HOW TO ATTRACT A CONGREGATION AN ADDRESS BY MR. SPURGEON TO HIS STUDENTS. NOW PUBLISHED ON BEHALF OF THE TIMES.
NEWSPAPERS are not always edited by Solomons, or if they are, the father is frequently out of the way, and his son Rehoboam manages the business.
Silly seasons occur with journals as well as with other terrestrial concerns.
Among the absurd articles which have appeared lately, I noticed one which gravely asserted that in our colleges young ministers are taught everything but their main business: that main business being the art of attracting a congregation. Is not that a remarkably wise remark? Surely, a Daniel has at last come to judgment. Not taught how to attract a congregation. What a grievous omission! Surely a subscription should be commenced, and a chair founded for this neglected department of practical theology. Who shall occupy the aforesaid chair? Let us hope it will be a good arm-chair, well made, and daintily stuffed for the benefit of the professor who is to sit in it: but what will he do in return for his endowment? What text-book will he use? Into what divisions will he apportion his scientific observations? I am lost in conjecture. Assuredly, I am not a candidate for the proposed office.
It might not be easy to nominate a professor unless we proposed to confer the office upon the genius who first started the idea. In the absence of a seconder, our proposal falls to the ground, and the dignity is open to competition.
What little I have to say will run in the unscientific direction. It is important that people should be attracted to hear the gospel, but each man must go his own way to work about it. His taste, moral and spiritual; his sense of the decent and becoming; and his own personal position and character, must suggest to his zeal how far it should go, and in what ways it should work. There are things legitimate and things questionable, and herein we must be a law unto ourselves. To lay’ down arbitrary rules and give uniform directions would be ridiculous; and even to make the attracting of crowds an object, would be a ‘wretched business unworthy of a Christian minister. One thing, however, I may assert on my own behalf in dealing with this business: I cannot be suspected of over-delicacy or narrowness as to methods of winning the popular ear. Honestly, I am prepared to go a long way myself, and to let others go a great deal further. I am so anxious that men should hear the gospel and be saved that I would rather commend than censure the originalities and eccentricities of sincere soul-winners. Mr. Whitefield once said of his own times, “We must be disorderly or useless.”
In that case, I for one should have no hesitation as to which to choose.
Rampant disorder is preferable to decorous perdition. I should be false to my own life and to my most cherished convictions if this were not true of me. I think if I cry out against any form of procedure there must really be a cause. So far as I know my own heart, I am prepared to rejoice in the success of any man living who sincerely serves the cause of Christ, and I am ready to put up with a world of things which I could not myself endorse; and yet at this time I must speak, even if I be charged with bitterness. Evils past bearing are multiplying upon us.
If you want to know how to distract a congregation, you have only to go to the great drum-thumping establishments, and hear for yourself how noise can be glorified. Outside of those emporiums instruments of brass are in full blast, with their still small voices proclaiming peace on earth, good will toward men. To put it more plainly, the age of the tin-kettle and the banjo has arrived, and with these weapons of our warfare the strong-holds of evil are to be thrown down. In certain districts the Sabbath is made hideous, the streets are rendered dangerous, and quiet is banished, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and with the view of attracting the masses to Him.
The design is admirable, the method intolerable. Among our natural rights and liberties there is one which is in some danger in these turbulent days, and that is the right of occasionally being free from the banging of drums and the blaring of trumpets in the open streets. A contemporary has been asked: “Can a man belong to a brass band and be a Christian?” It replies, “We see no impediment in the way; but if he is a member of a brass band, and is given to practicing on his cornet or trombone at home, it is an impossibility for the man next door to be a Christian.” This verdict is one in which I heartily coincide, only I extend it a little further, and include the equal difficulty of displaying a Christian temper when Salvation Bands go banging through the streets day after day. A tremendous noise is one way of attracting a congregation; but whether or not it is one which Jesus and his apostles would have followed, I leave to be decided by those best able to judge. The other day we read in an official report, “Brass band better than ever: thirteen blowing salvation through their instruments.” If this be so, let them blow till all is blue: it is not for us to rail at sounding brass if it has indeed become a channel of salvation. Blow by all means. If any of you judge that this is your high calling, pursue it ardently; and if outraged humanity should pelt you with mud and rotten eggs, do not reckon that a strange thing has happened unto you. If you should also create about twice as much blasphemy as religious feeling, do not be surprised: if your course of action should bring ridicule on all religion, and educate the mob in the art of rioting, which they may use by-and-by with unexpected results, do not marvel. If you conceive this to be your line of usefulness, listen to no advice; reckon all who differ from you as your enemies; become martyrs; and go forward like good soldiers, so long as leather and brass hold out.
Only be prepared for contingencies. Suppose the big drum and the tambourine should cease to charm, what next? What else is to be done?
