A LITTLE AHEAD; OR A WORD FOR THE NEW YEAR.
Like the man on the look-out of a steamer which is passing through a thick fog, we cannot see far ahead, and yet we anxiously peer into the mist. The New Year is upon us, and we would fain look into it if we could; but even the short; length of 1884 is further than our eyes can carry us. What then?
Would we lift the veil? No, it is woven in mercy, and placed before us in love. Had it been good for us to be all prophets, the residue of the Spirit would have sufficed to have made us so; and therefore it. can only be a wise denial which refuses to remove the curtain. It will be our wisdom to exercise all our strength in the line of faith, since in the direction of sight we can do so little. Another morsel is broken by the great Father’s hand from the loaf of time; let us eat it, asking no questions, but with all our hearts asking a blessing upon it, and giving thanks. Should not our New Year’s morning-meal be a true Eucharist? Care must not sit like a Judas at the table on this first morn; but oh, that the Master may be there to sweeten every morsel of the loaves and fishes which are to be the basis of the year’s banquet! May he at this moment pronounce his blessing on all the twelve monthly loaves which make up the year, so that each one when it is broken may bless our life. May he also bless each of the three hundred and sixty-five fishes which are entangled in the great annual net, not forgetting the one more which, on this occasion, has leaped within the enclosure. Our Lord’s love has already prepared a fire, to which he bids us bring of the fish which we have now caught; let us see to it that no one of them is wasted for want of the coals whereon to lay it to make it fit for use.
If this New Year shall be full of unbelief, it will be sure to be dark and dreary. If it be baptized into faith, it will be saturated with benediction. If we will believe our God as he deserves to be believed, our way will run along the still waters, and our rest will be in green pastures.
Trusting in the Lord, we shall be prepared for trials, and shall even welcome them as black ships laden with bright treasures. Relying upon the faithful promise, we shall be on the watch for the expected blessing, and walk the sea-beach of confidence, casting wistful glances over the waters of time for the swift ships which bring the favors of the Eternal. Calm dependence upon our God will make us strong for labor, and willing for waiting, submissive to suffering, and superior to circumstances. “The heart that trusts for ever sings, And feels as light as it had wings; A well of peace within it springs.
Come good or ill, Whate ’er to-day or morrow brings, It is His will. ” We have been looking at some wonderful sunsets lately, and we have all been admiring the marvelous effects of sunlight; let us try what the light of God can do for each one of us. Let us walk in the light by a true, unwavering faith. Our gracious Father deserves from us such boundless trust as dear children, untainted by the world’s falsehood, place in a tender, loving father. We have never yet trusted him to the utmost, to the nth, as a mathematician would say; up to the hilt, as a soldier might put it. Let God be true, and every man a liar; yea, let every circumstance, reasoning, or testimony of the senses be a falsehood in comparison with him. We may be deceived by eyes and ears, by calculation and argument, but never by the Lord. Let us, then, believe without effort, as the necessary mood of a regenerate heart — believe now, believe ever, believe without question; then will our pathway be brightness itself, and our life will rise above the common weary level. Our happiness or misery for 1884 turns upon the question — Believest thou this? — this present, needful truth, for the hour which is now upon thee? Shall we be as waves driven of the sea, and tossed about, or will we be as rocks defying the storm, and bathing their summits in the eternal sunlight of infinite love? If the last be our choice, let us pray for grace to spend New Year’s Day in the heavenly rest of faith, and may that rest never be broken throughout the year. Why not? Is there any necessity which binds us to be unbelieving, and therefore unhappy? Did not Enoch walk with God for centuries? Shall not we achieve this lofty deed for one single year? We think we hear our divine Lord saying, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” May the Holy Ghost lift us out of our poor feeble selves. Oh, to believe from January to December! Why should we doubt without reason? And if we never doubt our God until he gives us cause, the high, triumphant walk of faith may continue till all years have melted into Eternity!
Readers, let us take as our example of faith this year the man of whom it is written—”HE STAGGERED NOT AT THE PROMISE OF GOD THROUGH ‘UNBELIEF;BUT WAS STRONG IN FAITH,GIVING GLORY TO GOD;AND BEING FULLY PERSUADED THAT,WHAT HE HAD PROMISED,HE WAS ABLE ALSO TO PERFORM.”
TAKE AWAY THE FROGS A SERMONETTE BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.” — Exodus 8:8.
WHEN it pleases God by his judgments to humble men he is never at a loss for means: he can use lions or lice, famines or flies. In the armory of God there are weapons of every kind, from the stars in their courses down to caterpillars in their hosts. The dust of the earth, out of which man is formed, will at God’s command forget its kinship, and overwhelm a caravan, while the waters will forsake their channels, invade the tops of the mountains and drown a rebellions race. When the Lord contends against proud men he has but to lift his finger and countless legions throng around him, all loyal to their Lord and valiant for his name. Know ye not that the beasts of the field are his servants, and the stones of the street obey his bidding? Every wave worships him, and every wind knows its Lord. If thou wouldst war against him it would be well for thee to know what his forces are: consider the battle; do no more.
