobbies instead of preaching the gospel. They cannot do the Lord’s work, and so they try their own. They have not honesty enough to confess that they have lost gospel power, and so they ride a hobby; and it is a very mild form of evil when they raise some side issue, which has no other fault about it than that it diverts them from the main point. Many are these playthings: I have no time for more than one.
I have known certain brethren give themselves solely to expound prophecy. Now, a man full of the life of God may expound prophecy as much as he likes, but there are some who, having lost their love of the gospel, try to win back what little popularity they once had by taking up with guesses at the future. They may be quite sure that if they cannot profit men by the manger and the cross they will make a complete failure of it if they handle the seals and the vials. Did you ever notice in Calvin’s Commentaries that there is no exposition of the Book of Revelation? Why not? He said, “I have not expounded that book because I do not understand it.” When! hear a man say, “I have found much in Matthew which does not belong to the church, I have outgrown much of the Romans and Galatians, and I cannot enjoy the Psalms, for they do not rise to the perfection of my experience; I want something more elevated and spiritual, more abstruse and wonderful “; I conclude that this brother is spinning his last hank, and spending his last pennyworth of sense.
I have been amused by observing the manner in which speculators have been taken in when they have left the old ship of the gospel to become prophets. The beast of the Revelation was reported to be Napoleon I., and then the creature suddenly re-appeared in his nephew, Napoleon III.
Byand- by the deadly wound was healed, and the Prince Imperial wore the dreadful honors of the prophetic book; but the prince is now dead, and it will be needful for the seers to invent a new theory. There is no fear but what they will do it before long, and meanwhile “our Israelitish origin” will do to fill up the time. In the story of Sindbad the Sailor it is said that as they sailed along they saw an island, and at the sight thereof they greatly rejoiced. The crew left the ship and feasted on the island, and were going to take possession of it in the name of the king, when suddenly it began to quiver and to plunge, and finally it went down altogether, for it was a whale’s back and not an island at all. I have known brethren disport themselves upon the back of some novel speculation, when suddenly the facts of history have gone against them, and the whole thing has gone down very like a whale. I have mentioned one of the more harmless hobbies, but some have taken to fancies which have bred greater mischief.
Speculation is an index of the spiritual poverty of the man who surrenders himself to it. His flour has all been used, and so he tries plaster of Paris: he has no more gold or silver, and so he coins the baser metals. He cannot prophesy after the measure of faith, and so he exercises his immeasurable imagination. His own experience does not serve him with topics for his ministry, and therefore he takes airy flights into regions of which he knows nothing.
Far worse is it when a man so runs down in heart and spirit that he has no principles left, and believes nothing at all He is a Baptist, but he would very cheerfully minister to a Paedo-Baptist church. He is a Calvinist, but he is not narrow, and will promise to offend no one. He holds certain views, but “a view to the pastorate” is the chief of them, and in that view the salary is the charm. He boasts of possessing large-heartedness, and receptivity of spirit, and all that. He has dry rot in his soul! That is the truth of the case, and he tries to cover it up with this nonsense! Such persons remind me of an advertisement of a school in France; its concluding paragraph was to this effect: “The pupils will be taught any religion which may be selected by their parents.” It is abominable when ministers as good as .say, any religion will be taught which may be selected by the deacons.
Pray inform me whether the church likes a high-toned Calvinism, or prefers Arminianism. It is with such as it is with the showman who exhibited the battle of Waterloo, and in answer to the question, “Which is Wellington, and which is Napoleon?” replied, “Whichever you please, my little dears; you pays your money and you takes your choice.” These broad-churchmen are prepared to supply any article for which there is a demand. This is a terrible condition of things, but men do not generally rest there: in the lowest depth there is still a lower deep.
When the heart has got out of order and the spiritual life has run down, men soon fall into actual doctrinal error, not so much because their head is wrong, for many of them have not much of that, but because their heart is in an ill condition. We should never have known that some men had brains at all if they had not addled them. Such departers from the faith usually fall by little and little. They begin by saying very little concerning grace. They serve out homeopathic doses of gospel: it is marvelous what a very small globule of the gospel will save a soul, and it is a great mercy that it is so, or few would be saved. These snatches of gospel, and the preacher who gives them, remind us of the famous dog of Nile, of whom the ancients said that he was so afraid of the crocodiles that he drank of the river in a great hurry and was away from it directly. These intellectual gentry are so afraid of the critical crocodiles that the moment they touch the living water of the gospel they are away again. Their doubts are stronger than their beliefs. The worst of it is that they not only give us very little gospel, but they give us much that is not the gospel. In this they are like mosquitoes, of whom I have often said, I do not mind their taking a little of my blood, but it is the poison which they put into me which is my great cause of quarrel. That a man should rob me of the gospel is bad enough; but that he should impregnate me with his poisonous doctrine is intolerable.
When men lose all love to the gospel they try to make up for the loss of its attractions by sparkling inventions of their own. They imitate life by the artificial flash of culture, reminding me of the saline crystals which cover the salt deserts. There is a lifeless plain in the heart of Persia, so sterile and accursed that even saline plants do not thrive; “but the salt itself, as if in bitter mockery, fashions its crystals in the form of stems and stalks, and covers the steppe with a carpet of unique vegetation, glittering and glistening like an enchanted prairie in the dazzling light of the eastern sun.”
Woe be unto the poor congregations who behold this substitute for life, this saline efflorescence of dainty errors and fascinating inventions. Alas, whatever a man may now propound he will find learned personages to support him in it! Fontenelle used to say, that if he could only get six philosophers to write in its favor, people could be made to believe that the sun is not the source of light and heat; and I think there is a great deal of truth in the remark. We are told, “Well, he is a very learned man, he is a Fellow of Brazenface College, and he has written a book in which he upsets the old dogmas.” If a learned man writes any nonsense, of course it will have a run, and there is no opinion so insane but, if it has the patronage of so-called scientific men, it will be believed in certain quarters. I have myself watched the labors of novelists in theology, and have tried to get what I could out of their books, but I have been struck with the remarkably poor results of their lucubrations. I have stood by the shore at Mentone and seen fishermen with miles of line and a vast net buoyed up by great tubs, visible far out at sea. A dozen men are hauling at one rope, and as many more are pulling in another, drawing this great net to land. Pull away! Ahoy! Pull away at the ropes and bring the fish to land. I believe that on one occasion I did see them produce a fish not so long as my little finger, but that was a rather successful occasion! Our German friends have diligently made vast nets with which they have enclosed the sea of thought, and upon drawing them out what a noise there has been, and what a sensation, and what a trembling and a fainting among the old ladies of Christendom; but when we have seen their mighty catch it has not been the tenth part of a sardine. The next philosopher that came along has fitted on his spectacles with due gravity, after wiping them most solemnly, and then he has put his critical fork into this small fish, and, holding it up to be admired of all, he has discoursed upon its species, till another philosopher equally wise has declared that it was rotten, and pitched it back into the deeps. This kind of game is everlastingly going on, and many young ministers have been fools enough to give up the apostolic fishery to join in this stupid waste of mental effort. What have they ever done, these doubters, since the world began? What will they do? What can they do? All that they can do now is to wriggle into our churches, and hiss from pulpits which were once filled by the orthodox. They cannot build places of worship of their own, they could not build a mouse-trap; as a rule, there is not power enough in their teaching to gather a congregation, or to keep one when it is gathered. All the vitality, force, and energy they possess are spent, cuckoo-like, in laying their eggs in the nests which we take the trouble to fashion, for they cannot build their own.