Will you stand on our head? Hornpipes have been tried; will you try the tight-rope? cannot suggest to you a novelty — since we have already heard of Brummagem Bruisers, devil-dodgers, converted clog-dancers, etc. No, I cannot continue the list, for it must include several profane titles if it become at all complete; and, above all, and worst of all, it must needs contain those blasphemous insults to the eternal and incommunicable name which arise out of the desecration of the word “hallelujah.” It only occurs to me to suggest the question — Might it not be possible to be a little less vulgar, and so to create variety without ,extreme exertion? It might be a novelty to some people to conduct a meeting in which there should be no slang; — let it be attempted.
A second-class order of attraction has been tried by certain brethren in the way of advertising; but I think the Professor of Attractive Science will hardly commend it to you. Against causing services to be publicly known in a reputable manner no sane person can raise an objection, but we do object to employing the language of puffery. The method would seem to have originated with flash drapers and others, whose goods are made to sell. It consists in little puffs instead of big blasts. Odd ways of making yourself known are supposed to be effectual. One advertises on small tissue bills,” Do you like sugar? Then hear Rev. T. Offey! ” Another thus emblazons himself, “Have you heard Richard Tones? ” repeated ten times in separate lines, and followed next week by the advice, “Go early if you wish to hear Richard Tones. ” This can be supported by, “Over the garden wall! There is no need to attempt this feat in order to hear Richard Tones, if you are at the chapel by six o ’clock. ” This style of proceeding has its admirers, but it does not add much to the influence exercised by Mr. Tones over judicious minds. He will probably be left in the limbo of quacks by those who give so much as a passing thought to him. Surely this is not our Lord’s way of going to work: his condescension stooped to the lowest deed of self-denying love, and yet there was always a majestic propriety about him. Cheap-jack advertising is altogether out of harmony with the grand truths and the glorious spirit of the gospel. I am not censuring legitimate publication, but the little dodges of it. Abjure them.
The Ritualistic clergy, with far greater taste, have gone in for pretty things, and have drawn crowds together by a combination of costume, flowers, paint, perfumery, and music. To say the least, this is a more ancient and reputable method than those which we have already mentioned. In some quarters, its attractions have lasted for a considerable period — after a fashion; but as a special draw it is by no means a general success. When the people have seen the pretty things a few times they grow weary of the show. Look at Catholic countries, where the business is done to perfection, and you will see a few women charmed with the gaudy altars, but in the great towns the overwhelming proportion of the men are alienated from the very semblance of religion. A silly desire to imitate these fineries may arise among our weaker brethren, but it may as well be dismissed. I could give many valid reasons, but one may well suffice: — we are not able to do the business properly, even if it were a fit thing to be attempted. Our Dissenting gothic is an utter abomination to all architectural taste, our organs are usually of the baser sort, and if a fine service is attempted, it is a ridiculous travesty. Why will men pine to do that which they can never do well? And the more especially when, if they succeeded to perfection, the thing would not be worth a bad halfpenny. With the noblest architecture, the best music, and the most gorgeous scenic apparatus, the people are not to be drawn to the worship of God: the question is — if they were drawn, would the performance be the worship of God after all? Would it not be as well for them to see millinery, and hear music, and smell incense in the usual depots for such luxuries? We think it would be far better; for then there would not be such a mix-up of things secular and sacred, and such a mistaking of sensuous emotion for spiritual worship. .An American friend has admirably sketched the method too often followed in the United States, with their quartets of operatic performers. I sincerely wish that we had nothing in Great Britain to correspond therewith: we have the beginnings and may soon have the full-blown mischief.
Congregational singing is snuffed out to make room for musical display: the church silences the saints to listen to the players? How a professional performance of this kind can attract a congregation I know not, but I suppose it does, or our friends would not go in for it. The writer we allude to says: — “Not long ago we went to church in the city of — well, no matter where.
There had recently occurred in our personal experience some things to gladden us, and others to give us anxiety, an-d we felt unusually disposed to seek the relief of prayer and praise in public worship. We hoped that the minister would be able to express our desires better than we could; and that we might be able to join in some hymn of thanksgiving set to a familiar tune — our repertoire is not large. We had been sitting in the richlyupholstered pew, and. staring at the painted windows but a ‘few moments, when. the. organ suddenly hushed, and in a distant corner of the church four fashionably-dressed ladies and gentlemen arose and sang; and this is what they sang: ‘God is a Spirit — God is a Spirit, and they that worship him — and they that worship him — and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. God is a — God is a Spirit, and they that worship him — God is a Spirit — must worship him — they must — must worship — worship in spirit and n truth. For the Father seeketh-such — [tenor] for the Father [all, loud] seeketh such — seeketh such — seeketh such to worship him. [Very softly] God is a Spirit — [waxing louder] God is a Spirit, and they — that worship him — they — and they — they that worship him — must worship him — must worship him — and [loud, yellendo ] they that worship him — and they — must — that worship him — [tenor, softly] must [contralto] worship [all] him in spirit and in truth, [All but tenor] For [All] the Father seeketh such — [bass] seeketh such [all, softly] to worship him — to worship him [sort of dying away] in spirit and in truth.” “As the concluding cadences softly died away among the vacant pews, like the ‘ still small voice’ among the cliffs of Sinai, we could not help wondering whether those much-tortured words had any meaning; and if so, whether that meaning had any application to the performance just ended. What is ‘ worship in spirit and in truth?”