In the case before us Jehovah has to deal with Pharaoh, and he humbles him by frogs. Strange! Singular! One would have thought that such despicable means would never have been used. The Lord began with the proud monarch by turning the waters into blood; but it may be that Pharaoh said in his heart, “What a great man I am! If Jehovah comes forth against me, he must needs work a terrible miracle in order to conquer.” He goes his way to his house un-humbled. This time the Lord will deal with him in another style. I grant you that the conflict was still sublime in the truest sense; but in Pharaoh’s estimation the croaking frogs which came up from all the banks of Nilus were a mean sort of adversaries. From every reservoir and marsh they marched up in countless hordes, entering into his chamber and coming upon his bed and his kneading-trough. he could neither sleep nor eat, nor walk abroad, without encountering the loathsome reptiles. The Lord seemed by this to say, “Who are you that I should do great things to conquer you? I will even vanquish you by frogs. ” There was a suitableness in God’s choosing the frogs to humble Egypt’s king, because frogs were worshipped by that nation as emblems of the Deity. Images of a certain flog-headed goddess were placed in the catacombs, and frogs themselves were preserved with sacred honors.
These be thy gods, O Egypt! Thou shalt have enough of them! Pharaoh himself shall pay a new reverence to these reptiles. As the true God is everywhere present; around us, in our bed-chambers and in our streets, so shall Pharaoh find every place filled with what he chooses to call divine. Is it not a just way of dealing with him?
The Lord has sure ways of reaching the hearts of proud men, and if he does not use flogs to-day he can use other means, for he has servants everywhere prepared for each emergency. He knows how to reach the rich, and make them sit by the wayside, like Belisarius, begging for an bolus.
The strong and healthy man, he can soon place among the invalids, and make him cry,” Give me some drink, Titinius, like a sick girl.” Your children are about you to-day — your joy and pride — but he can make you childless in an hour. His arrows can pierce through a sevenfold harness of steel; no man is so encompassed as to be beyond the reach of the Almighty.
Let me speak of Pharaoh by way of observation, and I will begin by remarking that —IN SORE TROUBLE THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD ARE GREATLY VALUED. “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron.” The frogs had taught him good manners, and he longs to see the ministers of the Lord. How is this? The man was somew hat brought to his senses, and when this happens, men begin to value those whom they aforetime despised. Listen to this story.
There carne a man of God to Bethel, where king Jeroboam was setting up the golden calves, and he began to cry against the altar’. Then Jeroboam stretched forth his hand, and cried, “Lay hold upon him.” In a moment the rebel’s right arm withered, and hung by his side useless; then he turned to the man of God, whom he was about to arrest, and said, “Entreat the Lord for me.” Thus have persecutors been forced to crouch at the feet of those whom they would have destroyed. Another story will set forth the same truth. King Saul had been forsaken of God:, and the Philistines pressed hard upon him. In his extremity he resorted to a woman who professed to deal with the spirits of the dead. With whom would he speak? He cries, “Bring me up Samuel.” Samuel was the man who had most sternly rebuked him. One would have thought that Samuel was the last person he would wish to see; but in his need he asks for no one else but Samuel. When ungodly men get into straits, how they wish they could consult with one who has gone home, against whom they pointed many a jest. They never a Bring me up the jolly fellow who filled and quaffed the bowl with me.” In their tribulation they think not of such. They nearer cry, “Bring me up the wanton with whom I sported in sin, that I may again enjoy her company.”
Nay, in their distress they desire other advisers: they’ would rather cry, “Bring me up my holy mother! Oh, for a sight of her dear, loving face as I saw it on her dying bed, when she urged me to follow her to heaven. Bring me up that old friend whom I ridiculed when I turned aside from the ways of God! Oh, for an hour with the man of God whom once I scorned!” Do you not see that it is the old tale repeated,—Pharaoh, when his troubles are multiplied, calls for Moses and Aaron!
This is also to be accounted for by the fact that God puts a mysterious honor upon his faithful servants. The painters place halos about the heads of the Bible saints; there were no such crowns of light upon them literally, and yet within the legend there slumbers a great truth. He who leads an upright, holy, gracious life has a power about him which impresses the beholder; his presence in an ungodly company has an influence on wicked men like that of Zephon, of whom Milton sings in Paradise Lost To the great fallen angel his presence was a rebuke. God hedges the good with a dignity which men feel even when they are not conscious of it. It was so in the case before us. Moses was made to be as a god unto Pharaoh. Pharaoh had said, “Get you unto your burdens,” addressing Moses and Aaron as if they were slaves; but now he sends for them, and entreats their prayers on his behalf. This was like the case of Joseph. His brethren hated him, and sold him for a slave; but how different the scene when they bowed before him, and trembled as he said, “I am Joseph!” The archers had shot at him, and wounded him; but still his bow abode in strength. Remember, too, Jeremiah, whom Zedekiah, the king, treated with great indignity till the Babylonians had surrounded the city, and then he sent to him, and said “Inquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us.” Oar Lord describes an instance more remarkable still. It belongs, to the next world, but the. same principles rule in all worlds. A poor saint was laid at a rich man’s door, full of sores; he begged for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, “moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores.” The rich man, clothed with purple and fine linen, took small note of this saint of God; but what a change happened on a day when the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man also died, and was buried! In hell the rich man lifted up his eyes, and Lazarus had honor before him; for he begged that Lazarus might be sent to cool his burning tongue with the tip of his finger’ dipped in water, They had changed places, for God had crowned his poor servant with glory and honor. The halo was around the head of Lazarus most assuredly.
A light shone upon the face of Moses, and a glory settled upon the brow of Jesus. “Such honor have all the saints” in a spiritual sense, and the proudest of men shall be made to know it.
Once more, let me note that this honor is doubtless set on saints that they may be of service to ungodly men. · God intends, by their means to bless the penitent. When it was wheat-harvest, and a thunderstorm came because Israel desired a king, you remember that, while peal on peal the dread artillery of God was heard, the people trembled, and besought Samuel the prophet to pray for them, and he said, “God forbid that; I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” Holy Samuel’s prayer was heard for them.