God forbid that we should ever try to cover our decline of heart by the invention of our self-conceit.. I hope that when our ministry begins to lose power we shall be driven to our knees, and to our God, that he may quicken us again by his good Spirit. [To be concluded in our next.]
A CONTINUAL TOOTH-DRAWING WHEN Sir Thomas Fewell Buxton was wearied all day long by incessant requests to alter his procedure upon a great political question, he told his daughter that he could compare the importunities of the members of the House of Commons to nothing but a continual tooth-drawing. This is an image far too striking to be left to Sir Fowell’s sole use. Many other persons have been made to know what a continual tooth-drawing means, and we feel persuaded that many more are subjected to similar processes.
We should think that a miserly man, who takes a sitting in a place of worship frequented by a liberal and energetic people, must frequently feel, when he is asked over and over again for a subscription, that he had almost as soon sit in a dentist’s chair, and feel the operator’s forceps upon his precious dentals. His best plan is to give at once, and so end the pain of the extraction.
The same sort of misery must be experienced by the Christian who is always sighing — “‘Tis a point I long to know,” and incessantly turning over the experience of his own heart to see if he can extract from it some assuring evidence of his being in Christ. Most of us have undergone this unhappy experience, and even a moment of it is torture: to have to endure it month after month would be agony indeed. Oh for a childlike faith in Jesus to decide the question at once!
Personally, we have heard utterances in prayer-meetings which were painfully like a continual tooth-drawing. They were hard, cold, heartless, dreary, and both as long and as dismal as a winter’s night. All of a sudden we thought and hoped that the brother had done; but, alas, he took up a fresh lease, and entered upon another lengthened period. To all appearance he was coming to a conclusion a second time, when off he went, like a shot which ricochets, or a boy’s stone which when thrown into the water goes — duck-duck — drake — upon the surface. The prayer was diluted to the dregs of nothing, but end there seemed to be none. Oh that the tooth were out! The beloved brother had said all that could be said, and prayed for all that could be prayed for; but he evidently felt it necessary to begin again.
We can have too much of a good thing in such a case, and we wish the friend thought so.
Preachers, too, have caused us the same memorable sensation. The style and manner have been painful, and the length of the discourse has made the agony a protracted one. Dragging away at some metaphysical subtlety, which they could not bring into the light; tugging at some unimportant difficulty whose fangs defied their power; or explaining with marvelous perspicuity what was clear as daylight when they began, and marvelously foggy before they came to the end, they have inflicted upon us “a continual tooth-drawing;” at least, our patience was almost as much strained as if a grinder had been slowly drawn from our aching jaw. We were ready to cry, “Out with it, and have done, there’s a good man; for we can’t stand it much longer.”
Worst of all, however, and fullest development of Sir Fowell’s simile, is the click, clack, click, clack of a fluent female who has gained your ear, and means to hold it. “She never tires nor stops to rest, But on and on she goes.” We have felt ready to open our mouth, and let her draw all our teeth set, the, if she would but leave off talking. She had nothing to say and she said that nothing at extreme length, with marvelous energy, and with unwearied repetition. We have turned our head, we have shut our eyes, we have wished we had gun-cotton in our ears and dynamite in our brain; but our wishes did not deliver us, we were given over to the tormentor, and must abide the fulfillment of our sentence. When the operation has been over we have sometimes asked ourselves what we have done to deserve such a punishment, and with every desire to make a fall confession of our faults, we have not been able to discover anything which deserved so severe a torment under the present rule of mercy. At the second sight of the operator we have fled, feeling that it would be worth while to go a mile round, or leap over hedge and ditch, rather than again experience “a continual tooth-drawing.”
— Let us all be considerate of the feelings of others, for when we imagine we are merely tickling their ears we may be causing them as much pain as if we were drawing their teeth. — C. H.S.A JOURNEY TO MENTONE WITH MR.
SPURGEON BY JOSEPH W. HARRALD. (CONTINUED) NOVEMBER 14, 1879. — Our first morning at Mentone was spent at Dr. Bennet’s beautiful garden just across the Italian frontier. In order to get to it we had to cross the Pont St. Louis, an engraving of which appears in “Spurgeon’s Illustrated Almanac” for the present year. On one side of the bridge French soldiers are stationed, and on the other side are the representatives of the King of Italy. We did not feel in the least frightened at the sight of these men of war, well knowing that we had no intention of smuggling anything in or out of either country. As we passed them, almost unchallenged, we felt the value of a good conscience, and understood the meaning of the reclaimed street Arab’s definition of the difference between his wild and tame condition: “Now I can look every bobby in London in the face, without blushing.” The Italian guards not only have to perform their usual work of searching for contraband goods, but recently they have had to make most minute inquiries and to carry out most stringent, and almost ridiculous, regulations with the view of preventing the further ravages of the Phylloxera, the little insect which has already committed such deadly havoc among the vines of France and other European countries. This tiny parasite, which when full-grown does not exceed onethirty- third of an inch in length, is believed to have been introduced from America on certain vine-stocks imported at Bordeaux. Since its presence was first observed in Europe, in 1865, it has spread so rapidly that already in France alone nearly a million acres of vines are all but destroyed, while half a million more are in imminent danger. Such is the mischief wrought by these little creatures, thirty-three of whom laid lengthwise would only measure one inch! After that, let no man despise the day of small things, whether they are good or evil. It was a comparatively small thing that “brought sin into the world, and death, with all its woe,” yet its effects are far too terrible to be despised Sin seems to be, in the estimation of some people, a very insignificant affair; but, like the Phylloxers, unless it is removed, it will do irretrievable mischief. Can it be removed? If so, how?
One of the most successful remedies for the vine disease is the injection of a chemical compound into the roots that are affected; and the only effectual cure of the soul infected by sin is the pouring of the Holy Spirit into the very root of the matter. This will arrest the progress of the fatal malady, will destroy the sin which infests the soul, and will make its possessor able to bring forth all the fruits of the Spirit in due season.
Writing of insects, we are reminded that we reached Mentone before all the mosquitoes had lost their power to sting. For the first few nights they annoyed us exceedingly; indeed, we are not at all certain that they did not hasten the illness which seized upon Mr. Spurgeon shortly after our arrival in this lovely land. We were not surprised to hear him say that, like the devil, if mosquitoes were not omnipresent, it was at least impossible to tell where they were not to be found. Night after night we heard and saw them buzzing around, seeking whom the might devour, and all the while trumpeting their war-song, like Jingoes thirsting for blood. The lesson to he learned from the mosquitoes is that little things may be a great nuisance.
