INAUGURAL ADDRESS AT THE SIXTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE PASTORS’ COLLEGE ASSOCIATION, BY THE PRESIDENT, C. H. SPURGEON. (CONTINUED) PERHAPS I have at too great length spoken upon the former part of my subject; I now propose to dwell upon the necessity of renewing grace. If any of us have come down from the heights, it is time that we returned to them again. If we have fallen from our first love, it is most needful that we should renew the ardor of our youth at once. If we have gone down even in a small degree, it behoves us to ask for help to gain back what we have lost. This is necessary on account of our own happiness; for I appeal to any brother who declines in heart, and grows weak in faith, and doubtful in spirit, whether he is not unhappy. Do you not derive the purest joy and the most solid satisfaction from walking with God? Those who are saints indeed are doomed to be unhappy apart from Christ. It is a doom which destiny has fixed upon you, that if you depart from Christ you must depart into hell; for it is hell for you to depart from Christ. If, therefore, in any measure you have roamed away from Christ, mind that you fly home again at once. Last year, when sojourning in Southern France, I went for a mountain ride to the foot of Castiglione, an old, half-deserted town. It was clear and bright at the time, and when the friends who were with me went up the hill to survey the place I remained a little lower down. I soon observed that the clouds were coming from the other side of the mountains, and in a few minutes I was in a fog, chilled to the bone. I could just see Mentone under the bottom of the clouds, and I said to my man- servant, “Get the horses in, for I must get down again into the sun at once.” Soon the fog was all round me, and I hastened to descend until I reached the sunlight again. You must feel like that, my brethren; if you are caught in a mist, and a chill is upon you, you must hurry back to Christ.
You may joyfully repose in Christ, and find every blessing and comfort surrounding you; but if you have climbed into high notions and entered upon the cold regions of speculation, you must hasten down again. You must say of the old gospel, “I can see the blessed spot of my repose and I will get back to it at once.” This is good argument for those of us who are conscious of lost comfort through having left the good old way.
We cannot afford, I am sure, to be in a State of running down, for we were never too much alive. Our shortcomings at our best are quite sufficient to warn us against what we should be if we were worse. I can imagine some men losing a part of their courage and yet remaining brave; but if mine were to evaporate I should be a coward indeed. There would have been power in Calvin even if half the steadfastness of his mind had gone, for he was a man of mighty faith; but if I were to lose any measure of my faith I should be a sorry unbeliever, for I have not a grain of faith to spare.
Dear brethren, have we ever reached our right condition as compared with our early ideal of what we hoped to be? Do you recollect when you first entered the college or the ministry? Do you remember what a high standard you set up for yourself? You did well to fix the mark high; for if you aim at the moon you will shoot higher than if you fired at a bush. You did well to have a high standard, but you do not well to fall short of it: and yet who does not fall short? Do you not wish to hide your head when you contras yourself with your Lord? He saved others, and could not save himself; but we are keen to guard ourselves and our reputations, and often act as if we thought self-preservation the highest law of nature. Our Lord endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,, while we are provoked if we are thwarted in any degree. He loved his sheep and followed them when they went astray; but we have far too little pity even upon those who gather at our call. We are far, far, far below the true glory of the Well-beloved, and even fall short of our poor idea of him. Neither in private in his prayers, nor in public in his life, nor in his ministry, nor in his teaching, do we approximate to him so nearly as we should, and yet to fall short of him ought to make us blush and weep. We cannot afford, therefore, to run down. Indeed, if we do not compare ourselves with our Master, but only with our brother ministers (for certain of them have done right noble work for Jesus), we shall come to the same conclusion. Some of our brethren have held on under fearful discouragements, serving the Lord faithfully; others have won souls for Christ, to whom the winning of one soul has cost more self-denial than the winning of hundreds has cost certain of us. I could sit with delight at the feet of such consecrated brethren as I am now thinking of, and look up to them, and glorify God in them. Such have been found among men of inferior abilities, slender powers, and small attainments; but how they have worked, and how they have prayed, and how God has blessed them! It may be that, with ten times their ability and opportunity, we have not done anything like as much as they have. Do we not mourn over this? Can we afford to decline?
Beloved brethren, we cannot afford to remain in any state lower than the very best; for, if so, our work will not be well done. Time was when we preached with all our might. When we began to preach, what preaching it was for zeal and life! In looking back it must increase our self-humiliation if we perceive that in our younger days we were more real and intense than we are now. We preach much better, so the critics say, and we know that there is more thought and more accuracy in our sermons, and that we use better elocution than we did in our young days: but where are the tears of our early ministry? Where is the heart-break of those first sermons in our first sphere? Where is the passion? where is the self-annihilation that we often felt when we poured our very life out with every syllable we spoke?
Now sometimes we go into the pulpit resolved that we will do as we did then, just as Samson went out to shake himself as aforetime. He had snapped the cords and bands before, and he was going to do the same again; but the Lord had departed from him, and he was weak as another man. Brethren, what if he Lord should depart from us, Alas for us and for our work! -Nothing can be done if the Holy Spirit be withdrawn; indeed, nothing truly good will be attempted. I have marveled at the way in which certain persons avoid preaching the gospel when they profess to be doing it. They get a text which you think must cut into the conscience, and they contrive to speak so as neither to arouse the careless nor distress the selfconfident.
They play with the sword of the Spirit as if they were mountebanks at a show, instead of thrusting the two-edged sword into the hearts of men, as soldiers do in actual combat. The Emperor Gallienus, when a man hurled a javelin many times at a bull without hitting him, and the people hissed at him, called the performer to his seat and placed a wreath on his head, saying, “You are most clever to be able to miss so large a mark so many times.” What shall we twine for a crown for those ministers who never strike the heart, never convince men of sin, never drive a Pharisee out of his own righteousness, never influence the guilty so that he casts himself as a lost sinner at the feet of Jesus? He may expect one day to be crowned with shame for such a crime. Meanwhile, twine the deadly nightshade about his brows. Be it ours to be like the left-handed men of Benjamin who “could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.”
We cannot reach to this unless the life of God be in us and abound.
A man ought to take care of himself, merely as a man, for the sake of himself and his household; but much more should a man who is a minister take care of himself for the sake of those who are committed to his charge.
A captain was observed in the South Seas to go beyond the usual point for turning into the harbor, taking a longer but a safer course. On some one remarking to him that he was too careful, he replied, “I have so many souls on board, I cannot afford to run any risk.” How many souls there are on board of some of us! How many souls, ay, notwithstanding that the doctrine is unfashionable, how many souls, not of creatures which will die out like cats and dogs, but priceless, immortal souls, are committed to our charge! Since upon our ministry, under God, hang everlasting things — life and death, heaven and hell, what manner of persons ought we to be? How careful we ought to be as to inner health! How anxious to be always at our very best! If I were a surgeon, and I had to operate upon a patient, I should not like to touch either the knife or his flesh if I felt bilious, or if my hand was quivering; I would not like to be in any but the calmest, coolest, most forceful condition at the moment in which the difference of a hairs breadth might touch a vital chord, and end a precious life! God help all soulphysicians to be always at their best!
I believe the headway of God’s cause in the world depends upon our being in prime condition. We are come to the kingdom for such a time as this.
As much as ever Simon Menno was raised up to preach believers’ baptism in Holland, and keep the lamp burning for God there, and as surely as ever in our own land such men as Hansard Knollys, and Kiffen and Keach, and the like, were bold to stand the brunt of the battle for the Lord, so I believe that you are intended to be in lineal succession defenders of the purest form of gospel truth. We have it in charge to pass on to the next age the everlasting gospel which our venerable sires have handed down to us. As Neander said, there is a future for the Baptists. There is a future for any church which has faithfully kept the ordinances of God, and is resolved in all things to be obedient to its covenant Head. We have neither prestige, nor wealth, nor the State at our back: but we have something better than all these. When a Spartan was asked what were the boundaries of his country, he replied, “The limits of Sparta are marked by the points of our spears.” The limit of our church is also determined by the points of our spears; but our weapons are not carnal: wherever we go we preach Christ crucified, and his word of solemn proclamation, — “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” The enquirer tamed and said to the Spartan, “You have no walls to Sparta.” “No,” he replied, “the walls of Sparta are the breasts of her sons.” We have no defenses for our churches, either in Acts of Parliament or enforced creeds; but the regenerated hearts and consecrated spirits of men who resolve to live and die in the service of King Jesus have hitherto sufficed in the hands of the Spirit to preserve us from grievous heresy. I see no beginning to this business, this battle of truth commenced so long ago; and I see no end to it, except the coming of the Master and the eternal victory. Yet some trembling persons say we ought to stop, and let the young men already in college learn a trade, and forego the ministry lest England should become over-ministered, and they add that there is no use in preparing men for the foreign fields, for the Missionary Society is in debt, and its expenses must be curtailed. God bless the Missionary Society; but the condition of a society is not the limit of our personal endeavor: besides, the society will soon throw off its burden. If you, my brethren, are worthy of your calling, you will be bravely independent, and not hang too much upon the help of others. Sparta could not have been defended by a race of timid creatures armed with pointless spears, neither can young men of timorous spirit do great things of God.
You must be braced to heroism, brethren, if you are to meet the demands of the hour. May God make the feeblest among you as David, and the house of David as God. (Zechariah 12:8.)
I have a proposal to make before I come to my conclusion, and it is this: let this be the time of renewal to each one of us: let us each seek for a personal revival by the divine Spirit. It is a fit time if we take an outlook upon our own nation. Politically, we have come back to a condition in which there will be a respect to righteousness, justice, and truth, rather than for self-assertion and national gain and conquest. We shall, I trust, no longer be steered by a false idea of British interests, and the policy which comes of it; but by the great principles of right, justice, and humanity. This is all I want to see: parties, as such, are nothing to us, nor individual statesmen, except so far as they represent right principles. We are for those who are on the side of justice, peace, and love. And now, instead of lying still year after year, and making no progress, — no laws amended, no home legislation attended to, but time wasted upon glittering foreign adventures — something will be done. At this period, also, our schools are educating the people, and I thank God for that. Though education will not save men, it may be a means to that end; for when all our peasants can read their Bibles we may surely hope that God will bless his own Word. It will be a grand thing for all our agricultural laborers to escape from receiving their religion at second-hand, by going to the New Testament for themselves. Godly people must take care to supply them with good books, and so feed the new appetite with healthy food. All light is good, and we, who most of all prize the light of revelation, are on the side of all kinds of true light. God is raising up the people, and I think our time is come to avail ourselves of their advance; and as our one business is to preach Jesus Christ, the more we keep to our work the better, for true religion is the strength of a nation, and the foundation of all right government.
Whatsoever things are honest, true, kind, humane, and moral, may reckon on our aid. We are on the side of temperance, and therefore on the side of the limitation of the abominable traffic which is ruining our country, and we are opposed to all that licenses vice among men, or allows cruelty to animals. We are up to the hilt advocates of peace, and we earnestly war against war. I wish that Christian men would insist more and more on the unrighteousness of war, believing that Christianity means no sword, no cannon, no bloodshed, and that if a nation is driven to fight in its own defense, Christianity stands by to weep and to intervene as soon as possible, and not to join in the cruel shouts which celebrate an enemy’s slaughter. Let us always be on the side of right. To-day, then, my brethren, I beg you to join with me in seeking renewal. Now is the time for a man to buckle on his harness, and bestir himself.
Surely our holy fellowship at this happy hour should help us all to rise to a higher level. The sight of many of our brethren is cheering and stimulating.