Much later on, an earthquake shook: the foundations of a prison, and loosed the bands of the prisoners. Then the gaoler woke up in his fright, and feared that his prisoners had escaped, and that he should have to die for it; but there stood Paul, the man whom he had thrust into the inner prison, and whose feet he had made fast in the stocks, and the gaoler trembling before him cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer was given, he was directed to believe and to be baptized, and the gaoler and his house were saved. If God’s servants are treated with scorn and harshness they need not fear, for they are put just where they are that unconverted men may be blessed by their agency. Like Moses to Pharaoh, saints will yet have to say, “Glory over me; I will pray for thee, or teach thee, so that I may but lead thee to the Savior.”
It is clear that in times of trouble godly men and women are at a premium.
Secondly, with ungodly men,IN TIMES OF SORE TRIAL PRAYER ALSO BEGINS TO BEVALUABLE.
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Intreat the Lord.”
Pharaoh begs an interest in the prayers of good men: this is a fine change since the day wherein he said, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice?” When men are sick and near to die, they send for us to pray with them. That old philosopher, Dion, showed much wisdom in his biting sarcasm. He was on shipboard, and found that among the passengers there were certain foul-mouthed desperadoes. While they were venting all manner of abominations a storm came on, and they began to pray; then Dion cried out to them, “Hold your tongues, for if the gods only know that you are here they will sink the vessel; be quiet, lest your prayers should be our ruin.” One’s thoughts have taken somewhat of that form when we have seen men fulfilling the old adage- “When the devil was sick, the devil a saint would be. ” Such prayers are too often an insult to the holiness of God.
Why is it that reprobates take to praying when they are in deep trouble?
Frequently superstition moves them. They regard a prayer as a spell or magical charm. So in their folly they send for a minister, and cry, “Intreat the Lord for me.” Among many Londoners, so dense is this superstition, that after a poor soul is dead I have heard relatives say, “; We sent for the minister, and he came and prayed to him. Mark that word, “prayed to him.” Does not this discover the ignorance and superstition of the people?
They do not know the design and object of prayer. This superstition needs to be spoken of with great truthfulness and fidelity.
In certain instances the man’s hope in prayer is the result of a condemning faith. There is a justifying faith and a condemning faith. “What?” say you. “Does faith ever condemn men?” Yes, when men have faith enough to know that there is a God who sends judgments upon them, that nothing can remove those judgments but the hand that sent them, and that prayer moves that hand. There are persons who yet never pray themselves, but eagerly cry to friends, “Intreat the Lord for me.” There is a measure of faith which goes to increase a man’s condemnation, since he ought to know that if what he believes is true, then the proper thing is to pray himself. It would have been a wonderfully good sign if Pharaoh had said, “Join with me, O Moses and Aaron, while I pray unto Jehovah that he may take the frogs from me.” But, no, he had only a condemning faith, which contented itself with other men’s prayers.
In many instances this desire for prayer is one of the movements of the Spirit upon the heart of man. When a poor, afflicted man, in the depth of poverty, struck with consumption, or laid aside by some other deadly disease, desires that a minister would come and pray with him: we will never treat such a wish with neglect. While it is our duty to expose the superstition which often lurks beneath the wish, we also hope that some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel may dwell in it. It is, perhaps, the prodigal saying, “I will arise, and go unto my Father, and I will inquire the way home.” I hope it is so.
Take warning, you that do not pray; you will yet need to pray. There will come a time to the most of you when you will not be able to bear yourselves without crying unto God. May God in his infinite mercy lead you to begin at once; for when it can be said of you, “Behold: he prayeth,” it will be the best of news. Beginning to pray is the turning point of life.
Why not at once set a high price upon that which in times of trouble you will seek for with tears?
Our third observation is this —IN SORE TROUBLE THE PRAYER IS OFTEN AWRONGONE.
The petitions which men offer when they are in distress are often wrong prayers. Pharaoh said — “ Intreat the Lord, that he may take away the Frogs from me.” A fatal flaw is manifest in that prayer. It contains no confession of sin. he says not, “I have rebelled against the Lord; entreat that I may find forgiveness!” Nothing of the kind: he loves sin as much as ever. A prayer without penitence is a prayer without acceptance. If no tear has fallen upon it, it is withered. Thou must come to God as a sinner through a Savior, but by no other way. He that comes to God like the Pharisee, with, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are,” never draws near to God at all; but he that cries, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” has come to God by the way which God has himself appointed.
There must be confession of sin before God, or our prayer is faulty, Pharaoh’s prayer dealt only with the punishment, “Take away the frogs; take away the frogs; take away the flogs.” That is his one cry. So we hear the sick exclaim, “Oh, sir, pray that I may get well.” The drunkard begs that he may be helped out of his poverty. The impenitent sinner cries, “Pray that my child may not be taken from me.” It is not wrong to pray, “Take away the frogs.” We should all have prayed so if we had been surrounded by such pests. The evil is that this was the whole of his prayer. He said not, “Take away my sins.” but “Take away the frogs.” he did not cry, “Lord, take away my heart of stone,” but only” Take away the frogs.” Perhaps I am addressing those who are in poverty, sickness, or distress, and all they are crying about is, “Lord, take away the frogs. Deliver me from my poverty, my trouble, my hunger, my disgrace, my punishment.” Now, if you have brought yourself into evil by a vicious life, your prayer must not be, “Take away the disease and the poverty,” but “Take away the sin.” The drunkard’s prayer must not be, “Lord, take away the result of my intoxication,” but” Remove from me the poisoned cup.” Lay the ax at the. root, and cry, “Lord, take the sin away.” Alas! most of the prayers of men in trouble are only like Pharaoh’s selfish prayer, “Take away the frogs.”