A thorn in the flesh, a mote in the eye, or the slightest stain on the conscience, may cause intense annoyance. One mosquito is quite enough to prevent a man from resting, and one sin unconfessed and unforgiven will keep a soul from the enjoyment of peace and rest to all eternity.
Possibly the bite of a mosquito, painful as it is, is not an unmixed evil, anymore than sea-sickness, and other unpleasant sensations. It is said that if a man is in good health the mosquito-bite will do him no harm, if he leaves the wound alone; whereas, if his blood is in an unhealthy condition, there will be considerable irritation and inflammation, and he will do well to search for the cause of the mischief much deeper than the insect’s sting has penetrated. Thus, Satan’s fiery darts fall harmless upon the Christian who is spiritually in robust health, but they cause grievous injury to the soul that is weak through the want of the food which God has provided in his Word, or through neglect of the holy exercise of prayer, or through living in the unwholesome atmosphere where sin breeds a deadly miasma.
The Lord Jesus Christ was proof against temptation, for it was his meat and drink to do the will of his Father He spent much time in gathering fresh force by communion with God, and the pure, fresh breath of the Holy Spirit was given without measure unto him, and therefore he could say, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing, in me.
Having passed the guards, and noticed the insects, we reached the garden upon a rock, which shows in every part how much can be accomplished on the most unpromising soil, if only the sun will shine upon it. The descriptions that we had read in The Sword and the Trowel, or heard from Mr. Spurgeon had made us quite familiar with the various objects of special interest with which the place abounds, and as they were pointed out to us we seemed to recognize in them friends with whom we were well acquainted, although we had never met before. Here, for instance, are the young palm-trees, which afford a lesson for beginners in business, or youthful Christians: they will take a long time to get firmly rooted and established, and after that will come the season of bearing fruit. There is the palm which stretches its branches far above all the others that were planted at the same time — the only one in the garden which has large clusters of dates upon it; the reason for its extraordinary growth and early fruitfulness being that it has struck its roots right down into a large tank of water, and so obtained unusual nourishment: true picture of the Christian who forces his way through every obstacle, that he may have constant communion with his Lord, and so become fruitful in every good word and work. Here, too, is the great water-tank, which for lack of space could not be made broad, and therefore was sunk deep down into the very heart of the rock. All who heard our beloved President’s address at last year’s Conference will remember how he exhorted us to be like this tank, and to make up in depth what we lacked in breadth, that each one of us might be a vast reservoir, from which dry and thirsty souls all around us might be plentifully supplied with the water of life. Here, also, is the tree which at one time bore no less than four different kinds of fruit, viz., lemons, oranges, citrons, and shaddocks None of these are left now except the lemons, the stronger nature having conquered all the rest: type of the man upon whom truthfulness, honesty, and temperance have been grafted, but whose nature has been unchanged by grace. For a time the new grafts may produce some apparently goodly fruit, but sooner or later the original stock will assert itself,, and nothing will be left but the old nature, and the old habits, and the fruit of these things, which is death.
To us who had just come from England the garden appeared like a little paradise, but the gardener told us that it sadly wanted rain in order that it might recover from the effects of the sirocco which had visited Mentone some weeks previously. After this wind has been blowing for only an hour or two everything that it touches becomes scorched and shriveled up, just as if it had been set on fire. Dr. Bennet explained to us the reason of this. It appears that, as a rule, the hot wind from the Sahara passes over high mountains, and crosses the Mediterranean before it reaches Europe, and by that means when it gets as far as Mentone, its great heat is so modified that it sweeps like the warm and gentle wing of an angel over this sheltered, sunny nook. It so happens, however, that there is a break in the chain of mountains, and when the current of hot air passes through this gap, instead of over the snowy summits, it reaches the opposite shore at very nearly as high a temperature as when it started from the sandy desert; and then, woe betide anything on which it lays its fiery fingers! Just like this, it seems to us, is the unveiled glory of God. No man can see him and live. The breath of his mouth will scorch us up, and destroy us utterly, unless it comes to us after it has passed over the hill called Calvary. It is only through the medium of a crucified Christ that there can be any safe union between an offended God and offending sinners. It is in Christ alone that God reconciles the world unto himself.
Our first day at Mentone would scarcely be complete if we did not report one or two of the table d’hote sayings concerning the place. We had noticed how hard the women seemed to work, but were scarcely prepared for the ungallan explanation that the reason why the men left them to carry such heavy burdens, and to perform such long journeys, was that “they are more sure-footed than donkeys, and cheaper than mules.” We had heard such marvelous descriptions of Mentone that we did not think we could be surprised by any vision of beauty that might burst upon us, but our first sight of the place made us declare that the half had not been told us, and nearly every change that we witnessed during our stay brought before our eyes new pictures of delight. We were almost ready to believe the legend which says that, when our first parents were driven out of the garden of Eden, mother Eve lingered behind and plucked an apronful of oranges and lemons, intending to carry them till she found another spot as charming, as the one from which sin had caused her to be expelled. The story goes that the fallen couple traveled on for many a weary day until at last they reached this beautiful region, and then the woman said to her husband, “We shall never find a place more like paradise than this is, let us plant our fruit, and make our abode here.” The oranges and lemons that flourish so freely throughout this district are, of course, supposed to be the descendants of those that came from the garden of Eden; whether they are or not, it is quite certain that the Mentonese are the lineal representatives of the ejected gardener and his wife.
Paul Joanne says “such is the fertility of the soil here that upon one occasion, a stranger coming to pay a visit to a Mentonese, stuck his cane into the ground, and when going away forgot it. Some days afterwards he went to reclaim it, but great was his amazement to find that his cane was already putting forth leaves and young branches.” It is said that this little tree, which has grown considerably since, is still to be seen in the Rue Saint Michel. The same writer states that “the citron harvest lasts at Mentone from the first of January to the thirty-first of December,” so that it may well be called a second paradise. Would that Christians could be thus fruitful all the year round!