When I remember concerning some their holiness, their depth of piety, their perseverance, I feel comforted in the belief that if the Lord has strengthened others, he has yet a blessing in reserve for us also. Let this Feast of Tabernacles be the time for renewing our vows of consecration unto the Lord our God.
Let us begin it with a repentance for all our mistakes and shortcomings.
Let each one do this for himself. You remember how the ancient giant fought with Hercules, and the hero could not overcome him, because every time he fell he touched his mother earth, and received new strength. Let us, too, fall upon our faces, that we may rise invigorated: let us go back to our first simple faith, and recover lost strength. Men who have been sore sick have cried, “Take me back to my native air, and I shall soon be well.
Among the buttercups and daisies of the meadows, in which I used to play when I was a child, and near the brook where I caught the minnows, I shall soon revive.” Ah, it does our soul good to get back to our days of childlike faith, when we sang — “Just as I am, without one plea But that thy blood was shed for me.
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come.” This will help you to renew your youth: it seems an easy way, but it is the only way.
Let us renew our consecration. I do not invite any of you literally to stain the door-post of the college with your blood, but I ask you to think upon that Israelitish slave whose time had run out, who chose to remain in service because he loved his master and his master’s children, and therefore he put his ear against the post of the door, and they bored it through with an awl. May the Lord bore the ear of each of us, that we may be his servants for ever. We love our Master, do we not, brethren? We love our Master’s work? And we love our Master’s servants and his children, and for his sake we will serve them all, for better or worse, till death doth part us from this lower service. Oh to get back to the old moorings! I would like for us to preach our old sermons; I do not mean the same sermons, but with the same force as when we began to — “Tell to sinners round, What a dear Savior we had found.” People said, “That dear young man does not know very much, but he loves Jesus Christ, and he talks about nothing else.” I would like to preach again as I did at first, only a great deal better. I intensely believed and meant every word I spoke; I do so now, but doubts will arise now which never vexed me then. I would like to be a child again before the Lord, and to keep so, for I am sure that questions and doubts are a sad loss to any man.
Return, my brethren, to your earliest Bible readings, when you were wont to let the promise lie under your tongue as a dainty morsel. Ah, this Book, as I turn it over, wakes up many a memory, its pages glory with a light which I cannot describe, for they are set with stars which in my many hours of gloom have been the light of my soul. I did not then read this divine volume to find a text, but to hear my Lord speak to my own heart; I was not then as Martha, cumbered with much serving, but as Lazarus, who sat at the table with Jesus.
God grant us also a revival of the first aims of our spiritual career. Then we thought nothing of pleasing men, but only aimed at pleasing God and winning souls: we were rash enough to care for nothing but the fulfillment of our mission; is it so now? We can preach now, can we not? We feel that we are proficient in our art. It might be better if we did not feel quite so well equipped. I find it better to go to the pulpit in prayerful weakness than in self-reliant strength. When I groan out, “What a fool I am,” and come down after the sermon ashamed of my poor attempt, I am sure it is better with me than when I am pleased with my performance. Are any of us such babies as to feel that? What a sense of responsibility we had in our first services; do we retain that solemnity of spirit? We then prayed about the choice of every hymn and the manner of reading the Scriptures; we did nothing carelessly, for a heavy anxiety pressed upon us. I always read the Scripture carefully at home and tried to understand it before I read it to the people, and I thus formed a habit from which I have never swerved; but it is not so with all. Some say, “I have been about all the day, and I have to preach to-night, but I can manage.” Yes, but it will not please God for us to offer him that which costs us nothing. Others have a stock of sermons, and I have heard that just before the time for entering the pulpit they turn over their precious manuscripts, pick out a likely one, and without further preparation read it as God’s message to the people. The Lord deliver us from a state of mind in which we dare to put on the table of shewbread the first loaf which comes to hand. No; let us serve the Lord with growing carefulness and reverence.
It would be well for many to get back to their first prayers and watchfulness, and all else that is good; for the word of command at this moment is, “Remember whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Can it be done? Brother, it can be done. You can have all the life you had, and more, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit. You can be as intense as you ever were. I have seen old horses turned out to grass, and come back fresh and vigorous. I know a pasture wherein if a worn-out steed doth graze, it shall come back to be harnessed to the gospel chariot with strength renewed. Let us remember those hallowed spots where Jesus in former days has met with us, where, or ever we were aware, our soul was made like the chariots of Amminadib. Lord, renew thy former mercies, and we shall rise, like the phoenix, from our ashes.
It may cost you a great deal to be set right again. John Bunyan speaks of one who lost his roll, and had to go back for it, so that he traveled three times over the road, and then found the sun setting ere he reached his lodging. But cost us whatever it may, we must get right with God. I read a dream the other day, which was the means of a man’s conversion. He thought that he was going with his friend into one of the Eastern towns, and as he was about to enter, the portcullis above the gate began to fall. As it descended he stooped; but it fell so fast that he could not get through, stooping, kneeling, crouching, or even lying down. He felt that he must enter, and so he made a desperate effort. He had on a very fine laced vest, and he pulled that off, but the portcullis still descended, till he found that the only thing he could do was to strip himself, and then, close to the earth, and grazed by the gravel, he crept through. When he was safely inside the gate a shining one covered him from head to foot with glittering garments.
It may be that to get right we shall have to part with that fine vest, that splendid theory, that love of popularity, that rhetorical flourishing; but oh, if we once get through that gate, and God covers us with the robe of acceptance in the Beloved, it will well repay us for anything that the struggle may cost us.
I am sorry to say that I am made of such ill stuff that my Lord has to chasten me often and sorely. I am like a pen that will not write, unless it be often nibbed, and so I have felt the sharp knife many times; and yet I shall not regret my pains and crosses so long as my Lord will write with me on men’s hearts. That is the cause of many ministers’ afflictions; they are necessary to our work. You have heard the fable of the raven that wished to drink, but the pitcher had so little water in it that he could not reach it, and therefore he took stone after stone and dropped it into the vessel until the water rose to the brim and he could drink. So little grace is in some men that they need many sicknesses, bereavements, and other afflictions to make their graces available for usefulness. If, however, we receive grace enough to bear fruit without continual pruning, so much the better.
It is expected of us, brethren, that from this time we rise to a higher point.
It is the Lord’s due, if we think of what he has done for us. Some of my comrades in arms now before me have gone through battles as hard as any men may wish to fight, and after such success they must never say die.
After what the Lord has done for us we must never strike our flag, nor turn our backs in the day of battle. Sir Francis Drake, when it was feared that he would be wrecked in the Thames, said, “What! Have I been round the world, and am I now to be drowned in a ditch? Not I.” So say I to you, brethren: you have done business in stormy waters, and will you sink in a village pond? We shall not be worse treated than we have been. We are now in fine fighting trim, for we are hardened by former blows. A great pugilist at Rome was so battered, his nose, eyes, face were so disfigured, that he was always ready to fight, because he said, “I cannot look worse than I do.” Personally, I am much in the same plight. Men cannot say anything worse of me than they have said. 1 have been belied from head to foot, and misrepresented to the last degree. My good looks are gone, and none can much damage me now. Some of you have had more to batter you than you are likely to endure again; you have had trial and tribulation and affliction as heavy as you can have them; and after having stood in the lists so long, surely you are not going to yield and slink away like cowards?
God forbid it. God forbid it. God grant, on the contrary, that the elder ones among you may have the pleasure, not only of winning battles for Christ, but of seeing others who have been saved under your instrumentality trained to fight better than yourselves for Jesus. I read the other day a story, and with that I will conclude, desiring that I may in spiritual things have the same joy myself, and that it may be the lot of you all. Diagoras the Rhodian had in his time won many wreaths at the Olympian games. He had two boys, and he brought them up to the same profession. The day came when his own force abated, and he was no longer able to strive for masteries in his own person; but he went up to the Olympian games with his two sons. He saw the blows they gave and received, and rejoiced when he discovered that, they were both victorious. A Lacedaemonian said to him, “You may die now, Diagoras “: meaning that the old man might die content, because he had in his own person, and in that of his sons, obtained the highest honors. The old man seemed to feel that it was even so, for when his two sons came and shouldered their father, and carried him through the camp amid the ringing cheers of the great assembly, the old man, flushed with excitement, died under the eyes of the assembled Greeks. It would have been a wiser thing to have lived, for he had a third son, who became more renowned than the other two; but he passed away on a wave of victory. Oh, brethren, may you have spiritual children who shall win battles for the Lord, and may you live to see them doing it; then may you say with Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.”
In the name of the Ever-Blessed this day we set up our banners. Our watchword is “Victory.” We mean to win for the grand old cause of Puritanism, Protestantism, Calvinism — all poor names which the world has given to our great and glorious faith — the doctrine of Paul the apostle, the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can both strike, and bear the strokes which are returned. Through divine grace, we have given to us both energy and patience; we can work and we can wait.
May the divine life in us put forth its mightiest force, and make us strong to the utmost of human possibility, and then we shall seize the victory, shouting, “Grace, grace, unto it.” The Lord be with you. Amen.
AGAINST HASTENING TO REMOVE FORM OUR POST OF DUTY.
HE was a wise man who said “The roundest peg seldom fits into the roundest hole without some paring.” There is no position in life which, at the first, has not something irksome and trying about it. New comers cannot expect to feel at home at once. We remember our first wretched night at a school where we afterwards became supremely happy. Well do we recollect the misery of the first few months of, a calling which we afterwards valued and enjoyed. Our mind was sorely depressed on first coming into that sphere in London which has since been the delight of our life. Let no man, therefore, when he at first commences work in any place feel at all discouraged by the uneasiness which may come over him. It is natural that he should feel strange in a new position. The burden is not yet adapted to the shoulder, and the shoulder is not yet hardened to the load.
While feeling the irksomeness of a fresh position, do not be so foolish as to throw it up. Wait a little while, and time will work wonders. You will yet take pleasure in the very things which are now the source of discomfort.
The very worst thing will be to hasten away and make a change, for the change will only bring trial in a fresh form, and you will endure afresh the evils which you have already almost mastered. The time which you have already spent at your new place will be lost, and the same weary first steps will have to be taken upon another ladder. Besides, you may readily leap out of the frying-pan into the fire. Change has charms to some men, but among its roses they find abundant thorns.
Has the minister just entered upon a fresh sphere, and does he miss the affectionate warmth of his old acquaintances? Does he find his new people strange and singular? Do they appear cold and distant? Let him persevere, and all this will wear off, and he will come to love the very people to whom he now feels an aversion, and find his best helpers among those who now seem to be utterly indifferent to him. The call of Providence has brought him where he is, and he must not venture to leave because of inconveniences: often it will be his wisdom to regard these as a part of the tokens that he is in the right way, for the appointed path is seldom easy to the feet.
Has our young friend commenced teaching a class in the Sunday-school, and does she find it far less pleasant work than she imagined? Are the children wild and careless and inattentive, and does her own power of teaching appear to be smaller than she hoped? Let her give double application to her holy toil, and she will come to love it. Should she leave it, she may incur the blame of those who put their hands to the plough and look back. The ice has been already broken; the edge has been taken off from the difficulty; let her persevere, and all will be well.