The Lord did hear his petition, but nothing came of it. The frogs were gone, but flies came directly after, and all sorts of plagues followed in rapid succession, and his heart was hardened still.
When ungodly men are under a sense of divine wrath they turn not to God aright: their prayer is devoid of spiritual requests. When Cain had murdered his brother did he express a regret? No. He only murmured,. “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” Esau sold his birthright. Did he repent of the sin of having been a profane person, and seek pardon carefully? Not he; but he sought carefully with tears to get back his birthright, and he found no place for repentance in his father Isaac; the blessing had gone to Jacob, and on Jacob it must remain. Another telling case is that of Simon Magus. When Peter told. him that he was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity he replied, “Pray ye to the Lord for me that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me;” that was all he cared about. He expressed no desire to be delivered from his evil way, but only to be screened from the consequences of it. Every knave cries out against punishment; but he is attaining to honesty who entreats to be freed from his pilfering habits.
Our last:, remark is — that THE SINNER,IN HIS SORE TROUBLES IS VERY APT TO MAKE GREAT PROMISES. Pharaoh cried, “Take away the frogs and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord.” In this way one of you talked when you were down with fever, or when you were likely to lose your situation through your folly. Yea said, “Please God I escape this once, I will be a very different man.” Such promises are generally boastful. Notice here the proud language of Pharaoh. “I will let the people go.” He does not long talk in this fashion; bat now he is a great king, and he gives his royal word, “I will let the people go” Some folks are very big when they promised God, “I” will do this, and I will do that. But you cannot, my friend. You reply that you are going to have a new heart and a right spirit. Are you looking to create them yourself? You talk as if you were. I think you said that you were going to “turn over a new leaf”: but a new leaf in a bad book may be worse than the old leaf. But; you are going to be entirely new, are you? Are you to do all this yourself? You are greatly mistaken; true conversion does not begin by talking of what “I ” will do. It begins in casting ourselves upon the Lord, and begging him to work all our works in us.
But this man’s promises were all a lie. I daresay that, for the moment:, he meant them; but he did not keep his word, for he did not let the people go. “When Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.” Has not that been the case with many others? You promised “faithfully,” as you said: you pledged yourself that it; should be so; but it is not so. Stand thou still a while, and hear a message from the Lord: “Tigon hast not lied unto men, but thou hast lied unto God.” Let that sentence pierce the innermost bowels of thy conscience. “Thou hast lied unto God.” Remember Ananias and Sapphira, and what followed upon their falsehood, and be astonished that it has not followed upon yours, for you made the promise before witnesses in the presence of the Lord himself.
Mark wall that., in all this, Pharaoh increased his quilt. His vows heaped up his transgressions. He forgot his promises; but God did not. They were laid by in store against him, and the blows of God upon him fell heavier and heavier, until at last Jehovah drowned him and his chosen captains in the Red Sea. Oh, sirs, if God comes to ,deal with you in this fashion, what will become of you? Your promises are filed in heaven, to be witnesses against you. God reaches out these promises of yours at this hour, and holds them up before your eyes. And what does your conscience say? If you had promised a kind friend, and broken your word, it would have been base enough; but you have been ungrateful to your God, in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways. Let a sense of guilt overwhelm you, and in the name of Jesus Christ ask mercy of your God.
I will tell you how God deals with his own children, and then leave you to infer how he will deal with you if you are not his children. A certain man, to all appearance, feared God, ay, and did so with a sincere heart. He was once an earnest Christian, a member of the church, and a worker in the service, faithful to his light, and fervent in spirit; but he grew cold. He had a farm, and it occupied nearly all his time. He was filled with an intense desire to grow rich, and therefore he devoted his attention to his business till he grew colder and colder in divine things, and the means of grace on the week-days were forsaken. Work for God was dropped, communion with God ceased, and the religious professor became to all appearance an utter worldling. But yet he was a child of God, and this is how his Father restored him. He took from him the wife of his youth, to whom his heart was knit; but this made him more worldly than before, because his wife had been a great help to him in the farm, and now she was gone he must stick to it more than ever. Nothing came of the first chastisement except increased sin. tie had only one son, for whom he was saving up his money, and working his business, and he saw that son cut down with consumption, like his mother. This also made him still more worldly. It ought to have brought him to his knees, but it did not. He carried on the practice of prayer, but with little heart, lie said, “Now my dear son, who was such a comfort to me, has gone, I can hardly get out on Sundays at all. I must look after the cows and attend to the stock.” So he sank deeper in the mire. Then the Lord began to deal with him in another way. He had a bad season, and lost by his farming, careful as he was. Next year was worse, and the cattle-plague emptied his stalls, lie was brought down to poverty; he could scarcely keep in the farm, for the rent ran back. Still he did not yield, lie had tender moments now and then; but he was usually hard, for he felt that God was dealing severely with him. He felt angry against God, and stuck to his business more than ever, while the things of God were forgotten. Then the Lord took his erring child more closely in hand than before, and sent him an incurable disease in his body. The worldly farmer lay upon a sick bed. fretting about his business: lie did not turn to the Lord even then. Last of all, his house took fire, and as the barn and the ricks, and the house were all ablaze, and all that he had was going, they carried him out into the open air upon the bed from which he could not stir, and he was heard to say, “Blessed be the Lord! Blessed be the Lord! I am cured at last.” But, dear friends, nothing would cure him till everything was gone from him. Was not that a pity? He was saved so as by fire. He would be “as the horse, and the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle,” and therefore he had to suffer for it. I pray you do not copy him. People of God, do not make rods for your own backs in that way. Do not drive your heavenly Father to bard measures.