The “table-talk” at the hotel was not always very edifying or instructive, but on one occasion, at least, the silence was suggestive. We noticed that when the guests were busy with their knives and forks their tongues were unusually quiet. “So,” remarked Mr. Spurgeon, “a well-fed church will be a peaceable church. Ministers who wish to keep their people from talking twaddle, and making mischief, should give them spiritual meat: if they are half-starved they are almost certain to get quarreling.” November 18. — To-day we had a delightful excursion up one of the Mentone river-beds, which was almost as dry as the Jordan was where the Israelites passed through it into the Promised Land. On our way we saw a splendid villa, which, it is said, has never been opened since a certain Empress dined there. It reminded us of the story of the old lady in whose cottage the Queen had taken shelter during a storm, who, after her august visitor had departed, carefully covered up the chair in which her Majesty had sat, and declared that no one should ever sit in that seat again as long as she lived. This was no doubt intended as a compliment to royalty, but we think we know a more excellent way; and yet some Christians err in a similar direction. They seem to think that, when Christ has once visited their hearts, the work of salvation is all completed, and that nothing is left for them to do, forgetting that what the Lord has worked in them of his good will and pleasure is to be worked out with fear and trembling. Instead of becoming useless as soon as we are converted, it is only then that we begin to be truly useful. The heart that has received Jesus should not be shut up like the unoccupied villa, or covered up like the old lady’s chair, but every one who comes near it should feel that it has been consecrated by the presence of One greater than the kings of the earth. Does anyone suppose that the house of Zaccheus was closed after that memorable day when the Savior abode in it, a self-invited but welcome guest, and carried to it that choicest of all blessings — salvation? Does anyone imagine that the favored spot in Bethany where dwelt the sisters and brother whom Jesus loved was kept shut up after the departure of the royal guest who often visited it? Certainly not. Most likely they both became sacred meeting-places for the saints of God, who there met to talk of the things touching the King who had for a while condescended to stay there during his sojourn upon the earth. No man or woman has ever been honored by a call from an earthly monarch as the Virgin Mary was when the Lord of life and glory visited her in her low estate, and made her feeble frame the dwelling-place of the Incarnate Deity; but instead of shutting herself away from the world, as .her supposed followers have done, she fulfilled her duties as a wife and mother just as any other godly matron might have done; and in the last picture that we have of her in the Word of God we see her taking her place with the rest of the disciples, who continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
After proceeding for a long distance up the river-bed already mentioned, we sat down where several mountain-streams unite to form the river. While we were resting a man passed us, and began to ascend the high hill right in front of us, apparently to get to his home. We were greatly interested in watching him as he went, first to the right, then to the left, sometimes a long way on one side, and anon as far in the other direction, but always ascending, until he disappeared above the crest of the hill on which his house was built. Thus, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are in truth but the windings of one road which brings us to our home above, the city that hath foundations whose Builder and Maker is God. November 19. — Today we drove to Bordighera. the Italian “city of palmtrees,” Which we found en fete in anticipation of the visit of the Queen of Italy. As we viewed the various preparations for the royal reception, we thought of another Monarch, who often comes where none are ready to receive him, though he brings with him blessings richer than any earthly sovereign ever can bestow. He asks for no outward pomp and show when he appears, but what he craves is a hearty welcome to our inmost souls.
Like those of whom we read in Luke’s gospel, who “gladly received him, for they were all waiting for him,” let us prepare for the coming of the King to us, and have everything in readiness, so that at the first signs of his approach, like the wise virgins, we may go out to meet him, and give him the greeting which he rightfully deserves.
For several days from this time few entries of general interest appear in our diary, the principal items being reports of the daily state of the health of the beloved editor of The Sword and the Trowel, who had been once more laid quite prostrate by most painful affliction. December 1. — This morning we had a very heavy snow-storm, a phenomenon which had only been observed in Mentone twice before during the last twenty years. It caused the poor sufferer a further relapse, and inflicted terrible loss upon the peasants of the district, whose whole property consists in their lemons, oranges, olives, and vines. Dr. Bennet told us that the damage to the lemons alone was estimated at from one to two millions of francs. The olives being hardier, were not so much injured, although many of their branches were broken by the weight of the snow upon them. What struck us most of all was the exceeding beauty of the olives while the snow was falling upon them, or resting upon their leaves and boughs. It seemed to give us an exquisitely lovely picture of the child of God exposed to unusual trial. During our sojourn here we have seen the olives when the first rays of the rising sun have made them glow like the bush that Moses saw, which burned but was not consumed, and they have reminded us of the sight that must have met the Savior’s eyes at the end of his all-night comings with his Father on the Mount of Olives; we have seen them beneath a cloudless sky glistening in the clear, calm sunlight, like a myriad drops of dew; we have seen them when the setting sun has flung his imperial robe around them, and clothed them as with a mantle of purple velvet, ready for some great state ceremonial; we have seen them when the moon has given to them the same soft, silvery light that their companions saw on that dread night when in Gethsemane, the Lord of the olives was pressed, and bruised, and crushed until “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground “; we have seen them when the clusters of berries have been so thick that the branches have been bent almost to the earth with the weight of the precious fruit which was to repay all the owner’s care and labor; — we have seen the olives under all these conditions, and many more that cannot now be mentioned, but we still feel that to our eyes, charming as they appear in all their ever-changing aspects, they never looked so beautiful as when they were covered with the “Beautiful snow from heaven above, Pure as an angel, gentle as love.” The beauty of the olive is the beauty of the child of God. “His beauty shall be as the olive tree.” The olive at sunrise is like a Christian when Sun of Righteousness first rises upon him with healing in his wings; the olive in the bright, glad sunshine is like the believer when all is well with him, and he can sing — “But I am calm with thee, my God, Beneath these glorious skies; And to the heights on which I stand Nor storms nor clouds can rise.” The olive at sunset is like the dying saint, clothed with honor, and glory, and immortality, and about to be ushered into the august presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords; the olive by moonlight is like the believer who takes his place in the ranks of his fellow-saints, and shares in the reflected luster which shines in the church, which is “fair as the moon”; the olive at the time of ingathering is like the Christian when he brings forth the fruits of the Spirit: but the olive in the snow-storm is like the child of God when he is exposed to the heaviest trial that ever beat upon his head, standing unmoved and unmurmuring amid it all, retaining his faith in the loving Father who chastens him for his good, and pouring out his very heart of hearts in the triumphant but not boasting language of Job, Though he slay me yet will I trust in him.”
The beauty of the olive is of such a peculiar character that it is almost impossible to destroy it. A few days after the snow-storm, our beloved pastor being somewhat better, we drove round Cape Martin, where the trees had suffered most from the severity of this unusual winter. Many large branches were broken off, but the olives were as pictureque and pleasing to the eye as they were before the storm spent itself upon them, and so far as we could judge they were just as likely to bear as much fruit as before they were exposed to this sharp test of their powers of endurance, which had apparently at one stroke done the work of the pruning-knife for a whole year. So is it with the Christian of whom the olive is one of the most instructive types. Trial only increases both his loveliness and his fruitfulness. With many saints, it is only as they are made bare that they are made to bear. The psalmist is not the only child of God who has found it good to be afflicted; even the great Captain of our salvation, the true Olive, was made perfect through suffering. Sometimes the wise Husbandman sees fit to cut off an olive branch, or to root up an olive-plant, and set it in his garden above, that the parent-tree may yield its whole force in bringing forth fruit unto his praise. The olives have to be beaten before they pour their purple berries at their owner’s feet; and alas!