There is no position in this world without its disadvantages. We may be perpetually on the move to our continual disquiet, and each move may bring us under the same, or even greater, disadvantages. We remember a Scotch story of an unlucky family who attributed all their misfortunes to their house being haunted by mischievous spirits, known to our northern countrymen as “brownies.” These superstitious individuals became at length desperate; nothing prospered in house or field, they would therefore pack up all and begone from a spot so mysteriously infested. All the household goods were loaded up, and the husband and the “gude wife” and the bairns were all flitting, when one of them cried out, “Brownie is in the churn. Brownie is flitting, too.” Just so, the matters which hinder a man’s success are generally in himself, and will move with him; and wherein it is not so, he may yet be sure that if by change of place he avoids one set of brownies, the will find another awaiting him. There is bran in all meal, and there are dregs in all wine. All roads must at times be rough, and all seas must be tossed with tempest. To fly from trouble will need long wings, and to escape discomfort will require more than a magician’s skill.
It is wiser to “bear the ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of.” It is probable that our present condition is the best possible for us, no other form of trial would be preferable. What right have we to suspect the wisdom and the goodness of God in placing us where we are? It will be far more prudent to mistrust our own judgment when it leads us to murmuring and discontent. Occasionally it may be prudent to remove, or to change one’s form of Christian service; but this must be done thoughtfully, prayerfully, and with a supreme regard to the glory of God, rather than out of respect to our own feelings. A tree that is often transplanted will make but little growth, and bear but slender fruit. A man who is “everything by turns, and nothing long,” will be a sort of “Jack of all trades, and master of none.” An increase of spiritual strength by greater communion with God, and a more resolute determination to glorify him in every possible way, will usually conquer difficulties and win success. An extremely hard substance in the world may be cut by something harder: even the adamant can be forced to yield. Double force will make that easy which now seems impossible. Do not, therefore, change the work, but change yourself.
Attempt no other alteration till a distinct improvement in your own self has resolutely been carried out.
We speak thus because we believe that many are discouraged at the outset of a career which, if they could see its end, would fill them with thankfulness; and Satan raises these discouragements to tempt them to leave a position in which they may damage his kingdom and glorify Christ.
Courage, dear friend, you have a great Helper; look to the strong for strength. Say with Nehemiah, “Should such a man as I flee?” Who are you that everything should be made smooth for your feet? Are you such a little babe in grace that only the slightest tasks should be allotted to you? Be a man, and play the man. Resolve that even at this present, and where you now are, you will set up the standard, and hold the fort. Many are the instances in which men have commenced their life-work under every possible disadvantage, and for months, and even years, they have seemed to make no headway whatsoever, and yet they have ultimately triumphed, and have come to bless the providence which called them into a place so well adapted for their gifts. It would have been their worst calamity if, under a fit of despondency, they had changed their station or relinquished their vocation. The church would have been the poorer, the world would have been the darker, and themselves the feebler, if they had shifted at the first even to the most promising spheres which tempted them. That rock on which they stood, and mourned the hardness of the soil, was more full of the elements of fruitfulness than the softer soil at a little distance, which invited them to leave. Tarrying where they were, exercising indomitable perseverance, they have softened the granite, cultured it into fertility, and reaped a golden harvest. He is the greatest man who achieves success where stronger men might have failed. If we desire to glorify God, we must not select the comfortable positions and the hopeful fields; it is best to make no selection, but to yield our own will to the will of God altogether.
The hole is round enough, it will be difficult to make it any rounder; the proper plan is to round ourselves. If we will but adapt ourselves to our position, the position will adapt itself to us.
It may be that these lines will furnish counsel to a brother whose choice now lies between being a rolling stone and a pillar in the house of our God.
To turn tail under present pressure may be the beginning of a cowardly career, neither honorable to God nor to man: to stand fast at this distressing juncture may be the commencement of an established position of supreme usefulness and honor.
C. H. S.
A JOURNEY TO MENTONE WITH MR. SPURGEON.
BY JOSEPH W. HARRALD. (Continued from page 281.)
DECEMBER 8, 1879. — Having walked to the Pont St. Louis this morning before breakfast, we saw a good illustration of the believer’s safety in Christ. A pair of doves flew out of the clefts of the rock, but returned almost immediately, having apparently seen the falcons that were high up in the air ready to swoop down upon the pretty creatures whose only protection against their cruel and powerful foes was to hide in the rifts of the rugged rock. So, timid saint, when the bird of prey seeks to destroy thee, fly to the cleft side of the Rock of Ages, for there and there alone shalt thou find perfect security and rest. Dec. 14. — To-day being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, there was a grand procession through the old part of the town at the close of the afternoon “service” in the church dedicated to this ridiculous dogma. In addition to the usual array of priests, acolytes, images, candles, etc., there were nine-and-thirty females, varying in age from three years to seventy, all dressed in semi-bridal costume, and carrying long candles. As they passed slowly through the narrow streets they chanted, or, to speak more correctly, the men howled and the women wailed a mournful dirge, which we were quite unable to associate with that “Religion that can give Sweetest pleasures while we live.” A more miserable performance throughout we have seldom witnessed.
Whatever solemnity there might have been about the poor affair was effectually dispelled by the conduct of the boys who carried the large lanterns and candles, which for the greater part of the time were like the candle of the wicked, “put out,” or like the lamps of the foolish virgins, “going out.” Before the procession started from the church, clouds of incense were presented to the principal image of the Virgin just in the same way that we burnt pastilles in our bedrooms at night in order to send the mosquitoes to sleep. We were not informed whether this ceremony was observed for the same reason; if so, what a poor protector must Mary be to those who trust to her if she cannot even defend herself from the bite of a little gnat! Dec. 16. — This morning we copied the following inscription from the first villa erected at Mentone in 1855 for the entertainment of strangers: — “LE SOLEIL,LE CLIMAT DOUX ET SALUBRE,ET L’ EAU DE LA MER,REUNIS CONSTITUENT LES PRINCIPAUX REMEDES CREES PAR LE BON DIEU; LOUANGES ALA GLOIRE DU BIENFAITEUR SUPREME QUI ADAIGNE DE NOUS EN FAVORISER,” which being interpreted is: — “The sun, the soft and salubrious climate, and the water of the sea combined, constitute the chief remedies created by the good God: thanks to the glory of the supreme Benefactor who has deigned thus to favor us.” We heartily join in this ascription of praise, for Mentone is a hospital for the sick, and a place of rest for the weary. Dec. 18. — At the cemetery this afternoon we saw many curious and even amusing decorations of the graves of the Mentonese and their visitors, but one design especially interested us. It was the representation of two hands clasped beneath the image of the risen Savior. What a beautiful thought — husband and wife, parent and child, or brother and sister, reunited at the feet of their ascended Lord! This may have been only a delusion on the part of those who put it up, but it is the sure and certain hope of the children of God. They will meet again to be no more parted for ever, and their reunion will be perfect bliss because it is consummated at the glorified feet of him to whom they owe their all. Dec. 22. — A little before seven o’clock this morning we had a very clear view of the Island of Corsica, and a few minutes afterwards realized, as we had never done before, the beauty of Malachi’s prophecy, “Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise, with healing in his wings.” As the bright, warm, wide wings of the natural sun were outspread our beloved patient felt their healing influence, and thousands of others blessed the Lord for another morning’s light and heat. In like manner Jesus comes to heal all that fear his name. We were somewhat surprised to find that, as the sun gradually emerged from the bosom of the waves, Corsica, which had been so distinct a little while before, completely faded out of sight. Yet just thus is it when the Sun of righteousness arises upon one who fears his name; all other objects become dim, and pass away, and he sees “no man save Jesus only.” We could not help thinking of the contrast between the land of Beulah, where we were, and the frost and fogenveloped country we had left a few weeks before. The air was so clear that we could see this island, although it was a hundred miles distant, and the mountains on it, which were twenty miles further from us: indeed, a lady in the hotel asserted that she could see the chimney-pots on the houses, and the smoke issuing from them. This was more than we could credit. Mr. Spurgeon said that she might just as well have told us that she had seen a woman going across the back yard to get a jug of water, or that she had smelt the bacon that was being fried for breakfast in one of the kitchens. Still, the objects within range of our vision made us feel as if we were with Bunyan’s pilgrims on the Delectable Mountains; but by faith we saw much that our mortal eyes could not perceive. Across the sea of time we caught a glimpse of the land that is very far off, and the everlasting mountains of the heavenly country; but presently, like the island at which we had been looking, even these objects disappeared from view as the Sun of righteousness arose upon us in all his glory, and then we had “The Best of All Sights” as we experienced in our own souls the truth of the text of the short sermon written by Mr. Spurgeon at Mentone, and published this week, “But we see Jesus” (No. 1,509 in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit).
Dec. 23. — To our great joy Mr. Spurgeon was well enough to go to-day to Mr. Thomas Hanbury’s wonderful garden at Mortola, where we afterwards spent many happy hours of our sojourn abroad. At various times we picked up the following illustrations, and notes of interest. Mr. Hanbury showed us a kind of gourd, the seeds of which are furnished with a sort of parachute, which enables them when released from their shell to travel some distance. By this means the plant may be propagated over a wide area: and just thus does the gospel win its way in the world; the living seed is like a bird or winged insect, all we have to do is to set it flying, trusting to the Spirit, that bloweth where it listeth, to carry it to the spot where the Lord will cause it to germinate, and bring forth fruit. Every Christian should not only sing — “Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel,” but by personally scattering the good seed of the kingdom should help it to extend its blessings far and near.
On another occasion the esteemed owner of the garden pointed out to us a plant, the leaves of which are eaten by the Arabs to keep them awake.
Some Mahommedans were of opinion that the plant belonged to the opiate family, and accordingly “a committee sat upon it.” Their decision was that “the faithful” might still continue to chew it, especially as it had the futher property of making those who ate it good-tempered as well as lively. We were all sorry to learn that there was not much likelihood of this peculiar shrub becoming acclimatized in England, as otherwise every church and chapel-yard might be filled with specimens of it, so that the congregations might pluck some leaves to keep them awake while listening to their ministers, and to make them good-tempered when going to their homes There is, however, in every land where Jesus is known, “a Plant of renown,” whose virtues far exceed those of any other plant which God has created. — We also saw several magnificent flowering aloes, which, having produced their one splendid blossom, were dying away. It seems but a small return for a life’s work to have but one flower, and then to die; yet how many lives are there that come to an end without so much as one bloom or bud of grace appearing upon them! In another sense this aloe is a grand illustration of the man who has said in the strength of the Lord, “this one thing I do,” who has given all his powers to the accomplishment of that one object, and who has succeeded in attaining it, well content to pass away with the conviction that, whatever other lives have been, his certainly has not been a failure. One thing done, and that done well, is better than a thousand begun and left unfinished.
As we entered the garden, and again as we left it, we drank some of the fresh cold water that flows out of the very heart of an olive, reminding us of him who is the true Olive, and who when on earth stood and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Each Christian, too, should have a well of water springing up within him, and rivers of living water flowing out from him, and so should be like this olive-fountain standing by the wayside, and inviting the inhabitants of the place, and all passers-by, to partake of the cooling stream. — On our way home we passed the cold part of the road, which is almost always in the shade as far as a rough cross, erected on a little mound, and thus felt the force of Mr. Spurgeon’s re-mark, “It is all cold till you come to the cross.” There is no warmth of light and life and love for a guilty sinner until he comes to the cross, and trusts in him who there died, “the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Dec. 24. — Christmas Eve at Mentone was made as much as possible like Christmas Eve at home, by a happy gathering around a huge Christmas tree, to the furnishing of which every guest had contributed more or less, and by addresses from the three ministers in the hotel, — not the least interesting of which was the one delivered by the Editor of The Sword and the Trowel, who on this evening, to the great delight of the whole company, appeared at the table d’hote for the first time after his enforced absence of several weeks. Dec. 25. — The weather being so bright and hot, we went for an excursion up the Gorbio Valley, at the entrance of which we saw some of the ingeniously-constructed houses of the trap-door spider. Since our return we have had the pleasure of reading a most charming book, (Harvesting Ants and Trap-door Spiders. Notes and observations on their habits and dwellings. By J. Traherne Moggridge.) in which the habits of these clever little insects and the equally wise harvesting ants are fully described It appears that there are in various parts of the world no less than 215 species of the trap-door spider, of which 36 belong to the Mediterranean region These Territelarioe, or under-ground weavers, as their name signifies, are so called because of the beautiful nests, sometimes twelve or fifteen inches long, which they make in the earth. The construction of these silken homes is very wonderful, especially so in the case of the double-branched nest in which the spider has one of its trap-doors by which it can escape along the free passage when one of the corridors of its house is invaded by an enemy.