But oh, ye ungodly, if he will deal thus with his children, how will he deal with you who are not his children? If he means to bless you he will not let you go unpunished; but he will smite you with heavy strokes. I remember one who used to bless God for a broken leg: he said that he never ran in the ways of God until lie was lame. I believe that some parents never loved the heavenly Father till their dear infant child was taken away. The shepherd tried to get the mother sheep into the fold, but she would not come; so he took up her lamb and carried it away in his arms, and then the mother followed him. He has done that to some of you. You would never have come to Christ if dear little Johnny had not gone home to Jesus: You lost one and another for that same purpose; have you not had strokes enough? You have been smitten till your “whole head is sick and your whole heart faint.” Will you not turn unto your God without more ado? His blows are sent in mercy: it is better far that you should have a hell here than a hell hereafter. It were better for you to live a lifelong agony than to be cast into hell for ever.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. He died for sinners — died for aggravating, guilty, willful sinners, and if they look to him they shall at once be forgiven. I cannot give the look of faith for you, or I would gladly do so; but I beseech you to look and live! May God the Holy Ghost lead you so to do, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.
IF any man was ever entitled to the appellation of “Christian gentleman” it was the late Dr. John Hunter. From the casual circumstance of living for many years a few doors from him, I had exceptional opportunities of enjoying his genial society, his wise counsels, his hearty hospitality, and, I may add, affectionate friendship. By a wide circle his ‘memory will never cease to be revered and cherished, t/is was a nature overflowing with the milk of human kindness. Indeed, the demands of his extremely poor parishioners were yearly more exacting and overwhelming, just because they became more and more cognizant of that frailty which leaned to virtue’s side — his irresistible benevolence — which at times felt itself unable to withstand what might be called “impudent” claims. One specimen I recollect hearing from his own lips, and told in his own inimitable way. A few mornings before, a woman came begging for pecuniary help. Even he was amazed, and, indeed, indignant at her presumption, as she had been one of his parochial plagues; had not only been personally offensive and hostile, to himself, but had done what she could to foster an inimical feeling among the neighbors. On going to his outer lobby, where the unabashed applicant was, he stated, as firmly as his kindly nature would admit (and yet he could assume a stern look too), that she knew well she was the very last who had any claim upon him. Decidedly refusing her, he bade her peremptorily to go away. Her reply was ready — “ Sir, you are mistaken, I have a claim upon you.” “I should like to know, my good woman, what that claim is. You have done nothing all the years I have known you but to try and do me wrong. Tell me your claim.” “Sir, I am your enemy ” The plea was novel, irresistible. At once the hand was in the depths of the kindly man’s pocket, and something bright reflected its pedigree from the Sermon on the Mount. — From Dr. J. R. Macduff ’s “Parish of Taxwood. ” NEW THEOLOGY GREAT inventor is to make bread without flour, and he is preparing the plan of a house which is to have no foundations. Wonderful! Isn’t it? We are no longer to eat grapes as they come from the vines — they are so oldfashioned: we are to have them after they have been squeezed in a patent press, and have been fashioned into cakes of mathematical shape. We should not be at all surprised to hear that our steam-boats are all a mistake, and have become things of the past, being in fact superseded: by electrified table-cloths, which each man withdraws from his dining-table, spreads on the top of the water, and then uses as an instantaneously-prepared raft, which he steers with his knife and fork. When this comes about, we shall still be found sticking to the unchanged and unchangeable Word of God.
There will be no new God, nor a new devil, and we shall never have a new Savior, nor a new atonement: why should we then be either attracted or alarmed by the error and nonsense which everywhere plead for a hearing because they are new? What is their newness to us; we are not children, nor frequenters of playhouses? Truly, to such a new toy or a new play has immense attractions; but men care less about the age of a thing than about its intrinsic value. To suppose that theology can be new is to imagine that the Lord himself is of yesterday. A doctrine which is said to have lately become true must of necessity be a lie. Falsehood has no beard, but truth is hoary with an age immeasurable. The old gospel is the only gospel. Pity is our only feeling towards those young preachers who cry, “See my new theology,” in just the same spirit as little Mary says, “See my pretty new frock.” — C. H.S.ANTICIPATING THE LAST JUDGMENT.
THERE is a story told of two soldiers who, being in the valley of Jehoshaphat, the one said to the other, “Here in this place shall be the general judgment, and therefore I will now take up my place where I will then sit ;” and so, lifting up a stone, he sat down upon it, as taking his place beforehand; but, as he sat there, such a quaking and trembling fell upon him, that, falling to the earth, he remembered the day of judgment with horror and amazement for ever after.