Often it is the case with Christians that they give but a poor return for all the time and trouble that have been spent upon them until the long rod of affliction beats every part of the, and brings to their Lord a full return for all his labor in planting, p purging, and perfecting the them. We noticed that the olives that grow near the public roads are often covered with dust, and so present a very unlovely appearance. We remarked in fun that they represented unbaptized believers, whose bodies needed to be washed with pure water; but in solemn earnest they are the type of Christians whose low spiritual life leaves little distinction between them and “men of the world, who have their portion in this life.” If any of us are like these olives, may we hear the divine voice saying to us, “Shake thyself from the dust,” and may we in our turn cry mightily unto the Lord to pour out upon us a stream of his all-powerful grace to cleanse and purify us from the defilement of worldiness and unholiness.
We have mentioned that the lemons were the greatest sufferers from the frost and snow, and of this we had ocular demonstration when the weather moderated sufficiently to permit us to go out to examine then. We found that in low and sheltered situations they were comparatively uninjured, but upon the hill-sides, where they were exposed to the full force of the storm, the devastation was most pitiable to behold. We could not help thinking at the time of one whom we love more than tongue can tell, who has been lifted up by God high above his fellows, but who in his exalted position full often feels the keen blast of most painful affliction, while others whom the same Lord has planted lower down the hill of service live year after year unscathed. The man greatly beloved is the man greatly afflicted. The family at Bethany that is specially loved is sorely tried. (To be continued.)
THE GIRLS’ ORPHANAGE, STOCKWELL IN faith in God we entered upon the enterprise of erecting an Orphanage for Girls, and struck the first stroke on Monday, May 19, 1879, by uttering the following words at the meeting for celebrating the 25th year of our ministry at the Tabernacle: “Here” is one point of a new departure. Listen, and consider it. A day or two ago the lady who founded the boys’ orphanage sent me £50 for the girls’ orphanage. I answered somewhat to this effect: ‘ I am very grateful for the proposal, but, at the same timer I am not very well, and the times are not very hopeful, and therefore I had rather not begin any new work just yet.’ I proposed to keep the £ 50 in case we did build a girls’, and, if not, to put it over to the boys’. ‘No,’ said our friend, ‘ you are right in your judgment, but take the £50 as the first brick, for I am fully assured that many more bricks will shortly be added.’ Now I propose that £ 50 of the testimonial should be placed with my dear friend’s £50 that we may found the girls’ orphanage together. I will not say more, because she never has been outdone, and I do not think ever will be. I do not mean to press this new enterprise just now, but only to moot it, and see whereabouts this thing will grow. Other eggs will come to the nest egg, and the nest will become full, and then we shall have another family of little chicks. I feel as though I was laying the first stone of the girls’ orphanage, and you were all saying ‘ Go ahead.’ This is a good note of our present page of history — ‘ Second twenty-five years of pastorate commenced by the inauguration of project of girls’ orphanage.’” With this beginning we set to work to raise money to purchase the necessary ground. First, we had to buy “The Hawthorns” for £ 4,000, and then the intervening meadow, and other matters had to be paid for.
This amount has been forthcoming, and we are in full possession of the land. The house called “The Hawthorns” is occupied by a nice little family of girls, and we are cheered and comforted by what has been done.
Our next step is to build a block, containing houses for the residence of 250 girls, with schools for the same upon the top. Of this building we have given an elevation as our frontispiece. The bills of quantities are in the hands of the builders, and before this magazine is issued we believe that the lowest tender will be accepted, and the work commenced. We do not as yet know the amount which will be needed, but by a rough calculation we cannot make it less than £8,000. Of this we consider that we have in cash and promises about £4,000, of which the following is a summary:— We have received up to the present time (May 14) for the new buildings, and acknowledged in the magazine lists, £ 412 1s. 0d.; from H. E. S., for one house, £500; towards the Deacons’ house, £ 310; and “a twenty years’ reader of the sermons” has sent us £ 100, making a total in hand of £1,322 1s. 0d. In addition we have promised, C. H. Spurgeon, £500; Messrs.
Passmore and Alabaster, £500; for Deacons’ house, £ 190; and Samuel Barrow, Esq., £500. Added to this, a beloved friend promises to build and furnish completely one house to be called “The Limes,” in memory of five beloved children. The actual value of this noble gift we must leave in a measure to the donor, but added to other offerings in kind we may confidently put it down at £ 1,000.
We originally estimated a house at £500, but as we have had to carry up’ the building a story higher, and make the houses larger, that amount will not build a house, and yet we cannot ask the donors of £500 to do more.
To our great grief our friend Mrs. Tyson was taken away before she could fulfill her promise to build one of the houses; an instance of the need to do at once whatever we intend to do. We reckon that we have £4,000 towards the new work. It will not appear upon the balance-sheet that we have £1,300 in hand for Girls’ Orphanage: the fact being that it is not actually in hand, but we have included a legacy of £1,500 which is not yet received.
After this block of buildings shall be completed, we have then to erect, first, the covered play-hall and bath, then the dining-hall, and chapel; and then the infirmary. These details will come one by one as each is paid for.
We cannot go into debt, but must advance step by step, as God sends means. When completed, the Orphanage will make a noble square, and hold 500 orphans. This we consider to be quite large enough for one management, and as much as we can bear the burden of. Meanwhile we ask for help both to complete the building and to keep the orphans.
If by June 19th, which is our actual birthday, or by June 22nd, when we shall celebrate it, we could see the amount needed, it would indeed fill our tongue with singing. Why not? The Lord has done great things for us before and he will not leave us now.
The writer’s heart is often heavy through mental weariness, and those who desire his health and vigor for the ministry of the Word can best promote it by assisting this benevolent design. What better deserves our help? It is for our Lord Jesus’s sake that we have undertaken this labor, and in his name we ask his disciples to remember us and our large family of little ones. C· H.S. A LETTER UPON C.H. SPURGEON’S PREACHING TO SAILORS DEAR MR.EDITOR, — You have often been called a many-sided man; I shall therefore address your editorial personality, and consider for the moment that you are not the preacher I heard on Thursday evening last. I venture to think the Metropolitan Tabernacle had more sailors and sailor workers to this service than ever before. The good Manager of the Sailors’ Home sent up two wagon-loads, while Miss Macpherson’s lady friends marched at the head of a splendid column of hardy, well-dressed sailors.
Very few ports of the world were unrepresented, while captains, officers, and missionaries helped to fill the first gallery. Much prayer had been offered and, enthusiasm awakened by Mr. Spurgeon having promised to preach a sailors’ sermon. At seven he came down to his quarter-deck looking careworn and overworked as though he had been watching a week in the Channel. But as he looked at his crew on the starboard and port sides inspiration came, and the buoyancy of his spirit returned.