The entrance to the nest is very carefully concealed by a door which on the outside is made to resemble as closely as possible the surrounding soil, and inside is lined with several folds of fine silk. During the daytime this door is usually kept closed, but at night the spider holds it a little way open, and watches for any stray ants, beetles, flies, or other insects that may come near. When one of them approaches close enough, Madame Cteniza or Nemesia, for the lord and master of the establishment is rarely to be seen, darts out her two forelegs, drags the unwilling captive into her pretty parlor, the door swings back on its hinges and closes up the nest, and the lady of the house and her family make as good a supper as they can of the prey that has been trapped. If it be possible, Mr. Moggridge’s description of the harvesting ants is more marvelous than what he writes concerning the trap-door spiders. He furnishes undoubted proof of the truth of Solomon’s words, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways and be wise; which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” They build granaries several inches underground, collect and store away their winter’s food in large quantities, and even take precautions to prevent the seeds they have gathered from germinating and so becoming unfit for them to eat.
Horses and carriages cannot go all the way up the glorious Val de Gorbe, as the little piece of highway that should unite the road from Mentone with that from Gorbio is left unfinished, although the trouble and expense of completing it would be slight compared with the amount which has been already laid out upon the part that is made. How exactly this is like a great deal of Christian work, which is all but completed, and yet the small portion that is unfinished spoils all the rest! Whether it was left incomplete through want of money, or from a lack of union on the part of the two parishes that here join, or from any other cause, there stands the unfinished road as a monument to the folly or obstinacy of some person or town unknown. The Christian worker who begins to build without counting the cost, or who leaves his work unfinished through a fit of jealousy or laziness, or a want of resolution or perseverance, must not be surprised if he becomes the object of the ridicule of those who suffer through his neglect. Some attempt too much, and achieve nothing; forgetting that a small thing completed is of more service than a large one left only half done. It is better to leave a finished cottage as a memorial of the builder’s industry and skill than an uncompleted castle at which every man will shake his head in scorn, and every boy will cast a stone in derision. Jesus said, “It is finished,” before he bowed his head and died, and each of his true disciples will seek to be able to say with him when rendering up his account to the Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
One of our favorite songs at Mentone was the lively chorus so well known at the Tabernacle: — “Let us walk in the light, Walk in the light; Let us walk in the light, In the light of God.” To-day we had a singular illustration of the appropriateness of this admonition. Mr. Spurgeon had told the coachman to return for us at three o’clock, forgetting that it was the depth of winter here, and that the days were almost as short as in foggy, frosty England; so about half-past one we made tracks home-wards, our one anxiety being to “walk in the light” till the carriage came to pick us up, well knowing that five minutes in the shade would probably mean five weeks more illness for the beloved pastor who had, we hoped, become convalescent. As the sun gradually descended behind the mountains we were compelled to descend the valley with him so as to keep in his warmth, for in the shade there was a hard frost. Through the good hand of our God upon us our object was attained, and the threatened danger averted; but our fears had taught us that spiritually our safety lies in walking in the light of God until the chariot comes to bear us to our home in the city that hath no need of the sun to shine in it, for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Those who would comfort themselves with the sweet words of the apostle John, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” must remember that there is a condition attached to the assurance, which is this — “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light.” Dec. 31. — One of the ladies of our party this morning was regretting that she had so few opportunities of speaking French, as almost every one in the hotel talked English. She made us think of the children of God who, having acquired the language of Zion, find but few of their friends or acquaintances who can converse with them in it. — A friend who had come over from Cannes to spend a day or two with us, told us of rather a good remark which he overheard in the railway carriage as he came along.
Some Americans were going to Monte Carlo, and as they were passing through one of the tunnels near that famous gambling place, one of them complained that there was no light in the carriage, when a lady who was with them observed that she supposed the railway, company knew that they loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Many a true word is spoken in jest. — We closed the year with a short praise and prayer-meeting, a little before midnight, in which about twenty friends of various denominations heartily united. Jan . 1, 1880. — This afternoon some of us went to the opening of the new schools, which Mr. Hanbury has erected for the children of the three parishes of Mortola, Grimaldi, and Ciotti. They are situated on the Corniche Road, just opposite the cross before mentioned. The position of the schools, and the surroundings of the inaugural ceremony were very suggestive, but we have only space just to mention the thoughts that passed through our mind, leaving our readers to work them out for themselves. We have no respect for emblems of themselves, but for once we will forget the superstition which has encrusted that of the cross, and use it in all simplicity. We felt that, as the school was to be for the children of the three villages, so in a higher sense all who would be truly educated must meet at the cross and learn there. We rejoiced that the people began the year by gathering at the cross, and we were especially charmed by the sight of a young mother nursing her babe beneath its shade. The proceedings were all conducted in Italian, but we could understand enough of what was said to make us wish “God-speed” to this most praiseworthy effort to supply the rising generation of this part of Italy with sound, unsectarian education, free from the interference of the priests. Jan. 4. — To-day we drove again to Bordighera, the city of palms, the place which is a good illustration of what a Christian should be, for it is “always in the light,” or at least it basks in the sunshine long after all the neighboring towns are enveloped in shade. On our way we stopped at Ventimiglia, and went in to see the old temple of Juno, which is now a Roman Catholic church. We also visited the Domo, but we were most of all interested in inspecting the ancient baptistery in the rear of the cathedral. This massive structure is similar to many others in Italy, which were built and used until men “changed the ordinance.” The whole appearance of the place proves that those who erected it contemplated nothing but the immersion of adults although a font with an extinguisherlike covering on the top of it has since been placed in the center, and even this has been discarded, for on the morning that we were there we saw a basin out of which the precious drops had been recently taken for the observance of man’s perversion of God’s ordinance. The baptistery at Ventimiglia is doubly interesting to the pastor of the Tabernacle Church, not only because of its testimony to the truth of his practice as a Baptist, but also from its having been the scene of a triumphant vindication of his principles. At a social gathering at Mentone, at which Mr. Spurgeon was present, a certain facetious gentleman gently ridiculed believers baptism. It was a matter of surprise to many that he did not at once get the answer that he might have been sure he would receive sooner or later. The party broke up, however, without anything having been said upon the question, but it was arranged that the next day all of them should visit Ventimiglia.
The other “lions” of the place having been examined, Mr. Spurgeon led the way to the baptistery in the crypt, and when all the company had gathered round the old man who was explaining the objects, Mr. Spurgeon said to his anti-immersionist friend, “Mr.____, you understand Italian better than any of us, will you kindly interpret for us what the guide is saying?” Thus fairly trapped, the assailant of the previous evening began, “This is an ancient baptistery. He says that in the early Christian church baptism was always administered by immersion, etc., etc.” The crypt at once rang with laughter, in which the interpreter joined as heartily as any one, admitting that he had been as neatly “sold” as a man well could be. He is not the only one who has been taught that the combatant who crosses swords with Mr. Greatheart may not find the conflict to his permanent advantage. (To be concluded in our next.)
NOTES ON Friday evening, May 14, the eleventh annual meeting of the
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE COUNTRY MISSION was held in the Lecture- hall under the presidency of C. H. Spurgeon. The Orphanage choir sang at intervals selections from Mr. Charlesworth’s Service of Song,” Valour and Victory.” Friends would find these “services” very useful for their choirs: they are cheap and excellent. The report referred to the fact that, through the agency of the mission, churches have been formed at Putney, Carshalten, Waltham-stow, and St. Mary Cray; and then described the present position of the work at Tooting, Southgate, Teddington, Bell Green, North Cheam, Pope Street, King’s Langley, Tiptree, Great Warley, Brent-wood, Stratford, and Isleworth. The treasurer, Mr. R. Hayward, read the balance-sheet for the year, which showed receipts £183 11s. 1/2d., and expenditure £167 3s. 0 1/2d. Special attention was called to the fact that the pastor had furnished £96 of the income of the mission, and requests were made that he should be somewhat relieved of this burden. If all churches would maintain a vigorous lay-agency, much might be done for districts destitute of the gospel, and the present distress would be greatly relieved.
The same work as that which is done by the Country Mission for the suburbs is done for London itself by our TABERNACLE EVANGELISTS’
ASSOCIATION, which held its meeting on Monday, May 24, in connection with the prayer-meeting. Mr. Elvin, the secretary, stated that in the five months since the beginning of the year 1,004 services had been conducted by members of the Association. The pastor cordially commended the work as one of the cheapest and most direct forms of carrying the gospel to the people. Messrs. Cox and Hunt gave interesting reports of their evangelistic labors. We have to find a large proportion of the money which is needed for the carrying on of this admirable effort, and we shall be very glad if more friends will share with us the privilege of supporting its operations.
We do not mention in this magazine the donations given to this work because our space is limited, but the mission is a labor of love to the workers themselves, and therefore there should never be any difficulty about the expenses of halls, bills, etc. Evangelists will visit any London churches which will write Mr. Elvin.
On Tuesday evening, June 1, we presided at a happy gathering in RYELANE BAPTIST CHAPEL,PECKHAM.
This was held for the double purpose of celebrating the anniversary of the pastor’s settlement, and presenting to Mr. Congreve, the superintendent of the Sunday-school, a bust of himself, executed by one of the members of the congregation. We were right glad thus to show our hearty love to a neighboring church, and our esteem for Mr. Congreve, towards whom we feel much gratitude because he has always cheerfully helped our sick poor, and we have seen among our members, our students, and our own servants the result of his medicine in relieving cases of sickness which had every appearance of consumption.
On Friday evening, June 4, the ROYAL HAND-BELL RINGERS, Polandsteer, London, gave an entertainment to the Tabernacle Sunday-school, as the commencement of a series of similar gatherings of Sunday-scholars.
The pastor presided, and at the close of the entertainment, expressed his hearty approval of the manner in which Mr. Duncan S. Miller and his merry men had combined useful moral lessons with the sweetest of music and the happiest of talk. No greater treat could be given to a Sabbath-school. It is important that our children should be attached to the school, first by its holy Scriptural teaching, and next by its becoming to them a place of cheerful enjoyment. Let pastors and teachers show the children that there are pleasures unalloyed by the roughness and sin which the people of the world too often mix with their mirth. Too often excursions have thrown the young into doubtful company, and we would beg all leaders of our schools to see that what is done in this direction really answers its end, and is not perverted to evil results.
On Monday evening, June 7, the annual meeting of the METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE MISSIONARY WORKING SOCIETY was held in the lecture-hall.
The pastor presided, and spoke in praise of the object of the society, which is to supply clothes to the families of poor pastors, missionaries, and colporteurs. Addresses were delivered by Pastor H. R. Brown (whose church has formed the first auxiliary of this society), and Messrs.W. Olney, J. W. Harrald, and Stubbs. We hope next month to give extracts from the annual report.