Might it not be of exceeding value to many of our friends if they would try and seat themselves in the place which they will occupy at the last great day? Let them think that it has come, and that they are present, for it will soon be so. Let them look up, and realize the scene. Behold, a great white cloud comes floating upward and forward, and on the cloud there is a great white throne, from which everything is reflected of the past and present of mortal men. Gazing around for a moment, the mighty multitude astounds and amazes the beholder. The dead are there, and all the millions of the living. The sea has yielded up every corpse, and every foot of earth teems with myriads upon myriads of long-buried men. All eyes are turned towards the cloud, and the throne, and the Son of God, who sits thereon, surrounded by an innumerable company of angels. Who can adequately conceive, “The pomp of that tremendous day, When Christ with clouds shall come? ” See. the books are. opened, and the last assize begins, with sound of trumpet. It is even now at our doors, and the thought of it is enough to arouse the fears and startle the consciences of all but the most brutal and graceless of men.
The putting off or forgetting of the Lord’s coming and the judgment is the cause of much hardness of heart. The evil Servant would not have behaved himself so ill if he had looked upon his master’s return as near at hand.
Men who have death at their elbow, and see judgment before their eyes, are likely to break off their sins by righteousness, and seek to be reconciled to God. I have beard of the women of a certain island, that the first sheet they wove was the winding-sheet, and this they kept by them: I am afraid that this fashion has long since died out, and that both men and women live as if there would be no hereafter. This is the root of much of the impiety of our age.
Sit down, dear reader, if you are as yet unsaved, and take an hour for this solemn exercise: it may prove the turning-point of your history. In a few years you will be one of that vast assembly, and have to answer for every deed ‘and word of your life. Think of it long; picture it vividly; let it work upon your mind. Though at the first it fill you with fear and trembling, it may conduct you to the Savior’s feet, and then, looking up to him with penitential faith, you may hear how to “have boldness in the day of judgment.” If you fly to Jesus as your Savior you will not fear to face him as your King. It has been well said, “Thou wilt meet the Great Day well if thou get the Great judge to judge thee every day.”
Suppose that this night you should start up, and find the day of grace over, and the day of judgment beginning! Suppose you should within an hour hear the Lord Jesus say to you, “Depart!” These are no vain imaginings. If you remain as you are they will be true ere long. Do but put them before your mind’s eye a little before the time, that you may judge of the wisdom of running so grave a risk. Those who wish to act well on great public occasions rehearse their parts beforehand. Unconverted friend, rehearse your part, and prepare yourself to receive the dread sentence which awaits all who are out of Christ. Are you afraid to think of it? Be much more afraid of enduring it! If even to dream of the Last Day is a terrible event, what must it be then to be there in reality? The prisoner who will not even think of his trial is in his conscience assured of a verdict of condemnation.
Would he not be far wiser to seek for a Counselor to plead his cause? Will you not seek One? Jesus, the faithful Counselor, asks no fee. Commit your cause into his hand, and you need not fear the Last Assize.
A LETTER FROM MR. SPURGEON DEAR FRIENDS,—Before “The Bitter Cry of Outcast London” had been so pathetically reported by the press, friends connected with the Tabernacle had thought of the poor of Bermondsey, and set to work to help them.
Among the best of the agencies which grew out of this thoughtfulness was the Green Walk Mission, led by Mr. William Olney, jun., which has proved to be no mere attempt at Mission work, but a solid success. Under God, the marked prosperity of every part of the work may, beyond all doubt, be ascribed to the zeal, industry, and self-denial of the leader; but by the grace of God there has been gathered around him a singularly gracious body of people, at once docile and energetic, sensible and enthusiastic. I feel that when men like young Mr. Olney are raised up, the least thing that we can do is to find them a suitable place in which to carry on their beneficent efforts. Queen-bees are hard to find; and when one is met with, all the other bees should set to work to build a hive.
We gave the exterior in a former number, and now the interior on the opposite page will show what a noble building has been erected for Mr. Olney’s enterprise. It is worthy of its object. Looking over it while in progress, we were delighted with the number and size of the rooms. It is by no means a makeshift, but altogether a model erection, admirably adapted to its purpose. It could not have been better had it been designed for Westend aristocrats, and therefore it is just suited for the poor of Bermondsey.
If we do things meanly for the poor they are likely to think meanly of it.
Our friends earnestly desired to designate the new hall after the Pastor of the Tabernacle; but as he just as earnestly declined the honor, a compromise has been effected, and the ‘place is to be called Haddon Hall, which is, and yet is not, the Pastor’s name, but is a pleasing musical name for a happy and handsome edifice.
Friends at, the Tabernacle and in Bermondsey have given right royally, so that £5,205 has come in to the Fund, and this has been a great joy to my heart. Messrs. Barrow, and the three Olney brothers and other donors must have special mention; but the array of smaller donors is equally remarkable.
On the whole it is well done, and is a fair example of Christian willinghood, and a proof that Christian people are not negligent of what somebody, fonder of Latin than I am, has called “the lapsed masses.’ The spiritual work has come first, ;and the material structure has followed in due course.
The dirty, awkward rooms in Green Walk, where, by-the-way, not a green blade ever grows, have been the nursery for a hopeful family, which will now be the commencement of a well-housed, self-supporting Mission.
With God’s sure blessing the future is full of joyous hope.
Now, there will be one blot on it all unless God’s goodness shall move generous friends to prevent the evil. It is feared that there may be a debt of £1,300. No Tabernacle enterprise has ever yet been in debt. No building raised under our immediate auspices has ever been opened without being paid for. Is this to be an exception to an admirable rule? Shall we tarnish our laurels? If those who have not given will now come up to the mark, the thing will be done. It is due to our Lord, to whom we owe so much, that this matter should not be left in doubt: our willing liberality must decide that this house for the Lord and the Lord’s poor shall be put into trust free of all liability — present or · future. May this be the case. on the. day. of opening in February next! This ,mill greatly gladden the heart of your friend and Pastor, now resting at Men-tone. It will make it a delight to open the building in February.