Those of us who are of the conservative order are not carried off our feet by the amazing success of any sensuous methods of attraction which we have seen in operation up to this present. To us they appear to have been complete failures. Like thorns under a pot they have crackled loudly for the moment, and have blazed most furiously, but they have soon ended in dismal smoke and ultimate potash. We are still surrounded by those who cry, “Lo, here!” and “Lo, there!”; and certain of the feebler sort are sure that we do very wrong because we do not lose our heads, and dance to every new tune; but we are not at all disturbed; for we have now seen so many wonderful devices blaze out and explode, that it will take a good deal in the way of fireworks to astonish us. A former age was for a while astounded by Dr. Katterfelto and his black cats, but the amazement fell off, and soon the populace saw — “Dr. Katterfelto with his hair on end At his own wonders, wondering for his bread! ” Poverty is the ultimate issue in most cases: the bladder is blown till it bursts, the cord is strained till it snaps. Places of worship are advertised till they are abhorred; and sensations are multiplied till the people grow sick of the whole concern.
Yet we cannot endure to see empty pews, and we cannot hope to do good by our preaching to those who will not listen to us. Are there no other modes of gathering the people to our places of worship? Must we either become voices in the wilderness, or else learn the arts of the showman and the advertiser? We have hitherto gloried in the cross, and conceived that the gospel alone would win the day: are we now to change our tactics, and go down to Egypt for help? I think not.
I believe that the best, surest, and most permanent way to fill a place of worship is to preach the gospel, and to preach it in a natural, simple interesting, earnest way. The gospel itself has a singularly fascinating power about it, and unless impeded by an unworthy delivery, or by some other great evil, it will win its own way. It certainly did so at the first, and what is to hinder it now? Like the angels, it flew upon its own wings; like the dew, it tarried not for man, neither waited for the sons of men. The Lord gave the word; great was the company of them that published it; their line went forth throughout all the world, and the nations heard the glad tidings from heaven. The gospel has a secret charm about it which secures a hearing: it casts its good spell over human ears, and they must hearken. It is God’s own word to men; it is precisely what human necessities require; it commends itself to man’s conscience, and, sent home by the Holy Spirit, it wakes an echo in every heart. In every age the faithful preaching of the good news has brought forth hosts of men to hear it, made willing in the day of God’s power. I shall need a vast amount of evidence before I shall come to the conclusion that its old power is gone. My own experience does not drive me to such a belief, but leads me in the opposite direction.
Thirty years of crowded houses leave me confident of the attractions of divine truth: I see nothing as yet to make me doubt its sufficiency for its own propagation. Shorn of its graciousness, robbed of its certainty, spoiled of its peculiarities, the sacred word may become unattractive; but decked in the glories of free and sovereign grace, wearing the crown-royal of the covenant, and the purple of atonement, the gospel, like a queen, is still glorious for beauty, supreme over hearts and minds. Published in all its fullness, with a clear statement of its efficacy and immutability, it is still the most acceptable news that ever reached the ears of mortals. You shall not in my most despondent moments convince me that our Lord was mistaken when he said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”
This being settled, be careful of the manner of your proclaiming the gospel.
Do declare it in a natural style. Why should a truthful gospel be so frequently preached in a false and artificial manner? I know a brother who undoubtedly preaches the gospel, but one would suppose that he was originally ordained to wear a black cap and pronounce sentence on the condemned: do you wonder that he is not followed? Another bawls at the beginning of his sermon, and raves towards the close, and the friends complain that he gives them the headache: can you not see that he is himself to blame for his thin congregation? A third has a pronounced nasal twang, and somehow people do not enjoy the good news when it savors too much of the nose. Another friend is earnest and good, but he is supernaturally monotonous. I suppose that spiritual men take no notice of monotony, but! am sure that carnal men do; and they carefully get out of the way of Mr. Dronish. Certain preachers were far afield when the melodious voices were being distributed; yet even these would do better if they used their own natural speech, and did not affect a holy tone. I have noticed that if a bad-voiced brother talks to his friends he does not do it in the same tone as that in which he preaches or prays, and I am sure that it will be wise in that brother to keep to the tone of his usual conversation.