On Wednesday evening, June 9, the annual meeting of the SPURGEON’ S SERMONS TRACT SOCIETY was held in the Lecture-hall. The chair was taken by C. F. Allison, Esq., our last elected deacon; addresses were delivered by Messrs. Murrell, Cart, Charlesworth, Goldston, Perkins, and Dunn; Mr. Cornell’s report stated that upwards of 17,000 of the Pastor’s sermons had been circulated by the Society during the past year, many of them going to places where no gospel preacher is laboring. By supplying these sermons to those who lend them out from door to door their usefulness is greatly promoted. This is a capital idea, and it is vigorously carried out. Many of our readers may be glad to know that such a society exists; some may help, and on the other band some may be helped by it.
Write to Mr. Cornell at the Tabernacle.
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE FLOWER MISSION.
— Miss Higgs asks us to mention that flowers and texts are much needed for the Flower Mission.
She says: — “We have several applications from City Missionaries who find that the flowers give them an easy introduction into houses where otherwise they would not be received, and we are sorry not to be able to let them have as many as they want.” Hampers should be sent off, carriage paid, addressed to The Secretary of the Flower Mission, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, in time to arrive on Wednesday morning. Surely those who have an abundance in their gardens will help our poor Londoners to see a flower, and will aid our beloved sisters by this means to spread the sweetness and perfume of the Rose of Sharon. All cur societies delight us. Each one seems to be the best: but assuredly the Flower-mission is the pink of them all, or as the lily among all the beauties of the Tabernacle garden.
— During the past month Mr. G. Goodchild has accepted the pastorate of the church at Pole-street, Preston. Mr. A. Hewlett has removed from Shepton Mallet to Wick, N.B.; Mr. J. Markham from St.
Alban’s to Shefford, Beds.; and Mr. W. A. Davis from Melton Mowbray to Rushden. With all that is being done for the Orphanage we get a little jealous lest our first-born child, the College, should be forgotten. To train ministers must ever remain the noblest work to which we have been called.
There is none like it.
On Friday afternoons, June 4th, the students paid a fraternal visit to their brethren at the East London Institute, Harley House, Bow. The President of the Pastors’ College addressed the united assembly, and wished Mr. and Mrs. Guinness abundant blessing upon their noble work. It was a feast of true brotherly love.
The midsummer vacation will extend from June 24 to August 9. We have already filled up all vacancies that are likely to occur for some time, and therefore other applicants must wait awhile.
Our son Thomas sends us good news of his health.
Mr. H. Marsden, late of Mansfield, reports his happy settlement at Kew, “a very healthy place just outside Melbourne “; and sends good tidings of our brethren Clarke and Garrett. Mr. H. Wood informs us that his health is much improved, and that the Lord is blessing him at Saddleworth.
Our former student, Mr. Carey B. Berry, has been obliged to come home from Jamaica for a short time, on account of the state of his health. He is greatly benefited by the voyage, and is now collecting funds for necessary repairs and alterations to his chapel. He deserves to be kindly received and aided.
Mr. Lyall sends us an account of some of the difficulties that have to be encountered in the Cameroons, West Africa. Two of his native assistants were returning from Victoria, and when near home they encountered a tornado. The lightning struck the boat, and killed four of the eight men on board, including the two teachers, who were both excellent young men.
Some time later, Mr. Lyall himself had a somewhat similar experience, though providentially on that occasion no lives were lost. He was going to visit a place eighty miles distant, when his boat was caught in a tornado.
For nearly three hours they could do nothing but drive before the storm, and when it was over they were glad to rest and dry their clothes and provisions. During the night “the tail end of several tornadoes” swept over them, and in the morning they only escaped being destroyed by another by running out to sea, a proceeding which was accompanied with very great risk. We are not surprised to hear that “this settled the Batanga journey.”
Mr. Lyall says that he has been laid low with fever and dysentery twelve times, and that his wife has suffered so much from the same causes that she is obliged to return to England.
Mr. and Mrs. Richardson are holding on at Bakundu, but they suffer greatly from fever.
Mr. Maplesden reports that he is gradually getting acclimatized in Madras, after a very painful experience of tropical rheumatism, fever, dysentery, boils, and a slight sunstroke. Mr. and Mrs. Blackie have suffered in a similar manner, though to a smaller extent, in Bombay. We rejoice, however, to learn that, notwithstanding these drawbacks, good progress is being made in both these important Indian stations.
Mr. Mann writes us a full account of his two shipwrecks, and his two nights and two days upon the deep, and we are glad to learn that he has been able to telegraph to his parents from Cape Town, saying that he has arrived “Well.” Mr. Hamilton has already written to say that his friends will see that their new pastor shall be supplied with all he needs as far as it is in their power.
Mr. Batts has been presented with a plot of ground, and £100, towards the erection of a Baptist chapel at Walmer, Port Elizabeth. May South Africa become full of true gospel ministers!
— Messrs. Smith and Fullerton are still hard at work in Birmingham . One of our friends who has been with them says that the fifty days’ mission has brought a pentecostal blessing, and that the town is stirred to its very center.
Pastor G. T. Bailey writes of the services at Smethwick as follows: —” Large audiences have gathered each evening, and a steady work of conversion has been going on, for which we magnify the Lord. Not the least pleasing result of the work is the beneficial effect it has produced on the minds of Christians. Many wanderers have been brought back, and some who were suffering from spiritual declension have been restored.
When we see results like these it is a grand testimony to the power of the simple gospel as proclaimed by our brethren.
At Smallheath, Heneage Street, and Circles Street chapels the evangelists had crowded congregations, and many conversions; but the crowning blessing was reserved for the Town Hall and Curzon Hall meetings. Our brethren have had unusual difficulties to surmount in Birmingham, but the latest report from them is, “We have now reached high tide, but it is all of grace.” Just as we are making up the “notes,” Pastor W. G. Hailstone sends us a long and interesting account of the campaign at Birmingham. He mentions with special pleasure a service held in his chapel, at which working-men who do not usually attend any place of worship were present.
He says that the secret of the blessing that has rested upon the work is that every day at noon the lecture-hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association has been filled with believers, praying for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. His only fear in connection with the evangelists’ visit to “the metropolis of the Midlands” is that the thank-offering to be sent to our funds will not be at all proportionate to the good which has been received, in consequence of the great expense necessarily incurred in laying siege to such a large city.
Mr. Burnham is working away with his usual diligence and earnestness. He has had great blessing at Winslow, Naunton, Charlton Kings, and Long Melford, but we cannot spare space this month to mention the details of the services.
— The Girls’ Orphanage has made grand progress since last month’s magazine was issued. The general contributions up to the date of closing the lists, i.e. June 14th, amounted to £976 4s. 1d., which in addition to the other sums previously acknowledged — H. E. S. £500, and the Deacons £310, made a total received of £1,786 4s. 1d. Our list of promises now stands as follows: — C. H. Spurgeon, £500; Messrs.
Passmore and Alabaster, £500; H. E. S., a second £500; Samuel Barrow, Esq., £600; the Deacons, £690; W. R. Rickett, Esq., £1,000: so that up to the time of writing we see our way to more than £5,500 of the £11,100, which is the lowest contract for the first block of buildings. When the tenders were opened we found that our estimate of £8,000 was short of the mark, and therefore we arranged to leave for six months the erection of the houses at each end, so that we might engage to spend only £8,000. As funds are coming in, and it will be advantageous to build the whole at once, the entire block will be proceeded with. God has helped us, and he will.
The work can only be done by the hearty help of all our brethren, but this we feel sure the Lord will move them to render. Therefore the word is — “FORWARD.”
After writing this we are able to add another word. By God’s wonderful help we shall accomplish, we see clearly that we shall complete, this work with a leap if friends continue to do as they are now doing. Our heart is exceeding glad. Stockwell Orphanage Band of Hope. — On March 31, and April 7, two lectures were given by Professor G. R. Tweedie, on “The nature and properties of Alcohol,” and “Are Alcoholic Drinks Food?” Mr. Tweedie’s genial delivery, and his chemical experiments, rendered the lectures both amusing and instructive. The boys much enjoyed them.
— The general secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones, writes as follows:— Dear Mr. Spurgeon, — I am glad to be able to report that in two new districts £40 a year have been guaranteed for colporteurs. One is in the locality of Horley, in Surrey, and the other at Norwich, while we expect to start another at Islington in connection with our friend, Mr. F. A. Jones. As this addition to our staff will mean an increase of expenditure from the general fund, we hope that our friends will support our action in this extension by sending in at once liberal contributions. A gentleman who has had a colporteur for about six months, writes me to say: “I have seen him once a month and am quite satisfied, not only from his statements, but from other sources of information, that he is well qualified for his duties, and is discharging them most faithfully and successfully. He is most acceptable to the people. Altogether, I am most thankful to feel we have such a man in a neighborhood where there is most ample scope for his labors. I shall hope when I can see my way to apply to you for another man like him.” Thus the work is appreciated by those who see its efficiency and success, but it can only be maintained by regular and liberal aid to our general fund.
The following description by the colporteur himself shows how he can push his work in the most unlikely places. “Before commencing my labors in this district, I was determined to visit all public-houses as well as private ones. The first public-house I came to I entered, and sold some books, and spoke to the inmates upon the salvation of their souls, I have found it rather a hard task to gain the affection of some of the landlords, but I believe that in almost every case I succeeded in doing so before I left, and in most cases I sold them some books and received an invitation to call again. “In a village I entered a public-house. It was crowded with men, I must say of the ‘baser sort,’ many of whom seemed to have fallen as low as possible.
I could scarcely see across the room for tobacco smoke, but made my way into the midst of them, and called order in a kindly manner, and then apologized for intruding. The next thing I did was to try and make them understand that I was a friend, which I succeeded in doing. The poor men seemed astonished as I told them of the love of Jesus, and what he had done for them, and what he would do if they would only accept his offers of mercy. One man said, ‘Sir, we are not used to have men of your stamp coming into a place like this, and speaking of the love of Jesus.’ I then tried to show them that they were the very men Jesus died to save — he came to save the lost, and surely I must not be above bringing my Master’s message. I then sold them a great many Bibles and Testaments, and other good books, and went round and shook hands with them all, giving each a tract. I then proceeded to another public-house, and had much the same experience; sold out in pack.” In addition to such work as this, the colporteurs visit the sick and dying, canvass every accessible house to push the sale of books, and often give simple gospel addresses. We cannot all go as these men do, and visit the neglected and outlying districts, but we may help to support them in their work by our prayers and donations. The Secretary, Mr. W. Corden Jones, will attend to all communications directed to him at Pastors’ College, Temple Street, S.E.
PERSONAL NOTES. — A request to preach in Scotland was obliged to be declined, although it was pressed with this plea: — “We have a kind of right to this, for the fact is that you have to consider us part of your wide parish. Your sermons are regularly read among us. The various branches of your work are as well known here as in the immediate neighborhood of the Tabernacle. You and your work are remembered at the mercy seat by many who love the gospel, and have never had the pleasure of hearing you. Your name is dear among the households of this district. You are in a great measure our minister, and I do think that once in a lifetime a people have a right to ask that they see the face of their minister.”
Two young men in Wales write to tell us that they were led to commence a Sunday-school through reading our sermons. They began in two workmen’s houses, where they had on the first Sunday three scholars in one house, and two in the other. Soon they had to engage three more houses, and now they have erected and filled a building in which 250 can be taught; and they distribute weekly from eighty to ninety copies of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle. — April 12th, twelve; 29th, twenty; May 13th, fourteen; 27th, twenty-two; June 4th, twenty.