C. H. SPURGEON.
NOTES THE editor is at Mentone, but he has carefully prepared and arranged every page of the present Magazine, and sends it forth with the best wishes for the New Year to all friends and readers. The following letter was read at the Tabernacle on Dec. 16 :— “To my church, congregation, and readers. “Your affectionate interest in me is not satisfied unless I send a short note during my absence, and on my part it is a great pleasure to communicate with you. When I left home I felt utterly spent, both in body and mind, and this last form of exhaustion was conducting me down into those depressions which render life a burden. But already the lead is gone. I am rested and restored, and now the days are spent in reading and meditation, and the gathering of stores for future use, — this performed in a way:. which fills, but does not Strain the mind. I am deeply grateful for this quiet resting-place, and ask your prayers that I may return, in due time, in good order for another year’s service. “Thirty years’ labor in a position which tests all my powers, and drives me to draw from the divine strength, has not been with-out its wear and tear with me. A while longer I hope I may be permitted to take my part in the Lord’s service. If I may have his presence, and your patient love, I shall count myself thrice happy. May the blessing of the Most High God rest upon all my helpers in the Lord’s work. “Yours to serve through life, “C. H. SPURGEON.”
Weather in Mentone is not quite so warm as usual, but still splendid as compared with England. Under the olives it is sweet, to sit in mingled shade and sunshine, and meditate upon that providence which, it truthfully represents. Many earnest Christians are here, and so there is no lack of holy fellowship; but the most, precious things to a worn thinker and speaker are the grand opportunities for quiet which the gardens, rocks, roads, and mountain-sides afford. No lover of gaiety would care to be in this town; there is nothing to his taste in that line; but the thoughtful student and devout lover o! solitude can rest to the top of his bent from sunrise to sunset. Visitors have not yet arrived in any great number: in all probability the singularly mild weather at home till December has allowed invalids to linger longer in their own dear homes.
— During the past month Mr. R. E. Glendening has become pastor of the church at Elgin, N B.; Mr. J. W. Hartley has been accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society for mission work on the River Congo; and Mr. James Smith has settled at Reinsoy, Hants. Spheres are readily found for promising men when they are ready, and in several cases of our students they have been desired by two or more churches. Prayer is entreated for every breather upon his settlement, as also for near men just entering College.
Our generous friend, Mr. W. Gibson, writes that he hopes the new Tabernacle at Launceston, Tasmania, will be finished by March 1st, and that our son Thomas will be present at the opening. He adds, “I am thankful to be able to tell you that the men we have from the College are all doing well. Mr. McCullough has left Longford, and gone to Hobart, where he is likely to do a good work. Harry Wood takes his place.” Mr. Bird sails this month for Launceston, in the S.S, John Rider. How greatly we long that Mr. Gibson’s splendid liberality to the work in Tasmania. may. be rewarded by the prosperity of Mr. Bird and all the other brethren now engaged in the Lord’s work on the island!
Mr. W. V. Young, who is going to Ipswich, Queensland, in the S.S. Liguria, reports his safe arrival at Cape Town. Mr., B. W. Clinch, who went to Australia for the benefit of his health, has formed a new church, under the auspices of the Queensland Baptist Association, at Maryborough, Queensland. With these brethren our best wishes and prayers go forth to the southern regions, where new empires are springing up, which in the future Will be populous, and exercise great influence.
On Wednesday evening, November 28, the annual meeting of the College was held at the Tabernacle. A considerable number of friends met for tea, and afterwards many more arrived, nearly filling the building by the time the proceedings commenced. The President, C. H. Spurgeon, occupied the chair, and spoke of the continued need of such an Institution for training preachers of sound doctrine and the cross of Christ. The Vice-president,J. A. Spurgeon, read the list of students who had entered the ministry, at home or abroad, since the last Conference; Professor Fergusson, as the representative of the tutors, and Messrs. H. Driver and W. C. Bryan, on behalf of the students, delivered addresses; anthems and hymns were sung by the orphan children; and the remainder of the evening was devoted to a lecture by C. H. Spurgeon, on “Martin Luther,” with dissolving views illustrative of the principal persons and places connected with the great Reformer. This gathering was particularly interesting from the fact that it was the last week-evening on which the Pastor met his flock before leaving England. We trust that our many friends will think of this Institution, now more needed than ever, and take care that its work shall never be hindered by lack of funds, as indeed it never has been.
— Mr. Medhurst’s anticipations concerning Messrs. -Fullerton and Smith ’s services at Portsmouth appear to have been fully realized. From the commencement to the close the mission has been very successful, and large numbers have professed to find the Savior at the meetings. Special gatherings for men were held on Sunday afternoons, for women on Wednesdays, and for children on Saturdays; and song services were given on Saturday evenings. On each occasion the spacious chapel was crowded with those whose presence was desired, and eternity alone can reveal the extent of the blessing received; but enough is already known to make us rejoice that the arm of the Lord has once more been made bare in the midst of his people, and that the Holy Spirit has again set his seal upon the preaching and singing of the everlasting gospel. Mr. Medhurst has already baptized nearly seventy converts as the result of the mission, and many more are expected to follow them; while the noble sum of £90 has been forwarded to us as a thankoffering for the Evangelists’ services. It is by such spontaneous offerings as these that we are able to keep these two successful soul-winners in the field.