People will bear that, for they see it to be natural; but they will make no excuse for assumed voices, whines, and drawls. Some brethren might improve their voices by learning to sing; and in any case, they ought to do their best to speak well. I do not urge this as a mode of attracting people, but as the removal of a hindrance which in many cases acts most seriously against collecting a congregation. I believe that the great means of gathering and holding a people is to say something worth their hearing: sensible persons will be much more affected by truth than tone, and I fancy that tone itself will be improved by the fact of having a valuable message to communicate. At any rate, speak like men and not as mimics, and as much as in you lies avoid driving people away by unpleasant mannerisms. Then we must take care that we preach the gospel simply. This seems an easy thing, but it is harder than it looks. I could tell you of ministers within my knowledge who could not be understood by anybody except by those technically educated. It would cost them a supreme effort to translate their language into market-English. How can they expect ordinary people to listen to them? They have a predilection for long sentences, scholarly phrases, hard words, and even new words. Do not, brethren, if you can help it, be obscure; and do recollect that what is plain as a pikestaff to us in the classroom may be dim and unintelligible to nine-tenths of our hearers.
The language of studious, bookish people is far out of the reach of laborers and artisans, and I feel convinced that many of the terms which we commonly use in our theological discussions are no more understood by the multitude than their equivalents in Latin. Crumble down the bread when you serve it out to the children. Break the loaves and fishes for the multitude. The common people like to hear that which their minds can grasp, but they shun the jargon of the schools.
Labor also to preach the gospel interestingly; and therefore illustrate it abundantly. Do not mind wise men objecting that you tell anecdotes; there is no sin in that habit. Put in plenty of good similes, metaphors, and illustrations, and if the learned few find fault with you for doing it, remind them of him of whom it is said, “Without a parable spake he not unto them.” Your Lord and Master constantly said, “the kingdom of heaven is like” this, and like that; and herein he is your example as teachers of the multitude. It should be a joy to your hearers to listen to a sermon from you: a pleasure, and by no means an ordeal. In some cases it is by no means a delight, but an infliction, to hear a sermon. The three reasons which a good woman presented for objecting to a preacher were striking ones. She said that, in the first place, he read his sermon; in the second, he did not read it well; and, in the third place, it was not worth reading. Did you ever notice a secondary definition of a Preacher which is given by Walker? — it runs thus: “One who is apt to harangue tediously in discourse.” Never come under the lash of that definition. Gain the attention, fix it, rivet it, fascinate it. Center your whole mind upon the mastering of other minds with your subject. Do at least attempt the penning of all the flock within the hurdles of your sermon. Feed the sheep: feed the lambs. Make yourself understood by children; for if you are an interesting preacher to children you are an interesting preacher to everybody. I am certain that the man whom children delight to hear will not fail with grown-up people. Say, as a certain grand old preacher used to do, “Here is a little bit for the children.” Their parents will recollect that bit better than anything else, and the probability is that they will profit most by it. Do avoid dullness. A living gospel must not be preached in a dead fashion. With a theme so vital, with a Bible so boundless, with a wealth of illustration all around us, with daily experience so varied, we ought to be as fresh in our discoursings as the trees by the river of life which yield their fruit every month. Oh, for grace to keep our own heart lively, and then our preaching will sparkle and glow!
Sometimes the sermon is dull because the preacher has not done his best to gather things new and old, and at other times because he has not waited upon the Lord in prayer, and so has not drawn upon the fresh springs which are found only in the eternal hills. Work hard at your sermons, that it may be easy to preach them; fill them with good matter, that it may be pleasant to hear them; and pray the Holy Spirit to anoint them with fresh oil, for so they will never be barren or unprofitable.
After all, if you put all these things together, I believe that the quality which fills the house is real earnestness. not hing attracts all eyes like fire.
Flame with zeal and you will soon be known. Whether he uses copious illustration or not, if a man is in downright earnest he will win attention, and secure an audience. Do you wonder if some chapels are almost empty?
Would you go yourselves to hear certain trifling individuals whom I will not mention? Would it answer any man’s purpose to go far to hear men who do not themselves feel sure that what they preach is true? Would some of you go far to hear yourselves preach? Give an honest answer in the quiet of your own thoughts. I dare say, my brother, you have as good an opinion of yourself as other people have of you, and if it would not be worth your while to go to hear yourself preach, perhaps it is not worth the people’s while to do so. If so, make yourself more worthy of an audience and an audience will come. Exhibitions of utter dullness are so frequent in the pulpit that it is no wonder that men do not succeed. I could relate cases of ministerial folly which I should have regarded as incredible if they had only been reported to me; but they have come under my own notice. It is a miracle that the people put up with such sheer stupidity as I have observed here and there. It would appear that some have taken leave of their common sense. A brother well known to me had recently before him a small congregation of poor working people, and nothing to do but to instruct them. One would have thought that he could have talked to them in a warmhearted, brotherly way; but no, he must needs read them a regular sermon with the orthodox three heads. He did this as coolly as if they had all been seasoned Christians, inured to prosiness; and of course he did not see those people again. His sermon might just as well have been in Sanskrit. What could ail the brother? I fear he is a hopeless dolt. A live coal from off the altar might have loosed his tongue, and made him burn his way into those waiting hearts; but I am afraid live coals are not in his line of things. Downright earnestness, zeal at blood-heat, energy at its utmost — these are necessary, and, as a rule, there will neither be success without them nor defeat with them. The gospel, preached in a red-hot style, will find a way for itself, whatever may oppose it.