MR. FROTHINGTON’S SERMON BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“WELL,” said Brown, “there’s no finding fault with Mr. Frothington’s sermon this morning, for I am sure it had nothing in it which could offend anybody.” “True,” answered Smith, “there was nothing in the sermon to offend because there was nothing at all in it. It was the essence of vacuum, delivered with great elegance and dignity. Look at those holes which the swallows have made in the sandbank; take the sandbank away and you have the sermon which we have heard. When we were boys we used to talk of dining upon roast nothing and no turnips, and this morning’s sermon brought the meal vividly to mind: there was not a single thought in the whole discourse, from beginning to end. I do not believe that the greatest master of metaphysics could discern the thinnest possible thread of connection between the text and the sermon. Having given himself so wide a range the preacher ought to have imported some commodity from the east, west, north, or south; but he had neither drug nor diamond, cheese nor coffee, in the whole shop. He talked, and talked, and talked, and reminded me of the child’s windmill in the garden which goes round and round, but never grinds anything.”
Smith’s description of Frothington’s sermon may apply to a great many more besides that by which his Sunday was wasted. Benches grow very hard, and even the cushions have rocky lumps in them as we sit under certain ministries. It does not occur to dreary preachers that it is necessary that there should be real instruction in their prelections. If they ever felt that need they would dig, or beg, or borrow, or steal, or invent something or other, and would never have the face to come before an audience with an altogether empty mind. To us it seems to be a primary rule of homiletics that, however a sermon may be arranged, composed, and delivered, there ought to be something in it. It is an impertinence to call together a hundred or so of reasonable people, and invite them to sit still and listen, to the merest commonplaces: commonplaces so bare that one is ready to wish to be deaf that we might never hear them again. As the husband, when he saw the old dish brought up time out of mind, exclaimed, “Cold mutton again,” so might many patient hearers cry out against stale meat; only the dish is not so good as cold mutton. Some precious doctrine, some stimulating exhortation, some cheering experience, ought to be brought forward on every occasion. We are invited to a gospel feast, and there ought to be something to eat. No one has a right to invite his friends to dinner, and set them down to a bare board. However white the cloth, and neat the napkins, and clean the china, and bright the knives, empty dishes disappoint you. A sermon with nothing in it is worse than useless, and he who has delivered one such should feel that he has sinned too much already, and should offend no more. Our fear is that empty platitudes weary men of hearing the gospel, drive intelligent persons into heresy, and make sensible hearers either quite silly or half mad. Dear Mr. Frothington, in the name of all that is good and holy, do say something when you preach, or give up the business. Set up as a tailor, and make coats without cloth; but sermons without instruction in them should never be forced upon a Christian congregation.
JOHN PLOUGHMAN’S PICTURES WE have now in the press a second book by John Ploughman, which we think will amuse and interest our friends. At about the same time we shall issue a new edition of the first book, which will then make 300,000. It may be thought that such books are of small utility, but we have received continual evidence to the contrary. Persons who read the quaint proverbs of John Ploughman are induced to read Spurgeon’s sermons, and by this means are led to Christ, while others are helped on in the paths of temperance and thrift. “John Ploughman’s Pictures” is our new shilling book. We give a short specimen chapter: HE HAS AHOLE UNDER HIS NOSE AND HIS MONEY RUNS INTOIT.
This is the man who is always dry, because he takes so much heavy wet.
He is a loose fellow who is fond of getting tight. He is no sooner up than his nose is in the cup, and his money begins to run down the hole which is just under his nose. He is not a blacksmith, but he has a spark in his throat, and all the publican’s barrels can’t put it out. If a pot of beer is a yard of land, he must have swallowed more acres than a ploughman could get over for many a day, and still he goes on swallowing until he takes to wallowing. All goes down Gutter Lane. Like the snipe, he lives by suction.
If you ask him how he is, he says he would be quite right if he could moisten his month. His purse is a bottle, his bank is the publican’s till, and his casket is a cask: pewter is his precious metal, and his pearl (Purl.) is a mixture of gin and beer. The dew of his youth comes from Ben Nevis, and the comfort of his soul is cordial gin. He is a walking barrel, a living drainpipe, a moving swill-tub. They say, ‘loth to drink and loth to leave off,’ but he never needs persuading to begin, and as to ending — that is out of the question while he can borrow two-pence. This is the gentleman who sings — He that buys land buys many stones, He that buys meat buys many bones, He that buys eggs buys many shells, He that buys good ale buys nothing else.
He will never be hanged for leaving his drink behind him. He drinks in season and out of season: in summer because he is hot, and in winter because he is cold. A drop of beer never comes too soon, and he would get up in the middle of the night for more, only he goes to bed too tipsy. He has heard that if you get wet-footed a glass of whisky in your boots will keep you from catching cold, and he argues that the best way to get one glass of the spirit into each boot is to put two doses where it will run into your legs. He is never long without an excuse for another pot, or if perchance he does not make one, another lushington helps him. Some drink when friends step in, And some when they step, out; Some drink because they re thin, And some because they’re stout.
Some drink because ‘tis wet, And some because ‘tis dry; Some drink another glass To wet the other eye.
Water is this gentleman’s abhorrence, whether used inside or out, but most of all he dreads it taken inwardly, except with spirits, and then the less the better. He says that the pump would kill him, but he never gives it a chance. He laps his liquor, and licks his chaps, but he will never die through the badness of the water from the well. It is a pity that he does not run the risk. Drinking cold water neither makes a man sick, nor in debt, nor his wife a widow, but this mighty fine ale of his will do all this for him, make him worse than a beast while he lives, and wash him away to his grave before his time. The old Scotchman said, ‘Death and drink-draining are near neighbors,’ and he spoke the truth. They say that drunkenness makes some men fools, some beasts, and some devils; but according to my mind it makes all men fools whatever else it does. Yet when a man is as drunk as a rat he sets up to be a judge, and mocks at sober people. Certain neighbors of mine laugh at me for being a teetotaller, and I might well laugh at them for being drunk, only I feel more inclined to cry that they should be such fools. O that we could get them sober, and then perhaps we might make men of them. You cannot do much with these fellows, unless you can enlist them in the Coldstream guards. As long as drink drowns conscience and reason, you might as well talk to the hogs. The rascals will promise fair and take the pledge, and then take their coats to pledge to get more beer. We smile at a tipsy man, for he is a ridiculous creature, but when we see how he is ruined body and soul, it is no joking matter. How solemn is the truth that “No drunkard shall inherit eternal life.”
There’s nothing too bad for a man to say or do when he is half-seas over.
It is a pity that any decent body should go near such a common sewer. If he does not fall into the worst of crimes it certainly is not his fault, for he has made himself ready for anything the devil likes to put into his mind. He does least hurt when he begins to be topheavy, and to reel about: then he becomes a blind man with good eyes in his head, and a cripple with legs on.
He sees two moons, and two doors to the public-house, and tries to find his way through both the doors at once. Over he goes, and there he must lie unless somebody will wheel him home in a barrow or carry him to the police-station.
Solomon says the glutton and the drunkard shall come to poverty, and that the drinker does in no time. He gets more and more down at the heel, and as his nose gets redder and his body is more swollen he gets to be more of a shack and more of a shark. His trade is gone, and his credit has run out, but he still manages to get his beer. He treats an old friend to a pot, and then finds that he has left his purse at home, and of course the old friend must pay the shot. He borrows till no one will lend him a groat, unless it is to get off lending a shilling. Shame has long since left him, though all who know him are ashamed of him. His talk runs like the tap, and is full of stale dregs: he is very kind over his beer, and swears he loves you, and would like to drink your health, and love you again. Poor sot, much good will his blessing do to anyone who gets it; his poor wife and family have had too much of it already, and quake at the very sound of his voice.
Now, if we try to do anything to shut up a boozing-house, or shorten the hours for guzzling, we are called all sorts of bad names, and the wind-up of it alt is — “What! Rob a poor man of his beer?” The fact is that they rob the poor man by his beer. The ale-jug robs the cupboard and the table, starves the wife and strips the children; it is a great thief, housebreaker, and heartbreaker, and the best possible thing is to break it to pieces, or keep it on the shelf bottom upwards. In a newspaper which was lent me the other day I saw some verses by John Barleycorn, jun., and as they tickled my fancy I copied them out, and here they are. “What! rob a poor man of his beer, And give him good victuals instead; Your heart’s very hard, sir, I fear, Or at least you are soft in the head. “What! rob a poor man of his mug, And give him a house of his own; With kitchen and parlor so snug! ‘Tis enough to draw tears from a stone. “What! rob a poor man of his glass, And teach him to read and to write!
What! save him from being an ass! ‘Tis nothing but malice and spite. “What! rob a poor man of his ale, And prevent him from beating his wife, From being locked up in a jail, With penal employment for life. “What! rob a poor man of his beer, And keep him from starving his child!
It makes one feel awfully queer, And I’ll thank you to draw it more mild.”
HOLY SERVICE ON BEHALF OF POORMINISTERS. THE Christian love of the church meeting in the Tabernacle manifests itself in many ways. Like the tree of life in the celestial city, it bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields its fruit every month. One of its least known but most useful developments is the society for providing garments for the families of poor ministers. This grew out of an association which made up boxes of clothing for foreign missions, and the society has not altogether forsaken its first love, for this year it has sent out two parcels to Delhi for the native girls of the mission in that city. The home need has however been so pressingly felt that raiment has been given with no stinted hand to the households of forty-eight ministers, and five colporteurs; this raiment consisting not only of flannel and linen garments, to which ladies’ needles contribute so much, but comprising hats, coats, boots, and apparel of all kinds, to meet the varied wants of the families assisted; to this should be added 666 yards of dress material for the ministers’ wives to make up in their own way. These gifts have exceeded in value the sum of £240, and how many pounds’ worth of pleasure and comfort they have bestowed our ready-reckoner does not enable us to estimate.
To many brethren it seems a very humiliating fact that any of our ministers should be in need of clothing, and we agree with them that in every instance in which the pastor’s poverty is caused by a want of liberality in the people, it is humiliating, not to say disgraceful. Such cases there are, and we grieve ever them. We know useful, earnest, and successful preachers, whose people might with ease double their stipends at once, but it never occurs to them to think upon the matter. The salary given is not equal to the wages of an artisan, and the poor pastor is pinched and cramped, and forced to great deprivations, in his endeavor to avoid the dishonor of debt. His table is poorly furnished, his library is bare, his coat is shabby, and his heart is heavy, and yet he is surrounded by an affectionate people, who never think upon the fact that he is half starved, for if they did think of it they would alter it at once. Farmers who grow nearly all that they consume in their own housekeeping are very apt to set a high value upon money, and judge the minister to be well off on £80 or £100 a year, because they unconsciously assume that he has no more to buy than they have, whereas every morsel that he eats has to be purchased out of the scanty quarter’s allowance. The evil is caused by want of thought, and not by want of heart: it is caused, however, and the sooner the want of thought comes to an end the better for all concerned. How we wish that in every congregation some one good man or godly woman would have a mission, and that mission the poor pastor’s decent maintenance. It would roll away a great reproach from many a church if the minister, whose spirit is crushed by poverty, could be cheered by a sufficiency, and so delivered from the gnawing care which eats up a man’s energy, and makes his ministry as lean as himself.
At the same time while we would not needlessly make any man a martyr, it is no dishonor to the church that when sacrifices are needed she has selfdenying men ready to make them. It is the glory of a poor denomination that its gifted sons are willing to accept her ministry and the hard fare which it involves. Where the scantiness of the population and the poverty of the church necessitate a choice between a poor minister or none, it is an honorable fact that gracious men are to be found who for the joy of serving Christ Jesus their Lord are ready to endure hardness. Were there no such willing sufferers the gospel might lack one of its most convincing proofs, but these men set before the most careless an argument of self-denying enthusiasm which the candid are unable to resist.