Mr. Burnham, on his arrival at Peter-church, near Hereford, found most cheering tokens of the blessing that had followed his former visit. Out of a population of 600 no less than 44 have been baptized during the year, and two prayer-meetings have been continued weekly all through the summer and harvest-time. On this occasion the chapel was full night after night, and many were led to the Savior. Our Bro. Vanstone, who has recently settled at Hay, rendered very valuable help at these services. After leaving Peterchurch, Mr. Burnham went for a second time to Ploughfield, and this month he is engaged at East Finchley, Countesthorpe, and Barton’s End, Gloucester. Mr. Burnham earnestly begs to have a brother to go with him, for working alone has many and serious disadvantages; but where is the pay of another man to come from? We quite see the advisability of sending all Evangelists by two and two; but this evangelistic work is growing upon us, and the income as yet barely meets the expenditure; indeed, our brethren Parker and Mateer have to find support for themselves, and we had rather it were not quite so much so. This service should largely pay for itself, and does so as far as Messrs. Fullerton and Smith are concerned, but others need aid. We will use all funds with mingled economy and liberality. Mr. Russell ’s visit to Attercliffe was greatly owned of God. Pastor Ensoll and his people had prepared the way for the coming of the Evangelist by faith and prayer, and from the first service to the last backsliders were reclaimed, sinners converted, and saints strengthened and comforted. The pastor’s Bible-class and children of the members of the church have been specially blessed. Mr. Russell has also held evangelistic meetings at Caversham Hill, and Newport, Isle of Wight; and in each place power has rested upon the word preached.
Messrs. Mateer and Parker have bad a happy and successful season with our Bro. Williams at Leamington, and they have been greatly encouraged by the reports of the continued blessing that has rested upon the work at Keighley since they left.
— In last month’s magazine we acknowledged the receipt of £92 Os. 6d., “the amount of a disputed account;” this month a still larger sum, namely, a hundred guineas, has come to the Orphanage funds under similar circumstances. We are sorry that disputes should arise; but when fatherless children are so largely benefited by the contentions our grief is at least somewhat mitigated. Do not get into disputes, dear friends, if you can help it; but if you cannot see eye to eye, get the matter in question settled as speedily and happily as possible by sending a peace-offering to the Treasurer of the Stockwell Orphanage.
Mr. Edward Williams, of Knighton, who has long been a generous contributor to the Orphanage, and an earnest collector for the Institution, has recently arranged for an evening concert in aid of the funds of this portion of our work. With the willing help of a considerable number of friends, the musical gathering was made a great success, and the net proceeds, amounting to £24 6s. 6d.. have been safely received by us. For this spontaneous expression of sympathy, we heartily thank Mr. Williams, and all who assisted by their talents or liberality to make up such a substantial sum.
These “Notes” have to be written on a foreign shore before the Orphanage Christmas Festival is held:, so we cannot tell our readers about the joy produced by their generous gifts; but we have no doubt that the happy season will be as full as ever of delight to the merry Stockwell lads and lassies, and that their thanks to the founders of the feast will be as hearty and as noisy as in former years. God bless all who have remembered the orphans, and give them —”A Happy New Year,” and many of them.
The first week in December was happily spent by Mr. Charlesworth and his choir at Portsmouth, Gosport, Ryde, Cowes and Southampton.
Everywhere they were most kindly received, and the Orphanage funds will be largely benefited by the meetings held. The members of our Brother Medhurst’s Bible-class collect through the year for the Orphanage, and on this occasion, through their efforts, and the amount contributed at the meeting in Lake Road Chapel, the first student of the College had the joy of sending us over £100 towards the support of the sister Institution. Our good friend, Pastor H. O. Mackey, led the way at Southampton, and many of the other ministers of the town rendered valuable help, and in consequence the meeting was a great success.
— We are doing our best to stimulate friends to employ colporteurs in connection with the various churches and county associations, but wonder much that the advantages and importance of the agency are not more widely utilized, especially in the villages. Mr. John Chappell, of Calne, Wilts, has recently applied for a colporteur to labor in the neighborhood of that town. We heartily join with him when he writes — “I hope, God helping us, that we shall continue this work, so as to form an example to stir up little churches to look after the villages aroused them, in what appears to me to be the most Christian and economical way.
The neglect of the villages is a sad fault now lying at the doors of our country churches.” We are glad, however, that others too are beginning to take this matter in hand. The Norfolk Association has tried one colporteur for a year, and has now guaranteed £40 a year for a second man, who will labor in the villages round Neatishead, assisting in the services on the Lord’s-day.
There is a cry for help from our villages as real and as sad as “the Bitter Cry of Outcast London.” The same evils are to be found in proportion to the numbers congregated. Ignorance, poverty, neglect of religion, and vice, abound in villages which externally look charming for their rustic beauty.
Too often that which is offered to the villagers in the name of religion is but a service of forms and ceremonies, and no real gospel teaching is given.
Our colporteurs visit such places, calling from door to door, and offering for sale books and periodicals which interest and instruct the mind, and many of them directly teaching the plan of salvation through faith in the crucified Redeemer. Often the weary invalid, with no other Christian visitor, is cheered by the visit of the colporteur, and many a sinner listens to the gospel message in the cottage meeting or open-air service. Like the apostles, the colporteurs have taught publicly and from house to house, but with this advantage, that by means of the press they leave behind messages that are read when the messenger is far away. The word spoken and the word printed are both largely blessed by God through the agency of the colporteurs. We pray that more laborers may be sent forth to the harvest, and lay the matter of necessary pecuniary support before our readers.
Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle :-November 26, ten; November 29, sixteen.