The intercessory prayer for those at sea and those on shore waiting for missing ships, led many hearts to the throne of grace. As to the sermon, having graduated in God’s university, the Sea, with wind and wave, rock and sand, sun and star for my professors, I would, as a qualified judge, pronounce it A I at Lloyds’. It was simply first-rate, and worthy of the great preacher and his glorious theme, “The sea is his, and he made it.” I want, believing that it is calculated to bless the sailor and his cause and to glorify the God of the sea, to send it out as a tidal wave of blessing to the ends of the earth. Give me 50,000, and I can supply every light-house and light-ship on our coast, every lifeboat and coast-guard station, every British consulate and sailors’ mission in the world, and the great British mercantile marine. Give me 100,000, and Her Majesty’s ships and the American navy shall be supplied as well. But fifty thousand copies I must have, and I solemnly ask, Who is going to do this for Jesus, the Lord High Admiral of the Seas? Some £200 would cover the entire cost, and I would undertake with our staff of the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, and associate societies, a proper distribution. Your readers are not aware that in January of this year the effective tonnage of the mercantile navies of the British Empire was 16,000,000, while the rest of the world only had some 11,500,000. This means that under one flag, and that flag the British, there is now 58 per cent. of the shipping of the whole world. Storms that hurled the Tay Bridge into the sea have played havoc with our shipping both sail and steam. In the past year (1879), not counting the exceptionally disastrous months of this year, no less than 1,688 vessels were reported to have been wrecked, with an estimated value, including cargoes, of £25,500,000!
But what became of those on board? — About five thousand perished!
People have no conception of our ocean empire. Why, there are 50,000 fishing boats around the coasts of Britain alone!
Is it, then, too much to ask for 100,000 copies of this special sermon? The sailors are absent, they cannot plead for themselves. This is why they are too often forgotten. It will cheer Mr. Spurgeon if we could thus serve the sailor. Who dare estimate the outcome of this effort for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom? Who will thus help to make the sailors the unpaid evangelists of Christ to all the nations? All hands lay hold of this rope and give us a pull; but you, Mr. Editor, must give the command, or few will obey.
Yours faithfully, EDWARD W.MATTHEWS, Secretary, British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, Shadwell, London.
On Monday evening, May 3, the thirteenth annual meeting of the
COLPORTAGE ASSOCIATION was held at the Tabernacle, under the presidency of the Pastor, C. H. Spurgeon. Extracts from the report were read by the secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones, and addresses were delivered by the chairman; by two of the colporteurs, and by Dr. Samuel Manning, of the Religious Tract Society. We delight in this work, for its practical usefulness is beyond measure great as compared with the expense. But, as yet, we cannot get such a measure of public sympathy as the enterprise deserves. The report is encouraging, but we cannot conceal from ourselves the fear that the free subscriptions are so small that the capital is being month by month consumed. We have never had sufficient capital for this enterprise, and what we have had must all melt away in keeping the work going unless more help is given. The comfort is that it all goes in real work for the Lord.
On Thursday evening, May 6, in accordance with a request from the secretary of the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society, our week-night sermon was addressed specially to sailors, many of whom were present, with the representatives of various missions to seamen at home and abroad.
We insert the letter which we received from the secretary, although it is too much in the preacher’s praise. Sailor fellows are so hearty, that when a sermon pleases them, they do not use moderate language. The sermon can be had as a little book for one penny at our publishers.
On Sunday evening, May 9, the seat-holders vacated their seats to allow the general public to worship at the Tabernacle. As usual on such occasions, not only was the house crowded in every part, but probably as many persons were shut out as were admitted. All classes were represented, from the wealthy down to the poorest. O that a blessing may follow upon our earnest endeavor: In order to invite to this service those who are not regular church-goers, we advertised in the Sunday papers, and we were grateful to find that they for the most part inserted our letter about the service, and made a kindly remark upon it. Special services for the most part only draw together those who are church-goers already; we wish we knew how to reach the outsiders. Our plans were in a measure successful; but yet when we heard the congregation join so well in the singing, we felt that still the preponderating number were not of the class that we longed to gather. O for an hour’s talk about Jesus and the gospel to utter worldlings! What brave warriors of the cross might we not find among those who are now the devotees of pleasure!
— The following students, having finished their College course, have settled in the ministry: — Mr. F. G. Steward, at Calne, Wilts; Mr.A. Hamer, at Chatham Road, Wandsworth Common; Mr. B. Binks, at Workington, Cumberland; and Mr. G. A. Webb, at Godstone, Surrey. Mr. T. G. Churcher has gone to Edinburgh to complete his training as a medical missionary; and Mr. E. Isaac is conducting evangelistic services in Lancashire previous to his departure for Australia.
Mr. G. West has removed from Boston to South Shields, Mr. M.H. Whetnell from Ulversten to Blackburn; Mr. J. J. Ellis from Gosberton to Bedminister, Bristol; and Mr. W. Hetherington from Sudbury to Great Whyte, Ramsey, Hunts.
We are glad to hear of the safe arrival of our student, Mr. Edgar Booth, at Melbourne. May he be useful!
One of the passengers in the steamship American, which foundered off the African coast, was our student, Mr. Mann, who was on his way to reinforce Mr. Hamilton, at Cape Town. We had a cheery letter from him, written at Madeira, but how soon was the scene changed! He was wrecked, and then, after being picked up, he was wrecked a second time.
Our prayers ascend for his safety, and ere this reaches our readers we hope he will be safe at the Cape. Still, he has lost all, and will need Christian sympathy and substantial assistance. We aided him to buy books and clothes, and all this is gone. However, some one will make it up, and, since the dear friend is, we hope, safe, we will sing of mercy, and praise the Lord.
CONFERENCE — The sixteenth Annual Conference of the Pastors’ College Association commenced on Monday afternoon, April 19, by a wellattended prayer-meeting at the College. At its close, the ministers and students wended their way to the Shoreditch Tabernacle, where they were entertained at tea by Mr. Cuff and his friends. In the evening our friend’s great building was nearly filled for a public meeting at which C. H. S. presided, and addresses were delivered by Pastors W. Cuff, C. Welton (Driffield), H. Wilkins (Cheltenham), and George Hill, M.A. (Leeds). The collection for the College realized £17 9s. It was a soul-stirring meeting, and struck the key-note for us. At the same hour the friends gathered at the Tabernacle prayer-meeting, under the presidency of the Vice-President, were pleading for a special blessing upon the week’s meetings. Tuesday, April 20. — The first hour was occupied with thanksgiving and prayer, in the course of which the President read a letter from Mr. Gregson, containing suggestions for a special evangelistic mission to the English-speaking populations of India. He then delivered the address, which is published in another part of the magazine. After a short interval the Conference business was transacted. This included reports of the deaths of Brethren H. A. James (Strafford-on-Avon), T. Cannon (Torquay), W. Miller (formerly of Lewes), and R. L. Ludlow, who had not; completed his college course. The names of 48 students were added to the Conference roll, and all the officers were unanimously re-elected. The accounts of the Assurance Community showed that the payments for the year had been £85, and the receipts £75 11s. 6d., and that the balance of £8 9s. 6d. had been generously given by the late manager of the fund, Mr. Thomas Greenwood, who was heartily thanked for his kind help. The College owes a deep debt of gratitude to this invaluable brother. The manager for the present year is Mr. C. F. Allison, 161, Buckingham Palace Road, S.W., to whom all communications relating to this matter should be sent. Some brethren having suggested that the object of the community should be enlarged, the President was requested to appoint a committee to consider the subject. This will be done, and meanwhile any suggestions from members of the Conference will be heartily welcomed.