It is plainly the duty of Christian people to help those who for the Lord’s sake are bearing the burden and heat of the day. They have given the most conclusive evidence of their sincerity, and they ought not to be allowed to bear a single ounce more of pressure than the necessities of the case lay upon them. If any needy ones in all the world ought to be relieved, these are among the first claimants. Here there can seldom be imposition, for we know the men and their communications. Their want does not arise from vice or extravagance; their incomes are well known, and their expenses can be accurately gauged, and hence there is no danger that any will receive too much. Our brethren in the ministry ought not to be allowed to want any necessary, and assuredly they should not be left short of raiment, for this is likely to bring a public reproach upon them and upon their churches.
If an appeal were made to any one of our readers for any minister whom they know, and a little shoeless child of his family were pointed out, we are sure that no Sword and Trowel friend would be able to refuse help; yet there are hundreds of godly preachers in such a plight, and it needs no great imagination to realize their daily tribulations. The wife, too, has to take the heaviest share of the load, and it is easy to picture the anxious mother who sees the youngsters’ garments dissolving in rags, feels her own weary heels very near the ground, and marks her husband’s Sunday coat descending from stage to stage of seediness. What is to be done for the poor lady? Help the good woman at once is the universal answer. But how is it to be done? Sympathy is all very well, but it is only worth as much as the metal which can be melted out of it.
Our excellent Mrs. Evans and a hearty band of working ladies have made this dire necessity the subject of their thoughts, and something practical has come of their meditations, for they have rigged out 236 children, and made 1,848 garments for them and their mothers. The ministers themselves have been enabled to keep up a decent appearance by being supplied with new coats and other apparel, and thus all the members of the family have rejoiced together, often wondering how the clothing should have been made to fit them so well, without their having been measured for it. No one who has spent all his lifetime in easy circumstances can readily conceive the joy which the receipt of a parcel of clothing will bring into a poor minister’s household; we cannot convey a better idea of it than by quoting from letters received during the past year of the Society’s operations. J.C. writes:—“Last evening on my return home from preaching I found to my joy that the parcel had arrived quite safe, and had you seen how I was met by my dear children, and welcomed home to share their joy, you would not have easily forgotten it. The youngest came running to me saying ‘the parcel is come, the parcel is come’: all were full of joy and glee, and, though it was crowing late, sleep had departed from them. No Christmas festivities could have filled a home with greater merriment and gladness than mine was filled with last night: the dear children clapped their hands again and again, and my dear wife and myself joined most heartily with them. And now, here comes a pause, for I know not how to write the remainder of this letter. I am at a loss: to say ‘thank you’ is easily done, but to use words to convey my feelings, and those of my dear wife, is quite impossible. We are filled with gratitude, and please accept our warmest and most sincere thanks for your valuable and seasonable present.” J.E.S. says: — “Your letter arrived this morning. The list was too much for us, and moistened eyes and a fall heart hindered my reading it aloud to my dear wife; but when the parcel came even our babe crowed with delight, at seeing its parents so happy. Truly these things cause great joy; prayer has been answered, Matthew 6:30 has been fulfilled, and I have a reply to unbelieving fears. The articles sent are just what we needed, and we are all well clothed without getting into debt, blessed be God; and, lastly, the loving and sympathizing way in which our appeal for aid has been met has endeared the friends of the Tabernacle to us, and led us to trust in and thank our promise-keeping Father, who has not and will not forsake us in our times of difficulty. We do most heartily thank you. If the friends to whom God has given much only knew the burden they lift from our shoulders through your noble society, and the pleasure they give us in this way, you would soon be deluged with materials from loving hearts who would feel that it was more blessed to give than to receive.”
Those who would like to have a finger in this pie can do so in several ways. “Money answereth all things,” and it can be forwarded in various forms to
MRS.EVANS,METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, but articles of clothing are equally valuable, and so are materials. Some of our shop-keeping friends help much by contributions of goods; and others might do the same if they would send on remnants and articles which are out of fashion: poor ministers wives care little enough how people are being dressed in Paris, so long as they can appear decently among the good people of Little Silkington. One Welsh friend among other valued gifts sent a number of waterproof coats, and perhaps no gifts have been so welcomed as these by the ministers. A man who has many miles to tramp over country roads is glad to be spared the misery of getting wet through, and preaching in his damp clothes. It is certainly bad for the parson to be dry in the pulpit, but he thinks it no improvement to be wet before he gets to it. Remnants do not long remain unused if they once drift into the hands of Mrs. Evans and her armed band — armed we mean with scissors and needles, and fastgoing sewing machines. Even half-worn suits are not despised, but they are not so good as new, and when they get beyond the half-way house, and are nearly worn out, they are more suitable for other needy ones than for ministers. No fault will be found whatever the gifts may be: the best will be made of them, — all donors may be sure of that.
Perhaps these few words will find out and stir up some other workers like Mrs. Evans in other churches, who will do the like service to preachers of small incomes. If so, this mode of doing good will soon be carried on to the full of the demand; and it will be well for the good ladies to be in communication with each other, so that none of our worthy brethren may be left out in the cold, and none may have double turns till help has gone all round. Mrs. Evans will, we know, be very glad to be communicated with.
These remarks of ours will bring her quite a company of applicants for her parcels; we only hope that there will be a balance kept up by an equal force of donors coming to the rescue.
NOTES DURING the early part of July the Editor has been resting at the hospitable mansion of James Duncan, Esq., of Benmore. Two services upon the Lawn were attended by great masses of people from the country all around, and from the example of former years it is hoped that many were led to Jesus by hearing the word of God in the sweet eventide of the Sabbath beneath the open arch of heaven.
We have been persuaded by many friends to remove to a dwelling upon higher ground, and therefore we have resolved to rise to “Westwood,” Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood. Towards the end of this month all letters should bear the new address. On the top of the Delectable Hill we trust that the fresh breezes may tend to give health and prolong life. “If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.”
On Friday evening, July 2, the teachers and friends associated in celebrating the Robert Raikes’ Centenary concluded the week’s proceedings by meeting at the Lord’s table in the Tabernacle. Brethren from many lands were there, of various languages, and of differing Christian denominations, but the prayers and praises of the evening proved that one Spirit was in all and over all. United in one body and living with one object, it was must fitting that these believers in Jesus should meet at the great family feast, and openly declare their common love to the one glorious sacrifice. Christ has not two bodies, but one body. neither are there two lives within the body, but one only. Where there is life in a body there must of necessity be fellowship: the hand cannot refuse to commune with the foot, nor the foot with me eye; it is not a matter of choice but a necessity of vitality. All the members of the mystical body of Christ which are in a healthy condition are in constant communion the one with the other, because they are in fellowship with the one living Head, and his life fills the whole system. This blessed fact of the abiding fellowship of all spiritual men is very dear to us in these times of strife and division. The prayer of Jesus was heard, and all those whom the Father gave him are one even as he is one with the Father.
— During the past month several of Our brethren have sailed for the United States or Australia. Our colored brother, Mr. T. L. Johnson, whose health has become re-established during his stay in England, has returned to Chicago; and Mr. J. Wilkins, late pastor of the church at Maidenhead, has gone to Boston, U.S.A. Messrs. McKinney and W. Ostler after taking rest here are now returning to the States. Mr. F.G. Buckingham, of Woodborough-road church, Nottingham; Mr. G. W. Pope, recently assistant minister with Mr. Silverton, at Exeter-hall, Nottingham; and Mr. D. M. Logan, an earnest brother, who for a time attended certain of the College classes, have all left this country with the hope of finding suitable spheres at the Antipodes. It gives us much pleasure to commend them to the friends with whom their lot may be cast: they are all good men and true. Mr. Logan will probably pursue his business and preach the gospel too: the more of such laborers the better.
Mr. J. N. Rootham is removing from Stourbridge to Barnstaple. Mr. E.H. Edwards, one of our Medical Missionary Students, has recently passed the final examination for the degree of Bachelor of Medicine at Edinburgh University.
The following students have just accepted pastorates: — Mr. S. Lyne, Chenies, Bucks; Mr. W. Sexton, Boston; and Mr. H. C. Lake, East Street, Southampton.
Our students are away for the holidays. We have some twenty fresh men coming in August. This first work of ours in training men for the ministry still retains the first place in our heart. Nothing can be more important than to fill the pulpits with earnest men who love the gospel of Jesus. Our friends will not, we hope, permit the College to languish. Natural humanity leads many to help an Orphanage who would never aid a College, and it is therefore mainly to intelligent Christians that we must look for aid in this enterprise, — we say” intelligent” because there are many pious people who still seem to think that ignorance is a better qualification for the ministry than knowledge. We believe that only the Spirit of God can make a minister or cause saving results to follow upon ministry, but we conceive that a good education is a valuable talent which grace can enable a man to use both for the glory of God and the profit of the church. Those who hold sound doctrine ought to know how to defend it in these evil days. We have from time to time raised the standard of our students’ education in accordance with the growing knowledge of the age, but we remain entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit even as aforetime. If learning necessarily took men off from dependence upon God we should loathe it, but so far as we can see, ignorance and self-confidence have considerable affinity, while grace makes men humble, however much they know.
— Messrs. Smith and Fullerton have been resting for the past month, both of them having been nearly exhausted by their long and successful campaign at Birmingham. Nothing can be more encouraging than the success of these beloved brethren. Ministers of all the Christian denominations in Birmingham rejoice in their labors, and are now ingathering their converts. Some twelve hundred gave in their names as having obtained a blessing. These names, with the addresses, were forwarded to the different pastors that they might look after them. Thus our evangelists work with the churches and for the churches. Aid will soon be needed for this branch of service, which the Lord has made to yield abundant fruit.
Mr. Burnham, in conjunction with our venerable friend Jonathan Grubb, of Sudbury, and Pastor J. Kemp, of Bures, has recently laid siege to three Suffolk villages — Melford, Lavenham, and Glemsford. Every evening for a fortnight congregations numbering from three to eight hundred gathered in the open-air or halls, and listened with eager interest to the word of life.
One of the chief workers at the services was a man who was converted during the evangelist’s previous visit. Many other instances of blessing were brought under Mr. Burnham’s notice. Our brother reports that these villages are ripe for evangelistic effort, and the enthusiasm evoked is really marvelous. The only opposition came flora a church clergyman, a hyper- Calvinist minister, and the performers at a circus! Successful services have since been held by Mr. Burnham at Driffield, Nafferton, Scarborough, (where he found many gracious evidences of the work of Messrs. Smith and Fullerton), Cranswick, Hull, Southwell, Cheltenham, Charlton Kings, and Sheepshed. Most of these engagements were either anniversary services or evenings of sacred song, as circumstances were scarcely favorable for a long series of meetings. The usefulness of Mr. Burnham is attested in all places. We were pleased to see the newspaper of the Society of Friends highly commending his work.
Mr. Parker has been spending his holidays in the north of Ireland, holding evangelistic services. We trust our friends in that region will lend him their aid. May God bless all such workers!