TRY IT,ANDSEE. BARKING AT THUNDER THE first time our young dog heard the thunder it startled him. He leaped up, gazed around in anger, and then began to bark at the disturber of his peace. When the next crash came he grew furious, and flew round the room, seeking to tear in pieces the intruder who dared thus to defy him. It was an odd scene. The yelping of a dog pitted against the artillery of heaven! Poor foolish creature, to think that his bark could silence the thunder-clap, or intimidate the tempest! What was he like? His imitators are not far to seek. Among us at, this particular juncture there are men of an exceedingly doggish breed who go about howling at their Maker. They endeavor to bark the Almighty out of existence, to silence the voice of his gospel, and to let him know that their rest is not to be disturbed by his warnings. We need not particularize; the creatures are often heard, and are very fond of public note, even when it takes an unfriendly form. Let them alone. They present a pitiful spectacle. We could smile at them if we did not feel much more compelled to weep. The elements of a tragedy are wrapt up in this comedy. To-day they defy their Maker, but to-morrow they may be crushed beneath his righteous indignation. At any rate, the idea of fearing them must never occur to us; their loudest noise is vocalized folly; their malice is impotent, their fury is mere fume. “He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh: the Lord doth have them in derision.” — C. H.S. SOUND BUT LAZY It is good to hold fast to the old truths, and to contend earnestly (but not savagely) for the faith once delivered to the saints; but it is possible to be sound in doctrine and sound asleep at the same time. Truth turned into a pillow for an idle head is a good thing turned to most evil use. If we wish our form of teaching to exercise power, we must exhibit its practical influence right diligently. A doctrine that will not work will not live. Some very orthodox people are very lazy, and laziness is certainly heterodoxy of the worst type. A good-for nothing Christian is a great sinner. There never was a period when there was more need for zeal and faithfulness than now.
We have fallen upon bad days for slumber: activity is lord of the hour. Oh, lovers of truth, bestir yourselves. Work together when you can; but, most of all, see to it that you are each one faithful to his own conscience.
Thoroughly consecrated and quickened men are needed now that the fight grows hotter than ever.
THE MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION SURELY there remains no region untrodden by the missionary’s foot. With the exception of untraversed regions in Africa, and one or two of the larger Asiatic islands, all lands have seen some one ambassador of the Lord Jesus.
We have most of us regarded Thibet and Mongol Tartary as realms of mystery, but even into those out-of-the-way regions the preacher of Christ has penetrated. Last month we gave a brief commendatory notice of Mr. Gilmour’s book, “Among the Mongols,” and we felt that we must return to it, not for the sake of gratifying, but whetting, the curiosity of our readers.
It is a journal fall of interest, containing memorials of a former mission which was crushed out by Russian despotism, and giving information about a strange, outlandish race, of whom the world seems to know no more to day than it did five hundred years ago.
One incident remained upon our mind after reading this work, and will abide there for ever. We cannot tell why this should beyond all the rest secure a lodging-place, but certainly it has done so, and therefore we thought we would say a word or two about it to our readers. Mr. Gilmour crossed the great desert of Gobi with a guide who, it ,turned out, had never been there before; but he met with no danger or accident, and so the ignorance of his guide was no great evil after all. Near the close of his journey, and at night, he lifted up his eyes, and ,lark before him rose a great black ridge. His wretched guide informed him that it was a mountain; but on a nearer approach it proved to be THE GREAT WALL OFCHINA.
Think of coming upon that wonder of the world in the night! What must be its proportions to allow it to be mistaken for a mountain! On it goes, tower after tower, over hill and dale, spanning chasms, and topping mountains, for many hundreds of miles; an ancient bulwark intended to guard a settled people from wandering tribes intent on plunder. Huge and high it rose before the traveler’s gaze, a darker shadow thrown upon the shades which were all about him. He says, “We passed the wall at a gateway, and followed the road till we found ourselves on a lofty pass, and so surrounded with yawning precipices that came to the very edge of the road, and went sheer down into the darkness, that it was dangerous to go on without light. We lay down, and waited for the dawn.”
This great wall, colossal as it is, was but a petty shift of civilization to protect itself from savagery. China had been a grander nation could it have taught the Mongols better things, and won them to the ways of peace.