At the soiree at the Orphanage in the evening some of the boys recited and sang. Professor Fergusson delivered an earnest address on “The Source and Results of Spiritual Life,” Pastor W. McKinney (Port Jervis, New York State) gave us an account of “Religion in the United States,” Messrs.
Mayers, J. M. Smith, and Chamberlain sang solos, in which sweet music helped to set forth the preciousness of grace, and we closed the meeting feeling that it had been “a good day” in the highest sense of the word. We hope that this visit to the Orphanage will maintain the interest of all the ministers in our orphan work: they have helped it often, and will again.
Some of the orphan boys of their deceased brethren are there, and their presence rivets the College to the Orphanage in enduring unity. Wednesday, April 21. — After a season of prayer, the Vice-President, who was suffering from a pain in his tongue, spoke to us briefly: but appropriately, from Ezra 6:14. The President announced the receipt of a telegram from the Canadian branch of the Pastors’ College Association, which held its first Conference during the visit of the Vice-President last year. Our venerable friend, Professor Rogers, then read us one of his charmingly characteristic essays on “Individuality in its relation to ourselves and others,” and Pastor W. William’s (Upton Chapel) followed with big paper on “Fuel for Heart Flames,” which we shall hope to present to our readers in a future number of the magazine. It was agreed that Monday, June 21, should be set apart as aDAY OF SPECIAL PRAYER by all the churches connected with the Conference.BRETHREN PLEASE NOTE THIS. It is the day before the Orphanage Fete. If it can be universally observed among our brethren, we shall rejoice: we will prepare a little letter which can be distributed to excite an interest in the day of prayer.
In the evening the annual meeting of the subscribers and friends was held at the College, under the able chairmanship of J. B. Mead, Esq. The president pre-seated the annual report, a copy of which will be sent to all subscribers.
If any have not received it, will they please write? Addresses were delivered by the chairman, the Vice-President, Pastor W. Cuff, our evangelists, Messrs. Smith and Fullerton, Rev. E. Wilkinson, Vicar of Snargate, Dr. Green, of the Religious Tract Society, and Mr. H. Varley. At the close of the meeting the company, which was larger than usual, adjourned to the Tabernacle lecture-hall, to partake of the sumptuous supper given by Mr. Spurgeon and two friends, and prepared by Mr. Murrell and his assistants. Too much praise cannot be given to our esteemed friend and fellow-helper for the admirable manner in which the whole of the arrangements were carried out, not only on this evening, but throughout the whole week. The subscriptions at the supper-table amounted to £1,800, and various sums sent to us afterwards made the total about £1,900. As we miss two donations which usually amounted to £ 300, we consider that there is no falling off, but rather an increase in the supper gifts. Thursday, April 22. — This morning’s meeting was commenced with thanksgiving for the mercies of the past day, and prayer for continued and increased blessings in the future. Pastor J. C. Thompson (Paisley) read an admirable paper on “Our ministerial attitude towards those who differ from us in fundamentals”; Pastor E. E. Walter (Liverpool) read one on “The unused energy of the church, and how to utilize it”; and Pastor F. A. Jones (Cross Street, Islington), on “Colportage.” We were all profited by the morning’s mental food, and by hearty communion with each other.
A large number of friends met for tea, and afterwards the Tabernacle was almost full for the public meeting. The President presided, Mr. Frisby’s evangelistic choir led the singing, addresses were given by the Vice- President, Professor Gracey, Messrs. Fullerton and Smith, and PastorsG. W. Tooley (Dumfries), J. J. Knight (Birmingham), and C. A. Davis (Bradford). Messrs. Burnham, Parker, Chamberlain, and Mayers, our Asaphs and Hemans, illustrated the way in which they go about singing the gospel. The ministers and students were then right royally entertained to the supper, which had been prepared by Mr. Murrell, to whom, and to the president and Mrs. Spurgeon, for all their kindness and help to the brethren, thanks were heartily given. Friday, April 23. — During the devotional exercises of this the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, we were reminded of the uncertainty of life by the announcement of the death of our friend Mr. Leach, the editor of The Freeman. He served his Lord well and faithfully. He was one of our own children, and for years helped us with this magazine. His wife and family are but scantily provided for, and a subscription is on foot to help them.
We will gladly hand over any help that may be sent to us.
After a few words of encouragement from the President’s father, Professor Gracey gave us an exposition of Ephesians 4:8, and our new tutor, Professor Marchant, read his paper on “The power of the Holy Spirit, the preacher’s need and honor.” This was followed by our closing communion service, and the singing of Psalm 122, as usual, by the whole assembly standing with linked hands in token of the bond of brotherhood which unites them to one another. We never had a better conference. The life infused and awakened is felt by many to be a great help throughout the rest of the year. God be praised.
At the dinner-table Pastor F. H. White reported that 113 of the ministers had contributed or collected for the College during the year, the amount received from them having been £334 19s. 4d., to which the students had added £181 17s. 7d. It will be a good time when every man sends in something, however small. Hearty cheers were given for the Vice- President, who responded, and for all helpers, for whom Messrs. Murrell, Allison, and W. Olney replied, and the sixteenth annual conference was brought to a fitting close by the singing of the doxology, and the pronouncing of the benediction.
At the end of all this we felt weary and worn, but full of inward thankfulness. Amid burdens and cares we are upheld by the all-sustaining arm, and comforted by the Eternal Spirit. To have trained more than heralds of the cross is a great privilege: whatever of labor and anxiety it has involved has been a thousandfold repaid. Yet do we need the prayers of all, and the help of many, which also we shall have.