— When we made up the “Notes” for last month’s magazine we were able to report the receipt of contributions and promises amounting to about half the £11,100 needed for the first block of buildings. Most of our readers are already aware from other sources that before June closed we had not merely half but more than three-quarters of the sum required; and all will rejoice with us that at the present time we have considerably over £10,000 in hand or pro-raised for this object. Monday, June 21. This memorable day was observed at the Tabernacle as a day of supplication and thanksgiving. It was the time set apart, in connection with the College Conference, for special simultaneous prayer all over the country, and at morning, noon, and night many found it good to be with our brethren at the throne of grace. It was agreed that the day of prayer should be a day of thankoffering, and throughout the livelong day we sat at the receipt of free-will offerings from our beloved people. It was a day to make a man die of joy and gratitude. The friends poured in continually, each one bringing a gift to the Orphanage. The amounts as a rule were small, but when they were counted up we found that over £900 had been added to the funds. This was done most lovingly, for in every case kind words went with the gift. We felt exhausted with excess of blessing. The poorest gave as gladly as the richest: all felt it to be a joy to bring the Lord a portion, and where self-denial was needed to accomplish it the joy was all the greater.
On reaching home that evening the first letter we opened contained a promise of £600, and we went to our chamber half dead with the excitement of the day, and burdened with a sense of unworthiness of mercy so great and love so generous. Tuesday, June 22, was the day fixed for the Annual Fete at the Orphanage, and the laying of the first stones of four of the girls’ houses. During the greater part of the morning heavy showers threatened to overthrow our plans, but by-and-by the sun shone out again, and the only effect of the rain was to keep away a few friends, for whom we otherwise could scarcely have found accommodation. The afternoon proceedings commenced with a procession of the orphan boys and girls, headed by the band of the Children’s Home, Victoria Park. At three o’clock a dense crowd gathered around the memorial stones. Prayer having been offered by the Rev. Canon Hussey, Rector of Christ Church, Brixton, the President explained that the first stone to be laid was that of “The Sermon House,” which was to be the joint gift of himself, the author of the sermons, and Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, the publishers. The stone was then duly laid by Mrs. Spurgeon, who used the same silver trowel which she employed at the foundation of “The College House” of the Boys’ Orphanage on June 19, 1868. It was a great joy to see the beloved sufferer thus able once more to appear in public. All the Tabernacle friends were the happier for her brief presence.
Mr. Spurgeon himself laid the next stone, that of “The Limes,” erected by Mr. W. R. Rickett in memory of five beloved children; and in doing so, called special attention to this practical and useful way of making a memorial, and of manifesting a holy submission to the Lord’s will. Mr. Samuel Barrow had promised £600 towards the erection of a house, but not satisfied with this noble contribution he asked for a number of collecting books, and went to work in such admirable style that, as will be seen by the cash lists, he has made up the amount from himself and his friends to between £1,600 and £1,700. After Mr. Barrow had addressed the assembly, the Vice-president introduced Mrs. Barrow, who then laid the stone of “The Olives.” Our honored Treasurer, Mr. Win. Higgs, had been selected to lay the first stone of “The Trustees’ House,” and in doing so he explained that the Trustees had promised to defray the entire cost of the house, schoolroom, paving, draining, etc., their contribution in the aggregate amounting to £2,220. Mr. Wm. Olney then delivered one of his stirring speeches, and the afternoon engagements concluded with the doxology and benediction.
It was a second day of joyful excitement to the Pastor and President, who found himself utterly spent. The love of the people displayed itself in eager rushes to give their contributions to him. Assuredly no crowd was ever more eager to receive an alms than these friends were to give of their substance to the Institution for poor orphan girls.
In the evening the rain again descended, but a large open-air meeting was held under the presidency of Mr. Barrow and two other meetings were held in the covered play-hall and the dining-hall, Messrs. James Stiff and Wm. Olney being the respective chairmen. It is hardly possible to tell even the names of all the speakers, as we had to run from one gathering to another, and give a short address at each, but as far as we can remember, the following ministers took part in the meetings: — The President, C.H. Spurgeon; the Vice-president, J. A. Spurgeon; the President’s father and son, J. and C. Spurgeon; and the Revs. Charles Bullock B D., H. Sinclair Paterson, M.D., Newman Hall, LL.B., G. B. Ryley, A. G. Brown, andW. Cuff. The proceedings of the day were brought to a close by a capital concert by the members of the Southwark Choral Society, under the able leadership of Mr. Courtenay.
An analysis of our building fund lists shows that the following is our present financial position:- Received for “The Sermon House,” C.H. Spurgeon, £500; Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, £500: received for “The Olives.” Mr. Samuel Barrow and friends, £1,623 8s. 7d.: received for “The Trustees’ House,” £1,570 promised by trustees £650: received towards general building expenses, £3,627 3s. 7d. Promised, W. R. Rickett Esq., £1,000; A Friend, £600; and various smaller amounts, £131 5s. 0d., making a total of £10,201 17s. 2d., in addition to bricks, slates, timber, etc., from various donors. We have, therefore, felt perfectly justified in giving the order for the erection of the end houses, which we had postponed, and as soon as possible we shall arrange for the laying of the two memorial stones, when we hope the remaining £1,000 to complete the contract will be in hand or promised. Surely after doing so much our readers will not let us ask again for the last thousand. A splendid instance of the power of willinghood only needs the finishing stroke. Glory be to God for ever and ever. Our heart rejoices in the Lord.
— Mr. Jones writes: “The only note of progress this month is in connection with the appointment of a colporteur for the new district of Arundel, Sussex, where he will work under the superintendence of Rev.R. Halley, the Congregational minister. We trust that much blessing will accompany the effort in this very promising field of labor. I should like. also, to say that I fear some of the readers of The Sword and the Trowel are misled by the large sums which often appear under the heading of District Subscriptions, and imagine that our Association is very well off for funds: but it should be remembered that the larger the sum total of subscriptions for districts, the more we have to add from our General Fund, which at the present time is much behind the average receipts.”
— The following testimony comes from Pennsylvania :— “Dear Brother, — Your sermons have always proved a blessing to me. I am a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, trying to work for the Master. In dark seasons your words have brought light.
Encouragement follows in the wake of discouragement, and illumes my soul with heavenly beams. Others in our town and community, who read your sermons, find them to be a source of joy and comfort to their souls.
Your words are heavily freighted with good news from the heavenly country, bringing with them refreshing seasons from the Lord. My dear Christian mother reads them with delight, treasures them in her heart, and feasts upon them, especially the sermon, ‘A woman of a sorrowful spirit’ (No. 1515).”
Similar tidings reach us from Kansas : — “My dear sir and brother, — though never seen, yet greatly loved, in the blessed Lord. Pray pardon me, a poor American missionary, the few years of whose life-service have been given to the home missionary work, sometimes in the city and sometimes in the country, for craving a little of your time to say how much real food for his soul he has received from your discourses. They have, whenever I could get them, afforded me delight and edifying next to the blessed Word itself, notwithstanding I am a Methodist; and I have felt sure that the few of your sermons, lectures, and various articles which have fallen into my hands, were so many extra blessings from the kind Father. They are greatly prized, and well taken care of; some time since a friend who once sat under your ministry gave me some copies of The Sword and the Trowel, which I greatly prize.”
Pastor W. Norris, of Calcutta, sends us the following letter from one of his friends: — ‘‘My dear Mr. Norris, — To understand the little episode of which I spoke, you will need to be informed of our situation and circumstances at the time. It was about June, 1857, a little after the first terrible outbreak at Meerut. At Barrackpore, sixteen miles from Calcutta, were five native regiments. We had a full regiment of Sepoys in the city, called the Calcutta militia; and Sepoys partly garrisoning the fort and on guard at the mint. Our European force was half a regiment in the fort, and a half at Dum Dum, to whom the government would not deal out ball cartridges. The authorities were dallying with the danger, pooh-poohing every warning, and assuming an attitude of supine indifference. They refused to arm us, or allow us to organize ourselves for the de-fence of our wives and children, and declined our offers of volunteering. They even mocked our anxiety by inviting us to swear ourselves in as special constables, and ordered us a supply of wooden staves to meet disciplined troops armed with muskets and bayonets! “In these circumstances the Sepoys at Barraekpore laid plot after plot for the sack of Calcutta. The time fixed upon was when the native guards at the fort and over the mint used to be relieved, for at such times the relieving Sepoys and the relieved Sepoys formed together twice the usual number. A rocket discharged into the air was the preconcerted signal to apprise their confederates in Calcutta of their approach, and in two or three hours the city would have swarmed with bloodthirsty mutineers, whose numbers would have been swollen by prisoners let loose from the gaols, the fanatic Mahommedan population about town, and all the rabble and canaille who were waiting to repeat the atrocities of Meerut and other places. “Sunday after Sunday was appointed for the execution of the plot, and Sunday after Sunday were their hopes disappointed — and how? Not by the wisdom of men, for we were in profound ignorance of this at the time; but by the watchfulness of those ‘eyes’ which ‘run to and fro throughout the whole earth,’ to show the Lord strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect towards him. The means employed were the periodically recurring thunderstorms, which used to take place exactly at the time when the designs of the mutineers were to have been developed. It was on one of these occasions, on a Sunday evening, when the rain was pouring in torrents, and the dense darkness of the night was only relieved by vivid flashes of lightning, and we were prevented from going to chapel, where indeed there was no meeting held on account of the weather, that we agreed to meet around the domestic altar, and to enjoy one of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons. Little did we know how close was the terrible danger which the storm was averting. Many of my dear wife’s family lived with me, and one of us read a sermon by Mr. Spurgeon on Providence. It was a wonderful sermon, and it did us yeoman service. It brought God close to us, and made us feel that the divine arm was closing in around us. Twentythree years have elapsed since then, and yet some of the words of that discourse have not been forgotten, so deep was their impression, and so spirit-stirring their tones of lofty cheer. Even now, at this distance of time, they are as fresh in my recollection as if I had heard them but yesterday.
We heard, as it were, the rush of the mighty wings of Providence, like those of a guardian angel, sweeping past us. Mr. Spurgeon closes a magnificent passage with the following apostrophe, which thrills me even now as I recall it: ‘Providence, thou ever rollest on; thy revolving wheels never cease their everlasting circles!’ The unconscious truth which lay in these words, and their singular adaptation to our surroundings at the time, were profoundly, yet somewhat after a mystic fashion, felt by us then; it was only afterwards that they were clearly discerned and fully appreciated, and we saw eventually how the wheels of Providence had indeed revolved for our safety, and borne us beyond the reach of imminent peril.”
An Indian agent of the London Missionary Society writes: — “In common with many all over the world I have long been a reader of your sermons.
Your fifteen-hundredth came to hand a short time ago, and I read it to a delighted European and native audience here a Sunday or two since. A few days subsequent to that I had a visit from a young Brahmin graduate, a B.A. of the Madras University, to whom I had previously given some of your sermons to read. I gave him ‘Number 1,500,’ and to-day he has sent it back with a note which is somewhat of a curiosity, and, as such, I have resolved to send it to you. I think you will be pleased as well as a little amused with this Brahmin’s critique; so excuse my taking this liberty. I wish I had two or three hundred of your fifteen-hundredth for educated Hindus.”
The following is the critique referred to: — “Dear sir, I send by the bearer the sermons you gave me the other day. The few minutes I have been reading these sermons daily were spent very agreeably. I always considered Dr. Spurgeon the best orator. I see even the best can improve; as Dr. Spurgeon excels all orators, so his fifteen-hundredth sermon excels all his other sermons. I doubt very much whether himself can deliver such another sermon, but that is going too far. I envy those that hear personally Dr. Spurgeon preach.”
O that God would by the sermon convert many of all nations, and he who is no doctor will be willing to be called either an orator or a babbler if men are but saved.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle: June 17th, eleven: July 1st, twentyone.