Exclusion is easy work; comprehension is a far nobler ambition. It is the genius of true Christianity that it levels walls, removes barriers, and unites mankind; and yet many professed followers of the Lord Jesus have evidently fallen back upon the old device of the Chinese, and think more of keeping sinners off than of winning them for the Lord. It is easier to isolate than to convert. The Church has tried to wall in herself, and wall out the vicious, the heterodox, the superstitious, the degraded: this involves less labor and requires no faith, if, is therefore preferred by our idle flesh to the stern task of conquering the graceless for the Savior. How often do we see this huge black wall! It shuts us out from the Romanists. We complain that we cannot get at them. Do we wonder? Time was when we walled them out. The fallen women? Walled out too. The rough, the coarse, the unclean, the profane are all to a large extent built out by a huge rampart of society walls. Even more of this work is being done both by Christians and temperance folk. Certain trades and pursuits of an injurious kind are denounced so bitterly that, it is evident, good men mean to build them out with walls, huge as high Olympus. Is this the way of wisdom and of Christian love? Have we not had sufficient of this? Have we not set the lepers by themselves long enough? Is it not. time for the Christly touch, and the “Be thou clean”? May it come to pass that these middle walls of division shall all become as useless as this Chinese wall, which only remains as a thing to be wondered at, that it was ever made to make earth groan beneath the iron weight of such a chain!
NOTES The past month has brought us much weakness and pain, and twice of late we have been kept out of the pulpit. The newspapers, without inquiry, stated — “ Mr. Spurgeon is again laid aside by an attack of rheumatic gout.” Of course, they followed one another like a flock of sheep; and it little mattered whether their track was right or wrong. As it happened, they were on the wrong trail altogether; but it is of no use correcting their announcements, for they will be sure-to be out one way or another; and it is of small consequence to anyone except the sufferer, and those who are led to forward the wrong remedies. These frequent ailments are incidental to our work, and we must accept them as a part of the price of our service.
Our esteemed friend, Mr. Guinness Rogers, of Clapham, preached for us at a few hours’ notice, and we shall ever feel deeply grateful to him for this most brotherly act. In a letter he goes nearer the cause of our infirmities than most people have been able to do. He says, “Your great congregation is an inspiration; but it is also an overwhelming responsibility. I do not wonder that continuous labor in it tolls on you, and in ways you may not suspect. I do not envy the man who can preach there without having his whole nature strained to the utmost, and that means nervous exhaustion, of all others the most difficult to contend against. May the Lord spare you many years to do a work to which not one in ten thousand would be equal.”
The sermons were not long telegraphed to America, so that our friends who feared that the Sabbath would be desecrated may feel their minds relieved. We are not sorry; for the sermons which we saw in the American papers may have been ours, but they were so battered and disfigured that we would not have owned them. In the · process of transmission the eggs were ‘broken. and the very life of them was crushed. We much prefer to revise and publish for ourselves, and as these forms of publication are permanent, their usefulness becomes in the long run greater than would come of a wide scattering of faulty reports.
We have collected some two hundred engravings of scenes connected with the Reformation. These are framed and glazed, and, on being exhibited at the Orphanage, more than one thousand visited the gallery in one day. We now wish to lend the pictures for exhibition: we should prefer to help the Orphanage, but we shall also be Willing to let them be shown to help any good work. The pictures require a very large loom, and would cause some expense in hanging; and this had better be considered by our friends before applying for them; by charging sixpence for admission a profit would be made. Our one object is to awaken Protestant feeling by spreading information as to the brave times in which men witnessed even to the death for the truth’s sake; therefore we will lend the collection without fee or reward to those who will preserve it, and restore it, carriage paid, to the Orphanage.
During the whole of the month of August the Tabernacle will be closed for cleaning, etc., and we shall meet for worship- each Sunday morning and evening at Exeter Hall. In the morning we must accommodate our own seat-holders, but in the evening we purpose to leave all seats open to the public. The doors will be opened early, and all who come will be admitted till the hall is full. Our hope is that we shall gather a new contingent for our army. Oh, that the Lord may induce many outsiders to come and hear the word, and feel the power of it! The prayers of all saints are desired that this may be a time of ingathering. Our church has sojourned at Exeter Hall twice before, and we return to it with the joyful expectation of a season of grace.
Our purpose is to carry on our Monday evening prayer-meeting in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall, and the Thursday sermon at Mr. Newman Hall’s chapel, which is kindly lent to us. The friends at Westminster chapel also displayed their generous fraternal feeling by inviting us to their noble sanctuary. We enjoy these hearty tokens of the love of the brethren.
As some of our friends will be unable to for as far as Exeter Hall, we have arranged r services morning and evening in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall.
Mr. John Spurgeon, sen., will take the first Sabbath, August 5.
Mr. Spurgeon hopes to preach in Southampton on August 1: and to be again the guest of Canon Wilberforce.
On Friday evening, June 15, the fifth anniversary of MRS.