— Messrs. Fullerton and Smith have been in Birmingham and the neighborhood during the past month, and they expect to be there during the first fortnight in June. They are trying an experiment which, if it succeeds, will guide them in working other large towns. They started at Smethwick, moved on to Smallheath, then to Heneage-street, and Circusstreet, and intend to finish at the. Town Hall and the Curzon Hall. The special correspondent of a local paper thus describes one of the services at Smethwick: — “Arriving some time prior to that announced for commencing the service, in the hope of obtaining a good seat, I found that, large and spacious as the building was, it was well filled. The moment they appeared a something seemed to tell you that the evangelists sent were the right ones. Their first impressions were good. There was nothing pompous, stiff, or patronizing in their manner. If their conduct could have been put into-words it would have said something of this sort: ‘Well, friends, we come with credentials from our beloved Master and Teacher. We are not come to glorify ourselves, or to show off our abilities. We have come in a plain fashion to have a plain talk on serious things. If you are ready and willing to hear, we are ready to. begin?’ Such were the ideas which went through my mind while they paused for a moment. The appearance of Mr. Smith must have impressed the people that a gentleman of very homely ways was before them, that all parsondom manners would be eschewed by him, that he was merely one of themselves, selected to talk with them. His good, honestlooking face must have inspired confidence instantly. I do not think first impressions will be deceptive. In Mr. Fullerton the congregation could see the features of a student, and one who seemed anxious for the great work he was undertaking .... “The sermon was founded on St. Mark, 10:47: ‘ The healing of the blind man.’ My anticipations of the preacher were more than realized. His genial countenance and pleasantness drew at once the affection of the people towards him, and rarely has a speaker had such a sympathetic audience. He is a fluent speaker, and never at a loss for language. He possesses powers of description of a high order, f was pleased to notice that the extravagances of some so-called evangelists were conspicuous by their absence. Being an educated man he indulged in no vulgarity or unseemly familiarity with sacred things. His discourse was a happy combination; for while the educated man and scholar could listen with pleasure, the wayfarer and unlettered man could derive equal benefit. There are some engaged in missions who pander to the ignorant, forgetting that thereby they are doing much to render nugatory the good they otherwise might do. I have known even the ignorant themselves to be disgusted when the preacher has come, as he thinks, down to their level. These evangelists, I am pleased to say, steered clear of all these difficulties. They treated their fellow creatures as being possessed of common sense and reason. While Mr. Smith did not pander, neither did he soar into lofty flights of oratory. There could have been none among his hearers who did not comprehend all he said. His sermon was a beautiful string of poesy. This was just what we might have expected from first impressions. Mr. Spurgeon’s discretion in the selection of these gentlemen is fully justified.”
Pastor E. Edginton sends us an encouraging account of Mr. Burnham’s visit to Wedmore, Somerset, from April 12 to 18, when many were led to seek the Savior, and some rejoiced to find him.
After the Conference Mr. Burnham rested for a few days, and on May commenced a week’s services at Watton, Norfolk. Here also souls were saved, and, as usual, the household where the evangelist stayed received a special blessing. Many who attend no place of worship were attracted to the services, and all regretted that our brother had so soon to leave the town. This regret seems very common in connection with Mr. Burnham’s work, and it should suggest to those who are arranging for a visit the desirability of making the series as long as possible, as frequently the evangelist has to depart just as the fullness of blessing is being realized.
From May 10 to 16 Mr. Burnham was at Winslow, Bucks.
— The following letter, recently received, speaks for itself: — “Dear Sir, — Will you use this £5 for the ‘ Boys’ Orphanage’? I have just read in The Daily Telegraph that 204 boys are entered on your books as belonging to the Church of England, so it seems but fair to send you something. — Yours most truly, ACHURCHWOMAN.” The Annual Fete . — Will all friends, far and near, kindly note that THE ANNUAL FETE AT THE ORPHANAGE will be held this year, not on the President’s birthday, June 19, but the following Tuesday, June 22? May God send as a right royal day. We hope that Mrs. Spurgeon will be able to lay the stone of one of the houses.
— Mrs. Spurgeon wishes it to be known that she cannot attend to requests for books during the month of July. This work proceeds in fall vigor, and makes many a hungry mind rich in spiritual food, but the invalid worker must now have a little breathing time.
— We have received recently quite a number of illustrations of the text, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Here are a few of them: — “Dear Brother in the Lord, — I was led to believe in Jesus through hearing a sermon delivered by you at the Surrey Music-hall, May 31st, 1857, (‘Elijah’s Appeal for the Undecided,’ No. 134). Hitherto the Lord. hath helped me, and his promise is, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.’ I have your ‘Morning by Morning,’ for daily reading, with the chapter of Scripture from which the page is headed as text, and I find much comfort therefrom. Before I heard the voice of God saying to me through you on that eventful day, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions?’ I was a follower of the Church of England and the pleasures of the world, and the name Waverer was meant for me that day. When at the hall I was led to say from the heart, ‘No longer, Lord, do I halt, but this day I decide for thee; ‘and now I follow the church of Christ, and seek to be conformed to his image, which is the end of God in the predestination of his church through all eternity.” “Dear Sir, — I may tell you that I was one of the lowest grade of public drunkards for at least thirty years, so you will understand me when I tell you that I have felt bound with the cords of sin. I have been a constant reader of your sermons for seventeen or eighteen years, and I made thousands of struggles to break away from sin, but it was all in vain, and it was not until I let go all earthly hope, and by faith went to Jesus Christ himself that I found the result of faith in your Master. God bless you.”
One of our elders writes to us:— “My dear Sir, — At a meeting last night I heard the following statement, which I think you will be pleased with: — A member of one of our London churches said that, being an engineer, he had to reside for some little time in a foreign town, the name of which I did not catch, where he was entirely surrounded by Portuguese. He said it was very sweet to meet an Englishman anywhere under such circumstances to converse in his native tongue. He heard that there was an Englishman confined for life in the prison, and he determined to call on him, and speak to him respecting the love of God to sinners, tie got permission to see him, and having entered the prison, commenced at once speaking to him through the iron grating.
The poor convict then told him that a few years before that, a young Englishman called upon him in a similar manner, and left behind some English novels, but between the leaves of one of the novels there was a sermon which had been preached in Exeter-hall, in 1856, by C.H. Spurgeon. The convict read it. It was upon ‘ Salvation to the uttermost’ (No. 84), and it referred to the murderer Palmer, then under sentence of ‘death. The words entered into his heart, and he immediately knelt down in his cell and cried for pardon, and he received a sense of forgiveness on the spot, and he was still rejoicing in the assurance that God for Christ’s sake had forgiven him. He told Mr. B. that he bad no hope of liberty in this life, but he was nevertheless rejoicing in the glorious hops set before hun in the gospel.”
The following letter refers to our fifteen-hundredth published sermon, “Number 1,500; or, Lifting up the Brazen Serpent,” preached in October last: — “Dear sir, — Yesterday morning my brother passed from us at daybreak. Though unknown to you, I think you will like to hear something he said. On Tuesday evening I asked him, ‘What can I do to be as happy as you?’ He answered with difficulty, ‘It’s all in “Instant Salvation” and “Number 1,500.”’ Many times he has talked of ‘Number 1,500,’ and has directed me to send one to his brother. A member of your congregation sent me ‘ Number 1,500’ in a letter to him, a sort of sly way, perhaps, of giving it to him. A passer-by on St. Leonard’s Parade gave him ‘ Instant Salvation.’ Sir, my brother’s words were ‘Only Jesus, nothing but Jesus; Jesus! Jesus!’ and he passed away without suffering, perfectly easy, pleasant, contented, joyous, and triumphant, and fully conscious up to five minutes from his death, so gently that I, a medical man, cannot say when he died — not the slightest struggle, only a gradually increasing stillness.
Sir, if this letter be like a ‘ well done’ from the Lord through the voice of my brother to you, I am glad, as it will give you pleasure. Don’t trouble to answer, I am not a Baptist, but a Church of England man.”