Allison’s Bible- Class Was held in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall. About two hundred and twenty friends met for tea, and afterwards a large company assembled for the annual meeting. Mrs. Allison presided, and spoke upon the work of the class; Mr. Bignell, the colporteur at Orpington, who is partly supported by the class, delivered an address; and several ladies and gentlemen, by vocal and instrumental music, helped to make up a pleasant and profitable evening. From the report of Miss Clarkson, the secretary, we learn that Mrs. Allison commenced the class with only twelve members, but the attendance now averages one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty, so that the Ladies’ Room, in which the meetings are held, is inconveniently crowded, while many who would attend if a larger room could be obtained, are unable to do so. The object of the class is to instruct and strengthen those who have found the Savior, and to fit them for Christian service, and also to make known the way of salvation to any unconverted persons who may be present, and much success has attended both these forms of usefulness. The members are very liberal in their contributions to the Lord’s work under our care, for, in addition to £15 or £16 annually raised for the support of the colporteur, they have recently subscribed £3 to the Zenana Mission Fund, and presented as with £29 5s. for the Orphanage.
The Adult classes are a great feature in Tabernacle work. Their usefulness it would be difficult to measure. Each one constitutes a church within itself, carrying on all the various forms of work which are generally connected with a distinct church. Pastors who have never organized adult classes have missed a splendid opportunity. They are good in ten thousand ways, and should be carefully cultivated by all who wish to see the churches edified.
On Monday erecting, June 25, the annual meeting of the POOR Ministers’ Clothing Society was held in the Tabernacle Lecture-hall. Pastor C.H. Spurgeon presided, and there was an unusually large gathering of the Society’s friends, who were very delighted to have the presence of their beloved President, Mrs. Spurgeon. The report contained the following touching words which she had written: — “From the depths of my heart I pray ‘God bless the Missionary Working Society,’ especially that branch of it which cares for poor ministers’ wants, and relieves them of many a burden concerning temporal things. Our friends will be glad to know that the Society still goes on its way, scattering blessings broadcast; and many a wearied, tried servant of Christ has during the past year had cause to sing for joy because, with both hands full, it has come like an angel to his house.
There is, alas, no improvement in the position of our poor country brethren; poverty and privation seem rather on the increase than otherwise; for the general depression in trade and agriculture tells upon their scanty salaries, and adds bitterly to their heavy burdens. Never were the loving guts of this Society more needed than at present, never did its Christ-like efforts more deserve or claim the kind and practical help of all who love the Master’s servants. We used to think, in times gone by, that the stipends of our poor pastors were at their lowest ebb; but pitiful as they were, they did receive them! Now we hear of cases where the money is owing quarter after quarter, and the poor man is driven to his wits’ end, and to debt, for the necessaries of life for himself and his children. We know of some servants of God so destitute that they seldom see meat more than once a week; and there are many families where, but for the nice and suitable clothing given by this excellent Society, the children of the minister could not have appeared in the house of God, their garments were so shabby; and an utter want of means prevented any renewal of their scanty wardrobe. I cannot give too much praise to the dear friends connected with this Working-meeting, whose unceasing efforts have done so much to ameliorate this terrible state of things. Loving heads, nimble fingers, and consecrated hearts have been united in this one object — to give tender sisterly help and earnest practical relief to many overburdened and struggling ministers, whose sad cases have been brought before them. How gratefully that help has been received our committee will joyfully tell; how much more assistance is needed will be a sadder theme; and while we rejoice greatly in the success which God has given to this sweet womanly work, we would earnestly ask for it an increased and extended operation. If our Christian sisters, all over the land, were but to take to heart the deep needs of Christ’s ministering servants, and help them with resolute purpose and love, they would very soon wipe away this sad blot from the page of our history, and in so doing bring down a rich reward into their own hearts, and an unexpected blessing on their lives.”
During the year 48 parcels have been sent out, containing 1814 garments, 100 sheets, blankets, etc., 689 yards of dress-material, besides boots, shoes, bonnets, and hats; the total value of the parcels being about £250.
The balance-sheet closed with a debt of £11 Os. 5d., but this amount was generously given by Mr. and Mrs. Stiff, so that the Society starts upon the new year under most favorable auspices. All friends who desire to help this good work can obtain all particulars of Mrs. Evans, 61, Gurney-street, New Kent-road. Parcels of new or partly-worn clothing of all kinds, and material that can be made up into garments for the ministers, or their wives or children, will be gratefully received by Mrs. Evans, at the Tabernacle.
She asks us to mention that a box has safely arrived from Mrs. Cope, bat she has been unable to express the committee’s thanks for its welcome contents, or to return the box, as she does not know the address of the kind donor. 235 articles of clothing and a large number of toys have been contributed by friends connected with Shooter’s Hill Baptist Church, Blackheath. Could not many other churches help in a similar way?
On Tuesday, June 26, the quarterly meeting of the LONDONBAPTIST ASSOCIATION was held at our son’s chapel, at Greenwich. The morning meeting was thinly attended at first, but as the time advanced others arrived, until a very fair company gathered to listen to Mr. Thompson’s admirable paper on “The Christian Minister a Seer.” As we listened to our friend we rejoiced that the Pastors’ College could claim him as one of her sons, and thanked God on his behalf. At the afternoon meeting, after the business, we were all charmed with Dr. Stanford’s wise, weighty, and witty words on “Preaching by the Churches.” As the address has Been published, and can be obtained for one penny, or 5s. per 100, we need only say, “Let all our ministers and members read it, and circulate it, and put into practice the suggestions it contains.”
On Monday evening, July 2, we took part in the celebration of the centenary of the opening of Surrey Chapel by preaching at Christ Church, Westminster Bridge Road. The subject was “whole-hearted service of God,” from the text “All that is within me Bless his holy name.” Of this Rowland Hill was a fine example. He employed every faculty in his life- work of soul-winning, and did not repress the outflow of his nature. Hence the good man was not only solemnly in earnest, but he was also cheerfully humorous. To his wit he owed a large portion of his popularity, and as it was pure and innocent, and altogether consecrated, he was not so foolish as to reckon it common or unclean. In every walk of usefulness Rowland Hill was to Be found; he intermeddled with all practical reforms, and gave up all his time, his substance, and his talents to glorifying God by blessing the sons of men. He was exceedingly unlike Mr. Sherman, his successor, even as Mr. Sherman differed greatly from Newman Hall. It would have been absurd for Rowland Hill to have attempted to weep like Sherman, or for Sherman to have excited a smile after the manner of Mr. Hill. Each man was great after his own order, and it is a lesson of great value, but it is not always learned at once, that each man should be himself, and seek to use every power which God has given him in the great Master’s service.
— Mr. F. J. Flatt has become pastor of the churches at Bugbrooke and Heyford; and Mr. H. Martin has settled at York Town, Surrey; Mr. D. C. Chapman has removed from Oakengates to Oxford-street, Grantham; Mr. A. E. Johnson from Hanley to Car-marthen-road, Swansea; Mr. A. Mills from Dereham to Chester; and Mr. J. Porter, late of Soham, has gone to Thetford.
Mr. C. Testro, who has been for many years at Lechlade, Gloucestershire, where he has done a very useful work, is about to sail, with his family, for Australia. We hope he will soon find a suitable sphere of labor, for he is a worthy brother.
Mr. J. F. Frewin, who has been for more than ten years pastor of the church at Dover Tabernacle, is also about to leave for Australia. His people are sorry to lose him, but he feels called to go to the colonies, and we trust he will there do as good work as he has done here.
— Messrs. Smith and Fullerion, after a season of rest, recommence ‘work this month in North East Lancashire, beginning at Nelson and the district around, then taking Bacup, and afterwards Bury, Blackburn, Burnley, Preston, etc. November is to be spent with Mr. Medhurst, at Portsmouth, and possibly December will be required for the same region. Funds for this work have been rather slack of late, but doubtless with such a chairman for the Lancashire Mission as our good friend, Mr. Altham, of Burnley, this matter will soon be set right.
Mr. G. H. Cart sends a cheering report of Mr. Russell’s services at Southport, where much blessing was received both by saints and sinners.
Mr. Compton forwards similar tidings concerning Messrs. Mateer and Parker’s mission at Gosport. These brethren have since been to Merthyr Tydvil, and other places in Wales, and next month they go to Staffordshire and Lancashire.
— On Wednesday evening, July 4, Mr. W. Ross, of the Horse Shoe Iron Wharf, Old Kent-road, gave another Strawberry Tea to the children, teachers. and staff at the Orphanage, for which, in the name of all connected with the Institution, we beg most heartily to thank the kind donor. A large number of friends paid for admission to the feast, and after tea a collection was made for the Orphanage funds. We are afraid to say how many strawberries were consumed, but we believe it was more than a ton. A quantity remained after the mothers had feasted the second day, but there was no loss, for our boys and girls have great capacity for the reception of jam of any kind. Housewives may at any time dispose of surplus jams by forwarding them to the Stockwell Orphanage. Mr. Ross was presented with an album containing the portraits of the young people whose lives he has sweetened by his fruit-festival. It is well of him that he makes the widow and the fatherless to taste of the good things of the field and the garden.
— Mr. Jones writes: — “I am glad to report that, having recently visited Nottingham, I arranged for two additional colporteurs to work there, which will make four in the town and immediate vicinity. One of them stands in the large market, and disposes of a great quantity of good books, which are thus scattered far and wide. The anniversary of the opening of the Mission Chapel at Woodham Walter has just been held. This place was built and opened practically free of debt, through the exertions of Mr. Keddie, our Malden colporteur, who preaches there every Sunday, in addition to his regular colportage work. Thus a congregation has been gathered in a very scattered population, and, better still, many souls have been won for Jesus. Very few applications have been made for last year’s Report, which will be sent free by post.”
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle.-June 21st, twenty-one; June 28th, fifteen.